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Another Ordinary Day

Authors Note: I'm not sure exactly why I have included this report in this collection. I was obviously in a strange mood when I wrote it. What spooks me still about this is how I was so focused on the nonchalant nature of our trip to Megawell, unaware that I would be back in just a few months doing a body recovery (see Megawell Fatality). I quoted from this report there, but it's interesting to me to read the whole thing.

The year is 1990. The month is November. The wind touches the trees and the sound is like a waterfall in the distance. We move through the woods steadily, silently, cupping our hands against our ears, listening.

Marines do pushups behind sandbags, drops of sweat making spots on the sand below. Great rumbling machines with armor-piercing cannons move forward. Planets swing into alignment, and gigantic masses of rock tense deep in the earth.

We are looking for Megawell, eyes scanning back and forth in search of a sinkhole, ears hungry for the sound of water.

And all the time babies are being born. Bums are rummaging in garbage cans. Newspapers are running through presses. Then Rick finds something. Down here, he says, a piece of flagging tape: the trail to the cave, half covered with fallen leaves and acorns. We follow the path to the entrance, wait there for Sandy and Otis, put on helmets and kneepads and climb down into darkness.

No history here. Nobody ever died here, or did anything to be remembered. Some hero dug this thing open and crawled inside, found a 310 foot pit, one of the deepest shafts in America--and I don't even know this person's name. One day our little world was suddenly that much bigger, a full 310 feet deeper, but people were watching television and eating Nutrasweet, using a dandruff shampoo every morning but flaking off brain cells just the same. We spend our lives in front of a screen being told what is important and what is not, no longer able to tell the difference between a war and a football game. We can't remember yesterday, much less last week.

I am hanging 200 feet up in the dark from a ribbon of nylon less than a half inch thick, trying to decide what is in fact important. There are known facts: who rigs the rope, who goes down first, how many times Rick does the pit. But these facts seem irrelevant. Everybody keeps breathing. Everybody's heart keeps beating. We hang on ropes in Megawell, and nobody thinks twice about it.

Radioactive steam sprays into a blue sky. Sharks circle. Gunfighters stand facing each other on a deserted street. Meanwhile Rick, Sandy, Otis and I go to Megawell, and it's an absolutely ordinary day in the world.

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