He found himself hiking through Earthquake Park, down by the bay outside Anchorage. Left in its peculiar twisted shape since the 1964 earthquake, it had a strange otherworldly landscape. Moss was stacked six feet deep. He jumped up on the side of one of these piles and began pulling himself up the dank, crumbling, living mass. When he reached the top of the bluff, he stopped to catch his breath and he pressed his wet, stained hands over his eyes. In a heartbeat, he found himself laying flat out on his belly at the edge of an unforgiving sandstone mesa under a cold sun in the National Bison Game Refuge, twenty-five miles from Fort Sill. His jacket was torn and his hands were bleeding. He rolled over and sat up. He inspected the cuts on his hands and he saw they were rubbed raw and smudged with something green colored. A closer look revealed corkscrew tendrils of moss and rich black compost under his fingernails and caked between his fingers. He savored the richness of its coffee smell for a few moments before pulling a bandanna out of his jacket pocket. He spit on his hands and gave them a hasty scrub. He put the bandanna away, tested the rip in his jacket by putting his hands in the pockets and pulling forward. It was good enough.
He looked around and down at the barren red rocks. Sundown wasn’t too far off. Change was the current. Breath was the essence. He was gone again, flying bat-blindly, bouncing off reality, bouncing off stars, bouncing off time. Get on. Get in. Get off. Get away. He lost track of time.
He was deep under water, but he was dry and he could breathe. He felt alone. He called out with his mind to Receptor. The bottle-green water didn’t feel cold and it wasn’t warm. It didn’t feel like anything at all. He stopped moving and began to sink, straight down, to the black depths below him. He looked up and he couldn’t see the water’s surface. Then, he realized he could taste the lake water and, at that moment, it began to burn his eyes.
Meaning: Where had it gone? Deafening scratchy off-signal roaring insanity ripped through his ears. Cymbals crashed. Horns blew. Feedback screamed from a million amplifiers. He was frantic, wild, out of control. Is it here? Is it there? Where has it gone? His mind was racing, spinning out of control. Everything was drifting away from him.
He saw that his life was nothing but movement. Emptiness chasing after its tail, creating a vacuum that engulfed and swallowed even more emptiness in its wake. The universe was sucked into a giant, spinning, vacuum.. Sparks shot out, burning the curtain, the curtain-call, the play, the audience, the building, everything ablaze.
Chet Willis heard the echo of silence. He knew he had to slow down, to back up, to return home, to some touchstone, to solid footing. Then he felt the presence of the Receptor. And then he was at peace. He was part of the everness of everbeing. He was safe. He asked himself what things were he absolutely sure of. He knew that Time was and that Life is. He knew that Life is not what will be or what was. Even though his brain could not tell the difference from what is and what was or what will be, he knew in his soul that he had arrived. He panted, resting on his elbows, watching the world spin around him.
At that moment, he realized that everything is connected and it is all the same. The universe, mankind’s search for meaning, time, space, personalities and experience, flesh and blood: He saw that it was a fabric, an untamed nameless something that gave life and fed everything. He tried to grasp this thread of thought, to tie it on to something solid and real, to make it work. He reached out to touch meaning and then he knew that he had become the Receptor.
It was back forever and he was filled with happiness. It was part of him, now, and he was still alive. That was enough. He fell asleep as soon as he closed the door of his car. Receptor drove him back to the barracks and carried him safely to his bunk.