1. Welcome to the Future
Every single human being is part of a grand
universal plan. Thats what my Nana always says. Were not alive
just to lounge around and contemplate our umbilicus. Were metaphysical
beings! Open us up, and theres more rattling around in
there than just brain sacs and fatty tissue. We are full of imperceptible
essences. Invisible spectrums. Patterns. Ideas. Were containers
of awesome phenomena! Which is why its important to live
right. You have to be attuned to whats around you, and you have
to keep from clogging your receptors with crap. According to my
Nana, the universe is sending signals every day, and its up to us
whether or not we want to listen. We can either perk up our ears,
or walk around like dead piles of dermis. I always preferred the former.
Which is why I found myself up on top of the roof of our dome
on that fall Sunday when everything began.
I couldnt tell you for certain that Id ever heard messages from space up there, but at the very least I had a tremendous view. Hanging in the brisk October air, Anver heavy-duty suction cups on my hands, and a no-slip rubber guard harness around my chest, I could see the entire town of North Branch arranged with the uniformity of an architectural model. It stretched below me like a wide lake of split-level dwellings, flowing over the small hills and dips in the eastern Iowa landscape. And above the horizon was the endless iceblue troposphere, nearly unobstructed save for the waving branches of our black walnut trees.
It was this towering group of trees that gave me my official reason for ascending to the top of the dome that Sunday. Every autumn they bombarded our translucent roof with pungent green-shelled nuts the size of tennis balls, and it was my job to climb the walls like a salamander and scrub away the stains. For this purpose, I kept a large squeegee strapped to my back along with a small bucket of orange-scented cleaning solution. And once attached to the glass, I scrubbed each insulated panel, and kept an eye on my Nana inside at the same time. Right beneath me, through a soapy triangle of glass, I could see her on her NordicTrack, grinding away. Click- Clackita Click-Clackita Click-Clackita. The sound was like a distant Zephyr train.
Just the day before, she had told me that most human beings only saw a hundred-thousandth of the world in their lifetime. Maybe a ten-thousandth if they traveled a lot. Only she called the world Spaceship Earth, because thats what Buckminster Fuller called it, and she thought he was humanitys last real genius. Either way, I was sure I could see my entire portion from this spot. Up on top of the dome, my view was quite possibly someones whole lifetime.
Sebastian! Nana called from below, her voice echoing off the glass. Are you watching for visitors up there? She stood outside now, squinting up at me.
Affirmative! I yelled. No sightings at present. Nana called the weekend tourists to our home visitors, as if they were alighting on our lawn from other galaxies in blinking mother ships. In reality, most of them made the trip in large automobiles, and it was my job to spot them from my perch. It was early yet for visitors, though. Every Saturday and Sunday we opened our home to the public at nine oclock sharp, but it was usually ten or ten-thirty before anyone arrived. According to Nana, people in the Midwest had to finish with church before they could seek any leisure. They had to exalt and repent, and perhaps attend potlucks. We had begun giving tours a few years back because our home was the first Geodesic Dome ever constructed in Iowa, and there seemed to be some interest in that fact. In truth, we were only a moderate-to-marginal tourist attraction, but most years we made enough to supplement Nanas modest pension, which is all we needed. No matter how much we brought in, though, I was supposed to behave as if we were overrun with business. Negative thinking sent out the wrong kind of messages to the higher powers, Nana said. Each negative thought was like a hemorrhoid to the controlling forces of the universe. It burned them endlessly. Make sure to get the northwest side, Sebastian! Nana shouted now. I spotted some bird waste over there. Then come down for breakfast. I need to speak with you.
Excerpted from House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni. Copyright © 2010 by Peter Bognanni. Excerpted by permission of Amy Einhorn Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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