Machines in Motion
                                                                 Machines in Motion 

     When the band was going to replace a member or make an addition to the crew, we had to find a way to bring that individual into the fold. All the members of the performing troupe past and present  had been to the Reunion. The Reunion was part dance festival and part traditional family reunion. It was the sacred gathering place of the Elders. The gathering place was a secret until the day before the event. It was never held in the same place twice either. Anyone who came to the event had to be invited by a Member. Membership was frozen in the 70’s to prevent the crowd from becoming too large to handle. Individual members could only bring two guests. In the Twentieth Century, the festival had been held like clockwork on the same day of every year. The events were held outside in the spring to celebrate the re-emergence of life. The United States government had been unable to destroy the Reunion, although it was constantly under state suspicion and surveillance. The traditional gatherings had been innocent excuses for mythical parties with an emphasis on excess, and that always attracted judges, lawyers, politicians and their spawn, the law enforcement agents. 
      The Twentieth Century was a Golden age of Tolerance. New music, new cultures and new freedoms flourished together as never before. The Twenty First Century became the Age of the Cage. Trapped by the necessity for new military machines and technology, society was unable to function without the very things which were destroying it. The Reunion survived, but no longer in the sights of the outside world. The food riots were the harbingers of change. After the civil unrest and mass migrations, brought on by failing crops, the Militarist Union came to power by promising stability. The new government imposed martial law and made it illegal to gather for reasons other than official commerce, militia exercises, mass entertainment/Militarist rallies or state sponsored religious meetings. A few states had tried to split from the Militarist Union with varying levels of success. California had been the first to succeed, but its freedom was short lived. Years of uncivil war had been followed by the present era of city-states and a period of relative calm.
     The cities became walled fortresses like kingdoms. Domestic and foreign wars weakened the Militarist Union and the central government devolved in moral and monetary bankruptcy. Mercenary armies brought their services home to get a paycheck. They roamed the mainland laying siege to communities and laying waste to the countryside. North Carolina, where the Reunion was born, had become Variety Incarceration Land. The Elders found refuge in the Triumvirate, a group of three powerful university cities that had retained autonomy by banding together behind an advanced weapons system called Python. The Reunion had been attacked as an assembly for unauthorized activity, but the Elders had predicted the coming troubles and made the decision to continue at all costs. The Reunion went even more underground to survive. The schedule and news letter became impossible to maintain. Huge numbers of people were no longer able to attend because of rationing and travel restrictions. The party lived on mostly as a legend. The story tellers, musicians and artisans who were the backbone of the organization were decimated by the changes. Member numbers dwindled and were distilled down to the performers and the crew that brought the Noise to Dwnwrdspyrl and Elders behind the scenes at the Funny Farm.
     North Carolina always had a healthy illegal alcohol and drug trade. Some things never changed. Underground membership clubs and curfew parties were legion after the Civil Wars version 2.0. Dwnwrdspyrl and the outlying Funny Farm were able to exist along side the dive bars and under the radar thanks to the Visionary Elders. These Elders had discovered the Collective Dream Theory. The Theory stated that turning away from materialism, individuality, photographs and mirrors, created the environment for shared dreams. These collective dreams, in turn, allowed three dimensional dreaming. They used their timeless knowledge to protect natural beauty as it could not be used to acquire possessions or power. Their future was dependent on the music and farm surviving, and the band was in turn protected by the Elders. In a series of hallucinogenic ceremonies and tribal initiations, Members became Elders and some naturally turned away from their possessions. Each Member contained a piece of the future, a key, that was revealed to them in their Initial Dreams. All Elders did not have these dreams. They would only be realized when your earthly Dreams of Machines ended. Dreams of the future had allowed the Dances to survive despite Gov-com outlawing them. They in turn had created the environment for the band to develop and guided it in its direction to preserve the divine occasion. They watched over the schedule of the performances and the mission of the band/troupe. Unfortunately, they had little success in predicting individual futures. They allowed the family as a whole to continue, but this did not require that all the future was known. That was why Josie could disappear. Individuals were not protected like the Reunion. Josie could be found by a dreamer if she didn’t return on her own, but only if that was part of the collective memory needed to survive. None of the Elders had seen her return.
     When Michelle said we had a “keeper” at the audition, she was talking about a gate keeper. It seamed impossible that someone would suddenly appear at the time of such vulnerability and need, yet Christine’s appearance was fortuitous. The people at the gate had the responsibility to vet newcomers and protect the priceless knowledge of the Elders. Michelle thought Christine should get an invite, which was only the beginning of a process. The 5 members of the band were joined by the production crew in greeting and assessing initiates. We called a meeting shortly after Christine left. Just as in the shows, nobody wanted to miss a meeting. There was too much at stake.
     We met outside the club in the tour bus. I say tour bus, but the Mother-Ship, like all Horrible machinery in the end, was going nowhere. It was where the crew and band went to sleep and relax when they weren’t working in the club. Ziggy, the band click head also made it a sanctuary. We called it  being under the sea. He was in charge of security and was responsible for jamming all surveillance devices during high level security meetings. He could not control the entire compound, but he was able to create a hole in the military informant web without the authorities detecting it. The informant web worked by monitoring all communication and electronic devices whether they were turned on or not. All speakers collected audio, all video screens and cameras transmitted images to the web. Python collected data from all devices, sometimes even broken ones. Ziggy joked that the authorities didn’t care about the broken down Mother-Ship. He said they weren’t interested in seizing a piece of shit. He was right up to a point. All serious discussions and band meetings were held in the old Mother-Ship where theoretically we could see all who were listening. Along with our click head Ziggy, we had our sound engineer, stage manager and a club manager to help monitor the site. When curfew lifted and shows resumed, we had a security team that included brothers and sisters from the Funny Farm.
     The meeting was started with a prayer for Josie spoken by Mr. D.
     “Welcome Spirit, Muses and Creator, brothers and sisters. We know that much of your wonder is invisible to us. Please care for our sister Josie as she travels without her friends. Watch over her and help her and watch over all of us as we travel towards you.”
     Everyone remained silent for a while. No one wanted to start salvage and recovery. It was strange for this crowd not to be making Noise, not to be making plans. “I know all of us are anxious to carry on performing at the club.” Mr. D continued, “That has been made clear to me. I want to start the meeting now by saying I believe we are heading in the wrong direction. We have never shut down production. This is true. But also we have never had a sister taken from us like this. This place has poison in it.” 
     He wiped the sweat from his face. Mr. D was a great speaker and story teller. He had a fantastic way of connecting with a crowd. He continued rhetorically, ”Why has the Creator chosen this time to challenge us, to try to pull us away from our mission here? I believe he is telling us that he has a safe haven for us to go to, away from this place. If we search for Josie we may be lead to such a place. We are trapped in Gomorrah. All should speak on this matter, now it is of the greatest concern for all of us.” 
     Michelle was the next to speak. She thought she had seen a reason to push ahead until the election.
     She said, “I don’t want anyone to think that the mission of the band here has been futile. That we have found a campsite in the wilderness is a fact we owe a great debt for. We have been able to do amazing things here because we have found sacred ground. Because we haven’t had to live on the run.”
     “How have we found success? It has been by performing together,” she said.
     “Today we have been given a sign of hope. The day after we were faced with tragedy. This afternoon a dancer came to join us. We have given her an audition. I know it might be hard to believe, but some kid came into the club a while ago and showered us with her abilities. The Count was there and Roger Rabbit saw the whole thing.” Roger had glass eyes and a bitching memory. He was the video recorder. Everything had a name. Every video monitor and camera fed the informant web like a stream. All machines were tools of the web. We called this particularly Horrible glass government informant Roger. 
     I could see storm clouds brewing where they had never been before. Megan was Mr. D’s protege’.  She was furious that someone would try to contradict his sentiments and lead the conversation away from Josie. Anger was not unheard of at production meetings. It is a part of the creative process, but I had never seen Megan become furious.
     Megan lashed out at Michelle with, “Obviously the sanctuary you have found is more precious than the friends you call sisters. You will lose your place at the table if there is no place set for you, as you suggest we take Josie’s place from her. Think about how your sister feels as you plot to usurp her. Think of how it will look when all is revealed.” 
     “Are we not brothers and sisters? It was not long ago we believed that if all are treated as one then all become one. All as one, all are one is hollow. Some of us need to remember the fate that we provide for others might be the fate that awaits all of us.” Megan was pacing as she spoke.
     “That was a show stopper. Megan, the pacifist, Olé!”, Michelle remarked. “I was only trying to lighten the mood. You know as well as I do that chasing phantoms is reckless and useless, because it will accomplish nothing.” Phantoms were the disappeared. “The Elders have seen nothing to lead us to Josie. It is highly likely that she is a lure for a trap now. Why would we take chances? If she is a phantom we are powerless to get access to her without dream guidance. Until there is a relevant dream or discovery, we, as always is the case, should play the hand we hold.” 
     “Where would you start searching anyway, Little Miss Strange? As soon as the militia found you out of this sector they would show you exactly where they have Josie. Then, there would be two missing persons. The Dodo and the Dreamer. And don’t forget who will have to find the two of you. I will be spending the next few weeks filing paperwork and searching public data bases for leads to Josie. Why don’t you and Mr. D make it three? I’ll just copy and paste the names on all the forms, no problem.”
     Ziggy and the other two guys on site, Sonic Eddie the sound man and Kaos the stage manager, were the only other people at the meeting. Usually everyone had something to say and got a chance to speak on such an important issue. Suddenly, everyone was arguing. Anarchy reigned where only a week before there had been clarity. Everyone was arguing about the way forward and no one was listening to anyone else. This was more like it, I thought to myself. Getting back to the roots. You can’t make A Horrible Noise without hurting some feelings or stomping on some egos. This was how our best work was done, under pressure, under fire and under the wire. It was an affirmation to me that passion was at the heart of the band’s success. I never wanted to be a part of a band that went through the motions, accepting the status quo or playing weddings. I wanted the rough and tumble of a band on a mission. A band that believed, however naively, it could make a difference in this troubled world. The meeting resolved like never before. There was a split between those who wanted to stop production to search for Josie and those who wanted the show to continue until the election. I became uneasy as I realized that I would have the dubious honor of deciding the issue. We had already compromised the informant web for longer than Ziggy advised. Discrete little holes were easier to hide than long stretches of time. Ziggy’s tireless and true time safety device lit up and started a count down.
     Ziggy said,”Times up, Motherfuckers. The Boogie Man is going to see us soon. We need to wrap it up. Count Beat is the silently certified sleeper spoiler, Go man, go. It’s all you. Make it Count, fucker!”
     I said, “Everyone needs to remember that the goals of the band are controlled by forces beyond this room. They have been true to us because we have followed them where they have lead. Until there is a sign or a dream we can follow, I think we should regroup and recoup right here. I think finding a dancer we weren’t looking for is as important as looking for a dancer we can’t find.  Obviously, our prayers are for Josie, but they are also for the people we don’t know. We can’t help anyone if we are unable to help ourselves. I believe we should look for any and all signs of Josie, but that should only override our mission if we have a clear opportunity to find her. Let’s bust camp brothers and sisters.” 
    We piled out of the Mother-Ship into the harsh light of day. Sgt. Pepper  was patrolling the perimeter fence. An Eagle was circling the area just to the south of us. I say Eagle, but this was a cold machine of war. A visit from an expensive drone indicated we had held counsel for too long. Something had sensed a hole in the web and was trying to find it. We would have to be more careful now, they would be watching to identify any new assaults on the web. We still had a few weeks before the election and the pressure was steadily building.../Site/Stone.html../Horrible%20Machines/Nemo%20Trilogy%20.html../Site/Sea.html2.html's%20Cut.html../Horrible%20Machines/Silence.html