Chapter Nineteen

War Journal

Entry # 6

Ozma stepped out onto the balcony, and the whole crowd caught its breath. All except for the Flutterbudgets, who cried out, "WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!"

"SHUT UP!!!" came the sound of several thousand voices. (I admit it. I was among them. In fact, I said it really loud.)

Ozma laughed and held up her hands. She seemed genuinely relaxed in the face of the cloud, and she had this astounding glow: abetted by the sun, and the emeralds that surrounded her, but mostly seeming to emanate from within.

"No," she said, and her voice was remarkably clear. Not loud, not forceful, but intimate. As if she were speaking to each of us individually, from roughly a foot away.

"No," she continued. "We are all not going to die. In fact, most of us are going to be just fine. These events - disturbing as they may be - are much better than you might think.

"And though several of us will die today - yes, I'm afraid that's true... "

And a terrible sorrow passed through the crowd, in waves I could literally feel.

"...today, above all, will be a Festival of Fun! And I hope you all will j oin me in making this the most fun we have ever had while confronting total fear!"

I wasn't sure how to react to this. I looked at Gene, whose eyes were huge.

"What?" said Gene. I didn't know how to answer.

"This is way fucked up," was all Ralph had to say.

So I was not alone in being thoroughly stunned when the crowd began to applaud this, wildly. I looked all about the courtyard, from thither to yon, and saw 98% more smiles and clapping hands than anything else. Short of the moaning Flutterbudgets - who thank god I could not see - support for this feel-good policy seemed pretty damn close to unanimous.

Ozma seemed thrilled but unsurprised by the Ozian response. They were her people, after all, and they loved her all to bits. If she'd suggested that they all cram high explosives up their asses, it's possible that her popularity might have dipped just a smidgen. But one wonders how much. Particularly in light of how scary that fucking cloud was.

At that moment, Ozma pointed upward - not toward the cloud, but toward the summit of the palace - and in that moment, I became aware of a light I am quite certain I had never seen before. (I had felt it. Yes. And always known it was there. But I had never felt it register on my retina in quite that way.)

Before the U.S. government destroyed his work and left him to die in prison, the great scientist and weirdo Wilhelm Reich used to talk about "orgone energy." It was, essentially, life energy, and he noted that we released an enormous amount of it during the sexual act. So he had these pyramid-like devices called orgone generators, which were designed to harness this astonishingly powerful natural resource.

The problem, of course, was that the energy was free, once you had the machinery in place. In theory, it could not only power your toaster, but rejuvenate your body and liberate your soul. All you had to do was fuck a lot, with great intensity, inside his ultra-groovy little pyramid thingee.

But this was America in the 1950's, when both sex and power sported gray flannel suits. And Reich was a raging anarchic libertine: totally anti-corporate, and anti-authoritarian.

Whether orgone generators ever actually worked or not, the Powers-That-Be were disturbed enough by the prospect to shut him down, burn all his papers, and obliterate his machinery.

This happened in '56, I believe. By May of '57, he was dead. Just another casualty of the global clampdown, and another black hole bored into our secret history.

I mention this only because the radiance from above reminded me of nothing so much as orgone energy: a funky Immanance, a power from within, manifesting as an invisible light so strong that the naked eye had no choice but to receive it.

And it was emanating from the tower at the top of the Palace. More specifically, it was emanating from Glinda.

The next part of Ozma's speech was devoted to Glinda: how she was holed up in the tower now, whipping up some serious magick. How Glinda needed us to trust in her now, and to send her our support. How her magick was strong enough to even the odds, but only if we fell into harmony with her.

Only if we let our subtle soul-harmonics feed into the groove she was trying to lay down.

Of course, Ozma didn't put it that way. Her language was a lot less esoteric.

"And so," she simply said, "this is all I ask. That you look within yourself, and find the best way to make today as amazing as you possibly can.

"I can't possibly know what you might come up with. And I don't even need to. Because I know how you are. But if you will please give a minute to thought, you will sense a direction, and that is good enough for me."

What followed was a deep, profound - which is to say enormous - silence.

I must say, it was the biggest silence I have ever heard.

(Once - in New York, at St. Patrick's Cathedral - I heard the echo of a silence as deep as this. I was alone, in a church that was designed for the effect. But there were thousands of us here, in an open-air courtyard; and I am not exaggerating when I say that the subsonic vibe in St. Patrick's was like the ghost of a dwarf by comparison.)

Even the Flutterbudgets were miraculously mute.

I closed my eyes, took a very deep breath, tried to make my mind clear as a rippling spring. As the psychic debris came drifting up, I let it catch on the rocks, focused on the flowing water. The words surrender, Dorothy came floating by. I let them pass, tried not to think about her. Her image fluttered in my head for a moment, and I wondered where she was.

Then I saw myself killing, saw blood striking my face, and the image so alarmed me that I wanted to drench myself in the water, cleanse my spirit, wash the blood away. Would Dorothy kill? Would she join me on the front lines? Was she above that sort of thing? Was I debased from going there?

I watched the bodies of those I'd killed begin to pile up on the rocks, and the sight was sickening. Blood sullied the water, tinted it so red I could no longer see the bottom. The bodies jostled against one another: damming the flow, thinning the tide. I squinched my eyes tighter, flexed the muscles in my head, as if by sheer exertion I could wipe away the blight.

And then I saw beautific Ozma, absorbed in a black lightning blast. Saw her eyeballs explode, her hair catch fire, her exquisite features collapse in roiling black. I saw Scarecrow ablaze. Careening. Flailing.

I watched the Emerald City flare, from green to black.

As the light went out...

...and enough was enough. I shook my head. I tried to dream of clear water, caught a glimpse and focused upon it: batting the doom-shards aside, growing new rocks to catch them.

Drawing the water inside.

There was light sparkling there, both on the surface and within. There were pebbles - very small, and unmoving - at the bottom. I tried to count, but the task was absurd. So many pebbles inside me.

As the water flowed on.

And I thought about everyone caught in the flow, every one of the thousands that surrounded me now. And beyond them, the millions and billions and more. Every leaf of every tree. Every bug on every leaf. Every spore caught in the breeze, out to the very ends of Oz. And then beyond. And then beyond.

And then my mind spiralled back to the dark centered space behind my eyelids. I took a deep breath. I took another deep breath. I could feel my flesh tingle in the palms of my hands, the crooks of my elbows, the muscles of my chest. I could feel the spark of energy burn in my left foot, profound in the web of flesh between my big toe and the one beside it. I could feel heat coursing up my spine.

I plunged deep into the water. It plunged deep into me. It was water, fire, wind, earth, spirit, thought. All burning hot. But it was not pain that I was feeling. Or if it was, the pain was good. It was clear and light and utterly revealing. It was deep sensation: my body, revealing itself to me.

I wanted to open my eyes, but I didn't. It was hard to stay seized by this moment, but I did. My mind, shutting down at last, went from gabbling and projecting to simply listening.

And as for what it told me, there are no words.

I'm not sure how long I hung there, but I'd guess it wasn't long; because when my eyes finally opened, everyone else seemed to be blinking their way back, too. I looked around, met thoughtful gazes, including those of Ralph and Gene.

I glanced back at Enchantra; and, at last, our eyes met.

Her eyes, like Ralph's, looked haunted.

But also remarkably clear.

Then I looked back up at Ozma, who smiled down on us from above. She was swaying slightly, her eyes still closed, as if she were grooving out on our collective vibe.

Then she opened her eyes and spoke.

"Those of you who were called directly, please come and speak with me inside. As for the rest of you, I will be out and around, throughout the festivities. Please feel free to come up and speak with me at any time.

"And now, my friends: I love you all!

"Enjoy!"

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