The future is ours
The auditorium was got up to look like a stage. It even had a stage. It had seating, a whole rank, an array of chairs rising up towards the void. Everything was in darkness and yet I could see the stage as clearly as I am now. The guide stopped suddenly and we all stopped. Someone kicked my ankle and I kicked into someone's heel. And then the lights came on and we saw them, the beings, the human beings, standing upright in the aisles and between the seats. There must have been a hundred of them. It was dark. They seemed to come from a different world. They wore black. They said nothing. Their hands were at their sides. A strange form of humming had started to come into me. The creatures just stood there, each in their individual light. The humming continued. It wasn't coming from the silent ones. It was coming from outside the electronic. It was coming from outside the room and outside my brain. I wasn't sure how much of it I could take.
I could hear the rain. The streets were full of it, 37 days and 37 nights of cold malignant rain. I only came in here to get out of the rain. And then ... well then … things have taken their own course. Things will never be the same again. Sal was out in the rain, the roads and alleys were streaming with revellers and there was no way through to her. I had to get out. I had to find a way out.
I could feel them all around me, the pack, the crowd, us, all those strangers I had seen in the lobby. All of us who had come in from the outside. The American gestured. He gave us an open palm. No one moved. Not one of us, not one of them standing among the seats. The crowd shifted slightly. I could hear them creak and breathe and smell their food stained lips. Some were beautiful and young in duffle coats. All the Love Drugs came into me, the powder sprinkled, wasted on the fibres of their outfits. I could feel them breathing all around me, the rasping of their breath as they sucked in through the ventilators. I hadn't been so close to anyone in years. It hadn't been necessary. I was getting a reaction. I wasn't sure what was them and what was their clothes.
The guide moved towards us, spread his arms wide. There were perhaps 100 of us and maybe 50 vacant seats. I took a seat somewhere near the front and then he disappeared and we were on our own.
I looked for a doorway, an exit. It was all closed over. Everything from whence we came was darkness. The stage was empty, some fools left standing about in front of it, some 50 fools. Some of these were being pushed forward onto the steps. I heard gasps. There was whispering. A picture of a hammer came up on the screen and to be honest I was ready to attack. It was like the priest had said. I might never see Sal again and there was no way back. Even if I got outside, she would be gone, dropped like a drop into the ocean of people and no way back. It was hard to concentrate. The throbbing was deep inside me now. I tried to hold onto her. She kept failing, slipping from me. Even if I did get outside everything would have changed and there would be no way back.
A man came running down the aisle shouting and singing, his feet thumping and up he jumped onto the stage. Some of the fools took hold of him and squashed him into a chair.
I would have to make my own way out, forge a new way back, swimming against the tide. I could be the first. There was no reason why it could not be done.
They were humming now, the upright ones, those who wore their hands at their sides, those who were streamlined in black. Some sort of bee chant it was and we were humming, I had been humming for quite a while. I didn't have to think. I knew what we were and what we were doing. It was fascinating. Our light never flickered, not for an instant. Everything seemed to grow and grow.
I remembered her smile. For an instant I think I saw it. Perhaps nothing would be left of her, not even the doll.
And then there was darkness and footsteps on the stage. He said he was a traveller and a prisoner. He said that we were guilty. We were all guilty. He called us brother and said there would be no fear. There was much for us to do. There was so much that we could build together. The world was a better place. So many things passed by unnoticed. The bus would be leaving at 3 AM. All Volunteers were asked to proceed quietly in a dignified manner.
Then one of the newcomers was standing, talking about the performance of the mass. She had 17 different interpretations of the phrase and each one of them was wider and more penetrating than the last. She spoke of coherence and she spoke of money, she spoke of mass as performance of the crowd and she asked us to praise the beginning of tomorrow. I was trembling. I noticed a child falling to the ground.
My legs and arms were shaking. I wasn't sure who I was or where I ended. It was my last night in Naples. I thought at any moment I might stand up and speak, call out for a master and an ending, give praise and thank everyone for what they have done for me, so loud was the humming.
And then rather obviously I thought, the people all trooped off, taking their light with them. Up toward the back they went and in behind the walls. It was completely dark now. The music had stopped. We were humming. You could hear the humming all around the building. You could hear the troop walking behind the walls and the vibration of their being. And then it stopped. We stopped and the lights came on and the fools poured in to the empty seats as if really they were no more than water.