(Written in masculine voice, loosely based on a dream.)
My girlfriend is the daughter of a prominent leader. I, an outcast from the underground, was about to take her to a movie; the first movie seen by anyone around here in fifteen years.
Since the war, our remaining population has divided into three basic groups; Science, Religion, and Mystics.
They call us “Mystics” because it doesn’t mean anything anyone can understand, just like the word ‘mystery.’ The Mystics are neither protected or annihilated in the waning world. You never know when you might need an invention or discovery, stolen from some poor Mystic who committed suicide by shooting himself in the head twice just before he went public with free energy. In case you’re from Religion, I’m being sarcastic.
Back to my girlfriend. In spite of being raised by Science, Blue’s more observant than anyone in her circle of friends. It’s only a matter of time before she’ll be ostracized and lose her station. When that happens, I’ll be there to lead her through the door to the free world.
Lost in my thoughts, I nearly misstepped and fell into a crevice as I jogged through the backstreets of Albuquerque on the way to her house.
I was going to take her to a movie. She didn’t believe me. No one under the age of 18 could remember movies. I’d seen four. My heart raced in anticipation. Blue was going to love this.
She was waiting for me at the corner. I caught my breath. They say the sky used to be the color of her eyes. I can’t imagine that much blue. She turned and saw me, long black hair swirling around her back like fluid shadow.
“Hey, Beautiful.” I reached for her hand and she smiled, a little shy at the new familiarity of our relationship. I knew her better than she knew me. I’d been watching her for a long time, waiting for her to grow up.
“Where are we going?” she asked as we turned to walk back toward the old downtown.
“To the El Morro.” I told her, for the fourth time since I’d suggested a movie. She looked at me searchingly, trying to guess what I was planning. I grinned at her. “I’m not lying,” I said.
“I know. But sometimes. . . what you say means something to you that it doesn’t mean to anyone else.”
“Like when you said your sister had a baby,” Blue explained, smiling apologetically to soften her criticism.
“She did have a baby,”
“But that’s not how that expression is used anymore,” Blue protested, “ - because no one has babies now.”
“How else would I say it? ‘My sister physically constructed human offspring within herself?”’
“Are we really going to see a movie?” Belief began to dawn in her eyes.
“Come inside and find out.”
We had reached the front door of the theater. The doors were long gone, and without lights, the dark opening seemed dangerous and forbidding. Six months ago I had established the theater as my turf, and was confident there would be no danger hiding in the shadows. That side of my life was still a mystery to Blue, and would need to remain such for a long time to come.
I paused by a closet near the front door and reached around the corner and into the dark shadow for a box I had left there.
“What’s that?” Blue asked.
“Popcorn,” I said, feeling a surge of adrenaline again. This was more fun than I’d had in a long time.
“Popcorn!” she echoed. “For real? Where did you get it?”
I held her arm as we walked deeper into the darkness and into one of the viewing halls. Our voices became hushed for no reason. I laughed quietly as I handed her the popcorn box.
“I grew it. You know I farm out south of town. Here. . . in the middle of the seating, it’s the best spot. Besides, there are two chairs side by side that still have decent cushions down this row.”
“I can’t see anything,” Blue commented and held onto my arm a little tighter.
“I have to go turn on the movie. I’ll be right back. Okay?”
She hesitated, and I knew she was nervous. She didn’t know how safe she was, and I couldn’t tell her how or why. I waited.
“Okay. Just hurry, please.” She let go of me reluctantly and felt her way down the row of seats.
I ran back up the incline and up the stairs that led to the camera room. The cameras that had once been in service had been gone for years, pillaged by early looters. The projector that stood here now was a piece of patched up electronics that I’d built myself, using parts of crap I’d found left behind in various houses and stores that hadn’t burned. I looked through the broken glass window and called down to Blue.
“Hey, I’m up here. . . just a minute.”
The miracle of watching a movie was in the electricity. For fifteen years we’d been living in the dark. There were a few people that had rigged up old solar panels here and there, but nothing with the power to play a theater movie.
As for me, my miracles are the kind the Mystics are known for: Mystics like Riechenbach, Tesla, Keshe, and Bedini. I plugged my projector into a cord that ran to a battery bank charged by a ground generator inserted among the roots of the trees some mayor in history had planted downtown. It looked like magic, that’s for sure. But it wasn’t. I put in the DVD I’d chosen for this momentous event.
Lights flickered on the torn screen below. I turned up the sound as high as it could go and put on the subtitles too. I still needed to hack the speaker system.
Blue hadn’t made a comment and I was in a rush to get back to her and watch her reaction to the movie. I ran down the stairs, but forced myself to walk normally back to her side.
“Hey,” I said.
“It’s really a movie. How did you do it?” The light of the screen reflected in the vivid blue of her eyes as she laughed aloud in wonder.
“I grew it with the popcorn.” I said, as I sat down next to her. I rubbed my palms together rapidly with excitement. She was pleased, and I could tell.
“While the Music Lasts?” Blue asked as the title came onto the screen. “Was that a big movie?”
“One of the biggest,” I said, having no idea. The way I figured, it’s one of the four biggest movies playing now anyway.
“Oh!” Blue whispered so quietly I could hardly hear her. To my surprise I saw tears sliding down her cheeks. “I’m sorry,” she said, wiping her eyes. “I’m just so surprised.”
My racing heart started hurting now. Had I made a mistake? Why was she crying? She turned and looked at me, and laughed through her tears.
“Don’t worry. It’s great. It’s really wonderful, and amazing.”
“Yeah?” I reached out to wipe a tear from her cheek and gently held her face in my hand.
“Yeah. For real.”
Then she leaned forward and kissed me. In that moment I could have powered the movie myself if I’d been holding the wires. This was validation in the purest form: to create something for someone you love, and see them enjoy it. Now I knew what “powers God.”
Blue leaned against me and we watched a movie and ate popcorn like people did a generation before. I imagined some other guy and his girlfriend probably sat there, watching this movie a long time ago.
“Hey! Hey, can we come in?” I heard a shout from behind us. Two figures stood silhouetted in the hall. I recognized them; they were just a couple of guys that lived in the downtown rubble, doing the best they could with their war injuries.
“Yeah, come in and see the movie,” I invited with a wave of my arm.
“Thanks, man.” They called back and then turned to shout behind them, “We can go in. It’s a movie!”
I turned in my seat to see another sixteen people rushing through the door. I laughed. Who could say ‘no’?
Blue was completely focused on the movie. It was almost over, right at the climax when the guy rescues the girl he’s trying to save from the cannibals, right when they embrace and the music starts getting louder. . .
“EVERYBODY UP AND PUT YOUR HANDS OVER YOUR HEADS!!!”
I turned in my seat and saw that a SWAT team of Science proponents had arrived. Cries and protests from the street people who had come inside overpowered the low volume of the movie.
“BE ADVISED, TERRORIST ACTIVITIES ARE SUSPECTED IN THIS SECTOR. . . ALL SUSPECTS WILL BE QUESTIONED. DO NOT RESIST AND YOU WILL NOT BE HARMED.”
“Blue,” I whispered as I crouched down between the seats, “you’ll be okay, just tell them who you are. They’ll take you back to your father.”
“What about you?”
“I know a way out of here. I’ll be okay,” I assured her. “You can tell them the truth.”
“I want to come with you.”
“It’s not safe for you to come with me now. But I’ll find you. Okay?” I reached out and squeezed her hand.
She was standing, facing the SWAT team, trying not to give me away. A priest from Religion was reading the suspects their rights and making sure no one was treated unfairly.
“I love you.”
Her eyes flickered toward me, those sky blue eyes that haunt my dreams. In spite of the fear and tension of the moment she began to smile.
“Come back for me,” she whispered.