Reading time: 12-15 minutes
Where am I? Gonging flinching glistening pounding aching switching soothing—all in one, one in all—each sound distinct, but flowing out one liquid fluid floating form that goes in seismic billows into space. If there were a word to name you, Oral Bliss, I’d call you “music.” But God, how far away you were from music!
“…Bring ‘em over here! Come on…”
I opened my eyes. Color upon color. Color beyond color, within color, birthing kaleidoscopic color. Light. We speak of dark and light. Here light is alive. Light has order. Light has shape. Texture. Fashion. Attitude.
“…Haha! Dude you gonna finish ALL that?”
I rose from my bed. I was in no bed. I was on a floor. “Floor” is not what this was. “Floors” don’t move. Floors don’t judge. Don’t ask about your day. Floors stop and stay, firm against gravity. Floors don’t engage with gravity. Floors don’t fondle gravity.
What IS this.
I stood up. I was wearing a tuxedo. Since when?
My shoes glowed like moonlight. Greenpurpleredsilver.
I was surrounded by faces Electric, Alive.
“…Do that again! Ah, you missed!”
Music Color Floor Tuxedo Faces
“Hey!” It came from behind me. “Hey man!”
Was he talking to me?
“Hey! You’re up! You gotta try this thing!”
I approached the flood of hoots and howls. Their faces gleamed in the sea of bodies. He found me and took my hand. “Here you go,” he said. A woman to my right kissed me on the cheek.
I took the glass. It was shaped like a blizzard. Inside was a sworp of blue red angle syrup.
I drank: Trumpets. Firework ice. Horn towers. Balloons. Chocolate Easter Spring Mountain. Ta Ta Ba Taba Ra Kallah. Pineapple pickpocket crick boom bam.
I drifted off and met a short man with a candle hat. I screamed “WHAT IS THIS.”
“WHAT IS THIS PLACE?”
I found another man sipping glue. “Hello.”
“What is this place?”
“What do you mean?”
“I woke up here. What’s going on?”
He beamed. “You just woke up!” He lifted his arms, introducing it all.
“WHAT IS THIS!” Say something right, you son of a bitch.
He turned and announced, “Hey, man! It’s a party!”
Sound Music Color Light Floor Shoes Drinks
“You just woke up?” he said.
“Same. Woke up dressed like this and it was all just here. I’ve been here ever since!”
Behind him, two girls sat laughing and exchanging slaps across the face. A midget kicked an old woman and tore off her wig. She screamed at him, “Go Eat Luts, Morto!” Three couples made out against the wall. First in pairs and then the six together.
“How did I get here?” I said.
“Beats me,” he said and walked away.
I moved on. I approached a thing. I guess you could call it a “countertop.”
“Excuse me,” I said to the man on the other side. “Could you tell me where I am?”
He stared blankly. I asked another way. “Can I speak to the owner or manager?”
“Nobody ‘owns’ or ‘manages’ a party, dude. What kind of fucked-up party would that be?”
I walked away. A man in a horse suit slammed into me, fleeing a nun who dragged a paraplegic.
I went back to the countertop. “Fine,” I yelled. “Then who’s the host of this party? Let me speak to the HOST.”
He pointed across the hall. “He’s over there.”
I scanned the sea of pandemonium. I dove back into its depths. A man declares he can see the ceiling then falls to the floor and weeps. A boy with a bat is hitting a cat. A mother is there with her dog. Two girls compete for who can gag the most. Motion there is motion. Cyclical surfs of mint molasses mist. Synchronized chaos cool melodic love. Circling whirling sphering disking reels.
“Excuse me!” I screamed into the spinning centrifuge. “Do you know where the host is?” Someone pointed to a man on an icy pillar, doused in gold and honey, carved and etched with mallets and chisels from gods. He was The Host.
Resisting the orb, I scraped toward him, waving my arms for attention. The whole hall cheered and imitated me.
He heard me and descended the pillar.
“Pardon me.” He towered over me. “I just have some questions. I woke up here not long ago. I wanted to know how I got to this place. What is this?”
The Host did not respond.
“Hello?” I gazed into his crystal eyes. “What’s going on here?”
“Party,” he replied in a foreign accent.
“Yes, I know. But why the party? And how in the world did I get here—”
He reached out and took my hands, interrupting me. He shook his head and pointed to his ear. He was trying to say he didn’t understand.
I mimed my question: Sleep. Wake. People. What—
“Me same you,” he said. “Me party!”
He couldn’t have understood. “You’re not the host?” I pointed at him. “Your party?”
“Mi party!” he sneered. “Ost! Na! Ni!” He pointed back at me. “Same you! Same you!”
So I mimed with my hands, my arms, my hips, my bones: “Party for WHO?”
He shrugged and ascended the pillar.
Six men exchanged a pot of flaming camel blood. A girl in polka dots licked a popsicle. A man followed me around, demanding pizza.
“It’s fine if you won’t give me some. I’ll gladly buy it off of you. Just name the price. Just give me whatever you got!” He started to slip. “How they give that shit to kids man blows my fucking mind. You ever eat a pizza before, man? Nobody eats a pizza bro the pizza fucking eats you! It reaches down in your guts and takes your balls! I swear I’ll fucking kill you for some pizza!”
He gave up and went away. I asked a pair that was dressed in glass, “Would you two ladies tell me where’s the host?”
“No, sorry,” said one. “I’m sure he’s around here somewhere. I hear he wears lots of quintillion.”
I saw an old man in a turtle shell. I asked about the host. Before I was finished, he belched in my face. I shoved him off his stool and walked away.
I found a group that looked potentially normal. “Could you direct me to this party’s host?”
“Hmm,” said a woman. “That’s a good question.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever thought of that,” said the man on her left. “The host?”
“Not sure,” said another. He turned to the others. “Do you think there is a host?”
“Do you think there’s a host!” I bellowed. “How can there not be a host? Where did this enormous party come from? Who started it? What’s it doing here? And how did we get here?”
They were enthralled. It had never crossed their minds.
“I don’t know,” said a man in a blue and yellow suit. “I mean, you’re right. We all got here the same way.”
“But a Host? I haven’t seen one,” said a lady in red. “Have you tried the other floors?”
“What other floors?”
“Yeah. They say there’s more than one floor.”
I spun around. Not a wall, a corner, a door in sight. The whole thing spilled out boundless, vibrant, dervishing. And yet, there were floors?
“One hundred, they say,” said an infinitely distant voice. “Or so I’ve heard. I’ve never been beyond the second floor. They say it goes as high as floor one hundred.”
“If there’s even a host, he’s probably over there.”
“I wonder what he’s like. You think he knows…”
But I was gone.
The third floor was a narrow cavern made of fur. No success, since nobody there could speak.
I was hopeful when I reached the eighth floor and discovered a wild crowd of masked teenagers surrounding an object I couldn’t see. When I asked about the host, they ushered me into the center. I squirmed by, enduring every touch, slap, stroke, suck, grope, lick, and kiss. When I finally reached the middle, there it was: a shattered framed photograph of the late Jo Beul, the rock star.
On the thirteenth floor, I met an old woman who claimed to be the host. She offered to answer all of my questions, but each response would cost me a drink. After acquiring her bluebell crimson jagged-red cone-syrup, I asked, “What is this place? Why did you bring us here?”
She answered, “I am Sam. Sam-I-am…”
When I asked a man on the twenty-fourth floor if he knew anything about the host, he gasped.
“NO one has ever seen The Host. NO One! How dare you make such a claim?”
I tried to explain, but he cried, “Not Ever! The Host is beyond our sights, our sounds! Get out! Out! OUT!”
On the thirty-second floor, some well-dressed gentlemen academes explained that each of us was the host of his own party. Although we were all in one place, the experience is different for each of us. The course and nature of our Journey is ours to direct. We must Seek the Party on our own. But never Despair. Seek and you shall Find! Man and Earth Will Once Again Unite!
On the forty-first floor, they told me that this wasn’t a party. In fact, none of it was real. It was all a meaningless illusion from a distant galaxy and all was going to end. And when it was over we were all going to go to the big real party that never ever ends with toys and games and all the ice cream you can eat.
The fifty-fifth floor was quiet. The party continued like it did on other floors, but everything there was muffled. Sounds were softer, lights duller, colors blander, movement gentler. There, they said the host exists inside of us. Seeking him in the party would only push us further apart.
“The Host,” they sang, “He lives in You.”
On the sixty-eighth floor, a sage adorned in fabrics and jewels embraced me.
“Welcome,” he said, smiling, gleaming. “The Host apologizes for your troubles, but he is unable to meet with you. I have been sent to speak on his behalf.”
“Thank you,” I said. “I’ll speak to him myself.”
“Apologies,” he purred, his smile prominent. “The Host is not available. Please direct all of your concerns to me.”
This did not satisfy me. I turned to leave. He took me by the arm and sternly requested some money. “Parties don’t finance themselves, you know.”
I crawled the last bit to the eighty-ninth floor, dropped to the ground, and breathed. My temples thumped like mallets. My muscles unraveled to string. I melted into the rug. I was afraid to see.
A softness grazed my shoulder. I opened my eyes and saw a beautiful woman. She kneaded my mallets into cream, tethered my stringed muscles, kissed my flesh back to clay. She harnessed the cosmos, then daubed it all over my body.
“Come with me.”
We went to a vacuum, far from the party’s noise. We leaned on a railing facing galaxies. She kneaded my arms and stroked me with her gaze.
“What’s wrong,” she said.
“I just don’t know anymore.” I blew out my anger, I cursed the smites away. “What is this all? What’s one to make of it?”
“Why make anything of it?” she said. “It is here. You are here.”
“But what is ‘here’?”
I looked, beholding the violence of symmetry, the bedlam billowing spiral constancy, adagios of wheeling paint, the swordsmanship of sparring light, perfection’s brazen entropy.
And for the first time since I had opened my eyes to this, I saw.
She touched me and ripples. Ninety-Nine Waves. I drift and flutter. I am the pulse of time. I open my eye.
I come to Floor One Hundred.
Back to Prose.