“The first day? I don’t remember anything about the first day. If I had to guess, I’d say it was exactly the same as every other day. So, I suppose the first thing I notice every morning is that dull, dusty ambient light behind my eyelids. The sun never comes up or goes down here—honestly, I’m not sure the sun exists—so there are no days or nights. The sky is always that same shifting shade of gray-yellow, an omnipresent jaundice that waxes and wanes imperceptibly.
“I live in the city, if you can call it a city. Nobody lives or works in these buildings. They’re completely empty. I once paced every single square foot of that skyscraper over there, one floor at a time. There was nothing inside, not even furniture. Well, actually, there were wastebaskets beneath the sinks in the break rooms.
“By the time I got to the top of the building, I had begun to realize what this place is. So I jumped. The next thing I knew, I was waking up again to that fucking light. So I climbed to the top of that building and jumped again, and woke up again. I think I did it at least a hundred times, just to be sure it wouldn’t work after a certain number of tries. Now, sometimes I just climb up there for the view. Every so often, when the mood catches me, I’ll stare out to the horizon where a sunset might be, desperately wishing that my eyes would play tricks on me.”
“The binoculars almost seem like a prank, you know? Gee, thanks, now I can use these to see the next 400 miles of barren wasteland that I will aimlessly traverse. Most of the time, I forget whether I’m looking through the binoculars or just staring off into the distance. It all looks the same.
“I’ve tried to fuck the binoculars, but the lenses don’t come out. Also, my penis is gone for some reason.
“Sometimes I sit still for a few days, and other times I walk around. Just depends on my mood. I used to run when I could spare the energy, but it made me too sad. I don’t even know if I’m going in circles. Going in circles would be sort of nice, really, because it indicates a purpose or pattern of some kind. But something tells me that I’ve probably traveled in a pitiful, drifting squiggle that would make no sense from, like, an aerial perspective.”
“Yeah, there are other people here. You can see them walking around all over the place. They don’t speak, though. I don’t even know if they can see me. They’re all sort of zeroed in on their own little missions.
“I typically steal the belts of the people I pass and use the belts to tie other people to me. Here, look—I’ve got five people tied to me right now. That’s Corden, and that’s Bev-man, and Furly, Debit, and Jimson. They keep me company wherever I go.
“I would very much like for one of them to speak to me, but it’s okay. Sometimes they all walk directly into each other for an instant, and I can slip in between them and feel like they’re giving me a group hug. It is sheer ecstasy; it makes me cry to even think about it. I don’t know what I would do in this world without my friends. I couldn’t stand to be alone here.”
“It’s not like there isn’t stuff to do here. Boredom isn’t a problem for any of us. You can put rocks into piles, for example, or stand on tall things. The options are literally endless.
“Me, I like to pour water on this sprout. It never grows, of course. I also have no water, so I just fill the pitcher with sand. If you pour enough sand on it—like this much—then you can’t even see the sprout anymore. Then, you can brush away some sand off the pile, and the top of the sprout is visible again. It reminds me of what would happen if it was actually growing.”
“What? You don’t think people can die in this place? Because they definitely can. I’ve seen tons of dead people. Corpses, I guess. I never understood that phrase, “dead people.” How can you be dead and still be a person?
“I think the only way that your corpse will decay here is if you die peacefully. I’ve come across lots of rotting flesh humps lying out in the open, so I assume those people just dropped dead. They always kind of look like they’re squirming in discomfort, like maybe they’re not dead yet, but once you get close, you realize they’re just covered in ants.
“If you die violently in this place, your corpse gets preserved no matter how mutilated it is. So, for instance, there are lots of pristine bodies with heads like smashed melons over at the foot of that mountain. And one time, I thought I saw a guy climbing a tree, but when I ran over to say hi, I realized that he had been crucified. Except he had to have done it to himself, because just one leg and one arm were nailed into the tree. His body just swung back and forth like a barn door.
“Sometimes I think I would like to kill myself, but I worry that I would be preserved like that. With any luck, I’ll fall ill or have an acute heart attack or something so that I won’t leave a single recognizable molecule of myself in this place.”
“You see it, too, don’t you? The bird? Please tell me you see it. I’ve been following it for so long now, but I can’t seem to ever catch it. I’ve come very close, but it always gets away.
“Sometimes I will pretend to be asleep, and I will feel the bird get very close to me. It traces its beak along my temple and starts to pluck out my eyelashes. When I try to snatch the bird, it always escapes. I know the bird isn’t trying to hurt me. It just wants me to wake up and follow it some more. I think it has something to show me.
“The bird is beautiful and terrible. I do not know where it is leading me, but I’ve already come too far to give up. I don’t know what I’ll do when I finally get my hands on it. I have thought of marrying it as well as drinking its blood. I will probably do whatever the bird asks me to do.”
“Honestly? Some of us are glad to finally get some work done. Maybe instead of whining about the gathering fog or the distant thunderclaps, people could sit down and brainstorm some content ideas or catch up on email.
“Just between you and me, I think the entrepreneurial community here is seriously lacking in thought leadership. And from a market perspective, there’s a huge potential for disruption in the transportation space. Like, I haven’t seen a wheel anywhere. Nobody has thought of using wheels yet. Why not me?
“I’ve already registered “whyyl.com,” so I’m not worried about you stealing my idea. I’ll probably build out a minimum viable product once I catch up on my email and brainstorm some content ideas for the week.
“To be honest, I’m just glad to be getting some work done. People are so whiny here. Sure, the fog gets thicker and the thunderclaps get closer with each passing second, but that’s no excuse. Like, me, I’m always trying to stay ahead of the curve, to keep that entrepreneurial drive alive. For example, have you seen a single wheel in this place? I don’t think anyone knows about wheels.”
John Bender is a character from The Breakfast Club. We honestly don’t how he escaped the film or why he does pop culture writing now.