CH. 44 «The Festival – Part 2»

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On the second day of the festival, I woke up to the cry of the evil magpie, awake at the crack of dawn and willing to share the experience with everyone. I looked up at the already illuminated world with dirty, bloodshot eyes. To my right Leona, still immune to anything audio, was well asleep. To my left Brick was still snoring away, like a shield against any noise that could potentially wake him. I envied his defense as I rolled over and covered my head with the damp sweatshirt I’d used as a makeshift pillow.

I couldn’t tell if I actually rested over the next two hours, or just tossed and turned myself around one little nap, but I didn’t start getting up until the others did sometime around 9 in the morning. We roused ourselves slowly, eating what we could find appetizing that early in the morning, which wasn’t much more than a PB&J sandwich and a granola bar. We were anxious to meet up with the other group, so we briefly washed up and got on our way to find us a map.

We got our first taste of the strange world around us. Passing by a small pocket of food stands apparently on loan from a carnival, with flashing lights and an iridescent paint jobs, we found ourselves on the paved road we’d used to drive in last night.

“We should probably head that way,” Brick was pointing opposite of the way we came in, the direction everyone else seemed to be walking.

“Looks good to me. Do you think that giant question mark will be of any use to us,” I asked, noting the floating white balloon nearby to our right.

“Couldn’t hurt to check,” Brick shrugged as he started to lead the way.

The ballon was curiously punctuated and informitave. There they filled us in on all we needed to know, handing us each a map plate with the abbreviated concert information contained. Before getting back to the road, I used the map to locate the closest water station to fill up with fresh water before searching for my brother’s camp among these thousands of other camps. I flipped my texti open in my other hand.

“Good morning,” I said spitefully over the comm.

“Oh, hey! What’s up?” my brother simply responded.

“…Not much, where can we find you?”

“Uh, well we’re….you can…if you…well right now…” he continued, unhelpfully.

“Heavens, man! Where are you?” I was past impatient with him and I hadn’t even seen him yet.

“Balloon three. We’re by balloon number three right now, ge-” I cut him off after I heard all I needed to, hanging up my texti and pulling the map out of a cargo pocket to find #3.

The plastic card, loaded with a single program, displayed an aerial view of the 700 acre farm, broken up by a score of streets and avenues. The camping areas were in yellow, themselves each containing a dozen smaller lanes, and the 100 acre event center was in white at the south side of the farm, boasting 5 main stages, several small stages and hundreds of artisans and vendors–according to the info bubble.

The green circle with a “3” in it was located very close to the entrance of Centeroo, marking east-most secton in the first ring radiating from it. We ended up at the far end of the thoroughfare and could see the green balloon tied off somewhere ahead, and even further off, the very tip of the entrance arch visible over the top of the swarming crowd before us.

All three of us (the Martian and both Earthlings) marveled at everything we passed on display. Bags and blankets, with intricate, trippy patterns woven of hemp. Flowing hippie skirts and tie-dye shirts and accessories. Incense and burners of each shape and size, made of wood, stone and ceramic. Of course, there were the pipes and bongs, but most of what we saw looked thin and generic, nothing truly outstanding that called to us to waste our credits on. They also sold food of the strangest types, brought in from all sides of the solar system, and all supposedly healthier for you. Well…not the funnel cakes.

They definitely appeared to be on something already. We found them in an apparent daze loitering about a food stand, staring at and confused by their present surroundings. Rip and Zech were brightly colored, each with curly messes of hair atop their heads, cut by the same barber. Minkus was uncharacteristically bald, and appeared bruised about the eyes and forehead, like he’d been in an accident, or bar fight. He was bobbing up and down, singing back the name of his order to the beat of a nearby band playing when we sauntered up to them through the mud.

“Blue-Berry-Pan-Cakes! Blue-Berry-Pan-Cakes!” he went on in a deep voice, mimicking the bassline.

“What up, motha gorkas?!” I shouted sliding in when they hadn’t noticed me yet.
“Blu-Oh hey, what’s up!?” Minkus said, giving me a hug.

“Hey, man!” Rip was next, throwing an arm around me.

I stepped up to my brother, glaring at him for a nano, before hugging the little guy. Well, not so little anymore it seemed, though he was only two years younger than me, it was strange to see he was as big as me now, and had more hair on his face. “Hey bro,” I finally said.

“What’s up, Marsman?” a voice from behind me asked.

I turned to see Eli standing there, apparently having been there the whole time. “Whoa, I didn’t even notice you, man. How are you?” I asked, embarrassed I didn’t see him. He just shrugged.

“Hi guys,” Brick said, clearing his throat from behind everyone.

“Oh right, everyone this is Brick and Leona. They go to school in New Tros, and Brick‘s from Olympus county, he knew Leucosia,” I said to my old friends, who each nodded in understanding. “Guys, these are Rip, Minkus, Eli; they all went to school with me, Mink goes to school up north now, too. And this fuzzy guy is my brother, Zech.” I felt like I’d introduced everyone well enough.

After Minkus had received his blueberry pancakes, singing the theme song between each bite, we began the short walk to their camp site. Literally just around the corner from where we were standing, it didn’t take long at all for all seven of us to reach the nose of my brother’s supersized rover. They opened the hatch to reveal a few seats on the tail and also pulled the cooler around for another.

“Sorry, we haven’t had this many people here. We didn’t realize we wouldn’t have enough seats,” Rip said, apologizing for his camp.

“No worries, I think I can fit up inside the hold, are you guys gonna be ok?” I asked my two companions.

“I’ll be fine for now, Leo?” Brick passed the question on.

“Yes, for now. I’ve got a folding seat back at our camp I could bring here. And a lamp for later at night,” she added, not noticing any of the tarps or lanterns you’d see accessorizing the other sites.

“You guys may wanna head back pretty soon and take care of that while it’s still early. It gets kinda hard to go back and forth all the time with this many people here,” Rip advised.

“Yeah, but first things first,” I insisted before anyone started moving.

“Hey, he’s right. Have you guys smoked yet?” Minkus asked, his mouth full of breakfast.

“Oh?” this convinced Brick to get comfortable and he sat down on the cooler, offering the other half to his roommate. Rip began to remove his box of goodies, a strange variation on the multi-pocketed case he usually carried his accoutrements. He presented their brand new acquisitions.

“Wait a sec,” I said, smelling something familiar before even taking the piece out of his hand.
“Is this opium in here? Pipes, opium…” I started

“Midies,” Minkus added, holding up a large bag he’d brought in.

“and Headeez” Rip finished, producing a jar of what looked like purple and a bag of something orange.

“Gork, how did you guys get all this stuff, you’ve only been here a day,” I was understandably impressed.

“We willed it all to us,” Rip explained in a deep, mystical voice as he clutched at an invisible ball of energy at his chest. I laughed a nano until I noticed the deadpan expression on everyone else’s face.

“No really, we did. We manifested our desires,” Minkus said, usually skeptic of these sorts of things.

“Wait, really?” I was in disbelief.

“Yeah, it started when I sent Rip to find something for us to do,” he went on, “I was just telling Zech that I’d love to try chasing the dragon, and then bam, he appears again with opium.”

“Then I wished that we had something to smoke out of, besides the little thing I bought for my mom,” Rip continued. “Then a glass blower wandered in and sold your bro and I our new pieces.

“Yep, then I wished for some dank fire, and someone came by to deliver it to us in moments,” Zech said. “Craziest thing ever, man.”

“Does it work with anything?” my mouth was agape as I looked about, marveling at the possibilities.

“Everything we’ve tried so far…here, hold on,” Minkus said, passing a freshly packed bowl to me to start. He stretched his arms for a nano as he stood up, flinched his head a few times and cleared his throat before saying, very loudly “Man, I could really use some pussy!”

Everyone held their breaths as they waited to see if it would work. Would a desperately, attractive girl come running out of nowhere? Would a naked hooker fall from the sky? Would a stray kitten wander in? After a minute it was apparent nothing would happen.

“Maybe it only works with drugs,” Brick suggested.

“Or maybe everyone only gets one wish,” Leona said, looking around to everyone contemplatively nodding to her answer. The consensus became such.

“Well, I don’t want to waste my wish, so somebody hand me a lighter,” I said, eyeing a green bowl in front of me.

After we were thoroughly baked, we wend our way through the other camps to find our own. Brick, Leona, Rip and I arrived back at the b-site in near no time. My brother brought me an extra sleeping bag, pillow and jacket made on Earth and more suitable for the climate here. I left them at our camp and we made sure to prepare everything we thought we’d need for the day: sunblock, water, snacks, maps, cigs, and a few umbrellas and ponchos incase the rain made a second appearance tonight. I grabbed my guitar to leave at the other camp and we were back on our way and harassed by the pushers in no time.

“Spice!” “Plutonium Nyborg!” “Spacoline!” “Jet!” “Bug Powder!” “Slappers, wide variety of mood slappers!” Were just some of the choices being offered in broad daylight. Smarter folks would say less obvious streetnames under their breath as they passed, like ‘Dust’, ‘Meteor’, and ‘Ultima’. Most common was to hear simple initials like ‘K’, ‘H’, ‘X’, ‘D’ or “Q”.

“Lucy? Who was looking for Lucy, I found her,” another would say, less subtly. Girl’s names like ‘Molly’, ‘Stella’, or ‘Helen’ were often used, but sometimes overplayed, so people would start to get creative. ‘Kaleidoscope Eyes’ and ‘Chocolate Covered Shoelaces’ were obscure choices, but not as confusing as ‘Seventh Star of Saturn’. ‘Pan-Galactic Gargleblaster’ got me to turn my head. Eventually, you just assume anyone speaking in your general direction as they pass is trying to sell you something.

“I’ve got acid, 5 creds a hit,” the most indiscreet of the salesmen would tell you as you walked by them. So forward and honest it was truly surreal, one had to marvel at it. What an amazing place where you can be so straightforward with your clients, and even haggle back with your vendors.

“Cookies. Five credit cookies,” one kid with a large tuberware said passing by. I could see Rip straighten to attention, his antennae perking up a bit.

“C’mon!” he said back to us with determination as he sped up, tapping the kid on his bare shoulder and inviting him to take a walk down the nearest lane, away from all the prying eyes of the street.

“Alright, how many do you guys need?” he asked, getting his KEYring out and opening the lid by rote.

“Uhm, well let’s see,” our Ionian-Davidian representative spoke, for us, turning to count heads real quick. “What if we get a bunch, will you cut a deal?”

“Yeah, just hurry up, what are you thinking, five for twenty? Six for twenty-five?”

“How about eight for thirty?” Leona chimed in real quick. I was already handing Rip €10 from me and another €10 from Brick to add to the pool. The salesman locked eyes with her for a nano and then saw Rip handing him 30 credits.

“Alright, alright,” he said, scooping out eight sugar cookies, benign enough in appearance, and trading them for the chargecard. “Pleasure doing business, gents. Enjoy,” he said, and returned to the crowd.

“Ok, who wants how many?” Rip asked as he took two for himself and offered the other six.

“Oh, I don’t want any yet, thank you,” Leona politely turned it down.

“Really?” Brick asked. “Ok, I’ll take two then, Klay?”

“Yeah, I guess I’ll take two and we can give one to Mink and One to Zech,” I said taking my two and leaving the remaining pair for Rip to pocket. “I could always give my brother one of mine… or half of…naaaah,” I said, deciding to eat both as we hiked back.

The others had started planning our itinerary while we were gone. So far the list included a series of strange sounding band names: Karp, Cedarpleat, Ferrous Fortress, Mammal Commune and a great deal more you’d need to pass an indie credit check to recognize. I’m not too lazy to list them all, it’s just you probably haven’t heard of them.

Equally as important as deciding who we’d get to see at the festival was determining which substances would best augment our experiences. Similar to the sales pitches I’d just heard on our walk back through Bonnaroo, the guys began listing off random names of drugs we could take. It was beginning to sound like a full itinerary.

Somewhere in the circle of discussion Brick brought up the Flowers of Taurus we had leftover from the road trip. My brother’s ears perked with interest. Minkus jumped in, asking if there was any more I could share. Before I could respond Eli was also begging me for fungus.
“Yes–gorkin’ vultures–you all may have some. But its back in the cooler at our camp, I’m not just getting it for you. Follow me if you want any Flowers,” I declared standing as I flipped my yellow scarf dramatically, and turned to lead them away.
“Wait, are we set on the schedule? We’ll have to head to the shows soon,” Rip shouted to stop me.
“Hmm, well what do you suggest?” I asked, stopping mid-step.
“Well I think we were gonna go find some food,” Leona said, looking to Brick who nodded back, hunger behind his eyes. They’d been whispering and nudging themselves towards the vendors while we were deliberating.
“I guess I’ll go looking for tonight’s main course while the rest of you are gone then. Rendezvous here at 1500 hours?” Rip sighed, referencing his droid for the time.
“When?!” Zech asked facetiously.
“40 minutes, bro; let’s go.”
And so we split into three different missions, like in some RPG where all your characters separate to go on their own quests somewhere early on–so early you don’t get to choose who you take in each of your new parties. Brick and Leona’s goal seemed easy enough to handle by themselves, and Rip was leveled well enough to make it on his own. As the main character of this adventure, I felt like I was just dragging along a few expendable NPCs.

We arrived at my camp sometime after 2:30, the tent and crawler already hot to the touch from the unrestricted sun. I thumbed the KEY in my pocket to open the hatch and began digging in the cooler for the psychedelic remnants.

“Hey, any of you guys want a beer? They’re still ice cold.” They all asked for one and I handed them out, they’d need something to wash down what I’d remove next. “Behold!” I held aloft a metalic foil bag.

“Coffee?” Minkus asked.

“Chocolate truffle coffee?” Zech asked, looking more closely at the label.

“Shut up,” I began to open the package and dig around the finely ground stuff with my wet fingers. I sighed, wiped my hand off on my pants, and poured half the Venusian beans in the dirt. I stopped when the baggy fell out.

“Behold,” I said again, retrieving it for them. “It’s up to you guys to decide how much you each get,” I handed the bouquet to my brother. I grabbed myself a snack and popped open a beer while I watched them divvy up the larger pieces of heads and stems, then take pinches of the bluish powder at the bottom.

It’s always amusing to see people react to the filthy, mucusy texture when eating them raw. I happen to like it; the taste reminded me of sunflower seeds. The two blonde Earthlings grimaced and cringed with each tangy bite, immediately washing it down with a big swig of lager when they couldn’t take it anymore. The dark haired one, face shaded by the brim of his baseball cap, ate it like candy, delighting in the end of the bag when the others didn’t want anymore. We grabbed another round of beers before heading off to join the other parties.

After our rendezvous, we made our way to the event center. The lanes and roads were well established by sandled foot by now, the main streets slick with mud from runoff at all the water stations and consession stands, laid over with hay that too had saturated and slipped under foot. Rip had to head back before filing through the security checkpoint into Centeroo, he had to drop off the pure MDMA he’d just bought himself and the others who were staying up late tonight. We entered separately but managed to reunite again at an easy enough landmark, a blue pillar with a hood over top like a mushroom cap that dispensed water.

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I realize I could sit here typing all the bands Ive watched today, most of which you’ve probably never heard of, and give short reviews of their performances for you to feel like you’re here at the festival with me…or I could take these drugs and enjoy it for myself.
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Holy gork it’s hot, I can’t even believe what I’m feeling right now…omg is that ice cream? Oh thank you, Brick, best idea ever!
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This is a sort of exhausting ordeal, trying to move around between each of the, like, seven stages all the acts are split up on so you can see enough of your favorite ones before moving on to another favorite band of yours…gork.. And you have to maintain awareness of this zig-zaggy schedule while you’re head is full of all the drugs you’re trying to enjoy the festival with…trying to enjoy the festival…just trying to enjoy this festival…


We ran into the others just outside of the spherewall of the main event space. We were heading back to camp to drop dead as heading in to drop molly and dance their asses off to the late-evening line-up.

“Hey Zech, gimmie your KEY, I wanna grab something from your rover on the way back,” Trying to stop him for a nano. As he passed by quickly he shouted back.

“It’s open. The batteries dead so the hatches won’t lock. Just don’t lock it or we’re gorked!” he warned, running to catch up with the others.

At his quiet campsite we collected the items we’d left there over the day, sunglasses and hats, our battery powered lantern and the sticky green that Brick had found earlier. I also grabbed my brothers new pipe, since none of us had anything appropriate with us, and they had plenty to use. I had a feeling I would likely be its custodian this summer, or at least at just over Bonnaroo, so I tucked it with care into my pocket as if it were my own.

Back at B-Camp we immediately climbed into the crawler and sunk in, turning on the AC to blast off the layer of humidity that tried to cling to us. Brick turned up the music, Leona passed us beers from the back seat, and I packed a bowl at the end of the second day.

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PREV: CH. 44 «The Festival – Part 2»

PREV: CH. 43 «The Festival – Part 1»

NEXT: CH. 45 «Back Home»

NEXT: CH. 45 «Back Home»







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Breakfast today consisted of a Bloody Mary’s and spliffs while listening to asteroid reggae and classical guitarists all morning. I think I could get used to this kind of lifestyle.

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Ughh. Thank the stars the drugs I took for the last act are still working. I could not handle this seriously..and to think there are people who came to the festival just to see The Boss.

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You know, it might be the drugs, but for a second I felt the awesome power of the all-Earthling hero…but then he brought it down and started to talk to the crowd about “building a house of love” …that’s our cue to pack up the picnic blanket and head back to our camp to try and rest for the next adventure.

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