In the west now, at the edge, almost there. Up the winding roads of the UnCorp SC mountains, deep in the forest, is a large wood house with rusting cars dotting a circular dirt drive. Decrepit shacks in the front yard. This is our destination. Home?
We drive down a small hill to the back. There's our cabin, I think. Tiny, weathered, gray. In a bowl of green. It is shadowed by the big house but looks out on a sea of redwoods. Wolf and Hound hang around to check it out. I go look for the landlord back up at the main house.
It's afternoon and a vid is blaring inside. No one comes to the door when I ring the bell or knock. But I hear shuffling. A tall, thin man in worn gray sweats open up. He is haggard and rough, dark circles around his eyes, a glazed look, seems surprised to see me but asks for no explanation. He hands over a key with a mumble, something like, "Down round found, no problem."
"What's that? So I can just go down and get set up," I ask, handing over an envelope full of greenies.
He opens it and counts greedily, pleased. With a small smile, he says, "Sure. Make yourselves at home."
So here we go. The cabin is one room, even smaller than our mini-cube on the Point. But it costs half as much. Plus, there's a sprawling yard with pear trees that bring deer springing across the creek from the forest. Eye can tell. Green as far as the eye can see. Practically paradise found.
The creek is just a trickle. Because drought, of course. And the garden's surrounded by barbed wire. The crops -- whatever they are -- are guarded by a tough guy keeping it real with a machete. He introduces himself by waving it at Hound and cursing with an indecipherable accent, "No dogerman winter! No good! No magix! No!"
Wolf manages to calm the man down, promising we're not magix and convincing him not to kill the doge. He skulks back to his tiny shack up the hill, still cursing. So yeah, the neighborhood is rough. It’s UnCorp. Edgy, necessarily.
But also it’s green. Very green. I sit at the creek, astounded that we've escaped Metropolis. And eventually the corporate voices issuing posi-plats in my mind subside. They are subsumed by water babble, birdsong, rustling leaves, the sweet sounds of Hound running around off leash. For hours, until dusk, dark, I stay outside. Wolf turns lights on in the cabin behind me. A low full moon hangs above, and I wash my eyes, bask in quiet. Sweet silence. Finally. There is no-think.