Icarus Dissembling


Graham approached cautiously, a wild, sickening fascination drawing him forward.  The icon was an airplane. An airplane.  And fastened there a ragtime aviator, lovingly rendered; tweed cap and vest, goggles, billowy shirtsleeves, knickers, gloved hands outstretched and pierced by…joysticks?
He clapped a hand to his mouth and stumbled backward. From deep within the catacomb of gutwork his gorge readied itself anew for rising. He shakily moved forward and brushed his rancid fingers over the burnished silver convexity. On impulse then he saw fit to grasp the joystick piercing the tormented figure’s overlapping boots. He pulled back.  The knobless door recessed upwards into the ceiling with an electronic whisper.  Pastel colored light poured in from the next room and Graham leaped back to avoid being seen. He flattened himself against the wall, strenuously, the Single Bead of Sweat rolling momentously down his throbbing temple.  Martin Landau circa 1969.  From within the room a susurrus of voices chanted, or conversed.  Solemnly, rhythmically.  Graham strained to pick up what they were saying and leaned closer to the doorway.
“The plane…does not…have time…to fall.”
What was this?
“The plane…does not…have time…to fall.”
“The plane…does not…have time…to fall.”
Over and over.  And over.  It was chanting.  A room full of what sounded like a mixed crowd of men and women.  Chanting?  What was this about airplanes falling?
“The plane…does not…have time… to fall.”
Panic began politely to tickle Graham’s coccyx.  Do something.  Get out.  The chanting changed in modulation, tapered off without ceremony to be replaced by a generalized murmur, almost of disapproval.
“Who’s next to board,” a woman’s voice tremulously broke in.
“I”, someone responded.  A man….familiar…Jameson?
“Come forward.”  A chair creaked as someone rose.  Feet padded forward.
“Are you prepared?”
“I am not!”
“Tell it.”
The respondent sighed heavily.  What followed was clearly a recitation.  “A machine of that mass will stay aloft only by the most extreme applications of reactive airfoil faith. We trust the machine.”
“Oughtn’t we?”
“We ought not.”
“And why not?”
“A machine is but a limb, and the human limb operates at the whim of the ruined human.”
“Why ruined?”
“To place one’s trust in the elevator, the jackscrew, the artificial horizon, is to surrender sovereignty.”
“What must be done?”
“Daedalus must be sated.  To escape this mechanistic labyrinth, this ensnaring.  Daedalus must be sated.”   Graham rolled back along the wall, inching away from the door.  Whatever this nutty convocation was, it was exacerbating his condition.
“Have we a volunteer?”
“In the foyer.”
“Bring him.”  A dim and dust-covered light bulb flickered suddenly in Graham’s mind.  Time to go.  He gathered his energies.
“Luddites!” he hollered with cracking voice, and springing to the exit found his legs captured around the shins.  He hit the floor like a rolled carpet.  Grunting, he staggered to his feet. The booze informed his prone crouch, his pitiably crablike attempt at a defense posture.  A smallish Druidic claque of uniformed airline captains filed into the foyer, fingers laced in the manner of supplicants.  The tin wings on their caps glittered feebly in the dimness. A couple of them looked to be suppressing grins.  Dear Captain Jameson, dear lovely Captain Jameson stepped forward and took Graham gently by the arm.  A handsome brunette Doris Day with squarish shoulders took his other arm.
“Hullo, Graham,” Jameson intoned intimately.
“You’re not from England..” muttered Graham for the second time in as many hours, and raised a hand as if to call down a heavenly oath.  “Are you?”

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