Inside a television, looking out. There was a boy in the room, maybe eight years old. He seemed upset. He told me I wasn't going to get a memory, because it was too expensive--because, "Dad said it was just a tear pricing scam." [I assume he meant tiered.] I heard footsteps in the distance. The boy reached out and turned me off.

We were in fact sought out yesterday, but with stunning indifference. When I first heard the voices, I had flashes of a lynch mob, but the tone coming through the door sounded more like milling trick-or-treaters than angry witch hunters. Indeed, it was just a few curious folk wanting to know if I'd remembered anything yet, wondering if I knew anything about the new light up in the sky. Some seemed a little uneasy, worried something might be wrong, but only like children who trust that any problem is someone else's and will be gone soon enough. The whole encounter was very uneventful. (Of course, I didn't tell them a thing. "Sorry, I hit my head, I don't remember.")

I have a new theory. The company I was working for has been secretly running a huge and elaborate experiment to breed sheeple, and somehow I took a wrong turn coming out of the lab and fell in. Maybe in my drugged confusion, I wandered farther than I realized, happened through a door that should have been locked, and fell into--The Pit of Eden, breeding ground of the mentally inane. Oh my god, and the prank girl--could he have got her here? Maybe this is where they make girlfriends for geeks, sort of a company perk? Okay, I'm not too serious here. I hope. But the scale of unimaginable. I mean, I am here right now, experiencing it directly, and still I have a hard time accepting that the horizon in all directions is a painting, that the sky itself is--I don't know what--the underside of Los Angeles, painted blue? And the city is huge. Not on the scale of Los Angeles, not even close, but the biggest indoor city-like casino in Vegas is just a tee-pee by comparison. I guess that's the best analogy, impressive in the same way, just on a much grander scale. I can accept the technological plausibility, but the economy of it? Who or what could possibly have funded this, while keeping it quiet no less? And why?!

Speaking of economy, I've become curious about how it works here. Having seen no indication of contact or interference from the outside, how does this place keep ticking? The answer is a bit odd, but fits nicely with my new theory.

Laura works at a bakery--but not very hard. The bakery is always overstaffed, and always produces far more goods than it could possibly sell. The excess, besides the fraction that goes home with the employees, is simply thrown away, never given out. Laura said that besides the fact that there simply isn't anyone who can't afford to buy bread, it is taboo to give handouts except to the injured--at which point she peered at me with a very cute, sympathetic expression and kissed me on the forehead. Groan.

Apparently, it's also taboo to own any dwelling or structure which you are not personally using on a regular basis, which means there is no renting here whatsoever. Furthermore, the population has apparently been mysteriously stable as long as Laura is aware, and there has always been an excess of housing. Other than some homes and businesses in especially fine locations, real estate is regularly bought and sold for a pittance.

(If you had no money whatsoever, there are vacant houses waiting to be claimed, though they are by definition in the least desirable locations and also typically in the worst state of disrepair.)

So, in short, the bakery pays no rent.

"Taboo" and "law" seem to be one and the same here, as the church is the government (why did this not surprise me?) but the church operates entirely by volunteer labor, and completely without money, so there are no taxes of any sort.

I started to wonder if this wasn't some grand experiment in utopian society. But no, obviously the numbers just weren't adding up, so I kept following the chain of supply back until I hit the key questions: Where does the wheat come from? Are there farms within the boundary as well? No, randomly enough, the (one) church supplies wheat to the entire city! And where does the church get the wheat? Why, the fountain of wheat, of course. "Pardon me?" Yes, according to Laura, there is a fountain in the church in the middle of town which just spews wheat, constantly.

I wanted to ask her if she didn't find this just a little bit odd. But no, clearly not, she didn't even think to mention it until I asked it directly. She was raised with running wheat just as I was raised with running water. To her I must seem like some primitive marveling at a pot boiling on the stove, asking, "But, where did you get the water? It comes out of the wall, you say?"

When the topic came up, she reached into her hanging apron pocket and produced for me a small handful of wheat berries, spillage from her morning transfer of wheat to the grinder. I fondled and examined them absent-mindedly as we spoke, then for a while in silence as I contemplated the bizarreness of this all. Suddenly it struck me--not a realization about what had been said, but about the wheat in my hand.

"Wait a minute!" I said. "There are only three different berries here!"

Naively, I expected this to be news to her, but she said, "Well, of course, any school child knows that!"

They even have names: Mike, Larry, and Peenma. And no, she has no idea why (maybe just the whims of school children?), but did know which was which. I tried to explain that real wheat berries grow on the ends of long blades of grass, and that every one is unique, but she took it as some arbitrary humor on my part. I saw no use in pressing the matter.

So what have I been eating? Bread made from strange little food pellets containing god knows what--Xanax and Thorazine, judging by the sheeple. Maybe that's the experiment? I don't feel any different than when I arrived, but then, would I notice? I'm glad I'm keeping a journal.

She laughed when I asked if there was a fountain of fruit as well. No, just lots of fruit trees, everywhere, free for the pickin'. Who takes care of them? She didn't understand the question. Seems once in a long while when an old tree dies or stops producing, the church volunteers will plant a new one somewhere, but other than that, they just grow. There is enough "rain" that they needn't be watered, and apparently just as there are no diseases of man here, there are no pests or diseases afflicting the trees. (How have they--the creators of this little experiment--pulled this off?)

I wondered now if this wasn't an experiment in longevity, health, immortality? Laura couldn't give me collected figures, but from her personal anecdotes it didn't seem like people were living to be especially old here. (This gives me the idea, though, to seek out the oldest person I can find, to see what they can tell me of the origins or early years of this place.) The longevity track led me tangentially to another realization: the last time I shaved was the night of the scan, but I have no stubble! I suppose this could just be change of diet, or stress, or side effects of the scan drugs; but it could be something in the "wheat".

Also, my appetite still hasn't returned. I've only been eating because I know I should--and it occurs to me I've eaten nothing but "wheat" products and fruit since arriving via the pond express. Yet I feel completely fine, not in the least bit lacking in nutrition. I'm really quite curious now what's packed into those little food pellets.

Laura further indicated that there is neither meat eating here (based on her response I may as well have asked her if people suck on rocks), nor dairy, nor anything else. It seems fruit and food pellets (Purina People Chow?) are all that's on the menu here!

Anyway, back to economics: This "city" is no experiment in self-sustaining communities. It is externally subsidized to such an extent that one never really has to work here at all to survive. People do work, but only very casually as bakers, handymen, and the like, and more often as musicians, artists, actors, playwrights, and so on. I.e. as Laura describes it, the economy here appears mostly based upon entertaining each other.

I wonder where the inventors and scientists are. The whole concept of technological progress seems both foreign and unnecessary to Laura. Has the population been drugged into apathy? Or if necessity is the mother of invention, is utopia its grim reaper?

I wonder if I could build a hot air balloon and travel to the stars...

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