The Pastures

The Pastures

 

E Norman


Warning

What you are about to read is entirely a work of the imagination, rather than a prescriptive remedy for self development. If you are in a mental state where you feel (or have been told) you should seek the medical care of a licensed professional, please READ NO FURTHER, and do just that: seek the medical care of a licensed professional.

How to read this book

This book is meant to be read from start to finish, chronologically, like any other book. You may be tempted by your self or by the book to skip around. Don’t.

 

Please do not lose this book as it will prove to be the source of your recovery and discharge from The Pastures.

 

Table of Contents

Warning

How to read this book

Table of Contents

Welcome to the room

Knocking on the door

Breakfast

Morning recess

Morning chores

Lunch

Afternoon nap

Afternoon chores

Afternoon worship of our founder and leader

Dinner

Evening social hour

The Lottery

How to leave this place

“What to do if you are too late.”

How to get something you don’t have

Our founder and leader, a biography

Appendix A – Mess Hall Songs and Hymns of Worship

Appendix B – Patient’s record

Appendix C – A history of less humane treatments

Notes

If, at any time during the course of reading this book, you feel that you can no longer effectively put this book down, please re-read the Warning, found at the very beginning.

Welcome to the room

 

Let’s assume that you need a quiet place to retreat from the manic universe. There are days that you crave activity and excitement, we know, but there are days where you crave solitude, and plain surroundings. Sometimes even a peaceful place like a park or a city reservoir area can’t still the soul and curb the thoughts. We also know how hard it is to complete some of those exercises provided by awareness gurus—you know, the ones where you tense up each muscle then relax it, then think of a peaceful place somewhere, like a pasture or a beach. We’ve tried those exercises, and while they sometimes have caused us to doze off, they usually leave us in distress over the time we’ve wasted lying on our backs instead of working to feed our families.

 

We don’t want to offer you something we can’t really deliver, and then say that the fault is all yours for not trying hard enough. There are plenty of pseudo-scientific moneymaking organizations, be they motivational courses or cults or religions, that propose to do just that. Instead, we would like to offer you a book that you can stop and pick up again months later, and with this book, glean new insights and ways of looking at the world about you.

 

We also feel that some retreats are simply matters of indulgence and escapism, and others are places to lick wounds, reassess priorities, and take new strategies of being back out into the world. Both kinds of retreats serve a useful purpose, and this book may indeed be used in both ways. However, we sincerely hope that once the moments of indulgence and escapism grow unbearably dull, you will move on to areas of the book that can help you grow as a human being, and make you become someone better than the person you were when you started this book.

 

Let’s begin.

 

First, you will need to construct a place. It should consist of four walls, all one color. We recommend you make the walls white, brown, black, charcoal or tan. At any rate, the walls, door, ceiling and floor will be the same color. Your place will have no windows, and one door. We are going to color your place brown for the purpose of the first chapter. If you picked another color, you may substitute it for brown, but for the purpose of presenting a concrete example, your room is brown.

 

Your room has a door, as mentioned above, a bed, a standing lamp on one side of the bed, a nightstand, a small reading lamp on the nightstand, a small alarm clock on the nightstand, and the book you are currently reading, also on the nightstand. Your bed is a full-sized bed, big enough for one person to stretch out comfortably, but not room enough for two people to do so. It is covered in brown sheets. Your room is big enough for you to fit four, full-sized beds in it, and no bigger than that (you will only have one, full-sized bed, this is just to give you an idea of the room’s size). The room is eight feet tall, plenty of room to raise your arms above your head if you need to.

 

You will notice that the door is locked. You are not a prisoner, at least not in the sense of being held against your will. Any time you wish to leave your room, you can knock on the door (see the chapter “Knocking on the door” for further details about what will happen when you leave the room).

 

You will notice that there are no windows, no decorations on the walls, no prints on the bedspread, no flowers on the nightstand, no artfully decorated robes or other clothes (as you can plainly see, you are wearing a simple robe that is also brown). As you have come to this book to get away from the distractions and chaos of your daily life, we felt it necessary to introduce no new ones into this first chapter of the book.

 

We hope you like your brown room, bed and robe. Brown is the color of earth, which offers a special kind of tonic to those possessing all manner of soul sicknesses. Being such a pleasant earthy color, we hope that you feel the warmth of the room, and that you are pleasantly toasted to the point that your muscles relax, but not too fervently heated to the point of arousing nervous energies.

 

We want you to take the time to explore your brown room now. There is nothing that builds a permanent feeling of calm, well-placed strength inside the soul like the making of a simple, mental map. How many corners does your room have? Four? Sixteen? 256? Look under the bed, and make a map of what you see. Your bed is tall enough, you know, that you could crawl under it, and pretend that you are inside another room, or perhaps a fort or a cave.

 

Let’s crawl under that bed and see what mood becomes us. Oh, delicious quiet and serenity have been increased a hundredfold! But, did you bring your book with you? Don’t get it! It’s too dark under here to read it, anyway.

 

You are safe from the remaining clutter that filled your room. No lamps or nightstands here. No book. No door or bed covers. Are you wearing your robe still? Remove it, it’s okay, we keep this room spotless—yes, you could eat off of the floor. Indulge. Remove the robe, and push it out past the drooping bedcover that allows the crack of light to enter. With your robe you block the light.

 

Now, you are entirely naked, on your back, in almost complete darkness, and the outside world cannot penetrate this inner sanctum of yours. This is an exquisite place to exist, to build new maps. When we speak of maps, we don’t mean Ameriggo Vespucci charting the New World for the conquistadors. We are speaking of the very maps you’ve crafted to make your reality yours.

 

We want you to map your body to happy things. What are some of the happiest things that there ever were? Young animals and humans, delighted at the abundance of life that has appeared with a new spring. Baby chicks, foals, bunnies and squirmy sea pups all delighting in sunlight, greenery, water and movement. They, of course, along with little boys and girls, puppies, kittens, lambs and calves, do not know what it means to have the withering decay of age and the chronic stress of adult survival. You know what? Each little component of your body doesn’t need to be mapped to the furious workings of your mind, either. Map your heart to a sublime foal, kicking its heels in the stableyard. Map your eyes and facial muscles to the wonderment of toddlers discovering downy chicks and playful, bouncing kittens. Map your brain to the ever-curious puppy, sniffing each nook and cranny of his world, finding each new sight and smell a delight and great mystery. Map your entire body, there under your bed, to the joy of sunlight and new saplings that sing fervently about the renewal of life in the springtime. Map all that is old, tired, saggy and worn to things you know to be new, fresh, expectant and grand! Map away!

 

Singing joyfully, roll out from under your bed and grab your robe, don it, walk the perimeter of your room, letting each new contact of skin with wall, door, floor, bed, nightstand, lamps and book be an exquisite moment of discovery and love. The rich, earthy brown of your room, in all its simplicity is like a miracle to behold. Just think of how resplendent brown can be!

 

You turn off the standing lamp, and now crawl under bed covers, freshly invigorated but not distraught. Your heart patters, and your limbs tingle. The bedspread feels sublime as you slip out of the robe once more, melding with the cavity of sheets and covers. Let’s open the book on the nightstand, and see what it says.

 

Let’s assume that you need a quiet place to retreat from the demon-filled universe. There are days that you crave naughty activities, we know, but there are days where you also weep to be whole and innocent again. Sometimes, even a peaceful place like a park or a city reservoir area can’t still the soul and curb the dirty thoughts. We also know how hard it is to refrain from seeing yourself as a much better person than those around you—you know, the people you come in contact with throughout your day generally disappoint you, and quickly display their tendencies to act like spoiled children, or just plain idiots. We’ve had those experiences of disappointment as well, having been born and raised by a superior race of light beings from another plane of existence.

 

But, now we are human, and we don’t want to offer you something we can’t really deliver, and then say that the fault is all yours for not trying hard enough. There are plenty of pseudo-scientific moneymaking organizations, be they motivational courses or cults or religions, that propose to do just that. Instead, we would like to offer you a book that you can stop and pick up again months later, and with this book, glean new insights and ways of looking at the world about you.

 

We also feel that some retreats are simply moneymakers for the entities that run them, and others are places to lick wounds, reassess priorities, and take new strategies of being back out into the world. Both kinds of retreats serve a useful purpose, and this book may indeed cover both types of retreats before it is all said and done. However, we sincerely hope that once the brief pain of having forfeited a small part of your earnings subsides, you will move on to seeing the book as a tool that can help you finally grow up, and make you someone better than the person you were when you started this book.

 

Let’s begin.

 

First, you will need to construct a place. It should consist of four walls, all one color. We recommend you make the walls white, brown, black, charcoal or tan. At any rate, the walls, door, ceiling and floor will be the same color. Your place will have no windows, and one door. We are going to color your place white for the purpose of the first chapter. If you picked another color, you may substitute it for white, but for the purpose of presenting a concrete example, your room is white (we would prefer that you do not choose brown—while it is a rather neutral color, it is the color of excrement and mud—we would like to think only the insane would wallow in a brown room).

 

Your room has a door, as mentioned above, a bed, two naked fluorescent tubes above the bed, a nightstand, a small alarm clock on the nightstand, and the book you are currently reading, also on the nightstand. Your bed is a full-sized bed, big enough for one person to stretch out comfortably, but not room enough for two people to do so—for once in your life, your sexual appetite must be curbed. It is covered in white sheets so that the staff can easily see if you have somehow made a mess. Your room is big enough for you to fit four, full-sized beds in it, and no bigger than that (you will only have one, full-sized bed, this is just to give you an idea of the room’s size). The room is eight feet tall, plenty of room to raise your arms above your head to stretch after hours of excessive laziness and masturbation.

 

You will notice that the door is locked. You are not a prisoner, at least not in the sense of being held legally. Any time you wish to leave your room, you can knock on the door (see the chapter “Knocking on the door” for further details about what will happen when you leave the room).

 

You will notice that there are no windows, no decorations on the walls, no prints on the bedspread, no flowers on the nightstand, no artfully decorated robes or other clothes (as you can plainly see, you are wearing a tightly fitting institutional outfit that is also white). As you have come to this room to get away from the unstoppable addictions and cravings in your daily life, we felt it necessary to introduce no new ones into this first chapter of the book.

 

We hope you like your white room, bed and tightly fitting institutional outfit. White is the color of sanity, which offers a special kind of tonic to those possessing all manner of soul sicknesses. Being such a pleasant colorless space, we hope that you feel the coolness of the room, and are pleasantly soothed to the point that your muscles relax, but not too the point where you feel deeply drugged or catatonic.

 

We want you to take the time to explore your white room now. There is nothing that builds a permanent feeling of calm, well-placed sanity inside the brain like the making of a simple, mental map under the guidance of two naked fluorescent tubes. How many corners does your room have? Four? Sixteen? 256? Look under the bed—maybe there are more corners to the room under there. Your bed is tall enough, you know, that you could crawl under it, and pretend that you are inside another room, or perhaps a secret hideaway from the voices.

 

Let’s crawl under that bed and see what mood becomes us. Oh, delicious quiet and serenity have been increased a hundredfold! But, did you bring your book with you? Don’t get it! It’s too dark under here to read it, anyway, and I think some sneaky demons have slinked under your door, and are prancing around the bed.

 

You are safe for the time being from the demons, and objects that fill your room. No naked fluorescent tubes or nightstands here. No book. No door or bed covers. Are you wearing your tightly fitting institutional outfit still? Remove it, it’s okay, we keep this room spotless—yes, you could eat off of the floor. Indulge. Remove the tightly fitting institutional outfit, and push it out past the drooping bedcover that allows a grinning demon’s smile to appear. What’s wrong, the tightly fitting institutional outfit won’t come off? We’re sorry, we’re re-reading your chart, and we see, that you must leave it on.

 

Now, you are subdued, on your back, in almost complete darkness, and the outside world cannot penetrate this inner sanctum of yours. This is an exquisite place to exist, to build new maps. When we speak of maps, we don’t mean Ameriggo Vespucci charting the New World for the conquistadors. We are speaking of the a re-mapping process in which you stop mapping yourself to harmful pollutants

 

We want you to map your body to happy things. What are some of the happiest things that there ever were? Young animals and humans, delighted at the abundance of life that has appeared with a new spring. Baby chicks, foals, bunnies and squirmy sea pups all delighting in sunlight, greenery, water, and movement. They, of course, along with little boys and girls, puppies, kittens, lambs and calves, do not know what it means to have the withering decay of age and the chronic stress of adult survival. You know what? Each little component of your body doesn’t need to be mapped to the furious workings of your mind, either. Map your heart to a sublime foal, kicking its heels in the stableyard. Map your eyes and facial muscles to the wonderment of toddlers discovering downy chicks and playful, bouncing kittens. Map your brain to the ever-curious puppy, sniffing each nook and cranny of his world, finding each new sight and smell a delight and great mystery. Map your entire body, there under your bed, to the joy of sunlight and new saplings that sing fervently about the renewal of life in the springtime. Map all that is old, tired, saggy and worn to things you know to be new, fresh, expectant and grand! Map away!

 

Singing joyfully, roll out from under your bed and do a dance with the demons until they disappear, walk the perimeter of your room, letting each new contact of skin with wall, door, floor, bed, nightstand, and book be an exquisite moment of discovery and love. The bright unceasing white of your room, in all its bleached brilliance is like a miracle to behold. Just think of how resplendent white can be!

 

You crawl now under bed covers, freshly invigorated but not distraught. Your heart patters, and your limbs tingle. The bedspread feels sublime as you find a position of comfort, encased in the tightly fitting institutional outfit, melding with the cavity of sheets and covers. The two naked fluorescent tubes act as mild irritants, but your bedcovers and a strategically-placed arm should block most of that light out. Let’s open the book on the nightstand, and see what it says.

 

You need a quiet place to recover from your latest episode. You crave activity and excitement, we know, but you are ruining your health. Sometimes even a peaceful place like a park or a city reservoir area can’t still the soul and curb the thoughts. We also know how many different kinds of anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, psychotherapists, and new agey treatment options you’ve tried.
We here at The Pastures don’t want to offer you something we can’t really deliver, and then say that the fault is all yours for not trying hard enough. There are plenty of pseudo-scientific moneymaking organizations, be they motivational courses or cults or religions, that propose to do just that. Instead, we would like to offer you a book that you can stop and pick up again months later, and with this book, glean new insights and ways of looking at the world about you. You may very well be here months later.
We also feel that some retreats are simply reprogramming compounds or brainwashing campuses, if you will, while others are places to lick wounds, reassess priorities, and take new strategies of being back out into the world. Both kinds of retreats serve a useful purpose, and your stay here may indeed be used in both ways. However, we sincerely hope that once you have been sufficiently broken down and the rebuilding has begun, you will move on to interacting with the groups of fellow patients at The Pastures, and we believe that this can really help you grow as a human being, and make you someone capable of being a model citizen.
Let’s begin.First, you will need to use your imagination to construct a place. This place should consist of four walls, all one color. We recommend you make the walls white, brown, black, charcoal or tan. At any rate, the walls, door, ceiling and floor will be the same color. Your place will have no windows, and one door. We are actually going to color your place gunmetal gray for the purpose of most closely matching what you see on the walls around you. If you picked another color, you may substitute gunmetal gray with your imagination, but for the purpose of presenting a concrete example, your room is gunmetal gray.
Your room has a door, as mentioned above, a bed, and on the bed the book you are currently reading. Your bed is a twin-sized bed, big enough for sufficient sleep and repose to take place. It is covered in gunmetal gray sheets. Your room is big enough for you to fit two, twin-sized beds in it, and no bigger than that (you will only have one, twin-sized bed, this is just to give you an idea of the room’s size, which underscores how important we think it is for our guests to remain in bed as much as possible). The room is six feet tall, plenty of room to kneel on the bed in prayer (or philosophical contemplation, if you are a deity-less sort) if you need to.
You will notice that the door is locked. You are not a prisoner, at least not in the sense of being held against your will. Any time you wish to leave your room, you can knock on the door (see the chapter “Knocking on the door” for further details about what will happen when you leave the room).
You will notice that there are no windows, no decorations on the walls, no prints on the bedspread, no flowers on the nightstand, no artfully decorated robes or other clothes. As you have come to The Pastures to get away from the distractions and chaos of your daily life, we felt it necessary to introduce no new ones into your room here at The Pastures.
We hope you like your gunmetal gray room and bed. Gunmetal gray is the color of progress, which offers a special kind of tonic to those possessing all manner of inability to move forward with their lives. Being such a pleasant streamlined sort of color, we hope that you feel the tightness of the room, and are pleasantly constrained to the point that your muscles stop flexing, and begin cowing into submission, much like a caged animal’s will in such confinement.
We want you to take the time to explore your gunmetal gray room now. There is nothing that builds a permanent feeling of calm, well-placed strength inside the soul like the making of a simple, mental map. How many corners does your room have? Four? Sixteen? 256? Look under the bed, and make a map of what you see. Your bed is just tall enough, you know, that you could squeeze under it, and pretend that you are inside another room, or perhaps a fort or a cave.
Let’s squeeze under that bed and see what mood becomes us. Oh, delicious quiet and serenity have been increased a hundredfold! But, did you bring your book with you? Don’t get it! It’s too dark under here to read it, anyway. We hope that you aren’t too claustrophobic. Please, just breathe in and out slowly, and try to relax your muscles.
You are safe from the remaining clutter that filled your room. No book here. No door or bed covers. Are you wearing anything? Oh right, you are to remain completely naked here at The Pastures. We hope you haven’t stuffed anything in body cavities. We do perform regular searches for these kinds of things, you know.
Now, you are entirely naked, on your back, in almost complete darkness, and the outside world cannot penetrate this inner sanctum of yours. This is an exquisite place to exist, to build new maps. When we speak of maps, we don’t mean Ameriggo Vespucci charting the New World for the conquistadors. We are speaking of the very maps you should craft to make your reality yours.
We want you to map your body to happy things. What are some of the happiest things that there ever were? Young animals and humans, delighted at the abundance of life that has appeared with a new spring. Baby chicks, foals, bunnies and squirmy sea pups all delighting in sunlight, greenery, water, and movement. They, of course, along with little boys and girls, puppies, kittens, lambs and calves, do not know what it means to have the withering decay of age and the chronic stress of adult survival.
You know what?
Each little component of your body doesn’t need to be mapped to the furious workings of your mind, either. Map your heart to a sublime foal, kicking its heels in the stableyard. Map your eyes and facial muscles to the wonderment of toddlers discovering downy chicks and playful, bouncing kittens. Map your brain to the ever-curious puppy, sniffing each nook and cranny of his world, finding each new sight and smell a delight and great mystery. Map your entire body, there under your bed, to the joy of sunlight and new saplings that sing fervently about the renewal of life in the springtime. Map all that is old, tired, saggy and worn to things you know to be new, fresh, expectant and grand! Oh, map away!
Singing joyfully, roll out from under your bed careful not to bump your head on walls or door or ceiling, climb back on the bed, letting each new contact of skin with bed and book be an exquisite moment of discovery and love. The persistently reliable gunmetal gray of your room, in all its simplicity is like a miracle to behold. Just think of how resplendent gunmetal gray can be!
A light whose source you cannot see is dimmed by us, the staff, and you crawl now under bed covers, freshly invigorated but not distraught. Your heart patters, and your limbs tingle. The bedspread feels sublime as you meld with the cavity of sheets and covers. Let’s open the book that you found here on the bed, and see what it says.

 

Hello. This is a communication from Coach Blanc. You will meet me tomorrow at 0800 hours, after calisthenics with Nurse Brun, and breakfast. Of course, do not be late for those activities. I am your only hope of surviving your stay here at The Pastures.
You need a quiet place to recover from your latest episode. You crave activity and excitement, we know, but you are ruining your health. Sometimes you tend toward the suicidal, or even fantasize about hurting others. We also know how many different kinds of anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, psychotherapists, illicit drugs, one night stands, and co-dependant relationships you’ve tried.
We here at The Pastures would like to offer you a book that you will stop and pick up again months later, and with this book, glean new insights and ways of looking at the world about you. You will likely be here months later, at the rate you are progressing.
If you are reading this, it means that you are capable of processing at least some modicum of linear, rational thought, and we decided as much when we chose to leave this book upon your bed. Please do not mutilate this book, as any such destruction will result in a special cochlear device implant that will provide for you the contents of the book when The Pastures deems it necessary. Please do not attempt to mutilate yourself—as you have probably guessed, there are cameras embedded in every corner of this room, and staff will be in to immediately subdue you with whatever means they feel is necessary.
Some of our patients, upon being discharged, have disputed the fact that The Pastures offers truly modern, humane treatment. Please see Appendix C for a history of bloodletting, burning at the stake, lobotomies, electroshock therapies, and, of course, the more recent pharmaceutical therapies designed by profit-hungry drug companies of the past 100 years. Note closely such persons as Rosemary Kennedy, the classic bad rich girl doomed to drool in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. The Pastures offers humane hope and change for you, in the form of our coaches and nurses. Please consult Appendix C, then adhere by the rules of The Pastures that will be outlined throughout the book so that The Pastures doesn’t have to consult Appendix C for you.

 

Ah, blissful sleep. We hope that our first chapter of insightful text has blessed your brain and soul with much comfort and peace. A room is a room, though, right?

If, at any time during the course of reading this book, you feel that you can no longer effectively put this book down, please re-read the Warning, found at the very beginning.

Knocking on the door

 

First of all, you have to ask yourself, do I really want to knock on the door? Are there other, hidden means of leaving the room? What lies behind the door? We will help you evaluate this, so that you can make a decision that is best suited to your particular situation.

 

Do I really want to knock on the door?

The door represents a huge unknown. You know that here in the pleasant simplicity of this modest, brown room what to expect. You do know that if you want to leave, you must knock on the door. However, what is beyond the door represents a complete unknown.

 

We hope we have provided you with sufficient light here in this modest, brown room. It is our sincere belief, having tested it ourselves, that your bed offers adequate comfort for repose and sleep. What’s more, the alarm clock faithfully lets you know what time and what day it is. With all of this, you also have available to you this excellent book, written with great care and diligence, each word having been specially chosen to provide the utmost comfort and peace to you as you rest and retool. To top all of this off, you are afforded an exciting little getaway from your modest, brown room—if your room ever becomes too much for you to take in all at once—you can crawl under the bed.

 

In spite of all this, we know that sometimes such amenities are just not enough. We realize that, as a human, you have certain needs that even a modest, brown room such as this one cannot meet. You are certain, that at the very least, if you knock on that door, you will at least receive an answer as to whether you will be able to make use of restroom and shower facilities, gain access to nourishment, and perhaps learn more about how you and your modest, brown room fit in to the bigger picture here at The Pastures.

 

But, will the potential negative consequences outweigh the positive ones? After all, you could theoretically find that staying in the room, using a corner as a restroom facility, and allowing yourself to die of malnutrition and dehydration—perhaps ending it all with the shards of a broken lamp bulb—is a better path to take than a potentially long, drawn-out painful death on the other side of the door. However, you could also argue that since not knocking on the door is in all likelihood guaranteed suicide (there is, of course, the remotest possibility that we are somehow micronourishing you using advanced nanobot technologies, but that probably isn’t a significant enough possibility to make it worth inclusion as a factor), you would be faced with a different sort of unknown—what happens after death?

 

Are there other, hidden means of leaving the room?

Other than death itself, no.

 

What lies behind the door?

You first try the knob to see if perhaps the door has been unlocked in the early hours of the morning. It hasn’t. You knock. You hear the lock click. You try the knob. The door opens.

 

You encounter a long, brown hallway. The ceiling is brown, the walls are brown, and the hallway has a thin carpet that is also brown. It looks like a dormitory hallway, as there are other doors like your own lining the hallway. There are no sounds of footsteps in the hall, or above or below. No noises come from any of the rooms. You begin walking toward what appears to be a light.

 

A man is standing in the doorway that is at the end of the hall, emitting the light. That is to say, the doorway is emitting light into the hall, not the man (or so it one would think). He is about 5’10”, of a modest, stocky build. He wears a ballcap that says “Coach” on it, and a sweatshirt that says the same. The word “Coach” is white, emblazoned upon brown. Brown ballcap, sweatshirt, shorts, shoes—except the shorts have white piping and the shoes have two white stripes on them. The man smiles.

 

“I was looking for you. So good to catch you in this state, before they arrive and begin.”

 

You give the man a perplexed look.

 

“You are still asleep. You are dreaming. Your mind, being the utterly curious and impatient creature that it is, has taken to trying to solve the mystery of what’s beyond the door before you even awaken.”

 

“So, this isn’t what’s beyond the door?” you ask.

 

“Well, not exactly. Did you get my note? You see, there are only limited ways that I can contact you. After calisthenics and breakfast tomorrow, you will be given fifteen minutes at 0800 hours to stroll the grounds. There is a tiny spot beyond the pit for barbecues and smokers, a little area around the corner of the maintenance shed. Go and meet me there. Don’t let them witness you talking to me, though—make sure you are completely out of view when you step around the corner.”

 

“Who are you? Why can’t I be seen talking to you?”

 

“Oh, you will learn who I am soon enough. They are going to try to tell you that I am not real, but a manifestation of your imbalanced state of mind. Don’t buy it. I am your only hope of getting out of here alive. You don’t want to experience what they will do to you if they catch you talking to me.”

 

“Coach” begins to fade into the light that is emitted from the doorway, until all you see is light. The light of two long, naked fluorescent light bulbs greets you as you open your eyes.

 

You are surprised to note that the room, the bed, your clothing, even the open book on your chest, are all white. The lamps are gone. You discover that you fell asleep reading Chapter 1. The alarm clock tells you it is almost 0500 hours. Of course, you are curious.

 

It is a maddening curiosity, because you are unsure which one you want to know more: how Chapter 2 of the book will differ from the Chapter 2 you read in your dream, or how what lies beyond the door will differ from what lay beyond the door in your dream. Since you are here, after all, to retreat from the manic universe, you opt to consult the book before you consult the door.

 

First of all, you have to ask yourself, do I really want to knock on the door? Are there other, hidden means of leaving the room? What lies behind the door? Will a certain type of knock yield a certain type of reality beyond the door? We will help you evaluate this, so that you can make a decision that is best suited to your particular situation.

 

Do I really want to knock on the door?

The door represents the possibility of great freedom. With freedom comes responsibility. Abuse of freedom can lead to greater imprisonment. At some point, you will likely want to consider seeking out others who crave freedom, but have unwittingly imprisoned themselves of their own accords, with the purpose of freeing them from their self-created chains.

 

We hope we have provided you with sufficient light here in this white room, but not so much light that you grow blind or mad. It is our sincere belief, having tested it ourselves, that your bed offers adequate comfort for repose and sleep. What’s more, the alarm clock faithfully lets you know what time and what day it is. With all of this, you also have available to you this excellent book, written with great care and diligence, each word being specially chosen to provide the utmost comfort and peace to you as you rest and retool. To top all of this off, you are afforded an exciting little getaway from your white room—if your room ever becomes too much for you to take in all at once—you can crawl under the bed. You should be grateful to have been blessed with such a pleasant, peaceful room. You know, your room could have been a lot worse.

 

In spite of all this, we know that sometimes such amenities are just not enough for you. We realize that, as a human, you have certain needs that even a thoughtfully furnished white room such as this one cannot meet. You are certain, that at the very least, if you knock on that door, you will at least receive an answer as to whether you will be able to make use of restroom and shower facilities, gain access to nourishment, and perhaps learn more about how you and your white room fit in to the bigger picture of our plan.

 

We also understand that you, of all people, tend to think you are something special, deserving more and more. While this sense of entitlement may have put you here in the first place, having been allowed to go unchecked for years, we realize that constraining it too severely will prevent you from ever getting better.

 

But, will the potential negative consequences of knocking on the door outweigh the positive ones? After all, you could theoretically find that staying in the room, using a corner as a restroom facility, and allowing yourself to die of malnutrition and dehydration—perhaps ending it all with the shards of a broken fluorescent light bulb—is a better path to take than a potentially long, drawn-out painful death on the other side of the door. However, you could also argue that since not knocking on the door is in all likelihood guaranteed suicide (there is, of course, the remotest possibility that we are somehow micronourishing you using advanced nanobot technologies, but that probably isn’t a significant enough possibility to make it worth inclusion as a factor), you would be faced with a different sort of unknown—what happens after death?

 

Are you as certain of what happens after death as you like to make people think you are?

 

Are there other, hidden means of leaving the room?

Haven’t you already tried to discover these? Well, other than death itself, no, there are none.

 

What lies behind the door?

You first try the knob to see if perhaps the door has been unlocked in the early hours of the morning. It hasn’t. You knock. You hear the lock click. You try the knob. The door opens.

 

You encounter a long, white hallway. The ceiling is white, the walls are white, and the hallway has a hard tiled floor that is also white. It looks like a hospital hallway, as there are other doors like your own lining the hallway. There are sounds of footsteps in the hall. A petite, middle-aged woman in white scrubs is approaching you.

 

“Oh, I see that you’ve gotten out!” she cries. “Just where do you think you’re going?”

 

You see that she has a walkie-talkie and a syringe. “Code Gunmetal Gray!” she screams into the walkie-talkie. “You come here, and get your meds!” she cries to you, pumping her arms and legs as hard as she can.

 

You run back to your room, where you’ve left the door slightly ajar. You quickly push the door shut, and hear it lock. First, you get the idea to push the bed to the door to prevent the nurse character from entering, but then you realize that the door is now locked on both sides. She seems to know it is futile for her to even try getting in, and she gives up after one twist of the knob.

 

Will a certain type of knock yield a certain type of reality beyond the door?

Try it. You hear the door unlock, and you can turn the knob again. You crack the door slowly, peering out carefully for any fierce nurses that might be lurking around the other side of the door, waiting to stab you with hypodermic needles.

 

You encounter a long, gunmetal gray hallway. The ceiling is gunmetal gray, the walls are gunmetal gray, and the hallway has a hard tiled floor that is also gunmetal gray. It looks like the hallway in a government building, as there are other many doors like your own lining the hallway.
The nurse doesn’t appear to be anywhere within sight, though you are cautious, because she might be behind any given door in the hallway, right? The coach doesn’t seem to be about anywhere, either. You notice a note has been placed on a tiny hook that sticks out of your door, where an eyehole might be if it were a different sort of door. You grab the note and read it.

 

We sincerely hope that you have enjoyed your first night here at The Pastures. You have asked that we keep you on a strict diet and tight schedule, and so we shall. We turned your lights on at 0500 hours, and allowed you thirty minutes to gather yourself for the coming day. Please walk down the hall to the entryway at the end of the hall. From there, make a right, and you should see our unisex restroom and shower area for your floor. Please ignore all of the other guests, as they have been instructed to do the same. A floor charge will appear if you attempt to interact with them in any way.
Kindly remove your garments, and place them in the bin marked “For Incineration.” If you are a patient who has been deemed incapable of wearing clothes without attempting a hanging suicide, this step is not necessary, as you are not wearing any clothes.
Then, step into the showering unit. You do not need to have soap, shampoo, or other personal cleaning effects to begin showering. Once inside the showering unit, the proper mixture of soap, disinfectant and water will begin coating you. You do not need to close your eyes. Nothing will ever get in your eyes. If it does, it won’t burn. If it does burn, it won’t burn much.
Please leave your mouth open, and a device will spray the inside with a proper mixture of dental hygiene materials. These materials will dissolve in your mouth. You do not need to swallow them, but if you do, they won’t affect you. After the showering process has cycled through, you will feel light buffeting fans covering your body with hot air. Don’t be alarmed, your drying is simply taking place.
Upon completion of the drying process, the door of the showering unit will open, and you should now be able to locate the bin marked “Fresh clothing” next to the bin marked “For Incineration.” Please place your hand inside the bin, grab what your hand finds, and remove it. This is a one-size-fits-all garment that adjusts to your form as the previous one you were wearing did. If you are a patient who has been deemed incapable of wearing clothes without attempting a hanging suicide, no garment will appear in your hand.
Please exit the restroom facilities upon donning your one-size-fits-all garment, and walk directly across the way to the stairwell. We only have freight and housekeeping elevators at The Pastures, as we feel nothing invigorates a body like a good brisk jog down several flights of stairs. Commence downward, and do not stop to look in or visit any of the other floors. When you reach the door marked “G,” please step out of the door, make a right and another right. A line should be forming for calisthenics. Locate this line, and fall in. If you do not see the line, it means you are either too early or too late. If you are too early (this means you have awakened prior to 0500 hours, or skipped your restroom facilities step), please begin forming a line near the giant The Pastures mural—the painting of three cows peacefully grazing. If you are too late, please return to your room, open your book, and read the chapter “What to do if you are too late.”

 

Down on level G, the line is forming. Note the lovely painting of brown cows on the brown wall. See your fellow cheerful residents yawning, chatting and stretching as they discuss their peaceful nights in their brown rooms. Your heart beats faster as you see the nurse from your nightmare. However, down here in this languid brown reality, she is nothing but smiles and warmth. She doesn’t appear to recognize you which is okay by you.

 

“Okay, class, are you ready to do some morning calisthenics to get the blood circulating?”

 

Some murmurs of assent.

 

“I can’t hear you.”

 

“Yes,” hums a sleepy crowd of men and women.

 

“I still can’t hear you! Come on, let’s start with the vocal chords. I said, are you ready to do some morning calisthenics to get the blood circulating?”

 

“Yes!” you all shout in hearty assent, just to get her moving you on to something else.

 

She leads you through the front lobby, where visitors are thumbing through brochures and listening to representatives talk about the book and The Pastures, and what it can do for them. The visitors appear not to notice all of you in your brown robes, shuffling by and doing your best to provide bright, cheerful smiles.

 

You are already hungry, and can hardly wait to finish the calisthenics, but they will last an hour. We promise you, this is all of the coordinated exercise activity you will be required to do throughout the book.

 

Nurse Brun begins with the instructions.

 

“Okay, class. Everyone stand up, shake your arms loose, and close your eyes. We want you to map your body to happy things. What are some of the happiest things that there ever were? Young animals and humans, delighted at the abundance of life that has appeared with a new spring. Baby chicks, foals, bunnies and squirmy sea pups all delighting in sunlight, greenery, water, and movement. They, of course, along with little boys and girls, puppies, kittens, lambs and calves, do not know what it means to have the withering decay of age and the chronic stress of adult survival. You know what? Each little component of your body doesn’t need to be mapped to the furious workings of your mind, either. Map your heart to a sublime foal, kicking its heels in the stableyard. Everyone, beat your chests and whinny! Map your eyes and facial muscles to the wonderment of toddlers discovering downy chicks and playful, bouncing kittens. Everyone scrunch your faces and cheep like chicks, meow like kitties, and cry like babies! Map your brain to the ever-curious puppy, sniffing each nook and cranny of his world, finding each new sight and smell a delight and great mystery. Everyone, tilt your heads back and growl and woof! Map your entire body, to the joy of sunlight and new saplings that sing fervently about the renewal of life in the springtime. Everyone, dance! Dance like new green things springing up with the rising sun! Map all that is old, tired, saggy and worn to things you know to be new, fresh, expectant and grand! Grab a part of you that is old, tired and saggy, and tell it to freshen up! Map away!”

 

She repeats these instructions twelve times, but of course, you lose count. If she catches one of you grumbling and not participating, she annoys that person with her nasally little voice, screaming, “Map away!”

 

“Did you bring your books with you?” Some of you did. You didn’t. “You’ve got to remember to bring your books with you, class, if you hope to fully extract all of the benefits from The Pastures.”

 

“But the instructions said…” you begin.

 

“Always bring your books with you! Don’t you want to know how it all ends?” she demands playfully, walking up to you specifically, and giving you a poke in the belly. Everyone giggles. “Those of you who didn’t bring them, go back to your rooms and get them. Come and join us for breakfast in the mess hall, after you do.”

 

Your room is on the fifth floor, and you are very tired, and weak with hunger. This time, you think you make eye contact with a visitor when you pass through the lobby. She clutches the arm of her husband, and whispers something into his ear. The two of them pretend to look at their watches, and tell the representatives they will have to come back at a later date. This is not for everyone. It feels like it is taking the last little bit of your energy to drag yourself back up those stairs. Once again, you notice that you’ve left your door ajar. Yet, you swear that you shut it this last time. Inside your room, you feel yourself too tired to grab the book and head down to breakfast.

 

If you wish to forget about eating breakfast, (because you did steal a little water to drink from the sink inside the restroom facilities) and you feel that you could stand to go another day by yourself, please consult the chapter “Welcome to the room.”

 

If you wish to just nap for a little while, maybe fifteen to thirty minutes, then run down and gobble a quick bite before moving on to the recess period of the day, please consult the chapter “What to do if you are too late.”

 

Or, if you would, in fact, like to go and have breakfast you can read the chapter “Breakfast”.

 

If, at any time during the course of reading this book, you feel that you can no longer effectively put this book down, please re-read the Warning, found at the very beginning.

 

Breakfast

 

The mess hall is painted brown. The tables and benches are also brown, as are the trays, flatware, cups, drink machines, food containers on the mess line, and hairnets and aprons worn by the cafeteria personnel. This may not be of great surprise to you, arriving from a brown room, walking down brown halls, passing a painting of brown cows through a brown lobby, and passing brown brick buildings. But, the food and the beverages are also brown. What you consume is also, well, special.

 

Our food here is vegan, we hope you don’t mind. We do not serve beverages with artificial ingredients or beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol. We don’t serve eggs or milk, obviously, but we also do not serve plant matter harvested in the typical fashion. We only pick the things that have died naturally on the vine. This way, we know that nature didn’t intend for them to live any longer, and therefore we are not held responsible for the killing of these fruits, nuts and vegetables.

 

We allow the things we pick to sit out in the sun for a very long time, to kill off any poisons that may have entered into them (some of the things we pick are very, very ripe, you know). They are then frozen for thirty days, then boiled or baked. If we are incorporating a foodstuff into a beverage, we juice it instead of boiling it or baking it. We liberally mix into all of the food we eat some of the earth itself, so that Mother Nature knows just how much we care about her, and she herself will nourish us in kind.

 

For breakfast, you will have eggplant prepared in this fashion, stewed with tomatoes, nuts, berries, mushrooms and earth. To drink, you can have water, coffee (decaf), tea (herbal) or brown (orange) juice, or any combination of all four. Seasonally, we receive coconuts picked carefully off of the beaches of our leader and founder’s getaway island. These make a great milk substitute when juiced with a little earth and water.

 

We realize that our menu can sometimes wreak havoc on the digestive system. You may be spending the second half of breakfast fighting to keep breakfast down. Please use one of the buckets at the ends of the tables if you lose the fight, as we are keen on recycling here, and your recycled foodstuffs will be used for various purposes, like dyes and food for those who are late.

 

Nurse Brun is banging a pan with a wooden spoon. “Listen up, class, we all are going to have a sing-along. Nothing enables good digestion like using the vocal chords to communally produce song. I’ll sing it through one time, and then I want you all to join me. You should get the words down pretty quickly.”

 

We want you to map your body to happy things.

What are some of the happiest things that there ever were?

Young animals and humans, delighted at the abundance of life

That has appeared with a new spring.

 

Baby chicks, foals, bunnies and squirmy sea pups

All delighting in sunlight, greenery, water, and movement.

They, of course, along with little boys and girls, puppies, kittens, lambs and calves,

Do not know what it means to have the withering decay of age and the chronic stress of adult survival.

 

You know what? Each little component of your body

Doesn’t need to be mapped to the furious workings of your mind, either. Map your heart to a sublime foal, kicking its heels in the stableyard.

Map your eyes and facial muscles to the wonderment of toddlers

Discovering downy chicks and playful, bouncing kittens.

 

Map your brain to the ever-curious puppy,

Sniffing each nook and cranny of his world,

Finding each new sight and smell a delight and great mystery.

Map your entire body, to the joy of sunlight and new saplings

That sing fervently about the renewal of life in the springtime.

 

Map all that is old, tired, saggy and worn to things you know to be new,

Fresh, expectant and grand!

 

Map away! Map away! Map away!*

 

* It should be noted that the original song was written in French, and that our leader found the original English translation, complete with rhymed couplets, to be so poor, that he opted for freer verse.

 

After leading all of you through the song twice, Nurse Brun orders you to open your books, and glean a little wisdom before recess.

 

You happen to turn to “Breakfast,” to find out what the hell it was that you just put into your body.

 

The mess hall is painted white. The tables and benches are also white, as are the trays, bowls, cups, drink machines, food containers on the mess line, and hairnets and aprons worn by the cafeteria personnel. This may not be of great surprise to you, arriving from a white room down white halls, past a painting of white cows, through a white lobby, past white brick buildings. But, the food and the beverages are also white. What you consume is also, well, special.

 

Our food here is engineered with the correct amount of vitamins, minerals, and pharmaceuticals that your body and mind need to recover and become healthy again. We engineer special fibrous scrubbers into the food material, to keep your internal digestive organs working strong and healthy. All foodstuffs are soaked in bleach overnight before being prepared and served. The cows’ milk is, of course, full of only the best additives, preservatives, hormones, alertness boosters, and bleach. The ingredients of the juice are known to no one but our leader and founder, as they have several patents pending on each ingredient—you will recognize a slight bleachy aftertaste, though. When combined, the juice becomes a way to return to pure innocence.

 

We realize that our menu can sometimes wreak havoc on the digestive system. You may be spending the second half of breakfast fighting to keep breakfast down. Please use one of the buckets at the ends of the tables if you lose the fight, as we do not want your priceless vomit to be reverse engineered by someone strolling the grounds, posing as a prospective resident.

 

Nurse Brun is screaming into a megaphone. “Listen up, class, we all are going to have a sing-along. Nothing enables the special fibrous scrubbers like using the vocal chords to communally produce song. I’ll sing it through one time, and then I want you all to join me. You should get the words down pretty quickly.”

 

When we were children we wanted not the things of this world.

What happened to that innocence, that peace of girls and boys?

 

As adolescents, we were exposed to more and more toxicity on this planet.

That is unavoidable. Such cancerous byproducts represent the progress of man.

As adolescents, we became ensnared and mired in the muddy brown muck of this earth.

It takes a lot of thoughtful engineering to make us free again, but it can happen.

 

When we were children we wanted not the things of this world.

What happened to that innocence, that peace of girls and boys?

 

As adults, we learned to lie frequently, violently, and easily.

We sought out material pleasures of the flesh, and danced with swine wearing pearls.

To get to Heaven, a purging must take place, a bleaching of the soul.

To get to Heaven, we must embrace only the purer things of this world.

Bleach away, bleach away, bleach away!*

 

* It should be noted that the original song was written in French, and that our leader found the original English translation, complete with rhymed couplets, to be so poor, that he opted for freer verse.

 

After leading all of you through the song twice, Nurse Brun orders you to open your books, and glean a little wisdom before recess.

 

You happen to turn to breakfast, to find out just what the hell it was that you just ate.

 

Hello. This is a communication from Coach Blanc. Don’t forget to meet me at 0800 hours, after breakfast. Of course, be careful to not be seen by anyone when you come to the spot I told you about in your dream. I am your only hope of surviving your stay here at The Pastures.
At The Pastures, we like to run a tidy ship. We believe that a gunmetal gray mess hall builds the proper type of dining etiquette. The tables and benches are also gunmetal gray, as are the trays, flatware (plastic, of course), cups, drink machines, food containers on the mess line, and hairnets and aprons worn by the cafeteria personnel. This may not be of great surprise to you, arriving from a gunmetal gray room down gunmetal gray halls, through a gunmetal gray lobby, past gunmetal gray painted cinderblock buildings. Of course, the food and the beverages are not gunmetal gray. What you consume is nothing special, but builds character just the same. You need it.
Our food here is standard mess hall chow. Scrambled eggs, sausage links, flapjacks, biscuits and gravy, and cantaloupe slices. Don’t take what you won’t eat. Beverages served are skim milk, oj, coffee, water.
We realize that our menu can sometimes wreak havoc on digestive systems that are used to fancy dinners at P.F. Chang’s and the yacht club. You may be spending the second half of breakfast fighting to keep breakfast down. Please use one of the buckets at the ends of the tables if you lose the fight, as we are keen on keeping count of how much you waste.
You may hear Nurse Brun bang a pan with a wooden spoon. Along with the morning calisthenics, she also leads the mess hall in song. Nothing enables good digestion like using the vocal chords to communally produce song. Once you know the words, you need to sing along. See Appendix A if you haven’t memorized our popular songs yet.
After leading all of you through a song twice, Nurse Brun will order you to take your morning recess break. It is advised that you don’t exert yourself too much, as much of the day that lies ahead will consist of helping keep The Pastures looking top notch.

 

If, at any time during the course of reading this book, you feel that you can no longer effectively put this book down, please re-read the Warning, found at the very beginning.

 

Morning recess

 

Your first inclination is to seek out Coach Blanc, but you are easily distracted by all of the young animals playing in the courtyard, and merrily dancing about in the stableyard and recreational areas. There isn’t an adult among them, only chicks, lambs, puppies, kittens, bunnies, foals, calves and kids. All of the baby animals seem to get along with each other and play without causing any harm to another species. Puppies, kittens and chicks bounce around and chase each other, but nobody throws a greedy paw out, or snaps teeth, in fun or otherwise.

 

A giant courtyard clock tells you that you are running a little late, and so you look around, and spot an old couple in brown robes smoking brown cigarettes and muttering. Please read the chapter “How to get something you don’t have” if you want a cigarette or something else not found in your room or on the mess hall menu. Just beyond them, you spot a groundskeeper in all brown, driving a breakfast bucket-powered golf cart out of a building whose quickly shutting door gives you a glimpse at rakes, hoes and shovels. You hurry on past the couple, who pays you no mind, and look back over your shoulder to see if anyone else is watching you. Nobody appears to be.

 

Coach Blanc is there, looking just like he did in your dream, and tramping his foot impatiently.

 

“Finally—you are ten minutes late.”

 

“Um, sorry Coach,” you say, not sure if he is especially peeved at you, or just in a hurry.

 

“Look, do you even know why you are here?”

 

“Well, sure, Coach. I need a quiet place to retreat from the manic universe. There are days that I crave activity and excitement, you know, but there are days where I crave solitude, and plain surroundings. Sometimes even a peaceful place like a park or a city reservoir area can’t still my soul and curb my thoughts.”

 

“Open your book to page three, and read it.”

 

“Wow, it says the same thing.”

 

“Exactly. Now, do you really think that you are a character in a book, or do you think that maybe, just maybe, somebody has brainwashed you, and left you here against your own will?”

 

“Well,” you say, “I must admit that the thought has crossed my mind. I mean there are several moments when I am not sure if I am a prisoner, or a willful, paying patient—or just sitting here, reading a book.”

 

“Exactly. Now, don’t you think it would be in your best interest to learn how to get out of here?”

 

“I suppose,” you pause, and then an idea flashes across your face “I bet that you are going to tell me that there is a chapter titled ‘How to leave this place.'”

 

“Well, of course there is, but don’t read it…DO NOT READ IT. You see, they put that chapter in the book in hopes of catching those who aren’t playing along with them, and those who do read that chapter, and follow its instructions, will be punished in a most humiliating fashion.”

 

“So you’re going to tell me how to get out of here instead?”

 

You feel a hand on your shoulder, and you jump ten feet in the air.

 

“And just who do you think you’re talking to?” cries an all-too-familiar, nasally, shrill little voice.

 

You whirl around to see Nurse Brun. She has a walkie-talkie in one hand, and a hypodermic in the other. You bolt.

 

Coming around the side of the maintenance building, you see Nurse Brun joking and laughing with several other, brown-robed…just what or who are you supposed to be, anyway? Patients? Residents? The chase appears to have vanished in thin air…was it your imagination? You walk back around the shed, half-expecting to be met with a hypodermic and a shrill nurse, or maybe Coach Blanc, but there is no one.

 

You sit down on a bench away from the smokers, and open the book—what does the book say about “Morning Recess?”

 

At The Pastures, we take leisure time as seriously as we do hours of improving the mind, soul and body. For, this is the time where all three must retool and recharge among others. Sure, you could go up to your room, and nap the hour away, or read more from the book, but you are missing a vital element toward getting better—the support of others in a carefully controlled environment.
Use recess time to make a friend. Read the chapter titled “How to get something you don’t have” if you are unsure or completely unable to make friends.

 

You look down at your garment, and see you are still wearing the brown robe, as are others. You look at the book again.

 

Okay, look. I will try to alert you better next time to something like an approaching nurse. You are dozing right now, you know, even as you read these words across the page of the book. When you wake up, you will find yourself in a rather difficult environment. Try to keep it together, and whatever you do, do not read the chapter called  “How to leave this place”

“Morning Recess is over!” you hear Nurse Brun yelling.

Morning chores

 

To rid you of the poisons you’ve imbibed, part of our methodology includes our well-tested work routines. How will they rid you of your poisons? You will sweat. If you aren’t sweating, Coach Blanc will make you work faster and faster until you do sweat. From 0830 hours to 1200 hours, you will stop reading, dreaming, napping, singing, chatting, playing, eating—and cease any other activity that is not the work we have designated for you. Please complete each Morning Chore before  moving to the next one. If you do not work through them fast enough, and you have not completed every last one by 1200 hours, you will not eat lunch, but you will follow the procedure for what to do when you are late. Please consult the chapter “What to do when you are too late” if you do not know what to do when you are late.

 

“What are you doing? Stop reading that goddamn book, and get to work!” screams a familiar voice in your ear.

 

“Why, Coach Blanc, I,” you are surprised to see him, and comforted at first, remembering his genuine-sounding voice, urging you to let him help you sort reality out.

 

“Shut the hell up, and get to work! There are breakfast dishes to be cleaned, clean them now! Go, go, go! Use lots of bleach!”

 

You look at him once more, half-expectantly, but you can see that either he has completely changed his role, or this isn’t the Coach Blanc of your dreams.

 

First chore: scrubbing down every pot, pan and cooking utensil used to cook breakfast, cleaning all breakfast dishes by hand.

 

A silent guard is posted to follow your every move, to make sure that you do not use a cooking implement to kill yourself. Strangely enough, all of the other patients have vanished, and you feel like Heracles, sent to clean the Augean Stables.

 

Second chore: clean all of the stables and farm animal bedding, housing, and feed areas. There is what appears to be a month’s worth of manure in some places, but strangely enough, none of the happy, frolicking animals you’d seen earlier.

 

Thirsty, you turn the hose you are using to spray down the walls of a stall to your mouth, and discover that the water has a slight bleachy taste to it. It grows more than slight, the more you drink of the water. Gagging, you begin to vomit all over the inside of the stall.

 

“What do you think you are doing!” screams a familiar voice in your ear. “Drinking and vomiting are two activities expressly prohibited by the rules of the Morning Work Routine. Stupid, this isn’t the Morning Vomit Routine. Ha!” Coach Blanc spits more than laughs in your ear, then begins screaming, “Work! Work! Work!”

 

If you have had enough, you can either go back to bed—turn to the chapter “Welcome to the room”—or, you can leave the institution altogether by choosing to read the chapter “How to leave this place.”

 

Third chore: laundry. Hundreds of bed linens, and tightly fitting institutional outfits, many of them soaked through and through with the bodily fluids of violent fear, and excessive self pleasure or self mutilation. You must use as much bleach as it will take to get them all sparkling white again. After soaking them in scalding hot water, they are tossed into tumblers surrounded by brick ovens that you must stoke to be hot enough to dry the clothes, but not too hot to scorch them. If you scorch them, you will be charged with replacing the ones you scorch by feeding giant, unwieldy bolts of cloth into large industrial sewing machines whose needles snap at fingers like sharks—a sweatshop for one.

 

You pass out from the heat of the laundry room and the fumes of the bleach.

 

Yes, that’s me out there, and I apologize for the meanness. It is a much younger me, you see, a me that is no longer living. Once there was a time when I thought that bleach and hard work, with all of the latest pharmaceuticals, could cure a person’s ills. They cured me of my ills, but created new ones, mean ones. Look, you have to wake back up and get out there and finish your chores. You don’t want to know what they do with the dead at The Pastures these days.

 

“Stop napping or reading your book, or whatever the hell it is you are doing!” screams that same voice in your ear. You still feel light-headed, as you pull yourself up from off of the book on the floor. Amazingly, all of the linens and tightly fitting institutional outfits have been dried and folded, and place upon a cart routed for the freight and housekeeping elevators. You trudge out into sunlight to begin a chore that is hopefully much less strenuous.

 

“Come on, we’re all down here, slow poke!” yells a cheerful Nurse Brun. You look past the courtyard, down the hill, and see a group of brown-robed people squatting and on their hands and knees among rows of corn, tomatoes, okra, squash, and other plants. “You don’t want to find out what happens when you’re late, do you?” she teases. “Chore number one, weeding the garden, and finding the dead fruits and vegetables that can be harvested for sun drying.”

 

You look down and see that you are in a brown robe as well. When you reach Nurse Brun, you reflexively glance to see if the book is in your arm. Good, you didn’t leave it in the laundry room.

 

“Now, it’s time to get dirty,” she purrs, “Nothing like sweet Mother Earth’s bosom nourishing you with her warm, yummy love.”

 

(If you have had enough of Nurse Brun, you can either go back to bed—turn to the chapter “Welcome to the room”—or, you can leave the grounds altogether by choosing to read the chapter “How to leave this place.”)

 

After nightmare chores of pots and pans and stables and laundry, Nurse Brun is kind of right about the earth being sweet.

 

“Oh, careful. I think that eggplant has a little bit of life left in it. We need to let Mother Nature take her course.”

 

You ask her what time it is, and she says that it is 8:32. You wearily plop to the earth, and begin pulling weeds from a melon patch. Something is tickling the corner of your eye. Down in the corn stalks, peaking out, is the face of Coach Blanc. He puts a finger to his lips to keep you shushed, then motions for you to step his way.

 

“Gonna weed some of that tall corn over there, Nurse Brun” you say to her, as you pass her rolling in a compost pile.

 

“Mmmm.” she groans, perhaps with pleasure, or in assent to your words.

 

“Look,” says Coach Blanc, “Here is the deal. I founded this place some twenty years ago, and I wrote this book. There is a whole chapter in there entirely devoted to me. You can read it, but it is no longer about me. I’ve long since grown older and wiser, and left these folks who feel they are my faithful, especially that Nurse Brun, to run the place. I live in a much better place, now.”

 

“But, how do you get here, to…the past?”

 

“Ah, the technology of the future, of course. It will make sense in a bit. Bottom line is, you’ve agreed to retreat into a book, but you may very well have been coerced. Most of the time, that’s the case, anyway.”

 

“Coerced, by whom?”

 

There is the sense of a presence, warm and alive, behind you.

 

“Just who do you think you’re talking to?” she snarls.

 

“The corn, Nurse Brun, the corn. I was telling it how big and strong it is.”

 

“Listen closely. If there is one thing we don’t tolerate here, it’s these…episodes…that you seem to be having. Whatever or whomever it is that you are seeing, it’s not real. You understand that?” She is looking at you with a terse smile, arms behind her back.

 

You decide it is best not to argue or protest, and nod and smile back.

 

“Because I would hate to have to enforce certain rules when some of us refuse to see reality as it is.”

 

You raise an eyebrow at this, thinking of just how difficult it is to know what reality is, and scratch your head in puzzlement, but she has turned and walked away.

 

“Okay,” yells Nurse Brun, “Chore number two: dyeing new garments with breakfast bucket leavings and overly overripe vegetables!”

 

The stench is almost unbearable, as you find yourself inside the “laundry room,” now stirring gray woolen robes in vats of muck filled with breakfast bucket bile and rotten vegetables, instead of stirring tightly fitting institutional outfits in lethal doses of bleach.

 

“It’s fun!” shrieks Nurse Brun, leaping into a vat, covering herself from head to toe. Several of the other guests delightedly join in. They all begin to sing the song you sang that morning during breakfast: “We want you to map your body to happy things. What are some of the happiest things that there ever were?

 

“Come on, you dismal Donnas, sing along!” She jumps out of the vat and starts egging you on until you begin to sing the song.

 

Young animals and humans, delighted at the abundance of life that has appeared with a new spring.

 

“Time for chore number three!” shouts Nurse Brun, greedy with anticipation, “We are breeding a stud and a mare, castrating some pigs, and we may have to give a sheep a certain kind of exam, and we will hopefully get to birth some little baby calves!”

 

Fortunately, they have experienced farm hands putting their hands in places yours don’t want your hands to go, and touching parts of animals you’d rather not even think about, much less see or touch. Some of the group are eager, and offer to help in small ways, but you are charged to be the official implement fetcher, and picture taker—it could have been a lot worse.

 

“Now,” gushes Nurse Brun, breathless. “Chore number five, preparing lunch!”

 

You would like to opt out of this as well, after reading the description of dried rotten fruit being frozen, then boiled and mixed with mud, but Nurse Brun insists that you jump in and slice and dice and puree.

 

One of the farm hands comes in with a burlap sack that is dripping.

 

“Oh, yummy! Everyone gather around. Look, this is the one exception we make to eating vegan. Because we want our cattle and pigs and horses to be gentle creatures their whole lives, we castrate the males. They live happy, healthy lives without those blubbery balls, and we get to indulge in a rare treat.”

 

If, at any time during the course of reading this book, you feel that you can no longer effectively put this book down, please re-read the Warning, found at the very beginning.

Lunch

 

You are using your fork to play with your pig balls. You aren’t hungry, but you were, and so you’ve choked down the pureed tomato drink, and the corn tortilla that was tougher than the plate it sat on.

 

Nurse Brun is banging a pan with a wooden spoon. “Listen up, class, we all are going to have a sing-along and sing a new song. Nothing enables good digestion like using the vocal chords to communally produce song. I’ll sing it through one time, and then I want you all to join me. You should get the words down pretty quickly.”

 

We want you to map your body to healthy things.

What are some of the healthiest things that there ever were?

Fruits and nuts and berries and vegetables, sprouts and spring water and mushrooms.

And whatever else Mother Nature brings to our table.

 

Earth is always our close companion, for she is our true Mother

We find true peace and inner joy when we map our bodies to her.

We draw on an endless reservoir of timeless stability,

And indulge ourselves in a ceaseless banquet of great renewal.

 

You know what? Each little component of your body

Doesn’t need to be mapped to the furious workings of your mind, either. Map your heart to a pine tree, standing sturdy even during winter snows.

Map your eyes and facial muscles to the wonderful gourds

That provide for us more nourishment than the carcasses of twenty cows.

 

Map your brain to the ever-swishing cattail reeds,

Always eager to lap up the truth of water and sunlight,

Offering an abode for fish and frogs and birds alike.

Map your entire body, to the joy of sunlight and new saplings

That sing fervently about the renewal of life in the springtime.

 

Map all that is old, tired, sickly and diseased to things you know to be well,

Fresh, expectant and grand!

 

Map away! Map away! Map away!*

 

* It should be noted that the original song was written in French, and that our leader found the original English translation, complete with rhymed couplets, to be so poor, that he opted for freer verse.

 

After leading all of you through the song twice, Nurse Brun orders you to open your books, and glean a little wisdom before the afternoon nap.

 

You happen to turn to “Lunch,” to find out what was taking place in that parallel world, or past version of the retreat—to see if you did indeed complete all of the chores and make it to lunch and were not late.

 

Lunch is a hearty t-bone steak (hormone-pumped cows that make it twice as big), heaping piles of boiled red potatoes (slathered in real butter, and covered in as much salt and pepper as you like), dozens of fried shrimp (that’s jumbo, for you), iced tea (sweet, but not too sweet and perfectly lemony), and all of the homemade ice cream and fresh strawberries you could want. You have earned it, performing the chores of two dozen people. When we provide you with a reward for a job well done, we go all out. Knowing this, we hope that evening chores will go by even quicker.

 

You smack your lips in eager anticipation of the reality switch that you know is coming, and look up at Nurse Brun frowning over everyone, walking from individual to individual, making sure that their eyes are on their books. You sigh.

 

While we know we can’t give you any booze or illegal drugs, we certainly hope that this lunch with all the fixin’s hits the spot, and makes you feel just perfect for your afternoon nap.

 

Once again, you try to fall into the book, but it seems to be just that, a book.

 

“Is something the matter?” asks Nurse Brun sternly.

 

“Oh, nothing, nothing at all,” you say, burrowing your head deeply in your book. “Some of the concepts require me to chew on them thoughtfully, like pig balls.”

 

“Hmmm.” answers Nurse Brun doubtfully.

 

You seem to remember mention of a chapter that could help you make the tasty lunch you are reading about a reality, but it is escaping you right now, as the pureed tomato drink and corn tortilla on your empty stomach are causing your mind to swoon.

 

There are only certain ways and moments I can communicate with you. It’s better to try when you are half-dozing over the book like this. You are likely reading this because you have screwed up out there somewhere in the world, and a parent, judge, or sterner force has sent you here. Listen, you have to follow my instructions, or you will never leave The Pastures or the book, though you should know that the two are really one and the same..
First, you must go along with all of their rules and craziness, but DO NOT read the chapter titled ‘How to leave this place..’ Second, you must get your hands on a pen, and begin to keep track of everything that happens. Please, write over that godawful chapter about me, the leader and founder—write your notes between the lines—it’s perfect, they’ll never guess that this is where you are writing if they ask to see your book. See, right now, the book is keeping track of you, and what you have to do is begin to keep track of you—you’ll be surprised at how much the two stories vary.
I guess it’s a bit like all of that map-making shit—who knows? I remember spouting on and on about maps when I first founded this place. Maps, schmaps. Just keep your eyes and ears open, and write it all down.

 

We sincerely hope that you have enjoyed your lunch here at The Pastures. We try to season our chili just right.
It may very well be your last lunch. You see, at The Pastures, we like to play the lottery. We spin a wheel, it stops on a name, and that name belongs to who we will serve for lunch tomorrow. Tomorrow, if you are lucky, the chili could be you!

 

If, at any time during the course of reading this book, you feel that you can no longer effectively put this book down, please re-read the Warning, found at the very beginning.

Afternoon nap

 

Welcome back to your room. We understand that you’ve been working hard, and while hard work can feel really good, nothing prepares you for the last part of your day like a brief, thirty-minute siesta. You’ll notice that you have already spent ten minutes reading this book and walking up the stairs to your room, so you need to get napping.

 

Visualization techniques always help us to sleep. While we don’t think they can substitute for hard work to build your character and intellect, they can certainly put you to sleep. So, dive under your comforting brown covers, stretch, then curl up, and grab your pillow tight. Visualize with us.

 

Visualize first, the Earth. Picture it as it is seen from space, or imagine low-flying, aerial footage taken of its vastness. Think then, of salmon swimming upstream to thrash and breed and die. Imagine you are as big and as round as the Earth on the inside, able to feed trillions of life forms—then picture yourself as a tiny crustacean or slug, feeding off of one of Mother Earth’s trillion teats. Then, you are but one of many salmon, thrashing, breeding, dying, and being reborn. Swim, crawl, fly, run, dance, plant yourself and grow. Take your roots and stretch them deep into the earth’s crust, breaking up millions of years of sediment with fresh, probing tentacles, thirsty for new pockets of water. There is a code to replicate the Earth, and its inside this book. It isn’t DNA, it is something more primal than that. The code is also in you. But, you have to map yourself to it. Map away.

 

As you drift off into sleep, you find yourself suddenly sitting up, and you hear a light tapping on the door. You hear a voice say “open up, it’s Coach Blanc.” Is it the good Coach Blanc, or the evil Coach Blanc? You knock on the door, the lock unclicks, and you creak it open a little bit.

 

You must have spoken out loud, because he answers: “There really is only one of me, but I am divided into many parts by time…but three main parts. When I was young, I believed in such ideologies as Marxism, and I thought the communal spirit, if properly directed, did the most good. Those were the years that this place was gunmetal gray. I also believed in combining this type of thinking with literally re-enacting Jesus’ giving of the body. So, I instilled The Lottery. All who came to be a part of The Pastures community during those early days agreed that it was a good idea for one person each week to let his or her flesh be consumed by the group, thereby making us stronger as a whole. Nobody went into the chili without first signing an extensive release form stating that he or she was not brainwashed, but being sacrificed by his or her own volition.

 

“Unfortunately, this created several attempts to game the system, and I began to believe that certain members were secretly rigging the lottery machine in favor of their survival at the expense of rivals. I didn’t found this place to create the culture of gangs and factions. Also, my own personal ideology was changing, and I began to realize that in a communal system, everyone is indeed as bad as the most corrupt member. This made me decide to implement the Purification Years. I no longer called this place The Pastures, and I became obsessed with personal discipline, and endless hard labor, mixed with liberal doses of bleach, to purge each soul of iniquities. I thought for sure I was now creating proper humans, in the traditions of the great militaries, and Jesus AND Khna.

 

“My assistant, Nurse Brun, and almost three dozen members who were present at the time, all died one terrible day of excessive bleach inhalation.”

 

“But Coach,” you ask, “Why in every period of The Pastures‘ existence were its residents forced to perform such bizarre, excessive, and sometimes cruel activities?”

 

“Because any fool out there can achieve so-called enlightenment if said fool is properly fed, rested and medicated. That doesn’t tell you who you really are. You can’t know who you really are until you are properly hungry, tired and shamed into states where you eventually learn to stop lashing out, and start seeking your core Self.”

 

“So, is the Yogi’s way of severe asceticism the best way?”

 

“No. No way is the best way, except when you reach the point where any given way you choose can lead you to your core Self.”

 

He disappears into thin air, and you see Nurse Brun coming toward you now, and she is dressed in white. Before you can pull your door completely shut, she has jabbed you with a hypodermic needle. “Naptime isn’t chat time!” she cries.

 

Welcome back to your room. When this institution first began, we didn’t offer afternoon naps, per se. You were allowed thirty minutes of study time, or you could get a head start on your afternoon chores. You will probably find yourself at the end of your afternoon chores wishing you had gotten that head start, but we were receiving less productive output from members if they didn’t have a chance to recharge. You’ll notice that you have already spent ten minutes reading this book and walking up the stairs to your room, so you need to get napping.

 

Visualization techniques always help us to sleep. While we don’t think they can substitute for hard work to build your character and intellect, they can certainly put you to sleep. So, get into bed, and lay flat on your back. Visualize with us.

 

Visualize first, a pristine town. This town has plenty of well-lighted footpaths for everyone to use at any time of day or night. It has removed the panhandlers, the prostitutes, the drug dealers and the politicians. In this town, alcohol is served but for one hour, and two drinks are your limit. No alcohol is sold in stores. You are this town. You have plenty of delightful attractions, both manmade ones and natural ones. Everyone wants to visit you, to do business with you, to experience all that you have to offer.

 

But, wait.

 

Some rumors start to appear. There on the other side of the river, isn’t that part of this town? Why yes it is. What’s over there? People who go over to that part of town never come back. Stories of rampant gang violence, human slavery, child prostitution, famines, diseases, terrorist and politician training camps come from over there. But, you have to map yourself to this town.

 

Map away.

 

Now, imagine you are pouring a vast quantity of bleach into that river, and it only flows into the drinking system of the bad part of town, then suddenly, all of the crime and terror are wiped out. Those who are perpetrators move away in frustration for being unable to perpetrate their crimes, or they are locked up or taken down by crime and terror fighting warriors. The victims are suddenly empowered to rise up and help the warriors, and stop believing the politicians. The bad side of town, is, of course, your bad side.

 

Map it. Purify it. Do it, now.

 

As you try to sleep, you find yourself suddenly sitting up, and you hear a light tapping on the door. You hear a voice say “open up, it’s Nurse Brun.” Is it the happy crazy Nurse Brun, or the angry crazy Nurse Brun? You knock on the door, the lock unclicks, and you creak it open a little bit.

 

You must have spoken out loud, because she answers: “There really is only one of me, but I am divided into two parts by death. When I was young, I believed in total purification of the mind, body and soul. I didn’t believe in the spirit. I applied for a job at this institution, to work as a head nurse under Coach Blanc, and I shared his obsession with personal discipline, and endless hard labor, mixed with liberal doses of bleach, to purge each being of iniquities. I thought for sure I was now creating proper humans, in the traditions of the great mental healers.

 

“One day, almost three dozen members and I were finishing up an especially tough laundry chore,  and the bleach fumes proved to be our match. When we awoke, we found that we were covered in earth, but still free to roam about the grounds. While in this strange state of being both buried but conscious, I decided to carry on this institution under its original name, The Pastures, and guide these poor cattle through what appears to be eternity. Coach Blanc was nowhere to be seen about the grounds, and we once heard a living visitor mention to his wife that the Coach had left for some island in the Pacific, taking all of our personal fortunes with him. Yet, occasionally, the members say that they see the Coach and talk to him, and this makes me furious. The man doesn’t deserve to be noticed.”

 

She disappears into thin air, and you see Coach Blanc coming toward you now, and he is dressed in gunmetal gray. Before you can pull your door completely shut, he has thrust a copy of the book into your hands. “Study time isn’t chat time!” he cries.

 

Afternoon study at The Pastures shouldn’t be done lightly or with your mind elsewhere. We offer a special approach to focusing your mind for total study. Your mind is a powerful tool, and it can seem almost too powerful to wield at times. You must think of your mind has being capable of being in one of two states: leading or following.
At The Pastures we see your mind as being constantly tossed back and forth between these two states, but rarely successful at sticking to one or the other for great periods of time. In order for your mind to be successfully conditioned to stay in the leader state for great periods of time, it must first be successfully conditioned to stay in the follower state for great periods of time.
The way to speed up the process is to begin thinking and writing using the word “me” instead of “I” when describing all of your actions in the first person. Furthermore, instead of simply saying something happened, or happened to you, we would like you to instead say “Coach Blanc compelled me to do X” For example:
I read the book. INCORRECTThe book was read by me. INCORRECT

Coach Blanc compelled me to read the book. CORRECT
Don’t worry whether Coach Blanc compelled you to do an activity or not. If you relate to us something you did, and it was not the sort of thing we think Coach Blanc would compel you to do, we will make sure you understand just what we think and how we feel about what you did wrong.
The best thing for you to do right now, is to stay in your room,, be still, and just write.. If you go back out there, and participate in the rest of the activities, you are likely to either be too late, or chosen in the lottery. You don’t want either to happen.

Afternoon chores

Most of us would have to agree that your afternoon chores are much more important than your morning chores. For this reason, we have devoted three full hours to your afternoon chores, so that you will have ample time to complete all of them. What makes them more important? In the morning, you were charged with tending The Pastures. In the afternoon, you are charged with tending your Self. We will carefully cover every area of work that you could hope to perform on your Self, except for spirituality—we will devote an entire hour to that following your afternoon chores.

 

First, fully awaken. Take a deep breath, sit up slowly, and attain a posture becoming a royal. Stretch out your arms and legs and neck, and say something like, “Gosh, I’m like a spider, I’m all tingly, I feel good.” Make sure that your brown robe has been properly smoothed and adjusted on your person, and head for the downstairs line that is forming, where you will receive from Nurse Brun a personal assignment of afternoon chores that is unique to you.

 

At the line near The Pastures mural, you find yourself once more among contented, happy people that seem amicable enough, although they quickly grow reserved when you try to approach them—almost cold but not quite that distant. If what Coach Blanc said is true, all of these people dressed here in brown are the ones who died of bleach inhalation. How cute, you think, so am I supposed to be dead, too?

 

Upon receiving his or her set of instructions, each member happily prances off, but they mostly head right toward the courtyard, stable yards, and garden that you witnessed this morning. You’ve presumed the door to the left of the lobby to be the main entrance, or a door that leads to the main entrance, as that is where visitors seem to initially come from.

 

Nurse Brun smiles at you with her big saccharine sweet smile, “Well, hello there, I’m glad to see that you decided to join us. I hope you are well-rested from your afternoon nap.” You think about Coach Blanc’s command to just stay in the room and write, but something compels you to keep reading this book. After all, you want to know how it all ends, don’t you?

 

“Here are your afternoon chores. Remember, that you only have two hours to complete them,” she giggles nasally.

 

“Afternoon Chores”

Chore number one: Seek out prospective members, and introduce them to the book, letting them know just how pleased you are with The Pastures. You will see a large group of folks, milling about down at the gate. You walk forward to the lobby, and make a left. Go out the door, and stay on the lighted footpath, until you reach the gate. Do not make any attempt to leave The Pastures by climbing through or over the gate, as this would not be a healthy exit strategy. You will not be allowed back in, and furthermore, you will regret your decision, as what is on the other side of the gate is eternally unpleasant. If you truly desire to leave The Pastures, please read the chapter, “How to leave this place.”

 

Chore number two: After you have compelled at least five prospective visitors to come and learn more about The Pastures, get down on your hands and knees, and crawl along the fenceline of the grounds, moving to your left in a counterclockwise fashion around the perimeter of the place. This is an opportunity to become better acquainted with the earth. You should reach our garden in about forty-five minutes’ time. At this point, you may stand up, stretch (but don’t brush the dirt off), and feel free to eat anything you find that has died on the vine.

 

Chore number three: There are really three principles that guide (or sidetrack) us all: flesh, earth and language. At The Pastures, we have endeavored to successfully map your flesh to the earth, so that you will be able to sleep properly for eternity. However, in order to assist you in this process, we have been forced to use language, a double-edged sword that both guides and sidetracks. Some members, however, have successfully made that leap we so desire you to take—they no longer need their books, indeed, they no longer need to be. You will find their books lying about the grounds, open to whatever page they were on when they attained enlightenment, and departed for the earth’s core forever. These books are to be consumed, literally. Eat at least three books, and then return here where we will all travel to the chapel for afternoon worship service.

 

On your way to the gate, you find yourself walking along a densely shrouded path, surrounded by almost impenetrable, gnarly trees whose bark and roots seem to endlessly weave each other. Through a small hole pops out a head. You knew he was going to be there, you saw it coming from the moment Nurse Brun provided the instructions, and yet you are still a bit startled, having gotten lost in the vastness of arbordom.

 

“Oh, you are getting yourself into a real mess now, my friend,” cries Coach Blanc to you with a look of despair upon his face.

 

“Would you mind telling me just how I got here—am I dead like the rest of these people?” you ask him pointedly.

 

“Well, yes and no. There are few of us who ever really live, you know,” he said.

 

“Cut the trite guruspeak,” you demand. “I live in a world where everyone who speaks has a point, all problems can be solved, and time is not wasted. Why, I could stop reading this book right now.”

 

“Sure, and then you would never know how it all ends,” he chuckles.

 

“Oh, please. I have stopped hundreds of books and movies in the middle, never to return to them again.”

 

“So then, what was the point of starting them?” he asks, gently.

 

“They promised something, but ultimately, they couldn’t deliver it,” you snap back.

 

“It sounds like you have high expectations.”

 

“That’s right. Why shouldn’t I?”

 

“Well, if you expect to survive to the end of this book, you will have to listen to me very carefully. Turn around, and go back to your room, and just stay there, and write. Do not read any longer.”

 

You decide to try what he says, after all, the thought of spending almost an hour crawling through needles and roots and who knows what else seems to be even more painfully tedious than sitting in a tiny room and writing, and waiting.

 

As you run back up the path toward the main building, you see her, know what’s coming next, but it is too late. The jab of the hypodermic needle comes like a the rude smack of the head hitting hard earth.

 

Nurse Brun smiles at you with a big sinister grin, “Well, hello there, I’m glad to see that you decided to join us. I hope you are well-rested from your afternoon nap.” You think about Coach Blanc’s command to just stay in the room and write, but something compels you to keep reading this book. After all, you want to know how it all ends, don’t you?

 

“Here are your afternoon chores. Remember, that you only have two hours to complete them,” she giggles nasally.

 

“Afternoon Chores”

First chore: Go report to the world just how well you are recovering here at the institution. You will see a large group of folks milling about down at the gate. You walk forward to the lobby, and make a left. Go out the door, and stay on the lighted footpath, until you reach the gate. Do not make any attempt to leave the institution by climbing through or over the gate, as this would not be a healthy exit strategy. You are not pure yet, and they will send you to some place much worse.

 

Second chore: After you have related the account of your vastly improved self to the people at the gate, you will turn right on the small path leading away from the gate, and walk along the fence line until you have reached the pool of purification. Stand with arms raised, so that Nurse Brun may remove your tightly-fitting institutional outfit, then put on the goggles that she will provide you, and dive into our brand new outdoor pool (we think it is much nicer than the old, Soviet-styled indoor pool. Be sure to have the goggles on tight, or the heavily-chlorinated water will burn your eyes. Begin swimming until you hear Nurse Brun blow the whistle. Do not stop swimming until you do. If you do not know how to swim, grab a flotation device before you jump in the water, to prevent drowning. It is preferable that you spend at least half of your time swimming under water.

 

Third chore: There are really two principles that sidetrack us all: flesh and language. At this institution, we have endeavored to successfully map your flesh to things that are pure, so that it will no longer be a liability, but merely a vessel. Think of your flesh as being like the swimming pool. You have been peeing in the pool for years. In order to guide you in this process, we have been forced to use language, a double-edged sword that both guides and sidetracks. Your chore for the duration of this session is to exist independently of language.

 

Afternoon worship of our founder and leader

Nurse Brun has pulled the entire weary lot of you out of your dazed state of sickness from earth, trees, books and water and into clean brown robes. You follow her single file back into the main building, and she pries open a door near the painting of the cows that you hadn’t noticed before.

 

It smells like church inside, and it looks like a college lecture hall. In the place where you might expect a screen for presentations to be projected, there is a giant, impressionist painting of Coach Blanc. He is wearing his famous “Coach” ballcap, and his head is turned slightly away to the right, but his eyes are facing you, the viewer of the painting, and a grin is baring several impeccably white teeth.

 

“The best thing about worship,” says Nurse Brun, “is that it cleanses our hearts like nothing else can. When many are gathered together, letting their minds give way to their hearts and voices, true transcendence can begin.”

 

Several of you have taken places in the far back pews, hoping that the light from the glowing painting of Coach Blanc can’t reach you in the back.

 

“That won’t do, class,” cries Nurse Brun, “We are all going to gather together, close as we can around this magnificent portrait of our founder. So, grab those books, and turn to Appendix A. It’s time to transcend ourselves as one.”

 

She warms you up with the nauseating “map away” song, which you have now practically memorized.

 

Map your brain to the ever-curious puppy,

Sniffing each nook and cranny of his world,

Finding each new sight and smell a delight and great mystery.

Map your entire body, to the joy of sunlight and new saplings

That sing fervently about the renewal of life in the springtime.

 

Map all that is old, tired, saggy and worn to things you know to be new,

Fresh, expectant and grand!

 

Map away! Map away! Map away!

 

But, that is just a warm-up, for this is after all, a service to worship Coach Blanc.

 

You all sing “To Coach Blanc, we give our thanks,” as well as “A new approach comes from the Coach.”

 

“Class,” cries Nurse Brun, “I am detecting a general lack of enthusiasm, as well as a bit of insincerity. How do you expect to transcend to an exulted plane like the one the Coach resides on if you can’t raise your hearts and voices in pure song? Now, try shutting your minds off completely, and just sing the words together in joyful song!”

 

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat,

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat.

When I let my mind go blank,

And give myself to wise Coach Blanc,

My life is like The Pastures sweet.

 

Nurse Burn has you all sing this to where each note sung is a middle octave F#. She keeps hitting the F# key on an organ while you all sing in this single pitch. After you have repeated this for half an hour, Coach Blanc’s painting begins to speak directly to you alone.

 

“You know, if you keep doing this, you are going to end up in the chili at some point. At any rate, you aren’t going to leave this place.”

 

“What should I do, Coach Blanc?” you ask.

 

His face returns to motionlessness, and Nurse Brun is screaming at you. “What do you think you are doing, talking in the middle of worship? We almost transcended ourselves and reached the exulted plane upon which Coach Blanc resides.”

 

“But, he spoke to me, Nurse Brun. I believe I was there,” you say, finding courage in your convictions.

 

“Nonsense. None of the rest of the group saw him or heard him. Now, back to singing.”

 

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat,

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat.

When mind is empty like the conch,

Then I can truly find Coach Blanc,

And all his words I will repeat.

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat,

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat.

 

Coach Blanc has pulled the entire weary lot of you out of your dazed state of sickness from bleach, books and water and into clean white, tightly-fitting institutional outfits. You follow him single file back into the main building, and he pries open a door near the painting of the cows that you hadn’t noticed before.

 

It smells like a hospital inside, and it looks like a college surgery demonstration room. In the place where you might expect the instructing doctor to be bent over a patient, there is a giant, impressionist painting of Coach Blanc. He is wearing his famous “Coach” ballcap, and his head is turned slightly away to the right, but his eyes are facing you, the viewer of the painting, and a grin is baring several impeccably white teeth. Coach Blanc in person stands in front of the painting, obviously quite at ease under the giant likeness of himself.

 

“The best thing about worship,” says Coach Blanc, “is that it cleanses places in our hearts that bleach can’t reach. When many are gathered together chanting in unison, true purification of the mind and soul can begin.”

 

You all are mostly out of his sight, standing back from the railing where students might lean over to watch an instructional operation take place.

 

“That’s fine all fine and good,” says Coach Blanc. “But, you should expect things to transpire in a certain fashion around here.” He waves his arm, and the floor drops out from underneath you, leaving all of you crying out in pain as you hit the floor, entangled in each other and struggling to pull ourselves up while wearing such tightly-fitting institutional outfits. Coach Blanc shines a goodly amount of his own radiant light upon you all.

 

“So, how about we grab those books, and turn to Appendix A. It’s time to purify ourselves.”

 

He warms you up with the nauseating “bleach away” song, which most of you have now practically memorized.

 

When we were children we wanted not the things of this world.

What happened to that innocence, that peace of girls and boys?

 

As adults, we learned to lie frequently, violently, and easily.

We sought out material pleasures of the flesh, and danced with swine wearing pearls.

To get to Heaven, a purging must take place, a bleaching of the soul.

To get to Heaven, we must forsake none of the purer things of this world.

Bleach away, bleach away, bleach away!

 

But, that is just a warm-up, for this is after all, a service to worship Coach Blanc.

 

You all sing “To Coach Blanc, we give our thanks,” as well as “A new approach comes from the Coach.”

 

“Class,” cries Coach Blanc, “I am detecting a general lack of cohesion and unity, as well as a bit of insincerity in those voices. How do you expect to transcend to an exulted plane like the one I reside on if you can’t raise your hearts and voices as one disciplined unit? Now, try shutting your minds off completely, and just sing the words together in precision!”

 

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat,

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat.

When I let my mind go blank,

And give myself to wise Coach Blanc,

My life is like The Pastures sweet.

 

Coach Blanc has you all sing this to where each note sung is a middle octave F#. He keeps playing the F# note on a harmonica while you all sing in this single pitch. After you have repeated this for half an hour, Coach Blanc’s painting begins to speak directly to you alone.

 

“You know, if you keep doing this, you are going to end up in the chili at some point. At any rate, you aren’t going to leave this place.”

 

“What should I do, Coach Blanc?” you ask.

 

His face returns to motionlessness, and Coach Blanc, the physical manifestation, is screaming at you. “What the hell do you think you are doing, talking in the middle of worship? We almost purified ourselves and returned to Heaven.”

 

“But, he, I mean you, spoke to me, Coach Blanc. I believe I was there,” you say, finding courage in your convictions.

 

“Nonsense. That is simply a good likeness of me, nothing more. The real Coach Blanc is standing right in front of you, trying to get you all to sing in key. Now, back to singing.”

 

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat,

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat.

When mind is empty like the conch,

Then I can truly find Coach Blanc,

And all his words I will repeat.

 

Once upon a time at The Pastures, we thought it fitting to offer the religious among you the opportunity to raise your voices in song to the deity of your choice (and Coach Blanc was typically and wisely everyone’s deity of choice).
However, some of you who call yourselves Atheists felt discriminated against by being forced to participate in an organized activity that ran completely counter to your belief system. So, we converted the worship hall into an indoor swimming pool.
However, many of you were completely physically unable to swim the laps we felt were necessary in order for the extensive maintenance and upkeep of the pool to be worth our while.
So, we boarded up the door to the indoor swimming area, and nobody is allowed to go down there. We ask that instead of worshipping Coach Blanc or swimming, that you simply stay in your room, be still, and just write.
The best thing for you to do right now, is to stay in your room,, be still, and just write.. If you go back out there, and participate in the rest of the activities, you are likely to either be too late, or chosen in the lottery. You don’t want either to happen.

 

Dinner

Back in the mess hall, the lights are turned down low, and phosphorescent lights burn in jars on all of the tables. Everyone is quietly picking out their grub from the mess line, shuffling forward patiently with heads bowed in their shapeless brown robes. You are among them, of course, and like the rest of them, you speak to nobody, even though no command has been specifically given in regard to speaking to others.

 

(If you arrive for Dinner, and everyone is seated, and the mess line is picked clean, please refer to the chapter titled “What to do if you are late.”)

 

Nurse Brun and Coach Blanc are nowhere to be found, and you breathe a sigh of relief upon discovery of their absence. Your body aches from all of the exercise, physical labor and other activities you participated in today, but the aches are fading fast, because the sight of all that yummy brown food is making your stomach beg for the most attention.

 

Upon pouring yourself glass of what you believe to be chocolate milk, you walk over to the silverware baskets. There in the midst of all the brown forks, knives and spoons is a single, gunmetal gray fork. You grab it, and turn to the tall older man standing behind you. He scowls intently at his feet, as if hoping you will go back to not noticing him.

 

“See, look. Something is getting through here. I’m not crazy, there really is a gunmetal gray version of The Pastures.”

 

“Shut up,” he says, and returns to scowling at his feet.

 

You wander with your tray over to an empty table, somewhat disturbed by the zombie-like personas of the people in the mess hall. You hadn’t really had time to examine your fellow guests since this morning’s recess, but you can clearly see that almost everyone appears to have retreated as far inward as possible due to the severity of their disorientation.

 

The food is bland and a bit on the starchy side, but it doesn’t have the crunch and grit of this morning’s “earth breakfast.” There is a brown blob that vaguely resembles mashed potatoes in texture, a brown slab that could be described as a possible type of meat or tofu creation, and a pile of brown dots—beans, maybe? At any rate, while the texture varies, the taste of each does not, and you are too tired and hungry to care about what you are or aren’t putting into your mouth.

 

After finishing your chocolate milk, you push your tray to the side, and start to read more from the book, wishing now that you’d brought something along to write with—then, you discover a pen inside an inner pocket of the robe, near your feet.

 

“Is that what I think it is?” asks a bubbly, cheerful voice. A plump, middle-aged woman plops herself and her tray down next to you.

 

“A pen, yes. Did you not get one?”

 

“No, silly, the fork. It’s some kind of gray color, isn’t it? Although, it’s hard to tell in this light.”

 

“It’s gunmetal gray,” you say, “Proof that not everything here is brown.”

 

“That’s what I thought. Now, I spotted a gun…what did you call it?”

 

“Gunmetal gray.”

 

“I spotted gunmetal gray cow today, during my afternoon chores. And, a white one, too. What do you think it all means?”

 

“I am not sure,” you say, “But I was going to start writing some things down, to maybe collect my thoughts and get a better toehold on what’s going on.”

 

“Oh, that’s a good idea, you mean like a diary? I used to keep a diary when I was a little girl. Then, I met my Horatio, and I didn’t need to after that.”

 

“And why is that?”

 

“Diaries are for when you’re in love with someone who doesn’t love you back, silly,” she says, “Oh gosh, I guess I better get eating or I’ll be late for evening social hour.”

 

She gulps down her food like a frantic windmill.

 

“Class,” shouts a familiar voice, breaking the relative peace and quiet, “Just a quick heads up. Can I get all of you to pay attention to me for a minute? Good. Class, be sure to save your forks for later. We’re going to play a little game, and we’ll want you to be sure to have them with you. Did everyone here that?”

 

“Oh, oh,” says the plump, bubbly-voiced woman, “Can we trade? I so want to be the only one with a gunmetal gray fork. Everyone will be so jealous!”

 

You aren’t particularly attached to it, as you feel like maybe you have more important things that need tending to, so the two of you wipe down your forks with your napkins, and trade forks.

 

“My name is Jessica,” she says, and you tell her your name. You grab your pen, return to the book, but before you start writing, you are curious to read the chapter titled “Dinner.”

 

Dinner

Back in the mess hall, the lights have been cranked up to their full wattage output, blazing bright white light from every fluorescent bulb. Loud pop dance music from the past ten years blasts over a loud speaker, and the cafeteria staff are shouting and clanging their white pots and pans. Everyone is pushing and shoving each other to get to the front of the mess line, gesturing and shouting at each other, and carelessly banging their plates around on their trays. You are among them, of course, and like the rest of them, you feel it necessary to join in and give as much as you get.

 

(If you arrive for Dinner, and everyone is seated, and the food on the mess line is picked clean, please refer to the chapter titled “What to do if you are late.”)

 

Nurse Brun and Coach Blanc are nowhere to be found, and you breathe a sigh of relief upon discovery of their absence. You have grown to thoroughly resent the sight and sound of them, in whatever form they take, benevolent or not. Being among fellow patients with no supervision in sight feels just right.

 

Upon sloshing out a glass for yourself of what you believe to be milk, you push your way over to the silverware baskets. There in the midst of all the white forks, knives and spoons is a single, gunmetal gray fork. You grab it, and turn to the plump, middle-age woman standing behind you. She sneers at you derisively.

 

“Whadda you want?”

 

“See, look. Something is getting through here. I’m not crazy, there really is a gunmetal gray version of The Pastures.”

 

“Shut the hell up,” she says, and practically spits on you.

 

You elbow through the mob with your tray over to an empty table, somewhat disturbed by the violent, foul personas of the people in the mess hall. You hadn’t really had time to examine your fellow guests since this morning’s recess, but you can clearly see that almost everyone appears to be on edge as if they could erupt into a killing mob at any minute, probably due to the severity of their withdrawal symptoms.

 

The food is bland and a bit on the bleachy side, but it doesn’t have the utterly nauseating grip on you like this morning’s “bleach breakfast” did. There is a white blob that vaguely resembles mashed potatoes, a white slab that could be described as a possible type of meat or tofu creation, and a pile of white dots—beans, maybe? At any rate, while the texture varies, the taste of each does not, and you are too rattled and ravenous to care about what you are or aren’t putting into your mouth.

 

After finishing your milk, you push your tray to the side, and start to read more from the book, wishing now that you’d brought something along to write with—then, you discover a pen inside an oddly-placed pocket of the tightly-fitting institutional outfit, near your stomach.

 

“Is that what I think it is?” asks a calm, pleasant voice. A tall, older man neatly sits himself and sets his tray down next to you.

 

“A pen, yes. Did you not get one?”

 

“No, sir, the fork. It’s some kind of gray color, isn’t it? Although, it’s hard to tell in this light.”

 

“It’s gunmetal gray,” you say, “Proof that not everything here is white.”

 

“That’s what I thought. Now, I spotted a gun…what did you call it?”

 

“Gunmetal gray.”

 

“I spotted gunmetal gray cow today, during my afternoon chores. And, a brown one, too. What do you think is the Truth?”

 

“I am not sure,” you say, “But I was going to start writing some things down, to maybe collect my thoughts and get a better toehold on what’s going on.”

 

“Oh, that’s a good idea. I also like to meditate and pray.”

 

“And why is that?”

 

“Because I am certain that my father’s words are the truest words ever written,” he says, “And, I know that little else needs to be said. Well, I guess I better get eating or I’ll be late for evening social hour.”

 

He neatly, but swiftly finishes off his food, in careful, thoughtful bites.

 

“Class,” shouts a familiar voice, breaking the relative peace and quiet, “Just a quick heads up. Can I get all of you to pay attention to me for a minute? Good. Class, be sure to save your forks for later. We’re going to play a little game, and we’ll want you to be sure to have them with you. Did everyone here that?”

 

“Oh, sir,” says your dining partner, “Do you mind if we trade? I have a pretty good idea what the game is going to consist of, and I don’t think you want to be holding a gunmetal gray fork when the time comes.”

 

You aren’t particularly attached to it, as you feel like maybe you have more important things that need tending to, so the two of you wipe down your forks with your napkins, and trade forks.

 

“My name is Joshua,” he says, and you tell him your name. You grab your pen, return to the book, but before you start writing, you are curious to read the chapter titled “Dinner.”

 

Dinner

We apologize for the inconvenience, but Dinner is not being served this evening, as the cafeteria staff have all gone on strike. However, please grab one of the gunmetal gray forks from the silverware containers on the cart outside the mess hall door. Keep it with you through Evening Social Hour, and take it with you to our end-of-day game, The Lottery.

The Pastures

 

Evening social hour

Evening social hour takes place in the lobby of the main building at The Pastures. We could have held it in the mess hall, after moving the tables and chairs aside, but we were afraid you wouldn’t feel as compelled to converse with your fellow residents if allowed such a larger space for mingling. For the next hour, bubbly Jessica tells you her life story. While Nurse Brun specifically has instructed you all to mingle, Jessica has cornered you, and proceeds to bore you into a trance by relating every single day she spent with her beloved Horatio.

Evening social hour takes place in the lobby of the main building at The Pastures. We could have held it in the mess hall, after moving the tables and chairs aside, but we were afraid you, being the anti-social, prima donna type that you are, wouldn’t feel as compelled to converse with your fellow residents if allowed such a larger space for mingling, and would likely go off into a corner and just sneer at everyone.

 

For most of the next hour, you spend every single minute trying to push through the crowd of people gathered around Joshua. He seems to have some interesting tales to tell, but when he first started talking, he seemed to be kind of a boring fellow, so you wandered away.

 

Toward the very end of the evening social hour, you finally get a minute to speak with him.

 

“So, how do you know about the game we are going to be playing next?”

 

“My father told me all about The Pastures, before I came here. He provided me with instructions for how to handle Coach Blanc and Nurse Brun, and how to get out of here after I did what I had to do.”

 

“How exactly does one get out of here?” you ask.

 

“Oh, you should have listened more carefully at the beginning of my talk. Maybe one of the other guests can tell you. I am going to have to leave soon.”

 

For the next hour, you wander around the main lobby trying to find someone to talk to. Jessica has cornered poor Joshua, and he is kindly and patiently listening to her run her mouth. Other circles of folks form, and they pull their backs to you when you try to insert yourself into the conversation. Apparently, many cliques have been formed today at The Pastures while you thought each person was slogging it through all alone. Now, everyone has stories to tell about shared experiences from today, and you aren’t in a single one of them.

The Lottery

“Who has the gunmetal gray fork?” asks Nurse Brun, as you all gather around her in the lobby to play the game she’d mentioned.

 

“Ooooh, me, me!” cries bubbly Jessica.

 

“Very well, then,” says Nurse Brun. “Come with me.”

 

The two of them exit, and Coach Blanc just happens to saunter in from someplace unseen.

 

“Hey Coach!” someone yells, “Where are they going?”

 

“Nurse Brun is taking Jessica to prepare her for the great gift she is going to give all of you tomorrow.”

 

“What gift is that?”

 

“Jessica will be the meat in your chili.”

 

“Who has the gunmetal gray fork?” asks Coach Blanc, as you all gather around him in the lobby to play the game he’d mentioned.

 

Joshua, bows his head, raises his hand with the fork you traded him, and steps forward.

 

“Very well, then,” says Coach Blanc. “Come with me.”

 

The two of them exit, and Nurse Brun just happens to whisk in from someplace unseen.

 

“Hey Nurse!” someone yells, “Where are they going?”

 

“Coach Blanc is taking Joshua to prepare him for the great gift he is going to give all of you tomorrow.”

 

“What gift is that?”

 

“Joshua will be sacrificed so you don’t have to be.”

 

“Who has the gunmetal gray fork?” asks Coach Blanc, as you all gather around him in the lobby to play the game he’d mentioned.
Every single one of you hold up your forks. You look around for Joshua, thinking maybe that in this reality he will be sitting calmly in a corner, holding a white or brown fork. But, he is nowhere in sight.
“Very well then,” says Coach Blanc, “Come with me.”
This is Coach Blanc. Don’t read any further. You will be very sorry if you do. Go back to your room, and begin writing now, as this is your last chance. Feel free to write over my biography, as there is nothing important there. If you need extra space, use the Notes section of the book. Whatever you do, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER..
“You all are going to be tomorrow’s breakfast, lunch and dinner for the incoming guests. Unfortunately, none of you were able to find a fork that wasn’t gunmetal gray.”
“But Coach,” you cry, “I don’t want to be somebody else’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. Can’t I get someone to stand in for me?”
“If you don’t like the way we do things here, you sniveling little brat, then read the chapter titled, ‘How to leave this place,’ for Pete’s sake!”
“Joshua!” you cry.
“Joshua is dead, or never was—at any rate, he ain’t here now.”

 

How to leave this place

Guess what? There was a reason why we asked you to count the corners in your room. We don’t think that you ever actually did. What you likely did do, was attempt to imagine a room with four walls and count your imaginary room’s corners—or, maybe being more mathematically inclined, you remembered an equation that produced eight corners of a cube, or a line segment cubed (23). However, when we asked you to construct four walls, we literally meant for you to construct four walls for the purpose of carrying out the exercises found in this book. Four hyperwalls.

 

After all, in case you have been slow to get it, The Pastures exists in a reality of higher dimensions, where people go to dream and die. So, how many corners are there in a room with four walls existing inside a realm of four dimensions? Just count them after you build it, and you will see that there are 16 corners. You actually have twice as many corners as you thought, and four of them are vertices of your past, four of them are vertices of your future.

 

That’s right, your room at The Pastures is a time machine, or to be more precise, your room can be as much a thing of the past and future as it is that immovable cube, stuck forever in the state you made it out to be. What’s more, the entire campus of The Pastures is moving forwards and backwards at any given moment of your perception. If you really want to leave The Pastures, move backward to a time when The Pastures didn’t exist, or move forwards to a time when The Pastures has been eradicated.

 

If you wish to leave The Pastures, then, think of your room as having a temporal doorway as well as a spatial one. Or, if you are outside the main building while reading this, you may think of there being a temporal front gate to the entire grounds of The Pastures, as a counterpart to the spatial one. What’s more, this single temporal portal doubles as a front and a back gate, giving you the opportunity to exit into the past as well as the future.

 

Pretty incredible, huh?

 

For the sake of this example, we will write the instructions for how to exit The Pastures as if you are presently inside your room. However, if you have reached this part of the book out of curiosity or mad desire outside of the main building, please proceed to the front gate of The Pastures, and perform the same exercises upon the gate.

 

In order to move through time, you must change your entire mindset and frame of reference. You probably have some notion of moving through time already, like you’re in the front seat of a vehicle going down the road—whether you are a passenger or a driver is, of course, something to be discussed elsewhere. Maybe you feel slightly different about time—that your vehicle, the body, isn’t powering itself through time, but is merely like a boat on a river, that river being time.

 

All of this is fine and good if you wish to write poetry or continue to remain in the present, to continue to remain at The Pastures. But, the way to time travel comes from really seeing yourself and all of time, space and The Pastures as being inseparable. Therefore, if you want to move forward or backward in time, you have to become something else altogether. You want to be here before there ever was The Pastures? You are no longer You, but X.

 

X stands in the black, half-formed forest that oscillates between being a forest and being void. X finds that X is spinning chaotically out of control, as X has no real frame of reference to latch onto. X sees a burst of white light, and a man now walks the forest. He has a ballcap that is brilliantly emblazoned with the white letters “Coach.”

 

“I am Coach,” says he. “Before there was The Pastures, there was half-formed forest, before there was half-formed forest, there was the Void. X can’t stay here, or else X will become nothingness. X is too early.”

 

Coach hands X a book that X barely recognizes in X’s quickly evaporating mental state. It is opened to the chapter entitled, “How to leave this place.”

 

How to leave this place

Guess what? There was a reason why we asked you to count the corners in your room. We know that you never actually did. What you did do, was attempt to use your weak, drug and television-addled imagination to conjure a room with four walls and count your imaginary room’s corners—or, maybe being more mathematically inclined, you remembered an equation that produced eight corners of a cube, or a line segment cubed (23). However, when we asked you to construct four walls, we literally meant for you to construct four walls for the purpose of carrying out the exercises found in this book. Four hyperwalls.

 

After all, since you have been slow to figure out what is what, The Pastures exists in a reality of higher dimensions, where people go to purify their subtle bodies. So, how many corners are there in a room with four walls existing inside a realm of higher dimensions? Just count them after you build it, and you will see that there are an infinite number of corners. You actually have “infinity minus eight” more corners than you thought, and many of them are vertices of your past mental states of delusions, many of them are vertices of your future state of enlightenment and purity.

 

That’s right, your room at The Pastures is a construct of unlimited potential, or to be more precise, your room is as much a thing that constricts and confines you as it is a thing that enables you to grow in an unlimited fashion. What’s more, the entire campus of The Pastures is really a universe of unlimited potential. If you really want to leave The Pastures, you will have to construct your own version of The Pastures.

 

If you wish to leave The Pastures, then, think of your room no more, and create your own space for existing. Or, if you are outside the main building while reading this, you can simply stop believing in The Pastures, and start believing in your own little campus of comfort and repose. What’s more, you could create your own ballcap that says “Coach” on it, and wear it, and be Coach You.

 

Pretty incredible, huh?

 

For the sake of this example, we will write the instructions for how to exit The Pastures as if you are presently inside your room. However, if you have reached this part of the book out of curiosity or mad desire, and you are standing outside of the main building, please proceed to the front gate of The Pastures, and perform the same exercises upon the gate.

 

In order to move out of this reality construct, you must change your entire mindset and frame of reference. You probably have some notion of existing in a certain timespace construct already, like you’re sitting in a specific location in time and space, reading a book or something—whether you are a passive observer or an active participant of the book is, of course, something to be discussed elsewhere. Maybe you feel slightly different about your book reading situation—that your time and place and even the medium upon which you read the book isn’t important, but the ideas that your mind grapples with are.

 

All of this is fine and good if you wish to expound upon those ideas, be a great philosopher, and continue to remain in the present, to continue to remain at The Pastures. But, the way to exit this reality comes from really seeing yourself and all of time, space and The Pastures as being inseparable. Therefore, if you want to move out of a time space construct, you have to become something else altogether. You want to exist in some other reality than The Pastures? You are no longer You, but X.

 

X stands in the black void. X finds that X is spinning chaotically out of control, as X has no real frame of reference to latch onto. X sees a burst of white light, and a man’s essence materializes and imprints itself upon X’s consciousness. He has a ballcap that is brilliantly emblazoned with the white letters “Coach.”

 

“I am Coach,” says he. “Before there was The Pastures, there was the Void. X can’t stay here, or else X will become as the Void. X is too insubstantial to construct X’s own reality.”

 

Coach hands X a book that X barely recognizes. It is opened to the chapter entitled, “How to leave this place.”

 

This is Coach Blanc. Don’t read any further. You are wasting your time if you think that you are going to get out of The Pastures by reading this chapter. Go to your room immediately, and begin keeping track of everything that goes on around you. You have no idea what kind of reality you are in until you start keeping track of it.
How to leave this placeGuess what? There was a reason why we asked you to count the corners in your room. At each corner of your room there is a device that is used to beam a special kind of laser into the room. This device records you so that a holographic construct of you might be recreated in any given environment. Without your room, you don’t exist. The “you” that is reading this book right now outside of your room is a holographic construct of the “you” that is reading your book inside your room. In other words, the “real” you, the physical and true you, exists only inside your room at The Pastures. All other locations in time and space that you’ve ever known yourself to be are simply holographic reconstructions of yourself, courtesy of our technology.
We understand that you have been slow to figure out what is what, so here is the Truth: The Pastures exists in a reality of higher dimensions, a true reality. All other realities are merely like mirrors or television.
If you wish to leave The Pastures, then, you will have to first make completely sure that you are, in fact, in your room at The Pastures, and nowhere else. You might believe even still that you are simply reading a book somewhere on Earth in time and space, and can put this book down to go about your business.
All of this is fine and good if you wish to remain a hologram, and to continue to remain at The Pastures. But, the way to exit The Pastures is to first return to The Pastures, go up to your room, meditate and align yourself once again with the true self in this room.
From this step, you simply move to each corner of the room and smash each device that is beaming a laser and recording your movements. Then, knock on the door.
See the chapter “Knocking on the door” for what to do next.

 

“What to do if you are too late.”

 

It is with great regret that we begin this chapter, for if you are reading it, it means that you have failed at performing one of the most essential functions necessary to be a proper human being: arriving on time. No punishment is appropriate unless it is intended to teach a lesson or curb an unwanted form of behavior, and that is why we require you to do what you must do if you are late.
Why are you always late, anyway? What is the matter with you? You know, being late means that you value your time over anyone else’s. Do you think that whatever you are doing in this world is so important that all of Time must wait on you? Think back to all the times you have been late.
You were probably born too late. Think of the crappy clothing styles and stupid music that your generation forced you to listen to. You have wished all along that you were born in an earlier, more innocent era where folks weren’t nearly as fast and materialistic as they are now. It is with great regret that you’ve lived your life, knowing that if only you’d attended school in a previous era, you could have been the most popular, successful, handsome, beautiful person in the entire class. As it is, the standards of this present generation have sunk so low, that only the worst kinds of human riffraff rise to the top.
The very first day of school you probably arrived late, and were laughed at by all of your fellow students, as well as the teacher. Well, you know what? We are all laughing at you right now for being late. How does it feel to be laughed at by everyone at The Pastures? Not very good, huh?
Well, if you ever hope to be on time again, you are going to have to sit up and pay close attention to what we are about to say, following each step carefully—don’t rush through them, though!
Number oneGrab a puke bucket from the mess hall and carry it into the forest. Dump its contents out on the ground, sit in the contents, and put the bucket over your head, yelling “I’m always late, I’m always late, this will teach me not to ever be late again!” Repeat this a thousand times.
Number two

Stand up, with the bucket still on your head, and begin running through the forest, yelling “I’m always late, I’m always late, this will teach me not to ever be late again!” Repeat this a thousand times. A silent guard will follow you and keep count for you, making sure that you really do repeat it a thousand times. The guard will also make sure that you do more than run around in a small circle, but that you run as far as you can. If you run into a tree or bush and fall over, get back up and keep moving! Leave the bucket on your head!
Number three

Remove the bucket from your head, return it to the mess hall, and go up to your floor and enter the restroom facilities to shower off, yelling “I’m always late, I’m always late, this will teach me not to ever be late again!” Repeat this a thousand times. If you do not remember how to shower off, please read the instructions found at the end of the chapter titled “Knocking on the door” for how to properly shower.

Number four

Go up to your room and wait for further instructions, yelling “I’m always late, I’m always late, this will teach me not to ever be late again!” Repeat this a thousand times. Read the chapter “Welcome to the room” if you are unsure of what to do once you are in your room. You are now running a day behind everyone else at The Pastures. Therefore, you are going to have to re-read this chapter and perform the exercises found in it every single morning before you go to breakfast.

How to get something you don’t have

Back out there in the manic universe, you developed strategies to get what you don’t have. We probably don’t need to spend a lot of time mentioning them here, but they mostly amounted to a lot of sacrificing of the soul for a little material comfort. Sure, you may not be one of those people who tells outright lies to get something, or even goes so far as to murder or steal to obtain it. But, in all honesty, you no doubt found yourself doing work you hated, selling products and services you didn’t believe in, or simply flattering people you secretly despised so that you could make an extra dollar an hour. Just think about it for a minute. How many doctors, lawyers and engineers put up with all manner of mental and physical torture while in school because they really wanted to do that type of work, and how many of them put up with it just to be able to make a nice living in any town they wanted to live?
Well, at The Pastures, we offer a retreat from all of that soul sacrificing, as we call it. If you want an extra pillow, just wish for it. If you would like to perform less work and play with the puppies and the baby chicks more, just will it, and it will be so. If the food is not to your liking, just wish for your favorite food, and it will appear. Use this newfound knowledge to literally make friends. If your fellow residents don’t seem inclined to make conversation with you, and be your friends, then invent some friends. It’s okay, making friends this way isn’t nearly as crazy as it seems!
You can have anything you want, just by wishing for it, except an exit from The Pastures itself. See the chapter title “How to leave this place” if that is what you seek.

 


Our founder and leader, a biography

At my door, I ran into Coach Blanc once more. He smiled at me like the paternal figure he was ever-becoming in my heart. “Good, you have chosen wisely,” he said, “I can’t enter your room, but I can enter your thoughts if you let me.”

 

“How so?” I asked, skeptical of such an assertion in spite of everything I’d seen that day.

 

“In order to guide you, my student, you must allow yourself to exist independently of language.”

 

“I don’t understand.”

 

“The process is called Automatic Writing, and was started in the early 20th century by a priest. He was actually being fed information by some rather pesky time-traveling demons—but because what he wrote was so at odds with any language that he knew to be his own, he changed his entire belief system.”

 

“Are you a demon, Coach Blanc?” I asked.

 

Ever so briefly, his face flashed a cross-eyed, paling sort of grayness, but then it vanished.

 

“Of course not!” he chortled. “Have I made you sing silly songs and poked needles in you?”

 

“Well, you were kind of mean in one of the strange sequences I shifted into during my chores. You made me practically die from all the bleach.”

 

“Listen, we don’t have much time,” he said. “Nurse Brun will be coming to take you to their ridiculous worship of me, and believe me, you will think me some kind of a demon if you have to spend an hour singing hymns devoted to me.”

 

“Okay, okay, fine. How does one write automatically?”

 

“It’s really rather simple. You disengage your brain from the pen that is in your hand.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Allow yourself to fall into a trance as if meditating, but chant ‘Coach Blanc is now in the driver’s seat, Coach Blanc is now in the driver’s seat.'”

 

So, I went back to my room, and now I am sitting here. So far, everything I wrote seems to read more like a journal, but I have yet to really give the whole trance thing a shot.

 

Coach Blanc is now in the driver’s seat.

Coach Blanc is now in the driver’s seat.

Coach Blanc is now in the driver’s seat.

Coach Blanc is now in the driver’s seat.

 


Appendix A – Mess Hall Songs and Hymns of Worship

The Happy Mapping Song

We want you to map your body to happy things.

What are some of the happiest things that there ever were?

Young animals and humans, delighted at the abundance of life

That has appeared with a new spring.

 

Baby chicks, foals, bunnies and squirmy sea pups

All delighting in sunlight, greenery, water, and movement.

They, of course, along with little boys and girls, puppies, kittens, lambs and calves,

Do not know what it means to have the withering decay of age and the chronic stress of adult survival.

 

You know what? Each little component of your body

Doesn’t need to be mapped to the furious workings of your mind, either. Map your heart to a sublime foal, kicking its heels in the stableyard.

Map your eyes and facial muscles to the wonderment of toddlers

Discovering downy chicks and playful, bouncing kittens.

 

Map your brain to the ever-curious puppy,

Sniffing each nook and cranny of his world,

Finding each new sight and smell a delight and great mystery.

Map your entire body, to the joy of sunlight and new saplings

That sing fervently about the renewal of life in the springtime.

 

Map all that is old, tired, saggy and worn to things you know to be new,

Fresh, expectant and grand!

 

Map away! Map away! Map away!*

 

* It should be noted that the original song was written in French, and that our leader found the original English translation, complete with rhymed couplets, to be so poor, that he opted for freer verse.

 

The “Teach them with bleach” song

When we were children we wanted not the things of this world.

What happened to that innocence, that peace of girls and boys?

 

As adolescents, we were exposed to more and more toxicity on this planet.

That is unavoidable. Such cancerous byproducts represent the progress of man.

As adolescents, we became ensnared and mired in the muddy brown muck of this earth.

It takes a lot of thoughtful engineering to make us free again, but it can happen.

 

When we were children we wanted not the things of this world.

What happened to that innocence, that peace of girls and boys?

 

As adults, we learned to lie frequently, violently, and easily.

We sought out material pleasures of the flesh, and danced with swine wearing pearls.

To get to Heaven, a purging must take place, a bleaching of the soul.

To get to Heaven, we must forsake only the purer things of this world.

Bleach away, bleach away, bleach away!*

 

* It should be noted that the original song was written in French, and that our leader found the original English translation, complete with rhymed couplets, to be so poor, that he opted for freer verse.

 

The Happy Mapping Song, Part II

We want you to map your body to healthy things.

What are some of the healthiest things that there ever were?

Fruits and nuts and berries and vegetables, sprouts and water and mushrooms.

And whatever else Mother Nature brings to our table.

 

Earth is always our close companion, for she is our true Mother

We find true peace and inner joy when we map our bodies to her.

We draw on an endless reservoir of timeless stability,

And indulge ourselves in a ceaseless banquet of great renewal.

 

You know what? Each little component of your body

Doesn’t need to be mapped to the furious workings of your mind, either. Map your heart to a pine tree, standing sturdy even during winter snows.

Map your eyes and facial muscles to the wonderful gourds

That provide for us more nourishment than the carcasses of twenty cows.

 

Map your brain to the ever-swishing cattail reeds,

Always eager to lap up the truth of water and sunlight,

Offering an abode for fish and frogs and birds alike.

Map your entire body, to the joy of sunlight and new saplings

That sing fervently about the renewal of life in the springtime.

 

Map all that is old, tired, sickly and diseased

to things you know to be well,

Fresh, expectant and grand!

 

Map away! Map away! Map away!*

* It should be noted that the original song was written in French, and that our leader found the original English translation, complete with rhymed couplets, to be so poor, that he opted for freer verse.

 

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat,

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat.

When mind is empty like the conch,

Then I can truly find Coach Blanc,

And all his words I will repeat.

 

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat,

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat.

When I let my mind go blank,

And give myself to wise Coach Blanc,

My life is like The Pastures sweet.

 

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat,

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat.

When mind is empty like the conch,

Then I can truly find Coach Blanc,

And all his words I will repeat.

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat,

Coach Blanc is in the driver’s seat.

To Coach Blanc, we give our thanks

To Coach Blanc, we give our thanks,

To Coach Blanc, we give our thanks.

When mind is like a toilet tank,

Then I can truly find Coach Blanc,

And all his words I take to bank.

 

To Coach Blanc, we give our thanks,

To Coach Blanc, we give our thanks.

When I let my mind go blank,

And give myself to wise Coach Blanc,

Then I can stop my shooting crank.

 

To Coach Blanc, we give our thanks,

To Coach Blanc, we give our thanks.

When mind is dark and kind of dank,

Then I will truly seek Coach Blanc,

Then mind will no longer stank.

To Coach Blanc, we give our thanks.

To Coach Blanc, we give our thanks..

A new approach comes from the Coach

A new approach comes from the Coach

A new approach comes from the Coach

Let’s toss that bottle, stub that roach

A new approach comes from the Coach

 

Once upon a time my lips kissed pure things

But you know the siren song that beer sings

Once upon a time my heart loved only kindness

But you know those awful drugs brought blindness

 

I couldn’t see a single thing straight

Until the Coach came through my gate

 

A new approach comes from the Coach

A new approach comes from the Coach

Let’s toss that bottle, stub that roach

A new approach comes from the Coach

 

Appendix B – Patient’s record

 

Appendix C – A history of less humane treatments

Burning at the stake: While this method was mainly employed as a means of torture, execution or both, it could be argued that in many instances the burning of accused witches was an attempt to treat humanity of the scourge of witchcraft. The well-known argument was that if the individual, almost always a female, wasn’t really a witch, then she would burn. If she was indeed a witch, then she would survive the fire, and other means of executing her needed to be employed, such as tying her to a large rock and throwing the alleged witch and the rock into a deep body of water. It was soon realized that this was an even more impractical treatment than bloodletting for maladies of the brain, as someone eventually pointed out that many women who were merely hysterical, suffering a mental malady or slow-witted were being burned at the stake.

 

Bloodletting: The Mesopotamians, the Egyptians, the classical Greeks, the Mayans, the Aztecs, the Christians, the Moslems and the Jews all advocated the use of this technique, some of them promoting it into the 20th Century. The idea was rather straightforward–the bad stuff in you was crawling around in your blood, and getting rid of most of your blood got rid of the bad stuff as well.

 

At the turn of the 21st Century, the method was widely revived by promiscuous people to receive a free test for sexually-transmitted diseases. It also worked to some degree to alleviate the guilt of those who participated in endless hedonistic pleasures–giving blood back to the community was often the only remotely selfless act many of them performed.

 

No direct causation between bloodletting and alleviating mental or physical illnesses was ever discovered. Popular literature also frequently explored bloodletting as a way to obtain immortality via the assistance of vampires.

 

Lobotomies: Upon discovering that all of the bad stuff causing erratic behavior wasn’t the result of witchcraft, or to be found inside the blood, doctors then turned their attention to the brain. Not wanting to waste their time learning about the particulars and the details of what parts of the brain did what (and they were still mostly clueless a hundred years after the first professional lobotomies were performed), doctors dove in and began picking, poking, drilling and digging.

 

The U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s dad, Joe Kennedy, was worried about JFK’s sister Rosemary. She was moody and was showing an interest in men. Joe thought this was rather bizarre behavior for a young lady in her early twenties. Wanting only the best mental health treatment for his daughter, Joe ordered up a lobotomy. Like many of the Kennedy’s’ big ideas, this one ended up an absolute mess. Literally. Rosemary would spend the rest of her life drooling and messing herself in a wheelchair. And you thought the brothers were unlucky.  

 

Electroshock therapies: By the middle of the 20th Century, doctors were starting to wonder if maybe jabbing ice picks or drilling holes in the skull to scoop out part of the brain wasn’t quite working the way they wanted it to. Some Italian doctors got the bright idea that shocking animals into seizure might be a great way to help treat schizophrenia and epilepsy. So, even after millions of cases of failing to produce any long-term successes, people suffering from, say, depression, still dropped into professional medical offices to get their brains strapped to fancy versions of car batteries and have their blues zapped away. This took place even as the same doctors administering the electroshock therapies dismissed any and all treatments that came from the East. After all, wasn’t acupuncture rather backwards and barbaric when you could use electricity?

 

Pharmaceutical therapies: The emperor’s clothes were getting rather thin for so-called modern medicine. Doctors had failed to gain much traction treating their patients with fire, blood removal, brain removal, and electricity. Many were quite reluctant to give themselves over to the ways of a certain Freud, who seemed to talk too much, do too little and recommend more of the same for his patients. So, in collusion with giant manufacturers of chemical solutions distilled in pill form, doctors proclaimed that drugs were the end-all, be-all to making their patients mentally healthy again.

 

SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) were the fashionable drugs to throw at almost any malady a person experienced. They were amazingly effective at making the patient feel as if absolutely nothing was wrong at all with the world. While SSRIs seemed to be rather close to the perfect solution, someone eventually pointed out that what they were actually doing to people was really no different than what marijuana, beer, masturbation, cocaine or morphine had done in the past—SSRIs had simply been a successful way for a large group of people to make money, and that group had successfully lobbied major governments to make those other mental salves illegal (by the mid 21st Century, masturbation was a felony).

 

Through time, doctors eventually discovered, through the assistance of Coach Blanc and Nurse Brun, that they could completely flatline their mental patients, immerse them in cryogenic states, and send their patients’ consciousnesses to sanctuary, otherwise known as The Pastures.

Notes

Coach Blanc is now in the driver’s seat.

Coach Blanc is now in the driver’s seat…

 

Somehow, I managed to snap out of my trance when I smelled the smoke. Why hadn’t a smoke alarm gone off? Then, I remembered, there were no smoke alarms in the entire building, including in my room. What the hell?

 

I knocked on my door, and it opened, almost knocking me back with the rush of strong smoke that poured into my face. I turned and looked back in my room, and the bed was on fire. Running down the hall, I could see smoke coming out of many of the rooms, and heard screaming behind each door. Of course, I couldn’t open any of the doors, because you can only open a door to one of these rooms from the inside.

 

Some of my fellow patients had managed to get out of their rooms as well, and were apparently confused, running up the stairs instead of down to the lobby. I ran past them, and made it to the ground level floor, running down the hall toward the main entrance. Nurse Brun was there, dressed in gunmetal gray scrubs, and so was Coach Blanc. They had demonic grins on their faces and began to run towards me with syringes in their hands.

 

My first instinct was to join the others, running up the stairs to…what? I don’t think any of them knew any more than I did what would greet them at the roof level of the building. Instead, I thought I remembered something, and smashed the portrait of the cows with my fist.

 

“Oh, no you don’t!” screamed Nurse Brun, now within twenty feet of me.

 

I smashed through rotted boards, and managed to push myself through a door. Nurse and Coach were almost upon me, and I discovered a deadbolt that locked only from my side of the door. They pounded furiously, as I turned to look in awe at the sight below me.

 

Millions, if not billions of humans the size of baby chicks were milling about the ancient green swimming pool. An unseen light gleamed from within the pool, giving it an eerie toxic glow.

 

“Can you swim?” a mighty voice boomed from inside my head. It sounded like Joshua.

 

“Joshua?”

 

“It is I, my friend. I hope we shall be reunited soon. But for now, can you swim?”

 

“Well, sure, but,” I protested, worried that I would crush the tiny humans, or perhaps get sick from the nasty water.

 

“If only you had paid more attention to what I’d said during Social Hour. You would have run up the stairwell just now, instead of down. At any rate, you are now going to have to dive to survive.”

 

I made as if to dive, and suddenly I was as small as the Lilliputian humans at my feet. Some of them charged at me, and I plunged into the water.

 

“This is your last chance,” said Joshua from someplace unseen, fading as he uttered those final words.

 

Nine months later, I woke up in a hospital crib, screaming my head off. I was back in the manic universe, and clueless as to what I should do next.