Fantasticoe Spring 2011

Walking on the Sun

Chelsea Dodson

It was another hot day in Cibola, Arizona. Maxx Keenan was repairing his self-sustaining garden shed outside his small cabin. Wiping his brow free from perspiration he looked up into the blazing sky. He pulled out his IPod Touch and searched for a song. Smiling, he found it and pressed play. Maxx made sure to focus on the Indigo Girls lyrics he cared about, "gotta get out of bed/ get a hammer and nail/ learn how to use my hands . . .. gotta tend the earth if you want a rose" Maxx waited for the now familiar feeling of objects materializing in his hands. When he opened his eyes there was a fresh nail in his left hand and a perfectly balanced hammer in his right. He lined up his nail and had it perfectly placed in the sun-bleached wood with only two strong hits. After only five more nails, the board was put back in place, blocking his precious growing food.

Maxx had moved to the most remote part of the country he could find about six years ago. Finding out about his mysteriously gifted IPod hadn't been the most enjoyable experience in the world and he remembered that day all too well . . .

    Beats pounded in his head until it felt like the bass was in his skull. This is what he needed. After a long night of finishing work he didn't want to do the only thing that could recharge him was music. Loud. Deep. Strong music. Sound proofed rooms with amazing subwoofers were the only way he could live -- the last shred of evidence his rich daddy used to pay his way until he was cut off.

Maxx Keenan walked the busy downtown streets of Chicago with a portfolio in one hand and a Starbucks in the other. It was Sunday so he didn't have anything real to do, just drop off the photos to the ad agency. It was blustery (no surprise there) day in Chicago and Maxx just wanted to let the air flow around him. The prints held tight by a black leather portfolio bag felt light in his hand as he crossed the street as the lit up man flashed angrily at him.

He loved music; perpetually having an IPod playing attached to his arm, and always wanted to be a musician but didn't really have any "natural talent". Most of the time he settled for blasting it up loud and singing out of tune -- although he didn't sing out loud while walking down the street, that's the kind of thing that gets you dirty looks. He had a wide array of songs, never being judgmental towards any particular genera. All music was equally compelling to him, so while most guys wont have Jason Mraz "I'm yours" or even Pussy Cat Dolls on their IPod, he did. A decision he would soon regret.

Head bopping happily at the end of one song; a new one shuffled on.
"Well you done, done me and you bet I felt it, I tried to beat you but you're so hot that I melted, I fell right through the cracks, now I'm trying to get back . . ."

Out of the blue and without warning, Maxx saw his world shrinking around him. He felt light and complaisant, like he had been sitting in a hot tub too long. Maxx shook his head at an attempt to clear his thoughts and adjust his eyes to the dimmed light.

"Where am I?"

He stood in a concrete cave of sorts. ‘What?' he thought, ‘how did this happen?' One second he was walking down 18th street and now he was in a slightly smelly wet cave. He didn't feel any different; it happened in the blink of an eye. He looked around with the island like music still playing in his ear. He turned off his IPod Touch and shoved it in his pocket. A slight shiver ran through him when the full force of cold dampness started to seep into his bones. Maxx had a nasty habit of getting songs stuck in his head if he didn't finish them so while looking around he was humming the middle chorus of "I'm Yours".

"Well," he thought out loud, "this is new . . . wait . . . did I . . .MELT?!" It would follow the song currently running through his head. He thought, and then shook himself free of the ridiculousness of the situation. Melting? Pffft. Yeah, right. There was no time to contemplate how it happened, only to figure out how to get out. He wanted to get the prints in and go back to his apartment and watch the Blackhawks kick some Red Wing ass. ‘Thank god they're still here' Maxx thought looking down at the amazingly undisturbed case. He looked around wishing he had some sort of light. The only light available came streaming in from the grate he seemed to have slipped through moments ago. When Maxx looked up it seemed blinding but ultimately it wasn't of much use. He started to yell, hoping someone would hear him and come to his rescue. Eventually with a hoarse voice and a defeated realization the small opening was in the middle of a too-busy street, Maxx went about looking for a place to safely sit down. Though it was quick, Maxx took in a lot of information in his first real look around. He came to the conclusion he was in a storm drain of sorts, running just under the sidewalk.

There was only half an inch of water in the concrete prison, but it was enough to make it uncomfortable. ‘At least there aren't any rats. That would be truly mortifying' Maxx said a little thank you to a god he didn't believe in. He took out his IPod touch and opened the "flashlight app" ‘Almost forgot about this one' he realized. He cranked the brightness up to full strength and began to maneuver away from the pixilated light source. He heard a faint sound and realized his song was still playing. He looked at the screen to turn it off but stopped.

‘Wait . . . the song' Maxx's eyes went huge ‘No. No it can't be'. Taking out his IPod again -- although more warily this time -- he decided to flip through his songs. With almost 2,000 songs it was hard to pinpoint one. ‘Well, if song got me into this, it could probly get me out, right?' It was a long shot, but hey he was in a storm drain and nothing seemed to be making sense. At the very least he could have some calming company of mixed beats and lyrics. His fingers moved with lightning speed through his playlists, thumb getting tired from all the scrolling movements. He stopped at a small inlet of brick making a little stool for him to sit on.

He couldn't help but let out a choked laugh when he found the song that could get him out of his mess. Miley Cyrus' "Break Out". Maxx was suddenly glad he didn't give into his friend's taunting just a few days prior and delete her songs. So sue him, he liked her beats. The second the breakout lyrics started Maxx felt a rush, which ended with him standing in the same place he had been walking before his ordeal. ‘Did anyone notice?' he thought. It didn't look like it, tall buildings still had bustling people, taxi horns wailed and he still received the looks of, "gee mister could you GO any slower!?" He moved to the side and leaned against a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint and took in huge breaths. Cold air threatened to freeze his lungs and he enjoyed every minuet of it. How long had he been down there? He looked at his watch; ‘shit!' it had been almost two hours and now Maxx only had 15 minuets before his office would close and he would get chewed out at work tomorrow for not having the presentation set up. Maxx hailed a cab, even if it was just 10 blocks he needed to get there now. The dirt caked cab jolted to a stop in front of a shiny skyscraper. "MARKUS AND MARKUS ADVERTISING AGENCY" read the sign above the rotating doors. Maxx paid the cabby as fast as he could before running through the doors and up four flights of stairs. ‘Thank god I don't work on the top floor anymore' He shuddered. Maxx hated heights. Finally reaching his boss's office he puffed to a halt in front of a marble and glass greeting-desk behind which a middle aged and kind looking woman sat.

"Hi Maxy!"

He smiled at her familiar tone. "Hey Ms. Nancy"

"You're pushing it a little on the time aren't cha kiddo?"

Maxx gave out an almost crazed chuckle. "You have no idea," and he left it at that. 

"Hey, Ms. Nancy why are you working? It's Sunday!"

"Oh you know Mr. Markus. He's been so stressed about this new account he needed me to field questions and watch over dirty interns such as yourself mister!" She shook a finger at him playfully. Maxx was a little upset his favorite secretary had to be pulled away from her family on a Sunday. Markus and Markus did pay well though, and he figured she was getting overtime for this. Even Maxx -- who was considered a temp just getting used to the industry -- was being paid enough to survive by himself here. With a final wave towards Nancy, Maxx walked into his boss's office and quietly placed the leather portfolio on his desk. Before leaving he licked his finger and wiped at a dirt smudge.

    Glad to be done with the ordeal he promised never to listen to music again, or at least be wise about it. It would definitely take some life changes. He had to think about everything. Finding he only would be effected by song if he were consciously choosing to listen to it. If it played on the street nothing happened but if there was no other noise or it came from his IPod something about the song would become real. The problem was it was different every time. By carefully controlling his environment Maxx began to experiment.  Sometimes he could pick a single line from a song and manipulate it to his use, but other times it would go horribly wrong. Because of his boss's pension for listening to music, Maxx decided it was best to quit work. He decided to find a new reason to live and move on from a dead end job. Life was looking up.
Maxx walked into his shaded house, happy to have the patch job done. He sat down in an old green armchair in front of a radio and IPod dock. He placed the IPod in its charger forgetting it was still playing. Once the technology had the time to synch up -- a matter of seconds -- a song started to play from the dock because Maxx had forgotten to turn off the IPod. "Might as well be walking on the sun . . ." Before he could think about his actions, Maxx sung along.
It was three days before anyone noticed Maxx Kennan was gone, and nothing but ash was found in his remote home.