"Mom," cried seven-year-old Cindy Hendricks, "tell Nicolas to let me play with the GAMEBOY too. He's been hogging it all morning!"
Sara Hendricks turned around from the passenger's seat.
"Nick, let your sister play with the GAMEBOY too."
"But I'm making my best scores ever!"
"That's what he always says," whined Cindy. "Every time I ask to play, he says it's his best game..."
"It's true!" blurted Nicolas. "I swear I'll let her play with it later on...I'm on a roll right now!"
Pat Hendricks, the father, glared at his son in the rear view mirror.
"Nicolas, if you don't let your sister play with the GAMEBOY right now, I'm gonna throw the goddamn thing out the window."
"Watch your language, dear," gasped Sara, "you're suffering from Road Rage."
Pat Hendricks shook his head and let out an exasperated sigh. How was it possible that there be so much traffic at this hour? It was 11:00 A.M. The morning rush hour should have died out by now. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel of the family Chevrolet Pathfinder, leaning his neck out the window to see if there was any sign of an accident. Their four-wheel drive vehicle had only moved a few metres in the last fifteen minutes. The Anaheim exit was still twelve miles away. That could take another hour to reach everyone grumbled, knowing that the long awaited day at Disneyland would be getting off to a very late start.
Unlike the Hendricks family, who were visiting from Sacramento, Andy knew that it could take an hour to get from Pasadena to Anaheim, even at 11:00 A.M. He hovered above the honking trail of cars, trucks, vans and motor homes, inhaling the thick emissions of carbon dioxide. The highway patrol had switched on the "Smog Alert" signs along the freeways. Andy looked down at the complex system of ramps, bridges, tunnels and underpasses that made up southern California. He had just returned from two weeks of meditating out in the dunes of Death Valley. On this typical, polluted morning, he seemed to welcome the stress-ridden scene below, feeling a bit perverse after the long hours of complete solitude in the desert.
Allowing himself to drop down toward the Earth, he coasted through the roof of the Hendricks's automobile, landing on top of Nicolas's head. The nine-year-old boy was still monopolising the Nintendo GAMEBOY, trying to break his current point record on the game Tetris. Andy was in no mood for a banal, American family, so he quickly ducked into the child's neck and disappeared along his vertebrae.
Once inside the boy's spinal cord, Andy rode along a whirling charge of electro-chemical impulses. This was much more exciting than Space Mountain or any of the other roller coasters awaiting the family at Disneyland. A thick, sudsy music gurgled and hissed all around him. Andy pushed and purred through a red-yellow bath of hematoids and globin.
Catching sight of a tiny, blue-white spark, he followed after it. They whipped about through an infinite number of microscopic pathways, rushing amid their very own system of freeways and tunnels. Because the little spark, actually called a "signal", travelled at such an intense rate of speed, Andy had a hard time keeping up with it. They smashed through semi-permeable membranes, plunged into deep pools of sodium ions and out again, zigzagging in a humid, dark world of neuro-transmitters.
Moving at velocities of 270 mph, Andy worked his way up from the base of the lumbar region into the Superior Cervical Ganglion. Somehow, all the little signals managed to find their exact centres of the brain. This maze of wires and loops reminded Andy of the city outside. Everyone was going somewhere. Each human being, as well as the hundreds of millions of impulses inside their bodies, was working its way towards a given destination. The Anaheim exit. Disney Land. The cerebral cortex.
Imagining it to be a long ramp, Andy slid down a multi-polar neuron and allowed himself to splash off into one of its cell processes. He lay there, perfectly still, deep inside the trobbing human being. He came to invision all the various places such a child would ultimately visit during its lifetime. There would be mountains of mysteries, valleys of wandering and oceans of sleep. The psychology of this individual was maintained by the very vibrating mass of anatomy where Andy now rested. All these sparks and signals translated the world into sensations, defining what there was.
Lifting himself out of the cell process, Andy floated towards Nicolas's brain. The mind of any creature was a vast dominion of silence and peace in comparison to its anatomy, especially once one enters the realm of subconscious thoughts. It was not long before Andy saw a signpost, free floating in the dark void of subconscious thoughts. This signpost was made up of little bits of debris. Masking tape. Cardboard. Aluminium chips and glue. The fragments of debris formed letters, which read, "LAST REFUGE." A fluorescent orange arrow pointed off into the distance.
Andy followed this direction until he came to a network of low, unlit caves. These caves were dim, having a dull brown colour. Andy entered one of the caves, wondering where he was. All he saw, heard and smelled was sterile. This place, wherever it may be, was apparently his destination for today.
Andy tried to feel time passing, but all was still. Time passed without saying a word. Silence was the most profound deep within a person. Andy reflected on the fact that each and every animal carried around a last refuge within itself. A nine-year-old boy. A cornered fox in an English hedge. In all living beasts, a moment would come when this place would be sought. For Nicolas, what this cave represented might lay in wait for several decades. He might be there in twenty-four hours.
Regardless of a room's dimensions or its interior furnishings, entire worlds are capable of exploding at any moment, from any given person. Mountains may break open the walls. A deep gorge could tear open the floor. A network of chambers within chambers might push out the ceiling. Somewhere, within each of these psychological landscapes, there is a little path, with a little signpost to a little place. The place where the fox is trying to go.