Fiction by Colin T Gallagher ♣ Art by Robert Venechanos
We were walking down Lake Street, my friend Kevin and I.
“Hey Steve, I’m so spaced out and tired of that Sewhass project were working on!”
“Well, you have more experience with the Logwood Facing account than I do. What’s the problem?”
“I just need more down time. The pace and intensity is racking my brain. I know we have a time factor with this project, I wish I could just clear my head.”
Steve replied, “We can go to ‘The Third Solution.’ I go there frequently. It’s great for that. It is a little pricey but you can write it off as a business expense.”
“What is it?” asked Kevin.
“Well, it takes away that brain congestion and you think clearly again. Want to go?”
“Sure, business expense I’m all for that,” Kevin agreed.
“We’ll grab a cab. There’s one! Taxi, Taxi! Oh good he sees us,” Steve says.
The taxi stops and Kevin and Steve get inside.
“Thanks’ sir, Fourth and Broadway. The Third Solution.”
“Yes sir!” The cabby said as he pulled away from the curb.
“It’s a blast. You’ll love it,” Steve reassures Kevin.
As the taxi drove through the streets of Seattle, Steve told Kevin his experience.
“I’ve been here many times. It is the only business in Seattle where you can find such a thing.”
I continued, “It was started by Neal Hathaway in 2014. I read a lengthy article about it in the Seattle Chronicle. He tells of getting the idea for this business from two sources. First watching his children turn on a circular ride at the park. It left them dizzy to temporarily laugh and play. Also, inspiration from extraordinary heart-felt experiences like the clanging of an old cast iron church bell, or the whistle of a steam locomotive, or a 20th century Wurlitzer pipe organ.”
“He thought there was a market for this business and presenting his business plan, he found eager investors and got start-up money.”
“After a headline start, lots of press and great customer service, it is a great way to detach the senses from video games and computer overload. You haven’t heard about it?”
“No! This is completely new to me,” Kevin said.
“Parents and employers began to see the benefits of this experience. Their clientele includes many companies in the Seattle area. They send their employees to ‘The Third Solution’ for debugging and restoration.”
Kevin looked intrigued as Steve continues, “After you’ve tried it there will be new life in you with elimination from the grip of negative physical and mental control by various electronic devices, and its’ fun too.”
The taxi stopped as they reached Fourth and Broadway.
Steve paid the cabby, and they came into the business.
Logistics associate, Susan, sat Kevin and Steve in a cubicle in the front of the store. They listened as she described how the experience enthralls clients. “You’ll really like this. It is the next unexplored adventure that frees people minds. They experience new vigor and energy!”
With little more than that, Kevin decided to go-for-it, and thought the ride must be experienced to understand.
Logistics associate Janice came over to assist Kevin, as Susan explained to Steve the set-up. Most of it he already knew.
Each had their own globe which has a very comfortable reclining chair inside. A seat belt is secured to the passenger to prevent being dislodged like a fast roller-coaster at an amusement park.
Steve was given a mouthpiece which also covered his nose for extra oxygen if needed. Kevin received one too. The onboard computer would determine if it was needed. One simply inhaled calmly and it takes care of the rest.
After set-up, the glass and steel reinforced door was sealed shut. Both globes started to spin. Each experiences sensations similar to the thrust of acceleration from a passenger jet racing up the runway.
When the spinning reached maximum revolution, they could see wonderful colors in their mind: red, yellow, blue and even black that take the shape of blobs rising and falling like the interior of a Lava Lamp.
Steve was excited as the first vision had him free falling from what looked like ten thousand feet without a parachute or safety partner. He started to scream it is so realistic, just Steve with the world racing up as he continue to fall.
Even though he had experienced this before each time is different and thrilling.
As Steve got close to the ground, he could see it approaching fast. Then he angled out at ninety degrees being caught-up in a lush tropical canopy of moist leaves, flowers, mist and sounds of wild birds in the jungle. All at once, it was an explosion to the senses just super thrilling.
Kevin’s first visual had him walking on a railroad bridge. He heard a train sounding its whistle as it made itself visible. He started running toward the end of the bridge where he could jump off the tracks. He said his adrenalin was reaching maximum. The train approached. Soon it was upon him, when it disappeared.
Next Kevin found himself on a river raft racing on a raging river. He twisted and flung his body from side-to-side to avoid the raft hitting rocks and overhanging tree branches. Later he said his heart was about to come out of his chest.
Steve could barely catch his breath. At this the point he was pulling out of the tropical canopy. The oxygen kicked in and his focus returned. Racing alone without thought of getting hurt or dying, only the feeling of excitement.”
Steve’s next visual was of a huge bursting geyser. It was as if a fire hydrant had been knocked off. The water shot high into the sky. He was transfixed by its power tried to keep his cool. He was in the middle of a water explosion like a broken fire hydrant.
Then Kevin went from the river to a jungle. He was walking along slowly when he heard a growl and spotted a tiger. It spotted him too, and it chased him. This is when the oxygen kicked in for him. He left the Tiger behind which he thought good, because it looked like it would catch him and eat him.
Both Kevin and Steve were breathing the oxygen and loving every minute of it.
‘I couldn’t imagine it getting better,’ Steve told Kevin later.
Steve approached what appeared to be an erupting volcano. It looked like Kilimanjaro exploding. He thought he’d be burned up as lava and steam came flying out of the opening. The reality of the ride took over. It was really scary, but it turned out to be delayed imaginary burn which fades very quickly.
Meanwhile, Kevin was at a rodeo. He was riding a bucking bronco bull. He had one hand on the rope and the other in the air moving along with the roar and intensity of the crowd. The bull threw him all over the arena. Finally, he got bucked off. He picked himself up and ran to the fence.
Now they could sense the excitement coming to an end as the spinning slowed, the visuals were fading.
They were skimming across a group of clouds: bounce, bounce then bounce, yielding to opening their eyes with the globe depressurizing.
The seat belts were removed automatically and the chairs swung out separately from the two globes allowing them to stand on our own two feet.
With the doors open, the friendly operators, Janice and Susan, with voices so soft they reminded Kevin and Steve of marshmallows. They asked, “How was your experience?”
“Wonderful! I can’t wait to try it again,” Kevin exclaimed with such excitement.
Susan the logistics associate was very pleased.
Then Steve shouted, “How was it Kevin?”
“Excellent!!” Kevin yelled.
“See dude, told you you’ll enjoy this. We should do this every Friday.”
“Very good sir. We’re glad that you enjoyed your experience here at ‘The Third Solution.’ That’s our goal.”
“Where did you get the idea for this awesome ride?” Kevin asked.
“Along with watching his children at the park, a great transition for this concept came from the novel The Tooth Picker by John Potter. It has a quote which inspired our founder ‘to free the mind from bondage is to give it a new day. To walk by a river and enjoy its power, to see a flower and be awed by its beauty or to hear a bird singing all of these awaken and refresh the soul.’
“Mr. Hathaway changed his life from one of watching computer monitors, and that mental burn sensation from too much exposure. He could look where he wanted and see: a slight breeze, feel a gentle kiss, hear the subtle laughter of his children. He just had to let others experience this.”
“This is what life is about. Our technicians worked to perfect this experience. I hope you come back and see us again.”
“Yeah we’ll be back next Friday!!” Kevin called out.
She continued, “You will find a new world of experience where you are no longer fused to electronic devices.”
“I feel terrific!” Kevin said smiling.
“Well, we’re glad you enjoyed it.”
Steve and Kevin walked from the transition room into the lobby. Everyone waved as they walked to the front door then out onto the sidewalk.
They walked up Fourth Street with a new attitude.
They smiled at people and shook their hand inviting them for coffee or just a friendly glance.
Colin T Gallagher is a member of the California Writers Club and enjoys the crafting short stories. His editing and adding dialogue is for him similar to why people use crossword puzzles or bingo: to keep the mind focused and sharp.
He spent a number of years working for a grocery store chain as a Frozen Food Clerk, then moved on to a bank where he was a loan service rep.
He wrote the first story he was very proud of in the sixth grade. It was about a group of characters robbing a bank. They were all animals: Sidney the Snake; Billy the bear…
He retired here in the San Fernando Valley a suburb of Los Angeles. He moved here twelve years ago and is very happy. I’ve heard it said a writer needs an income. So, he has his retirement. He’s been writing for a few years, and has been published in the Writers Club magazine.
He hope you enjoy ‘The Third Solution.’