<center><H1>Virtual Mudstock â </H1></center>
Twenty eight year old Ella Santina was never an enthusiastic jogger, more of a jiggler by her round short genetic skew, Ella opted for pneumatic delivery to the Mega Mountainâ Mall. Mega Mountainâ was the showpiece project of Ulster County's Bio-Zoning Council. The locally developed Mega Mountainâ process recycled agricultural and domestic by-products into an extremely strong structural polymer trade marked Poly-Mudâ The rest is herstory.
As Ella power walked down town toward the pneumatic tube ports, the summer walk through the village seemed so much the same as when Ella was a toddler on field trips with her Early School. Ella's session rode the reconstructed Mohonk to Hudson trolley out to the site where this first of the Poly-Mudâ Mega Mountainsâ was steadily swelling. As Ella and her session watched with the normal bright eyed fascination of children discovering their native landscape, pulsing pipelines fed Poly-Mudâ into the gigantically upscaled ink jet printers continuously depositing hollow mountainscape.
Ella selected one of the smoothly rounded, all clear, phone booth sized capsules lined up on the village boarding rack along the old railway bed. Ella slipped into the capsule, orienting herself for feet first face skyward delivery through the clear Lexanâ tube, through the forest canopy to the mall. Using the lower body english on which local natives prided themselves, Ella twisted her capsule shut then rolled it of the rack. Gravity took it from there as Ella's capsule slid down the chute through the flap valve into the pneumatic whoosh.
Each end of the capsule was perforated like a salt shaker. This sight leakage kept Ella in touch with the whoosh and breathable air of the ride and the semi-stiff fingers of air probing the capsule end to end encouraged her to align with the direction of travel.
The two mile tube ride through the tree tops took exactly three minutes, almost too short to appreciate the migratory bird flyway between the village and the mall. This trip Ella caught a thirty second breathless sweep of migrating Canadian Geese, like a mass freedom rally in the sky trailed by Red-tailed Hawks scanning for stragglers.
Ella looked over her shoulder at the low growing wetlands about eighty feet below. The capsule tube was suspended from tall masts that made only small still footprints across the marsh. Then she looked ahead between her sandals and glimpsed the rapidly approaching artificial mountain.
Mega Mountainâ Mall looked a lot like a topo-map, built in level terraces separated by fourty five degree stepped slopes of Poly- Mudâ Mount Mega's runoff was no faster than a fields. The mountain was a patchy quilt of designed in microniches: ponds, cornfields, woodlots, ice caves, slow moving streams, high waterfalls, ski slopes and restricted access habitats for bears, elks and eagles. As the Mega Mountainâ continued to swell across her horizon, Ella's capsule whooshed through a sequence of color tinted tube sections. Each produced a distinctive shift in the pitch of the whoosh, like a breathy melody; wish, whoosh, wash, wash. This wrap around bar code signaled Ella that she was ten seconds from the "down Y" tube that drops into the mall.
Ella's personal favorite method of timing the ten second interval between the bar code and the "down Y" was lip synching the first two bars of that emblematic 1960's oldie by that now part cyborg but still rockin' band, The Stones. "You can't always get what you want", biff. "You can't always get what you want" and with an authoritive hip twist on the down beat, biff, Ella rolled her capsule onto the "down Y" to the mall. The Mega Mountainâ rushed up at her like a sky divers last landing, but of course the clear pneumatic tube threaded right through the Poly-Mudâ bedrock, through forty flickering feet of wrap around descent rate scale and into the mall.
Inside the hollow mountain was a cavern measureless to Main Mall customers first viewing it from their dropping capsules. Then rings of braking brushes decelerated Ella onto the Main Mall capsule rack. The main rack was a three story high, chromed, art deco, rotating bird cage that lowered each arriving capsule slowly down a three and a half turn spiral. The main rack was the fascinating focal piece for the Main Mall Court. It gave arriving customers an overview of the Mega Mountain'sâ main chamber and also gave the mall crowds an overview of arriving customers. Inevitably, some of the younger mall mice tube tripping out from the village used the tastefully gaudy main court rack to stage spectacular entrances, arriving in acrobatic and exhibitionist disarray in their shockingly clear capsules. Although Ella didn't disapprove of the time honored local youth custom popularly known as racking, she perceived herself as too round, short and shy to intentionally court attention. Ella rode down the rack standing primly in her capsule. Her long pastel flowery summer dress draped prettily from her Aztec coppery shoulders. Her blondish red hair hung in long loose mediterranean spirals.
Ella arrived at the floor level ring of capsule racks. She twisted her capsule open and strode purposefully away out across the vast terrazzo mosaic floor of the Mega Mall'sâ main chamber. As one of the locals, Ella waved and smiled courteously to friends, acquaintances and town dignitaries as they brisked about accomplishing all manner of official and high-tech errands within the mall's many chambered nautilus of establishments; but today Ella Santina claimed no high-tech or official errand and neither was mall cruising Ella's most comfortable milieu of social expression. As Ella bounced along the labyrinthine terrazzo mosaic floor with it's ever shifting, movable, stackable, color coded band shells of enterprise and entrepreneureship she sang to herself; "la, la- la, la, la- la, la, la."
Following a directory address of mosaic path patterns and shell color codes, Ella left behind the New Paltz Village condominium cluster of locally owned and operated businesses with it's high proportion of familiar local faces and merged with the pan-regional mall circuit crowds. The purple and black stripes of the band shells just ahead identified them by global village bar code conventions as virtual environments and tanning booths.
Beneath her round pleasant, proper exterior, Ella Santina was marching to the beat of a different drummer; possibly someone from Jimmy Hendrix' back up band. As Ella bounced through the Mega Mallâ labyrinth, she carried a secret song in her heart and a separate virtual reality in her cerebral cortex. Ella Santina was on her way to Virtual Mudstockâ.
This episode of Ella Santina's adventures in the near future is dedicated to the Save Our Community Committee of New Paltz.
Ella's continued journey through Virtual Mudstockâ and back has been simultaneously published as an audio cassette available at nominal cost.