And so it was, as many said, that the horned one arrived at a camping ground and came upon a group of young people laughing and playing games in the early evening. One was listening to a device known formerly as an ipod, and was oblivious to all that was going on….the others ignored him.
“Ha ha ha….trick or treat….” And a cascade of laughter descended on them all….”Look at that outfit! wow! That guy must be on stilts! Hey mister! Don’t you know Halloween was yesterday? ha ha ha” And they all laughed again….
But Moloch merely strode upon them, eyes blazing light to the heavens……”Mock me will you? How dare you with these primitive rituals of yours!” and the voice sounded like thunder….Three of them backed away, and indeed began to move quickly down the hill. The ipod-wearing youth started up suddenly, but it was too late….
Meantime, the free rider, not far from here, was wandering, with the onager and the small dog known as Max, whether it be for Maximilian or Maxine, no one seems yet to know. For Zed was much shaken by the previous encounter with the raging Moloch, and did not know what to do next. So terrible did the free rider appear that at a place called Gas Station, a man in a hat with horns on his bonnet yelled out to Zed, “Hey buddy! Did you have a late Halloween, cos you look like shit!” And Zed replied, “I do not believe that I look like a shit, but I feel rather terrible. And no, I did not attend Halloween as I do not like things like that.” This gave the hatted man pause for thought, and he said rather more kindly, “Buddy, you look like you need a vacation!”
“And how do I do this? I have never quite understood the process.” And the hatted man said to Zed, “Look, all you gotta do is decide, ‘I am taking a vacation‘ and then off you go!” Zed looked more confused. “But where do you go? I mean how do you choose? And what do you do that is different from other times?” And the man smiled sadly at Zed, “Why, you can go wherever you like!” “O!” said Zed, knowing already the problem: a free rider rides anywhere at all at all times of the year……”Even so,” thought Zed aloud, even so.
And again: even so, “Yea, maybe I do as well,” said Zed. “See you later sexy!” called out someone looking rather more sexy than the free rider. “A vacation!” said Zed in wonderment. “Many times have I seen people doing this, and I cannot for the life of me understand what it is that they are trying to do.” This comment being addressed to no one in particular received no reply.
And on and on they rode….the free rider, the dog called Max and the onager. As night became ever deeper, the air became chill. “Ah, I am too long for this world!” sighed the free rider. “Why can I not just die like anyone else?” But the free rider’s lot is not to die, but rather, to live, to bear the suffering of the world….and to do so without passing judgement. Or at least that is what an old man very drunk on cheap wine in a small town in New Mexico once said.
Finally, Zed arrived at a camping ground, and there were many lights there. “This should be a good place for a holiday!” said the free rider. “Look ma’am, what are you doing here?” asked a man in a uniform. “I am here, I think, because I have been advised to take a vacation.”
“Hey Steve, this lady is here on vacation!” and then to Zed, “I think you better choose another place for your holiday, ma’am.”
“Have you any suggestions?” said Zed, “For this place seems nice with these lights and people.” But then Zed, who normally is attentive to such things, noticed that some people were crying…..”And this guy with horns, he just tore his head off, I mean there was blood everywhere….”
“Moloch!” said Zed. One girl looked warily at Zed when she heard that word, for this was the word the monster had uttered. But no on listened to her, any more than anyone listened to Zed. So Zed then said to the onager, “Ah yes, we had best go someplace else.”
And so it was, that the free rider, the onager, and the small dog called Max walked all night…..
“Hey Mister, you look like shit!” It was not the hatted man, but another man. “I have already been told this thing. And I am taking a vacation!”
“Good idea! You sure as hell look like you need one!”
But Zed did not know how to have a vacation, for these things lie beyond the experience of free riders, and so it was that the small retinue rode on and on….as they always did. For such is the lot of the free rider.
And such too is the lot of the tale of this, the fiftieth tale of the free rider, for unlike the road ahead for the one it describes, this tale is now most assuredly at an end