The current issue of The Mountain Astrologer (Feb/Mar 2010) is running the entire Aquarius story from Dancing on the Brink of the World, Gong the Rat. It’s about a young rat who is tired of living underground in the brave new Rodent Republic of Ratland, and his quest to see the light. I’m really psyched they picked this one — it’s fun and irreverent, with a bit of a revolutionary streak — so I thought I’d post an excerpt here, along with the painting, song, and interlude from the book, to whet the appetite. It’s a cool issue, Gong is right next to an analysis of Barack Obama’s Mayan chart, and the cover photo was taken by Steve (Forrest).
Gong the Rat – An Aquarius Song by Chemystry Set
Aquarius Interlude – by Steven Forrest
Gong the Rat – An Aquarius Story (excerpt)
Gong’s continued defiance got him into nothing but trouble. Pretty soon he found himself in mandatory therapy sessions with a Quack Rat. Quack Rats were the psychologists, doctors, and intellectuals of the Rodent Republic. Once a rat had been admitted into the Quack Care System it was extremely difficult to get out of it again. Since the Quacks were accountable to the Macks, it was in their personal interest to not let any little Packs fall through the cracks.
One morning, after a three-hour intensive Quack session, Gong dragged his beleaguered self up a crag overlooking Ratland that had been his hideaway since he’d first been diagnosed with Adaptation Deficit Disorder. To Gong’s surprise, a gray and scraggly old rat was perched on his favorite rock, casually picking little dirt balls from under his claws. “Hi,” the old fellow said in a warm and unusually gentle tone of voice. “My name’s Jack. I been trav’lin’ all over and thought I’d get a li’l breather and catch some zzz’s in yer comfy little cave.”
Jack’s funny drawl and the way he was just sitting there, smiling at all the busy rats whizzing by below, appealed to Gong. Jack had an air of calm and wisdom that Gong had never felt before in any of the other, twitchy rats. Gong immediately forgot all about his annoying visit with the Quack and nestled up right next to Jack.
“Where are you from, Jack?”
“Aw, I’ been all over—trees, fields, mountains—I even spent a coupla years in the ocean ridin’ a magical boat called the Lunar Schooner.”
Gong was utterly perplexed at how nonchalantly Jack was recalling what seemed to be obvious transgressions of the Ratriot Act. Jack went on to tell a story about the first time he saw a cactus, decided it was a nice and protected place to take a nap, and woke up looking like a porcupine. “I’m tellin’ ya, the whole habitat there was laughin’ when they saw me!” He chuckled and rolled his eyes.
“You mean you’ve been leaving Ratland to do all this?” Gong dropped his voice to a whisper, afraid anyone hearing this conversation would call in the Whacks.
“Well that’s fer sure.” Jack grinned. “Ya certainly ain’t gonna see nuthin’ interesting in this rat hole.”
As though anticipating Gong’s next question, Jack continued: “Ya know, my friend, it’s really not that hard to get outta here, but the longer you stay, the tougher it gets. What gets me is that rats think they’re stuck down here ‘cuza some stupid rat riot law or ‘causa coupla Whacks standin’ there lookin’ all buffed up. But see, that’s just in our heads, the same story we keep tellin’ ourselves so we can keep bein’ afraid. And ya know, it’s pretty darn convenient to be afraid, ’cause it gives ya a perfect excuse never to take a chance, never to try somethin’ new. Ya know the Macks and Whacks and Quacks and whatever else they call themselves, they sure like it when yer fulla fear and wantin’ to fit in—it keeps their system goin’, and it gives them more power and comfort. But it’s not them who’s keepin’ ya down, it’s yer own fear that tells ya to keep yerself small and insignificant. I’m tellin’ ya, Ratland is no more than a state of mind!”