Apocalypse! There are lots of possible scenarios—the “Don’t Look Up” one, where a massive comet strikes the earth like a fist; Ragnarök, where the gods die too (sorry, Loki); the slow iron decadence of Kali Yuga; the Christian Rapture, with its “See you in hell, from heaven!” schadenfreude—but they all pretty much agree that A Big Thing is going to happen, and then you’ll see: we’ll all see. And our own unsettled moment of climate catastrophe and virus and political convulsion invites the constant rolling question, Is this it? is this it? Is this the end of the world?
Dark Park suggests another possibility.
There is nowhere that hum is not, molecular, invincible, alive . . .
I didn’t expect to write Dark Park, the encore to the delirious immersive party that is Dark Factory. Dark Factory operates, and culminates, at the peak of human experience, in the lure and chase for ecstasy: Felix the DJ crowned with horns, artist Max playing a game called Paradise, ur-producer Ari dancing in dirt and bliss—all of them swept up by that same wild glittering wave. It’s the way we want life to be.
Yet what if, while we danced and played, all our beliefs about the future, all the supposedly immutable rules of life, fell or crumbled away, and we and everyone we knew, everyone around us, everything, was now forced onto another course? an unknown and unpredictable course?
What if our world really did end, but it wasn’t over?
Now those doors are gone, are glass, the front wall is all glass, the Dark Factory signage is stripped away, like an old friend barely recognizable.
In Dark Park we meet Sergey, a gifted and determined filmmaker who watched that ground zero moment happen, sees the spin people put on it, what he calls the woo, and refuses to buy into: but he knows he wants to see more, needs to see more. So Sergey puts his artist’s eye to use and to the test, heading deep into the neon tunnel of celebrity, following Felix as his DJ talents morph and shudder, following Ari who also follows Felix, Ari who glimpses the bigger picture, and understands—Ari has always understood, even back in his teenage clubbing days—that the biggest things follow their own bucking, curving trajectories, and a wise producer tries to identify that curve, not to hope to bend it, but to ride it, to hang on –
– whatever this is, this living speeding branching apparatus, and all of it multiplying on its own, faster and faster, what is that called? exponential? starting things, ending things, changing things, changing people –
– while people struggle with change, because people always do; we always do. Which is maybe why we want zooming comets and big mad Jesus, because it’s so much easier to end a thing than deal with its complexities, deal with our mess, our fuckups and fears, our trembling love.
But if the end isn’t really The End, well then.
“You know the difference between xronos and kairos?”
“You know I don’t.”
“Xronos means linear time. Kairos means the, the propitious time, the right time –”
“So they could be the same time?”
All quotes in bold from Dark Park, released 9/19/23 from Meerkat Press.
Kathe Koja writes and produces stories: as novels and short fiction, as live and VR events, as collaborative projects. She’s based in Detroit and thinks globally.