Ian continued his fall through the Neverending Sky before gently descending on the floor of an open air bar complete with a piano player cracking corny jokes while playing the piano on the highly polished white marble stage elevated above the floor.
“Welcome to the Freefall Lounge!” the piano player greeted Ian. “Nice of you to drop by!”
A few chuckles from the audience ensued.
Then the piano player noticed Ian’s unhappy face.
“What’s the matter? You look unhappy. You’re sad, right? I guess I could say you’re feeling down.”
“But seriously, it’s nice to see some new faces here. Yes, this is the Freefall Lounge, the world’s first, the only and the last freefalling bar. As I speak, we are now hurling towards the ground at breakneck speeds and as a matter of fact, we are going to be slamming into the ground in exactly 20 minutes. At that point, absolutely everything and everyone will be destroyed so might I recommend you take advantage of our Last Drink special, which is Diet Coke mixed with iced tea. Trust me, it’s not as bad as it sounds. So hurry up and order those drinks, because in 20 minutes, things are really going to go downhill.”
Even more laughter.
“I’m going to play a song for you now, something I wrote myself. I hope you enjoy it, and it goes like this.”
The piano player began playing a gentle melody on his piano as members of the audience began to focus on conversations with each other. Ian turned to the bartender.
“So what’ll it be?” asked the bartender.
“I’ll have one of those Last Drink specials.” Ian replied. “So what’s going to happen when this place crashes?”
“Everyone’s going to be sent back to the worlds from where they came.”
“So there’s no staying here?” Ian sounded disappointed.
“No, no one ever stays here for long. This world wasn’t meant to be a permanent destination anyway.”
Ian looked sad. “And here I am trying to find a job so I can live on this world and be happier than the world I came from.”
“Why, which world are you from?”
The bartender made a sour face. “I’ve heard a lot of bad things about Earth.”
“Exactly,” Ian replied. “I just can’t deal with all the problems there.”
The bartender then served Ian his drink and he took a sip. Not bad, he thought.
“Every world has its problems,” the bartender replied. “but it also has the means to overcome them.”
“Okay everybody, 15 minutes until we crash!” the piano player announced before striking up an upbeat melody on his piano.
The bartender continued. “If there was a world out there that didn’t have problems, then we wouldn’t be here right now. That’s how we get strong and move forward. We deal with our problems head on instead of running away from them. You’re not alone in wishing you could run away from your problems, though. Everyone here tonight is guilty as charged, including me.”
“10 minutes, everybody!” the piano player announced before starting a new melody.
“You know,” Ian spoke up. “You’re really giving me some food for thought here. I guess my coming to this world wasn’t such a bright idea after all.”
“On the contrary,” the bartender replied. “Had you not come here, you wouldn’t have realized that your problems can only make you stronger in the long run. It’s human instinct to run away from them, but to deal with those problems instead? That’s evolution.”
“I like the way this conversation is headed,” Ian smiled as he took another sip of his Last Drink. “It’s quite illuminating.”
“That’s why bars exist,” the bartender replied. “Quiet little places for dabbing your worries with a little alcohol.”
“Wow, time is sure slipping by quickly,” Ian observed. “I guess I’d better get ready for the crash.”
“You still have time,” the bartender replied. “Would you like a refill?”
The bartender served another Last Drink and Ian savored every sip. He was deep in thought about his discussion with the bartender as well as how to deal with his problems back home. In fact, he was so deep in thought that he completely lost track of time.
“Okay everybody, we’re down to 10 seconds before we crash!”
The piano player led the crowd in counting down the final seconds.
“9! 8! 7! 6! 5!”
Ian finished his drink and sat calmly at the bar in anticipation of the crash that was now imminent.
“4! 3! 2! 1!”
Suddenly Ian opened his eyes. He was lying in bed in his room, awake from his dream. Or was it a dream? He started a little debate with himself while trying to decide whether he really traveled to some far off dimension with bars that fall from the sky. It seemed silly now, so maybe it really was a dream. Chuckling softly to himself, Ian sat up and stretched as he prepared to start the day but not without one last thought.
Diet coke mixed with iced tea?