- William Bradford, Puritan leader in search of a home, takes his first steps on the soil of his new country and feels the awful muck of a land before time. Bradford, assured with verses of his own biblical commentary strapped to the inside of his cloak—a fustian weave he has perfected in his years at Leiden—senses the immediate change from the intersection of his old-world figure, stooped from the long sea voyage on the cramped Mayflower and the sun-drenched mist obscuring the fruits of this coast. The change is one of God and man: God makes man, Bradford knows, fits him into the weft of His complex plan, perfect for all its horrible suffering; Bradford, agent of this deity, terraforms everything he touches, even through the thick of his boot, into the soon-to-be paved superhighways of a new Jerusalem.
- Back on the Mayflower, his wife Dorothy clambers along the edge of the top deck, moored as they are in Provincetown harbor; she feels marooned in a ship of fools suspended in the Van Allen asteroid belt just outside the sphere of the most warlike planet, Mars. A different gravity pulls the skin along her arms closer to the cracked joints at her knuckles, and the girlish pall William once likened to the sheen of a marigold glowing alone in a Flemish field has been pulled down, now, under the weight of scurvy. She waits for one of the crew, the godless heathen Miles Standish, with his thick handlebar mustache, who wears his ghostly coxcomb during his nocturnal pass along the decks. Yes, he would see her there, reaching over the ledge to the water, now white with glowing mist, an endless book with pages crashing their bloody ink upon the distant shore; he would know that her desire, more than anything, is to fall into these words and so embed herself into the holy script of a land unfettered.
- Just after midnight, William Bradford approaches the Merrymount Maypole of Thomas Morton’s Anglican capitalists. He spies a log cabin they’ve constructed as a sort of common room, with its reinforced pane windows and security monitor cameras. Squanto, Bradford says, jam their signals and insert a tape-loop of our Lord’s animals—squirrels, rabbits—passing noiselessly back and forth in front of the house.
- Dorothy, on the Mayflower, hears footsteps fast upon the deck and in the moon finds the suggestion of terrible plagues dripping from the fangs of its floating face. Stndsh, she texts him on her Blackberry, thght ud nvr cme.
- The revelers dance under the 80-foot Maypole with the fury of flesh unburdened in loose string bikinis from the strictures of the Lord our God King of the entire universe from the smallest quark at the edge of the galaxy to the wingspan of the Church’s reach from the center of John Calvin’s pituitary gland to the expanse of fertile silt hanging about what they will one day call the North American continent as a gift from the last ice age. Bradford and Squanto steal past a squall of beech trees, the bark peeling onionskin, and Squanto recalls the demographic catastrophe that decimated the majority of his Patuxets during the years of his captivity in England. Emails went unreturned for weeks at a time, and the data node interruptions made the native man seem as removed from his homeland as a satellite orbiting a distant moon.
- Dorothy Bradford looks not into Miles Standish’s notoriously bright eyes, but at his upper chest, stuttered with a small data projector and camera affixed in the necklace of a ruby given to him by one of the old crones from the Scrooby community. “Mr. Standish, do you believe that we must separate from the Church of England?” Standish, straight backed, calls up a series of Wikipedia articles on Henry VIII: I don’t know what to believe anymore, Dotty.
- Squanto and Bradford approach the Maypole dancers, and it’s an orgy of Botox needles and designer Ecstasy—the heat sweats of wild North African rhythms, music piped in from the blue nomads of the upper Sahara mashed with club beats cut from vaginas of distant harlots. Several toughs in knee-high britches, no more than Tweens, sodomize a series of docile heifers paralyzed, it seems, by neck collars that shoot bovine growth hormones directly into their central nervous systems. The beast with two backs twitch together, while a lecherous-looking schoolmarm uploads a photostream to her Flickr page. Now Squanto!, Bradford whispers, and the native man deploys a virus, over Bluetooth, that within seconds shuts down the whirling Maypole and turns off the series of concert floodlights and gas-powered bonfire before Morton, drunk on a mix of electrolyte-spiced moonshine, can stumble through the darkness toward the two invaders from Plymouth.
- Miles Standish leans over the railing of the Mayflower and projects the words of the Mayflower Compact onto the screen of Provincetown Harbor, with his annotations drawn from Dotty’s biometric scans converted into a language of the Lord, commensurate with her recurrent depressive disorder.
In the name of God, Amen, when the serotonergic system is least active during sleep. We whose names are underwritten, having abandoned our lost child at Leiden and so experiencing noted improvement in our condition with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors after a night of sleeplessness, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith…
Only the water truly knows my heart, Dotty sighs, before climbing to the upper rail of the Mayflower. She peers deep into the texts floating on the light waves and feels Standish’s hands upon the curve of her back, reinforced by the girth of her polymer corset. Standish concentrates on the water and then shoots a beam of fluorescence from his necklace into the deep to forma period at the end of the Compact. The light penetrates below the document to the edge of the continental shelf, frightening a series of blind fish into a scurrying motion over the underground fiber-optic cables.
- Squanto kneels on the path, dark except for fires dancing atop a refinery stack several miles away; he notes from the nibbled ends of native vegetation that a family of deer passed on their way to a nesting ground. As Bradford geo-locates the site into his GPS transmitter, the bushes rustle wildly, agitated by wind pollution from the exhaust fan of a meatpacking plant. A lodestone, a crazed Thomas Morton, jumps from the shrubs and lands on Bradford’s back legs. Before Bradford or Squanto can move, Morton rips two syringes from a belt holster, and sticks his foes in their thighs. Pure LSD from Sandoz, my boys, and now you’ll be visiting my Maypole for the next 12 hours. He vanishes with a rustle, back into the beech forest.
- As Dorothy Bradford climbs even higher, supported at the legs by Captain Miles Standish, she says her goodbyes to the cramped vessel with its vermin-infested grain reserves, its cabins thick with Separatist Puritans praying at online bulletin boards with their brethren back in Holland. Standish looks to the horizon, and he understands Dorothy for the first time. He sees her husband as a blip on the GPS tracker, now here, now there, moving in a sort of monochromatic arc along the boundaries of the shoreline’s inland swale. My god, he says, William’s everywhere at once, and with that, Dorothy Bradford dives for the nearest comma.
- Miles away, Squanto, who has traveled the world, kneels in the comfort of the long summer night. He unwraps a bean burrito from the pack Morton left behind, and smiling, passes a tiny ukulele to the Governor of Plymouth Plantation. It’s going to be a long, dark night of the soul.