Liam wanted to burrow to the center of the Earth, but he didn’t know how. He saw a cheapo old sci-fi movie on cable and there was a big machine with a spiral blade on front. At the center were dinosaurs. He knew it wouldn’t be that, but he wanted to go. He expected a lava lake.

Since he worked at a warehouse, barely making more than minimum wage after five years, he couldn’t afford science. Liam lived with his parents although he was 32. In fact, he slept in the same room he had as a kid. They wanted him out, but he couldn’t afford an apartment of his own, and besides, his credit was so bad no place would accept him. Drugs, selling stolen copper, DUIs: that had been his life. But now he wanted to go to the center of the Earth.

“Your heartbeat has been slow all morning. Pick it up,” his supervisor at the warehouse said.  Liam had to wear a bracelet that sent his heartbeat rate to the supervisor’s computer. He was already shaky with the old man. He’d had seven jobs that year alone.

“Screw you,” he said. He removed the bracelet. “I don’t take crap from anybody.”

Stomping out to his old Jeep, he thought about how unfair the supervisor had been. He’d worked his ass off his three months on the job. He didn’t let anybody look down on him, though.

“I got fired,” he told his father. The grey-haired, pot-bellied man sat in his chair and took the news like Liam was telling him he was still breathing. “I’ll scrap some tomorrow, then look for a new job.”

“Yeah,” was all his father said. He was on disability, but worked on cars for a hobby. So there was that crime.

In his room, Liam thought about how he would travel to the center of the Earth. Solid rock, thousands of miles, so being reasonable wouldn’t do it.  His last girlfriend, Shelby, believed in the spirit world. Tattooed, piercings, so skinny he could see every rib. She used to sit on the floor and close her eyes. Liam just sat in a chair, on OxyContin.

“I just visited my dead mother,” Shelby said. “She said you’re bad for me. No shit.”


“I got interested in Billy the Kid. Thought I would see him and say hello. He said to tell you hi.”


“I just got back from Mount Everest. Damn, but it’s cold up there at the peak.”

As long as she let him have sex, a house to stay in, and money to steal, he was okay with that. Her son, five years old, liked to play with him. Shelby had been married three times and wasn’t even forty. Plus, he was the fifth man to live with her in recent years. Her son looked at him like a bug running by on the rug.

One night, Shelby had taught him how to travel in spirit. He sat on the floor next to her and folded his legs. She had taken lessons from a spirit guide, she said.

“Now, close your eyes and concentrate on an imaginary point in front of you. Don’t think about anything else, just that point. After a while, you’ll feel yourself moving. Let your mind kick in then, and picture a place you want. You’ll be there, if you don’t start thinking again.”

He tried it, and just damn well couldn’t keep his thoughts on the dot. His dinner, his drug supply, his friends, his Jeep: something pushed in and wouldn’t let him float. So he gave up.

But now Liam realized that Shelby’s way was the way to the center of the Earth. So he closed the door to his room. The TV faintly played in the living room, but he could ignore that, his father sitting there staring at the screen like he did all day, every day. Liam turned on the fan to drown out the laughs and bangs from the old sitcoms his father and mother both watched. He sat on the hardwood of the floor.

He folded his legs. He closed his eyes.

Liam imagined a gray dot in front of him and focused on that. Soon, he indeed got that feeling he was leaving his body, that floating. He pictured the center of the Earth from the movie.

Bang bang.

“Liam, did you take my iPhone? It’s missing!” his mother screamed.

So that was that for then. Yeah, he’d taken her iPhone and sold it. He needed money.

The only way to float to the center of the Earth was to do it where nobody would bother him.  The woods.

His parents’ old house was next to the woods on their ten-acre lot out in the country. He waited until the next day—sunny, blue skies—and left out the back door. He didn’t tell anybody his business. They were used to him wandering off. Good. He walked into the trees. About five minutes in was a clearing. He’d been there many times as a kid. It was his escape place, his private place, the place where a kid could be himself. When Liam saw it again, the clearing was more like home than the house.

He sat on the scraggly grass. He crossed his legs. The only sound was wind through the leaves. He pictured a gray dot in front of him.

And soon he felt like he was leaving. He let the center of the Earth enter his mind. Practice. The more he did this spiritual thing, the easier it became. This time, he kept floating.

And he found himself traveling through rock. The layers zoomed by. In a minute, he entered a cave. A man in a fur loincloth stood waiting for him. Behind him were other men like him, as well as women dressed in fur bikinis. Liam found himself, wide-eyed, in the center of the Earth. It was the center of the Earth from the movie. But that was okay. At least it wasn’t his real life.

“Greetings,” the first man said. “We were expecting you.”

“Stay with us,” a woman said, moving to beside the man. She was young with long black hair, busty, thick shiny thighs. She was, Liam realized, his fantasy woman. “Become one of us.”

“Sure,” Liam said. “You make me very happy.”

“He’s in a world of his own,” the psychologist told his parents a few days later. “He’s locked in.  Give me time. He has to go to drug rehab if we bring him back, though.”

“Leave the boy alone,” the father said. “He’s coming home. We’ll take care of him.”

Liam watched the dinosaur outside the cave. It roared. He smiled. I’m going to marry that girl, he thought. This is where I belong.