[Next Chapter 10/17/17]
With a piercing screech of metal on metal and one giant whooshing exhale, a rickety steam locomotive came to rest alongside the weathered pine platform of the Hegeltown Station. The old engine’s whistle screamed a geyser of translucent steam that rippled upwards into the crisp, gray, springtime sky. A conductor, tucked away inside, pulled a cord that toggled a brass bell which signaled the passengers to make their way out onto the platform. The lonely outpost of Hegeltown was the end of the line, literally, as the rails stopped a mere hundred meters beyond.
A big crowd had gathered which was a good representation of the entire 862 undermen who resided in Hegeltown and outlying areas. Perhaps three hundred or so crowded the landing and anxiously awaited the emergence of the space heroes for whom they had heard so much gossip about while attending temple. Some of the undermen had come from the farthest corners of the sparsely populated Hegel Valley where the rim of high plain filled in with pines and climbed upwards into the jagged, icy, Ivy League Peaks. Many of those far out homesteaders had to rise early in the darkness and chill and ride their burros several kilometers into town by the light of the near full moon and the twinkling stars of Aquarius rising in the deep blue southeastern sky.
A big crowd had gathered which was a good representation of the entire 862 undermen who resided in Hegeltown and outlying areas. Perhaps three hundred or so crowded the landing and anxiously awaited the emergence of the space heroes for whom they had heard so much gossip about while attending temple.
The Hegel Valley was itself one of the remotest outposts of Highlands District 53; which itself was a mere geographical inkblot in the north of the Atzlan Sector; which itself spanned the greater part of the southwestern quadrant of the North Americo Region; which itself comprised half of the habitable land area of greater Gaiastan. The greater nation state of Gaiastan had emerged from the Old World’s self-destruction. She was the culmination of the glorious Anti-Renaissance and the final evolutionary leap in geopolitics.
Gaiastan! Long Live the Motherland!
Hegeltown, staked into the end of the railroad line, was a place where both sides of the track were the ‘wrong side of the track’. No better end of the line could be envisioned as the crumbling village was located in a landlocked island, walled in on all sides by the enigmatic Ivy League Peaks and a two thousand foot wall of crackling blue ice known as the Gunnison Glacier which ground ever southwards.
Indigo was slow to prepare to exit the train and kept the muslin curtains of his tiny chamber drawn. He dreaded another public appearance, even if it was the final one, and wanted only to find a quiet room at the inn where he could sleep for three days. His astronaut’s pension would not have gotten him very far in the great Gaiapoli, but out in the hinterlands, it might be just enough to fund a long, lazy sabbatical. It was an exhausting triumph and a very long, very bumpy, nerve-racking train ride. He very much looked forward to the rest.
Indigo sighed as he thought about the long ride now thankfully behind him. The train journeyed from the smoky, coal-fired industrial sectors of the Huxley Region, over the Great People’s River, across the vast, grassy buffalo commons that spanned a thousand kilometers of Dehumanized Zones.
The entire journey was made in that one rickety steam locomotive and the dark nights crossing the steppe in that rusting, rattling machine were the most unnerving for the transcontinental passengers. Their terror simmered at every abnormal sounding ping or clang that might indicate a pending engine breakdown. A breakdown in the Dehumanized Zone would be a most unfortunate circumstance. Everyone knew that, for one, the Dehumanized Zones were populated by roving clans of humate cannibals that stalked the railways waiting to pounce upon and devour the sweet meat that rode aboard the trains; and two, the steppe was far too remote to expect a timely rescue by Motherland Security’s hovercraft in the event of said cannibal attack. The passengers, whenever afflicted by that terror, had to remind themselves to ‘think green’, which is to think pleasant thoughts in order to distract oneself from terror.
The steppe was humate turf, to be crossed as quickly as possible. It was an enormous expanse of territory, over a million square kilometers, far too big to patrol and subdue in any sustainable manner. The little locomotives that traversed the DZ were equipped with a security detachment, an archaic machine gun and a few hundred rounds of ammo. It was far too dangerous to equip them with an energy blaster as it might fall into humate claws. The detachment, which was actually just one volunteer conscript manning the aforementioned machine gun, was given instructions to shoot any and all filthy, disease-infested humates on sight. Humates were dangerous and crafty, it was said. They were often known to surround a broken down train in the darkness, taunt the top-gunner until he expended the last of his ammunition, then clamber aboard dragging their knuckles, gnashing their jagged teeth, and dribbling drool down their chins. The passengers would be quickly overpowered by the soulless creatures that would savagely rape everyone then gnaw off their appendages. Then the passengers would be drug off into underground caves to be impaled alive and cooked and eaten. It happened all the time far out in the DZ, at least so said the mainstream media.
The most sinister aspect of it all, according to consensus, was that the humates had plenty of beasts to hunt and berries to forage out on the steppe without having to bother with a menu of civilized human beings. Yet they attacked and devoured them nonetheless. The most respected and highest-ranking Overman sociocrats reasoned, and it was universally accepted based upon scientistic consensus, that the undermen were heathen savages and committed these atrocities due to their rejection of the Gaian religion. In contrast, Overman, by virtue of their superior eugenics, had enough faculties to control the mental creep of ungreenness. Civilized undermen may have lacked good genes, but undermen had the blessing of their Overman benefactors who provided for them a sustainable, civilized culture delivered by holovision, vaccine, temple, and codex enforcement. Undermen were the Overman’s burden. Humates, on the other hand, did not have the benefit of Overman maternalism. It was generally regarded that constant bombardment by correct-thinking probably wouldn’t have any impact on them, anyway. Humate brains were feeble and consumed with base emotions like envy of the higher castes of humankind. Their hatred led them to violence and barbarous cannibalism.
No, a locomotive breaking down way out in a DZ was not a desirable predicament to find one’s self. Thankfully, the train carrying our spaceman heroes made it through unscathed. A Motherland Security hovercraft was kept on high alert, however, even if it was probably out of range.
Indigo waited in his cabin as the steam engine cooled and the bustle of shuffling passengers diminished. The crowd that had come so far to witness the spectacle of the heroic spacemen grew restless. Indigo’s pulse started to race, compelling him to action. He could feel himself sweating as he finally mustered himself.
He peeled back the muslin curtain of his compartment and examined the crowd. There were no dragging knuckles or drooling muzzles out on the platform. The townsfolk who rode in on their fine burros had decorated them with patriotic green, white and blood red ribbons. The females were dressed up in their finest pantsuits, hair closely cropped, fingernails sharpened into ceremonial claws. The men wore their most festive Mao tunics, each embroidered with Gaian folk symbology— all seeing eyes, fertinlity goddesses, clenched fists. The men kept long, mulleted hairstyles, neatly curled, moussed, and colored, and their eyes were accented with black liner. Children were each decked out in their khaki overalls and blue shirts, all of them the same, obedient little hobbits, gender neutral and utterly indistinguishable. No, these were not quite the Neanderthals Indigo expected to find, but they were not easy on the eyes. The undermen’s asymmetrical faces were blotchy, contorted and lined by years in the sun. Their jowls were sunken from inadequate nutrition. Their postures were hunched and their spines were misaligned. They were short, ugly, trollish little humans. The sight of them started to creep Indigo out. He had seen them before on triumph but he had never ventured into one of their crude hamlets to be utterly immersed in them.
“Gaia help me,” he thought. “Why did I come here? This place is a zoo— worse yet, a stable. I can barely stand the sight of them. I bet they smell, too.”
But, despite their broken down appearance, the Hegeltown folk were quite energized for the event. To them, two superheroes were somewhere inside the train in front of them. They had never had such important celebrities visit their village before. Rumor had it that one of them intended to stay for good as the Hegel Valley Commissar.
“I heard that his Great, Great, Great, Great Granddaddy was born and raised right out that away, before the glacier came,” a townsfolk gossiped with populist zeal. They didn’t know which of the two it was but it really didn’t make any difference to them. One celebrity was as godly as any other. The gleeful townsfolk envisioned their hometown champion somewhere in that train, a hero swelled with pride in his great accomplishment. No doubt he was peering out at them from the darkened windows, from behind the muslin curtains. This lifted up their undermen hearts.
They imagined their hero’s cabin, too, which might have been adorned with gold leaf, bamboo inlays and, quite possibly, a satellite radio which was itself a spectacular luxury. There were only three radios in all of the Hegel Valley, each possessed by a high-ranking district bureaucrat. For one to have access to a radio while travelling the Transgaianental railroad in this post-post-modern age, where such extravagances were shunned, was nearly unimaginable to the townsfolk. Walking on Mars was a heroic achievement. Having access to a satellite radio was something otherworldly.
The townsfolk envisioned their heroes lulled to sleep at night by all the wonderful, enlightened, sophisticated state radio programs while they traveled in velveteen and bamboo luxury, rolling under the twinkling stars in perfect comfort through the DZ. Perhaps their hero was even served neo-meat! “Amazing! Spectacular! How positively green!” The townsfolk just had to catch a glimpse of the heroes. They sighed longingly and held their hand over their breast patriotically while they waited.
Mr. Indigo did, in fact, have access to a satellite radio on the train. He used to listen to episodes of the serial written by Poet Supreme Sanger Wilson Wells…
The critically acclaimed play, broadcast in twenty one three hour segments on the Gaian Broadcasting Corporation, was a period piece set in a manufacturing kibbutz in a place once known as Detroit (which has since been covered by a kilometer of advancing ice). The story centered around an enlightened, middle-aged, Ivy League PhD who heroically had himself castrated to protest the continued use of plastic grocery bags.
The privileged yet failing Mr. McWhite took in an undermen ‘family’ as a gesture of his enlightened beneficence. The family— families were an anachronism in modern Gaiastan— consisted of an overworked and systemically exploited single ‘mother’ and her precocious love child named Tyler whom she was considering aborting before the age limit of five. The series focused upon the frustrations McWhite endured educating and nurturing the defiant, little, autistic, transgendered proto-human who consumed all of his fleeting energy that had once been applied to the publication of his Gaian justice essays.
Along the way, around episode twelve, the old man comes to the realization that mentoring the proto-human is a somewhat socially valuable accomplishment in its own right. He earns the love of the mother and at the last possible moment, McWhite convinces her to reconsider the abortion of little Tyler. The sexual tensions build with the play culminating in the couple’s sexual union and McWhite’s transcendent triumph over his physiological limitation. The final scene captures their climactic release which seizes McWhite’s heart and ends his life while the young little Tyler, who was in the next room mischievously fumbling through McWhite’s papers, finally manages to read his first complete sentence aloud. The climax and death, much more easily and graphically portrayed at a seated play or on holovision, became a huge hit on the radio format purely on the actors’ convincing crescendo of orgasmic groans, McWhite’s death throes, his lover’s cries, and little Tyler’s culminating declaration: “There is no god but the State.”
Curtains. Standing ovation.
The play was a special favorite amongst the mid- ranking Overman crowd as it stirred an upswell of frothing personal pride and feelings of superiority watching a proto-Overman improve the lives of a poor, eugenically disadvantaged, undermen ‘family’. Modern, mid-ranking Overman were obsessed with pride and superiority that usually came at the expense of the some undermen’s dignity… especially if the aid they gave could be given with no real expenditure of personal effort on their behalf. They called this process “voting“.
Indigo finally decided he was ready to face the crowd of undermen trolls this one last time, and then he would slip into obscurity somewhere in the cold mountain town. He pushed himself up from the velveteen upholstery and approached the cabin’s mirror to make an examination of his face. He found that the face staring back did not look so heroic. He discovered he was in need of electrolysis as his beard stubble and eyebrows were coming back in. He pondered putting on the space suit to hide his failings but the nausea instantly appeared once he thought of it. He reasoned that since this was not an official triumph stop, it would not be appropriate to flaunt state property.
He examined what he had chosen to wear. His own Mao tunic was made of the finest cotton that one thousand dianars could buy. It was custom fit and thus had no sags or pleats or asymmetries that affected the Mao tunics of the frumpy Hegeltown folk he was about to regale. He also chose to forego the eyeliner that was customary for men at public appearances. His once extravagantly curled, colored and oiled mullet had yet to fully grow back since splashdown which caused him further disappointment in himself. If there were to be paparazzi they would capture him with insufficient hair, a scandal preserved in holovision plasma for all eternity. But nothing now could be done about that. Indigo hoped only to escape open ridicule by his peers.
It was expected to be a quick appearance, affording the undermen throng with only a fleeting glimpse of the celebrities. Indigo cinched his pleather waist belt, winked at his disappointing reflection, flicked off the LED lantern and left his chamber.
Indigo’s co-celebrity, Staley, was supposed to be waiting outside the door but predictably he was not. Indigo took six steps down the faux wood aisle of the sleeper car and rapped his knuckles on the lacquered bamboo door. There was no answer. “Staley, I’m coming in!” He slid the creaky pocket door open revealing what he had suspected: Staley, half-ready, frantically stashing his drug paraphernalia.
Indigo both admired and pitied Staley. His flaxen-haired comrade was once an unflappable Overman social climber. He was handsomer than Indigo and he always made a good model for holovision plasma with his strong chin and smoldering eyes. Staley was a natural at celebrity and the womyn adored him, too, which played no small part in his committee selection as a Mars astronaut. He had all the physical traits one would expect of a hero and, despite his drug-eroded state, wherever the two of them ventured on the triumph, Staley would receive unmarked parcels containing the naughty undergarments of adoring fans. Staley originally got quite an ego-boost from these self-demeaning, desperate acts, and he was more than willing to exploit his allure by bedding many dozens of adoring females on the first part of their triumph. But that habit gave way as Staley injected himself ever and ever deeper into the needle.
Indigo gathered Staley up from his cot, straightened his tunic out, and the two whistle-stop heroes made their way to the caboose of the train to make their final celebrity appearance. Each was adorned in their purple Mao tunics and patent pleather belts and extravagantly oiled but insufficient mullets. One instant before they opened the last door of the last car to receive the shouts of praise from the adoring underman crowd, they looked briefly into each other’s eyes. It was an awkward moment, lasting far longer than a pocket watch might indicate. But at that instant, they mutually experienced all the grime and terror and loneliness and claustrophobia and death they had endured while they were imprisoned together for eighteen months in that titanium can called the Astarte. They were brothers, now, as close as any two who had shared a womb. Long term confinement and the looming, psychological weight of eminent doom will do that to even the most incongruous pair. Indigo wanted to say something poignant to memorialize the moment but before he could speak, Staley switched on his energy with a smile, threw open the door, and stepped out into a roar of applause.
Indigo noticed that Staley had lost a tooth but never mind that.
The two celebrities stood there on that caboose and waived to the paparazzi and their flashing holovision plasma sensing arrays. The pant-suited maidens heaved their breasts and smiled seductively alongside their oblivious, domestic partners who tended to their androgynous, foster children temporarily assigned to their care. The steam engine at the other end of the train puffed a slow succession of puffs as its furnace boiled up again. The festively adorned burros brayed under their green and red and white ribbons and the sky broke apart with cotton ball clouds floating by overhead and dropping behind the ominous Ivy League Peaks.
Shouts and calls burst forth from the throng. “Behold our glorious heroes!” “Champions of our generation!” “Long live Gaia!” “Long live our beloved Motherland!”
The two spaceman heroes waived to the crowd and stepped off the caboose and mingled and shook hands and kissed the crèche babies dressed in khaki swaddling clothes.
“What great humans you are!” People in the crowd called out to them. “Will you take up ecofarming somewhere in the valley, now?” “Thank you so much for your sacrifice.” “Will you run for Commissar? We heard Ceremonial Vizier is up for selection this year. You’d certainly have my support.”
Indigo and Staley worked the crowd as they had so many times before giving DNA autographs on cotton swabs and pretending to care about what the rabble had to say. Staley, mentally eroded as he was, still got many offers from the females (and some males and other genders, too) that were written on tiny notes and clandestinely stuffed into his pockets.
The meet and greet lasted ten times longer than Indigo had hoped and when they were done and could take absolutely no more of it, the spacemen were ushered into a stagecoach pulled by proper horses and whisked away to the inn where they would spend the evening hobnobbing with the party bosses and drinking the finest Cascadian wine and stuffing their faces with neo-meat tenderloins and real potatoes and whole carrots and truffles shipped in from Ozarkia.
“Welcome back. How long have you been home, now?” A fat party boss asked as he wiped the driblets of wine from his double chin.
“We’ve been back for three months,” Indigo answered.
“So tell me,” the boss continued to pry, “What was it like?”
“What do you mean?” Indigo asked, hoping the boss might actually have some empathy for the survivors of the mission and ask something else.
“You know, you know…” the fat boss continued after another gulp of wine. “…What was it like? What was it like walking on Mars?”
 Dehumanized Zones (or DZ for short): Massive sections of national territory set aside as nature preserves where human settlement is prohibited (due primarily to the cost of bureaucratic administration and codex enforcement). They are believed to be populated by roving, cannibalistic homo-sapiens referred to as “humates” or “unhumans”.
 Voting: An archaic civic duty involving the ritual exercise of determining the allocation of other people’s wealth.
[Next Chapter 10/17/17]
A full PDF version is available upon request.
The spokesman for the Spanish People’s Party essentially threatened execution if the President of Catalonia proceeds with a declaration of independence.
Says PP Spokesman Pablo Cassado:
“Let’s hope that nothing is declared tomorrow because perhaps the person who makes the declaration will end up like the person who made the declaration 83 years ago.”
This is a reference to Lluis Companys who was the leader of the Catalonia (ERC) political party and was executed on the orders of Francisco Franco.
The rhetoric is indicative of the rabid desperation of the Madrid (and EU) overlords. I don’t think the vast majority of people remotely grasp how far any establishment is willing to go to maintain their power and control.
I attempt to explore this psychotic phenomenon in my novel Indivisible.
And if there was one thing the Ancients had been conditioned to fear, even more than losing their things, was that of being ostracized. Being ostracized meant being alone and the Ancients feared loneliness more than anything, even though they were already alone, separated from even the loved ones sitting next to them by the things that consumed their attention.
Crumbs will be released on CYBER MONDAY! But pre-release versions are available for blog followers. Email me for a copy.
One week (ten days) later, Mr. Indigo was waked, dressed, briefed, and taken to a drab parlor room. The accommodations were Spartan, even by hospital standards. The walls, floor and ceiling were fashioned of gray cement. The only color and texture, the only life sounds or music, the only organic elements of the chamber were provided exclusively by the Spirituality Kiosk. Essentially a holovision orb shaped like a fertility goddess, it projected 3d imagery and 360 degree sound, turning the walls into virtual windows. Enveloping the device was a faintly crackling corona of white flame, a heatless hearth of colorless fire formed into a floating ring giving the goddess the aura of the sun during an eclipse. The room was otherwise purely angular, stark, and utilitarian. Even Indigo’s chair lacked any comfort with its rigidly upright back and cold, recycled plastic surface.
It was not unusual to find such hard-edged décor in religious or government locales. Utility, discomfort, and minimalism were valued highly by Gaian society, at least in the minds of the Overman and, in particular, in the minds of those who had exceeded the twenty-fifth degree. Their neo-puritan preference for prickliness was traditional. The natural, the organic, the plush, lush, cool, soft, and pastel were the designs of nature. Attempts by mankind to replicate nature were attempts to usurp her— vulgar blasphemies!
The Spirituality Kiosk, sensing Indigo’s discomfort, began to speak, filling the room with a hypnotic, feminine voice.
“Hello, Indigo,” she said.
Indigo replied only with a forced grin.
“I see that you have not attended temple in over two years.”
Indigo tried not to roll his eyes.
“Indigo, you are in need of spiritual rejuvenation.”
Indigo tried to ignore what was coming.
“You are alive, Indigo. Your life is a gift of the natural world. The natural world is the spirit world. Nature is the true expression of Gaia. Complete. Perfected. You, Indigo, are one expression of Gaia. Insignificant yet indispensible.”
Indigo stared into the closed eyes of the fertility goddess.
“Gaianism is man’s comprehension of Gaia. Gaianism is the revelation of the Great Mother to man. Gaianism is the way. It teaches that it is man’s unrighteousness that causes him to stray into evil path of materialism. Do you want to be evil, Indigo?
“Materialism is the desire of the flesh. The flesh is weak. It is man’s materialism that poisons the natural balance of the earth. The natural balance is the source of life. Materialism is thus anti-life and thus it is evil. Evil is sin. Materialism is therefore sin.
“Gaianism teaches us that man is evil by his origin. Man is therefore a state of unrighteousness, thus man is a state to be overcome.”
Serene images of mountain vistas and flowers and waterfalls and frolicking baby mammals dissolved into smoke stacks reaching upwards like towers of Babel and streams of liquid, bubbling waste extruding from the bowels of sprawling factories. The sky turned black as sackcloth and the holovision voice darkened.
“Man must transcend the weakness of the flesh, Indigo. Man must transcend himself. Man must be reborn, recast as the Overman.”
A brute savage appeared. He was grotesque, clothed in furs, hunch-backed, covered in hair and his own filth. He stood over a machine, pulling a lever that was skinning a fawn. He appeared amused.
“Man must transcend himself, Indigo. This is the righteous purpose of Gaianism.”
Behind the brute appeared the Overman, naked, hairless, upright, armed with a shining blade of steel.
“The Overman must overcome the unrighteous nature of his filthy, inner savage. He must overcome his own nature. He must slay the devil that resides within. He must focus inward rather than project outward. He must overcome himself rather than overcome nature. This is the way of Gaianism.”
The Overman raised his blade and slew the savage.
The voice softened again. “Transcendence requires complete focus and mental rigor aligned towards the elimination of material temptation and distraction. Gaiastan is dedicated to providing environments that encourage the transcendental development of her dedicated subjects. We are hoping to see you at temple next Nineday.
“The preceding message was brought to you by the Gaian Broadcasting Service…”
Indigo, just a mid-ranking Overman, was bored by religion. He had seen and heard the meme a thousand times before. He got it, yet he unrighteously yearned for a cushion for his seat. The holovision sensed Indigo’s spiritual fatigue. The aura of flames faded into mainstream media programming. Indigo was not yet ready for the intense mental rigor required of higher Overman degrees.
Indigo was a little surprised to see an image of Staley and himself appear in the holovision field. They were dressed up in their space suits, standing and waving to a gathering of a few hundred under a shower of compostable ticker tape. They stood at the foot of a monumental obelisk that penetrating five hundred meters into the heavens. The Overman loved his symbology.
Now that Mars had finally been conquered, mankind would soon be launched ever outward, out across the celestial Acheron, to bring the life spawn of Gaia to the rest of the galaxy. Gaia was pushing man out from Eden. Indigo and Staley were pioneers of human destiny. They were the first children of Gaia to touch another planet and return. It was a big deal. It had taken two hundred years to finally conquer Mars.
But that appearance by Staley and Indigo at the obelisk, waving to the masses under the rain of confetti, was a media fabrication. Indigo had not left the hospital since the Astarte splashed down. He studied the hologram, zooming in, changing perspective. It was, at first, amazing to Indigo that anyone would even think that it was him. The fake Indigo’s posture was all wrong. His neck was too short. Indigo never waved like that, with a bent wrist. But suddenly he felt guilty for thinking it was wrong. Who was he to question official media? He was just a nothing man, a mundane, an inconsequential, mid-level Overman. The holovision sensed his uneasiness and halted the video feed.
“All individuals are inconsequential,” explained the holovision voice. “A human’s only valid meaning for existence is derived from his service to the living planet. Alone, you are nothing, but you are indispensible as part of a species playing a role determined by our Great Mother.”
Indigo suddenly felt better after having been reminded of his egoism by the Spirituality Kiosk. It was as if Gaia herself was personally speaking to him. The holovision resumed the feed and Indigo watched his avatar waving, smiling, walking, and speechifying. He noticed the face was vaguely his but the expressions were wrong, too, as if his skin was peeled off and layered over some dissimilar skull… Indigo cursed himself for backsliding so quickly. “Blasphemer!” Even a Secular Gaianist like he— an agnostic, more-or-less— was conditioned by fear of the wages of sin. “Blasphemer!” He cursed again. “Never question the motives of Gaiastan. Never question Gaianism. Never question Gaia. There is a perfectly rational reason for this avatar to have been created. There is a higher purpose. It’s been done for the greater good. Suppress your ego, Indigo. Suppress your vanity. Suppress your pride. Pride never helps a person,” he reminded himself.
Then Staley appeared in the parlor before him.
He was there, staring down at Indigo— not a hologram, but in the flesh. He had a curious look on his face, like some mad scientist examining some perplexing phenomenon.
“How are you?” Indigo asked.
“How do I look?” Staley replied.
“You don’t look well.”
“I’ve been thinking.”
“Has thinking made you ill?”
“I’ve learned that the tree of knowledge bears a bitter fruit.”
Indigo didn’t know how to respond to that.
“Do you have your locket?” Staley asked.
“It has never left my person.”
“Have you brain dumped, lately?”
“Not to Virtuality. However, the doctors have downloaded my mind recently for SHIV.”
“You should use a kiosk and download whenever you get the chance.”
“Because you never know when you may be in need of resurrection,” Staley answered with a smile.
“Do you have reason to believe we have outlasted our usefulness?” Indigo asked mockingly, implying Staley was suggesting their imminent physical demise.
Staley’s mind, however, was drifting away, even before his smile had dissolved…
Staley had journeyed a hundred million kilometers and six months backwards in time, back to the Astarte. Back to the black and white of space… Back to the stale air of the cabin… Back to the spinning vertigo of raining stars… To the sweet smell of ozone… To the blinking gold and red indicator lights… To the constant undercurrent of psychosis… To the ever present claustrophobia… To the sensation of being on a flimsy wooden raft, floating rudderless downstream towards a thousand foot waterfall.
Staley’s brain called out, “Jump Off! Jump Off!” But his mind intervened. The brain calls out like a barking dog. But the mind muzzles it. The brain is the animal, the primal man. The mind is the spirit, the Overman.
In the Astarte, it was best to focus on the knobs and dials and the gold and red indicator lights; better to immerse in the colors and sounds and strains of routine in order to tether the barking dogs of the brain.
“No! Open the hatch! Be done with it.” Staley shouted in his dream. “Only a few gasps of nothing, then a burning cold, blindness, then mercy.”
His mind clenched and pulled back on the leash controlling the psychosis. Staley always pulled it back, sooner or later. He could always subdue the urge to jump out the airlock and end the agony. Staley’s mind would come back into focus. The dogs were subdued.
Then Staley remembered Athena.
“Are you okay?” She asked with an insouciant toss of her wispy, chestnut mane. Before he could answer, her angelic face blossomed into a flirtatious grin followed by her making her way past him to the control center of their cozy titanium space can…
Thankfully, before the entranced Staley broke apart into emotional rubble, a page appeared and escorted the two of them away from the Spirituality Kiosk and out of the hospital altogether. They were led onto the street where they were loaded into a luxury limousine. The car, one of only a hundred or so in the city powered by an internal combustion engine, throttled up and whisked them away toward Grand Central Station.
The highest degree Overman elites were always whisked away in methanol powered vehicles. It has been said that all men are inconsequential… but some are less inconsequential then others. The importance of the elites necessitated exception to the rules against hydrocarbon power. No one questioned this as it was a pragmatic necessity.
Inside the expansive vehicle, their handler greeted them. It was a pointy-nosed Mr. Brzezinski who handed them their cleaned and pressed space suits and had them strip down and dress right there in the back of the car. Within ten minutes, they were at their first function. They parked in the bowels of a great concrete edifice, took a service elevator to the lobby, were hustled along through dark hallways, and finally into another parlor. When the moment was ripe, the pointy-nosed Brzezinski led them through one last door and out into the bright LED light.
It was blinding white.
A crowd, invisible to them behind the brilliant glow, roared with approval. Brzezinski approached the podium to give a short speech. He described for the crowd the duo’s triumphal, inter-solar exploits, and the fulfillment of a goal requiring two centuries of struggle. The crowd roared again and again.
Indigo and Staley stood near on the dais, silent, listening to the exaggerations of their endeavor, fully-robed in their astronaut grandeur, holding their space helmets in their arms. Their couture added much to the spectacle and awe. Their symbology clarified, for even the lowest-ranking Overman in attendance, exactly what the elite Mr. Brzezinski was talking about: selfless heroism. The undermen, relegated to the back of the assembly, were merely humates hypnotized by the light and energy. The grand symbology was utterly lost on them.
Although many members of the press hailed both of the astronauts with questions on the curiosities of .3 gravity, long-duration isolation, and what it felt like to “walk on Mars,” Indigo and Staley had been given very specific instructions by Brzezinski not to speak in more than one word answers. The two could not yet be trusted by the Gaian authorities and Staley had not passed his SHIV test.
It was pondered by the bureaucrats that they might just save themselves any potential trouble by rebooting Indigo’s and Staley’s consciousnesses with more amenable, albeit fabricated, algorithms. But the Gaian authorities ultimately decided that reformatting their brains and reloading them was an even more risky endeavor. So much could go irreversibly wrong. Furthermore, the dimwitted undermen, who may have been barely one notch above chimpanzee having been intentionally and systematically dumbed down with jingoism, religiosity, distraction, violent sports, inane celebrity, toxic vaccines, and slow starvation, remained stubbornly and acutely attuned to the wavelength of human authenticity. A rebooted celebrity, behaving like a robotic sycophant, would be immediately discovered by and quickly rejected by the undermen who made up the bulk of society.
In addition, there wasn’t an Overman with sufficient brazenness to even dare to attempt to write the code necessary to give the two icons a new consciousness. The Overman was as arrogant as any patrician had ever been in human history, but he was chronically paranoid of the perceptions of those of higher ranks. Writing a consciousness that was too-authentic would draw suspicion and jealous scrutiny from those above. No Overman wishing to climb the ranks wanted to be noticed for anything other than that which would get them to the next level. Loyalty is the only sure fire method of self-promotion in a bureaucracy. Cleverness and creativity are not traits that hierarchical systems covet. The clever and the creative are perceived as unmanageable and threatening. Overman paranoia was the price one paid for having superior eugenics.
The two spacemen just stood on the podium, coached to smile, but only Indigo smiled. Staley was barely conscious as he had surreptitiously found his way into an opiate-induced fog. Staley didn’t originally like giving himself injections but that wore off rather quickly when his new medication was introduced.
The drugs, supplied by the Gaiastan patho-bureaucrats, were issued to Staley as a means of keeping him sedated and addicted. In other words, the idea was that they could keep Staley compliant, dutifully fulfilling his obligations to the State while he was progressing along the way to his next fix.
This seemingly worked well as everything was going according to plan. The two astronauts stood before the crowd, showered by enthusiastic cheers and biodegradable confetti just like the holovision had predicted. And just after the crescendo of adulation, but not so long after that the emotions cooled into embers, Brzezinski raised his hand to signal the security agents to part the sea of humanity with electrified tape. Brzezinski signaled Indigo and Staley to put on their space helmets. Staley needed to be prodded from his dream state but he finally complied. The crowd roared with approval! Then the trio stepped into the narrow channel that cut through the crowd before them.
The undermen in the crowd grew rabid as the heroes made their way through. The mob thrust hands at them. Their fixated faces bounced up and down behind the human levy like wind-whipped caps of turbulent sea. The crossing for the astronauts was tense as it felt that at any instant the flimsy tape barrier would give way and a tsunami of crazed humanity would crash down on them in a suffocating explosion and rip them to pieces as they tore off their space suits for souvenirs. Indigo tried to quicken his pace but Brzezinski held him back. A sudden move to the train car would fuel the urgent hysteria making the situation unmanageable. Chain reaction mass insanity was a phenomenon not to be encouraged.
The heroes moved onward, deliberately, timidly waving, taking long, sasquatch-like strides in their silvery space suits. Their flash shields were down, concealing Indigo’s wide-eyed terror and Staley’s grim, detached dopiness. How far a walk it was for them through that parted, undulating, screaming mob.
Finally, the stairs!
Up they went, up into the train. Indigo disappeared inside. Staley turned back to stare at the sea that had crashed in on the channel behind them. He raised both of his gilded, silvery arms up in a priestly sort of way. As if by magic, the mass of hundreds fell completely silent. Staley held them with his magical gesture and they looked back into their hero’s black flash shield, mesmerized and frozen.
“You…” Staley called out to them.
They stared back, mouths agape.
“You…!” Staley repeated.
They hung frozen, captivated by his superhuman presence.
Staley’s black visor scanned from left to right across the breadth of his congregation. He inhaled and held that breath, allowing the collective eyes of the mass to transfer their energy into him. Then he shouted…
There was no response from the crowd.
Staley took this to mean that he had reached them in some profoundly spiritual way. But instead, all that the crowd actually heard was a muffled “Ooo ar uh deh” due Staley’s helmet muffling his voice.
The pointy-nosed Brzezinski, who also didn’t hear what Staley had said either, yanked him into the coach. As it pulled away, the crowd roared like they do at the grand finale of a pornographic-rock-and-roll-euthanasia festival.
And that was how the National Triumph of the great space heroes Indigo and Staley began.
Their Triumph took them to all the great cities of the People’s Republic of Gaiastan. Their locomotive, powered by the most modern steam engine ever developed by government engineers— christened The Big Mother— rocketed the national heroes from gaianopolis to gaianopolis at the blistering, inconceivable, mind-boggling land-pace of forty five kilometers per hour. It was unimaginably luxurious to be ferried about the vast country in such manner. For mid-ranking Overmen like Indigo and Staley, the experience was exceeded by nothing else except perhaps the storied reports from those fortunate enough to experience travel by hypersonic hovercraft, a mode of transport reserved for Motherland Security and the high elite.
Big Mother chugged and puffed and puffed and chugged, belching her filthy black soot upward into the gray skies. Her wheels wound their way down diamond-hard rails of the absolute finest Manchurian steel ever to be imported as she rolled from city to city. The urban population centers were gleaming gardens of pyramidal architectures, each adorned at the top with the all-seeing eye. The largest structures, the arcologies, often stood a kilometer high. Their spires pierced the clouds. Each arco was an engineering marvel of the age, constructed with prefabricated, foamed aluminum and puffed plastic.
What a surprisingly sturdy and downright green material puffed aluminum was, having known to only fail during uncommon global warming induced blizzards. The marginal risk of the top seventy floors of a man-made, Styrofoam being sheared off in a frozen gale and dropped on the quaint neighborhoods far below was but an inconsequential externality, a level of risk approved by the government as tolerable as less than two such events were expected to occur in any given decade. The miracle building material was light and cheap. If the low impact construction method saved the life of one spotted Preble’s snow squirrel, wasn’t it worth it?
On their Triumph, Indigo always took extra time to absorb the majesty of the brilliant metropolitan skylines. The skyline of the city of Rahmcago was especially breathtaking as the two hundred storey pyramids of cobalt blue and magenta were dwarfed against the backdrop of the ever-advancing, two kilometer high sheet of glacial ice that was slowly shaving the city off the face of the earth in a grand geological swipe of Gaia’s straight razor.
Mother Nature, in the form of glacial ice, advanced one meter per annum and could not be stopped, not even with nukes. But just as soon as the toppled and flattened city structures could be cleared away and the bodies recovered, the engineers were directed by the economic development bureaucrats to rebuild the towers a hundred meters to the south. This had the effect of creating a city that swelled upwards in a wave of construction cranes and ever-taller structures that stood like a frozen breaker against the slowly crashing tidal wave of unstoppable ice.
Indigo had a secret hope that maybe, if he was vigilant in his observations, he might actually bear witness to a ten million ton chunk of the great Helcaraxe Glacier calve off and pulverize one of the foam skyscrapers while he watched. But that thought made him ill so he blocked it out.
Staley was unimpressed by any of it— the towering arcologies, the grinding ice, the omnipresent eye, the Gaian symbology, the jubilant fanfare, Big Mother chugging along with her puffs of steam and soot. He remained in his own chamber, usually asleep or completely drugged up and detached.
If Indigo hadn’t known what Staley had been through, he might have been prone to pester him about his antisocial behavior or snitch him out to the patho-bureaucrats. But Indigo knew what Staley had been through and he knew how the world worked. He still fancied himself as one suitable for promotion to the next Overman degree but knowing too much is not conducive to bureaucratic advancement, unless it’s knowledge that can be used as leverage against someone with the power to promote. He kept his mouth shut but he thought about promotion a lot.
“How perfectly green it would be to crack the 20th degree before my mortal body dies,” Indigo would often contemplate. Higher degrees meant more of everything. Higher degrees meant a life of meaning and importance which required uninterrupted access to electricity. Not just electricity during non-peak hours, mind you, but electricity around the clock. How extravagant, he thought. Higher degrees implied a menu that might occasionally include meat. I know, I know, Indigo thought before the nausea returned, seeking advancement for the sake of selfish extravagances like electricity and meat is decadent. But higher degrees also meant better health care rations, death panel deferments, and more frequent consciousness downloads— or “brain dumps” as they were called. You never know when you might suffer an unexpected physical demise. It was best to have your virtual consciousness up to date and ready to take over. A long gap between brain dump and actual brain death might be a source of dissonance and disorientation. Stop being so selfish and egocentric, Indigo lamented to himself. He felt the queasiness in his gut that so frequently accompanied his ungreenness. Indigo so wanted to be a good Overman.
Big Mother rolled on from Rahmcago, breaking down only sixteen times during their Triumph. She eventually wound up in the urban center of Goropolis— a city of at least a hundred thousand Overman and perhaps ten times that number in undermen serfs.
No official stats were kept on undermen. They lived in the clustered hovels that rimmed the industrial sectors, far away from the Styrofoam skyscrapers and quaint urban neighborhoods of the core city. Big Mother cut right through the undermen section.
Indigo watched as their brick shanties and broken glass and smoking chimneys flew by as his train puffed and chugged and chugged and puffed towards the Overtown precinct. Those pathetic undermen in their rags, he thought. Thank goodness Gaiastan is here to provide for those wretched souls. Where would they be without Gaianism?
Big Mother passed through the outer serfdom and into the industrial zone. Ash from the coal fired power plants and mills vented upwards from hundreds of kilometer high fabric smokestacks. The haze of aerosols obscured the dim orb of the sun, casting the earth below in shade.
Aerosols! Aerosols! They were the great savior of mankind! Once considered an evil pollutant, the microscopic specs of sulfurous soot found broad scientific acceptance. Aerosols were the antidote to global warming which had elevated earth’s mean temperature a whopping .8 degrees in the shockingly rapid time span of 300 years.
Aerosols! Aerosols! They saved mankind from the catastrophe of a global winter foreshortened by 8 days. Upon the arrangement of scientific consensus, national directives were issued, public works projects were launched, scientistic bureaucrats were deployed, methanol powered bulldozers were ignited. Financial alchemists were tasked with designing new instruments and derivatives to turn reality into abstraction. Trading exchanges began listing Aerosol Debit Derivatives… symbol: ADD. The economy was completely rearranged in a more enlightened, earth-friendly, sustainable manner.
And the amounts of particulates pumped into the atmosphere by kilometer high smokestacks held aloft by zeppelins rose and rose and rose. The aerosols filled the stratosphere where they reflected the sun’s infra red light that had fueled the pernicious, relentless advance of global warming that threatened to raise sea levels a catastrophic 8 centimeters. It took far less time to reverse the ravages of a degree of warming than the Thirty Year Plan computer model predicted. Almost immediately, the apocalyptic global warming began to reverse.
Pollution was, paradoxically, the State’s brilliant solution to the ravages of pollution. There are no limits to theory so long as it can be formulated via the insight of circular reasoning. It takes an Ivy League degree and an Ivy League ethos to find such grand applications for circular logic.
And as the coal ash aerosols increasingly obscured the sun’s rays, Gaia was finally cooled…
Big Mother puffed and chugged and chugged and puffed through the industrial sector, under the black ash from the foundries and power plants that hung like a hood in the sky. Finally, they passed into the greenbelt zone where the clouds parted and the dull orb of the sun magically emerged through the haze.
The industrial zone had filled Indigo with dread but the dread dissolved just as soon as they passed into the comparative Eden of Overtown. More or less a gigantic park encircling the core city, the Green Zone was filled with thousands of Overman enjoying the latest, government approved leisure activities. Indigo observed the numerous engagements of whims like the nude pogo stick hoppers and the self-flagellating contortionists and the flaming skull jugglers all joyfully utilizing the landscaped paths and gleefully maximizing their allotted blocks of personal lifestyle time.
Indigo wasn’t into any of those pursuits but they were all the rage and he appreciated that they must have been spiritually cathartic to those who endeavored to engage in them. He wondered when, or even if, the State scientistic bureaucrats would ever devise a way to implant flaming skull juggling skills into a brain via computer upload so that he too might enjoy the pastime without spending many years perfecting the talent. The scientific problem preventing this was that muscle memory simply was not very easy to influence by electromagnetic stimulation. It wasn’t for lack of effort, mind you. Many quadrillions of dianars were spent attempting to ‘teach’ candidates how to hold multiple, zirconium encrusted, humate skulls simultaneously aloft via computer skills upload, but the result was almost always a rapid muscular dystrophy that rendered the humate guinea pig a crippled ward requiring immediate euthanasia.
Oh the sacrifices made for scientific advancement!
Big Mother puffed and chugged and chugged and puffed through the Green Zone and into the core of quaint neighborhoods and styroscrapers. Every city was essentially the same, except for Rahmcago which had a five thousand foot cliff of ice bulldozing its way through the middle of it. So similar were they that every city essentially became the same city to the Triumph-weary Indigo and he soon tired of them all. He tired of the whistle stops and the waving eye flags and putting on his space suit and helmet. He tired of feigning enthusiasm and silently waving to the fanatical masses. This ungreenness, of course, brought on new bouts of stomach sickness which Indigo was sick of as well. He finally wanted nothing more than for the Triumph to end and to escape to some quiet place to take up the craft of naked pogo sticking.
Finally, like everything (except for Gaia which is eternal), the Triumph did end. And when the tour had finished, after six weeks and sixteen Big Mother breakdowns, Indigo decided that he was going to rest for a long while. He planned to visit his guardian’s childhood home, way, way out in the wilderness, away from the masses and the bureaucrats and the styroscrapers and the stomach ailments. He thought he might find the remoteness and smallness and egalitarian-ness of a rustic vacation relaxing. He was convinced that being far away from the transformers and holovision and whooping fanfare would cure his ungreenness. He believed that the rigors of the Triumph were the source of his ungreen thinking and thus the cause of his constant illnesses.
The pointy-nosed Mr. Brzezinski agreed wholeheartedly with Indigo’s idea of a rustic vacation, on the condition that Staley would tag along. In Brzezinski’s mind, there was very little damage a drug-laced, semi-comatose Mr. Staley could do way far out in some Luddite village surrounded by the things that lurked in the unpoliced Dehumanized Zones. The lifestyle of constant fear, subsistence farming, and regimentation of ration bazaars was not conducive to energizing any political scandals that might spread via the digital ether and embarrass the State. Undermen had far too many things to do and far too little technology to spread gossip about any potential flameout of a national hero. “What a perfectly green idea,” the pointy-nosed Brzezinski declared.
Indigo was forced to agree to taking Staley along even though he preferred time away from anything related to the Mars mission. This was not because he disliked Staley but rather because Staley’s presence would be a constant, stressful reminder of their interplanetary challenges. But upon completion of their final rally, the two spacemen were transferred from the sleek, powerful, technologically advanced Big Mother, onto a lesser steam locomotive bound for the undermen country.
 Humate: an un-evolved human regarded by Overman as a form of primate or savage.
 Gaianopolis: A sustainable, earth-friendly, densely populated metropolis.
 Motherland Security: Federalized, heavily armed, paramilitary codex enforcement.
 Styroscraper: Term for a 1000+ meter tall habitation complex constructed of foamed aluminum and plastic. Prone to collapse under high winds.
A full PDF version is available upon request.
Video of peaceful voters being brutalized by thugs of the EU Soviet.
As these political mass murders become increasingly commonplace, I can’t help but think we are descending down into the revolutionary rabbit hole. I think about the experience of Russians in 1917 and Germans in 1933 and I try to envision what things will look like once we extrude out the other end of this. I can’t help but be pessimistic. The possibilities seem limited to either left wing authoritarianism or right wing authoritarianism.
I’m often reminded of the Hegelian Dialectic that postulates that the collision of false thesis against false anti-thesis is designed to yield a higher truth. But whose higher truth are we being driven toward?
Or is this just a random joust between agitated political factions?
“Look here, feel the weight. It is thick, high quality plastic. It is Carrefour.”
“No. It’s a cheap reproduction. Imitation plastic. Low grade.”
“Now…” the Grand Vizier continued, in a perfunctory attempt to caution and temper the excitement of the revelers, “we know there are many of you that might be concerned that a spacecraft, constructed by a race of aliens with sufficiently advanced technology enabling them to bridge the unimaginably vast distances between the stars, might possibly have arrived at our tiny blue world with malevolent intent. Rest assured that, although there is a small chance that this might still be the case, we do not think that this is why they are here. Our scientists have assured us that any extraterrestrial race that had the technology to reach us would have to have advanced, at a minimum, several centuries beyond our current level of development. So if they meant us any ill will, they would have simply vaporized us without us even knowing it was coming. Since we have not been vaporized, we’ve decided that you can all rest easy.”
The crowd roared in approval.