Review of Raven Rock

Review of ‘Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself– While the Rest of Us Die’ by Jim:

Raven Rock is one of the Cold War “hardened” facilities built to ensure a continuity of government in the face of a nuclear war and gives the book its title.

The strategy the gov’t has employed for defending the “nation” or government against destruction since the advent of nuclear weapons can perhaps be best described as: vacillating, confused, and inconsistent. All of that stems from a constantly changing emphasis on what constitutes the “nation”. Is that the government, physically? the constitutional FORM of govt? the military and its ability to “respond” to attack, or is it the populace? Efforts to address a nuclear threat from foreign enemies have to be catered to this definition of “nation” and what is to be preserved.

The military stepped up handily to develop the means to wage war, and early efforts by the government amounted to providing the means to direct the war and preserve the “services” of govt by building shelters for govt officials, and the communications and command centers needed to wage a war. Little to no thought was initially given to what would occur AFTER the bombs had fallen. As COG advanced this changed with departments such as the IRS working on methods to collect taxes post holocaust and the Federal Reserve stockpiling physical money in vaults to ensure that the economy could be propped up enough to ensure rebuilding of infrastructure could occur. Civilian civic and business leaders were brought into the effort to ensure that industry had a place in COG (I wonder how multi-national corporations view the obligations to this effort now…)

Largely, it was determined that at least a fair percentage of the population of the country would survive the initial war, and since protecting large numbers of people would be too large of an undertaking, efforts would be most efficiently used ensuring the survival of gov’t personnel and structure. Civil Defense fell by the wayside as the speed of a nuclear war would outpace the ability to evacuate cities or shield people in place; nukes can be delivered, now, within fractions of an hour, by running, as the saying goes, you would only die tired.

The book describes the process through which the gov’t worked to arrive at this conclusion. It describes the building of military forces, and shelters for Congress, the Presidency and many of the departments of government; each having its own shelters and fall back locations.

Chapters address each successive Presidential administration’s efforts at understanding how and what to preserve and describes how much importance each placed on continuing or contributing to the COG efforts. (it may come as a surprise that President Carter revived the efforts greatly and provided much needed focus and improvement). The ebb and flow of the energies devoted were influenced by co-incidental and related and unrelated world/national/political events each administration had to deal with which in some cases provided impetus to continue and sometime distractions from COG efforts. The rapidly changing weapons technology also influenced preparations; what would have worked at the onset of the Cold War was rendered moot by improvements in weapons and communications.

A lot of effort was put in to describing the facilities the government erected for each of the many departments; places like Raven Rock, Mount Weather, Cheyenne Mountain and more. It also describes how these places fell into disuse through the ennui and complacency born of occupying these doomsday fortresses perpetually staffed but never used, The author also tells how events such as 9/11 kick started these programs that were well on the way to being moth-balled and abandoned. One can imagine what Kim Jung Un and all of the talk about the resurgent Evil Russian Empire is doing to COG efforts and strategies.

While it is very informative, the book is not a page-turner and may not appeal to some.

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Gaiastan, Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

Indigo’s sleep was restless due to the gusts of wind that howled through the high Hegel Valley. It was bitter cold that night, a brisk lick of lingering winter. There were no more summers in the Hegel valley. Winter snows melted into cool, bright springs. The mild sun shone down, drawing up the pastel blue columbine flowers that filled in the pastures, but soon, spring would be pushed aside by the low, swirling, gray clouds of autumn. The first snows usually came before the equinox.

The wind that was keeping Indigo awake carried the eerie bugle of a bull elk. It was a warning to the lesser bulls that might be inclined to move in on his harem of cows and their calves. The elk were moving through the night between the high passes that saddled the encircling mountains where the air was cooler and the grass was luscious.

The herd had made these rounds for a hundred thousand years. Their greater route consisted of giant loops from meadow to meadow and great treks from valley to mountaintop and back down again. They lived by the change of the season for eons and it mattered little to the hardy beasts if the summers were long or short or never came at all. They are built for cold with thick, muscular bodies, and huge, piston-like hearts that pump rich, burgundy blood through their cable work of arteries.

If elk were sentient, then they would probably have little to say in regard of men. The human herd waxed for three centuries, conquering the wild lands by carving roads, damming the water and laying their own cable work. Then they waned for the next three centuries, leaving behind their eroded, oxidizing remnants.

If the elk of that windy night could extrapolate— which they can’t because the entirety of their brain could fit within a grown man’s palm— they might take solace in knowing that men might be gone altogether from their ranges in a mere generation or two. A sentient elk with religion might attribute it to the victory of Gaia over the hubris of the materialistic ape. Divine intervention was not why men were disappearing, but an elk might think that way if he had slightly more gray matter.

Indigo pondered these goofy thoughts as he listened to the wind and the whimsical whistle of that bull which trailed off into a low grunt more befitting such a massive and majestic creature.

He went downstairs and out onto the wooden planks of the back porch of the inn and into a small fenced area where a garden was kept. A contraband of tomatoes and beans were growing there. Private agriculture was illegal, having been deemed a ‘security risk’ by the republic. Most undermen people ignored that law (one of the few that they had the courage to disobey) and grew those items that brightened up the pallets dulled by a perpetual diet of soy cubes and broth. It was dark, so Indigo could not tell if any of the tomatoes were ripening.

Indigo looked up at the heavens. It was windy but it was clear and moonless, chilly, but the freshness of the night made the outing worth it. As his eyes adjusted, the stars flickered to life on the heavenly, opal canvass. So many stars there were. So far away they were. So far away they were even when he was a hundred million kilometers from earth. Someday, mankind would reach them, at least that was what the bureaucrats promised. Indigo had his doubts but his doubts made him ill so he tried not to have them.

He picked Mars out of the sky, an orange beacon transiting Aquarius on that particular evening. So far away it was from him now, too. He had seen it up so close, as any proper planet should be viewed. He had touched its surface…

 

From the Astarte, Mars was awe-inspiring, like one’s first view of the Gaia Canyon. So close he was to Mars at that moment that it filled the portal of the titanium space can each time it rained into view. So clear it was that he could make out the caldera of Olympus Mons.

Hurtzweil was a technician and the cook of the Astarte. He was a shaggy fellow, covered in Slavic man-fur and a beard that muffled his voice a bit when he talked. He was gregarious in appearance but acerbic in demeanor— a fuzzy teddy bear filled with bile. Mostly a loner, he became more so as the months from launch drug on. And when things began to go wrong, Hurtzweil suffered the misfortune of being the first to die.

Hurtzweil lost his marbles. He went from short-tempered to withdrawn and finally to utterly catatonic. Athena tried frequently to comfort him. She fed him when he stopped feeding himself. She sung him songs of hope… happy songs. Athena’s nimble voice was like the dance of a shimmering hummingbird. The others watched and listened, knowing that she could not breach Hurtzweil’s wall of insanity. He never even so much as smiled at her.

One day, when everyone else was occupied with dials and indicator lights, Hurtzweil, dressed only in his underpants, decided to go for a space walk. And that was the end of Hurtzweil…

 

Back on Earth, in the garden, Indigo heard a rustling noise that sounded like a foraging animal or something. At least it was the sound he imagined a foraging animal would make for he had never actually heard one. He walked towards the noise, through the garden, to the fence that bordered a dirt alley. The rustling and growling came from the yard across. Indigo wanted a closer look.

“What if it’s a bear?” He asked himself. This only piqued his interest and he quietly slipped through the gate into the alleyway and crept up to the neighbor’s fence which concealed the source of the noise.

Closer.

Between rustles and grunts came squeals of nailed wood being pried loose.

Closer.

A plank snapped and something sighed and pawed at whatever had captured its interest, scraping the wood with its claws.

Closer.

Indigo put his eye to a knot in the fence. Nothing.

Scratching and pawing.

Indigo silently shuffled down along the fence and peered through a gap in the planks. More nothing.

Low groaning sounds.

He squatted down and peaked through another knot hole. He saw it, some sort of beast. He could make out its hide moving, bobbing, pulling and pushing in the dark yard. Then Indigo was startled by a woman’s voice.

“I see you!” It shouted.

Both Indigo and the beast froze.

“I see you, devil! Stay right there!”

Indigo could not see the beast in full, which was backlit by a lantern held by a small woman who appeared on a landing. She held a glistening meat cleaver in her other hand. The beast hissed.

The small woman threw her hatchet at the beast and the thud of the blunt edge impact shocked it into flight, up and over the fence, all in one heave, almost landing directly on Indigo’s head as it came down on his side. Indigo and the beast stood eye-to-eye for a moment and Indigo realized that the beast was no animal.

“Hold it right there!” The woman screamed as she scrambled to pick up her cleaver.

But the beast, staring into Indigo’s eyes, would not wait long enough for the woman to smash her hatchet down on his skull. It took off on two legs, down the alleyway that ended abruptly at a strand of evergreens not fifty meters away in the darkness. The beast darted into those woods and the piney branches sprung back and sealed up the void behind him as if he had never been there.

“Next time I’ll get more than my meat cleaver. Damn you humate devil!”

Indigo pulled his head up over the fence to get a look at the woman.

“Who in the hell are you?” She asked when she saw him.

“Don’t kill me. My name is Indigo.”

“Indigo? The spaceman?”

“Yes. Yes I am.”

“Where’s your space suit then, spaceman?”

“I don’t wear it at night.”

“Oh yeah? Why not? You wore it in space and it’s always night up there.”

Indigo decided to change the subject.

“What was that thing?”

“Ha!” She answered. “That was an animal, a filthy ape! A dirty, humate devil.”

“What was it doing here?”

“It was stealing my vegetables. He’s damn lucky this didn’t get him.” She exclaimed as she waved her meat cleaver.

You want to kill him for stealing your vegetables?”

“I got my rights, spaceman. I got my right to defend my allocated living space from devils.”

“Devils?” Indigo asked.

“Humates is devils. No doubt about it. I know him. He is Joe Hannan and he’s the devil for sure.”

“The devil is named Joe Hannan and wears a bear skin?”

“Yes. He’s the devil.”

“And the devil lives in Hegeltown? I would have never guessed.”

“The devil lives in lots a places, spaceman. Lookie, you come over here. Yeah, come on around there and come through that gate.”

“You’re not gonna plant that cleaver in my head, are you?”

“Are you the devil, too?”

“Certainly not.”

“Then you got nothin’ to worry about. Come on over here.”

Indigo complied.

“Come inside. Let me show you something, spaceman, if that is who you say you is. Come on in. But don’t try getting fresh because I’ll chop your member off. Believe me, I’ve done it before.”

“Yes ma’am.”

Indigo made his way through the creaky gate and up the creaky steps and into the creaky old woman’s allocated living space (otherwise known as a house), guided by her lantern light.

“Follow me. That’s it. Take my hand. Here, over here. Sit down right here. Good.”

The woman’s hand was cold and waxy. She let go and made her way into a dark corner of the room where she lit another lantern. What came into view took Indigo by even bigger surprise than the encounter with the devil named Joe Hannan. What he found was himself seated in a parlor with dark-stained wooden floors and overstuffed with several pieces of velveteen, high back furniture. But there was more… much more.

The old woman stoked her hearth back to life. There were two lamps with canvas shades and the walls were darkly paneled to match the floor. The old woman, dressed in a heavy, corduroy nightgown, shuffled up to the lamp closest to Indigo. She lit it which brightened an assortment of artworks adorning the paneled walls. Above the fireplace, the head of a beast stared down at Indigo with menacing, agate eyes. But the beast’s mummified head was no deer or elk. It was the head of a humate with its two hands and two forearms mounted to a ledger board. Indigo was not quite sure what to make of it all other than that it was highly disturbing.

“What do you make of it?” the old woman asked, anyway. “My late partner and I harvested that one up on Packard Pass.”

He wanted to blurt out “it’s disturbing” but he held back as the cleaver was still within her arm’s length. He didn’t want to upset her and end up mounted to her wall as well.

“See this one? I caught this little devil in my garden ten years ago. Little humate bastard almost got away. I had to shoot him with my crossbow. Would you care for some soy milk?”

Before Indigo could answer she passed out of the macabre parlor and into the kitchen where he could hear her fiddling about with her pots and wood stove.

“Turn up that lamp next to you, spaceman. You need more light to appreciate it all. There’s thirty years of trophies in here.”

“That’s a very interesting lamp,” Indigo observed, trying to shift away from the topic of stuffed humates. “I’ve never seen this kind of material on a lamp before. What is it? Some sort of synthetic canvas?”

“It ain’t synthetic.”

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Bits of COG 1

“COG” (Continuity Of Government), is my next writing project. Partly inspired by ‘Dr. Strangelove’ and the song ‘The Fletcher Memorial Home’ by Pink Floyd, it’s set in a super bunker where the world leaders and connected elites have gone to ride out a looming nuclear war.

Here’s a snippet from the draft:

Major George Russell Kilgore had been a professional soldier for half a century. He was just shy of seventy years old. Every morning, at four a.m., he would get out of his bunk, relieve himself, drink sixteen ounces of chocolate whey powder spiked with two raw eggs and two shots of Smirnoff, and then go for a seven mile run… shirtless.  

A graduate of West Point, Kilgore had the distinction of being the only member of the U.S. armed forces to have been in combat in twelve conflicts, those being: Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Iraq War I, Somalia, Iraq War II, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Niger, and Operation Restore Hegemon in Puerto Rico. He was wounded six times and had a metal plate installed in his head to replace a chunk of his skull blasted away in a firing range accident. He was also kidnapped while in Pakistan, but managed to steal one of his captor’s cell phones and dial in a cruise missile strike onto his very location. He was the only survivor of the blast. At fifty years old, he snuck into the West Point locker room, put on a football uniform, and inserted himself onto the kickoff team in a game against the hated rivals from Navy. He recorded two unassisted tackles before the staff figured out who he was and took him out. Everyone, including his wife and grandchildren, called him “Sir” or “Major” except for the president who called him “Krusty”.

He was also currently known as “The Halfback”, not because of his football exploits, but rather because he carried the nuclear football—the leather satchel containing protocols instructing the president on how to launch nuclear weapons.

Gaiastan, Chapter 5

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Chapter 5

Indigo kept an eye on Staley throughout the evening, as if he were a parent minding a child who might wander off into some sort of mischief if left unattended. Thankfully, Staley was mostly sedated. He ate little of the fare of sweet, pork-like meats and organically grown vegetables which were extravagances in comparison to the tofu cubes and synthetic broths for which they were accustomed. Staley didn’t imbibe either. He merely sat, slouching in his booth, sinking further and deeper into himself as the party bosses blathered on about how their munificence had saved this and saved that. Staley’s eyes grew dull revealing to Indigo a mind that was once again a hundred million kilometers away. Indigo knew exactly where Staley was.

“So Indigo,” blurted out one of the town bureaucrats, interrupting Indigo’s observations. This particular provincial boss spoke with such a blatant lisp that Indigo found it difficult to even take her seriously. She had a long, beakish nose giving her face a stork-like appearance. When she spoke, her words vented from a nubby-toothed mouth which opened and closed at irregular angles as her lower jaw swished side to side. Her words hissed with flicks of her undulating, toad-like tongue. But it wasn’t her displeasing aesthetics that repulsed Indigo so much as it was the way she cocked her head back when talking so that when she spoke she could pompously gaze down the ridge of her stork nose, aiming her flaring, cavernous nostrils at whomever she was speaking too. Indigo expected his dislike of her to bring on another bout of nausea so he summoned his powers of self control and switched his ungreen thoughts off.

Ms. Stork-Nose was the Hegeltown Ceremonial Village Manager. Her unflattering eugenics meant that she was almost certainly born into an undermen crèche but had somehow caught the attention of the elites and was placed on a political track. Indigo speculated that she was probably a top-producing snitch during her prepubescent years. Undermen snitches were always nurtured and pulled up the rungs of the bureaucratic ladder by Overman masters. There was no doubt in Indigo’s mind that beneath her disadvantaged looks, crew cut hair, and otherwise troll-like appearance, there lurked a soulless machine of efficient, tactical, sociopathic ruthlessness. No undermen serf ever got so far as Ceremonial Village Manager by being anything less.

“Tell me about Mars,” she asked, with one half of her bushy unibrow raised and nostrils aflare.

“What would you like to know, Ms. Manager?”

“Tell me what it felt like… what was the thought you had when you took your first steps on Mars?”

Indigo paused for a moment in contemplation, biting back on a sigh, then he looked to Staley before answering. “I’m afraid it’s indescribable with words,” he feigned.

She over-smiled, exposing her mouthful of yellow nubs.

Indigo smiled back knowing that she could glean nothing from his contrived expression.

“I’m certain it is indescribable,” she replied, head tilted back so that she could stare down her pointy beak at him. “I can’t help but think that it must be like the feeling I get every time I get a commendation from the Central Office.”

“Hmm. I wonder,” Indigo replied.

“You and I,” she continued, “we work so hard for the republic. We endured and suffered for so long. Then finally, our goal is achieved and we are recognized. Isn’t it invigorating to be recognized by the elites? It means everything to people like you and I to be appreciated for our patriotic efforts.”

Indigo felt her forced kinship crude but this crudeness was expected behavior of all undermen, regardless of profession or status. He tried to be social. “Do you have to travel much for work? You know, back to the capital and such?”

“Unfortunately, my work takes me away from my home for most of the year. When I’m here, I so yearn to be back home tending my orchids and caring for my virtual pets. But I suppose that’s the price one pays for advancement.”

“Oh, so you don’t actually live here?” Indigo asked, trying to correct his mind and fix the internal ungreenness that was building and bringing on the nausea.

“Here? In this Brownsville[1]?” she snorted. “I was assigned to Hegeltown. Let me tell you something,” she continued in a whisper, “there are probably a million other places I’d rather be than this Gaia-forsaken valley, but you have to pay your dues in order to advance. Know what I mean?”

“Of course,” answered Indigo. “I hope things work out for you.”

“I know they will, Indigo. The Overman takes care of those who are loyal. They are great the benefactors… if you are willing to pay your dues.”

Indigo took a gulp of Arcadian wine… or was it Cascadian wine. He could never tell the difference. He needed to work on that discernment as it was a social handicap that could not be concealed once higher degree was finally achieved.

“Tell me more about Mars,” she asked.

…But Staley, to the shock of them all, pushed into the center of the gathering before Indigo could answer. “You want to know about Mars?” he exclaimed. “I’ll tell you trogs all about Mars…”

“Staley…” Indigo cautioned, but Staley pushed him aside.

“Mars is a cold, ruthless, spiritless place,” he blurted out in a tone that was building to a roar. “It’s completely unforgiving. The Martian sun is a dull orange blot, far, far, far away. It gives no heat,” he continued, as he stretched his arm out as far as it could be extended with the blackened nail of his index finger representing the distant, receding sun. “It warms nothing but wispy little dust devils. You’d think it was as benign as a diode light, but that dull orb will kill you just the same. There’s no magnetic field or ozone layer on Mars, so that dull, cold little blot’ll cook you dead.” Staley swung his black fingertip around to just beyond the tip of the Village Manager’s upturned nose and then down towards her throat and her gulping Adam’s apple, then down along her sternum and down, following the line of her neck-to-crotch zipper. Down. Down. Down. “It’ll rip your DNA apart just like if unzipping this pantsuit.” Ms. Manager’s half-raised bushy unibrow flattened into her scowling face. “Mars is a horrible, barren place for humans. There’s nothing there for us. There’s only dust and death and some useless microbes that we probably put there in the first place. There’s nothing worth risking the lives of…”

“Oh come on, Staley,” interrupted another bureaucrat who was the Village Manager of Social Cohesion and smiled a lot with a rack full of horse teeth. “Don’t be so grim. You’re one of Gaiastan’s greatest heroes. Take some joy in your accomplishment. Your mission is one of the greatest achievements in all of human history… perhaps second only to the Undustrial Revolution[2].”

“Tell me,” Staley asked, “why is that awful place so important to you? There’s nothing up there. The mission was a waste of lives and quadrillions of dianars. It’s all a racket for the rocket builder’s guild.”

The Manager of Social Cohesion continued, “You need to think of the symbolism of it all, Staley.” His beady, glassy little eyes lifted upwards to the heavens, longingly. “Colonizing new worlds is mankind’s spiritual destiny. It is our natural progression. It’s Gaia’s grand plan, a key part of the Paradigm. It’s why Gaia rose humans up from the apes.”

“But then humans turned their back on Gaia with their materialism,” added Ms. Manager.

“Yes,” continued the Manager of Social Cohesion. “Humanity poisoned the planet so Gaia gave us Gaianism. Gaianism perfected humanity so that we could achieve her destiny and spawn the next world…”

“There ain’t nothing on that rusty ball worth sending seven crews to their deaths over,” Staley replied, wobbling a little and beginning to tremble.

“Easy there,” Indigo advised. “He must have had too much to drink,” he offered, hoping that the bureaucrats were too busy talking about themselves to notice Staley hadn’t touched more than a few sips of water. The last thing he wanted was for an outburst of this type to be documented in Staley’s personnel file. It would be guilt by association for Indigo. “Perhaps the fatigue of the last leg of our trip is wearing him thin. We were in the middle of the Dehumanized Zone not five hours ago.”

“He does appear to be wearing thin,” observed another bureaucrat. “Too many opiates, perhaps?”

“I am worn thin,” Staley replied, “but it’s not due to opiates.”

“Looks like your heroic friend is in need of some detoxification,” observed the horse toothed Manager of Social Cohesion.

“Please forgive us,” Indigo begged. “We should be…”

“You know, taking the needle is illegal for undermen,” interrupted Ms. Manager.

“I’m not an undermen,” answered Staley.

“But you are currently subject to undermen jurisdiction. Your little vice may create unnecessary hassle for you, not to mention reflect badly on the republic.”

“What’s your point?” Staley asked.

Taken aback, the Manager of Social Cohesion tried another approach. “Perhaps the heroic Mr. Staley might consider the wire, instead. It’s perfectly legal, here, so long as you have a prescription. It won’t draw any attention and it has no side effects.”

“Maybe the ‘side effects’ are exactly what I’m looking for,” Staley answered.

“What has happened to you? You have a patriotic duty to keep yourself well. You’re a hero of the Republic,” advised Ms. Manager as she gazed down her pointy nose once more, flaring her nostrils.

Nausea compelled Indigo to intervene and he helped Staley back down into his seat. “What’s wrong with you, Staley?” he asked in a whisper while the bureaucrats shrugged their shoulders and schemed and whispered at one another. “You shouldn’t antagonize these people. They demand respect. You don’t want any trouble, do you?”

“I’m not afraid of suckling pigs.”

“Well, you should be. They are administrators and administrators are the law. They can make life miserable for you, for us. Keep it under control. Your language could get you a censure.”

“I’m not afraid of any censure, either.”

“Now you’re just being obstinate. What is it with you, tonight? Maybe you should get some rest. ”

“I’ll get all the rest I need soon enough,” Staley quipped.

“What is that supposed to mean?”

Staley was in no mood to answer further. He pushed himself up from his chair, brushed off Indigo’s hold, and with a tremor, moved in the manner of a frail, wobbly, old man out of the hall and upstairs to his room.

Indigo sat alone at the table looking sheepish. He was fully ill again. He scanned the crowd of corpulent undermen bureaucrats toasting their glasses and licking the juices from their fat fingers. Apparently, and thankfully, they had already moved on from the topic of Staley’s outburst.

Indigo quietly observed them for the remainder of the evening. The males of the administrator and patrician class did not wear the customary purple, proletarian Mao tunics. They instead wore black, long sleeve tunics with silken liners. They had long, pointy mustaches and wiry white beards that hung down to their chests. Their faces were pasty white. Their hair was thin and gray. Their postures were slumped. Their faces sagged with droopy jowls and puffy eyes. They laughed too loud, exposing their false teeth… long ago eroded by the contrabands of sugar and opium, commodities illegal to possess and or use by the fellow undermen they ruled over. The prohibition they enforced on the masses just meant there was more available for them.

As he watched them, Indigo’s mind drifted back to Mars and the Astarte and the crew of seven…

 

The ship was drifting along. Stars rained in the portal windows as the space can spun. He could see Athena, Athena with the shimmering, chestnut hair, bangs playfully curled into lazy wisps just above her brow. Athena with her pale blue eyes… windows to her soul, colored with the hue of a cloudless summer noon. Athena, the mischievous one, constantly making a mockery of the pompous Captain Cain whom no one loved. Athena the maternal one, the one who nursed poor Captain Cain once he succumbed to the terminal, radiation illness and dimentia, tenderly dabbing the sweat from his fevered brow and wiping the black blood that oozed from his joints. Athena the desired one, her body suit of picotetrafluoroethylene was at least one size too tight for her firm curvaciousness. Athena the tormenting one, desired by all but beholden to none. Athena the one who loved to be loved and who loved all in return, just enough to make them desire her all the more. They all loved her.

 

Indigo poured three glasses of Arcadian wine and downed them in succession. Or was it Cascadian wine? It didn’t matter soon enough.

[1] Brownsville: a derogatory term used to describe far flung undermen villages that lack civilized amenities.

[2] The Undustrial Revolution: The 100 year period of government imposed austerity designed to drastically curb human consumption via raw material and energy rationing.

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Gaiastan, Chapter 4

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Chapter 4

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.

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[1].

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[2]“.

 

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?”

[1] 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”.

[2] Voting: An archaic civic duty involving the ritual exercise of determining the allocation of other people’s wealth.

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The Psychotic Establishment Will Resort to Anything

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.

Crumbs of Crumbs 11

 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 at troyjgrice@hotmail.com.