A TIME-TRAVEL STORY
A False-Flag Conspiracy
Published by Eve Human
Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder
But it isn’t the outward eye that actually is able to behold it
Beauty isn’t on the surface
It comes from within and needs to be felt
The beauty of a mountain view
Does not lie
In the single tree or the single flower
But in the connection they make with their surroundings
With each other,
With the hills and the valleys
And with the light of the sun
At its rising
In the heat of day
At its setting
With the gentle and more mysterious light
Of the moon and the stars
In the connection people make with one another
And with the beholder
The Allegris’ apartment is located on the third floor of the block at the end of a long hallway, which is as empty and plain as the outside of the concrete building has been. But I know, that right now I’m passing Luscinia’s apartment. Of course it has been resold already. Somebody else is living there, as I can see from the number on the doorbell.
Though Ms Alba doesn’t know that. She is the only one accompanying me this time around. The others have chosen to stay in the car.
Nanami opens only seconds after I ring the bell. She wears her number’s tag on her jacket. So she must be getting herself ready to go to work. She pales and then looks at me in utter dismay. She opens her mouth to say something, but then she grabs my arm and drags me along straight into her bedroom. She tries to slam the door closed behind us, but Ms Alba presses herself inside as well and then closes it soundlessly.
Nanami is still in shock. For a second she says nothing, but then she wheels around to turn on the scrambler on her night-board.
Her question comes breathlessly, filled with fear and underlying anger: “What are you doing here?”
She now grabs my jacket with both hands and starts shaking me: “Where is Natsuki?”
Nanami is a small woman of Asian descent. She is in her mid-thirties, but she looks older, even older than when I have seen her last.
Dark shadows line her eyes, speaking of many sleepless nights. And of course there is still the long scar forming a deep line from one eye to the corner of her mouth. Like the scars I’d seen on other women before, this one looks as if it hasn’t been formed by accident.
But right now Nanami is stronger than I could have imagined. She shakes me again: “Where is Natsuki,” rising panic is expressed in her shrill voice.
“She is in the outside-world, Nanami, just as you wanted” I try to calm her. “She is with Luscinia and she is waiting for you only a few miles from here. You will see her again tonight, Nanami, if you choose to leave with us.”
Nanami releases her breath, a little bit of color creeps back into her face. Then she shakes her head.
“We told Luscinia and we told you, that we can’t leave. Pedro and I, we both can’t go back. We have no place to go, nobody in the outside-world will want us.”
I’m shaking my head: “No, you are wrong. Luscinia has talked to your parents on the Peace-Web and to representatives of your village council as well, they do want you back.”
Nanami looks at me in stark disbelief, but then a gleam of hope is slowly lighting up her face. For the first time she seems to notice the presence of Ms Alba.
“You are from the outside-world,” there is an insecure question in her statement.
“Yes,” Ms Alba replies, “and young Mr Galt is right. Your former village has agreed to grant you asylum, you, your daughter and your husband.”
Ms Alba’s statement is now sinking in and Nanami falls on her knees. She covers her face with her hands and sobs soundlessly.
After a couple of minutes Ms Alba bends down and lifts Nanami back unto her feet. She now hugs her, allowing Nanami to regain her composure.
This surprises me a bit. After all I’ve seen from Ms Alba so far, I wouldn’t have expected her to show that much compassion toward a rule-breaker.
After a while Nanami asks: “Are more people going to leave Orange Country?”
“Yes,” Ms Alba confirms, “but first we need to talk to your husband.”
“I know, but before anyone leaves it’s absolutely necessary that you talk to Dr Bukovik.”
“Who?” I ask
“The man who helped Luscinia with her chips, don’t you remember?”
“Of course I do, but I didn’t know his name.”
“Of course, you didn’t,” surprisingly there has now angry sarcasm crept into Nanami’s voice, “only you elites have names. The likes of us have just got numbers.”
How can she say something like that to me. After all I’m doing for her and her husband. That doctor had never told us his name, how should I know it.
“Friends have names, too,” I reply to her insinuation. “Aren’t we friends, Nanami?”
Nanami doesn’t look at me as she answers: “Luscinia is my friend, Mr Galt.”
I feel quite a bit annoyed but Ms Alba interrupts my thoughts:
“Can you contact your husband right now?” I realize that we have no time for hard feelings at the moment. We need to get back to business.
Nanami shakes her head: “Not now, not electronically, but I have my ways.
“Pedro will take a break at 2:30. I’ll give you the address of the restaurant. And I will contact Dr Bukovik as well. Don’t take anyone out of the country, before you have talked to them.”
“We won’t before late this afternoon any way,” I reassure her.
“And we do need to talk to your husband before that.”
Nanami is satisfied and tells us: “I’m going to work now, so that my absence won’t arouse suspicion. On my way there I’ll contact the doctor.”
“Very good,” Ms Alba endorses her plan.
While I’m still a bit riled up from her unjust remark, we follow Nanami downstairs and out of the house. But then the unbidden thought emerges, that she might actually be right. How many names do I really know of all those people I had seen day after day doing all kinds of jobs for my father and me. Before we part ways my glance is falling once again on the number on Nanami’s chest, the number reflecting outwardly the one inside her.
It was dark now, all dark. Everything had faded away, the whole world. Nothing was left.
But the darkness was not quite black, more a kind of brownish gray. There was still a memory of color.
But that was all…just a memory…nothing more. There was an auditory memory as well, a hissing and flowing, an ebbing and swelling, some static, then a rhythm to it: bum..bu..bu..bumm, bum..bu..bu..bumm, a heart-beat…
“Open your eyes! Please open your eyes!”
A voice was talking in his memory, a clear voice.
It was Hope’s voice.
And then he remembered: He was somebody, a person, but he was not Hope.
“Please, great….great…., please… Mr. Ragnarsson, open your eyes. I can’t see anything.”
Hope’s voice sounded scared and now he remembered: Yes, he was Mr. Ragnarsson, but Hope should…
“Just call me David.” David’s voice sounded rough and was barely audible even to him. And there was a sour dryness in his throat, as if he hadn’t swallowed for a very long time.
And now he could also sense the rest of his body. It felt stiff and painful. He heard himself breathing laboriously, in and out through his mouth. Now he closed his mouth. Yes, he was able to breathe through his nose, which was less painful, and now he could feel his face, his eyes. He tried to open them even though his eyelids seemed so heavy, nearly too heavy for the task. And when he finally managed it, there was nothing there in front of his eyes but a blurry mess of colors swirling into each other and then moving from side to side.
But then, suddenly, he saw Hope quite clearly. She was sitting next to him on the bench, looking worried. He concentrated on her face, and with this, the twirling colors that had surrounded her slowly came into focus.
There was a street in front of him, a red Ford was passing, an old Focus, he thought. But it must have exhaust problems, since it was far too loud, hurting his ears, giving him a headache. And those two middle-aged women who were passing him were also too loud. One of them was talking about a boy from high-school being far too old to be constantly hanging around her Jenny, who was just thirteen.
David had to agree, thirteen was far too young for Jenny to start dating anyone, and that boy, he should be… Then David remembered that he knew neither Jenny nor her mother.
But he knew Hope, she was family, and so he asked her again: “Don’t call me Mr. Ragnarsson; I thought I was your great, great…”
“ Yes,” Hope agreed, “but that's such a long title. And you don't look so very old, like a great-great- and-so-on-grandfather should look. So what else should I call you?”
“Just call me….” David began and then stopped. By now he had realized that Hope’s society was far more formal than his. People, although they knew each other well, still rarely seemed to be on a first-name basis. And children always seemed to call their elders by title rather than by name.
“Alright, you can call me Uncle David,” he conceded. Then he went quiet.
Yes, he was David, uncle or five-times-great-grandfather or maybe just plain crazy, but he was himself. And he was sitting on a park-bench. He had come back to the world of the South Bronx in the beginning of the 21st century with painfully tingling legs and a queasy stomach.
“I’m sorry,” said Hope, “I’m really sorry. I think you have been inside my memories for too long a time. I think it’s not good for you. It made you sick and maybe confused…… and me too. I kind of forgot where I was…”
“I forgot, too,” David murmured.
He had not only forgotten where he was, but who he was. For a while there had no longer been a difference between him and Hope. He had not been just a faceless observer with no opinion of his own, but ever so much more than that: he had fully entered into Hope’s consciousness. Her thoughts, her feelings, and her fears had become his.
Her anger over the injustices of the past had also been his, as had her revulsion at “the ugly painting.”
Now David had to concentrate in order to sort himself out. He was not a thirteen-year-old teenager of the twenty-third century; he was an adult who appreciated art as most educated New Yorkers would in his time.
What revolted him was not the Salvador Dali style of the painting and the implied violence portrayed in it, but the message the Professor had read into it.
It seemed to him as if all the conspiracy theories of his time had been splashed onto the green-brown snake colors of the absurd structure and into the contorted figures populating it.
David absolutely hated conspiracy theories and always had. His world had been one of provable and touchable facts presented by experts, trustworthy authorities. Had this been a year ago, he would have laughed at the idea of a ruling pyramid with an all-seeing eye, contorted or otherwise. He would have recognized it as the favorite image of tin-foil-hat ideologues, an image right up there with flying saucers and alien abductors.
But this wasn’t a year ago, it was now… well, a now that was 212 years further along than now now, and all things had changed– at least according to Hope.
I need a drink, thought David, and he got to his feet. The tingling in his body had subsided, but his legs still felt wobbly and his stomach felt even queasier. His headache increased and David noticed that cold sweat was running down his back.
I really need a drink, David thought, looking around and trying to remember where the next liquor store was located in that neighborhood. And then a realization struck him, a truth he hadn’t seen before, although he had acted on it every day for the past how many months:
He had been drinking not because the world had treated him badly but because he had lost his fundamental trust in it. David felt unsteady.
The unbidden image of snakes turning into mush came into his mind. He shook it off and concentrated on his train of thoughts … painful, nearly unbearable thoughts.
In all those months David had justified his drinking as a natural reaction to losing his job and then losing Tina and Mikey.
But Tina hadn’t left him just in order to distance herself from him to save her own career, as he had told himself time and again. No, she actually had been quite supportive of him in the beginning, accepting without question that David the realist had indeed discovered a vast and dangerous conspiracy and then had become a victim of it. She had stood by him for months when nobody else did, until there was no one left to stand by anymore because the David she had trusted in was no longer there.
She had left because David had been drinking himself into near unconsciousness most days.
And then, even on the day of the custody hearings, David hadn’t been fully sober. Instead, expecting the judge to know about the scandal surrounding him and to be “in on it” with the “rest of them”, David had been uttering drunken slurs directed at the judge, Tina, and the rest of the world. And so David had forfeited all chance of visitation rights with his son.
He had lost Mikey because he had been drinking; he had lost Tina because he had been drinking; and he had been unable to find a new job because he had been drinking. And David had started drinking because he had lost faith in what for him had been the most important thing in his life, even more important than the woman he had loved and more important than his own son: his profession.
No matter how screwed up the world of business and politics had been -and David couldn't be cynical enough about that- but there was still the media, his media, the white knights in shining armor, the protectors of the innocent, the avengers of evil.
Yes, David had indeed held onto these naive school-boy believes about the media as the fourth power in his nation, which was keeping the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government on the straight and narrow path of democracy by exposing all the misdemeanors and corruption within them, and that because of the free media American democracy was still the best system in the world.
And then David was betrayed by those he had trusted in the most. And his world had fallen apart.
David felt his stomach turn. There was a tree next to the bench he was sitting on. He staggered behind it and then threw up. The entire contents of his stomach came up and so did the pain that had pressed it together and had been choking him for so long. And so he puked and puked and puked until nothing was left inside but emptiness and sadness for the loss.
Now the queasiness was gone and even his headache had subsided, but David still felt weak in the knees and needed to steady himself against the tree. Then all of a sudden, he heard a rattling behind him and somebody murmuring. And before he could even turn his head, a fist was pushed directly under his nose, though without actually touching him. He jerked back, ready to defend himself, and nearly lost his balance.
But then the fist opened and in the open palm lay a tiny packet. Surprised, David turned his head and was even more astonished to discover that the owner of the hand was the same homeless woman he had met earlier that day. Just like before, she didn’t look at him but stared straight ahead while her mumbling grew louder.
David once again looked at the packet to make sure he hadn’t been mistaken, but yes, this was indeed one of those moist towelettes like you get after a meal in an airplane, although this woman surely hadn’t been on an airplane for quite a while.
David could now understand what she was mumbling: “Man sitting on a bench dreaming, man waking up talking, man standing up walking behind a tree, man throwing up behind the tree, man wiping his face, man sitting on a bench dreaming…..”
The woman was standing motionless, still holding her hand under David’s face without looking at him.
David took the packet from her hand and mumbled “Thank you.”
The woman pulled her hand back, grabbed her shopping-cart once again with both hands and moved on talking to herself without a pause: “…man waking up talking, man standing up walking behind a tree, man throwing up behind the tree, man wiping his face….”
David opened the packet and wiped his face. The towelette was lemon-perfumed. It was reviving for his senses. David looked thoughtfully at the figure who was now slowly disappearing around the next corner.
“I could have sworn she wouldn’t even notice anybody around her, let alone think about handing someone a wipe when he needs it,” David observed out loud.
“Well, she did notice you before,” Hope replied reasonably.
“That was after she bumped into my back…..oh well… let’s just go to the bus-stop now. The bus should be coming soon. Look, over there are already a bunch of people waiting.” David started to walk.
Hope followed, but her thoughts were still with the homeless woman: “Her mind is half-way to heaven, that’s why she knew what you needed.”
“Half-way to heaven? What do you mean? You think she is dying?” David asked in surprise.
“Oh no, probably not right now, but that’s not what that saying means,” Hope answered with a smile.
“We just use that expression when people do not think or talk in the way most people do. Then we say that their mind is half-way to heaven and that they can bring blessings from heaven because of it, to all the people who come close to them. And you know, Uncle David, that’s really true.
“There is this one girl who lives in our community on the eighth floor. Her name is Tabitha. She is 22 years old already. When she was a little girl, she had an accident outside in the woods and her brain was without oxygen for too long a time. Afterwards she could no longer walk or talk like us anymore. Now she only sits in her special massage chair all day in front of her parents’ apartment.
“Sometimes she sleeps and sometimes she opens her eyes and smiles at you. And everyone who walks by takes her hand. And all the children lay her hand upon their heads to receive the blessings. And people who have many worries, even some people from other communities, they come to sit next to Tabitha and talk to her, and she listens even with her eyes closed.
“And when Tabitha opens her eyes and smiles at you, it feels as if the stone that was sitting in your stomach and pressing on your lungs and even all the way up to your throat, well, it all of a sudden dissolves.”
David could feel Hope’s description in his own stomach and he knew she was talking from experience. There had been a time when Hope had needed this Tabitha girl quite often.
David smiled sympathetically at Hope. He had now reached the bus-stop and stepped into line behind a line of people.
The woman in front of him was pushing a baby carriage with one hand and holding on to a little girl of about three years of age with the other. The girl had obviously seen something on the ground that had captured her interest, something that looked like a fancy glittering candy-wrapper.
At just that moment, the wind blew the glittery thing a couple of feet away from her. But there was no more time to investigate if it was worthwhile to pick it up since the bus had now arrived. This at least was the opinion of her mother, who was now engaged in a heavy struggle to lift the baby-carriage into the bus with one hand while not letting go of her three-year-old, who begged to differ on the matter.
“May I help you?” David offered, already reaching for the handle of the baby-carriage. The young mother gripped it even more tightly while looking up suspiciously. “I can manage,” she claimed.
David turned on the famous smile that had once opened so many doors and hearts for him. “Please,” he added.
And like it had done so many times before, the smile broke the woman’s resistance: “Thank you, I am grateful.”
David lifted the carriage into the bus, and then, after paying his fare, he pushed it down the aisle, looking down at the still-sleeping baby. In the middle section David stopped, for there were belts for securing buggies, carriages and luggage.
The woman once again thanked David for his kindness, smiling back at him before sitting down next to her baby, placing her older daughter on her lap, and cuddling her. But the little girl was still pouting about having missed out on a presumed treasure.
David gazed at the scene once more, thinking about Mikey and Tina.
The little girl had now stopped squirming and had allowed her mother to comfort her. David gave the mother and child another smile, realizing that if the young mother had met him yesterday, she would never have let go of the carriage.
Then it struck David that until today he had not smiled for a long time, not counting the sarcastic half-smiles that barely touched his lips. And he also realized that it was true what they said about smiling–it releases the happy hormones in your brain.
Of course David had had this experience before, starting during his last year of high-school when, after years of anger and rebellion, he had met Mr Aristes, this one special teacher who had taught him besides many other things also about the power of a smile. And so David had started to smile his way out of his troubles.
At first those smiles hadn’t been quite genuine, and so they sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. But then he had noticed that when he really put his heart into his smile, something happened, not only to the people he targeted with it but also to himself. The world looked better, as well as the people in it.
For the last year he had forgotten that …. until he met Hope.
David sighed before turning away and walking further down the aisle. “Oh Mikey,” he thought, feeling once again the lump in his throat.
David decided that he didn’t want the people to think he was crazy, so he concentrated in order to formulate his next words only within his mind:
“Maybe I could use a session with your therapist Ms. Tabitha as well.”
Hope had heard his words clearly, but she looked confused: “What is a therapist?” she asked.
“You don’t know?” David was surprised. “Well, I guess you could describe a therapist as somebody who listens to all your problems, like this Tabitha girl you were talking about. Only most therapists do not only listen, but also talk to you.”
“Oh… “ Hope smiled understandingly, “somebody like your priest or your best friend or your parents or your sister or somebody like my Great-uncle Professor.”
“I guess you are right.” David didn’t elaborate any further. Maybe Hope was right. Maybe the therapists of today, the psychologists or psychiatrists, were indeed just substitutes.
But at the moment, David had a few questions for Hope that seemed more important.
There were quite a few empty seats on the bus but instead of sitting down, David continued all the way to the platform at the back of the bus. Nobody else was there and David could be sure he wouldn’t be overheard if he slipped up and forgot himself by talking out loud. After sitting for hours on that park-bench, standing for a while would do him good. And besides, it would give Hope a better view of 21st century New York, which seemed so different from Hope’s 23rd century.
If Hope’s world was real, then the future had taken a strange, unexpected, and unpredicted course. David suspected that this might have something to do with how people of that age saw the past, his own age, but also the times further back.
“The story your great-uncle told you… do all the people in your time see the past like that?” David asked.
Hope hesitated for a second and then said: “Of course the story about the stone-age people is only a story. Great-uncle Professor made it up so I could understand better, just like the painting isn’t about a real pyramid, you see. I mean, nobody lives in a building made from snakes.”
“Are you sure,” David asked innocently, “not even in my age? You haven’t seen enough of my world yet. Look over there! It’s enormous and look at those teeth, don’t you see them?”
He pointed at a movie-theater they had just past where a giant slithery reptile filled the wall, advertising an alien invasion movie.
Hope stared fascinated at the image, while the bus moved on.
“You are making fun of me,” she accused David.
“Sorry,” David conceded, “but the way your great-uncle describes the past doesn’t sound to me much different than an alien invasion movie. You would call it an “image-story”, I guess, like the one they were showing in that movie-theater back there. Does everybody really see history like this in your time?”
Hope nodded: “Yes, because this is how it was. It is written on the Peace-Web and Sensei talks about many of the things Great-uncle Professor was talking about, only Sensei doesn’t do it all at once, but little by little.
“Last month Sensei even showed us an image-story from a few centuries ago in his lesson about ‘The Coin System of the Dark Ages’. It was called ‘Money as Debt’. In that story there is a sharp-toothed monster called Interest which gets bigger and bigger until it devours the whole planet Earth.”
Now Hope conjured up the big-mouthed monster in front of David’s eyes. “Do you want to see the whole image-story?” she asked helpfully.
David shook his head: “I’ve watched it before.”
And he had. Surfing the net, not quite sober at the time, he had found the cartoon quite funny. But after waking up with a hang-over, he had felt more irritated than amused when thinking about it.
It was just too primitive an explanation for the world’s financial system. No monetary system could ever work like that.
But then, the system of Hope’s world seemed even more primitive. And it worked on what? Good will?
“Your great-uncle devoted a rather large part of his history lesson to our monetary system; does he really believe that our money is the root of all evil?” David inquired
“Well,” Hope answered slowly, “kind of. You see your coin– I mean “monetary” system is based on greed and on scarcity. It makes you feel as if there is never enough to fill everybody’s needs, and therefore you need to fight for the scarce money and horde it so you will be able to always buy whatever you need.”
“But I still don’t understand,” David interrupted, “how your system of floating coins, as you call them, could possibly work. If you constantly have to keep your account low in order to do business and then pay into all kind of project pots, how can you ever save any money for later use, like when you are old and cannot work anymore?”
“People do not need to horde coins for when they are old!” Hope exclaimed. “That would be ridiculous. Coins have no value, they are just for exchanging valuable goods. Houses have value and shops, but not coins.
“People can buy a second apartment with their extra coins and rent it to younger people or to tourists to make a living when they are too old to work.
“Most older people are part owners of our biggest production shop, and some have used their extra coins to help young people to open a small production or trading shop or a restaurant, and they then become part-owners.
“And if someone has never been able to buy anything of value and is too old or too sick to work for a living, he or she will be cared for by the community’s double tith.”
“Double tith, what is that?” David asked.
Hope explained: “One tith, a small part of the coins you earn, you should put into the pot for all the work of the community’s health-supporters, to pay for the work of the doctors and nurses and massage people and apothecaries. And people pay the other tith into their religion pot for the religious workers.
“For the Christians, those are the priest and the deacons who visit all the old and lonely and sick residents of the village, and they can then see who needs the support of coins from the religion pot.
“Nobody ever goes hungry or in need of the necessities of life in our village. Not like in the Dark Ages,” Hope insisted.
“Sensei taught us that the monetary systems of the past defined the cultures of their ages and the mindsets of their people. And likewise, the cultures and mindsets defined the “interpersonal and intercommunity” relationships.” Hope pronounced the words slowly, they obviously did not belong to her regular vocabulary.
“Artificial scarcity of buying power created artificial scarcity of resources and led to hunger and despair and also to violence and war,” Hope cited her teacher.
“Now wait a minute,” David protested, “let’s say money is made scarce, even systematically so; doesn’t this just reflect the scarcity of the resources? More money available would just increase the prices on limited resources.”
Hope shook her head emphatically: “Since at least the middle of the Dark Ages, there were no real scarcities of resources any more, only artificial ones.”
Now David shook his head: “So you don’t believe that we had droughts or storms or earthquakes or other natural disasters which destroyed harvests?”
“Of course there were those,” Hope agreed, “but not everywhere at the same time. And since trade-lines were established already, the abundance in one place could have been easily shipped to the other place where there was need.
“But those who were in need lacked the coins to buy the necessities and those who had abundance of food were afraid of not getting enough coins to pay their own debts to the banks. So instead of sharing their abundance, they destroyed it so as to create scarcity, because scarcity increased the coin-value of goods.”
“Alright, let’s say theoretically we have enough food to feed the planet,” David conceded. “There are other resources which are definitely not abundant: rare earth minerals, for instance.”
Hope shook her head: “In our system, coins to buy what you need are never scarce. And if any resources are scarce, they are replaced partially or completely by others that are abundant. This is what human ingenuity is for, to find solutions to problems, especially problems of scarcity.
“And,” she added proudly, “in our time, the knowledge of discovered solutions is being spread all over the world via the Peace-Web.”
It truly sounded great! David was impressed, but he still had questions: “The Professor said that we in our age believed that fossil fuels were created from dinosaur remains. Of course we don’t believe that, but we do think they come from the remains of ancient life-forms and that therefore there is a limited supply.
“Do you still use oil and gas as fuels? Are there still any left?”
Hope nodded: “Sure there are, our nation owns it’s own gas-well and there is a gas-line to our village. But we have not used it for our energy needs for many, many years. We could use it though to supply as much of our needs as we wanted to. But you see, if we were to only use those carbon fuels, then we would not be energy-sovereign in our village.
“For us to be sovereign means that we must at least have the potential to be self-sufficient in food and energy production. And then, even if some day we no longer want to trade with the villages in the district or any other villages in the world because they make conditions for trade which we do not like, then we can substitute things we can produce ourselves for those which we previously traded.
“And it would just take too much work and too many tools and machines for our village if we would want to drill and operate our own well. And so we have over time replaced the fuels from our nation’s gas-well with more solar-ray and solar-heat panels and more wind-wheels and deeper thermo-lines under-ground.”
“Thermo-lines?” David asked
“ We use the difference between above- and below-ground temperature to heat our apartments and the community space in the winter and to cool them in the summer,” Hope explained and then went on:
“And of course, most important is the waste-gas energy. You know–from all the biological left-over material in our communities, from the hen-houses and from the cows and also when people go to the bathroom…you understand, don’t you?” Hope blushed and grinned.
David smiled, nodded, and then asked skeptically: “But don’t you refrain from using carbon fuels because those fuels might harm the climate? That would certainly be my concern if carbon fuels were indeed available in unlimited supply. I think their unlimited use would be catastrophic for the world’s climate.
“The constant increase of CO2 in the air might lead to subsequent increases of other atmospheric gases which would eventually turn Earth into another Venus……
“I know, I know,” David interrupted himself before Hope could do so; “they teach you that you have to fear the cold not the warmth. But I think you are wrong, your people just don’t want to admit it. ”
Hope shook her head once again in disbelief: “What a strange notion of the climate you people have, putting everything on one single gas. Even in our time we don’t know all the factors which influence the climate yet, sensei told us. “
Then Hope went on to cite her school-learned knowledge: “CO2 is one factor and Methane gas another, though the percentage of CO2 in the long past pre-human ages was several times higher than it is now. In those ages far more plants and many more large plant-eating animals would exist here on earth.
“Last year Sensei taught us about the slight regular variations of the sun’s cycle and also about the irregular sun-explosions which cause an increase or decrease in cosmic winds. Our scientists say that those two together with continental shifts, volcanic eruptions, water-vapor and cloud-formations are the most likely triggers of warmer or cooler climate periods.
“Within all of earth’s history overall temperature was often a lot warmer and sometimes a lot colder than it is now. In our time it is getting colder. And our scientists from their research assume that we are already at the end of the Holocene, which is the current inter-glacial time. They project that a new glaciation will be starting in the next thousand years or so, a new ice-age.
“This is why the International-Help-Board organizes the ice-breaking assignments, to keep the world in the inter-glacial age. Sensei says that maybe one day many, many hundreds of years from now, we might come to the balance of the Holocene Maximum 8000 years ago, which was the warmest and most fertile time of our current inter-glacial age. But for now, preventing further cooling is all we can hope for.”
Now David was more than skeptical: “How does ice-breaking prevent cooling?”
“Because it might prevent the feedback of the ice,” Hope explained and went into detail:
“Cooler periods will build up more ice in the winter than is melted in the summer. That increased mass of ice has then a further refrigerating effect on the earth’s climate, it also is so white that it reflects solar heat back into space instead of retaining it. The result is even less ice-melting in the summer. The feedback of the increased ice-levels will make the cooling process go faster and faster until half of the northern hemisphere will be covered with ice.
“However, if we can melt as much ice every year as is being built up in the winter and not melted in the summer, then we can break that vicious feed-back cycle. We can save our lands from the life-destroying ice-masses. That will be good for us and for all the animals and plants that live with us on earth. This is one important way we are going to be a blessing to our planet, says Sensei.”
It sounded all hunky-dory, but David was far from being convinced. The thought of having to fear cooling instead of warming and of viewing mankind as a blessing for the planet instead of a curse was too alien to David’s understanding of the world. It contradicted too many of the theories he had been taught throughout his life.
He shook his head: “I don’t believe it….. I know, I know exactly what you are thinking: I’m a victim of cognitive dissonance–I only see what I expect to see and believe what I am taught to believe.
“But tell me one thing, Hope. How can you be so dam….” he swallowed the word and began again: “How can you be so sure that you yourself are not a victim of cognitive dissonance–that you and the people of your time don’t believe things that are untrue, such as false scientific theories, for instance? Couldn’t it be that it is your people who turn falsities into supposedly proven facts, creating a fake science?”
Hope bit her lip again, thinking hard for a while: “I guess you might be right and we could be just as wrong as you are. But after all, we’ve had more than 200 additional years within which to develop our science and watch the climate. It stands to reason that we have learned something during that time, doesn’t it?”
Hope’s words sounded a bit smug to David, but on the other hand, they were reasonable. But then David remembered all the other stuff the Professor had claimed in his little story. For crying out loud– he had nearly made him, or at least Hope, cheer on the burning of heretics!
Well, he actually hadn’t, David had to admit, but still….. the way the Professor had portrayed history, it was so… so… different. The good guys that David had been taught about had become the Professor’s bad guys. It was practically an upside-down history…way too much for David to accept.
“Your great-uncle sure does talk a lot,” David commented.
“I like how he talks,” Hope insisted. She had of course listened in on David’s thoughts and she was more than eager to defend her beloved great-uncle: “He talks to me as if I were a grown-up. He doesn’t think that I’m too young to understand difficult topics like most of the other grown-ups do.”
David was quiet while watching the houses pass by. Concentrating on the so-familiar scenery had a calming effect on him. By now they had left the Bronx and the bus was slowly moving through the streets of Manhattan with its far taller buildings and more posh surroundings. David felt Hope appraising the view through the bus window with a mixture of fascination and incredulity. She had never seen anything like this before.
But David had still more questions: “You know, Hope, the strangest part of your great-uncle’s history story is the end, when the so-called power-pyramid suddenly dissolved and disappeared. All the time he was going on and on about those “evil” marauders who constantly increased in power and wealth, and then all of a sudden they would voluntarily, without any violent revolutions let go of their power because of some “truth-light”. And there weren’t even any mass-trials and cries for revenge…powerful elites dissolving themselves in the blink of an eye? It just doesn’t sound feasible.”
“But it happened,” Hope protested, “it really did! Just not in the blink of an eye. It took time, like all of history; in fact, it took lots of time, nearly a whole century, before the world was fully transformed. Only a few weeks back we were talking about this period of transition in school.”
David looked skeptical, but Hope went on: “When the truth about the false causes of war came to light, more and more soldiers didn’t want to go to war and shoot any more, and judges did not want to put those who refused to fight into prison any more.
“When the truth about the coin-system was told everywhere, those same judges no longer wanted to decide in favor of the banks any more, and policemen no longer wanted to throw people out of their homes or from their lands any more.
“At the same time people all over the world also started to make their own village-coins to trade with each other.
“Villages as well as big and small towns started to open banks which no longer belonged to any marauders.
“More and more people, and eventually, all the people, turned away from the marauders’ banks and instead fulfilled their coin needs at the small banks or used village-coins.
“They also started to prefer trading with little production shops instead of with the giant ones owned by the marauders and their big banks.
“And when the marauder banks could no longer convince enough people to trade with them, they lost their power to exist, and so did the giant production shops they owned.
“When more truths came to light and more lies were uncovered, then even the politicians no longer wanted to be on the side of the marauders any more. As the marauder philosophies lost their power over the minds of the people, the thinking changed. At that point in time all banks were abolished and replaced with village-accounts to allow villages all over the world to trade with each other, and nobody was allowed to take any interest at all.
“And this was finally the time when the politicians decided to make themselves obsolete, so that instead of giving the decision-making power to politicians, the people in the villages could now decide for themselves what rules they wanted for their village.
David shook his head:
“Impossible, absolutely impossible,” he said out loud before he remembered again where he was and formulated his disbelief in his mind:
“A military that refuses to go to war, politicians who make themselves obsolete, a globalized world that decentralizes into villages, and powerful moneyed elites who do nothing when their wealth and power is destroyed……it would be against human nature, against historic precedence, against logic….. how?!”
Hope was frustrated by such a lack of understanding and asked urgently:
“Don’t you see? When the truth-light shines and the excuses for doing bad things are no longer there, then the thinking of almost everybody changes. And then, what people did and thought before becomes shameful.
“Greed becomes shameful, selfishness and not sharing become shameful, power-hunger also becomes shameful. And so the sons and daughters of the marauders no longer wanted to be like their parents because they could feel the shame. Instead they came forward and told what they knew, helping the truth to come to light…”
Hope’s voice faded. And although her words had described a positive process, David all of a sudden felt a large wave of pain emanating from her. He looked at her in surprise. Then he noticed that the words “Nephilim City” were once again floating through Hope’s mind and were then immediately blocked out.
David felt even more surprised when her pain turned into raging anger.
The bus had stopped, probably at a stoplight, for the traffic itself didn’t seem to be too heavy at the moment. There was quite a bit to see: a shopping-mall on the lower floors of a high-rise office building, crowds of shoppers entering and leaving, a couple of tourists arguing over a map and a man bending backwards so deeply he nearly fell on his behind, just so he could find the right camera angle for the picture he was taking, while his wife or girlfriend was laughing her head off.
But Hope seemed to be interested neither in the buildings nor in the people. She was staring at the most unimportant part of the scenery, a billboard ad for an investment-bank situated on one of the upper floors of the high-rise. It pictured a couple of well-dressed models, the woman balancing a seemingly weightless portfolio on her right index-finger.
The slogan above the picture read: “Successful People Entrust Their Futures to Us!”
David could feel Hope’s anger like an overwhelming wave on his consciousness, but for all the world, he couldn’t figure out what had triggered this overreaction.
“Hope, this is nothing,” he tried to soothe her. “It is just an ad, it has nothing to do with the real future.”
Hope kept on staring as if she hadn’t heard him. The bus started to move again and they left the billboard behind. Finally Hope began to talk, and what she said was even more surprising to David: “I hate her clothing! That ugly, ugly clothing!”
Now it was David’s turn to stare. The woman had been wearing a slinky designer evening gown with a plunging neckline and a side cut that reached nearly to her hip, leaving a generous view of an impossibly long leg and an overall perfect figure.
Now David remembered that the two models on the billboard were actually actors in a recent blockbuster. David had only seen the trailers and if he recalled correctly, the lady had used her long legs to do a lot of kicking a.. .
David started to laugh: “Her dress–that is what you are angry about? I do realize that tastes in clothes are different in your century. Hey–your clothing style wouldn’t exactly be considered cool in ours either, but that shouldn’t get anybody riled up. After all, fashions do change over time.”
Hope shook her head violently: “My clothing isn’t supposed to be cool all the time. Mostly it is supposed to keep me warm. The fibers are thermostatic, they always keep me at optimal temperature, warming me when it is cold around me and then cooling me down when it is hot or when I’m running or I’m feverish.
“The controls and batteries are in here and here,” she said, touching her shoulder-pads. “And from here and here,“ she continued, pointing at her cuffs and the brim of her cap, “comes warm or cool air blowing over my face and my hands. This is perfect clothing for people. But that,” she pointed back towards the billboard, “is not clothing to keep you warm…or cool. It is clothing for hurting the women who have to wear it.”
Now David shook his head in disbelief. ”That dress is considered beautiful and fashionable right now. And except for maybe the husband–when he gets the bill after she has bought the dress–it isn’t hurting anybody. As a matter of fact, many women would give anything to be able to afford such a dress or to be able to wear it in the way that actress on the billboard does.”
Hope was still unreasonably angry: “It is not beautiful, not for women. And that woman is only wearing such a dress because otherwise she cannot make a living. It is made for men, and only for men, so that they can look at a woman’s naked skin.
“This is why men force them to wear that kind of clothing. They make women walk around half-naked to humiliate them, while they themselves go around fully dressed, like that man next to the woman in the picture. These Dark Age men, these evil, evil men. They want to make every woman into something, something….
“I don’t know, something to use–not a person any more. First they look at her with greedy eyes, talk to her in ugly words and then they hurt her, they hurt her!!!”
Hope was shouting now, so loudly that David instinctively looked around, but of course nobody could hear Hope but him.
What on earth had provoked this vehement attack on his world and how should he respond? Then a suspicion came to him.
He tried to spell it out delicately: “Has somebody maybe hurt you in this way?”
Hope shook her head in protest: “No, of course not!”
“Then somebody else was hurt, somebody you know?” David questioned further.
Hope answered reluctantly: “I only know her a little; she is nearly eight years older than me. But yes she was hurt badly, so badly….”
David realized that although Hope claimed to not know her very well, she still seemed to identify with this girl and so he asked carefully: “And did a dress like this play a part in what happened to that girl?”
Hope nodded: “They forced her to wear clothing like that and then ……….” Hope closed her eyes and tears streamed down her face.
“Did it happen in your village?” David asked
Hope shook her head in stark protest: “No, of course not! Nobody would hurt a woman that way in my village…. not ever. And nobody would make a dress like that in my village. It would be against the coupling rules of Spesaeterna.”
Hope started to explain: “Coupling means when a man and a woman….” She pressed both of her palms together, seemingly in a gesture of prayer but David understood what she meant: “I see. But what are coupling rules?”
Hope dried her tears and her voice slowly steadied; explaining her world’s rules seemed to calm her.
“Coupling is the beautiful union between between married spouses but only appropriate within a private place and behind closed doors. Everything that leads to inappropriate coupling desire is forbidden. This includes nakedness and coupling kisses in public as well as coupling images and image-stories.”
Then she added: “A dress like the one in the picture we saw before would be considered nakedness in public.”
David had suspected, judging from the dress-code of Hope’s village, that her world was a bit on the Puritan side, but those “coupling rules” were far stricter than he had expected, and he surely disliked this twist of the future back to the past.
Without thinking, he blurted out in his thoughts: “And whoever breaks those rules gets stoned, right?”
He regretted his remark immediately. It had been tasteless, and he really hadn’t wanted to get Hope more upset than she already was.
But she didn’t take it too badly: “Stoned? You mean like in the Bible? No, of course we don’t do that. We never kill anybody as a punishment for rule breaking–that’s what you Dark Age people do. No, serious rule-breakers, those who hurt somebody or those who don’t want to stop breaking the Spesaeterna rules are simply exiled like.”
“Exiled?” David asked, wondering what that meant.
Hope explained calmly: “If a serious or a constant rule-breaker is an adolescent, meaning a person who is between fifteen and 25 years of age, the village-council will sentence him or her to temporary exile. In adolescence, hormones are so strong they can confuse the mind and make people act in ways they shouldn’t. And often they cannot control themselves properly.
“The exile will last for a few weeks or months or sometimes a year or longer, depending on how serious the rule-breaking was.
“The exile gets the loan of a sun-vehicle from his or her community and then becomes a traveler. One can sleep in the vehicle, and it is equipped with a data-bank about nature and with maps and a scanner for plants that can determine which fruits or leaves or roots of plants are edible.
“It also comes with a fire-maker tool and fire-protection stones which create a field to prevent any sparks from falling into the woods. There is also a fishing-rod in the vehicle and a stun-gun for hunting small animals.
“But if the traveler cannot collect enough food, he or she can also go to the outskirts of nearby villages. Most of the villages have charity-food-stations where the priest, the imam or the shifu will deposit some food in freezer boxes for by-passing travelers to collect.
“Every traveler gets a wristband that will monitor his or her health and the signals are sent to his community. When the traveler is sick, there is an alarm triggered in his or her community and they will then contact the village closest where the traveler is. At the same time they will also disable the solitude pulse so that the people of the other village can help, just like our village would help if one of their travelers needed it.”
“Solitude pulse?” David asked
Hope explained: “If the traveler is an exile, the wristband also controls an electromagnetic field around him or her called a solitude pulse that repels all large animals but also any people who try to come within five meters of the exile. Likewise, it gives the traveler an electric shock if he or she tries to get that close to other people.
“This is done, said Sensei, so that violent exiles cannot hurt the people they meet on their journeys. Only once a week the connection to the Peace-Web is opened via satellite for half an hour so that travelers can call their parents.”
Hope looked at David questioningly. David nodded, he understood. So the penal system of Hope’s time, for teenagers and young adults at least, was a form of solitary confinement, but not inside a cell, but outside in nature.
David wasn’t quite sure if he considered that an improvement on today’s system or not; after all, some people consider solitary confinement a form of torture. On the other hand, it wasn’t actually a real confinement if the convict could move around at will.
What filled David with more unease, however, was the thought that maybe some of those kids were punished in this way for something as innocuous as kissing in public.
Carefully, trying not to sound offensive, David asked: “Your coupling rules are so strict because your world is extremely religious, right?”
Hope shook her head: “No, that is not the reason. Sure, all major religions have strict coupling rules written in their scriptures. This is because God knows us and wants to protect us from our mistakes. After all, God made us the way we are. And we are physiologically in need of coupling rules.”
“ Really?” David asked skeptically. “I know that there are sexually transmitted–I mean coupling- transmitted–deceases. But most of them have already been rendered harmless with the right kind of medication. I would think that in your time, medical science would have progressed even more.”
“I don’t know about those transmitted deceases,” Hope replied, “I have never heard of any. But I do know that the danger lies most of all in the physiology of the mind.”
“The mind? How so?” David asked
“Have you ever heard of neurotransmitters?” Hope asked back.
When David nodded, she went on: “There are several neurotransmitters as well as coupling hormones involved in the process of coupling. They are all necessary, but they are not in unlimited supply in the brain. The real function of coupling is to have babies and to stabilize the relationship of the baby’s parents so that the baby will be raised in safety.”
David disagreed, but kept this to himself.
Hope went on: “Some of the neurotransmitters of the brain, especially dopamine, control the availability of coupling hormones. Dopamine is the agent of desire–all kinds of desire, like the desire for food, the desire for knowledge and learning, the desire for joy and happiness, as well as the desire for coupling.
“At certain times both dopamine and coupling hormones are plentiful. When the coupling desire has been fulfilled, the release of high levels of other neurotransmitters will create an emotional high. One of them is serotonin, which will also create a longer-term sense of satisfaction.
“When the couple has succeeded in having a baby and they are raising this baby together, their serotonin levels will stay high for quite a while, repressing the release of dopamine.
“After a while, when they are ready for another baby, this will reverse. But as the couple gets older, their dopamine levels will decrease, effectively telling them that they have had enough time to bear children–now the time has come to educate them and raise them to maturity. When this happens, the desire for coupling decreases, as does fertility–the ability to have babies.”
It seemed, thought David, that sex-education classes in the future were more or less lessons in brain-chemistry. Remembering the partly hysteric, partly embarrassed laughter attacks throughout the banana lessons in his own school days, David thought that his classes on the subject had been quite a bit more exciting.
“Banana lessons?” Hope asked and David made a strong effort to block Hope from his next involuntarily emerging thoughts. These were really not appropriate right now. “Never mind,” he said.
And Hope shrugged and went on: “However, in times when people live under stressful situations, for instance in times of natural disasters, epidemics, or in times of war and oppression–whenever basic needs stay unfulfilled–then dopamine levels will not go down and the level of coupling hormones will be a lot higher. Other neurotransmitters will increase the fertility of people and so they can have more babies.”
David had to agree there might be something to this explanation, considering that the countries with the worst living conditions had always had the highest birthrates, as did the most marginalized minorities living within affluent countries.
Hope nodded to David’s thoughts: “The reason for this is that when important needs stay unfulfilled, then the surplus dopamine is converted into a stress-hormone. This stress-hormone will then increase coupling hormones and coupling desire in the person’s thoughts.
“However, since coupling can bring feelings of high pleasure, people over many ages have tried to increase their coupling desire and ability above their natural levels in order to experience more of these feelings. Sometimes they used certain foods and chemical means to do so; at other times they tried to increase the stress hormone, even in times of secure life conditions. They did so by certain forms of nakedness and by humiliation of themselves and others. This would bring enough stress for this hormone to be triggered.
“But since serotonin cannot be produced in unlimited supplies in the human body and brain, unnaturally high coupling activities will therefore no longer produce a high enough release of it to bring lasting satisfaction. What follows after that sort of coupling is a short high and then a deep let-down and emptiness of feeling that can only be conquered by a desire for more and more coupling.
“And what also follows is an ever-increasing level of a stress-hormone, which makes people feel aggressive. And, in the end, some will become violent–a danger to peace.”
Now David could no longer hear Hope’s voice but that of Sensei, her teacher: “We here in Spesaeterna believe that any community that does not restrict unnatural practices for the increase of coupling desire will not be able to live in peace within itself or with its neighbors.”
Yes, this was a scientific explanation for the puritan mind-set of Hope’s village. And if what she said about the neurotransmitters was true (although David was not yet completely convinced), it would make sense. But still, it didn’t feel right to him. He had learned that it was actually the restriction of sexuality which made society violent. “Make Love–not War” had once been a slogan. He had also been told that it was the brutal authoritarian regimes who restricted sexuality the most.
What if the religious authorities of Hope’s village had found a way to turn their religious prejudices into pseudo-scientific facts?
“No, no, no, these facts are not pseudo-scientific, they are real–they are true,” Hope insisted and sounded once again upset, so David regretted that he hadn’t been more careful with his thoughts.
“I know they are true,” Hope repeated.
“Alright,” David conceded.
Hope took a deep breath and went on with her explanation: “But Sensei also told us in his lesson last year that during the time of adolescence, the hormones and neurotransmitters are still adjusting themselves.
“And he said that when we as adolescents had the feeling that we could not live by the rules because of our hormones and because we felt angry most of the time, then we should not wait until we became rule-breakers but should instead become voluntary travelers. A voluntary traveler can choose how long he wants to stay in the wilderness reflecting upon himself and his place in God’s creation while listening to the birds and pondering the trees and looking up at the stars at night….”
An image appeared before David of a small figure lying in a kind of winged car within a forest clearing topped by a star-filled sky. The wings of the car obviously contained the blue-hued solar panels while the car itself had a transparent plastic roof.
And now David could hear Hope’s Sensei again: “Even grown-ups sometimes choose to become voluntary travelers, to spend time alone for a while in reflection. And for adolescents, it is so much better to do that than to have to later become an exile, because in many villages around the world, former exiles aren’t trusted, at least not for many years to come. Project-supervisors do not want them on their teams, and it can be a long time before most villages would allow them as tourists. So this is a serious matter.”
The image of the vehicle disappeared and now David could see Hope’s classroom once again.
This time only the older students were sitting around the teacher. David noticed from the corner of his eye that the younger ones were busy with a holographic image of floating cubes which were to be arranged in a certain order. He could hear them giggling. It seemed to be a funny task.
The voice of Sensei, however, was more than serious. Although he kept his voice low, it held a commanding note, allowing no dissent: “Never, never, never, however, let yourself be declared to be a grown-up! You do not need to get married earlier! If the person you want to marry doesn’t want to wait for you, then this person is not the right one for you! Do you understand me?!”
The older students nodded wordlessly and David could see their unease, just as he could feel Hope’s. They hadn’t seen their teacher like this before, and they felt that something had happened he wasn’t telling them about.
Instead he went on with his lesson: “If a serious rule-breaker is older than twenty-five, what happens then? Does anyone know?”
Hope knew, but she didn’t volunteer–she was too taken aback by her teacher’s strange new attitude. A boy named Jason answered: “Such a person will be sent to Orange Country because he is a person who cannot live by the rules of our village.
Though Jason had a question:“But I have heard, that rule-breakers of one village can seek asylum in another village, where they have different rules, even adolescent rule-breakers can do that.”
“You are quite right,” his sensei agreed. “However there are certain rules which are practically the same everywhere, except in Orange Country of course, where there are no rules. These are rules connected to the First Principle concerning the respect for human life and human dignity. If somebody deliberately does severe physical harm to another person or violates his or her dignity no other village will accept such a rule-breaker’s asylum request. For the rule-breaker has shown that he or she cannot live by any village’s rules”
Jason concluded: “And therefore it is better for this person to live in a village that has no rules.”
“This is right,” Sensei agreed. “But it is also sad. Because a person like this will never again have any contact with anyone in his or her family, or his or her community or village, or with anyone else in the world, outside of Orange Country.”
“Why can’t he talk to his family on the Peace-Web once in a while, like the travelers do?” Jason asked.
“Because,” Sensei answered, “Orange Country is totally cut off from the Peace-Web.”
“But why?” Hope’s friend Ameenah asked in disbelief. “Everybody needs to be on the Peace-Web so that we can preserve the peace.”
Sensei sighed: “Orange Country was cut off the Peace-Web nearly a hundred years ago. Being a nation without rules in its villages, they would not respect anybody else’s rules either. The sort of images they sent over the Peace-Web were peace-disturbing because they violated the dignity of human beings, especially women. And so a decision was made in agreement with all the villages in the rest of the world to cut off Orange Country.
“Any communication we now have with them is on pieces of paper delivered via a border guard to those who escort an exile to Orange Country.
“Basically the papers are a demand for those villages who send exiles, telling them how much is needed to provide for the life-long living-expenses of the new Orange Country citizen. The demands have much increased over the years. By now they demand nearly a ton of different food-stuffs and a ton of iron and other mineral resources for taking in exiles, and their demands change from time to time.”
Sensei now grimaced with a slight sneer: “It seems that although their area is about half the size of our district, and with an estimated population of only three million, which is a tenth of ours, they are still unable to feed themselves.”
He then added: “Over the last century, practically all the villages in the world have sent exiles to Orange Country. Since it was cut off the Peace-Web, we no longer have any exact population statistics so we can only make rough estimates.”
Ameenah asked another question, one that was also on Hope’s mind: “Why do all the villages send exiles to Orange Country?”
“To understand this,” Sensei explained, “you have to know the history of Orange Country:
“When the Dark Ages ended and people started to build up their villages in a new way, there were many ideas about how a village and a community should be run and what rules or laws should govern them. As you know already, I hope, there are always slightly different rules in different villages, but there are also some rules that over time have become practically the same or at least similar in most villages.
“However, there were at that time quite a few people who believed that the best way to live one’s life in peace was to have no rules at all in one’s village. They thought there should be no village councils and also no representatives for districts or nations. There should be no international laws either. No group agreements whatsoever.”
Marcella, another of Hope’s friends now interrupted: “But Sensei, no village can exist without rules. How can people cooperate without rules?”
Sensei answered: “The no-rule people believed that every form of cooperation must be like a trade, like an exchange of goods where I give you something and you give me something of equal value in return. And if a longer cooperation between people is needed, then the persons involved should make private contracts with each other for as long as the cooperation is needed. All contracts would be temporary and would only involve the persons concerned. Such a life without rules, they believed, was the highest form of freedom and would therefore lead to the most satisfying way of life.
“And so the no-rule people built their villages. But most of those villages did not survive the next few decades. Eventually nearly all of them evolved into ordinary villages like ours. But there were a few no-rule villages that became permanent, and they were the ones which were built close to each other in the area that is now Orange Country.
“After a while, all the no-rule people flocked to that area.
But since the no-rule people accepted no rules, not even the one rule to leave others alone to live in the way they wanted to live, the ordinary villages in the area could not live in peace with their unruly neighbors.
“And so the surrounding villages came together and decided to build a wall at the border of their areas. It was a big wall that connected all those villages and totally surrounded the area of what today is called Orange Country. It was not quite as big as the Great Wall of China which had been built to keep out the Mongol invaders and plunderers, but it served the same purpose to prevent harm from coming to their villages.
“A short time later the villages of the rest of the world also built a wall of a different sort. They were cutting Orange Country off the Peace-Web.
“As a result, the people of Orange Country were no longer able to supply the other villages with things which were against their local rules, like Dark Age image-stories portraying the admiration for war and for other acts of killing or hurting people. So when they could no longer trade in those image-stories that was when Orange Country started to trade in people.
“They had always invited other no-rule people into their communities, now they would offer a home to all those people who somehow could not abide by the rules of their own villages.”
“The exiles,” concluded Marcella.
“Yes, the exiles,” agreed Sensei. “But these exiles had to come with resources, mostly provided by their former villages, in order to buy their homes in Orange Country. This trade in exiles is Orange Country’s only “commerce” with the outside world.”
“This doesn’t sound too good,” said Hope, and David could still feel her unease.
Sensei looked at Hope and she knew that something was bothering him as well:
“You are right, Hope, it doesn’t sound too good. But it is probably the best thing possible for those who cannot live with rules–to be allowed to live with those who have no rules. Do you see?”
The scene faded and Hope appeared again. She was quiet, but David could feel her inner turmoil.
So this was it then, the mysterious Orange Country: an open-air penitentiary, a concentration camp ruled by the inmates. Maybe it had started out as bunch of anarchist communities, but with the influx of the entire world’s undesirables, it surely must have evolved into something else.
And they were sending women to this place? There were good reasons why in his time and age male and female prisoners were kept separated, thought David.
And then it dawned on him: “The girl you told me about, the girl who was hurt, it happened in Orange Country, didn’t it?”
Hope nodded sadly.
“And,” David continued, having done the math, “since she is only eight years older than you are, she wasn’t 25 yet when she was sent there. So she must have previously declared herself a grown-up.”
Hope nodded again: “It happened last year, the evening before Sensei’s lesson on Orange Country. Sensei didn’t tell us what had happened; none of the grown-ups did–we only found out recently, just a few days ago.
“Her name is Luscinia and she was only nineteen then. She had declared herself a grown-up because she wanted to marry early. The doctor of her community and her former sensei and other people who knew her declared her to be mature enough to be considered a grown-up.
“But then her fiance broke off the engagement. And a short time later she became a rule-breaker, although I still don’t know exactly what she did. And because she was a declared grown-up, the village-council sentenced her to permanent exile.
“But they didn’t know, they really didn’t know what would happen, they really didn’t….” Hope sounded desperate, as if she needed to convince herself even more than David.
“But,” David queried, “if you do not have any contact with this place, how did you find out what happened to her?”
“She came back,” Hope whispered, “she was the first one to come back, together with another adolescent–a boy. And they had a small child with them.”
“Her child?” David asked.
Hope shook her head: “No, not her child.”
Then she was quiet. David wanted to ask more, but stopped himself before forming the next question. He realized that Hope wasn’t going to tell him anything more right now. She couldn’t; she was trying to get a grip on her feelings. And while it was unspoken and she had blocked him out, David still felt that there must be an even worse part to the story of Orange Country than Luscinia’s rape.
David looked around. Recognizing the stop the bus was approaching, he decided that while Hope was fighting her inner demons, it was time for him to tackle his own.
We now have a little time to spare. Mr Wang went to the supermarket to buy bottles of carbonated drinks and some sandwiches. We are going to eat inside the car.
As Darryl drinks his first mouthful he grimaces.
“Too sweet,” he comments.
Mr Wang has a lot more to say after he bites in his sandwich, something about the lack of baking and cooking skills in Nephilim City. None of his comments are particularly charitable.
I don’t understand these guys. I think the bread is just fine with the ham and cheese on it, and a few slurps of sugar and caffeine is just what I need at the moment. But then I should remember that Mr Wang is a baker in his normal life, and I guess that makes him the expert, at least where bread is concerned.
And then I see a whole platoon of uniformed security enforcers coming our way. Every one of us stiffens up and goes silent.
The enforcers aren’t interested in a parked car though, not even a fancy one. They have found another victim already.
An old woman has been limping toward the super-market for while. My guess would be, that she is in her fifties, although the deep scars on her face and arms might make her look older than she actually is. The enforcers are now right behind her and have started pushing her from one side of the side-walk to the other.
“Get out of the way, you old bitch,” one of them yells. “Don’t you see that we are in a hurry.”
A large muscled enforcer guy pulls her off the wall where she is now trying to press herself against. He wheels her around and then with a final jerk pushes her off the side-walk and straight into the traffic, while everyone else is laughing. A car swerves, barely missing the woman, while the next one behind honks his horn at her. Ms Alba who is sitting next to me has been making restrained angry sounds for a while already echoed by Darryl. But there is nothing either they nor any of the rest of us can do at the moment.
The woman is now standing on the street, her head bend in helpless surrender, waiting for the enforcers to finally pass her by.
However their laughter hasn’t subsided yet.
The first one yells again: “Has anyone checked her insurance. I rather doubt an ugly bitch like that one has ever gotten any policy.”
The enforcer closest to the woman grabs her hand, touching her palm he looks at his own display. “Yea,” he yells back, “she’s insured” and then adds menacingly “at least so far.”
Finally the enforcers have passed by and the old woman slowly steps back onto the side-walk to haltingly continue her slow walk toward the super-market.
When David had left the bus, he looked at the twenty-story building in front of him. He had not intended to get out here. He had thought it would be too painful to see it again, this news-building having been his second home for so many years.
But strangely enough, he didn’t feel anything. It was part of his past, a past that was now over. And David had accepted that.
When had he come to this point?
He wasn’t sure…it must have been some time today. Last night the past had seemed an insurmountable hindrance for any kind of future. Today the past was gone and dealt with, and the future was, well…… at least it seemed intriguing.
David looked at Hope. She wasn’t quite there with him yet, still struggling with her own feelings, still blocking him out. That at least gave David the opportunity to reflect on his own thoughts by himself, pondering what he had learned about Hope’s time. Some things there were obviously an improvement on his era, he had to admit. And then there were some others…..
All the world’s criminals exiled to one place, at least those over 25, including sex-offenders…?! What had those people from Hope’s village expected when they had sent a young girl into that kind of lion’s den?
David suspected that Hope was thinking along the same lines. Her people didn’t know what was going on in there, but with the slightest bit of imagination they should have surmised…..
And then there was that matter of what things they considered as crimes worthy of a life-sentence. Was kissing in public one of those?
From the time he’d reached puberty, David had accepted the notion that sexual freedom was one of the most important liberties the 20th century had brought to the people of the western world. What happened in that regard between consenting adults should be their business and theirs alone.
Not that David defended those sexual rights as a personal matter. So far, he had strictly been a one-woman-at-a-time man, and actually, David grinned to himself, his personal life-style would nearly fit into Hope’s world.
Although he had boasted otherwise to his high-school buddies, he hadn’t had his first girlfriend before his second year in college. The relationship had lasted about six months, while the heart-ache afterwards had lasted even longer than that.
His next girlfriend was Tina. He had met her at Columbia Journalism School. Theirs had been a love based on common interests and goals in life. They were together for over six years. When Tina got pregnant with Mikey, David would have married her, but for Tina, marriage was an out-dated convention, one that was invented for the oppression of women. David had accepted her views.
They hadn’t been too far removed from his own. His parents’ marriage hadn’t exactly given him a high regard for the institution. But nonetheless, David still had a high regard for the concept of fidelity. He had never once cheated on Tina, and as far as he knew, neither had she on him.
Defending sexual freedom wasn’t a personal matter–it was a matter of principle, David thought. It was about accepting the whole human being, of seeing the human body as beautiful, as opposed to Christian restrictions on sexuality which were born of a disdain bordering on hatred for the human body.
If the people of Hope’s world declared the sexual act to be a beautiful union of two people, why would they have to hide everything concerning their sexuality and their bodies to the point where even partial nudity became a crime? Wasn’t this a contradiction in itself?
Yes, regarding the public display of sexuality in the form of pornography David had to admit, there was some controversy even among ordinarily liberal people. Even he and Tina had been on slightly different wavelengths there.
Not that David was actually an avid consumer of pornography. He had watched some as a teenager of course, when the internet was young and porn its main product and he had needed to impress the guys. But later on he had decided it wasn’t really his thing.
And when Tina first interviewed and later befriended one of the most fervent feminist anti-porn campaigners, he wouldn’t have touched the stuff with a pitchfork. The descriptions alone of what was done to women in an ever more violence-demanding business were nauseating even to him.
“Today’s porn,” he was told by those two women “is no longer the stuff of the seventies, where long-haired girls danced nude on flowery meadows. Porn nowadays is rife with scenes of rape as well as verbal and incredibly brutal physical abuse.”
No, today’s pornography could not be considered to celebrate the beauty of the human body or the sexual act; quite the opposite, David had to admit.
But still David had disagreed with Tina on her campaign to ban hard-core pornography; after all, they were only staged acts of violence–not real ones.
It was a matter of principle for David. If you started censoring some forms of free speech, where would it end?
Weren’t the clothing restrictions and coupling rules of Hope’s world an obvious example of how far down the slippery slope society would slide, once censorship began?
Sure–they used that neurotransmitter explanation to justify their restrictions. And if he thought about the development of pornography from the 1970s until today as Tina had portrayed it, the explanation actually did make sense, but……
He was NOT going to be won over so easily! If Tina couldn’t alter his convictions, those biased theories Hope had learned at school weren’t going to do it either. As a professional journalist, free speech was a sacred thing to David.
He shook his head and remembered the old pop-song: “If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?” In Hope’s world they surely would….
But come to think of it, what then was beauty, David mused. It is in the eye of the beholder, so they say. A sunset viewed from a mountain-top, for instance–that was beautiful.
In pursuit of a story, David had once followed a group of mountain-climbers up a mountain, an easy practice crawl they had called it. It hadn’t seemed all that easy to David at the time! But the reward for his strenuous efforts had been well worth it.
To call the view majestic had seemed a platitude. And still David had been at a loss for other words. The scene with all its colors had given him a sense of awe, something he had never felt before.
To consider such a panorama as beautiful would be pretty much universal, wouldn’t it?
But what about human beings? What would be considered beautiful in people? Some said it was symmetry in the perfect shape of facial features or a slim and well-formed body…. The actress with the long legs would surely be considered beautiful…by most men, at least.
David looked around. From where he stood at the bus-stop, he could see a few dozen people. There was maybe one girl among them who might roughly compare to the actress, but that, of course, was normal, since few women had legs or a figure like hers. Nor could most men flaunt washboard abs like the ones David knew her fellow actor had.
Hope had indeed been right about one thing–the man on the billboard had been fully covered and so his abs weren’t visible, while the woman’s physical characteristics were shown clearly. David shook his head slightly; he wasn’t going to get into that again…
But his thoughts drifted back to the more fundamental question of the meaning of beauty. Was there still beauty in human beings when they weren’t physically perfect?
When movies and TV shows displayed bodily imperfections, they were generally turned into occasions of ridicule. This was especially true for the most common imperfection: obesity. The way it was portrayed on the screen, complete with camera zoom-in and full-blast shock-sound, it evoked first revulsion and then unrestrained laughter….. not much beauty in those scenes.
About half the people David saw around him at the moment could be considered overweight, which was on par with the national average, and some of them were even obese.
Right now a large man passed by David. His wife, who wasn’t exactly skinny herself, looked small beside him, and the three children they had in tow seemed tiny. The man wore a rather inappropriate T-shirt on top of a sweat-shirt. The inscription on the back read: “Kansas is everywhere”.
His youngest child, a girl of about five or six, was yelling: “Daddy, I can’t see the top of this house!”
Her father instantly lifted her up onto his shoulders, not to sit but to stand there. The little girl was balancing precariously but at the same time shouting down excitedly:
“Now I can see it!” while her mother, not wanting to spoil her fun but still quite nervous, was dancing around her husband with outstretched arms.
The man lifted the little girl from his shoulders again and placed her in the arms of her relieved mother. He then patted his wife on the back while she gave him an apologetic smile.
“Do you want to go up in one of those skyscrapers?” he asked his family. All three kids started cheering, and the whole family hurried along. As he watched them go, David thoughts turned to Mikey and Tina and their life together. And for the first time these thoughts didn’t make him sad.
Then he noticed something on the opposite side of the street:
A group of about fifteen teenagers were waiting for a bus there, including the beautiful girl David had noticed before.
One of the boys in the group was play-acting, giving a performance for the others while they cheered him on. He seemed to be imitating and making fun of handicapped people. David watched for a few more moments, and then to his surprise, he noticed that he had been wrong.
The boy wasn’t imitating a handicapped person at all–the awkward movements, the tics and the limp were his own. He was playing a non-handicapped person–somebody who wore a tie and had his nose stuck up in the air. David took a closer look at the boy’s audience. They all seemed to be about the same age, 16 or 17, but other than that, they were as diverse as could be, in all sizes and shapes and a variety of ethnic backgrounds.
A school-class maybe? But there seemed to be no teacher with them.
The boy had ended his performance with a surprisingly graceful bow. The other teens clapped enthusiastically. Then two of the boys who had the physiques of football players and even wore high-school team-jackets, clapped the actor on the shoulders hard enough to nearly make him lose his balance. They quickly steadied him and linked their arms through his, but a bespectacled girl pushed them off and took her place on his arm with a possessive gesture; he was her boyfriend.
The young actor shrugged to his friends while they grinned. Then one of the football players, a quarterback type, placed an arm around his own girlfriend, and to David’s surprise, this girl wasn’t at all the cheerleader-type he had expected, but quite the opposite.
Then another of the teens pulled out a map and the whole group started to discuss it, except for one boy who seemed to be bored and wandered off. David realized that this boy had Down-Syndrome and so he was about to call out to the group, but somebody else had also noticed–it was the girl who looked like a movie star.
She turned around and reached the wanderer in a few quick strides and caught him at his sleeve. David couldn’t hear what she was saying, but from her gestures she seemed quite angry and he inferred that she was most likely his sister. The boy first listened with down-cast eyes, and then he looked up, his head slightly bent to one side.
The girl’s anger dissipated instantly; she laughed, hugged her brother, and then led him back to the group. One of the boys, who obviously wasn’t related to them, then took him under his wing by laying an arm across his shoulders.
Then the bus the kids had been waiting for arrived and they all piled on. As the bus pulled away and proceeded down the street, David marveled at the unexpected scene he had just witnessed.
It was strange…they were all friends, seemingly good friends who supported each other, and yet they were so different from one another. This was nothing like the high-school scenes portrayed in the movies, where students congregated in cliques according to their abilities … or non-abilities.
It hadn’t been quite so crass in David’s high-school. But then again, his had been a private school with a student-teacher ratio of 5 to 1. And truth be told, the whole school had been more or less a clique of the privileged. But these teens had in no way looked like private-school types.
Where in the world could you find another group of teenagers so diverse and yet all friends, David wondered, while absent-mindedly watching a street-vendor whose booth was located next to the bus-stop.
The man obviously loved his job, praising his goods with grand gestures and a sing-song voice, occasionally ornamenting his speech with a funny drawl. His potential costumers seemed to appreciate his efforts, and business was booming. But even those who didn’t buy rewarded him with a smile, a smile he returned graciously. This in turn made the passerby’s smile last longer.
“Ouch,” David exclaimed as he was once again hit in the back by something. This time it was not a shopping-cart but a flying handbag. He turned around.
“I’m so sorry, so very, very sorry,” said a small, shaky voice. “I was just showing my husband…. and then I turned too fast.” The voice belonged to an old, tiny little lady, and David wondered how anybody her age could move “too fast” and especially fast enough to make handbags fly.
The old lady’s husband, a man as tiny as she, was a fast mover, however, and before David could do anything, the old man had stooped down and picked up his wife’s handbag. “I hope you weren’t hurt, were you?” he asked David.
“Of course not,” David answered.
“You could have been,” the old man quipped, “it is a pretty heavy bag!” He turned to his wife, saying “Honey, you should let me carry it.”
“No, love,” she refused, taking possession of her handbag again. “You have carried enough burdens for me over the last fifty years. I at least can carry my handbag on my own.”
“Honey,” the old man protested softly, “yours have always been the heavier burdens.”
Then he smiled at her, a smile she returned. And those smiles were so deep, they transformed their faces. Their eyes, their mouths, and every wrinkle became a work of art, a beautiful work of art.
While David watched the old couple slowly make their way along the sidewalk, he realized that he had seen beauty today. In the young family, in the youths, in the street-vendor and his customers, in the old couple…. here was beauty, real beauty.
True…beauty was indeed in the eye of the beholder, but David thought he recognized now that it wasn’t the outward eye that actually was able to behold it. Beauty wasn’t on the surface; it came from within and needed to be felt.
The beauty of a mountain view lay not so much in the single tree or the single flower but in the connection they made with their surroundings, with each other, and with the hills and the valleys, and with the light of the sun at its rising, in the heat of day, at its setting, and sometimes with the gentle and more mysterious light of the moon and the stars.
Human beauty, David now realized, lay in the connection people made with one another … and with the beholder.
Strange, he thought, that although he had not been at this exact spot yesterday, the streets he had walked hadn’t been so dissimilar to this one. Why hadn’t he seen any of these things yesterday, the beauty of the ordinary?
“Because you hadn’t been looking,” David heard Hope answering the question. He noticed with joy that she was fully back now and had removed the barrier between them.
The anger he had felt in her before had dissolved and some of the fear as well. But an underlying sadness remained, giving her personality a deeper note, deeper than her young years should hold.
“A heavy mind can be hard on your eyes,” she added.
David nodded. They understood each other. He smiled at Hope reassuringly.
But then all of a sudden, the smile froze on his lips as he gazed past Hope. The feelings David thought he should have had but didn’t when he had looked at his old workplace a little while ago now came rushing at him with a vengeance, too copious and confused to be sorted through right away…
“Who is that man?” Hope asked, following David’s gaze which was fixated on a man who had just left a large building. She was sensing David’s inner turmoil.
“That’s Ed, Ed Bernays, a former colleague of mine on the newspaper. And over there is the newspaper building where we worked together,” David explained and then added with a sigh, “Me and my best friend Ed… at least that’s what he used to be.”
Ed had noticed David as well, but he immediately turned his head, pretending he had not seen him, changing direction so as to avoid passing David.
Now David’s feelings became clearer as he felt a surge of anger. Ed wasn’t going to get by that easily. Within seconds he caught up with Ed, clapping him on the shoulder: “Hi Ed, how are you, buddy? Long time no see….”
Ed turned around, a fake smile on his lips: “Oh hi, David, I didn’t see you. Just the other day Moira and I were talking about you.” Ed rambled on with no pause for breath: “She keeps up with Tina’s facebook status. I gather Tina’s doing well over there in Los Angeles, but I’m so sorry the two of you split up. What are you up to these days?”
“What am I up to these days?” David wasn’t into small talk at the moment: “Let’s see…. Last night I was contemplating suicide; would have done it actually, but then somebody stopped me. Though it wasn’t you, old friend.”
Ed’s mouth dropped open. He was taken aback. Then he caught himself: “David, I’m sorry. I had no idea how hard you had taken the break-up. If you had just called me, I would have been there. I always have an open ear for you.”
Ed had gone back to his pretense. David wasn’t having any of it: “It wasn’t the break-up and you know it!”
But Ed wasn’t giving up so easily either: “If it was because of your job, I never thought…. I mean, it happened months ago. I thought you’d have gotten over it and had a new job by now.”
“A new one?” David exploded, “That would be pretty hard to get, wouldn’t it, while everyone is convinced I’m the biggest fraud in newspaper history, which includes my best friend Ed Bernays, the guy who worked with me on so many stories over the years. Incidentally, why didn’t you believe me, Ed?”
Ed gave up and uttered in a low voice: “You hated that guy Abiffsen, you have to admit you did! After all, you put him in the bull’s eye of your ‘pin the tail on the corrupt politician’ board.”
David grimaced: “If I remember correctly, it was you who hit his face more often than I did.”
“Because I’m the better dart-player.” Ed shrugged and then added accusingly: “But you… you would have loved to pin something real on him, wouldn’t you?”
“Maybe I would have, but that doesn’t mean I would make up a story! I’m a professional, for goodness sake! And what about the other five stories I’m supposed to have faked?”
Ed looked at the ground. He gave a barely perceptible shrug. David gave him another frustrated glare and then turned around. There was nothing more to say.
But before he could take another step, he heard a barely audible whisper:
“David! Don’t go! It’s different than you think…..I did believe you…I just couldn’t…..”
David turned around, looking at Ed with surprise.
“We need to talk,” Ed whispered. “Let’s have coffee together.”
He carefully looked around, and then seemingly satisfied, he headed forward, motioning with his head for David to follow.
They walked quickly around the next corner to enter a place that wasn’t exactly a coffee-shop–it was more of a fast-food joint. David knew why they were going there. The place was considered a tourist trap and no self-respecting journalist from his paper would want to be caught dead in there, so it seemed extremely unlikely they would meet anybody they knew inside.
“Would you like some hot pie with your coffee? I’ll pay,” Ed suggested. David was hungry; after all, he hadn’t had any lunch and he had deposited his breakfast behind a tree. Ed owed him more than just a coffee and so he demanded: “I want a double-hamburger, extra-large fries, a salad, and a Coke.”
“Sure,” Ed agreed, “you can go upstairs and find us a table.”
David realized this request was another device to make sure they weren’t seen together, in the rare event somebody they knew might actually look through the open door, but he shrugged and climbed the stairs.
He found an empty table in a corner. The next one was occupied by a group of Japanese tourists, so no danger of being overheard there.
Hope looked questioningly at David, but he wasn’t in the mood for explaining anything to her right now. This was his business, and he was curious how Ed was going to explain himself.
They didn’t have long to wait. Ed set the tray of food on the table, picked up the paper coffee-cup himself, and left everything else for David. He took a sip of coffee, grimaced, and put it down, not to touch it again.
David looked expectantly at Ed. He was curious but he wanted Ed to start.
“Of course I knew you hadn’t faked all those stories,” Ed began with a sigh. “True, we hadn’t worked on those stories together—you’d done them on your own. But I’d worked with you often enough to know that your faking a story to further your career just didn’t make any sense at all. For one, there was no need for you to do it. You’ve got a talent few of us have. I wish I had it, but I don’t….” Ed sighed again: “You can make people talk, even those who hadn’t planned to talk to you. All of a sudden they are just opening up. I sometimes suspected you were some kind of hypnotist….”
David hadn’t viewed his way of talking to people as an extra-special talent, but if Ed thought so, it was fine with him. But David wanted to know something of far more importance: “If you knew those allegations against me were false, why did you pretend to believe them?”
Once again Ed sighed: “I went to the chief, I told him there was something wrong, that you couldn’t possibly have faked all those stories. The chief basically told me I had no idea what I was talking about, there was enough evidence to hang you three times over, and I should mind my own business if I cared about my job.”
David nodded: “I knew our chief-editor was in on it. Who else could have falsified some of my facts? But I don’t think he was the one who bribed those witnesses.”
Ed said slowly: “No, it wasn’t him. You needed to be discredited, and they have people for that.”
“Who are they?” David wanted to ask, but checked himself in time. He just kept looking expectantly at Ed. And so Ed went on: “A couple of days later I was contacted, by…well…friends of friends.”
“You mean some people from the club you wanted me to join?” David interjected softly. Ed squirmed a little in his chair, but then nodded:
“You should have joined years ago! You would have understood better what is at stake. And then you would never have gone against the explicit order of the chief. For heaven’s sake–smuggling a story into the paper, by-passing the chief-editor….There’s not a single paper that wouldn’t have fired you, or any other news-outlet, for that matter.”
“You’re probably right,” David agreed, still speaking in a soft voice which hid any emotions but had a special quality that allowed the other person to feel fully accepted.
“Maybe you are right about the other thing as well; maybe I should have joined to get the whole picture. Did they tell you why the matter was so important they would go to those lengths?”
Ed answered apologetically: “They have nothing against you personally. It’s just that you got in the way of an important operation. After I talked to them and explained your special abilities, they told me once you’ve seen reason, they’ll help you to get back up again. They’ll probably set you up some place abroad. Since you and Tina split up, you’ve nothing holding you here anyway.
“They will get you a new name, maybe even a new face. But not having worked for any TV station, plastic surgery might not even be necessary. With your background and talents, some sort of intelligence work would suit you best, they think, and I agree. But they had to wait before they could break it to you. You first needed some time for yourself.”
“Intelligence work you say?” David asked.
“I know of course, about a particular intelligence operation,” David said in a matter-of-fact manner, “the one Abiffsen was directing with his special op team operating from within the Pentagon.
“After all, he is now in the position to do that sort of thing. From banking executive to Congressman, and then on to the boards of the biggest military contractors, then back into politics and high government offices under two different administrations, and now he is second in command at the Pentagon… always a step up, always rumors of money changing hands. And still there was no stopping the man.
“He must have pretty important backers, I assume.”
“Of course he has,” Ed agreed,” and this operation was of extreme importance and was going well until you put a spanner in the works. What exactly do you know?”
David shrugged as if he didn’t care: “Some part of what I know you already read in the paper. My informant was thorough–I mean the real one who was replaced by the guy who set me up, giving me the wrong dates so Abiffsen got the alibi he needed.
“I know that four bombs were to be exploded simultaneously underneath the first carriages of four German high-speed trains during rush hour. They expected those bombs to derail the trains. My informant told me the planners expected a death-toll of close to 3000 people. But I still don’t know why they planned it. After all, the Germans are our allies.”
“The Germans–quite some allies they are,” Ed gave a sound of disdain. “They haven’t been pulling their weight for quite a while. With all their reservations against a timely attack on Iran, they have become a lot more like obstacles than any kind of allies.”
“They haven’t exactly had the greatest experiences going to war in the past,” David replied softly. “Couldn’t that be the reason for their reluctance?”
“They weren’t reluctant when they went against us, weren’t they?” Ed sneered.
David didn’t bother to comment, but instead let him go on:
“Anyway, the plan would have been detected at the last minute by intelligence operatives and stopped by German police. The trail of the would-be bombers would have led to Iranian bomb-builders.
“Those men would then conveniently have committed suicide with another bomb during the German police’s attempt to apprehend them. Evidence would subsequently have surfaced to connect the dead suspects with the highest level of the Iranian government. And the whole matter would have been a big continuing story for the German media.”
“No,” David shook his head, “my informant told me he himself had thought at first it would be like this, just a big scare for the Germans. But then he learned they were going for the real false flag–a live scenario, he called it. And that’s why he came to me.”
Ed pondered this for a few seconds. He didn’t seem surprised: “Maybe it was necessary not to stop it.”
He didn’t even try to deny the informer’s allegation most likely having had his own suspicions, instead he went for the justifications:
“We have to go ahead with a strike against Iran pretty soon or it might be too late. And we need the active support of the Europeans, including the Germans. And a real live scare might be the only way to get it.”
David felt sick to his stomach. It was inconceivable to him why Ed could not recognize the horror of this ice-cold statement. But David held on to his professionalism, and his voice became even more soft and calm as he asked:
“Why are we on such a tight schedule? I mean, the allegation about the Iranian nuclear program was for public consumption only, wasn’t it? And now we are on the verge of getting a deal with them.”
“Sure, but with an attack like that, the deal would be off and everyone would understand why.” Ed answered, “The facts are that those Islamists in Tehran are more dangerous to us without the bomb than with it. ”
“Islamists?” David asked, “haven’t we for quite a while supported them in Syria to get rid of Assad, after we helped the Libyan ones to overthrow Gaddafi? And as far as I know the allied governments in Turkey and various places like Saudi Arabia are quite close to those Islamists as well. So why should we mind those Iranian ones so much.”
“You really are uninformed, David, ours are Salafists. Slightly crazy, to be sure, but they are fully under our control or rather, under Saudi control, which is more or less the same. We know who they are; we know where they are and what they do at any given time. They do a bit of dirty work for us, and when they are no longer needed…”
Ed made a cut-throat movement with his right hand and added: “Just as we do right now with the ISIS gangs. And as an additional bonus they give us the opportunity to go into Syria punishing Assad a bit more and go back into Iraq, where the rulers have become far too cozy with the Iranians.”
David found it difficult to keep up his calm matter-of-fact attitude while listening to Ed going on:
“The Iranians are a whole different breed. And they are out of our control. Every day their alliance with Russia and China becomes stronger to the point where they even suggest a military alliance.
“This means in turn that after being confident of getting the Iranian oil, the Chinese are getting cockier every day. And the Russians are beyond help altogether. Guess, why we need to bother with that failed state Ukraine so much.”
“But why can’t we just leave the Iranian oil to China and keep the Saudis and the Gulf monarchies ourselves? Wouldn’t that be a lot cheaper than going to war?” David’s voice still expressed only purely academic curiosity.
“I heard a war with Iran would have to go nuclear–it couldn’t be won otherwise. I also heard an estimate of about a third of the Iranian population as probable casualties. That would amount to roughly 25 million, wouldn’t it?”
Ed shook his head: “Those estimates are old and far over the top; newer ones more realistically talk of a likely death-toll of only about three million.”
It was now getting harder and harder to keep up the act, for now David not only had to battle his own shock and disgust but also Hope’s.
But still he answered calmly, using all of his professional skills:
“That’s certainly a lower number, but the financial costs for us will be high either way, and the state of government finances at the moment is not exactly at its best, as everybody knows. So why do those people you talked to think we have to go to war right now?”
“It’s the bigger picture, David, just as you said before.” Ed started to shape the air with his hands, saying “You have to see the bigger picture. We live in desperate times now: overpopulation, global warming, and resource depletion are bringing us to the edge. We don’t have much time to turn those things around.
“Once we’ve lost control to the Russians or the Chinese, the world will inevitably slide down the slippery slope of destruction. Do you think either China or Russia would stop humanity’s self-destruction?”
Ed answered his own question: “Of course not! – The Russians are at the moment worrying that there won’t even be enough Russians in the future. And they are encouraging their people by all means to breed some more.”
“The Chinese have a strict one-child policy,” David interjected
“A two-child-policy at the moment,” Ed contradicted “and there are signs they are about to abandon their population-control policies all together. What do you think will happen if an exploding number of Chinese all want to eat meat every day and ride cars instead of bicycles?”
David had heard this argument before and didn’t bother to answer, but Ed didn’t need an answer anyway, since his question was purely rhetorical.
“I’ll tell you what will happen, an absolute environmental catastrophe. Within a few years, Earth will turn into another Venus–right after mankind has run out of all its natural and mineral resources!”
This was nearly an echo of David’s own words to Hope, just half an hour ago. He shivered, while Ed went on:
“The people I talk to, as you call them, they are the real people, the deep thinkers, the wise men of our times. They are collectors of information and scientific ideas. They know the trends and what the world will become and what is needed to direct it into a reasonable path, for the good of humanity, so that humankind will have a future.
“They know why resources need to be controlled by the most reasonable forces, those who use the means and powers they eventually acquire for the common good of mankind. Sure, sometimes sacrifices have to be made, but they will be well worth it, since if they’re not made, all will be lost.”
Ed stopped and looked expectantly at David.
David knew he had gotten all Ed was willing to give him. He certainly wouldn’t volunteer any names. But still it was all the information David had wanted and possibly even more than that.
It was too much for his peace of mind for sure!
He had actually felt better when he had still believed his friend had just been unable to accept the existence of such a conspiracy as David had uncovered and had for that reason not believed him.
If David had seen the beauty of the ordinary earlier today, now he was hearing the utmost ugliness in the so familiar, so ordinary-sounding voice of Ed. Here he was, sitting at the table with Ed–his friend, the loving husband and father of two little children.
And there was Ed, calmly justifying the mass-murder of thousands as a prelude to the genocidal killing of millions.
A wise woman once used the phrase “banality of evil”. And here it was, manifest in David’s best friend Ed Bernays.
David was forced to admit to himself that his friend must be a sociopath.
How could he not have seen this before? As a journalist, David had met his share of sociopaths, occasionally even murderous psychopaths, and he had always recognized them as such.
They were charming, manipulative, and utterly devoid of ethics. But Ed had not been like this before.
David remembered how he had admired Ed for his writing skills as well as for being brave enough to do one tour in Iraq and one in Afghanistan as an embedded reporter. He had risked his life more than once to get his story. And David remembered that coming back, Ed had complained to him about being embedded and how many restrictions this gave a journalist who wanted to report the whole story.
There had been things going on he would have liked to write about but wasn’t allowed to. Ed had even hinted at having witnessed certain events considered to be war-crimes. But his reports had been censored, and that had bothered Ed a lot.
No, Ed had not been a sociopath at the time. Back then, he had been able to feel both guilt and compassion. They say being a sociopath is a genetic condition, but this was just not true for Ed Bernays. Something had changed him, divorcing him from the ethics he had once held.
“Your club, it is your club,” David said out loud, wondering if it had been some form of brain-washing causing his friend to change so much.
“What do you mean? My club is what?” Ed asked, confused.
David didn’t answer; instead he decided to try something:
“ What if,” he proposed, “there is no overpopulation problem, no humanly- caused global warming, and no resource shortages?”
“What do you mean?” Ed asked “Everybody knows that–”
“No, not everybody,” David interrupted him. “There are scientists who say that a high birth-rate is a natural consequence of poverty or war or other forms of social insecurity. If you allow the developing countries to rise economically to the point where the majority population reaches middle-class standard, the birth-rate will fall to European or Anglo-American levels.”
Ed shook his head: “Middle-class means larger CO2 footprints, means climate-catastrophe.”
David went on: “What if CO2 was no big problem, since CO2 levels have been higher in pre-human times without causing any catastrophic warming. What if the warming and cooling of the planet were caused by different levels of solar intensity and other natural, non-human factors?”
Ed became agitated: “This is crazy David. Have you become one of those climate-change deniers?”
David didn’t reply but went on: “What if oil and gas are not fossil fuels at all but a-biotic substances created constantly deep within the earth, and are therefore basically renewable energy resources?”
“And all the world’s scientists are keeping this information from us?” Ed shook his head and sneered: “How much have you been drinking today to fall for conspiracy theories like that?”
Now David laughed out loud; the man who had just admitted knowledge of a giant government conspiracy to commit false-flag terrorist acts in order to start a war, was accusing him of being a conspiracy theorist. And the funniest thing of all was that Ed couldn’t even see the irony. But he was certainly annoyed by David’s laughter: “Do you really believe such crap?” he asked.
“I believe,” David said, and now his voice was no longer soft but hard and ice-cold, “that as a journalist I have the duty to objectively consider all sides of an argument.
“And if your global warming, resource shortage, and over-population theories are the reason for instigating a nuclear war and maybe WWIII, then I will let no rock go unturned in checking out the opposite arguments.”
“Who do you think you are? An expert who has the professional knowledge to judge those things?” Ed sounded angry now.
David shook his head: “I am just David Ragnarsson, a human being with the ability to think for myself.”
“You are dangerous, David,” Ed hissed.
“Dangerous to whom, the friends of friends from your club?” David asked.
“No,” Ed exploded, “dangerous to humanity! It is because of people like you that international climate negotiations have not brought any definite results and that the whole world is in lethal danger. It is because of people like you why we have to go to war!”
“No, I don’t think so,” David replied and his voice became even more pointed, “these war-plans have nothing to do with people like me. Your friends, the so-called “real” people, want war regardless of any negotiations.
“They need it for their geo-political chess-games, games in which whole nations are nothing but pawns to be manipulated or eliminated at will. And this brings me to the point of what I truly believe, regardless of which theories about climate or resources are right or wrong.
“I believe that three thousand Germans who would have been sacrificed for your games have a right to live and so have three million Iranians. And so did the one million Iraqis, hundred thousand Libyans, two-hundred thousand Syrians, and who knows how many others who have already fallen victim to their dirty games–they had a right to live too, a right which was taken away from them.”
Now David’s voice became soft again as he looked from Ed to Hope, who was an image of sadness and misery, “I believe that life is a divine gift. I believe that human life is sacred and therefore it must always be protected.”
Hope’s face lightened up while she helped David to recite her world’s First Principle: “I believe that every human being is of great importance for the whole of humanity, and is of infinite and unchangeable value, and that human dignity must therefore never be violated. And finally I believe that no human person is of any more or any less value and importance than any other person on earth.”
Ed looked at David with disgust: “What a load of crap. Have you become a religious nutcase too?”
David shook his head softly: “You know religion is not my thing. I am just paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson and some other great thinkers.” David’s voice became hard and sharp again. “These are people your think-tanker friends couldn’t even come as close to as a million miles. Wise men, you call them? I don’t think so. You call something wisdom that denies the right to life to most members of your own species? You don’t even know the meaning of the word!”
Ed had now turned all red in the face. He defended his views: “The right to life you are talking about means nothing when there is no planet left to live on. The planet must come first. The exponential growth of humankind must be stopped before it is too late.”
David shook his head: “Don’t you know, Ed, it is not China or Russia or Iran who cause the most environmental damage? Nor is it the people of the developing world–the children of the poor–who are the problem. It is your friends who are the real danger to the planet. Their wars and war-games are the worst pollutants! Can’t you see that?
“No, I guess you can’t,” David answered his own question and then added: “Somebody once said ‘I have met the enemy and they are ours’. How true!”
This was too much for Ed to take: “You are certifiably insane” he hissed at David, “a total nutcase.”
“Maybe I am,” David conceded, “but that’s far better than suffering from your kind of cognitive dissonance and far less dangerous than the infectious illness you caught in your club, an illness having turned your heart to stone.”
Ed stood up wordlessly and turned to leave.
“Ed,” David stopped him, “are you going to tell your friends about me?”
Ed froze in his steps for a few seconds, while pressing his lips together, thinking hard. “If they ask me about you” he said finally, “I’ll tell them I found you still too deep down in your alcoholic haze to get a single reasonable sentence out of you.”
“Thank you,” said David and he truly was grateful. This would give him some breathing space. He didn’t want to be on the “club’s” radar at the moment.
Ed didn’t answer, just pressed his lips together again. He turned around without another word and left.
David looked at Hope, who once again had retreated behind her mental wall. Her thoughts were blocked from him, but he could still sense her feelings: no more anger, but only sadness and fear, and strangely enough, they were mixed with guilt.
“Hope,” David asked, “what is wrong? Don’t think about Ed any more. He is an idiot and his friends are even more so. And your great-uncle said himself that eventually the plans of those power-crazed people failed and they will lose. This is not your time; whatever happens here at the moment has long been over in your time. And the people of your time have learned from the past, and humanity has changed. You certainly do not have to feel guilty for the crimes of our time.”
Hope didn’t answer, except with a wave of pain she couldn’t suppress. David was clueless as to what more he could say to comfort her.
Then he looked at the food still sitting fully wrapped on his tray. Somehow he had lost his appetite, but he knew he needed to eat something. Listlessly he unwrapped the hamburger and took his first bite. Then he got an idea. What had always calmed Hope down was when she could explain some of the technical or economic aspects of her world.
“You grow all the food you eat in your own village, don’t you?” David asked after gulping down half the burger.
“No, not all of it, only 60%, the rest we import,” Hope answered and David felt that she was becoming more herself again.
“But I thought,” he commented, “your teacher said you were…what did he call it? Food-sovereign…oh, I remember, sovereign means only the potential to be self-sufficient, doesn’t it?”
Hope nodded: “Yes, we could grow all our food if we wanted to. We just would have to build more aquaponic and aeroponic green-houses. And we would have to cut down the woods belonging to our village in order to make room for agricultural lands. But we don’t want to do such a thing because we also want to leave some space for the wild animals and plants, you see.”
“What are aquaponic and aeroponic greenhouses?” David asked non-plussed.
“You saw the plants growing on our balconies, didn’t you?” Hope asked. When David nodded she went on: “They grow in water and the water circulates to the end of the balcony where there is a fishpond and then back to plants around the whole floor.
“From feeding the fish and raising them, there is always some left-over in the pond. This is called effluent. It would rot and would eventually poison the fish, but the effluent rich water is good for the plants. It contains nutrients they need.
“There are a few extra containers connected to the system for removing waste and maintaining water oxygen levels, but basically the plants clean the water for the fish, and the fish make the nutrients for the plants. And we can eat the fish and the plants. And from the left-overs we make waste-piles where we grow worms to feed the fish. It is a cooperative system.”
“Wow, what a great way of producing food! And what are those other green-houses, airo…something to do with air?” David asked, even more intrigued.
“Yes that’s right, the aeroponic green-houses are not on the balconies but instead surround our block on the ground, and the plants grow in the air,” Hope answered, and David imagined for an instant some plants floating in weightlessness.
Hope actually saw the image in David’s mind and laughed: “No, no, not like that. The stems of the individual plants are surrounded by compressed cell foam and inserted through an opening in the aeroponic chamber, where they are illuminated with strong lights to enable photosynthesis.
“The containers are open at the bottom and so the roots extend below. In the chambers, automatic high-pressure pumps spray a fine mist of water and nutrients onto the roots and lower stems of the plants at regular intervals.
The nutrients put in the water we get from the left-overs of our waste-gas production shops. It is just like the cooperative cycle with the fish and the plants on the balcony.
“We eat the aeroponic plants and our waste makes nutrients for the next plants to grow in there again. And these plants grow really, really fast, faster than in water or in soil. This is also because we pump in a more CO2-rich type of air.”
“Sounds great, too!” David was honestly impressed.
“Yes, it is,” Hope agreed, “but we also need to be careful to prevent any unwanted organisms from entering the chambers. And that’s why no children are allowed in there. And the grown-ups who work there adjusting the machines have to wear special sterile suits.” An image appeared in front of David of somebody in something resembling a space-suit.
David laughed–okay, so the plants weren’t floating weightlessly but the farmers sure looked like astronauts.
“Astronauts?” Hope asked.
“Those are people who fly into outer space or to the moon,” David answered.
“We don’t have those,” Hope declared simply. But David could feel this was once again a subject that somehow disturbed her, though she didn’t elaborate on it.
Instead she went back to her explanation on food-production: “We have contracts with eight villages from which we buy the rest of our food. Most are located in the middle parts of the continent. And during adolescence, everyone gets to do project work in those villages at least once.
“Sensei explained to us how much more we will learn about the cooperative system of nature when some day we work in our food-provider villages during planting or harvesting season. Those villages own far more land than we do, and there are only a few hundred people in a single village.
“Every family lives in a single house and owns its own farmland and its own herds of various farm-animals. And you know something, Uncle David? Those people look a lot like the people of your time, except that their clothes are not so ugly, tight, and short. But still, everybody has different clothes in various colors and forms, and also different caps and no embroidery, like my Mamma makes them for all the grown-ups of our community.”
“I wouldn’t want to dress like that, all different from everybody else,” said Hope, making a sound of distaste, “I want to show that I belong to my community and my village. It is so important to belong somewhere—why wouldn’t you want to show it?”
Hope stopped herself: “I mean, I don’t think they are bad people, just because of how they dress. Sensei taught us not to be prejudiced against those who are different from us. They’d probably think our clothes are strange, just like you do. Right, Uncle David?”
David smiled: “I would guess so.”
And now Hope found her main thread again: “Anyway, the people from our food-provider villages plant all of their crops outside. They need to know a lot more than we do about soil biology, about the micro-organisms working in the soil to give it fertility and how to feed and protect those organisms with different manures and a variety of crops…all this we will learn when we work there, says Sensei.”
“Oh, but I thought you always traded with different villages, those that had the lowest Intercoin amounts on their accounts, or did I misunderstand you?” David asked.
“This is done only for manufactured things,” Hope replied. “No village would do that for food-items. Nobody would want to eat anonymous food.”
David laughed: “So before you eat some pork-chop, you need to know the name of the pig?” he teased Hope.
“Ihh,” Hope shivered. “I would never eat meat if I knew the animal’s name. That’s why I don’t eat any beef, since the day I started to take care of our cows. – Yeah, I know you were making fun of me, but anonymous food means something totally different,” Hope continued, “it means you don’t know where it came from and who has grown the crops or raised the animals.”
“But what if those other villages have a bad harvest one year and can’t sell you enough for your needs?”
“This doesn’t happen very often,” Hope shrugged. “And we always have enough food in storage in the basements of our communities to last us a whole year.
“Five years ago our village needed to stock up the storage and then some people were sent from the village-council to go to some villages in Europe where they had enough surplus harvest to sell and there they checked out their food-production processes.”
“Why do you have to do that? Are you afraid those food suppliers are going to poison you?” David asked. “This sounds quite paranoid to me.”
“We don’t believe something like this! We are not paranoid,” Hope replied totally rejecting such a notion, “Of course we are not afraid other villages would try to poison us. It is just a matter of power; no village should give the power of food or energy to others they don’t know.
“In the Dark Ages, I think it was at a time before you were even born, there was a powerful man who said: Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.
“And after he said that, then he and some other powerful men did everything to gain control over the food of the whole world.”
Here we go again, David thought with a bit of exasperation, everything done in Hope’s world, either economically or politically, seems somehow to be a direct reaction to what some people have said or done in his world.
It was like the people of the future had made it their highest goal in life to distance themselves as far as ever possible from his time, a past they called the “Dark Ages”.
Hope went on with her world’s interpretation of David’s time: “In the giant production shops of the powerful the scientists who worked for them changed the food with harmful chemicals so it would last longer or people would eat more of it. These chemicals made many people sick.
“They also changed the genetics of seeds. And with their control over coins, they made sure farmers all over the world had to buy those seeds over and over again. This was because the seeds they made would not produce crops with fertile seeds.
“And some of the changed crops where so harmful that over time, they altered some of the inner organs of those who ate the food, man and animal alike, and would sometimes even shrink the brain.”
“Is this true?” David asked in a low voice, “Are genetically engineered seeds really that dangerous?”
Hope nodded: “We still have all the documents in historic archives on the Peace-Web. We even have some of the seeds and also the plant-killing chemicals the farmers had to spray after they planted the seeds. And a few years back, some scientists started to do research on those seeds and chemicals to determine what caused the physiological changes to happen. They haven’t finished their work yet.
“But some historic scientists tell us those harmful changes might not have been accidental at all, since some of the powerful people in the Dark Ages had two theoretical goals for humanity:
“Their first aim was to genetically enhance a small minority of children, and their second was to reduce the brain-capacity of the rest of humanity’s children to that of big apes.
And the food controlled by the powerful may have been used as a poisonous tool to reach the second goal. When Sensei told us about those two Dark Age goals last year, he cited some author from your time who wrote:
“Gradually, by selective breeding, the congenital differences between rulers and ruled will increase until they become almost different species. A revolt of the plebs would become as unthinkable as an organized insurrection of sheep against the practice of eating mutton.”
Hope shuddered and so did David, then Hope explained: “Plebs means the ordinary people and insurrection means…”
“I know what it means,” David interrupted. ”But it must have been a crazy man who wrote that, some lunatic writing in a padded cell of his mental hospital.”
Hope looked skeptical: “I don’t know, if this was just a single crazy man, someone nobody was listening to, but maybe you are right,” she shrugged.
“The historic scientists say they have not yet found documents with definite proof that Dark Age scientists were actively working on both of those goals. But they did find documents, though, showing some of them expected an eventual and inevitable division of humanity into two different humanoid species.”
“Maybe they thought it would happen naturally,” David protested weakly.
Hope shook her head: “It couldn’t happen naturally, Sensei said, since homo sapiens as a species has existed for at least 300,000 years already.
“And while human beings during most of the time were separated from each other for thousands and in the case of the Neanderthals even hundred thousands of years, and though the people in different parts of the world came to look quite different from each other outwardly, they still didn’t turn into separate species.
“And for the last few hundred years, people from different parts of the world could easily travel all over the world. And then people could meet each other and get married and have children together.
“And so the genes of all peoples are mixed with all other peoples all the time. It would be impossible for humanity to split naturally into two separate species through genetic variations only.”
“And you think those powerful people you were talking about, they would actually try to poison our food to reach their two-species ideal?” David asked, feeling nothing but sadness. He didn’t want to believe it, but he couldn’t rule it out any more.
“I don’t know,” Hope answered in a sad voice and then she added barely audible for David. “A few days ago we learned about documented experiments from right before the end of the Dark Ages, experiments which obviously were aimed at reaching the first of the two goals.
“Some scientists put an extra pair of chromosomes into mice embryos as a preparation for later doing the same to human embryos. Since they thought it would be too difficult to improve the whole human genetic code to reach the goal of creating a new superior species, they thought it would be easier to put the extra material into this extra pair of chromosomes.”
“They are insane, absolutely insane,” David commented. Hope nodded and David could feel her sadness paralleling his.
Hope didn’t talk any more, and David sat quite still as well. The stone in his gut made it impossible for him to eat the rest of his food, and so he pushed the tray away. But he was unable to push away the depressing thoughts in his mind.
Yes, the idea of creating “super-men” and “untermenschen” seemed extreme, fictional and totally out of the ordinary, something belonging to the Nazi-cult of the past. But was the development of those ideas in reality not just the logical consequence of other ideas treating human life as just as worthless and disposable? And these ideas seemed quite ordinary nowadays …. banal even.
His friend Ed had justified mass-killings and nuclear war for what had seemed to him a higher good. But David realized now the way his whole culture was mired in the increasing acceptance of murderous violence.
Action movies over the last decades had basically turned into mass-slaughter spectacles with an ever-increasing virtual death-toll, and even the once-so-shallow-but-harmless TV had become more violent and brutal with every passing year.
Unbidden the disturbing images of a TV show came into David’s mind, one he had watched recently. It had depicted a veteran who, after having received a head injury in a car-accident, went berserk, serially killing friends, family, and bystanders.
The part of the show, however, that had struck David and had made him feel sick, was when all of the main characters, who happened to be FBI agents, justified the past event which had supposedly triggered this ex-Navy Seal’s hallucinations and started his killing spree:
The soldier had once been a highly trained special-ops man who had been ordered – during peace-time – to assassinate a foreign businessman who had traded nuclear secrets with Iran. His orders had been to kill everybody on board the yacht where a trade-meeting was taking place, including the crew and – unexpectedly – two children.
While the crew on board, the innocent adult victims of the assassination, weren’t even mentioned, the lead-FBI agent called the death of the two children “unfortunate collateral damage” unavoidable at times.
David thought there wasn’t even a single person he knew who would have objected to this TV show on moral grounds. None of them would ever have questioned the idea that the an American military unit or one of its allies had a license to kill anybody anywhere in the world in order to protect the supposedly higher good.
And neither would David himself have questioned this universal belief, if he had watched this particular show a year ago.
David asked himself which had come first: Was it the brutal reality of endless war which had caused the adoration of violence in fiction or was it the other way around. Had maybe the brutality presented in fictitious images created this enormous acceptance of violence and warfare?
Whatever the sequence, David now admitted to himself that Ed’s transition into a sociopath was not the result of some obscure brain-washing practices, but the natural consequence of the psychopathic attitude permeating his whole society.
Contrasting it to the one of Hope’s world David now identified this attitude as the belief that the life of a human being has no innate value instead it’s value depended upon its usefulness.
Useful to whom or what? National interests they say, but who in his nation did actually profit from all this war and destruction…
In deep frustration thinking about the cheering reception of the latest war-movie, David asked himself for the umpteenth time how it was possible that although most ordinary people were losing out economically, they still identified with the powerful and their religion of violence, domination and conquest.
They basked in the glory of a nation whose greatest achievement was a weapons arsenal larger than those of all the other nations put together. And it wasn’t just in America–the veneration of violence was an attitude shared by most of the globe’s people; why else would all those Hollywood action blockbuster enjoy such global success?
How could his world’s people ever, ever come to adopt the “First Principle” of Hope’s world.
It seemed so utterly beyond the scope of reality, outside the logical progression of events, where the future is always the natural consequence of conditions created in the past.
“It’s impossible, absolutely impossible!” David said out loud.
“Sometimes there are miracles,” Hope answered softly.
Looking at Ms Alba’s uptight posture and clenched fists I can see how badly that scene of callous cruelty has effected her. So I turn to her first and then to my other companions in the backseat to make a prediction: “In a few days most of the City will be empty. With all the women and most of the men repatriated, those enforcers will have no one to bully any more,”
However, the Professor shakes his head thoughtfully: “Most of the world’s scientists who study human behavior believe that only a minority of the women and an even smaller percentage of the men will want to leave Nephilim City and return to their former villages.”
“Really?! Not even all the women?” I’m not convinced.
The Professor continues: “The life-style of Nephilim City is extremely addictive. Once a person gets hooked onto it, their brain-pattern and their whole way of thinking changes. After having been here for some years even most women, no matter how badly they have been abused and humiliated, will no longer want a different life.
“Only those who are parents, like Nanami whose love for their children is greater than the addiction to a life-style will be ready to leave.”
[_ Getting addicted or rather “hooked” onto a life-style-- I've heard that one before, and I remember well how much disdain my father used to express for those who ] _*did* get hooked, in spite of the fact that he and his fellow elitists have created that very same life-style themselves. After all they own those clubs, theaters and all the other entertainment establishments just as they themselves employ the developers and sales-agents for the addictive recreational substances sold inside.
[_ In order to make his point- my father occasionally used to go to a movie theater with me, only to relentlessly drag me out of there when the movie was about half finished. _]
“We, you and I, are not getting hooked on a movie nor on anything else,” John Galt stated then every time, while we were looking at the theater from the outside.
“We are the elites.
“And the rubble glued to the screen in there, the prols, who in their insipid dreams identify with the super-heroes of those movies will come out of this house ready to become willing tools for our plans.
“We are the actual super-heroes of this world. We are the gods of our time who create and shape the world and all of reality according to our will.”
To be continued…
A TIME-TRAVEL STORY PART 4 – A view from high above
where we and David will find out about mountains and flaties, as well as about the relationship between the Professor and John Galt.
We will also be shown sky-surfers and a letter from a dead soldier about the ultimate sacrifice.
For more information about the book, its content and the comments from the author on why she wrote the book and the meaning behind certain passages, as well as behind the names of protagonists and fictional places,
you are invited to her blog :
or to her youtube channel: [+ Peace Thoughts+]
You also could check out the facebook-page:
Or follow and contact:
Let’s talk about money and sex:
video that might be of interest to you could be , here economic systems are compared to eco-systems. In nature all life-forms give and take from the system and in this cooperative way they create and equilibrium. Economies worldwide could learn from this approach and create monetary systems which encourage this kind of cooperative behavior in order for any economy to develope more stability and less volatility.
, the video with the sharp-teethed monster called ‘interest’, the one Hope mentioned to David, is the first of a video series published on youtube. If you are interested in how money is actually created in western economies you might want to watch and . This process might surprise you, it did me, when I watched those vdeos at first.
And if you are interested in well thought-through alternative ideas to today’s monetary system you can find some of them in of the series.
Now the question of sex is probably even more controversial than issue of money.
Remember, Hope’s village is not actually the measure of all things in the future. Other villages might handle the sex issue quite differently. Though I do think that in a decentralized provincial world of small villages the attitude toward sexuality would become more conservative, just as today the country-side is more socially conservative than the city.
Another sign that there already in our day and age is a backlash against sexual liberalism not only in America but more and more in Europe as well, is a changed attitude toward pornography. Not only in certain feminist circles but also among an increasing number of young and middle-aged men there is developing an agreement that pornography is often addictive and harmful for the development of the individual’s mind and his actual relationship with a real life partner.
Here is the youtube channel of a secular organization of ex-porn users:
Beauty lies in the ordinary and evil in banality.