VIN 16- Musky Smells

The thing about Musk is: he could be genuine. Or, equally, yet another flunkie. More or less, an Antichrist for the postdigital liberties movements, coming at a time most detrimental and damaging. Why? Simple: Elon Musk is of the age, position, and personality type to affect great change. Many have been. The difference is his field of play.

He’s a postdigital child.

Whether he realizes it, lives it, accepts it, even wants it or not, he is a perfect example of a multi-faceted, system-oriented thinker, in a position of true power in economic, global, scientific, and innovative communities.

He is the elite, and appears to be playing for Sense, if little else.

But to do what needs be done for Humanity, truly, requires setting events in motion that would eventually destroy his own legacy through his effects– even those he as an admitted digital-child, cannot begin to foresee.

The problem inherent in this issue inevitably becomes foreseeing one’s own legacy and its demise, committing regardless.

But it is no different than accepting one’s memory, like oneself, will die out. Will it have been worthy of living, as one’s life should be, thus becomes the sole question. At the heart of this, like most things, is the binary issue of selfishness or not. In combination: Human behavior further dictates one cannot always be counted on to check one’s own greed.

At the helm of a mega-corp, that greed, can be astronomical. Literally. Musk wishes to capture the minds of Humanity and point them at Mars, but whose priorities are these? Are they his: the man of new-blooded money new to a game and ready to change it? Or are they the Corporations’: age-old ideals of what can be, for the moment aligned because of potential greed.

Leaving Earth for Mars is not to be taken lightly. We cannot begin to expand, to Mars or elsewhere, if we’ve not yet finished our foundational building, here. Death among the stars is no less death. Attempting otherwise will forever alter our history, our so-termed destiny or fate. Therein history will cease to write of Humanity’s story and instead begin to write of its demise.

All from the loss of a crucial moment of opportunity and understanding. That moment, one of decades and seconds, generally sensed by our species, told that only by growing closer could we understand this Universe. It cannot be done by individuals alone. Science and history dictate as much. Are the products of it.

Therefore, it is imperative it be carried out by a, if not unified, symbiotic society. Preferably, one seeking to establish its legacy and secure itself as a force in the Universe– as any multi-cellular organism is driven to.

Corporations, though also multi-cellular, are not organisms. This is a common misconception both perpetuated and ignored by those involved in their workings. Mostly, from fear of recognition that the great evil– Corporations– are really only bureaucratic systems. Not societies. Their utter lack of feeling, empathy, or sympathy, makes them such.

It is not a failing. Rather, a byproduct of a system’s design. It is not a character flaw or a personality trait: however seemingly alive, it cannot feel. It cannot think. It can only run. In most cases, only run toward output of money.

To further muddy the image, evolution implied through long-term PR and Ad department schemes of re-branding have become akin to cell-regeneration. Beginning with single-cells and dividing, replicating, and successively revising their internal structure, Corporations like societies and organisms too, ultimately appear to be evolving.

However, they remain unliving. Their own actions well-documented by themselves but maintaining the ignorance through ritzy glamours that hide their every, hideous deformity. Each one only so grotesque as is made by oneself when allowing it to fester.

Yet these are systems.

Countless generations of growth-fracture cycles have formed them. Rhythmic, steady, but always producing errors, detrimental or not. Those anomalies, better known as Mutation, form the basis for all adaptation and survival of known organisms. The same can be seen in Corporate consolidation, Dark-horse industries and leaders, and flash in pan billion-dollar ideas.

But Corporations are not ruled by these rules: they imitate them.

A Corporation has no fixed head. No fixed owner. It exists to exist. Not because nature intended it, but because it was willed into power by (mostly) intelligent beings. Yet, there is no-one behind the curtain. Not even for those involved. Certainly, predecessors and successors have come and gone, but there is no “heir” to a corporation. Heirs may inherit corporations, but Corporations whom inherit requires intangibility to be otherwise.

Corporations are systems. Socio-economic thought-systems. Series of processes for doing business, as software running transactions in an OS: a system within a system, but one nonetheless.

Now wrapped up in the face of a postdigital child, whose inheritance neither exists nor does-not exist. Like many things of the time Musk’s as likely a product of as he is of hope. Worse, postdigital child or not, not one of us is incorruptible. Humans have demonstrated this time and again.

Humans live only within comfort zones, or surrounded by familiar things, or supportive out of habit. So deep does this fear of unknown corruption go, we’ve created whole spheres of public, private, and provincial health and governance laws. All of it to combat corruption we’ve termed– through rational dark ages– evil, hate, badness.

But many things of their time, like Evil and Musk himself, are the manifestations of simple realities incapable of being ignored. Regardless of best way, his may be little more than a flag to show communication on matters (his, chiefly,) are now open. After all, it is only from fear of loss that watchers cry out.

Musk’s opportunity here will make him a place in history. Even if, as a passing memory of Humanity’s folly. Whether from reverence or regret, there’s no telling. Not yet. All any watcher can do is remain vigilant, make their call, hope they’re heard so tragedy can be avoided.

But being a postdigital child myself, I’m neither holding my breath nor putting all my eggs in one basket. Especially in space, that feels prudent.

VIN 12- Women Are Killers (A Small Bit of Advice for Idiots)

A small bit of advice to idiots; Women are killers.

Think of the Lioness: a sleek, silent, and lethal predator that has evolved and adapted, honing itself into a perfect machine of hunting and rearing through the duality of huntress and mother, murderer and lover.

That result, compared to a male, whose role is largely to intimidate and maintain order, shows where real power lies.

Real power. The mental-kind– imagination-power.

Though this is not to say the males of the species are not also accomplished hunters, and thinkers, they lack the duality of the role nature has charged their females with. It is the Male’s mate, whom once he has frightened you into flight, closes for the kill. His mate who is lighter, stronger, faster, sleeker, and just as lethal– if not more, by virtue of motherhood. Her face is the last thing you see before your throat is gored.

Brutal. Visceral.

Now recognize she’s done infinitely more and worse to survive, to feed her cubs, Pride, and wards to ensure their total survival. She has likely seen death on equally as many faces.

Remember that fact.

Then recall this is ubiquitous to most females– mammals especially– and that predators most often prey upon the elderly, juvenile, weak, and wounded. Remember, most of all, this has been going on for millennia and has desensitized enough females to death to ensure their species’ survival.

Remember all of that next time you fuck with women or their rights; mated or not, you’re fucked.

VIN 11: Postdigital Unity

As you age, you begin to see trends. Not the fads you saw in youth, but actual trends. They’re like fads but over long spans and incorporating them as well. They’re longer-form gravitations toward ideals. Cyclical recurrences of formerly-existent-but-now-refined ideas.

And the fact is, the vast majority of the first-gen postdigital kids (millennials?) are a bunch of weird creatures.

That’s not to say bad. Never mistake weird for bad. Gates was weird. Think he had it easy before he was making money? No way, man. He was fucking weird. Jobs was weird until he died. It was why he died; rejecting medical treatment in place of home-remedies and warm thoughts.

Fucking weird.

And it doesn’t just extend to intelligence types– though some call Jobs a con-artist before an innovator. That he was likely both is neither here nor there, as everyone’s the same in most ways. It’s merely context that changes. Humans have to be to survive. That’s Humanity. It’s adaptation. It’s Evolution; finding ways to thrive despite extreme, organic adversity.

Do not deny it’s truth. Rather, revel in it; first-gen postdigital kids, (millennials) are the weird generation.

Probably ‘cause we’re all prototypes raised dyslexic on television-frames and text flashing by at light-speed. By the time we’d finally taken our Ritalin and calmed down, it was lunch time and recess. After that, we came in exhausted, completely unaware of the world we were actually experiencing.

Once we came of age, we decided to slow down. Entirely.

Our generation has come to a screeching halt. Not only because of the economy, and external factors, which press in at us with each moment; but because of the sheer want to finally experience something without being forced through it.

This will hit deeper for some than others, but all of you know what I mean:

I recall being educated, but I do not recall my education.

A simple, yet resonant sentiment.

Thousands of years ago, when humans were first socializing into groups more complex than tribes, education was imparted through the same trial-error-observation platform used by all of science today. It was interpersonal in nature, but it was the same, conceptual idea.

Science as it is known today did not exist then. It could not. Not enough reference of civilization– or history– existed yet to be acted on by the call-function.

But now, times have changed. Technology has hurled us headlong. At speeds even we can’t comprehend. The issue is one of grasp; having any on the matters at-hand. As a civilization, Humanity is completely unprepared for the social requirements of a next-level society.

This is bad. Potentially, catastrophically so.

Historically, the less socially-prepared a civilization is to endure a change, the more likely it is to utterly collapse. Ultimately, Rome’s collapse was seeded by its inability to get anything done. Its politics and civics, until then its greatest strengths, began to collapse under the weight of their maintainers’ ignorance.

An innocent ignorance, to be certain, but one all the same. Worse, one no less harmful for it.

Likewise, the same is evident in Central and South Americas cultures whose great achievements rival that of the Pyramids. Ultimately, their culture died from failing to accept the very people they bled for the gods were the ones building their temples.

Eventually, something had to give. So it did. Simple as that.

Unfortunately, it also took with it much collected knowledge in the crossfire. Of all ancient cultures only the Egyptian knowledge is best kept, but notice their name absent above. Though the aforementioned are hardly the extent of cases, they are ideologically different. Egypt did not fall. It ceded its cultural prowess to Rome.

True, it did so largely as a result of decline, one culture’s decline is eternally another’s rise. A sentient species cannot exist culture-less. As postdigital humans can no longer exist information-less. Thus, culture moves always. And like all things, along paths of least resistance– and much too fast for any pre-digital age record-keeping methods.

It is only the postdigital world that can reconcile this; by becoming one culture, unified and constantly changing together.

VIN 10- Meat-U + Digi-U= All-U

Humans are living a dual existence. That is, one of duality; between analog and Digital-selves. At this point in their history, and because of their inexperience and fascination with technology, most of them cannot see it. However, consider them as one subset of their populous, gamers:

Each Human Gamer is both avatar and player. Their actions and effects impact both of their worlds in rippling waves, no matter their size. Said waves, dependent on direction and strength, can temper or reinforce the unrest present entirely in either world– as with any ocean or system.

Likewise, Humans are each capable of this independently, as well as in groups. In that, they are capable of doing so via their existence in either of the two realms– that is, that of the real, meat-space world. (Real-Life, or R-L.) And that of the digiverse, matrix, or net; the shared, pseudo-hallucination we all allow and experience during intake of datum to fulfill need or desire.

In effect, it is the same semi-lucid state as one amidst the immersion of a book.

Technology is the mental equivalent of a water-tap for that immersion. And while there are many different sizes and types of taps, each with their own benefits and drawbacks, ultimately they are not what matters most. That is what flows through them; the water.

Or in this case, data. Information. Reference-stacked 0s and 1s. The back-bone of knowledge, and knowledge itself. Humans are the negative space between these two avatars of meat-space R-L and the digiverse. Continuing to ignore this reality allows them to continue imbibing poisoned water– or data.

If allowed to continue, the second Fall of Rome will be infinitely further, harder, and longer lasting than the first. That is, if Civilization and Humanity aren’t lost to time in the process…

Short Story: Cruel and Cunning

America.

Uh, Yeah. Okay.

Nobody’s sure what the hell happened. Even the people that were there– Corp. Wage-slave. Government. Innocent Bystander. Johnny Reb. No-one has an explanation. There is no clear record of what happened. All that’s ever heard is, “one thing led to another.” Or, “‘N that’s when all hell broke loose.” Never clear explanations, only vague outlines.

Truth is equally vague, but even a silhouette can tell all if well-enough formed by its negative space.

Less of the day-to-day is known, but the broad strokes are clear. Then again, Americans never functioned well on that time schedule. Inside, they were all fat suits sipping lemonade in the sun. Each one an island unto their self, untouchable and eternal.

Just like the ads promised.

Problem of course, was neither commercial nor lemonade was real. The lemonade was corporate-machine processed powder and water, spiked with ignorance and cynicism, and slowly but certainly eroding critical thinking patterns.

Because hey, who needs brains in constant, happy sunshine?

In reality, the ad was just a commercial. Subtle propaganda lulling people into buying the imagery they were being sold and most identified with. It was voluntary, mental slavery. Indenturing self to serve self for want of pure, ignorant bliss.

Then the real world broke in.

Trade-tower attacks woke a lot of people up. It’s the only explanation for what came after. Negative-space again. And without that influx of people being forced to stop, look, everything to come afterward– the crashes, the wars, The Fall– would never have happened.

Or it would’ve happened on smaller scales, and much later, when it no longer mattered what corps were doing because Humanity would have so far surpassed them– while being condemned in the process, of course.

But those things did happen; the towers did fell. The police-state rose in their place, and corps bought and built it through their universal currency of power. No-one would be stupid enough to argue that chain of events. Were they, that person would be calmly but quietly escorted away not to return until their age of reason.

That’s one thing the corps did teach; human-relations. Mostly, through being completely devoid of empathy or sympathy within it. Thereafter, people realized what they’d been missing from life. The utter lack of the Human element in a Human system was what formed the basis of all progress afterward.

That is why bitterness about the corps reign, by-and-large, does not exist: In the end, it was a willing trade for the growth society gained. It would not have been had they not grown, but they did. All sums totaled, Society accepted what had happened.

Corps had taken over because people let them. Then, in due fashion, Corps kept doing what they wanted on the basis that, well, people probably didn’t care enough to do anything about it. Some did. Then eventually all of them did, but only after being buried by the ignorant bullshit they’d built-up around themselves.

Negative space tells it all began for America, after the WTC attacks. Corporations began doing what they felt then. It was cruel and cunning, but not entirely unforeseen– and as a result, infinitely more egregious.

America was gearing up for war, supposedly to hunt those responsible for their fresh wounds. Meanwhile, Corp-reps– so-called “lobbyists,” pressed cases on overburdened and still-mourning government officials.

In time of course, they offered to “share the weight” by “shouldering responsibility;” all double-speak for the corporate take-over and transference– or theft, of power. By the same process, they eventually convinced the military to shift its focus before eliminating what they could of it.

Because what was good for America, was good for the world. And vice-versa. When America needed all the good it could get, no-one dared go against them. It took over a decade before most were even willing to admit that catch-22 as fact. Until then, things were going south. Fast.

And nowhere worse than state-side.

Sweeping reforms, pushed by lobbyist’s politicians on the take, rewrote whole law-books in legalese so thick even the best-educated couldn’t decipher them. In reality, they were coded transcripts of the take over. All very legal and by the books of course, but why not when the beneficiaries were writing them?

Stage set, America hit its first crisis since the attacks and the war; the ‘08 crash.

An economy once the world’s envy was instantly crippled. The financial sector, already bleeding from poor decisions, panicked and set in motion a near-total bankruptcy. Now, those suffering were the same corporations that had bought select, elected officials. Ones whom, due to the laws they’d written then, were allowed to remain in power. As repayment, the corps took billions in “bailouts” and ultimately, ran off with it.

No-one ever answered for the crime.

The American Way was shaken. Faith in it doubly-so. Then, controversial elections and divisive politicians– and once-solved human-rights issue– utterly fractured its foundation. War had reduced government trust to all-time lows and put people in fear.

It was painfully clear; America was but one, missed-meal from revolt.

The people there needed closure and certainty– for what they’d suffered and what they would yet be forced to. At an individual level, it’s citizens felt the same even if their methods differed fundamentally.

Negative space is certain; neither of those things ever manifested.

The corporations, whom caused the recession to begin with, used the guise of need to consolidate credit and capitol from bankrupted competitors. In this way, they bought and sold debts and contracts to collect on until only the very worst offenders remained for sale. Those unable to collect eventually sold off what remained to others and quit the game.

Again, all very above-board and legal, but ultimately, engineered.

With nowhere for those remaining assets to go but the hands of those hardest hit, the most affected vied for flotation devices to keep themselves from drowning while kicked for the shore of fiscal solvency. Their success cemented the foundation of all that came later.

Some corporations, with earnest hopes of repairing mistakes or not– and if only for their own survival– were given rafts. The rest sank and drowned in the first-come first-serve lifeboat handout.

The corps left, their execs were going down with the ship. Already half-soaked, and now scorned by one-time bribes inevitably for naught, they took what had come their way and ran via legalese loopholes they’d written themselves.

Once more, cruel and cunning.

In months, those left wished they’d done the same. Once they did, the markets had already flooded with reds. Nothing could be done but to let the corpses sink so any survivors might be picked from the flotsam afterward.

With an economy only barely in the black, it was a wonder any corp survived.

It’s also no wonder those that did became so immense. Suddenly left with so much abandoned property and credit, the most they could do was zero out what wasn’t useful, put the rest to work.

Worst case scenarios, were things going into long-term, digital storage as “resource” until it might be useful or “liquid” later. A property too rundown to use was worth more cleared. Whether the clearing was worth it, as always, was a matter of risk/reward ratios.

Meanwhile, new Titans were overtaking their elderly counterparts. Tech, net, and entertainment sectors flourished as industries par-none. These slick, new-moneyed college grads and dropouts with less street-wit than road-kill, overtook the eldest of the old-money’s projections.

Wealth even Scrooge McDuck couldn’t have dreamt.

Avarice in their eyes, the old-money bellied their way over like maggots crossing sidewalk. They began taking back what they’d abandoned, nosing their way in via advisory positions and consultancies to recon and research these new industries.

Only after better understanding, and dissemination of it through their circles and education, could the “old money” truly retake control through their specially-trained kids– from old-money schools– that learned to blend with their “lesser” peers.

In effect, the world was nearly destroyed by a group of college kids blending seamlessly with the rest. Yet the simple fact was, these groups were breeds apart. One more cruel and cunning than ever and couriering dangerous knowledge for one, specific purpose.

That purpose was cultivated over lifetimes of grooming from ever-crueler, more cunning mentors. Each generation, further-conditioned to use them without thought and at the best of times for desired effect. Generally, that amounted to twisting the knife so that their prey felt it. Pain was the length they’d go to, to get their object of money, using a knife eternally cutting people’s throats to pay when told or suffer a fate worse than death.

Seeing any resistance would be slow and difficult, would-be opponents merely jumped ship. Too comfortable, wealthy, and not needing nor wanting, they’d effectively exiled themselves only to possibly return afterward, if welcome.

Otherwise, fuck it.

When it became obvious the government was no longer listening, the economy had officially stabilized. Yet basic needs remained unmet. What once were “guaranteed rights” of the “greatest country in the world” were now “priced to match.”

Such basics to civilization as education and healthcare, free or near-enough since their conception, could and would bankrupt people. The subtle duality of that impliedif one could not affordone or both, one deserved neither.

In reality of course, controlling these two things most easily safeguarded against an unruly populous.

Generations raised with espoused values of education, goodness, and dreams were pushed to the brink. Force-fed them before the corps rigged the game,those dreams collided with reality when they otherwise need not have.Soon, people of legitimate value and motivation were left indebted before their lives might begin.

The problem? Their skills were equally valuable but more theoretical than practical, thus giving them no place in a machine of corporatism that cared only for numbers. Numbers are infinite; patience is not.

Enter the next American election.

Typically, American culture cycled with presidents. The era in question would’ve been no different were America’s culture not so twisted from the recent corporate history. Really,two, competing cultures existed none yet recognized:

One was personal, real. The other, corporate; an avatar-illusion built by corporate sales and P-R.

If people’d known then, the culture they fedvoting was the one what they were hoping to fight, they’d never have been swallowed by it. It never would’ve gotten so far. They’d have seized the booths put someone deserving in power without altering the system entirely. That of course, required the game be level– which it had not been.

For a very long time.

That it wasn’t, assured the eventual outcome. Only once the game and the system were revealed as two sides of the same coin could their whole be examined.Unfortunately, the US system of democracy was so corrupt everything was too little too late. Even the parliamentary systems ended with held ground, managing never to disappear entirely– if only due to their relegated position as bureaucratic, hard-copy, file-managament.

The US had allowed corps a foothold. With it, they then took control. Total control.

Negative space once more tells that America isolated itself. Politically. Socially. Economically. No longer a superpower, it withdrew from global markets, leaving fertile ground for corporate takeovers via the power-vacuum that remained.

Outside throwing oneself onto a pike, hoping to form the launch-pad for the next unlucky bastard trying to get over the wall, there was no hope. Getting out meant money, passports, digital and physical files going back years. Those lucky enough to make it over went alone, left everything behind, and never looked back.

It was the first time in history people weredefecting from the USA.

Little-by-little, the exodus continued until the war finally toppled the walls entirely and the tattered remnants wandered out. By then, the country was ruins– whether places or people. Infrastructure was gone. Financial records. Land-deed and title-information. Gone. No-one owned anything, and nothing made money anymore.

All anyone could do was flee for survival. Some went North, finding refuge in the Canadian wilderness whose more robust trades had survived. Although only largely from the same, laboriously slow death the governments themselves succumbed to.

Credit to them; the Canadians once more weathered the storm of their southern neighbors, though considerably more afflicted than usual. Negative space states the obvious cause as War. Just like everywhere else. It was merely indirect.

Paris looked better during the Incident’s fighting and Berlin looked better afterward than America ever would again.

In the same, ironic way Americans never seem to see coming, they’d finally gotten the wars they’d wanted. Real wars. Not manufactured, but from need. Their brutal atavism was simply the release of repressed rage building since the Atomic era erection and the Cold War blue-balls.

Without possessions to muzzle them, Americans became wild animals, lashing out.

Once Paris was retaken, fighting began everywhere. It needed to happen. Yet because of the takeover’s totality, it needed to be done without the aid of any arm of the “global” resistance. By then, it hardly mattered; people’d been worked to a frothing rage, rabid from the virality of the abuses against them.

America became an apocalyptic ruin without need for an apocalypse.

Three generations raised to believe in wholesome righteousness, force-fed violence and fear, had no other choice but to explode. It was only fears of the aftermaththat had kept people in-check. Once that became the lesser of evils, they reacted.

By then, post-apocalyptic scenery was better than reality’s concentration-camp walls.

Negative space dictates guerrilla warfare eventually won the day; individual stories, hearsay, rumors. They all agree that America finally won Vietnam, but only after playing host to it. Stories from combat vets are numerous, however dubious. Each one reveals, little-by-little, an inherent cell-structure in their tactics . How it was formed seems obvious in the way that wave-length, hive-mentality is obvious.

Certain places, hit repeatedly for supplies or to weaken corp lines, were done seemingly at random. The unspoken understanding between the different aggressor-groups that it was where best to strike and when. Cells were small enough to strike fast; in a matter of only days or weeks, whole campaigns were against single corps, bringing them down.

It was not without causalities or cost, as the ruins show. It was a system of warfare allowing for weakness to be located and exploited to its fullest and without delay. The same game the corps had tried to play, but were too big for, too slow. Just as the system before them. They’d simply been smaller and faster than them. Their prey numerous enough to overcome it. If only once. Individuals however, were much smaller, and even small groups of them were effective if their strategies were applied properly.

Eventually, they were. Entirely.

In the end what finally killed America’s corps was attrition. Irony is, it was the same way they’d taken power. Once more students became masters and the old guard fell. The final blow was struck perfectly, more cruel and cunning than ever before until all that remained were smoldering ruins of once-bloated, corporate corpses.

So there it is, for the record; America. Brave and bold. Right up ’til it imploded.

Short Story: Dead Gods

On-stage the band were throwing themselves into every lick and power-chord. The effort culminated in all the lasting effect of lint in wind. Long hair flung sweat and other bodily fluids through colored stage-lights with twirling abandon. The lead guitarist leapt and bounded about, readied to kick a stack before using it as a launch-pad instead.

The madness onstage was matched only by the madness of a crowd that might’ve brought tears to Uncle Lemmy’s eyes. The poor old sod may not’ve been there in person, dead or alive, but there was no doubting he was there in spirit. The slam-pad mentality of the mosh-pit exceeded the loss of drugged-out brain cells by an untold measure. All around it, the pumping of fists and screaming of fans made sure Neu-Ballistix raged all the harder for them.

All told, a good crowd. Powerful. One that deserved better than the rabble they were forced to contend with. Perhaps that was the problem. In the end; all feeling, no discipline. A different world for a different kind of person. Thus, Neu-Ballistix would be no more remembered than the nameless rabble from the night before, or the night before that and so on.

Lee Felton flipped his leather-jacket’s collar down and slipped out past a bouncer. He thumbed a cigarette into his mouth as he surged through the few people waiting about, coming and going. They were faceless the way any crowd was; confirmed to the senses as humans, but clustered so as to be inaccessible, personally.

Like the bands every night, every weekend; All feeling, no discipline. All discipline, no feeling. No matter what, all of one thing and none of the other, and all nothing because of it.

Then again, beneath scattered streetlights, who wasn’t faceless and unfamiliar?

To Lee, most people were sterile sperm; the assumed potential of greatness, but that could never be attained. It wasn’t their fault they were blanks– duds, but they were. Fact was, it was really the 21st century’s damaged testes that had done it. The same ones that promised a world of flying cars and hover-boards, but in reality, had turned into slum-lord ghetto-living and dehumanization.

Even smoking in public was outlawed, required standing in the cold. Fine for bouncers on-duty, but why for him? Specially when the chick in the corner’s doing rails off a whore’s cock. They can still get their jollies, why not him too?

In the end, it wasn’t about what was cool, or in, it was control. No-one knew it, and no-one could. The artistic community lived on vibes. In a digital world, that meant being blind. It was a trade-off. The vibes were bountiful when harnessed right, but required certain sacrifices be made. It was the same trade every artist made, personally or publicly. More spot-light, more heat.

It just so happened Lee’s industry was especially good at using the light to blind and dazzle, before pillaging and plundering talent, image, and any hope of reputation. And why not? They were damned good at it. Had been for a century now. Never mind how much sleaze the artists had to contend with.

Lee lit his smoke with a cupped hand, fighting Chicago winds blowing in off the lake.As usual, Winter’s Autumnal-guise arrived in time for coeds getting blasted at weekenders. Lee wasn’t sure why he came out anymore; the bands weren’t hitters, the beer was watered downand too expensive, and he’d long ago given up the hunt.

Were he surfing one-nighters, he’d have hits left and right. That was the problem though; in the industry, you went along or you went against. In either case, you chose a side. Those one-hitters were a dime a dozen, and the corporate industrial music-machine thrived on them.

The shows were more habit than anything. That sort one went about once a week to decompress from reality’s attempts at collapse. Some people were weekend warriors, college kids especially. Others were simple party-addicts bingeing on one vice or another, burning away rotted brain cells already consigned as victims of wage-slavery or normal-joery and its weekly, excess-purge.

Lee couldn’t blame people for wanting to burn cells or war away weekends. Young or old, life was passing by and the more people were forced to sit and accept it, the more it hurt to watch. Lee had seen it enough in himself the last few years, he no longer cared to watch either. Instead, he went to the shows, the bars, the open mics, waiting and listening and hoping he’d find a sound; the right mix, the right person, to make another God out of them.

He doubted he would, even that any existed in these lean, silent times. Funny, everyone everywhere was screaming into mics or acoustic wells and no-one was making a sound. Lee’d figured that was the real problem. The difference between music and noise wasn’t the notes themselves, the sounds they made, rather it was the space between, the silences formed of off-noise; the style.

Lee knew those silences better than most, had built a career on them. It was in the toilet nowadays, but stuck out enough to live off royalties.

Lee started for the apartment off Lakeshore Drive. It was one of the higher-end places. In these times and parts of the world, that meant the heat worked when you wanted it to, ‘stead of when it wanted to. The twenty or so minutes between home and the juke-joint meant enough time for the liquor to run its course.

The cold had only started edging in, but not enough it to chill the bone, wind or no.

The elevator lurched with gut-punching familiarity. Lee lit another cigarette; he’d torn the no-smoking sign off the elevator months ago. Only three people other than he and Rhein used it with any regularity. Two were smokers.The other was an old man that couldn’t smell anything from all the blow he’d rammed in his sinuses over the years.

None of them cared if he smoked.

They were all like him; burnt-out fools with ties to the industry and more mental scars than normal humans had a right to. Lee’d decided long ago the apartment building wasn’t really an apartment building. It was a retirement home for old rockers. He’d lucked out and retired earlier was all.

He slunk to his door, thumbed his way past the print-lock and stepped inside. Rhein was slumped over the couch wearing only leather pants. He looked like Billy Idol might’ve had he been naturally platinum blonde and decidedly less-straight. He’d splayed out on the leather couch in front of the flickering fireplace, looking as if waiting to be taken advantage of– in one way or another.

Lee’d get there eventually.

He tossed his coat down and sank to the far side of the couch, between the widest points of Rhein’s splayed feet. He hunched to unlaced his boots and felt Rhein’s foot playfully close to his back.

He heaved a sigh and it stopped.

“Nothing, huh?” Rhein asked, sparkling blue-grays licked by fiery reflections.

Lee didn’t bother. They both knew the industry was dead, along with everyone attached to it. The few left were unaware. They were headless chicken-bodies and headshot-deer; adrenaline-drive from half pulverized-brains that had yet to decipher their rapid and immutable exit.

Fact was, not much could be done about it. The industry was dead; taken over by corporate ass-hats and frothing mouth-pieces. All of them, demanding everyone be the next pop-rock idol or gang-banger wannabe. Didn’t matter which because they were all the same; sluts on their knees sucking for the money shot– or hoping to get some of the splash-back, if nothing else.

Lee laid between Rhein’s legs, head on his navel, only then noticing he’d been throwing back sips of whiskey from a rock-glass. Lee looked up Rhein’s torso as he sipped, the Billy Idol image damned-near complete. He couldn’t forget what drew them together, even if he barely remembered how or when.

Rhein was a God; Lee, the demi-God at his side. They’d rocked the country, torn down stadiums, halls, and homes with walls of sound. One did it live, the other did in the studio. In that way that living fast makes Relativity make sense, they lived and did it all in a decade.

Then, the bubble burst with the touring fan-base. The boredom and rot set in. The silence came with it. They’d done their best not to acknowledge the haunting truth ever since that Rock was dead, the industry with it; its Gods now fables sinking into obscurity to eventually fade forever.

Lee let his head sink back to Rhein’s navel, finally at-peace with the idea. At the very least, if they were dead, the Gods had a good run. Now, they could sleep, secure in what they’d been.

Short Story: The Bovine Folk

Nobody ever asks about the Cows, the Bovine folk. Chickens, turkeys, sure; deer, yes. Bears and Tigers and Lions– well, the last ones speak for themselves. Literally.

Point is, nobody ever asks. Prob’ly, because those that know them know the truth already. Those that don’t, aren’t prepared for The Bovine Reality. All the same, where are they? What happened to them? Why? What the bloody hell could occur to an entire species that it was seemingly, however shoddily, scrubbed from reality?

Firstly, it’s not so much no-one knows as no-one wants to talk about it. The situation is yet another delicate, fractal-relic of the post human-dominance era. People– human people, don’t really know what to say. They’re just as perplexed by the whole thing as the rest of people– Evolved or not

Problem is, the only people that really might’ve ever understood some decisions are long dead and dust. Prob’ly less, now.

Digressions aside, Bovines had every reason, right, and allowance to leave, hate us, or war with us. For what little we know, they did, will. All of them. At least, if any stayed, they’ve kept hidden; prob’ly just to enjoy the peace, graze at-will.

But who were they, what did they look like? Like cows crossed with humanoid genetics. Like all Evolved.

They had more or less human features, save for the cases of all hoofed creatures– with mallets on the ends of their arms rather than dexterous digits. All of them adapted. Not a single Solsian creature living would begrudge another an opened door these days. Even less so for Bovines.

Not a single Bovine would ask.

Why should they? They were an entire species existing for no purpose but to serve another, superior one’s appetite. Once, anyway. Not so much anymore. People didn’t eat meat anymore. Meat was a luxury. Eating was utilitarian. Long gone were the days of meat and mead.

But that was okay. Because Sol, its peoples, had more than enough otherwise. If food was ever requested or desired, it was available. As for meats and their origins, in all but the seediest places it was the luxury it had become; expensive, complexly vat-grown, engineered for taste and satisfaction. It wasn’t meat. It was meat.

It was the connoisseur mindset for an aficionado niche. It was no more or less complicated than necessary. Food need only be guaranteed, not enjoyable– though preferably enough to hold off revolt. Anything more in the turbulent unrest after Contact was asking too much. Nobody denied that.

Contact and everything during, after– even a little before, was chaos incarnate. Its immediate echoes would continue resonating for generations, forever-after altering countless species and their futures.

Species aside, people needed some guarantees now; water and shelter were guaranteed by the simple immensity of the cos mos. Food wasn’t. Thus food was it. It was easiest conceit for all involved. Free food for all. Caches. Dumps. Drop-ins. Stamps. Every world, outpost, and settlement, no matter how big or small, played host to at least a few choices as to how and where to eat.

It was an imperative now, socially, that no-one starve. Food; guaranteed enough not to die between meals, was the conceit that united Sol.

Humans could never have done it on their own. They were too set in their ways. They needed a massive external lever, something to turn them away from being wholly-evil assholes their entire existence.

Contact threw a tens of billions of levers at-once.

While Contact did more good than the bad it could ever do, ultimately what mattered was, the good was in the universe was here to stay. At least for now. Sol, its one dwindling puddle of life, had surged, exploding like a geyser onto its surroundings. Earth-life took a foothold it wasn’t going to give up without one helluva fight.

Free food ensured it.

Then, the war ended. People were displaced. Society was upheaved. Food was guaranteed. Food! But food wasn’t all that should be guaranteed. Work. Want. Those were next. They came side-by-side with Earth-life’s expansion and transition into Sol-life.

Sol wasn’t like Earth. It was bigger. It stood for something. The flag of a Republic. Eight planets. A few dozen moons. Countless hunks of floating debris between to be mined– and well, mined– for resources and defense. When things came into order again, it seemed as close as people could get to utopia.

That was one thing even narrower-minded Evolved knew, if refused to admit: everyone owed Humanity for trail-blazing as the first, sentient, Sol-life. So far as it was known… or could be called such.

Chalking their failures up to an attribute of sentience than an Earth or Sol thing was likely for the best. If reality didn’t reconcile, so what?

People did go otherwise, though. Mostly, in the form of Anti-Humanists. Ironically though, so far as it’s known, not a single B’ohs risen in anger with these dregs. Arguably, they have the greatest motive, but absolutely zero capacity for contempt.

People– evolved and non-alike, believed them stupid; at that, they were likely of less-average intellect overall, but what people aren’t? It is always the outliers that dictate true capacity. As an old shuttle surpassing life expectancy by decades without a scratch or malfunction shows no signs of slowing.

B’ohs, like all Sentients, had their thinkers and their morons. Difference being, unlike most species, each had every right to be blood-rage furious. For no particular reason at all, if they felt it–

Yet none were.

Their species existed for the sake of Human sustenance. Thus, when no longer needed, they had no place in the worlds they’d suddenly been thrust into. Even if idolized and hoisted upward– that was worst of all for a species wishing for the peace of grazing verdant fields all day.

B’oh evolution had been so guided they’d no choice but to live as slaves or die on some butcher’s rack. Not exactly inspiring of poetical thought for a species newly granted it. So, what it came down to was need. A need to make their own way in the universe; their own story and path.

Sol would never have been capable of denying them that. It wasn’t Earth. It was bigger. Newer. Different. And undeniably better.

So, in herds, droves, pairs, and singles, the B’ohs set off for the unknown to settle and create their own future. No-one could begrudge them their one desire; to graze upon the universe’s endless verdant hills for eternity. After all, who wouldn’t want to?