100th Post Bonus Story: Tearing Down the Wall

Riven was a seventeen year-old kid. He had that Berlin-punker look that had been lost sometime in the 1980’s then re-discovered decades later by a new-wave of punk and rebellion. He was all decked out in leather, denim and flannel with studded shoulder-pads and three-inch spikes gelled into his bright pink hair. The term Misfit might have fit him, were he not usually surrounded by a crowd of similarly-clad punkers like him. Like them, his face was a perpetual sneer, accented by gauged ears and piercings any where they’d fit along his face. It was said he had more metal in him than an android.

It had become commonplace in the last couple years for the more counter-cultured youth to trend toward Riven’s lifestyle. In itself, it was the pinnacle of excess; an extension of the peaks of great rock-icons and their most offensive acts. But where Townsend trashed hotel rooms, and thirty-years later, their cultural offspring like Cobain smashed guitars and live-sets, Riven and the others took things to their logical, next step. Riots were common wherever the neo-punkers gathered, usually dispersed only after days of wild amphetamine and booze-filled destruction.

It was admirable, in a way. The kids like Riven had been threatening to “fight the man” and “bring chaos to the system,” since roughly time began. That was the way with teenaged rebellion, a sort of cataclysmic byproduct of the child-ego learning it wasn’t special, and its dreams more than likely weren’t coming true. Where most would have sunken deeper into hormone-fueled angst though, Riven and the others like him did something astonishing; they suppressed it into a ball, formed a core of outrage against the wrongs in the world. Most importantly, they unleashed it at the people they felt were most responsible for it; cops, governments, men and women on Wall-Street in suits.

The targets of their rage were often society’s elite, the upper echelon of what humanity had to offer even if it seemed lame in comparison to its aggressors. Those elite though, were cowards. They were too concerned with profit-margins, power-trips, and corporate bottom-lines or banging their secretaries and bosses to fight the aggression first-hand. They were weak, fawns to the proverbial wolf-pack that Riven represented. Such is the nature of the strong, the truly powerful, to prey upon the weak.

“Tearing Down the Wall” was a movement arranged by the few, level-headed anarchists inside the neo-punks. A reference to the literal end of the Cold War, a conflict fought for the minds and hearts of the two-greatest super-powers’ citizens with words and clandestine actions rather than all-out war. It seemed apt to the metaphorically minded. With little more than word of mouth to spread the date and time, a few thousand punkers– Riven included– managed to form a new-age Woodstock in the center of wall-street in New-York.

For a while, things were peaceful. The NYPD couldn’t help but shut down the trading buildings, cordon off the area, and let the mayhem inside carry on in its drug-fueled, screeching distortion, and sex-crazed way. Wall-Street became freak capital USA in mere hours. People from all around the world showed up over the course of a week to party, fuck, and fight. NYC’s mayor, too afraid of a riot to risk dispersing the crowds, gave orders for the police to hold their lines and not break ranks. They were smart enough to hold to his orders, for a while at least.

The various news stations played vids and on-site reports of the chaos along “The Wall” night and day. The twenty-four coverage drove their ratings through the roof. Advertisers scrambled to pay higher fees to have their commercials show-cased at the peak ratings hours. The media corps made out like bandits, and the advertising agencies nearly bankrupted more than a few, major companies whose marketing budgets rampaged out of control.

Then the unthinkable happened– or rather, the statistically-obvious happened.

There was something to be said of the new Woodstock and how, despite the untold numbers of drugs and genitals used, the anarchists managed to contain themselves as long as they did. In retrospect though, everyone on both sides knew it couldn’t last forever. The stock markets had already taken a nose-dive, and more than a few people had lost more money than they could stand to live with. Most ate the ends of pistols or full pill-bottles before the week was out.

It was the night of the sixth day since they’d begun to tear down the wall. Riven and a few pals were doped up, boozed-out, and smoking near a line of riot-gear clad cops. In as few words as possible, one of those cops was a hot chick who’d more them more than a look or too. Anarchy is that way for some, especially the ones embedded in the system. It’s like a drug, even more-so than the drugs themselves. It was a dangerous and rampant, youthful energy that most neo-punkers embodied. It made them appear as immortals, each a high-lander ready to die by the sword for the cause. More than a few men and women outside joined their ranks for even small tastes of the power they exuded.

That cop joined too, broke ranks when Riven and his pals pulled and coaxed her out to the chaos. Either from fear or jealousy, one of the other riot cops didn’t like it. Cue the melee as the hot-chick’s colleagues rushed Riven and the others with batons and shields. It didn’t take more than a minute, literally, for the crowd along The Wall to surge, break its melange of insanity, and join in the brutality.

Tear-Gas was launched, but most were so drugged it didn’t matter. Nothing could stop the madness that had brewed, waited for just this type of even to explain. Before the end of the night, Wall Street was a bath of blood, fire, and rage. There were never any official numbers released, but it was well-known that hundreds on both sides were dead. It was even more well known that somehow the National Guard had been called out to contain the situation. Thousands of drug-crazed, insanely-righteous and pissed off people were given a literal keg of explosives in the form of a National Guard convoy.

Like most, Riven made it out of The Wall a few days later, more broken and bruised than before. The intervening time and its effects though, made it all the more worth it. No-one’s quite sure how, though their always prepared to point fingers elsewhere, but The Wall was torn apart. Literally. The anarchists had managed to secure a load of non-lethal explosives from the Guard convoy entrenched on the outskirts with guns at the ready. Combined with some convenience store products, and good, old-fashioned know-how, they constructed real, lethal bombs.

At roughly five AM on the seventh day, a half-block of Wall-Street was collectively leveled from detonated, home-made explosives. There hadn’t been such carnage seen in NYC since the Towers fell decades earlier. The hundreds dead and wounded from the destruction joined the victims of the brawl with the riot-cops and the Guard. Before the end of the day, The Wall was unrecognizable. Not a single building escaped unscathed. And just as they had arrived, most of the punkers– bleeding or not–filed back to the woodwork and disappeared.

Among them were Riven with his hot-chick cop, and couple buddies, bruised and bloodied from the brawl, but alive– the damage wasn’t anything more booze or drugs couldn’t handle.

In the end, the US market crashed, the Global economy tanked, and most if not all everyone felt it. In the midst of the chaos that ensued, those sophisticated, Elitist humans became more animal than anything. Meanwhile, spurred by the Punkers ways, the rest have took to their own kinds of anarchy, where a curiously-peaceful, almost Utopian coexistence has arose.

Funny to think all it took was tearing down the Wall.

Short Story: What Once was, is no More.

What Once was, is no More.

It began innocuously enough. Sometime in the early 2000s a group of scientists in a corporate lab, discovered a set of proteins and enzymes in the genetic code of the wide-spread lab-rat. Rattus Norvegicus, the common brown rat, had been used for innumerable studies in everything from psychology to cancer research. It was only then however, that their true power was unlocked.

Latent genes in R. Norvegicus showed promise for the wildest dreams of Humanity were they to be activated. Of course, this meant further understanding them. After hundreds of new rat generations, a proper sequence was compiled. What began then had no end, for how could it? How could one bring about an end to something ended, or worse still, something endless? Through those hundreds of generations of rats, the scientists shifted, their corporate masters changed, the research waxed and waned but ever carried-on.

The cure for all disease came first– human disease at least. How could one do such a thing? That would depend on the ailment. Then, how would one cure cancer, specifically, in an entire species? It seems an insurmountable task to even create a cure, let alone distribute it to an entire populous, I know, and it nearly was. But those higher-ups and their bright ideas found a way.

Despite mass-protests, riots, and burned cities, the world’s governments launched the first in a series of non-violent chemical-dispersals over their countries. Civil wars lasted days, until, with the help of the internet, the media-propaganda-machine took over. For once, an entity used solely for suppression of disparaging citizens, rose in defense to communicate a collective message of altruistic action, hope, astonishment. Mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, and other familial nomenclature, rose to chorus in unison that no longer did their knees ache, their joints creak, or their lungs burn.

In time, the riots died down, the embers of the burned cities extinguished. With the doused fires came news of cancers cured, Huntington’s, ALS– which even the great master, Hawking, praised– Parkinson’s, MS, even the common cold, and flu.

From there on no human was again afflicted by the ailments that had so long dogged our progress as a species. They still existed, as evidenced by scientists and their microscopes. Both heralded as kings, Gods among men, and their instruments respectively. For a time, to speak for the name of science, carry out its whims, and deign its inner-machinations was the greatest act any creature could see fit to take-up. In-time, even those zealots who’d ever-decried the discipline went silent.

Ah, but alas, a crucial law of that most wondrous discipline known as physics has wider-spread affirmations than any surmised. There is a law, one nearly older than time itself at this point; each action must have an equal, inverse reaction. The positive to the negative, yin to the yang, the life to death– or perhaps that is no longer apt. Of course, digressing as I may, we found we’d approached a cataclysm– a singularity of human hubris.

This event began with the loss of biological warfare. In and of itself, when executed by humans, it was not a fitting act for such intellects as our. As such, its loss in the world hardly seemed an issue. It was a good thing. Now, not only were we humans cured of our ailments, but we were unaffected by them. We were steel of stainless stature in the face of oxidation. The breath in our lungs un-threatened by the toxins in our air. We might have collectively inhaled in the very vacuum of space, so enlarged were our heads.

Would that we had! Oh woe is us. For you see nature– science’s harsh master, mistress– is a fickle thing. She is the yin to its yang, the positive to its negative.

As relayed, the cataclysm began with the loss of biological warfare. But it was not ours loss that threatened the world. Rather, it was hers. A little overlooked fact by those Godly men– those scientists whose lives it was to study, understand, and harness Mother Nature– a simple fact. Some called it growth, others progress, the once God-King himself Darwin, called it evolution.

Evolution! How could we have misled it? Without humans dying to disease or fighting to cure it, plagues came faster, more numerous. They ravaged our world. But what did we care? We were invulnerable. Those chemical-dispersals had rewritten our DNA, made us more rat than man, woman, or child could ever want to be. The very fabric of our nature had been changed, our sight destroyed.

Mass-extinctions killed off species in the millions– perhaps billions– at a time. Plagues, epidemics, pandemics ravaged our world with such death it became contaminated. World governments scrambled, corporate interests toppled, scientists hanged, answer-less.

Once more, riots, civil-war, death. Then… that most frightful of ideas! Oh woe is us, how could we have ever thought it? But how could we not? The rats were dead, as were the birds, the fish. We had no cattle or meat, barely enough plant-life. We had no options! We were choice-less to the machinations of cause and effect, spurned by our own mistakes, our existence bulldozed to the precipice of extinction as our world withered around us.

Another chemical-dispersal, came quickly, contained something so heinous I beg not to think it.

No-one wished for immortality. For who could? Who could look so fondly upon themselves and inconsiderately thrust title of God upon them-self? Who could so desire an eternity, waiting for nothing more than the heat-death of the universe? Why could we not stop to consider the simple pleasures in the act of danger, hunger, sorrow– for if we do not die, and we are all that is left, where then do those great virtues come from?

We may fair seas that are slowly drying, and rise through skies whose colors shift as the atmosphere dies, but what of them? Should we not care? Perhaps. But we, collectively, do not. Though we may begin the fairing of space with time as our only guide, and the hope that we might find a place, or a cure for our damnation, we know of no fear, no exhilaration, no anxiety. For now we can withstand an inhale in the vacuum of space, the destruction of our ship upon it vastness. And our only angst in such an event wake? That we might drift ever-more through the Great-Beyond.

What we may embark upon in the future, no one knows. We care not. For what once was, is no more. We have no death, no fear, but neither doe we have no peace, love, serenity. We’ve no eponymous downs to give the rising ups their meaning. We have but one, atrociously-long life. We have no goal but to await the Big-Crunch, and perhaps, our own, eventual ends. But then again, perhaps not. Our lives’ only end is so far beyond us that we are lost. Without it’s threat, what goals could man, woman, or child have will to accomplish? We do not know. For that matter, perhaps we never will. For what once was, is no more, and neither are we.

– Departure Speech of Captain Ramius Severus; First Drifter-Class vessel of the Earth Fleet.

Short Story: Deadman Part 3


Part 3

The five stepped into sunlight, the world around magnificently colored with a plethora of verdant and earthen hues. The trees, regrown through centuries that had passed, threw shadows over the ruins of once prominent sheet-metal warehouses that had decayed to rusted out skeletons. The sun shone through a missing section of roof around ivy and tall grasses that had reclaimed it and the concrete floor their boots resounded echoed with. They rubbernecked their way forward to a metal door, emerged into full-blown day.

Their radiation suits, of a thick plastic, and yellow and red in color, were hot, chaffing. A member of the team lifted an instrument to measure the atmosphere. It returned normal. The few, small bounces of needles no doubt came from the sun itself. He gave the signal– a thumbs up– and the others pulled back their plastic helmets, switched off small re-breathers on their backs through devices at their wrists. They looked upon the world with renewed eyes, saw now that the complex of rectangular warehouses, covered in green ivy, was flanked by trees that threatened to topple them. All around were high rock-walls that formed a horse-shoe ’round the warehouses. They stepped for the shoe’s center, looked westward toward its open face.

A small path led outward, wound down and around the mountainous cliffs. They took in the spectacular sight, breathed deep to inhale fresh air that lightly stung their chests. In the untold centuries that had passed, their subterranean lifestyle had only afforded them the fruits of reclaimed and carbon scrubbed air. Here, it was an adjustment just to breathe, but a welcomed one.

A renewed vigor infected the Five and their mission; they must find somewhere not far to establish a settlement. One team member elaborated on the benefits of following the path down the mountain in search of an old settlement, but stayed himself when reminded of their current location: they were atop a range, likely a few thousand feet from the region’s average sea-level. The road could twist and turn for days. The man understood. It would take far too long to blindly follow the road, when there might be a more than suitable expanse on the range itself. They did however, elect to follow the road for a time, and in keeping with the ways of their utopian society, each one agreed before any of the others would leave. They set off.

The road sloped a short way then leveled off, still far above sea-level. An exploration into a mass of plains between two tree lines that spanned yielded measurements of roughly a mile in each direction. At the furthest edge forward, a remarkable sight appeared. The ground dropped away abruptly, where the Five stopped and sat upon its edge. They looked out on the profundity of what lay below.

The cliff side was staggered, the path winding down for miles. It became smaller and smaller, until merely a line that wound beneath canopies, around forests, and onward into oblivion. The team remarked to one another. This was once their domain; Humanity had claimed it as its own, and when the bombs fell, were whisked beneath it. As if man had been a pile of dust swept beneath a

rug, there was no trace from this point, but the path that had once been a road. It was doubtless that by exploring the nethers of the proverbial rug, humanity’s final resting place would be uncovered.

For a moment, the team was contented to remain and dine on the first meal taken in the reclaimed world. The others in the utopian complex would enjoy the sight, its borders large enough to house a collective. There was a matter, however, of finding suitable agricultural land. And so, planting a tracking device, linked electronically to their wrist devices, the Five set out to find suitable land.

The path curved around to a second clearing, hidden from them by the orientation of the first, and of a lower elevation. It looked out upon a ruined landscape where, clearly, had been one of the bombs’ striking points. A team member examined the ionization, as the others looked down upon a massive crater, miles wide from end to end and more still from side-to-side. It was as if a large meteorite had struck the ground. Dirt welled up around its perimeter, such that it gave

the appearance of dunes, or waves breaking in a dirt sea. Its inner perimeter, along sloping ground, still scorched over eons from the intense heat that had been released when the missile struck.

In the center of the pit, was a clearly discernible ivy that grew in distinct, unnatural shapes. It hid beneath it, ruins of a man-made structure while the craters outer-banks were much the same as before; charred dirt that morphed into green grasses. Bushes and foliage came next, that towered over the pit. Then, a mass of sprawling trees, roughly a hundred feet high, their girth a fifth of their height.

The Five took measurements, concluding this would be a more than satisfactory place to begin their agricultural pursuits. They planted a tracker, and moved on.

So it went for days. The Five would travel a short way, find a clearing, and once satisfied, plant specific tracker for different tasks. In time, each who spoke were satisfied. The “Common-man’s” advocate found peace in the beauty of their proposed residential land. The “Agriculturist” found suitable land marked to meet their people’s needs, and when the bottom of the cliff-side seemed much nearer than before, the “Business” advocate put forth an idea. Perhaps it would be best to keep their district nearer the complex and their manufacturing equipment within. The “Security” advocate agreed; to mount any defensive encampment much further from the complex, did indeed endanger their ability to defend their industry. This was of course, in speculation that defense might be needed, as save for their underground home and themselves, they’d yet to see a shred of humanity.

When the Five returned bearing news of a beautiful world awaiting them should they choose to nurture it, the utopians obliged. They moved outward to their assigned areas, began their reconstruction. They re-fertilized the soil, cleansed from its minute contaminants with artificial, microbial life; and planted their crops. They built homes among trees and plains, cleaning and replanting the soil around them. They dismantled a few of the skeletal warehouses, used their components to repair the others, and set about matters of business and defense.

In the years that passed, they were contented to stay upon the mountain. Their harvest traditions, though no longer necessary, were upheld with even greater zeal. Their views, for the first time in the span of Humanity, worked out its flaws to incorporate the compromise of few among many, and vice-versea. While a few did leave to start anew nearer to sea-level, their spirit of cooperation lived on. If one were to wish, in any of their days, to see true paradise, they need only visit the people upon the mountain, and indulge in their way of life.

Short Story: Deadman Part 2


Part 2

In the vast, underground complex, surrounded by millions of tons of cement and steel, the last of Earth’s civilized inhabitants carried out a quiet, peaceful life. The Complex, built over the waning decades of the Cold War, sprawled outward and downward. At it’s topmost level, an entrance from a WWII-era bomb-shelter offered easy surface-access. The second level of apartments and schoolhouses, sheltered and educated growing numbers of thousands from all countries and walks of life.

The inhabitants did their working, shopping, and fraternizing on level three. This level, larger than the others, consisted of separate sections: an agricultural zone; an industrial zone, and finally a commerce district; where the populous could take in movies, drinks, and if need be, shop others’ handmade wares.

A booming epoch had begun within a planet whose surface had been nearly eradicated. Generations ago, when the Complex’s builders had finished construction, they let loose weapons of unimaginable destruction. They had recruited as many like-minded people as possible to share a new vision for the future. Some declined. The rest moved began their lives anew with a prosperous future.

These foresighted individuals would never again see the beauty of the natural world, but knew their descendants would live a life of peace. In the meantime, they were allowed to bring what they pleased, but tell no-one of the mass exodus. Surprisingly, the plans had succeeded. So far there had been little complication; the greatest mechanics and scientists worked on the fifth and final level, monitoring the systems and when warranted, repairing them.

The original occupants had quickly outgrown remorse and sorrow of the passing of the world above. Many chose to start new families. These children became the first born of a

subterranean utopia. And so it went for a dozen generations, the inhabitants waiting patiently for the time when they might re-emerge upon the face of a once-more mysterious planet. Were others left, their generations passed in hiding from radioactivity? It was plausible, but no such observations had been made from the systems-level via their surface instruments. These instruments, designed to withstand the decimation of the nuclear attacks, measured the atmospheric radioactivity, and sensed when living beings were near. In all of the Complex’s history thus far though, there had been no confirmation of life beyond. With their sporadic placement, it seemed unlikely anyone had survived. So they left the hope and uncertainty of Terran lifeforms long behind them, focusing their efforts instead on living to one day reclaim the world.

Within the systems level, science laboratories were established that, even in the time of man’s reign would have put the best to shame. The builders spared no expense in creating meccas of research and development. Of course with all greatness comes minor disruption. The Complex was not with out its disgruntled parties. Those few whom wished to return to the surface, or hungered for more, when offered provision to leave, hastily turned tail. The others, having been given what they wanted, soon wished not to have been. In seeing that each man, woman, and child had their fair share, their own guilt would overwhelm them. With sorrow they apologized, divided the extra share amongst those closest to them.

It was, in essence, a communist state with-in utopian walls. Everyone was given their fair share, accepted it. There were times of stringent rationing of food, imposed near harvest, but all obliged. In the spirit of things, harvest became a new period of sharing, giving. Families would band with one another to make feasts of their rations, eat their fill, then dividing the leftovers. When harvest was calculated again, the new rationing limits put forth, the sharing period ended with no-one left out. Even among growing thousands, a sense of community was pervasive. Their togetherness as one only served to strengthen hopes for the future and the thoughts of a world ruled by their way of life: It would become the utopia every philosopher and common-man had dreamed of.

So, as more and more decades passed, and the sensors read the steady decline of radioactivity. A meeting of the people was called. The recreation area was re-situated to accommodate the mass. A team of scientists posed the question; Who might be the first to step forward into the new world?

At once everyone spoke, all wanted to go. The head scientist, determined so by his education and experience, reminded them of the dangers they may face. One by one, the voices went silent. In the end, a team of five was chosen, their names picked randomly for their varying positions and experience. Those of the appropriate skill submitted their names to a drawing for their

respective positions. The need for an agriculturalist, a businessman, a strategist, a scientist, and a ‘common-man’ was decided. Each, in their own way, would help to determine the viability of the area chosen for settlement. They would have to reach an agreement on a location, otherwise a better one must be found. Meanwhile, the remaining scientists would hurry their research in developing radiation-devouring bacterium that would cleanse the radiation from the land by eating and excreting the soil, removing its detritus in the process.

With the team assembled, a second mass was held for speeches to thank those they felt grateful for, and take the oath to retain the values of their utopia in their search. They would think only of the others, not of themselves, and at the end of their journey, they would return with a new home.

When the five stood before the ladder to the surface, they began upward without hesitation. They emerged into dim light, looking excitedly among each other. Each one, clad in an oddity of white, plastic-like material, designed to eliminate radioactive penetration. The scientists below clicked through on radios, wished them luck. The hatch to the lower level closed with mechanized movements, and its seals locked in place. The radios clicked through again; the seal on the bomb-shelter’s door had been broken.

With a hiss, click, and the exhaled of gleaming dust upon the air, the door swung wide. The five stepped forward daringly into light that shined from the sky, eager to find a new home upon a long forgotten rock.