“At first there was the hum of the machine: a constant buzz and yammering, voices in my head: TV news, commercials, and pleas for money.”
The psychiatrist was attentive. He spoke with the thunder of boom and bluster, “I understand you need help. Recent traumas have had a negative effect. But… I sense there is more. I believe you are fundamentally flawed. You are dealing with several different personalities, all residing in the same corpus.”
The screen went dark. On the other side of the wall a political rally was dividing the country. An Angel appeared: a flash of light too brief to be noticed. There were others, but they were as silent as shadows fading into the wall.
Dieter Rosenquist was sedated, recovering from a recent fall that split open his forehead. Modern science sealed the wound and put him on the path to recovery. He lay on his newly purchased, massive bed that rose up and lowered with the touch of a button. Dieter had his I-pad and I-phone to keep him company. The computers revealed the world through filters and fake news reports. Dieter was ninety-two, quickly approaching his Year of Ascension when he would receive his first pair of angel wings. He was ready. He had seen enough of the Twenty-First Century and the New World Order. Dieter already felt the flutter of wings as he settled into a virtual healing session with Godfather Ken, the spokesperson for Cthulhu on Earth.
Readers may remember Cthulhu as a character in H.P. Lovecraft novels from 100 years ago. Of course, time no longer has any significance. Time was declared irrelevant by the President of the Apprentice Nation. Who am I to judge… I’m just an obedient reporter working for the Cthulhu contingency of Alien Observers.
Dieter awoke with a jolt of electricity and immediately left his old body behind. He climbed into a golden chariot. The self-driving Behemoth took him to Sound-Stage Eleven, the lap of luxury, where he would encounter Terpsichord Renatta. Terpsichord was a mash-up, a mix of characters from Dieter’s past. Tonight she/he represented a fling in the hay and a love-gone-wrong. As ever, Renatta was stunning beyond belief, optimized with alluring filters. It was an explosive experience being in his/her close proximity. They were attending the inauguration of television’s most vaunted celebrity.
The party was just beginning. On the surface everything was orderly and precise. The event proceeded without a hitch, but something peculiar stirred in the depths. Tersichord was not allowed to use the bathroom of his choice. Dieter was bleeding profusely. The Orange Guard infiltrated local communities. Church leaders were seen taking bribes and kissing ass. Real news was banned. Pussy grabbing was all the rage.
The confusion began with a crash on the 405. It could have been a hit-and-run that resulted in a misstep, a terrible tumble. One moment Dieter was driving his car and the next instant he was sliding into oblivion. He skimmed the Event Horizon and fell through a Black Hole. He thought he saw the face of God: tentacles screaming out of the void… a momentary flash of orange hair in a comb-over.
The President tweeted about a new TV event, a Network Spectacular. The name of the show was, Smash, and the whole world was encouraged to attend. The Billionaires Club hosted the Virtual Extravaganza. Party favors were delivered by drones to every household in the country. Dieter received an AK47 signed by the President. Corporations provided chemically infused fast food, a feast of enormous proportions. Arenas and Pleasure-Domes were packed to overflowing. The event began with patriotic songs and a parade of unemployed workers from coal mines and uranium fields. Crowds cheered as gladiators were forced to perform Herculean tasks. Consumer goods were praised. Russian roulette and other games-of-chance were promoted by celebrity shills. Nothing was too devious, crass, or outrageous. Television ratings soared. A war ravaged world watched in shock and awe.
The men and one woman at the Billionaire’s Club watched and laughed. Smash generated Trillions. Attention was focused on the violence perpetrated by the hordes attending the event. Everyone was fascinated. No one was complaining. the masses were subdued. Members of the Club laughed like hyenas ripping apart a corrupt carcass.
Cthulu also watched; enormous, bloated and vengeful, Cthulu rose up from the darkest depths, blotting out the sky, devouring the universe… all the while laughing, always laughing (the hum… constant buzz and yammering… a sound like the shredding of entrails).
The land of the dying sun was not far away. The white-gold disc glowed softly behind a curtain of mist. A woman lay on a hospital bed refusing to give-in to the doctor’s diagnosis: old, beyond years, but still beautiful… still ferocious… a face to be reckoned with… facing life and death. Everyone else faded away like gauze, ghosts in the fog. Nothing mattered anymore. Cthulu and the others receded into the background. The Angel lingered briefly and vanished. Virtual Realities evaporated, as insubstantial as tissue. She wondered if she was crazy… and why nothing made sense. Commercials still intruded: TV voices hammered, but no longer threatened. The beasts lost their teeth. Machine-men, doctors and nurses, hovered around the patient like sentinels… prophesying death. But, she smiled, happy to be done with the overwrought world of men… Glad to be in the land of the dying sun.
The email scandal caused the election to slip and slide leading to the inauguration of Balbek, the new leader. Balbek was a celebrity. Some said he was a business man. Others said he was a comedian.
Jeff Sumak sat enraptured before the screens in a Virtual Chatter-Cafe. The screens told the glorious story of Balbek. Orlow Fabricatum, the reporter from “Future Lies” took notes. The reporter interjected remarks that dripped like acid from the proboscis of a fly, “Balbek is a virtual conceit, not a real person at all.” Jeff was dismayed. He had faith in the new leader.
Everything depended on the wall-of-secrecy meant to keep out invaders. Balbek claimed the nation was crumbling due to alien invasions. He vowed to correct past mistakes and make everything great again. Jeff dissolved inside himself recalling past mistakes.
Jeff was an angry man. He was recently laid off from his lucrative management position and forced to work part time. His girlfriend left him for another man. His condo needed repairs he couldn’t afford. It was all the fault of big government: there were too many bureaucrats with their fingers in the pie. Government was a thief – stealing from people like him to pay for healthcare, welfare, roads, and schools. It was all a boondoggle as far as Jeff was concerned. Newly elected Vern Balbek promised salvation from the problems facing the nation. Jeff was encouraged by this new patriot, a business man with a plan for real change.
The first major change had nothing to do with Jeff’s primary concerns, but it aimed at improving the nation: babies were given voting rights. The new laws were designed to support the family and ban all abortion. Balbek stated, “New life is God given and must be protected at all cost – even at the expense of the expendable mother.” Jeff was very happy about the new laws promoting the status of men over women.
Jeff realized he always deserved more respect. Other People needed to follow his suggestions. Women should be more attentive and subordinate. Jeff loved to bang women (that was his only pleasure in life) so why shouldn’t they be more accommodating? Balbek made it happen. Balbek was on television bragging about his affairs with women. He said women were drawn to his magnetic charm. He could do whatever he wanted. Women submitted willingly because he was a celebrity — a celebrity with balls.
Jeff worshiped Balbek and the changes he promoted. Balbek gave a weekly sermon on national TV. It became the highest grossing program in the nation. Balbek opened Step-up camps for orphans and “poor” children so they could learn proper etiquette and good working habits. Step-up led to Helping Hands to put the children and the nation’s unemployed back to work … in factories and mines … in kitchens and bathrooms. The economy boomed, stimulated by low-cost labor. Jeff joined the Orange Guard. He was paid well to enforce laws that protected corporate entities from unruly masses and worker dissent. He was respected and well armed – he didn’t have to press too hard for women to grant him sexual favors.
The stock market soared when Balbek declared, “Peace in the East.” The peace was enforced by newly conscripted troops made up of youth from Step-up camps. Members of the Orange Guard were ordered to keep the new troops in line. Jeff Sumak became an officer commanding a forsaken outpost in a mud hole on the side of a mountain. His life took a turn for the worse. His troops were ill equipped. Jeff’s requests for better weapons and basic necessities were never answered. He saw teenagers ripped apart by artillery and bombs. Jeff complained to higher ups about the deplorable conditions. After several months sending emails, he received an answer – he was taken to headquarters. Jeff was put in a room, in solitary confinement and abandoned. He was no longer of any use to Balbek. In his cell, Jeff began to suspect that Balbek was an invader, an alien sent to dismantle order and sanity – sent as an advance guard before the main invasion.
Balbek frowned. He peered through a one-way glass to inspect Jeff Sumak. The man was obviously disassembling. Jeff had been under Dr. Balbek’s care for more than a year. There was no improvement. Balbek knew Jeff had a personality disorder. He suspected his patient harbored multiple personalities. Jeff often called himself Balbek, the boss who changed the world.
Jeff stared at a reflection of himself. He no longer believed he was a powerful dictator or an alien invader … now, Jeff believed he was a psychiatrist – Dr. Balbek. The real Jeff Sumak lost himself; or perhaps, he never existed.