Tom Bisant dream’t he was an astronaut who just returned from a twenty year journey to Enceladus, Saturn’s moon. He rode a Super Stegosaurus rocket… It slipped through time on the wings of a Proton-Drive Engine.
Space surrounded Tom like a cold, black room. He saw a gray shadow, a stand-in for death. The shadow staggered across a make-shift stage while struggling to perform a song-and-dance routine. When he was a teenager Tom wanted to be a comedian, but he was never ready to perform in public so he became an astronaut instead. The dark hole of space gave him time to think and revise his comedy act.
When the ship landed on Enceladus Tom was met by a younger version of himself.
“Look… they see me coming and they want me to screw them. I’m a celebrity. Women let me do whatever I want.”
“Obviously,” Doctor Zosimo Kulio replied, “the stress of your new job is making you feel inadequate so you compensate with bravado.”
“Hey, what gives… I’m here for your support. I thought we had a deal.”
“Oh, dear… no deal… you were ordered by your manager to get an evaluation and, in my professional opinion, all your man talk is covering up a deep seeded sense of inadequacy and most likely homosexual tendencies.”
“Fake news!! You must be working for the networks. I’ll sue!!”
When Tom Bisant returned to Earth he was old. No one remembered him. People were no longer interested in space flight. Everyone retreated into Virtual Reality, self-contained versions of Paradise. Real world scenarios were too complicated to understand, let alone manage. The real world was binary and everyone was sold on digital. The binary world was characterized by conflict, opposites, compromise, and adjustment. The digital world was always perfect and seamless.
The memo slithered out of congress like a viper. The ruling party was committed to building a bigger, better swamp. The memo was a distraction meant to inhibit enforcement of the law.
There were aliens on Enceladus living beneath the ocean that covered the moon.
Tom was a relic. He tried to talk to his estranged lover who he hadn’t seen for twenty years. It was impossible to bridge the gap. She was no longer present. She slipped the moorings of time-and-space and hung quiescent in some VR holding cell. What can you say to an empty shell?
Tom faced disaster everywhere. Space was an escape. Back on Earth disaster loomed large. The doctor prescribed pain-killers and anti-anxiety medication. Thoughts of suicide increased (a side effect caused by the drugs). A dark street hid malicious intent: strangers suddenly appeared like ghosts, asking questions and demanding information. He worried constantly about unlocked doors and faulty electrical-wiring. The plumbing in his home moaned like a wounded elephant. The house creaked. The TV assaulted him with ads and news about government shut-downs and social unrest. Tom longed for the peace of Enceladus.
We all crave attention. We are obsessed with celebrities on TV. We are social creatures so we create terrifying acts of mass murder. We want to be remembered. It is impossible to escape danger. The sun gives Cancer. The air contains contaminants that lead to COPD.
There is no way to justify an abduction in the middle of this narrative; still, it happened. Millie Vincent from Moorpark, Idaho was reported missing on the morning of February Fifth. Although she returned two days later, many unanswered questions remained. Where did she go and why? No one believed she was abducted by a UFO, but that’s what she described. UFO abductions are as common as cattle mutilations and crop circles, but no one believes those events occur either. Millie’s story had a strange twist. She recalled everything that happened on the UFO. Her description of the alien ship was like nothing ever reported before. The inside of the craft looked exactly like a karaoke bar with decor from the 1960’s. Rock music was blasting. A few gray aliens were also in attendance. Most surprising to Millie were the people in the bar. She recognized many government officials led by the Commander-in-Chef who let loose a disco rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. The officials cheered, bowed, and praised his glory. The aliens took notes.
On Enceladus Tom Bisant confronted his younger self. The boy was fragile and insecure. He tried being the class clown in order to make friends. His comedy hung in the air like flatulence and Tom ended up in the Principal’s office. The boy was humiliated and wanted to commit suicide. His mother’s pills mixed with alcohol would do the trick. At the final moment the boy had a vision of himself as an astronaut. His life was saved.
Corporations gained profits and the stock market hit greater highs since the new president was elected. But, it was all negligible. There were rumors of a pole shift. The president was beginning to feel trapped by the fake news hammering him from every media outlet along with low poll ratings. A new plan was hatched. When in doubt spread the wealth, shore up the base, and lower taxes for power brokers and lobbyists. .
The administration supported a new Black Label miracle beverage to be marketed to all segments of the population. It was a scientific breakthrough that promised a universal cure-all and remedy for the ailments of old age. If people couldn’t afford to purchase the drink it would be given out for free. A Day of Reckoning and Reconciliation was declared when everyone (as one) would drink the Black Label.
Tom Bisant knew it was a sham. The life he led was make believe. He tried and failed would be written on his tombstone. His career as an astronaut and the journey to Enceladus happened in his brain after taking LSD while listening to Jimmy Hendricks. He confronted himself in his head… Time seemed to stop. When his turn came he would gladly sip the beverage along with everyone else.
Allison Fornay was a slim, more attractive version of herself. She used to weigh four-hundred pounds and she was unable to move off her bed. She had a caretaker and received a living wage from disability insurance. She subsidized her income by letting news-cams into her bedroom to expose her obesity on national VR.
Everything changed when Allison met Fonderoy Thomas. He was a lifestyle guru who owned a virtual reality network. Fonderoy heard about Allison from a fake-news outlet. He wanted to help.
At this time, everyone had a Neural Net that covered the cerebellum. The net increased intelligence and enabled instant communication. Every Neural Net was stamped with an expiration code and date. The code was unique and worked like an old fashioned cell-phone number. Fonderoy connected with Allison.
“I love you, Allison,” Fonderoy gushed, “with love you can do anything!”
“Who the hell are you?” Allison replied. She didn’t know because she never tuned into the Guru channel.
After a stimulating conversation Allison submitted to Fonderoy’s life changing regimen. She submitted to mental massage and invasive chemical therapy.
Fonderoy seeded Allison’s brain with Neuro-linguistic cues and Virtual Reality Instagrams.
Allison was fucked; but, she did lose the excess weight. The process opened a Pandora’s Box. In the end Allison had no idea who she was or what she wanted.
Guru Thomas called upon Shambala, Bannon, and Mumbo-jumbo to steer Allison in the right direction. The process was trial-and-error. Allison slipped from one lifestyle to another, trying-on personalities that were injected into her brain.
She remembered munching on fruit, sitting in a Banyan Tree. She felt pleasantly stoned living like an ape. She lurched into another memory of rampaging male energy that comes with being a teenage boy. The ride continued as she became a drug addicted super model. She slammed into a tsunami of facts-and-figures as a highly regarded astrophysicist. Allison was a banker and real-estate mogul. She saw herself as a wife and mother. The experiences were overwhelming and she shattered like a glass vase.
Guru Thomas flipped through his commodified fact-sheets and randomly picked a code to permanently insert into Allison’s Neural Net.
Detective Allison Fornay was called whenever a case turned into a sticky wicket. Music swelled as she stared down at the body of a man who was vaguely familiar. The music was out of place and Allison wondered why there was music at the scene of the crime. The crime was ordinary… the music was not. The dead man was a TV personality known for his bombastic rhetoric. The man was in his seventies and he looked as if he was in terrible anguish at the time of his demise. Allison donned the obligatory rubber gloves and did the appropriate touching on the dead man’s body. She already surmised he died of a heart attack brought on by too much stress, but she had to be professional. The body would be left for the coroner who would confirm the detective’s conclusion. So much for the dead man, but the music was the real mystery. Did the other officers hear it or was she the only one? The music was vaguely familiar like the soundtrack from a TV show. It was bright and tinkly like game show music. Did the music have something to do with the corpse? “Perhaps,” Fornay whispered to herself, “I need to reassess the situation. If the man on the floor was not a victim of foul play; then who was the victim and why the sticky wicket?”
The music was counting down. A memory suddenly lurched into Allison Fornay’s brain — the memory of a man who wielded great power. He was guru Fonderoy Thomas and he infected her mind.
When lurch comes to shove, Allison was very good at hiding the facts of the murder. She concealed it from herself. The guru with his empire of zombie followers deserved to die. He tinkered with people’s souls. His pop psychology was an excuse to rewire brains and perform sadistic experiments. She smiled as the music continued to count down. Allison knew what to expect, what the music meant. The guru inserted a unique code and date in her Neural Net… and she was about to expire.
Gordon “Snaptrap” wondered if that was his real name or a pseudonym. He wondered if he was an investigator or a journalist who wanted to keep his real identity concealed. Of course, it no longer mattered because he was enjoying his most recent lobotomy. He was under the knife and loaded with drugs.
Gordon sat in a high-powered dentist chair while a computerized Bum-Bot took control of his brain. It was all for the best. This wasn’t his first lobotomy. Every operation had benefits as well as unpleasant side effects. The Robo-Doc assured Gordon that benefits would outweigh the pain. Gordon briefly recalled inconsolable sobbing, but the pain had subsided considerably since his last lobotomy.
The current operation was given as a bonus. This time the lobotomy would free Gordon from all his doubts, depression, and negativity. Before the lobotomies Gordon was, indeed, an investigator. He had damning evidence of government corruption. All the facts, names and dates, were locked in the safest place he could find: in his mind. Political hacks authorized the “operations.”
At first Gordon disparaged himself for being careless. After the first lobotomy he forgot all the details and no longer blamed himself. He forgot the evidence he hid in his mind. All that remained were flashes of memory: manipulators, roving Proctologists, and military drones.
Gordon was decommissioned — body parts farmed out. His brain was deconstructed. Reality was hijacked, crowd sourced, and replaced.
David Oblivion met Mr. Hamm on the Street of Dreams in Angel City. Hamm was an ambassador from Hell. Nothing could change the present. The outcome was inevitable.
Marty Mekum could hear the dream resonating in his brain like a land-mine about to explode. He told himself, there is no such place as Hell. The characters in his mind were as flimsy as used tissue.
Marty consistently asked questions trying to justify his life. His hands were frozen, stiff with age. He could no longer paint the images that populated his mind. His days working as an artist were over.
Marty left his lover in the past. They stood on a precipice overlooking the Arizona Desert. It was a tumultuous period in their lives. The world seemed to be drowning in a golden-shower of crass abuse and excess. The only way to live was to escape.
Protest marches and benefit concerts became routine. Demonstrations were another form of escape… bolstering a false sense of security. Drug overdoses became commonplace. The lovers lived in a haze of chemical enhancement… on the precipice — suddenly, Marty jumped, leaving his partner & lover behind.
“How are you, Marty?” The cyborg-appliance asked.
“How’s the weather?” Marty replied.
“Same as always… gray.”
Marty Mekum was from the future, but no one believed him. He wanted to save the world, but no one listened. By the time he recorded this story, he was very old. He came of age in the future by giving birth to himself. The Home cared for Marty. The Home was a network of prosthetic extensions that fed, manipulated, and recorded Marty’s existence to use as a merchandising incentive. People had inherent (but limited) monetary value. When inherent value was used up everything could be recycled and reused. All accounts were itemized and reviewed on Twitter. Capital gains and losses were tweeted daily.
Angina Splint was an account executive in the Golden Tower. She didn’t know Marty. She wasn’t concerned with other people’s problems or predicaments. Angina lived for the bottom-line. She loved her job. Perks were numerous. Gold Cadillacs abounded. Designer drugs sweetened the pot. Zombies moved into the cubicle across the hall, but Angina wasn’t bothered. Her office suite was large enough to flatten any zombie invasion.
Angina’s mom lived at the Home a few doors down from Marty Mekum. There was a cost incentive to visit mom once a year. Values were exchanged and increased. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement. Mom was always changing, trying to increase her value. She was a programmer from the last century so she knew her business. Mom’s brain was mush, puree — it didn’t matter as long as she could offer some amusing entertainment. She had to adapt. Capital gain was the name of the game. She often mimicked Hitler and harassed the “Juden.” Mom was a member of the Baby Generation. Baby clones ruled the world. The unborn were silent no longer.
Angina loved visiting mom — the money kept pouring in. Mom wore a blue hat and began to tick like a time-bomb — pure entertainment. Angina gushed.
The prosthetic appliances at the Home were plugging holes with stoppers trying to halt the flow of effluvium from the newest, Last War. Marty Mekum would have none of it. He began to rant, “the mad man in the tower is becoming more powerful each day writing new edicts, shaping the world into his own chthonic image. I hear the death rattle throttle.”
Angina caught the drift of Mekum’s riff. She was briefly mesmerized, cauterized by words she never heard. Meanings were resplendent.
Dr. Zosomo came to the rescue with an enema plunger to eradicate the excess verbiage.
Marty bespoke, “this is a drift into dark-matter. There are Nine Levels.”
No one understood. Angina and mom were determined to continue espousing the words of the baby prophet. It was a disaster: Matricide with suicidal tendencies.
“No one is free,” Marty sneezed, “we are all Him subject to the same corruption.”
The aliens took notes, gleefully observing the debacle. Too late it was revealed: He was controlled by dark servitors from beyond the veil. Dorian Gray lisped in brilliant decay.
A poet scrawled new codes on a bathroom wall.
“This is David Oblivion reporting from the basement of a deserted building in New Jerusalem. I’m tired and hungry. I’ve been running for three days. I’m trying to escape the future. I am able to send these messages due to an anomaly, a black-hole called Queer-time. Listen up… I am sending messages, images and stories from the future, your future… and, no, it isn’t a pretty “Norman Rockwell” picture… and, it isn’t the future Donny Trumpit predicted: the Global Utopia of Family Values, full employment, and the American flag. A friend once called this Queer-time a human manufactured Rapture… but, in fact, no one appears to be going to heaven. Instead, we are living in hell.
The internet has been banned; but it can’t be stopped. It seeded itself from simple viruses that were used to infest computers. The result was the birth of monsters. The Net has become self-aware and ubiquitous… capriciously sliding between power brokers, helping or destroying on a whim… but, always seeding itself and creating more monsters. The little war the U.S. started in Iraq never stopped… it spread to Syria … fueled by religious fanatics and Russian avarice. Our President’s Russian ties earned him billions while the country sank into a swamp of corruption that spread to the Net, becoming part of the Net, fed by corporations and mega-industries. America has become New Jerusalem… born of the internet!
America, “that shinning city on the hill” — now, we live in enclaves and barricaded communities… or in hovels and abandoned buildings. People stay indoors because the streets are too dangerous. War exists everywhere. Most people are plugged into the Net discovering virtual worlds and virtual pleasures. Nothing is safe. Spy Eyes are everywhere… bugs, on search and destroy missions, are relentless. Many enclaves must submit to the New Puritans. There are many powerful missionary groups that demand compliance to the “Word of God.” Missionaries use the internet for their own purpose, to ensnare unsuspecting “sinners” into virtual porn-palaces where their minds are dismembered and cannibalized. People no longer care about the dangers because the Net offers the only pleasurable distraction in a world where there is no place to escape.
Sometimes, demons roam the streets in search of targets to pick off like ducks in a shooting gallery. They go to deserted warehouses or back-alley bars and hunt for prey; or they sign-up for the war where it is easier to get weapons and where there are rewards for hunting and killing. War makes all things possible. A demon can become an officer and help mold a policy of rape and torture. A demon in a uniform can influence the minds of impressionable youth… and sucker the “poor” into fighting the war for the “rich.”
The only hope lies with the artists and poets of The Manifest, an underground group struggling to reveal the truth. As a member, my life is in jeopardy. I’m being hunted. At any moment …” Screen goes dark and Gunshots ring out.
He didn’t actually, but I thought it was a good way to draw attention to the improbable events that happened while Trump monopolized the TV screens. Many earth shaking occurrences and changes were overlooked during the election season debacle.
Where to begin…
David Oblivion sat in the Hot Box waiting for the interview to start. He’d been waiting for eleven days and the Box was getting hotter. Food and water, the basics, were provided through a slit in the metal door. He was the one on trial, but David had his own questions that needed to be answered.
David was waiting to be interviewed by a man who called himself Death. He was a representative of the “New World Order.” David was one of the few people who knew the New Order was already in control. It happened while everyone was hypnotized by The Donnie on TV.
Lavonia Freestand wanted to free David. She was an activist who believed Black Lives Matter. David wasn’t Black, but he could have been… and really it didn’t matter. David was a victim and Lavonia knew he was innocent. She worked in social media penetrating the walls of lies that separated people from one another. Most people were attached to the internet, floating in cyberspace, living in virtual reality like make-believe celebrities. Real life was superceded by Second Life while the New Order quietly took control.
According to the Donnie the world was about to be decimated by Muslim terrorists. Immigrants were destroying America. The Middle East was a tinderbox because a weak, former President failed to bomb the place to kingdom come. Different truths for different folks.
Conspiracy theories also existed. Some theories were fact: no one knew about the washing machine on the Moon. No one knew about the colonization of alien planets. No one knew about the Third World War that began in 1975 and never ended. It was too late for David Oblivion. He wrestled with himself -wrestled with his realizations… David knew!
Lavonia Freestand wore a sliver lame’ gown fashioned from spider silk. She was having a nosh at Katz’s Virtual Emporium.
“Hi there,” Monsoon Rex sauntered up to Lavonia and stunned her with his X-ray eyes. She faltered but stayed true to her digitally enhanced persona.
“Bub,” she said, “what’s your game?” Lavonia suspected enemy collusion or worse.
“I’m here to soft talk you,” he said, “I want your soul.”
“Are you Death?” She queried.
“No,” he said, “Death is with David Oblivion doing an interview.”
Lavonia couldn’t help herself. She was drawn to the devious stranger like a motherless child looking for love. She lost her grip and forgot about David. Lavonia and Monsoon shifted into retrograde.
“I’m here to interview you,” Death uttered like a bass drum
“I know,” David replied like a shy, adolescent girl.
“You trying to seduce me?” Death said.
“No way… just following the rules. I have a few questions.”
“Don’t screw with me… You know who I am!” Death was indignant.
“I know… but, it’s important.”
“OK, ask away,” said a subdued Death.
“I only have one question, really… Why do you exist? Why all the drama… What’s the big deal.”
“Long story short: you want me here… All of you. I make your lives meaningful because you are always under my threat… Always trying to cheat me… Always surviving in my shadow. Without me there would be nothing to live for. You need me to goad and push you into the future. You need me to make the future possible.”
While David was being interviewed, a new President was elected. The future was beginning to unfold.
It was the end and David knew it. He hoped the world would survive the inevitable.
They tried to beat the crap out of David Oblivion because they suspected he was an illegal alien. The attack was ordered by Mrs. Homily and carried out by her son. David was too close to the truth and that was the real reason for the attack. He knew the Homilys were working for the mainframe known as Zeitgeist — the computer was constructing doppelgangers to take control of the world. David’s attackers didn’t know he was a real alien (not of this world). If they had known, the onslaught would have been far more deadly.
It began in the only bug-proof room in David’s domicile, the kitchen. Walls were heavily fused with silver flypaper, the best possible defense. Princess Aurora, leader of the resistance, sat opposite David in an accommodation pod. She appeared to glow within her cloak of conductivity as she softly spoke, “David . . . the situation is dire. I’ve lost more recruits in the last month than in the previous five years. Men are dying. Brains have been severed and wiped clean. I need your help.” Her violet eyes invited more than just a suggested donation.
“I’ll do anything,” David responded. He was a loyal devotee. To initiate a more compatible arrangement, they had sex. Since David was an alien and Aurora was a hologram they used surrogates. It was great sex and Aurora continued to divulge salient information, “I’ve had more trouble lately meeting the right men. We are at war with a powerful enemy. I need your help to get the codes which can insure the freedom of the human race.”
“Do you have the coordinates?”
“The information is at the Mindshaft, a digital-dump where you will meet an electronic-circuit disguised as a cowboy known as Severan Seven. Be careful. Don’t let any loner overhear your conversation, for his sake as well as ours. I advise you to blend in. The Mindshaft is a Gatsby Club.” Aurora blinked and disappeared from the accommodation pod. David realized how much he loved her. She was always an exhilarating experience. If they were more compatible they would make perfect partners, but duty always came before personal happiness.
David dressed in a silver Gadfly-Suit and took a Strobe-light down to the Mindshaft. The place was in the electronic-hub-district where corporeal intelligence was digitized and projected as TV images. It was difficult to decipher enemies from friends. Information-whores latched themselves to unsuspecting bystanders like succubi. The Mindshaft was the projection of a saloon from the twentieth century, authentically wrapped in wooden planks with real glass windowpanes. It was easy to recognize Severan Seven — he was the only cowboy in the bar with the flashing aura of a flat-screen TV. David flowed across the room like an electric eel and sat on the stool next to Severan. The cowboy warbled in Gothic-Fortran, a new retro-language. David easily latched onto the lingo and warbled back. Communication parameters were established and everything was smoothly twittering when a loner sat on the stool next to David. The alien quickly sussed him out. The intruder was an innocent, totally out of his league and not aware of the circumstances or danger he was getting into. David was forced to resort to a diversionary tactic to safeguard the information he was receiving and head off any collateral damage. The low life next to him was sitting in a daze, hardly awake. He looked lost, yet vaguely familiar. David grabbed a drink off the bar and spilled it in the stranger’s lap. It worked. The grubby fellow acted like he received a jolt of electricity. David replied, “Scuse me — you were in my way!” The guy just walked away without a word.
At last, David could turn his full attention to his twittering friend. Severan Seven was revealing a catechism of loaded information. David wondered why. Was he a stool pigeon? Was he a double agent or a Trojan horse? The codes could be fake, an elaborate trap. After the info was dumped, Severan Seven was replaced with a test pattern. Sexual contact, the usual way to seal a deal, was not even suggested. David’s suspicions were now fully realized.
When he left the Mindshaft the Homily zombie attacked him. David was trying to contact Aurora with the codes she so desperately needed. She had the key to test the codes authenticity and veracity. It was very possible these codes could end the war and save the planet. He was looking for a safe zone to transmit his data when he was attacked. The zombie came with several militant clones, mindless thugs motivated by the compulsion to maim and kill. David was at a disadvantage because he carried no weapons (he didn’t want to spook his contact at the Mindshaft). Still, he had his alien wits about him.
His foes surrounded him on a white plain of digital detritus. They jabbed the alien with pointed sticks, all the while laughing like crazed demons. The Homily zombie lusted after David’s brain like a creature from a low budget, horror sim. As an extraterrestrial, David had one skill that might save his life — he could become oblivious by shifting reality. It was a trick he learned as a young man when he was incarcerated in a mental hospital. The trick meant he would lose the data and all the codes. He could save his life and lose the world. It was decision time. The enemy stopped playing with sticks and started lashing out with big knives. One clone was lighting matches and another was gathering wood. They wanted to build a bonfire and use David as fuel. A choice was made for David by the safety-valve in his inner-ear which took control. The information were dumped, the codes lost, and David was catapulted into oblivion.