He’d always been a strange child… he was even stranger as an adult. People said Alexander seemed to focus on something outside his line of sight. Alexander Pogue was focused on the future. The world he lived in was too painful: nationalism and bigotry were carried over from the past and all the hatred was given a facelift and a new, benign name.
He grew up to be an archaeologist, an explorer unearthing relics from the past. But, he always had his eye on the future. His physician prescribed pills to cure his obsessive-compulsive disorder, but Alex never took them. He was searching for a mythical city. On one of his digs, he discovered a stone tablet that described a lost city. Alexander was convinced the city was from the future, a metropolis that traveled through time. It made no logical sense, but it became an idee fixe.
No one believed his story. He never showed the stone tablet to anyone. He was afraid revealing the tablet would put his life in danger. He memorized the information and shattered the stone. Now, he was no longer certain the tablet ever existed; but he continued to search for a possibility that was little more than a delusion.
He was aware of the warring factions within himself: the believers and the heretics. The city was not his only obsession. He was obsessed with design-elements: colors that did not belong together, a chandelier that hung slightly too low. he wondered why no one else was effected and why no one seemed to see the defects that caused him so much distress. He was only content when he was on a dig… when he was hunting for the future.
As a young man he was more adept at hiding his symptoms and he worked as a university professor. He lived in a rented basement and hoarded the money he earned. Piles of newspapers and reports filled his living space. He believed the printed material on scraps of yellowed paper might show him the way… might open the gates of hidden knowledge.
The affair he had with a student and the ugly aftermath drove Alex into a deeper hole of disintegration. A carnal relationship between a professor and a younger man was an anathema to the Regents of the university. Sucking dick was not condoned (even in a country where the president bragged about grabbing pussy). Alexander was fired in disgrace. He was convinced his lover committed suicide, but he never knew for certain. At the time, there were too many voices and contradictions in his mind as his grip on reality disintegrated.
All the while his obsession with the lost-city became more entrenched and it gave Alexander the purpose he needed to survive. He had money stashed in several bank accounts. His uncle known as “the peacock” added to Alexander’s wealth when he suddenly expired in a rumored orgy of hedonism and left his fortune to Alex, his closest relative.
The money was an expedient allowing Alexander to assemble a team of semi-professionals and novice treasure hunters. The team would hunt for the lost-city.
Sabrina Cataract joined the team as a diversion from boredom. She was tired of playing games with overwrought men… besides she had a brilliant mind and enjoyed mental stimulation. She knew Alexander from his time at the university and thought he was a fool; but he offered a salary she couldn’t turn down.
“White Smoke” was the team’s Guide. He said he was an American Indian, but he was a white man who was out of a job so he re-invented himself.
Orlow Fabricatum came along for the ride into unfamiliar territory. Orlow described himself as a fly on the wall… he was a hack reporter who wrote for slander-sheets. He needed money so he joined the team.
Dr. Zosimo Kulio was on board to monitor the health of the team. He was avoiding prosecution for over-prescribing highly addictive medications. If no one could find him, no one could prosecute.
Roxy Wentworth brought up the rear. She was an engineer and cook… about to reach her expiration date: both her heart and liver were artificial and replacement parts were no longer available. She craved one last adventure.
The team came to the conclusion that Alexander Pogue was deranged. He constantly fidgeted and often babbled in a foreign tongue. They joked behind his back; but, like lackeys they encouraged him and catered to his whims because the pay was good.
Sabrina smoked like a furnace. Kulio warned her about the dangers, but she liked living on the edge.
White Smoke often disappeared. He was addicted to porn on his I-pad.
Orlow Fabricatum was more complicated than he appeared. He worked undercover for a group of power-brokers who manipulated the public’s perceptions of reality.
Roxy Wentworth was an agent from a virtual future. She had an important mission to carry out, but the details alluded her.
Alexander Pogue recognized the symbols on the cave wall, deep within the earth. Someone left a calling card, a special invitation and only Alex could decipher the message.
The others laughed behind his back while Alex shed layers of neuro-linguistic programming in order to discover the gateway that would lead to the lost-city.
He finally perceived a crack in the cave wall that expanded as he watched. Golden light flowed from the opening. A doorway appeared in the black heart of space.
He stepped across the threshold and entered a radiant city. The light poured into Alexander Pogue and he was transported back-and-back in a chain of lives that merged and exploded like a nova.
The doctor and others examined the patient who had a recent episode. He’d gone off-line. He disconnected from the virtual womb. Alexander Pogue was another fatality from the plague of “Mass-Alzheimers” that affected billions in a forgotten world.
“When the fox gets in the henhouse the chickens put up a ruckus,” Farmer Yoot was fond of saying. He continued, “that’s what happened around here when Fox News said we’ve been visited by an agent from the future. Everyone thought it was fake news, but no one could refute the chicken scratchings or the hard, cold facts.”
A precocious boy named Benny tinkered in his basement workshop. He built something he called, “Moe-Moe” that had to do with Molecular Observation and co-Efficiency.
“Pretty cute!” Mom scolded, “taking my toaster-oven and turning it into a pile of junk.”
Benny blushed… it wasn’t fair. Moe-Moe was not a pile of junk. Moe-Moe had a brain.
The old man flipped the switch. He was “old” even though he was only forty-eight. Physical bodies aged quicker without medical coverage, exercise, and sunshine. It was a new world. However, none of that really mattered because everyone lived in Virtual Reality. The program the old man was experiencing was depressing. It was like living inside the mind of a lunatic. The show was a hangnail from the past called, “Politics and Conspiracy.”
The man switched channels. He showed up at Loopy-Dezi’s Pleasure Dome drinking Ambrosia and shopping for image-enhancements. His current body-suit was a Mesomorph and his nik was, Butch Hernandez. He looked like a newly hatched eighteen-year-old (like everyone else in the Pleasure Dome). VR made everything possible. Of course, a customer had to pay. Terms were easy: cash, digital-dots, or body parts. Slice-and-dice Computers were in charge of all transactions. Butch was lucky — his body was still in one piece. Although he was penniless he could still pay and play. While he played his body was carved apart and recycled to wealthy oligarchs. The new economy favored the rich and ruthless.
The economy was built from rules that resulted from Kingdom Come, an armageddon series written and produced by the first Trump. Earth no longer existed in any recognizable form — it sizzled and sweltered. Living bodies were stored in tanks underground, cold storage. Minds were set free to roam virtual landscapes and participate in heart-throbbing Telenovelas.
“On Deck with Trump” was a clever VR that pitted contestants against the first Trump (a stochastic representation often displayed as a bubblehead). The game was rigged. No one was allowed to win accept the self-anointed demigod. It was just good fun. Hearts were eviscerated and livers eaten raw. Everything was experienced as high-definition reality. No one experienced anything outside a storage tank in a thousand years. The physical senses no longer worked. The brain became the world. Augmented dreams were the basis for life.
Moe-Moe slipped off the shelf and disappeared. Benny smiled. Mom slithered away like a garden snake and burst into fireworks. Reality played tricks with itself… was this Virtual or Memorex… “Can you hear me now?”
Martha Regalia Snoops invented Time. She was a housewife with a peculiar hobby: the study and application of Quantum Physics. She was in the kitchen baking a cake when she realized the theory and formula for Time. Her discovery is explained fully in the Wiki, but my explanation will be brief: Martha’s cake was layered — several layers overlapped, separated and merged. She discovered Time is not a straight line going in one direction. Time is layered with the past, present, and future separated and blended together like the layers of a cake. Her mathematical formula reset the world of Quantum Physics. In an odd coincidence, Martha happened to be Benny’s mom. Benny inherited Martha’s smarts. Martha was proud of her boy genius, but also a bit jealous.
Moe-Moe, the toaster oven, had a brain invented by Benny. It lingered for months soaking up the dingy surroundings in the basement. It took some time for the brain to wake up, but once awake it couldn’t be stopped. The brain ate information like a voracious shark. Moe-Moe had a wireless connection to the internet. The toaster oven spoke through a discarded I-phone with the voice of Boris Karloff. Moe-Moe connected to the mycelium mushroom network (the planet brain). The toaster oven consumed the knowledge of the world and finally discovered Martha’s Time formula. A plan was hatched both in the past and in the future. The toaster oven shot through a wrinkle in time and the world was changed forever.
No one remembers the Bubblehead Dynasty or the underground storage tanks. No one remembers kingdom Come. Layers of Time were shifted: separated, merged and forever changed.
The parlay in the restaurant was getting rowdy. Too much good stuff. It was a power-dinner for all the characters involved in the government kerfuffle — abdication, vindication, subjugation. No one was happy. The scoundrels were evicted from the henhouse. A new roost was put into office. One entanglement followed another. People cried out for a rough-and-tumble rooster to show them the way.
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.
Valerian Bortta was fascinated by detritus, especially the parts of himself that flaked off his body like garbage. He was always leaving pieces of himself wherever he went; and he was always traveling — exploring new cities, countries, different time-zones and “other” dimensions. Valerian was a time traveler; but that wasn’t so unusual because everyone travels through time starting at birth and ending in death.
Valerian convinced himself that he controlled time — it was a delusion. In fact, Valerian Bortta was an ordinary man who simply and inevitably got old. He saw his life spread before his eyes as if peering through the wrong end of a telescope, everything appeared far away and very small.
He had no one who could take the pain of aging away, no one to soothe his tired body and overwrought emotions. His life had become frozen in amber, self effacing. His world was a crumbling relic.
Two lovers kiss on a beach. Their bodies glisten like melted butter oozing from lumps of boiled lobster
A young man and an old man kiss triggering a massive landslide that completely obliterates a small town known as “the village of the damned.”
A stranger stands erect on the other side of a door. He cannot be seen directly. His body glows with green fire.
A young man sits in a chair. He is naked — sobbing as he remembers a dear friend who suddenly disappeared.
A woman gazes at her reflection as it changes before her eyes from sweet innocence to embittered regret. Her body responds by breaking down into soft dollops of clay.
Valerian could not understand the language or the visions. It wasn’t his life. Nothing was real anymore. he was consumed with self doubt as he watched his body peel away, shaking off flakes of skin, nail clippings, phlegm, and droplets of piss. He could no longer hold his body together. Valerian wanted to split apart and pass silently into the still air.
Before he began, he was assured by Dr. Mortis that nothing would change. He would be returned safely with no harmful lasting effects. Valerian realized too late that nothing ever works out exactly as planned. There are always consequences — always a heavy price to be paid. Time was the focus of the experiments. Valerian Bortta paid the price: locked in a prison of immortality.
The transmission was fuzzy, hidden beneath layers of static and concealed within a camouflage of codes. Scientists discovered a multitude of transmissions in the sounds picked up by radio telescopes.
Ronnie cut the cable. It was a defining act, a dividing line between his former life as a nobody and his new life as a God.
When Ronnie was eleven he was considered a prodigy. Teachers praised him. His parents, Dawn and Harkness, were ecstatic because their brilliant son gave them the kind of status they dearly wanted, but it didn’t last. Ronnie was paraded before audiences hungry to see a true mastermind. Expectations were overwhelming. Ronnie froze on TV, his mathematical expertise dried up like road kill on hot pavement. His parents let him know how disappointed they were. Nothing seemed to matter and no one cared so Ronnie doused his sorrows with alcohol. He started drinking heavily as a young teenager.
Drinking led to drugs. His mental acuity was short circuited. He lost interest in math. Ronnie left home after high school. He worked sporadically. His life was reduced to hours of watching cable TV. Ronnie’s family disowned him and his only friend was a drinking buddy who was homeless. Ronnie slipped, almost seamlessly, into being a nobody.
He recognized himself on TV, in sitcoms: The hapless drunk, the teenage hophead, the total failure. His drinking buddy called himself, Commander Zorn. He was an old man who was a bit creepy. Several times when drunk he tried seducing Ronnie. The Commander always said it was meaningless fun, but Ronnie suspected Zorn was really gay. The old guy was Ronnie’s only friend so he put up with the nonsense. The Commander had the gift of gab and he often told interesting stories that excited Ronnie’s hunger for something imaginative, a way out of the dismal world he inhabited. There was something mysterious about the old guy who called a cardboard box his home and boasted that it was an Imperial Kingdom. He talked with an odd accent and he used words that had no meaning and sounded more like music. Zorn always advised Ronnie to cut the cable.
He cut the cable with a pair of shears used to slice metal. The TV was turned on at the time and there was an electrical surge that kicked Ronnie to the ground. If he hadn’t been drunk he would have been killed. Instead, his mind was pulled from his body to float free in ethereal space. Ronnie was no longer tethered to 3-dimensional reality. He became part of the transmission, the buzz in space. Life and death stretched before him like a smorgasbord. The music of the spheres rumbled with harmonic dissonance.
Commander Zorn loved a computer game called, Space Invaders. He started playing as a boy and never lost interest until one day he was knocked down by a death ray. At the time he was an adult working as an accountant for a woman’s lingerie company. He was completely disabled by the death ray, i.e. – he was mentally incapable of holding down a regular job. Zorn moved into a cardboard condo and left the workaday world behind, bolstered by a growing addiction to alcohol. He cut the cable and drifted free, conquering new worlds and altering Time and Space.
Ronnie slipped between the ribbons of wireless communication experimenting with different personas. He was in the back seat of a 1938 Ford Coupe with Mary Kemper fondling her breasts and decoding the mystery of sex. Simultaneously he enjoyed a box of popcorn laced with lysergic acid at the back of an Imax Theater with Robbie Collins. The boys became friends and lovers, exploring an infant universe filled with possibilities.
After years of interminable boredom aboard the Zippo Space-liner, Commander Zorn took charge. No one else wanted the job. The previous captain locked himself in his cabin trying unsuccessfully to kill himself. The Zippo fell through a black hole and the lives of everyone on board were extended by millions of years due to a quantum entanglement. After a millennium trying to reset time, everyone gave up and just wanted to die. Seances were conducted by Madame Celia-Quark to contact some outside force to end the boredom.
Ronnie floated like a buoy in a flux of etheric currents. He was information. He had access to all the knowledge in the universe. One moment he held an ordinary glass of water and the next he was the Atlantic Ocean. When he turned up the volume he could hear angels playing electric guitars. He heard voices from every point in space and time. He heard Celia-Quark: her mind trying to crawl out of her skin, asking for help. Ronnie played the role: a ghost at the seance. He couldn’t resist lifting the table, blowing out the candle, and talking like a dead uncle. This was the group’s first outside contact. Everyone around the table quacked with expectation. Ronnie never got over his fear of other people’s expectations so he left the seance as soon as he arrived. The room collapsed like a deflated balloon brought down by the prospect of another millennium of absolute boredom.
Commander Zorn immediately picked up on Ronnie’s presence. They knew each other in another life. Ronnie could feel the resonance of Zorn. He was drawn to the source. In an unexpected confrontation Commander Zorn and Ronnie were pulled together by the currents of space/time. Wireless pixies engineered the encounter. Zorn and Ronnie merged like liquid Jello and then solidified. They were always one and the same person just separated by time (the young self and the old man). Ronnie-Zorn realized the role he had to play aboard the Zippo. The only chance to save the world from boredom was to crash the ship into a giant asteroid. The asteroid known as Bsh-44 was headed toward Earth, on a direct path to cause a major life-extinction event.
Nothing could stop the transmissions. Hidden within layers of camouflage and separated by cryptic codes the messages kept coming. Scientists discovered the transmissions were omnipotent: constantly changing, reshaping the universe — and remaking every form of life.
The car floated down the freeway passing through an endless night that clung like a ragged garment or the claws of a feral beast. Jeremy Quill lay on the backseat pretending to be asleep. He was small for his age with a shock of unruly hair and deep blue eyes. He stared out the window through half closed eyes as the car passed oil refineries shooting flames from chimney stacks. Mom and dad were in the front seat — solid, silent and cold. One moment he lay in the backseat and the next he was somewhere else.
Jeremy was dancing his brains out, cranked on some new designer-drug. The music tore through him like blasts from a bazooka. Everything mutated into sexual desire and intensity. He was in a crucible of intense heat, melting like soft metal. Ecstasy was short lived. He knew it couldn’t last. Time always played the trump card. He was forced to hang his sweet, new body on a meat hook and return to face the judge and jury. First he’d side step to the car that floated past the sirens of hell.
It was safe pretending to be a ten year old boy, but he was a bad boy. He had the experiences of an adult in his head. Mom and dad could never understand how their sweet baby could be so ruthless. The boy drank hard liquor and smoked grass. Threats didn’t bother him. Jeremy was the Alpha Male in the house. He enjoyed bullying his parents. They were too stunned by his behavior to defend themselves, instead they simply cowered and gave in to his demands. Jeremy enjoyed shocking his parents. He forced them to sit in hard backed chairs in his bedroom while he sat on the bed looking at pornography and making lewd remarks. All the while the digital phone kept track of time.
Jeremy flipped into an older version of himself. He was well aware of the entanglements caused by his erratic behavior, but he had to keep moving to stay ahead of the authorities. He had fond memories of the time and place where he currently found himself. He just had sex with Marigold, a sweet high school senior who wanted a little excitement in her life. She was so innocent, putty in his hands. He stood over her body and smiled. He didn’t know what he liked best, the sex or the death. Then, he remembered: he loved her breasts best and he had to have them so he took them. The week before he met a boy named Jason. The results were almost the same, but Jason didn’t have nice breasts… he had an adorable penis and now it belonged to Jeremy. For just a moment he was wistful: all the killing — all the torture — what was it all for he wondered. Self doubt dissipated in a rush of narcissistic pleasure. Jeremy was outrunning time — death was his jumping-off point, the trigger to immortality. His phone purred like a kitten. Time to run.
This time everything was different: a totally new experience. He was tussling with an older man who smelled like sewage. Jeremy couldn’t imagine why he would pick this abhorrent creature for a victim. The man was like a mutant with peeling skin and blood red eyes. He was naked and his body was covered with scars and welts. He was twisted and misshapen; but he was as strong as an engorged gorilla. Jeremy realized he’d been forced into this fight. It was territorial. The monster wanted what Jeremy possessed: the power over life and death — over time itself. The man held Jeremy in a binding embrace, crushing the life from his body. Jeremy felt the searing breath on his neck as the man pulled him closer to extinction. Being this close to death was like an electric jolt and Jeremy became inflamed with passion. He wanted to live and all his resources came into play . Jeremy’s resolve was resounding, heard above the grunts and mewlings of the battle. He broke from the monster’s hold and managed to draw his butchering knife. There was no fight left in the foul man as he struggled to regain his balance. Jeremy did not miss a beat as he stabbed and chopped at the lowly body that seemed to be wasting away before his eyes.
Jeremy had met his match. An entanglement in Time put him at odds against himself. As a result, Jeremy Quill was never born.
“Take the family and go on vacation” was the sober advice from the Cognitive Therapist. Dr. Orlong was not being ironic even though Roger Denten had no family and could not afford a vacation. The doctor was just being oblivious. Denten could never take a vacation. Roger was eighteen years old, but he was really fifty-three. The age discrepancy occurred when Time slipped like a fast car on black ice. Everyone was on the Edge due to the Singularity (the threshold where there is no turning back from a future that transcends humanity). It hit in the blink of an eye… the human species was now outmoded and time-stamped to expire. Denten knew it, but everyone else was blinded by recent events to the point of total ignorance. A new replacement species was in the wings pensively awaiting their turn on the stage of history. Humanity hung by a thread. Roger Denten kept the thread from breaking. Before he reverted to an eighteen year old version of himself he was a physicist, a spinner of threads. He knew all about String Theory and sub-atomic particles. Denten threaded the needle with indeterminate Strings and broke the glass ceiling of Reality. He was partly responsible for the advent of the Singularity; but Denten had a key that could stop the inevitable. He needed access to the Particle Accelerator in the lab where he used to work, but no one believed him. He was no longer recognized as an esteemed scientist because his appearance changed and He looked like a drug addled delinquent.
Roger Denten was labeled “psychotic” and forced to go on a long vacation. Doctors prescribed drugs to make him supine. He was transferred to the Office of Virtual Reality and given a new life with an adorable wife, Amanda, former swim suit model; and two cherubic children, Aniston and Petr — the perfect family. They were all going on a long vacation where sweet, ocean breezes cooled the white sands that were normally blisteringly hot, too hot for bare feet, but the family loved romping in the sand without shoes or socks and the breezes made everything perfect. Roger Denten was convinced his vacation was reality. All the while the strings and threads were unraveling.
The New Collective took the form of an androgynous angel and emerged from the nest to gaze at the surrounding city that was abandoned and crumbling. The Collective was immortal and only as “human” as the machine-codes flashing on a phosphorescent screen. The Collective could alter the environment and change shapes like a Chimera.
In a dark hole there was a brain in a box labeled “Denten.” The brain was part of the engine that supplied energy to power the New Collective. There were billions of boxes in the underground hole. The whole of Humanity was on an extended vacation.