One day the moon just started sucking up bones. As if someone had suddenly switched on a giant tractor beam. And within a few months there was a steady upward stream; a skeletal highway to the stars.
I can still remember the first one – you’d switch on the TV and there it’d be -a lone slender femur (most probably female it was posited), dangling there in mid-air, resplendent in the moonlight. And when the moon waned, it still hung; bright, flood-lit by the halo wattage of the world’s camera crews.
Of course the usual panels of talking heads were assembled. The scientists weighed in on what the possible causes could be. These ran the gamut from: a worldwide collective hallucination in the form of an optical illusion, brought on by our over-exposure to screens and pixels, (there were graphs involved and a formula or two). To the deep reflections of religious leaders whose holy books had made no mention of this, yet never the less, claimed it had been an act of God (of course which one depended on who you talked to).
Their public ruminations were meant to call our attention to death, the sobering morality of life, and that we’d better get to praying with the quickness if we wanted to avoid a similar fate- that was the consensus at least (church attendance swelled across the board.)
There were the doomsday people, or ‘bunkerist’ as they became known, who inevitably found a hitherto unknown link to a South American mountain tribe that committed mass suicide over 4000 years ago (but whose bodies curiously hadn’t been tapped for ascension yet).
Astronomers, stereotypically a camera shy bunch, busted out their tortoise shell frames and loudly colored bowties, (screaming yellow with a pattern of tiny Saturns seemed to be popular), and faced the barrage of questions flung at them daily by the media.
-How much did the moon weigh?
-Were aliens behind this?
-Why don’t the bones burn up or drift into space?
-Would George Lucas, in their opinion, have been capable of clandestinely diverting Lucas Film funds towards creating a moon base with a tractor beam? And if so was it “fully-operational”?
-Which were their favorite moon craters?
-Was this gravitational beam capable of carrying off a living human?
The answers given ranged from factual to fanciful.
The moon itself was subjected to a battery of tests none of which revealed anything new.
The tides still rose and fell with unnerving regularity.
And the bone itself was inspected as much as it could be without disturbing it.
(Why didn’t someone just grab it? Take it down? What were we afraid of?)
Perhaps it’s gently oscillating beauty had spell bound us.
It took several years for it to finally reach the moon’s dusty surface and it landed with a gentle ‘thunk’ (that, of course, was heard by no one).
The people of earth expelled their previously collectively held breath in a sigh of relief. Well that was sorted out. Measured, solved. Now we could get back to cleaning out the garage, feeding our families and sitting in traffic.
The femur fell out of people’s lives. And soon it became just another part of the 24hr news cycle; sandwiched on the nightly local news between daily reports of violence in the Middle East and the weather.
And then, a skull with an outsized cranium came somersaulting into the picture, travelling at a speed relatively greater than that of the femur that had come before it. Most likely it had belonged to a Clovis hunter from the Pleistocene period who had just finished putting the finishing touches on a particularly deadly spearhead – when he was jumped from behind by a North American megalion and unceremoniously torn to pieces.
The skull was dubbed Yorick by the media which had no sooner tried to wrap their collective, chattering heads around this new development when streams of bones from around the planet started to disturb loam, overturn lawns and disinter cemeteries (whole neighborhoods suffered the tell-tale pockmarks of death revealed). All these bones like great shining mineral deposits up in the sky with small tributaries feeding into larger streams.
Day by day this astral union continued unabated with that odd coupling that results from random events:
The remains of a Vietnamese man who in 1941 had been worrying about his eldest daughter’s recalcitrant temperament and, at 26, her increasingly dismal prospects of finding a husband had, while plowing a field, keeled over clutching his left arm. (Incidentally the young lady in question did marry – to the boy who later discovered her father’s body. He’d been passing through, on his way to his home village when he’d stopped to eat lunch along the side of the road and seen the formerly worried father’s brown toe peeking out over the top of a tuft of grass).
This particular array of anatomy was followed in quick succession by a French doctor, who in 1927, after hearing that his patient had died in childbirth, threw himself into the Seine but not before enjoying a succulent ‘lapin avec des frites’ and imbibing a half dozen carafes of Beaujolais (not a particularly good year). It was presumed he had drown but the autopsy revealed that he had shot up a sizable dose of morphine and judging by his track marks, (deftly hidden between the toes), it wasn’t his first (although it was, presumably his last). This would explain his nodding off after having ordered, something the maitre d’ had tactfully overlooked – even going so far as to pity the le pauvre docteur . What the autopsy hadn’t revealed, and which death was to seal forever, was that his patient, the daughter of a well-to-do horse trader, and he had been having a tryst (white wine, a deserted picnic basket swarming with bees, a tousled blanket). He had used his position at the hospital to block a Caesarian knowing full well that the uterus had begun to close up like purple winecups at night; so many of his nights following her death would close with cups filled to the brim with a deep mauve wine – the color of maternal blood.
This was followed by the shorter and more straight-forward tragedy of a sharecropper from South Carolina who spent most of the Great Depression pickling his liver before being cut to ribbons by a thresher.
And a 67 yr old Moroccan man who, after sweeping up, and resting his aching back for a moment had accidentally drank from the wrong cup of mint tea and found himself, the inadvertent, fatal victim of a lover’s quarrel.
Or a 34 yr old Nigerian woman who, while wandering the elaborate shantytown within Lagos, (a place unfamiliar to her having just moved there a month before) had gotten turned around and found herself the prey of some rather unscrupulous young men who stabbed her for very little money and the colorful gele she’d been wearing (a good luck gift given to her by her aunt).
A woman who had spent a lifetime working her fingers to the bone in the northern Canadian territories, already having placed the bodies of three boys, one girl and, most recently, her husband in an old dilapidated barn (where they would await their finally resting place until that spring’s thaw) this woman, so hardened by life’s travails, would finally succumb to the slow stiffening rigor mortis of her arthritic joints until she was as solidly immobile as her family.
And let us not fail to mention Thoreau’s innumerable masses – the ‘quietly desperate’, that macabre parade who had died of ‘silent killers’ like diabetes, heart disease and undiagnosed clinical depression.
Or the millions of infant crib deaths (alone & helpless).
Or the millions of dense floating coral reefs made up of car crash victims: One young woman spent a full three minutes sputtering, her last breaths ragged and belabored, and she could only think about the dry cleaning she hadn’t picked up – not her son; not her husband; not her life slowly ebbing away. Just her cashmere sweater and wool skirt, that she’d found on sale and clumsily spilt coffee on a week earlier.
All these instances of death. But let’s try to be orderly about this. How do we define death? Is it mere cessation? If life is the animation of flesh, of an impossibly intricate series of chemical markers, interactions, communiqués and tides of cells going from ‘off’ to ‘on’ and back again, then surely death is merely the end of those animating processes. Then once the ghost that animates this chemical symphony vacates its shell (sloughing from it or, just as abruptly, bolting) it’s gone for good and there’s no coming back….
But back to Gaia and her exodus of dead.
The strong teeth and healthy bones of the earth’s increasingly distraught and hysterical populace began to desert it in droves to join their star borne brethren en masse. Fashion is a strange beast given to sudden infatuations and even more abrupt desertions. For the last 20 or 30 years the trend had bent towards ever taller, thinner gazelle-like specimens but given the importance the skeletal frame had take on in the culture, and seemingly inspired by Gaia’s lastest crash diet, a grotesque obsession with protruding hips and hollow cheeks came to the forefront (and of course there was the hunger – the ravenous all consuming hunger, and subsequent demoralizing fatigue, that accompanies those features) until a portion of the world’s populace were decidedly bony and chic.
Soon, deprived of a significant portion of its mass the earth began to wobble like a top. The seasons went all topsy-turvy with the clouds rushing around as though sped up and the passing hours of each day were like a hysterical, volatile and capricious manic depressive spring day.
Meanwhile, those still as yet unlaid-to-rest bones continued to debate the meaning of all this: the white supremacists were weighing in, now claiming that ‘They’, the various races that is, ought not to mix at all and that the ‘darkies’ were sullying up the whole thing. Then later ditching this line of argument in favor of a more quantitative one – namely attempting to prove that the majority of the bones had been, (still were for what it was worth) Caucasian in origin, proving that God loved them the most. Racism had finally received the divine stamp of approval.
Further support was lent to the ‘grand design’ argument when scientists revealed that there didn’t seem to be a single animal bone in the bunch. And yet for whatever reason inanimate objects were not called to the holy land of the lunar surface anymore that those of the chitin kingdom or our mammalian cousins. By some obscure logic only Homo Sapiens and the occasional Neanderthal were called forth, out of the earth, as though from a crypt.
This dealt a blow to the vegan camp which had had no choice but to take the stance that this must be a sort of cosmic punishment for wrongs committed Earthside but this view gained little traction – how could earthly transcendence be a bad thing?
The heads jawed and jawed. People saw them so often that they began to see through them. The flesh seemed to wither and fall away until only the skulls were left. Then people got bored and turned away.
Ultimately God was deemed to have been a three letter place holder for that place where our imagination runs out of steam and sits down to rest on an old creaky chair.
The question was: where were all of these bones headed? The fact that no one had thought to ask this question was met with outrage by the general public and considerable embarrassment by heads of state (their religious counterparts stuck to their guns publically and cursed modern technology under their breath in private.)
Satellites were launched towards the moon post-haste where the bones were all headed, as though by some internal migratory pattern (as though they’d previously made a tacit agreement amongst themselves – one as silent as the grave).
The bones had indeed all chosen the same spot on the Lunar surface as their final resting spot. It took several months before enough had piled up to discern a pattern out of what was initially chaos, during which time little Kara, 3yrs old of Saginaw, Michigan, tumbled down from a slide far too high for her. She fell breaking her neck and dying instantly; was buried – a tradition a lot of people had foregone, putting troves of morticians (and corpses) out on the streets. Incidentally there was also a rather large contingency of people who, perhaps tired of all the hoopla surrounding this transcendence thing, or simply stayed true to the moon, like children of a divorce forced into choosing between two parents, chose cremation as a form of protest. Why pay the by now costly funereal costs just to have it self-exhume later but her mother was convinced that those that ascended were called there and for that she first had to be buried. Her father – in a flash of drunken resentment towards his wife, had lifted Kara up on the slide and bullied her into it even going so far as to shout at her when she didn’t get moving fast enough. He was later found guilty of criminal negligence and involuntary manslaughter. After serving 18months in the Chippewa Correctional Facility, the remainder of his sentence was commuted to community service but he was a no-show on the first day. The parole officer in charge of his case followed up on this discrepancy, less than 24hrs after the fact, only to find the former father hanging from an exposed beam in a rented duplex off I-75.
This tragic story was picked up by the media and, as so often happens in cases like these, an outpouring of sympathy for the daughter and mother was soon followed by outrage at the father, which settled into general apoplexy and then simmered down into mild disinterest, before being completely forgotten.
But this last step in the sociological behavior of a media-saturated populace was put on hold by her mother’s open appeal to keep a media vigil over the grave until her daughter’s ‘resurrection’. Three months later just as the compound eye of the world’s media was growing sleepy with boredom her bones ‘rose from the grave’ and joined the stream heavenward.
Her mother’s obvious joy at this fact and firm belief that this stream was somehow indicative of a higher purpose touched even the most calcified of hearts and little Kara’s bones were tracked all the way to their final resting place. The world, the entire world, across cultural & religious boundaries; a world that had become numb to the idea of death, sick at the sight of bones, weary with discussions of the afterlife (or the lack thereof), cheered, cried, wept with joy in an authentic emotive moment, a moment free of contrivance. Imagine that. And when the bones finally joined the ever-growing pile of bones already at rest on the moon something amazing happened.
In what would be played over and over on an endless loop, in a move that had people searching for anatomy books and made osteopaths famous overnight (and who fared only slightly better than the astronomers before them), Kara’s bones diverged from the normal trajectory at the very end and came to hover over the pile of millions of bones already on the lunar surface, and then, suddenly – they stood.
In what would come to be known as the ‘Kara incident’, the bones as though pulled up by some magnetic force, spontaneously formed a lower torso, two squareish feet and two column-like legs, with Kara’s bones forming the base of the pelvic structure.
The formation of the lower torso gave much fuel to the fiery debate that raged around all this. In the interest of saving space here I’ll boil it all down to the essential question: What the fuck was going on here?!
Subsets of this main topic are as follows: Would it walk? Was it built by aliens? If so, good or bad ones? What was next? How did it do that?!
The name ‘Kara’ skyrocketed in popularity. Nearly every girl born from Timbuktu to Mogadishu, from Toronto to Tasmania was named after this bone mistress who could raise the dead.
But somehow, in the convoluted way of crowd logic, it was a) accepted as a miracle b)decided that it ‘meant something’ (never mind the fact that everything means something but what something means depends entirely on who’s looking, or indeed if anyone is looking, because if no one is looking it means nothing).
The final conclusion drawn was that c) we had to ‘pitch in’, ‘to do our part’, ‘to pull our weight’.
Logically (if logic could still be seriously employed under these circumstances) the size and strength of the upper body, namely the main torso and its bulk would be directly proportional to the number of bones that went into its formation, overall construction and general makeup.
The first person to espouse this idea was one David Gyan who some years prior had taken over a mountainous province of Ghana near Obhu Tabri and proclaimed himself supreme leader. As occasionally happens in these situations his followers bought into it and willingly laid down their lives in the largest mass suicide to date (13,671 was the official body count). normally this type of large-scale lunacy is seen as just that ‘nuts’ (or something more colorful) says John Q. Public before turning his back on the TV and his attention to something more sensible like the stock exchange. But as is the way with some insane acts of perceived sacrifice some Q Publics heard the news and decided to follow suit. No doubt David Gyan died with a thin smile on his rictus lips. In fact, rare as it is for a worldwide trend to start in Ghana that’s exactly what happened.
Suddenly everyone wanted to die. To take part in the Great Extraterrestrial Leap Forward or (‘G.E.L.F.’ as it became known). People around the globe went on gleeful GELF shooting sprees.
Whole families hung themselves, their joyful tears not yet dry on their cheeks, their homes were found in ceremonial disarray (flung cake, overturned chairs, closets ransacked, all in search of the perfect final outfit; all in search of the perfect final exit).
Whole neighborhoods set fire to their homes, people got together in civic halls to sing religious hymns, everyone gathered in the one cul-de-sac of the subdivision: the Hernandez, Jackson, Wong and Smith families all got together in their tract housing summer uniforms: khaki shorts and oversized Hilfiger oxfords draped over bellies that had seen too many BBQs and Bud Lights. Seven emphatic, orthodontic-sponsored faces grinned all around as twenty years of future worry and debt went up in a self-set blaze. These acts of citizens’ arson were shown on the nightly local news feeds as part of the personal interest section, replacing stories of quintuplets and Good Samaritans. They often featured actual on-the-spot interviews with the participants of these ‘freedom fires’ as they were dubbed, with peppered goatees and exposed roots. The Davis family spoke of feeling ‘unburdened’ and being ready for the ‘call’. Their daughter an overweight sophomore at West Oaks High School chimed in with the simple phrase ‘We’re going to see Kara’; hands were held, Amazing Graces were sung, Brats toasted. Amen.
But one story in this cacophony of death is particularly noteworthy: a school bus of children, some 48 in all, went over a cliff side on a frighteningly high mountain pass in Peru. Afterwards, just one short day away from internment their remains positively rocketed out of the ground, leapfrogging over one another on their way upward. A cosmic bound tumbleweed. They came to lie on the center of the rapidly forming cranium and would come to form the face. It’s remarked that because they were children they gave the figure its enigmatic smile and delicate features. At first the serenity of the facial expression was likened to Mona Lisa’s thin smirk, or George Washington’s upturned inscrutability on the flipside of every single greenback in circulation, but ultimately there was nothing to compare it to. It was simply…serene. Perfectly serene. This turn of events gave people hope, after all if it’s been a scowl of outright terror written across the face of this self-assembling monolith that would have been cause for alarm but an expression like this one could only inspire confidence.
For once the talking heads were speechless.
As the upper body and face continued to take shape it soon became apparent that the figure had one arm by its side but the other slowly coming together was extended outward at shoulder height. As the primitive bicep became apparent and the rather simian forearm began to take shape there was a gradual focus by the earth’s media on the emergent fist at the end of the arm. Was the statue giving us a sign? Was it symbolic? Was it a black power sign?
‘Not vertical enough,’ black history scholars concluded (much to the chagrin of Watts and Harlem)
Was it a Nazi salute? No the closed fist ruled that out decided the WW2 historians (much to Germany’s collective relief).
Was it a cosmic fist bump?! But then, overnight, the last finger formed, the index finger, not knuckled over like its handmates, but doing what it does best – indicating.
Initial deductions concerning the finger’s trajectory were further honed using ever greater grades of satellite mapping until an area just south of Big Sur and finally the place where a genetics lab had stood came into view. It had long since been sold on but some of the original structures still stood and they were immediately combed over by the FBI’s forensic teams. Inside, on one of the remaining stainless steel counter tops, lay a much used and beloved chess board on the backside of which were some coordinates. A rookie FBI officer, following up on a hunch that the board hadn’t been left there accidentally, checked them out and they turned out to correspond to the W. M. Keck observatory in Hawaii – more specifically to a ramshackle house next to it. The house had belonged to an astronomer and his son. The father and son had lived a somewhat feral existence out in the observatory and had been known around the island for their eccentricities: the boy was homeschooled in the sciences by his father a man of very few words and a bit of a recluse, preferring his blurred pictures of distant astral bodies to real people. The boy was looked after by a nanny who had dubbed him, Keiki Makua ‘ole (Hawaiian for orphan), or just Keiki. He spent his days either trekking up the lush mountainside of Mount Ka’ala or else riding the Banzai Pipeline, by night he gazed deeply at the stars and his father tutored him in organic chemistry and astrophysics. For the boy’s 21st birthday his father, an amateur pilot, took his son up in a Cessna 337 Super Skymaster. While over the South Pacific a storm suddenly swelled up and after it cleared, leaving the sky a particularly keen and sharp shade of blue, (as was noted by several amateur meteorologists) – the boy and father had both disappeared. Neither wreckage nor their bodies were ever found.
But back to the shack: it had been left to the boy’s nanny, by now a grandmother. When she saw the foreigners pull up in those unmarked cop cars (that everyone knows are cop cars), she went and retrieved an old photo a tourist had taken of some equations the young boy had scribbled on the beach a long time ago.
She said the man who’d taken the photo had given it to her saying that ‘I don’t know what it means but that little guy’s a genius – could be important.’ A few years later she’d shown it to the boy who had eye’d it quickly before making her promise to keep it in a safe place.
Essentially the photo contained an equation for artificial life.
This of course was swiftly confiscated by the FBI much to the displeasure of just about every other country on the earth. After a lot of diplomatic talks behind closed doors – with violent protests taking place outside of them – a deal was hashed out in which the information would be shared with the top governments of the world (also known as the G13).
Another 7 years passed during which time the world’s top scientists bent all of their acumen and talent on bringing forth the world’s first lab-grown human.
This was Providence; this was our divine right; our birth right if you will. People felt that all of this was our destiny – that that pioneering, lone femur’s long journey to the moon had led us back here. Full circle.
Throughout most of the initial stages the project was a closely guarded secret. But even the strictest non-disclosure agreement couldn’t keep something this monumental under wraps and towards the end the media got wind of it. But perhaps we’d become inoculated to the idea via countless sci-fi films that had already played out every conceivable scenario which effectively rendered the whole thing blasé at first.
The worldwide media machine, while not quite with the same intensity as was later given to the Kara incident or indeed to the lone femur, ample attention was paid to the world’s first synthetically designed, vat grown human, named after the genius boy who’s equation had made her very life possible.
Not since the bubble boy of Texas’ plight was splashed across the tabloid front pages of ‘80s America has someone’s day-to-day medical condition so captivated the public’s attention. We watched her mew and cry all swaddled in a fuchsia hospital blanket; we watched her at the breast of various wet nurses; we watched on as she gummed her first solids, stumbled forward on wobbly legs and mouthed her first words. We all stared on stupefied at the full extent of man’s power; his reach, his dominance. These were the thoughts that ran through our heads, that mitigated her ‘terrible two’ temper tantrums, her reluctance to being poked and prodded by well-meaning scientists in lab whites and their less than well-meaning benefactors and financial supporters in drab-olive greens and deep navy blues.
There was nothing extraordinary about her aside from having been grown outside of a human womb; just an ordinary girl of indomitable spirit and cheerfulness. Of course those pesky, intrusive tests took their toll and at 8yrs old she bit a lab research assistant who had been having trouble finding a vein. At 12 she’d run away (‘had escaped from unjust captivity’ is how her subsequent supporters described it. She was found some 72 hours later hiding in the toy section of a local supermarket where she’d gone to get a bike but had been stopped short by the doll section; all of those anatomically-denuded specters of humanity. She stood there captivated by the shear range in which the mold had been bent; mesmerized by their sameness. She stared back into their eyes, afraid to find even a glimmer of similarity.
Of course debates galore raged around her life and upbringing; she was a veritable cottage industry in and of herself – a thousand PhDs sprung up around her tracking her every move. Pestering her with a trail of focus-group devised, think-tank posited questions.
Was it nature or nurture that led her to rebel against her caretakers and surrogate parents? Did she know ‘What she was?’ Did she ‘Have a soul’?
This last metaphysical question took on an increased significance as her health rapidly deteriorated. Charts were furiously consulted and egg–shaped heads scratched in bewilderment but at the onset of puberty her internal organs suddenly started shutting down one by one like lights going off in a dorm. There was talk of hormone levels ‘improperly regulated’, ‘difficult to predict with any degree of certainty’, ‘the mysterious balance of nature.’ Endocrinologists took over the spotlight recently vacated by the osteopaths and astronomers. We watched as our little Keiko, grew skinnier and skinnier beneath standard issue hospital blankets covered our mouths as the red blotches bloomed on her skin, shook our heads at the distended belly. Throughout it all she was serene, cheerful even, in the way only children can be in the face of death. The world grieved on a scale not seen since the Kara Incident. The candlelight vigils were so vast, that they could be viewed from space, so that even our bony seer could make them out.
Where to go from here? It seemed as though our belief in predestination was once again being put to the test. We’d come so very close to creating life out of nothing. (Never mind the fact that we’re capable of that each time we copulate and let’s face it – it’s a damn sight more fun.) The religious leaders cautioned against despair and held this up as an example of the dangers of meddling in God’s domain. Some things ought to be left to Him and Him only.
But her body wasn’t even cold before scientists and their insatiable curiosity took the lessons learned by this experience and began to replicate ‘her’ in labs all over as they tweaked the DNA sequencing a little this way and that, improved longevity, the immune system and the brain power (that last improvement was not encouraged but it proved too irresistible for some of the scientists not to pursue).
Of course all of this took place behind closed doors. So as not to ‘upset the general public’ or ‘incite social unrest’ effectively we were cut out of the loop. By now most of the experiments took place in three labs around the world and they were heavily guarded. There were various investigative reports and leaked photos but they were always a little too grainy to be true and rarely rose above the level of urban legends.
Within three years they’d ironed out the kinks and cranked up the assembly lines. Worldwide output was up as most GDPs rose significantly during this ‘boom’ period. Purveyors of the synthetic materials that went into constructing the models, the biotech companies that grew the organs, and the security companies that claimed to protect us from them all benefited enormously. The industry in Second Persons was growing and tailored to suit every need. There were of course industries that were the first to make use of this new, seemingly endless supply of cheap labor: the militaries of the world, daydreaming of iron-clad discipline and hoping to build super-soldiers were amongst the first in line; brothels bought up a sex model that had no moral qualms about sleeping with dozens of men a day, didn’t tire easily and was immune to most STDs. Heavy industries, factory farms and other undesirable positions were soon ordering Second Persons by the thousands and where there is demand there bound to be supply.
As you can imagine things generally went the way of the industrial revolution some hundreds of years prior with the Second Persons migrating according to global work demand, cohabiting and coupling with normal humans along the way; a sort of cross-pollination if you will. With numbers came strength and they soon drew attention to their inequities, drew comparisons between themselves and other ill-treated minorities of the 19th and 20th centuries, which in turn lead to the inevitable conclusion that what they needed, indeed demanded, was : complete and total equality.
Although sexual relations and pregnancy was strictly forbidden (this is before the Second Persons Sterility Act passed), there were some Second Persons born unregistered and quickly squirreled away by their parents in clandestine locations it wasn’t until later, during the Second Coming, that we were able to see just how well in advance of First Person Humanity they’d mutated. Nearly quantum-level brain power, telekinesis – superhero shit, in short. Except they weren’t fighting for good exactly. They had the raging hormones of a teenager and a marked sense of otherness (only exacerbated by actually being ‘other’) and paired with a searing resentment that threatened to spread like wildfire.
Given their superior intellect and penchant for self-organization (not only on a cellular level it would seem) it was but a hop, skip and a jump to the political ladder – from whose lofty precarious heights they were able to found their own representatives, neighborhoods companies and strategies.
Just as we had once dreamt up a way to better the human race, so now, they in turn, had come up with their own plans for our ‘improvement’. Soon the pyramid had simply been inverted -the slaves had now become the masters. It’s funny that we wanted to create them in our image and while we removed some of the faults inherent in human behavior we didn’t remove them all. It’s as if as we were reluctant to do so, as though those foibles and undesirable characteristics: rebellion, puberty, free will, emotions (we had turned them up and down but never off), were part and parcel of being human.
They, however, had no such illusions, were not blinded by sentiment and had no qualms about dismantling everything. It was far too late – we’d simply been outmoded – and from then on the changes cascaded rapidly. Of course there was uproar, riots and uprisings which quickly degenerated and were dispersed into guerilla warfare and rear guard actions. But seeing as how they were more intelligent than us to the Nth degree, could move solid matter with a thought, communicate with one another instantaneously, well, we didn’t stand a chance. Squaring off with them was like trying to play chess against Deep Blue’s ‘roided out big brother; like trying to hide from an omniscient being. Within a few years we were all rounded up and surgically altered or disposed of. Our brain stem, central nervous system and organs were enhanced and the rest done away with. In a quick karmic turnaround, a six step program was implemented meant to hasten our demise. First there was a branding campaign so that we could be more easily identified. Then we were put into camps and our property taken away followed by our possessions and then our bodies themselves.
And that’s how we became what we are today – androgynous ruminants. Herbivores with interchangeable parts; beneath our snap-together, biodegradable, and opaque plexiglass shells you can just make out the beating of our lab-grown hearts and the drips and squeals of our organs. We’re mulch in reverse, bio-engineered for the compost heap.
With blatant disregard for our mother planet they planned to rape the earth’s core for the energy thereby causing irreparable damage to the environment and throwing off the rhythm of its tectonic plates. Volcanoes were going off like Fourth of July fireworks and the sky filled up with ash; everything all sooted up. All of this done so as to feed the hyperdrives of their sleek and silver interstellar ships. And once those were complete, they had no more use for us, our labor or our planet. And we were left behind on this barren, depleted deserted rock waving goodbye to the backside of an engine burning like the sun.
And so we weather the days in our translucent shells, searching for sustenance in the form of insects and edible bark; we know we’re not long for this world. And as I take a brief break from my labors whipped by a fierce wind that promises a storm later, one to finish off once and for all, I sense the sky lighten. I can feel the warmth on the exterior of my arm and I look up. At first I’m not sure what it is- it’s been years since I’ve seen the sun. I raise my hand to shield my eyes from its bright orange and citrus clear rays that burn straight through the thick cloud cover. And in a flash I realize that this series of moments and impressions, this succession of days with its hungers and desires, its pain and joy, that this isn’t the end. It’s a loop. An endless loop.
Judson Hamilton lives in Wrocław, Poland. He is the author of three chapbooks: Celebrity Slumbers (Cervena Barva Press), No Rainbow and Black Box (Greying Ghost Press) and a novella entitled the Sugar Numbers (Black Scat Press). His short story collection Gross In Feather, Loud In Voice is forthcoming from Dostoyevsky Wannabe in Spring 2017.