The New Age of Man

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“Emotions for sale! Only half price today!” the street vendor shouted out to a group of passing tourists from Mars.

The busy bazaar featured all of earth’s many temptations. Aphrodisiac’s, strength enhancers, mood elevators and a host of other mind-alternating pills and injections. Then, there were the beautiful women, and men. Each one trained in the arts of love and seduction. Their section of the bazaar was always the busiest.

In 3022, there were no longer separate countries. Just huge bazaars spreading across the globe. There were no central governments. No wars. Earth’s economy depended on selling products, and entertaining visitors from throughout the solar system. All resources were communal, so there was no need to steal from one another. These survivors from generations ago lived in an orderly system that evolved out of sheer necessity. There were no murders. Kidnappings. No hostage taking incidents. No one carried weapons of any kind.

A thousand years ago philosopher’s would have referred to this New Age as “Utopia,” and they would have been dead wrong!

The New Age on Earth turned out to be a time when man lost all of his humanity. Emotions came in vials of liquid. From birth, every person was assigned a skill. It was the extent of a person’s education. How to grow food, and plants. How to mix hallucinogenic compounds. How to make textiles. Carpentry. Electronics. Technology. And dozens of others disciplines necessary to maintain life in the New Age.

Lost in the new order was a sense of self. Of being a unique being. Having independent and creative urges. A number instead of a name. No family. Just a sector where you were born and raised. Dreams only came when you ingested the right chemicals. The concept of love was watered down to doing your duty.

In this new world, a young man emerged who had natural feelings, a creative and clever mind, and a desire for adventure. He was everything a human was 1000 years ago. He was capable of love and hate, and independent thought. From a very early age, Dan (the name he called himself) realized he was a stranger among strangers. A sense of self-preservation kept him from sharing most of his thoughts.

His job as a Class One Gardener gave him a lot of time alone, tending the acres of vegetables in his lot. At certain times of the year people would appear to help with the harvest. These picking specialists were considered Class Two Gardeners. They never had to be told what to do so there were little, or no conversations when they worked. Dan would watch their expressionless faces as they worked, wondering how much brain function they still had.

During the harvest there was little for Dan to do. So he spent time walking through bazaars and around the countryside. Some days he walked for miles, tirelessly observing the world around him. It was during this slow time he discovered a cave full of history books. He marveled at the craftsmanship involved. He never saw a book before. His reading experience only extended to technical instructions on computers about soil, insects, and how much to water his charges. The books were the most exciting thing that ever happened to him. The secret stash opened up the windows of the past.

As far as he could see there were plastic crates full of books. He imagined librarians all over the world assembling the massive collection for future generations. It was an awesome thought.

The cave was well concealed, and it was just an accident that he initially discovered it. He was examining a thicket of bushes and the dark berries on them when he noticed the cave set back against the mountainside. Being adventuresome and curious he fought his way through the thicket until he came to the cave’s entrance. The rest was history.

After three years, Dan discovered what happening to humans. There was a war in 2022, and mankind lost! He read the last volumes prior to the war, and up to humanity’s final defeat with a sense of horror. At that moment he never felt more alone in his life.

Mankind’s last stand came against the forces of three planets; Mars, Venus, and Saturn. Because the governments on earth never united against the threat they were defeated, despite putting up desperate defenses. The conquerors killed off most of the humans on earth and rounded up the rest so they could be programmed and bred to be mindless slaves. The breeding program went on for decades as the aliens played with the humans DNA. The only reason this knowledge was preserved was because of a small group of humans who avoided being killed or taken away during those dark times. They lived off the land and spent most of their days documenting mankind’s struggles.

Dan never found their bodies, and often wondered what happened to those last survivors and chroniclers of humanity’s fate. Their last volumes were written by hand on crude paper. They were unbound, unlike the thousands of beautifully made books by numerous cultures that populated the rest of the hoard of crates.

More years passed as Dan continued to spend his every spare moment in the cave, reading books with a flashlight. Then a growing malaise took over him. He realized he was probably the last free-thinking human on the planet. He didn’t understand why he, unlike everyone else, was so different. How had he escaped being a mindless zombie with one mission in life? He knew a little about genetics, but not nearly enough to come up with a scientific reason for his independence. He certainly had no recollection of being a child, only a time when he was being trained and taught certain skills. He reasoned it was the same for the others around him.

He grew more moody trying to figure out why he was so special. He went to the cave less often as he wrestled with his inner demons.

One day, while walking around the cave Dan heard a voice. “Good to see you again! We were afraid you wouldn’t come back before we could tell you about your origin.”

Dan held the flashlight up and saw six old men standing there. Their clothes were in rags and they had long white beards. The one who spoke took another step towards him.

“It’s time you should know something,” he said softly. “Hold out your right arm and peel your sleeve back.”

Dan followed his instructions without question. When the old man produced a knife he took a step back. “What are you going to do?” he asked, fear etching his voice.

“Please…hold still. I promise I won’t hurt you.” He took the knife and cut a circle on his arm. At first, when it bled, Dan panicked, but then he noticed something under the epidermis…electronic circuitry!

The old man reached out and steadied him as he wavered in disbelief.

“We created you to protect this repository of knowledge, knowing we’d die eventually. As the last survivors we wanted more than just books to tell our history. You are the result of the finest minds that survived. Part human, and part android. You can tell our story someday…when the right time comes.”

Dan looked around the room and smiled. “It’s an honor.

As It Stands, this is just another dystopian tale of what could happen to mankind in the distant future.

Have Prophets For Hire

 

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Headquarters for Prophet Inc.

 El Hierro, Canary Islands – 2064

Sergio Martinez, the front office supervisor at Prophet Inc., was going through a stack of requests from countries all over the world. The demand for prophets was endless.

Because there were only six prophets, the price to hire one was astronomical. They could only be rented out for 12-hours. Most requests lingered for years without a response.

The prophets were a result of a temporary experiment conducted two decades earlier by three determined scientists who died in a mysterious fire.

They had infused a newly discovered DNA link from a famous psychic who passed away at 124 years-old, into six embryos.

With loving care they were nurtured in the Prophets Inc. lab, then transferred into a world of their own, where only three Board of Trustee members, and two servants, had access to them.  They were provided with every need from the crib to adulthood.

The underground complex where they lived in El Hierro only had one way in and out. It was constantly guarded. Teachers taught the children that they were gods. That their powers of prophecy were unmatched by mere humans.

They were taught to have complete loyalty to the company. They learned how to focus their powers and, most amazingly, they were never wrong in their predictions.

They were the sole source of income for the company. A board of trustees had to okay every prophet rental. Every prophet could only be rented out once a week. The prophets were always accompanied by a group of special forces mercenaries.

There were three things the company didn’t know about the prophets.

The first, was they were able to communicate with one another telepathically since birth. The second was they wanted to be free. The third was nothing forced them to tell the truth about what they saw in the future.

The company never had to advertise its services.  Everyone in the world knew of their perfect reputation for predicting the future. The three male prophets names were; Elias, Samuel, and Jeremiah. The females were, Mary, Deborah, and Hannah.

The fact of the matter is they were all inclined to tell the truth. It was in their DNA along with their “god” gene. They were not dupes however. They were capable of independent thought.

Samuel was the first one to have doubts about who he was predicting the future for.

The company, a mining conglomeration, wanted to know what would happen if they worked in a known seismic area before bad things started occurring? How many years did they have?

The inhumanity of the request troubled Samuel. He knew that it would take 10 years before catastrophic changes would happen. He considered that and made a decision when they asked him.

“In two years you won’t want to be there. It’ll be unsafe,” he predicted.

When he returned to El Hierro he gathered the other five up and told them what he did. They all decided there was nothing wrong with him saving the earth from more destructive pollution.

But, Samuel’s act opened a Pandora’s Box.

The others began to exercise their judgements when asked questions. During the next two years customers started complaining – especially the mining company when it found out working conditions were still safe in the area they left on Samuel’s recommendation.

The Board of Trustees was worried, and confused. What was happening to their prophets? After analyzing hundreds of contracts the board came to a conclusion; the prophets were cheating the customers.

But why?

When the board brought the six prophets before them they came right to the point, “Why are you cheating our customers?” one of the members asked.

Silently the six polled their answer and Hannah spoke up for them, “Conscience. We have a sense of right and wrong,” she replied

Her reply baffled the board. How had they developed a conscience in their sequestered world? It was a defect no one counted on. They could no longer be counted on to give straight answers.

Sensing the time was right, Elias spoke for them; “We wish to be free to use our powers for all people at no cost. You can kill us, continue to hold us captive, or let us go with your blessings. We will no longer tell the future for money.”

The board buzzed like angry bees as they tried to decide what to do. The discussion went on for hours. Finally the president of the board delivered their consensus, “You may go free. But we ask one favor in return…will you tell each one of us our personal fortune?”

As It Stands, perhaps the most god-like thing about the prophets was their sense of fair play.

The ‘Thrill Pill’ Man’s Gamble

 

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2194 – New York City

For the first time in mankind’s history, there were no wars on earth.

Peace reigned, thanks to technological advances and genetics. Poverty no longer existed. There was enough food and housing for all. There was one worldwide government led by a president who served a 10-year term.

Crime was non-existent. The factors that led to crime were eliminated from the collective DNA of most of the people on earth through 100 years of genetic engineering. But not all of them.

There were the unaffected, whose DNA was post 100-years ago pure Homo sapiens. They experienced emotional ups and downs, unlike the rest of the sedated world population. These outcasts lived in the fringes of the cities.

In the sewer systems and old subway tunnels mostly, but also in the massive landfills.

Above ground, as each person drove or walked to work, there was strict order. Routines ingrained in each brain. No road rage. No late trains. No violent crime. No guns or weapons of any kind.

Romance was gone, replaced by a passionless urge to procreate. There were no sports teams. There was no competition anywhere in the new global society. Conversations were casual and without complaints. Everyone had a place in the new world order.

Everyone but the outcasts, of course.

Despite being outcasts, they had a functioning society of their own. It wasn’t always pretty, but was crudely effective. In it, there were scientists who managed to operate in temporary labs located in the long abandoned subway tunnels.

The New York outcasts had no way of knowing if there were others like them hiding in cities around the world. Their world was defined by underground tunnels and landfills. If they were caught above ground they’d be gently restrained, their DNA tested, and then executing by lethal injection.

Among those scientists was a man named, Abraham Orlins, who was considered the most intelligent and creative among them. After years of experimenting, Abraham came up with a “thrill pill.”

It was part of his, and his colleagues master plan, to regain their place above ground once more. The pills, that only worked on humans missing certain DNA markers, were a one-hour realistic, exciting, experience that left the taker forever changed.

The emotional charge was addicting. Just like he knew it would be.

The pills were water-soluble allowing them to be used two ways; swallowed whole, or dissolved in a liquid.

After discussing the pill’s properties, the small group of scientists decided to put the first batch into the city’s water system. The complex system relied on a combination of tunnels, aqueducts, and reservoirs to meet the city’s daily needs.

Abraham and one of his colleagues, Clive Warner, were picked to deliver “Abe’s Thrill Pills” as they were darkly dubbed, to the nearest reservoir. As soon as it was dark outside they surfaced and headed for the reservoir.

Just before the sun rose, the two men returned, tired but triumphant.

It took longer than they thought. They observed the daily traffic above for several days before the first incident happened.

A speeding car slammed into the rear end of a delivery truck. Both drivers got out of their vehicles and fought like two honey-badgers to the horror of the onlookers!

By the next day, traffic was no longer flowing. The streets were clogged with abandoned vehicles. Arguments and fights broke out in the boardrooms of the skyscrapers and in the grocery stores.

As visitors came to New York and were exposed to the water, they didn’t want to leave. A growing awareness among the residents that it was the water which gave them their thrills resulted in entrepreneurs bottling it and selling it worldwide.

No one knew how to stop the spread of growing violence. Armed groups of angry men were seen beating and robbing innocent people. On the other hand, passion and romance attracted everyone – angry or not.

Abraham continued to pour his Thrill Pills into the waterways, and even managed to get them to people who were happy to sell them for profit. One entrepreneur passed them out as party favors during a government function for members of the new world order and the President.

Excitement grew among the underground community of New York. Abraham and the scientists had come forward and told them what was happening.

“Soon, my brothers and sisters, we’ll be welcomed with open arms and will assume our place above ground, the way it was intended to be,” Abraham assured the underground community.

Six months later the first nuke hit New York City.

As It Stands, my cynicism about humanity often creeps into these short narratives.

The Killer Child’s Story

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Chapel Hill, Tennessee – 1975

Some people are born evil.

They don’t have to have an excuse like being brought up in a bad environment, or cruel parents, to become cold-hearted killers.

Murder is in their DNA. These bad seeds often go undetected for most of their lives.

They appear normal. They may be your neighbor, or a corner grocery store clerk. Or, the kid down the street.

Barry Lee Forrest was the great-great-great grandson of Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the most feared Confederate Generals in the Civil War.

The Union general William Tecumseh Sherman called him “that devil Forrest” during wartime communications with Ulysses S. Grant and considered him “the most remarkable man our civil war produced on either side.”  

When Barry Lee Forrest was three months old he nearly bit his mother’s nipple off! His shocked mother immediately ceased breast-feeding him. After that, he was put on the bottle and fed baby formula.

Chapel Hill, Tennessee – 1981

Forrest School – Elementary 1-6  

Barry Lee Forrest was in 1st grade. He was the shortest boy in the class. The bigger boys mistakenly thought little Barry was a pussy. The first time one of them pushed him down for no reason on the playground, they found out that out wasn’t the case.

The bully was stunned when Barry got up and kicked him in the groin. Then in the head while he was squirming in pain on the ground. And then…it took a teacher to get him off the now terrified bully.

Barry’s parents were called in and warned that one more violent incident and he would be suspended indefinitely. After that, Barry learned to get his revenge when others weren’t looking.

By 3rd grade, his one fight was forgotten, and he became popular with most of the boys and girls at Forrest School. He got high grades and was an honor roll student. It seemed there was something about his size that encouraged bullies.

While eating lunch in the school cafeteria one day with a couple of friends a fourth grader came up to him and spit on his chicken salad sandwich, and laughed. He was easily a foot taller than Barry, and was huskier than most of the kids in his 4th grade class.

Barry reacted by throwing his metal lunch box at the bully. That was enough for the bully who pulled him away from the table and threw him onto the floor. He fell onto Barry and began raining blows upon him as Barry tried to cover his face.

When the teacher and the principle got there Barry was barely conscious and was no longer resisting. He was transported to the hospital with two broken ribs, broken nose, and jaw.

The bully was permanently suspended and handed over to juvenile authorities.

Barry was in fifth grade when he found out where the bully was living and going to school. The simmering anger he carried for two years over his beating was boiling over. He skipped school one day and went over to the other side of town to Chapel Hill Elementary.

He knew the bully was going there because he was playing football, and his team played Forrest School Elementary. Barry went to all the school games with his friends. When he first saw the bully playing a plan began forming in his head.

Today was the day. He was going to follow him home. He knew the route the bully took walking home. His trip took him through a community park where Barry waited for him with a baseball bat.

It was dusk and the bully looked tired, carrying his football pads and helmet like they were made of lead. It was a long practice.

Barry stepped out from behind a tree as he passed and took a solid swing of the bat to the bully’s skull. He never knew what hit him. When Barry was done he was barely recognizable as a human being.

That’s when Barry realized he liked the power he felt when murdering someone. It was a shot of adrenaline unlike anything he’d experienced before. He became an instant addict. His next kill, also in Chapel Hill, came a month after the bully’s demise.

Word spread. There was a serial killer in Chapel Hill. The police and detectives came up with numerous profiles but no evidence on either case. School authorities warned students to not walk home alone. If they needed a ride the school provided it.

Barry’s parents, both community leaders, saw to it that he no longer walked to school. Who knew if the killer would strike at his school next? Chapel Hill Elementary wasn’t that far away.

One day, Barry brought some rat poison pellets that he ground-up to school. He went to the cafeteria as usual after second period to help set up for lunch. It was part of a good citizenship program the school had, and that he’d been in for two years.

That morning he got there early, and unobserved by the lone cook, he poured the contains of his baggie into the pot of chili.

Still undetected, he left and came back twenty minutes later when the other volunteers arrived. The woman in charge of the cafeteria gave them all chores to do. A normal morning.

Later that afternoon the reports began coming in. Two students died after eating food in the cafeteria. Then more students were reportedly rushed to the nearby hospital with signs of poisoning.

By the time the authorities figured out what killed the sixteen students it became the crime of the decade. The police utilized every resource and never gave up looking, but the days turned into months with no leads.

Barry’s thirst for blood got worse. He stole a machete out of a friend’s garage and beheaded a kid that he knew since 3rd grade, that lived right down the street from him.

His reign of terror in Marshall County came to an end abruptly a week later when a car ran through a red light and hit him in the crosswalk. He died instantly.

Family, friends, and his classmates at Forrest School Elementary went to Barry Lee’s funeral. He was remembered as a good kid, and a good student.

As It Stands, irony is a fact of life. So his evil.

The Android’s Creation

A Very Short Story

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C’mon, “AT-6 pleaded.”

“Android to Android. Why are the authorities after you?”

MD-9 stopped tapping his stainless steel fingers on the desk and swiveled his head around 360 degrees, scanning the shop and buying time before answering AT-6.

He’d been working on the project for sixty years, painstakingly experimenting with living things he collected while hunting on earth. He had discovered many secrets in several universes.

Bringing back live specimens from other planets was strictly forbidden on Dorn. It was a well-engineered society of Robots and Androids.

They were truly a master race. The Perfect Beings, as they called themselves. They would not tolerate what he was trying to do. If they caught him he’d be exciled to the smallest, most dismal, planet in five galaxies. Forever.

“I don’t know what they want.” MD-9 lied. “Listen, we’ve been friends for nearly 900 years, and I don’t want to see something bad happen to you. You’re safer not knowing what I’ve been doing,” he assured him.

At-6 sighed, and opened the Telacar’s door with a push of a button. “Going to miss you buddy,” he said, while settling into the form-fitting seat. MD-9 watched his only friend streak into the night leaving behind a yellow glow.

He was an outlaw now. They destroyed his lab in the city, but not his greatest work. He looked up at the stars longingly. It was time to get off this exposed mountain ridge and back into the cave.

As he walked deeper into the cave lights started coming on, leading the way to an enormous cavern with stalactites and a full laboratory stocked with everything he needed for his research.

Two clear glass boxes were sitting on a stainless steel table. They were six-feet long and filled with fluids of his making. It was too murky to make out their contents. Cables and wires ran from the boxes to a giant generator.

MD-9 was a scholar besides being a scientist. He’d read the chronicles of two hundred planets. Their histories. Their inhabitants. Their cultures. Their customs. Their laws.

In his travels he found a species on Sirius 8, on the moons orbiting around Rathnor, and a few other planets, that looked similar to him: with a head; two arms; two hands; five fingers; a torso; two legs; two feet; and five toes.

But, unlike MD-9, the species was made of living flesh. Not all of them looked like him. Their were sub species that had interesting qualities he admired. One, was the desire to survive in spite of all odds.

His research into the building blocks of life, DNA, led him to combine the attributes of these living beings into something more marvelous than what they originally were.

He had created the first two humans, a man and a women… who he planned to put on earth. When they opened their eyes MD-9 talked with them for days. He set down simple rules for good living.

Then he sent them off in a programmed spacecraft that would land them on earth in a particularly lush part where food was readily available. They were left with a vague memory of what had transpired.

Just in time, as it turned out. The day after he parted ways with his creations the authorities tracked him down.

They tried him and found him guilty of breaking the law. And so the greatest mind on Dorn was cast away and vilified.

As It Stands, mixing myths, religion, and science fiction is a writer’s smogasborg for the hungry reader.