Friday, May 19, 2006

The Premise

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The Premise: A woman is sick of the stench of rotting flesh. She lost the love of her life to a roadside explosive. Enough is enough. She can't stand any more. So, she teams up with an insane medic who has found a way to animate the dead by pumping stem cells into them. The only problem - how do you produce enough stem cells to fabricate an army of the walking, but not talking UNDEAD? It's not easy, and could be expensive.

Hoggicarton, Inc. is willing to pay, though. They are providing security and it's costing them a lot to pay the ransoms, life insurance, body armor, not to mention crazy per diems. Buying zombies would require a one-time expenditure. It is even better than drones and satellites -- after all, the spare parts are readily available (lots of dead people), and it's easy to repair them. All you do is hook them up to an IV and pump them full of pink gel. That's what the stem cells look like when in solution.

So, it's easy enough to see where her deranged passion takes her. She ends up with a trunk of money and an obligation to bring back the goods. Not only is she motivated by her desire to stop the carnage, she is also motivated by the fact that the people who are paying will kill her if she does not perform.

***********

The medic's eyes had the reflectionless depth of one who has seen too much death and suffering, and at some point he drew a line in the blood-soaked sand and refused to cross over, ever, any more, under any circumstances.

I was glad it was hot here in the desert near Doha. My tears ran in the in the same rivulets as my sweat.

I didn't want to go back inside. The prefabricated structure looked like a trailer that would be swept away in a tornado in a southern Plains state in the U.S. Here, it looked faded by the sun. The large red crescent moon on the side had been scoured by the sand, its message as well as its medical mission torn away by the environment.

It was cold as ice inside. The soles of my feet were burning even though I wore thick-soled boots against the rough surface and possible sand scorpions. Still, I did not want to go back inside. It was cold in there.

It was as cold as one would expect a morgue to be.

"What happened? How did you make your discovery?" I asked.

His eyes came back into focus. It was not as reassuring as it should have been. I knew something had crossed over, and it would be necessary to listen to him quietly, without making sudden gestures and without showing the reactions of grief and revulsion that I most certainly would have.

"If one looks at the real purpose of war, it's pretty evident that it's just a way to accelerate the consumption of manufactured goods," said the medic.

He had a name. I refused to use it. As in Kafka's "In a Penal Colony," it was easier to simply refer to him as his role. So, from that point on, I decided to simply refer to him as the Medic.

Ironically, he could have served as a surrogate for the love of my life, whom I had lost to this nauseating carnage where waves of heat radiated up in giant hallucinatory metallic flashes.

It was easier to maintain a sense of thick numbness if I did not feel. The absence of names, the absence of attachment helped me in that regard.

"If you evaluate the American Civil War, you can see it was probably one of the best of its ilk," continued the Medic. Yes. It was brilliant. The North, by pretending to want unity, actually did not care. They were able to sell all the goods they could possibly make, as well as keep the trade routes between New York and Europe busy with war-driven commerce.

"War is good for keeping the unmanageable elements of society out of the picture, or at least cooperating in the hopes of 'victory,'" he continued.

"Hey, don't you think you're being cynical?" I asked. "War is about valor, honor, and defending the honor of the Queen. It is a privilege to participate in the sacred gift, the honorable sacrifice."

The Medic looked at me. His eyes were watery and distant. At that moment, I knew that both of us used words as subterfuge and our appearance as a decoy. What we felt transcended words and superficial appearance.

"If you break it down, you can accelerate the consumption of goods by accelerating life cycles," he continued.

"Does it work where there is disease?" I asked.

"Oh, yes. Absolutely," he said. "It makes it easier to bully, coerce, or simply dupe people out of their money and their property."

"The best approach is to accelerate the consumption of manufactured items. War works."

"Unfortunately, human beings have to get involved," I said.

"Why not robot wars?" he asked.

"Like Terminator or a 50s sci-fi film?" I asked.
"It would work, except it would miss a huge piece of the equation, which is perfectly illustrated by suicide bombers," he said.

"And what might that be?" I asked. The wind rattled something and it buzzed like a rattlesnake.

"The goal is to create the largest gap possible with modernity. One needs to find a way to symbolize the heart (that bleeds when it is blown up) in conflict against the Machine."

I thought about what he was saying. To me, it was a ghastly theater that simply did not need to be enacted.

"The anti-modernity thing is a completely pointless charade. It's propaganda of the deed. I am not interested in their antiquated philosophies. I simply want to get the humans out. Let it be a war of the inanimate."

The Medic continued to explain that he had a plan to help replace the living with something else - something inanimate. He wanted to fill the battlefields with robots and decoys, but it was important not to let anyone know. Otherwise, some evil scientist somewhere would come up with a way to wage war that was even more sickening.

The Medic took off his cover and wiped sweat from his forehead with what appeared to be a babywipe he kept in a square plastic packet in his blouse pocket.

The sun was sinking in the west. The buzz of machinery reminded me again of rattlesnakes. My heart sank. I knew that something terrible was going on, but I was not able to protect myself from it. Instead, I was drawn toward it, even though I knew, in my heart of hearts, that it was fundamentally evil, even as the thing it was designed to counter was evil.

Fight evil with evil.

Nothing new in that, I reflected. It was the way of the world. The skill lay in trotting out the newest version of evil and convincing the "useful idiots," the consuming masses, that what they instinctively recoiled against was not evil at all, but constituted a test of their virtue.

I shuddered. I wondered if I was, in fact, part of that profound evil. I missed him too much. It hurt. It made me irrational. It made me willing to consider unspeakable acts. If only it had been me. If only …

The Medic's eyes glowed in the dark.

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