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Nothing exists until or unless it is observed. An artist is making something exist by observing it. And his hope for other people is that they will also make it exist by observing it. I call it "creative observation." Creative viewing.
-- William S. Burroughs

 

The Grass Is Always Greener -- Reported 1999-01-14 00:45 by Lenny Tuberose

But North America had still been strong then--had retained some vestiges of nobility among the global decay and ruin. Her peoples--goaded by pangs of guilt for the fullness of their bellies amid the world's hunger, and shamed by the final, decisive failure of their claim to leadership and defense of the Free World--had been eager to show mercy to the pitiful few who reached their shores after the total collapse of the Old World. They had fed and clothed and educated Uri like the bastard son of some great aristocrat. Uri had shown an aptitude for science and an inability to form anything resembling an emotional bond with anyone. He had thrown himself into his brilliant academic career--the last of a vanishing breed. Alone in his ivory tower he had watched as North America followed the rest of the World into ruin.

The first stage of the collapse had been the consolidation of Canada, the United States and Mexico into a single political unit: the Federal Republic of North America. That ill-fated union was less an expression of fraternity and co-operation than a symptom of decay--like the final congealing of blood in the heart of a great beast recently slain. Like three terrified orphans, those three nations had huddled together against the terrors of the great storm that was sweeping civilization from the face of the Earth.

After Union had come Fragmentation. The Great Plains had become a wasteland and famine became widespread among all but the privileged few. The hunger-ravaged bodies of the under-classes--too weak to resist--became breeding-grounds for the various plagues that swept across the continent. Regions that were still able to produce food became unwilling to share it and seceded from the Federal Republic. Their less fortunate neighbors did what Europe had lacked the strength to do--they marched upon their ungenerous brethren with fire and steel. Their battles devastated many of the few productive lands that remained, and the bodies of the slain clogged the rivers and fouled the waters spawning plagues of ever-increasing virulence. The wars had only ended when the collapse of the gold-standard left the Government unable to pay its soldiers and munitions suppliers.

The Government had tried to hold the people together with talk of brotherhood and the greater good--stale and vacuous echoes of the American Dream. But their successors--raised among the hardships of the final decades of the twentieth century--had come to know that dream as an empty promise. They had worked more and more for less and less as they watched their fathers grow rich upon their endless labors. The rich grew richer, and the poor grew angrier--their frustration and despair bred in them a nihilism of such overweening and vitriolic vehemence that it could not be contained.

Those who governed--still beguiled by the milk-sop idealism of their formative years--failed entirely to understand the loathing in their children's eyes.

The end came like a tsunami from west to east. It started with the Los Angeles riot of 2040. The city of excess had reeled beneath the violence, shocked and bewildered. To the myriad destitute of that city--like everywhere else--life had become an empty promise. Only death had meaning, and they sought death amid the ruins of that walking-dead metropolis, the City of Angels. They had besieged the wealthy in their walled palaces. They had cried for blood and vengence--for a final reckoning with the few who had lived like maggots upon the sweat and blood of the many. The wealthy had begged for their lives--had offered to share their wealth--had appealed to a humanity that had long since ceased to exist. The horde had jeered, implacable in their lust for purification through annihilation. The wealthy turned their private armies upon the horde, like hounds set to slaughter wolves, but there weren't bullets enough to pierce the heart of the great slavering beast that had come for them. In the end the private armies had thrown open the gates themselves in an attempt to save themselves by shifting their allegiance, but their action was too late to save them and they were butchered before the horrified eyes of their masters. The palaces had been looted and burned to the ground. The wealthy--the lucky ones--had died horrible, cruel deaths at the hands of the mob. The less fortunate had been led away in chains to suffer the lingering and humiliating death of the unfree. In that swirling sea of chaos and dissolution, slavery was the first institution to reassert itself. When the horde had slain all their enemies, they turned their fury upon their own--they turned from extermination to self-immolation. They had fired their own city like a demented phoenix and left it uninhabitable--a smoking ruin.

The news of that holocaust had travelled outwards like ripples in cesspool, carried by the refugees who had survived the last days. They had carried the seeds of violence like a contagion, and everywhere that they went violence erupted to engulf the wealthy and the privileged--and then the destitute.

It was a miracle that Uri had survived those desperate days, for he was surely one of the elite after whose blood the furies lusted. The others had left the underground complex in a vain attempt to whisk their families to safety--a safety that didn't exist. At first they had dribbled away a few at a time. At the end they had evacuated the complex with u

 

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

fabuloso@pigdog.org


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