Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Now why do I like that video? Is it the jiggle or the short-shorts? Or (shudder) the Hatfields?
Just for the hell of it, and just in time (kind of) for Halloween.
A short-short is a fiction tale, and is supposed to be considerably shorter than a short story. How long is a short story? Well, it varies, but in general it should be easily consumed in a single sitting. One authoritative source puts the upper limit at 7,500 words. But the SFFWA have become a bunch of psychotic hard-left goons, so there's that.
Good short-shorts are fun and enjoyable. This is in no way a good short-short.
The Turquoise Rule (c) Shaun Evertson, 2019
The man slowly swam up and into consciousness. He felt warm and relaxed and safe, which was comforting. Lurking in the shadows of his mind were hazy memories of a desperate, agonizing illness and the terror of pending death.
He was... where, exactly? His eyes darted around, taking in the walls and ceiling of a small room. The lighting was good and his vision sharp. Something about the place reminded him of a hospital, but there didn't seem to be any medical equipment. Glancing down, he saw he was laying on a narrow cot, or perhaps something like an exam table. He was dressed in a suit and could see the warm glow of freshly shined cordovan loafers on his feet. He felt a glow of satisfaction. The suit and shoes were very expensive and were a symbol of his power and prestige.
He began to sit up, but nothing happened. He wasn't sure if he couldn't move or just didn't care to move. It didn't matter at the moment; he could relax and try to figure out what was going on.
He heard a faint rustle and glanced to the right where a vision of incredible loveliness had appeared. The woman was young, perhaps no more than seventeen. Long blond hair loosely framed her face as she peered down at him. Her eyes were the turquoise blue of a pristine Caribbean Sea, and filled with a mixture of innocence and knowing. Her eyebrows were paradoxically dark and heavy. Her nose was just slightly too large for her face, and her lips were delightfully vermilion but on the thin side. Her neck was too long and her shoulders a bit too narrow. She wore a brilliantly white tee-shirt, and beneath that her bosom was unencumbered by any brassiere, though it was a bit too large for her frame. He could just make out the slight swellings of fabric which marked the nipples of her breasts. There was nothing of perfection in this vision of loveliness, but the imperfections somehow combined to make the young woman -- the young girl really -- quite the most beautiful and desirable object he had ever seen. A familiar pressure of began to flood his abdomen and loins.
"You are Damarien White," the vision said, "member of the United States Congress representing the State of Nebraska, for, hmm, twenty-six years and eight months as of August, hmm, twenty twenty-three."
Her voice! My god, it was the loveliest sound he had ever heard! The sound of singing crystal and warm breeze and the certain promise of rapturous post-coital contentment. An impossibly beautiful voice belonging to an impossibly beautiful woman. A woman he knew in the core of his soul he must possess. A moment later the meaning of her words registered, as did the odd phrasing. A small nugget of caution, born of a life in politics, solidified in his mind.
"Yes. I am Congressman White."
"You...are a longtime member and...Chair...of the Committee of Science and Technology."
This was beginning to sound, thought the man, like an interrogation of a witness standing before his committee. His desire began to fade, albeit only a tiny bit.
"That is correct," he replied formally. "Who do I have the pleasure of speaking to?"
"My name holds no meaning for you. You may address me as, hmm, Aide. If you like."
The man tried to sit up. Nothing happened. He tried harder, then harder still. Nothing. He could move his eyes. He could speak. That was it. Part of his mind tried to panic, but he felt overwhelmingly hale and calm, and in some strange way as if he were in complete control of the situation. Panic fled more quickly than it had arrived.
"Very well, Aide. Why can't I move? Is there something...?"
"There is nothing wrong with you physically. The hmm, treatment you've received can sometimes cause...adverse effects. Therefore the protocol requires that we maintain a sort of...induced paralysis. For a time."
"Nothing wrong with me physically," said the man. "Nothing wrong mentally I hope!" The jocularity of his tone fell utterly flat.
"You are...cognitively...intact," said Aide.
As the man pondered the careful phrasing of that statement, Aide continued.
"You co-sponsored the Climate Endangerment Emergency Act, and were a key author of the secret provisions."
"Is this an interrogation?", snapped the man, considerable ire in his voice. This woman shouldn't know anything of the secret provisions.
"No," said Aide. "This is simply a recitation of the factual record as required by law."
She paused, as if waiting for a response. The man petulantly held his tongue, and Aide continued.
"The secret provisions empowered Federal Authorities to hunt down and execute those opposing the new law, and in particular anyone claiming evidence refuting Climate Endangerment Emergency findings. The secret provisions also directly funded anarchist groups and set them on the path of eliminating less publicly vocal opposition. The pogrom was brief but quite severe. In fewer than sixty days the death toll in the U.S. ran to over 50 millions."
"A planet-wide emergency," said the man coldly, "required immediate and extraordinary measures. Is this a trial then?"
"This is not a trial," said Aide. "It is simply a recitation of the factual record. It is required by law."
"Required by law, my ass," said the man, "I'm sure I know more about the laws of the land than you, and I'm unaware of any such law."
Aide simply gazed at the man quietly, without expression. Her lovely face hadn't changed at all, yet her turquoise eyes held less of the Caribbean and more of an icy, northern sea.
"I ask that you pay close attention now," said Aide, "as parts of the factual record will be unknown to you. The people of your nation proved much stronger than you planned for. They took up their personal arms, and although they fell at every side, they killed the anarchists wherever they lurked and they killed the Federal Authorities whenever they operated. Your solution was failing. At this point you and your fellow members of the ruling legislatures treated yourselves with an antidote, then unleashed the bio-engineered plague your scientists had developed."
"We had no choice! We couldn't turn our backs on the planet! We had to save Humanity's only Home!"
Now the woman's soft but unceasing turquoise gaze was unnerving. The man became nauseated. A cold sweat prickled his skin and he felt his bowels turn to water. The lust that had filled his being only moments ago was dead and gone. He felt his genitals shrivel.
"Pay attention now," said Aide. "Your antidote didn't work. You and your fellow legislators fell ill also. When the plague had run its course, fewer than a quarter-million human souls survived on this planet."
The turquoise eyes bored deep into his soul. He was suddenly, violently ill, vomiting a reeking, bile-laden soup of yellow terror all over his expensive, immaculate suit. When he'd finished retching, Aide gently cleaned his face with a warm, damp cloth, then positioned the glass straw of crystalline goblet where he could reach it with lips and tongue. Cool, refreshing water flowed into his parched and rancid mouth. He sucked greedily at the finest ambrosia he had ever experienced.
The man's mind was suddenly filled with urgent questions, too many to number or articulate. He couldn't bear to experience any more of the arctic turquoise, so he kept his eyes tightly closed. "What, um, how...I d-don't..."
"Listen," said Aide. "Not everyone died. The strongest and the smartest survived. They inherited the resources of a completely healthy world, and the entire knowledge base of the species. The world as it was is long gone, more than half a millennia gone now. We remain, more than seven million of us. The United Sates is no more, though many of her written principles help us to guide the civilization we cherish."
"B-but how am I...what am I...?"
"Listen. You fell in your office, as did nearly every one of your peers. A wise man, a visionary, perhaps even a holy man, collected the genetic essence of thousands who fell in and around the halls of your government. He proposed that the survivors should bend every effort to study and understand you and your fellows, in order to learn how it was possible for you to travel so far down the path you chose. It took a great deal of time and effort, but we succeeded. As I'm sure you've begun to realize, your present physical being is a clone of your former self."
"B-but, how can that be?", asked the man. "I remember so much! A clone couldn't possibly share my... I remember!"
"Yes," said Aide. "You do remember. That was important to us."
"Why?" asked the man, though he was beginning to suspect he knew the terrible answer.
"Because you must atone," said Aide. "Your soul must be washed clean in the fires of agony. We owe this to you because we long ago chose to treat others as we would ourselves be treated. Had I taken your path, I would have my soul cleansed in the fire. There can be no other way."
"This is imp-imp, this is impossible," stuttered the man, "you've resurrected me in order to torture me? It makes no sense at all!"
"To the contrary," said Aide, "this is the outcome you yourself demanded."
"For God's sake, I never said any such thing!", snapped the man.
"June 30, 2023," said Aide, "in a speech made in Emergency Session on the floor of your House of Representatives, you said, and I quote, 'There is a special place in Hell for those who deny the truth of our present crisis.' That you said this is not debatable, for it is part of the factual record that your people bequeathed to us. Damarien White, you believe in Hell, do you not?"
"This is, my God, this is impossible!", shrieked the man. "I'm a member of congress! Just who the fuck are you?"
Hard turquoise flooded his senses.
"As you wish then. I am Persephone."
The man began to scream as his nerves exploded in fire.