Friday, February 27, 2015

Conquest of Humanity - My Dreams

The Theme Park Dream

[Green witch like from Wizard of Oz. Black clothes and pointy hat.]
[Lots of us standing, then walking, it’s the coliseum at Rome]
[Loading dock for a roller coaster, black rubber mat, white cars]
[The small cars shot forward, ascending rapidly as the clicking of the guide chain reverberated through the tunnel. It’s Space Mountain at Disneyland with a tunnel and shooting lights. After fifteen seconds it came out of the darkness and I see the enormous city spread out, its great sky-scrapers looking like toy buildings thousands of meters below. This is Manhattan of the future.]  
[I feel scared, and elated, although I know it’s an illusion. It’s wonderful.]
[The cars peaked, then dove recklessly at the ground, accelerating for almost a minute and pulling up only moments before crashing. They spun, paused, looped, shot forward again, weaving between buildings until they ran out of momentum.]
I wake up.


The Giants Dream

[Lots of us standing in a small warehouse, no larger than fifty by fifty feet, its dingy white walls lit by cheap overhead fluorescent strips, its floor a disorganized mess of orange boxes. In the center of the room an enormous shark lay on a platform, its mouth at least three meters across and fixed open to show them the food cube deep inside. It looks like a life sized replica of the blue whale at Six Flags Marine World. The dread that came over me as we watched it breathe slowly and rhythmically was masterfully unnerving.]
[Feel a sinking feeling creeping over me]
[Behind me is a crude wooden door, I open it to see a small but neatly kept city park. There was a large square patch green grass ahead and to his left and a busy street full of cars and formally dressed pedestrians hurrying down the sidewalk on the right. They look like the ‘lady in the red dress’ scene from the movie the Matrix.]
[There’s a datapad in my pocket and I know what it says without reading it. The sunlight feels lovely.]
[Look again and the traffic and crowds to my right are now nothing more than a projection on a wall. The bricks are thin and cannot be gripped, like the adult education center near my church. A girl joins me, she is unhappy.]
[I turn around and see giant rising to its knees. large white-within-white eyes and a sinister smile of sharp teeth going ear to ear. It’s wearing a navy blue suit with white pin stripes.]
[A crowd runs at me. I see the drainpipe to and decide to climb it. The narrow gutter ledge cuts me off, and now there’s nowhere else to go, since the roof sloped at a sharp angle and the wooden shingles were covered with slippery algae. It’s more like a wall than a roof. I watch the crowd hide behind slotted benches and too small garbage cans. I feel bad for them.]
[No sooner has everyone settled than the giant emerges from the doorway with a lazy, shuffling gait. It came to a stop, flapped its arms like a bird, and caused a white mist to come up from the ground that paralyzed everyone who breathed it in.]
[Slowly and ungraciously the monster lumbers over to the projected people where Sally was hiding and put its mouth of shark teeth over her head. I look away. The mist clears. The giant heads to the boy hiding behind the garbage can next. He comes at me after that, with that calm certainty, lurching unsteadily as if walking didn’t come naturally, its white eyes locked on me. It stretched out a hand, and then just before closing its grip, vanishes.]
[I’m afraid but I pry off a dozen shingles off the roof for their nails and it’s time for revenge against the shark. I threw them to the ground as fast as he could, then slid down the gutter pipe and ran inside. The group picks up my nails. We get around it, I’m standing by the gills. We raised the small spikes. “Go!” We plunged the nails into the eyes, gills, and snout as it began to take on its human shape, rising from its hands and knees as it bled profusely from its wounds. The giant reached its full height before looking down calmly, wooden squares for pupils.
[We run back to the door, open it, and see a swirling violet colored portal.]
I wake up.


The Tedious Dream

[Blue skies, swirling white clouds. It’s hot. Black asphalt in every direction. I expected buildings and towers, and plants and jungles, and there is nothing. It’s a parking lot that goes on forever. I feel like this should be an airport but there are no buildings.]
[Turning around and see two blond women, identical in every way except that one looked relieved to see me while the other stared straight ahead.]
[We need to get the key. It’s here somewhere.]
[She tells me it’s not lying around anywhere.]
[It must be underneath the cement. We chip at it. Once it cracks we pull the pieces up with our hands.]
I wake up.


The Helpless Dream

[I feel that some losers have made this world. It’s like the holodeck from Star Trek.]
[There’s a chain-link fence bounding some feted water with cat-tail reeds, a steel gray building made of concrete, and a passenger jet so large the building looks small.]
[Steel doors don’t work. It’s dark inside, lights flicker, mostly only the sunlight works, like a train tunnel.]
[I feel like I’m being watched.]
[The floor is covered in blood now. It smells.]
[A tiger jumps at me, we slide across the slippery floor. I stab it with a knife and block the heavy paws with the knife. I push it off me and it lies there, alive but subdued.]
[I hear a woman. Then a man. They have leprosy. They admit eating the tiger and drinking the dirty pond water to stay alive. They are happy to see me.]
I wake up.


The Emotional Dream

[I see a yellow gravel road winding up a grassy green hill toward a bright blue sky. On the right was a picturesque forest that looked like it belonged in a fairy tale, and on the left were mountain slopes full of wild flowers. It smells nice here.]
[I now see a dilapidated thatched roof cottage, like from Highlander the movie, a non-human corpse, and a floating woman, with gray elephant skin, too long arms, a beak, talons. Her entire lower half is a complex, mechanical golden bowl that allows her to float. She makes threatening gestures at me.]
[A teenager who is part dog lies in the grass. He growls at me threateningly. I kick him in the mid-section. He’s subdued.
[I’m wrestling now with the hideous floating woman. I grappled with it, expertly ducked under the left arm, and pulled the wrist behind its back. I hold the arm and the thin wrist bones break. Pivoting its head it watches me and doesn’t resist. I grabbed the other arm and it breaks. I feel horrible.]
[I walk around and stab it. I feel worse. Someone has designed this to be this way. It’s malicious. Someone is out to get me.]
[Dog boy growls. I kick him again and he becomes my friend.]
[I look up the hill and see a train of such monsters going on for miles. A man covered in quills, a giant teddy bear with red eyes and a mouth full of sharp teeth. A little girl. I need to kill them all but I can’t because I feel such empathy.]
I wake up.


The Modern Dream

[I see dark red carpet, and feel good.]
[The high roofed room was ornately decorated with gigantic protruding angular golden faces and white marble pillars lining the way ahead on either side. It’s nice, not scary.]
[I press forward under a large arch and the d├ęcor changed from classic opulence to an incomplete construction project. Exposed steel beams riveted together stuck out at odd angels, making the atmosphere primitive and ugly, like Gotham City from Batman. There are stairs everywhere, its 3 layers tall.]
[There is a mahogany staircase to my left, upon which a dozen junior high age children were running up and down playing tag. I ascend it.]
[I’m army crawling slowly to the cul-de-sac of rooms on my right, but the closer I get the less able I am to make progress, to the point where I’m sliding in place as if on ice. I push with my feet, it works. I get back up and walk to the man. He has fine clothes and armed with a pistol opened it for him without looking down. Inside are school desk-chairs.]
[He puts a test in front of me. It’s a final. I haven’t studied and begin to panic.]
[The questions are easy. “What is a boat?” “What color is your chair?”]
[I feel sick now. It gets better.]
I wake up.


The Starship Dream

[I see stars. Millions of them, blues, greens, binary systems, nebulas, quasars, all seemed to be only an arm’s length away outside a window. They are captivating. I stare at them delighted in their presence. I need to stop wasting time. I see turn around and see Spartan living quarters: a single bed, a small table, and a waist high sink all made of brushed nickel. The exit is like a locker room shower—no door, just bend in the wall covered in small blue tiles. It’s a starship. A short woman with long black hair and a pretty face jostles me. I can’t understand her.]
[I have an arm band with a screen on it. It shows a middle eastern man who is in charge of getting me to work. I’m an IT guy now. He tells me to get back to it.]
[I walk down a metal grating. It looks grimy and dark, like a scene from Aliens. Two men are talking, I spy on them. They catch me. I accept their rebuke and go to a large metal chamber. It’s noisy here. I see my boss again talking to someone. I feel that that person is my high school friend, but I’m ambivalent towards him.]
[He hands me a red viewmaster. I press the disk into it and see a white haired ape dancing around in a meadow. The next page is the same ape swinging a stone ax. The third page is a medieval knight in armor brandishing the same ax in a similarly menacing fashion. Page four had some basic physics equations with red notes all over it.]
[I now see a thin woman holding coffee. She is tired of her job. She is our Captain. It’s her ready room, the same one from Star Trek Voyager. She is worrying and I want her to not worry because there’s no reason for it. My friend alternates between urging me to kill her and not. The crew has been replaced with murderous cannibals. I know this. I must get out of here.]
I wake up.


The Dream of a World at War

[There was fighting here. We are losing badly. I know this.]
[I see water running off wide, waxy, leaves in the middle of a bright green rainforest. Someone tries to help me get up and I turn and see him. He’s Filipino, my height. We run into the cave, hide behind the jeep and look up. A white A shaped plane flies overhead slowly, very advanced, more than anything we have. It’s Japanese.
[Two men are here. One is Italian, the other I’m not sure. They seem scared.]
[The Italian has a small radio. He uses it to nuke something in the distance.]
[The enemy is here. We fire our pistols into the jungle. I run to the command center once it’s safe. The floor is rocky and badly lit by LED strips. This place is a storage closet with CRT monitors everywhere. People are watching TV.]
[Further down the cave is a well-built south-east Asian man with enormous arm muscles bound to a chair. He sings to himself. He begins jerking wildly, his body goes rigid, teeth clinched. He falls over and vomits on himself. He is the enemy.]
[I feel that we’ve escaped. That we’ve won somehow.]
I wake up.


The Tranquil Dream

[I’m standing in the middle of a freshly blacktopped street which runs between unexceptional but colorful single story houses. The colors strike me, the blue skies, white clouds, green plants, mirrored sky-scrapers in the distance, and the purple mountains beyond them. It’s very comfortable here. The air smells sweet, the sun is warm, and the breeze is cool. A car almost runs me over.]
[I see a man, he’s instantly forgettable. He tells me to go into the house and get the job done. I know he means get the ball and bring it to the tallest tower.]
[The inside is even nicer than outside. It’s a garden. There are climbing ivies, blooming purple flowers, and orange butterflies in every direction. A waterfall runs down one of the walls disappears down invisible cracks in the floor. The house is dark however, and there is a shaft of light around the corner shining on a hatch leading to the basement. I descend the stairs and see a small pillar of uncut rocks underneath a little golden ball underneath another shaft of light. A sign tells me to leave. I cross the room, avoid the pool of water in front of the alter, and the sign changes. The hatch slams closed and I begin climbing the rocks behind the alter to escape. I’m out of the house and running now, jumping the fence, across the lawn and I hear the voice of the faceless man. I know where he is, he’s in the doorway, hands gripping either side of the frame, ready to catapult himself outside and give chase. The car is only four houses away but it seems like much more, as if I’m running in slow motion.  I beat him to the blue coupe and shut the door.]
[My driver gives up the lead, idling the engine. Right before we get hit from behind he stomps the gas pedal hard enough to whip our heads into the rests and takes off. It’s a fight of the vehicles. He rams us, once, twice, a third time. Then he cuts us off and steers us into a tree. My driver stops playing around now and makes a hard U-turn, unexpectedly cuts over a curb into a children’s park and ends the pursuit.]
[We’re at a parking lot. We get out and walk on a levee. The stark white of the concrete we’re going on is in the middle of a park. Big trees everywhere, the handsome towers we’d seen from a distance are now on our right. The river, or canal, water is so blue that it’s almost like it’s alive.  Crowds press on us happily, many people are joggers on the trail with us, most of them are mothers pushing babies in strollers.]
[We’re in a diner now, it looks like a cross between a fast food burger place and a 50s establishment. We sit at the booth nearest the kitchen, next to the side doors. They put food in front of us. We talk, but I can’t remember about what. As we do the people are falling to pieces outside and growing in number.]
[The zombies find us and bang on the windows. My companion vanishes, leaving me alone to them. I don’t hold it against him. 8 people appear to hold the doors against the zombies. A head and arm came through the nearest door, wedging it open. I ran over to help them close it, and stab the zombie in the head with my knife. Only it’s not a knife, it’s a rubber screwdriver. I pushed him out and jammed the door closed again. I get scratched. I feel sick now, stiff. It’s hard to see straight, but the zombies break in and leave me alone. I know I need to get the orb back to where it came from.]
I wake up.


The Titanic Dream

[I feel tired, run down. This must be like what mono feels like. There is a white table cloth. I’m in a dining room. I see a British man holding food. Something feels wrong about this. I’m dreaming I realize. I can’t stop myself from dreaming.]
[I’m in a bed room now. It’s a state room. There’s maroon and wood everywhere. It feels sinister, deadly. It’s my home and yet it’s not. I leave the room and see a man who looks like the elevator attendant from a ritzy hotel. He’s British too.]
[The hallway is a submarine hallway. Metal. Cramped. I see the dining room again, I turn around and go back to my room. I see a wooden chest in the middle of it now. It has brass latches and is three feet tall. I put the bedding into it and carry it out into the hall. It weighs nothing and I’m tired again.]
[I exit to the outside where it’s deserted. It’s cold. The floors are dancing hardwood out here. I see an iceberg and know I need to get on it. I jump, land in the water, and feel cold.]
I wake up.


A Dream of The New World

[I see a narrow foot path of packed dirt running through a knee high dark blue field that goes on in every direction. There are caves cut into the nearby foothills to my right and a medieval watchtower made of dressed stone far in the distance. This grass-like plant occasionally sprouts a bamboo stalk that ended in long, limp noodles. It can be stood on without the blades bending. The overhead sun gave off a weak, paltry light, like twilight, although the air was somehow warm and humid. I don’t like it.]
[I see a man, he’s a giant. Taller than a basketball player. He’s harvesting the plants, he speaks with in Elizabethan English and is angry with me. He leads me to his cave home. There are more of them in there. There’s a family. They are happy here. They want me to be part of the family. Now I’m angry at them for making me a prisoner. I know I shouldn’t feel that way, but it’s hard to help. They offer me a bedroom. I take it, it’s mine now.]
I wake up.


The Dream of the Desert

[I see scrub desert with small plants no higher than my knee everywhere. There’s a lot of sand. It’s cold, the light is going. I’m worried about shelter, I need some place to stay for the night. I notice a promising depress in the earth ahead. It turns out to be huge hole, at least a hundred feet down where a house, a small well, and a roofless barn made of animal bones are. Nearby is a ruined stone amphitheater. This was a retreat spot for high school age kids to come learn about God.]
[I knock at the door, with dirt in my boots. A thin woman with a boys haircut answers. She lets me in. She is like a nun, and her sisters have gone out for awhile. I lay down on her bed and she doesn’t object. I feel like I’m heading into the lions den, there’s trouble for me ahead.]
I wake up.


The Dream of the Way

[I see soft grass and a fast moving creek. It gives way to a broad valley. This place is wonderful. The wheat fields wave in the wind. It’s like Kansas. It’s green everywhere here. I come to a solitary water mill, and hang my feet into the water.]
[I walk more and see trees. They grew over the road in a tunnel, blocking out the already dim sun in a rather enchanting fashion.]
[I see a temple now. Its seven stories tall, with doors many times my size. I push them open easily and see columns on either side, it’s a medieval cathedral. The next room is more of the same, but busier. I see a man bow to me and open a door that I am to pass through alone.]
I wake up.


The Dream of the King

[I can’t see, everything is white. There is a throne above me, I know. There are people. I hear the voice from the King on the throne and the words are powerful, like a waterfall being poured over a cliff. “Sit” he says and I fall to my knees. The owner of the voice is delighted that I have assumed a posture he can bless me from.]
I wake up.


The Dream of the Tower

[I’m in a tower, it’s more like an arena than anything else. There are two windows letting light in. It’s cold here, like a winter morning. I see my enemy lying on a cot. He gets up and is holding an ax. We fight and I win. He vanishes.]
[I see a machine which I know to be a time machine. I pry the metal faceplate off, and see three things inside: a catch pan full of shiny black tar, a metal funnel above it, and a small gray box above both. Intuition tells me the tar compressed space and time, the funnel changed the form of its energy, and the box distributed it to the world. I try to pry off the funnel but can’t. I pull out the pan of tar and hear a trumpet blast.]
I wake up.


The Dream of the Prince

[I’m outside the tower, it’s the same place I’d dreamt about on a different day. The skeleton prince stares at me, his voice was higher pitched than it ought to be, he speaks with a lisp. He’s surrounded by an army. He greets me and I pretend like we’re on the same side so I can lay a trap for him, but he seems to read my thoughts and to show me he’s not to be crossed stabs his hand. I keep up the ruse and offer him the pan from the time machine, which makes another appearance.]
[He touches it, it consumes his hand. I push his head into it and my hand slips into the pan. I cut it with my knife but it doesn’t yield. I make the blade acidic and it does. I look around at the army challenging them but they’re afraid of me now. If they all attack I’d be lost, but without their leader they’ve lost the will to fight.]
I wake up.


The Dream of a House

[A sandworm with legs leaps at me. I grab it and subdue it, then walk up the hill to the Mormon church building. It’s redbrick with a white roof and steeple. My wife (who doesn’t look, sound, or act like the one in real life) is waiting there for me. I grab her hand, drag her inside and show her the auditorium which is our bedroom. I want to live here, this town is perfect. It’s got trees, mines, lakes, and the people are exceptionally nice. I leave her there and find the attached building, which is set up with white folding chairs and tables as if it’s going to host a wedding. I’m going to clear it all out and make it into a garage to rebuild my car.]
I wake up.


The Dream of Repentance

[I feel terrible, as though I’ve been caught in the act of adultery. I feel ashamed and embarrassed, I’m a disgrace. I’m in a cave, I think. The outside is sunny and warm.]


The Simple Dream

[I see a yellow corduroy couch next to a small wooden end-table. Above me hangs view screens showing pictures of vegetable gardens. Across from me sits a blond athletic man. I’m aware this is a dream but it isn’t. The pictures on the wall are of flowers now, and they’re changing again into green falling lines of code like the movie the matrix. The man vanishes, and then re-appears. He’s a ghost. He’s dead. He means me no harm, he’s here to help.]
I wake up.


The Dream of Hell

[I see  white walls and exposed steel beams arching gracefully up to the ceiling. To my right is a loading bay for freight letting in the soft orange glow of a setting sun. Opposite the bay a portico held up by smaller arches lead out to a large courtyard. The plants out there are all dead.]
[I feel cold. Deadly cold. I get off the green cot and don’t know which way to go now to get out of here.]
[A shadow appears in the doorway, followed by a man wearing a white jumpsuit similar to the starship dream. He knows me, but I don’t know him. He’s in bad shape, and he wants me to go with him right now, but I don’t trust him. Another man closes the door and runs across the room to the courtyard. We go out there together and I lean against a blue crate. The ground is covered in maggots. The two of them run up a fire escape ladder and are gone.]
[I hear a banging and see the side of a head. It’s a giant, brown, rotted mass of skin covered with thin clumps of wispy hair and veins, and the enormous eye that takes its place is frightening. It sees me. It’s the monster I’d dreamt about since I was three. I made an opening and wiggled through it, then came at me at an unbelievable speed. It wanted to eat me; I was in hell, that’s what happens here. My whole body tensed in pain in anticipation.]
I woke up.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Prologue Chapter One: Russian Army Base, Belarus

He pressed his hands over his eyes, trying to wake up enough to deal with another call on the emergency channel. It wasn’t fair. He’d tried to warn them that technology brought cruelty, not progress, and that giving a man the ability to do the work of ten meant he’d be doing the work of ten, but they just laughed and called him lazy. “The neural implants will allow you to perfectly understand any text file in seconds” they said, “think of all the time it’s going to save you!” But those idiots didn’t answer midnight coms.
The voice was unsteady with fear, “Sergeant you need to come down here right now. Something’s wrong with Sergei.”
“Are you in danger?”
With his eyes still closed he used the implants to bring up the emergency camera application and saw the two soldiers pointing rifles at each other. At this he rolled off the bed, reached for his jacket, and connected his mind to the mainframe through his implants, “Adjunct Computer, start my car and connect me to specialist Sergei SC8849, voice only.”
The cold air stung his face as he opened the door. By design his quarters were a short drive from the weapons storage building, so he’d only need to keep them talking for a less than a minute.

“Sergei, tell me why I’m responding to a security breach.”
In contrast to Milendi, Sergei was cool and collected, “I have no answer Sergeant, there are no incidents to report here.”
“Milendi says you’ve been compromised.”
“Miledi also believes I’ve had my mind taken over by extraterrestrials.”

He poured profanities into the com until his rage abated to the point where he could yell coherently at the computer, “AC, connect me with Milendi SP8854!” The computer gave a confirmatory beep in his ear.
“Milendi! So help me god if I get there—”
“Sergeant this is serious!” The tone was borderline hysterical.
He pulled onto the snow covered grass directly in front of the door to the durable, yet run down, tan building.
“Space aliens Milendi!? Unlock this door!”
The light on the panel flashed green, and the metal roll up door opened, confirming what the camera had shown: a nervous Milendi and a very relaxed looking Sergei pointing assault rifles at each other. On the surface nothing was different, but in person he could see Sergei wasn’t merely unconcerned, he had transcended worrying altogether.

They spoke together,
“Sergeant, please have Milendi lower his weapon before he accidently fires it.”
“Thank god you’re here Sergeant.”
“Sergei,” he began with a patronizing tone, intending to show how ludicrous this situation was, “Have you had your loyalties compromised by an alien brain parasite?”
“Yes and no Sergeant. My mind remains my own, however the accusation that I have new loyalties to an extra-terrestrial is accurate.”
The forthwith affirmation caught him off guard.
“I’m sorry I was unclear Sergeant, what I mean to say is that I now obey the Supreme Commander.”
“Is this someone I serve?”
“No Sergeant.”
“Is it some enemy operative or hostile foreign government?”
“He’s the leader of a hostile government, but it’s not Earth based if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Is he a computer?”
“No. He’s a person.”
Milendi, visibly agitated, interrupted, “You see Sergeant! See! He downloaded this file from the base library and now he’s a different person. A normal program only makes you to understand the information in it; it doesn’t change your personality. It… it can’t.”
This was true, what he was seeing shouldn’t have been possible. He called up the file for himself and saw it had a creation date of today and had only been run a half dozen times.
“It’s taken his mind sir!”
“Shut up private. You’ve been watching too many of those American zombie movies.”
He did.
“Better. Now Sergei tell me, is this thing planning an attack?”
“Yes Sergeant. An invasion is certain.”
“I don’t know.”
“Milendi, download that file.”
“What? No!”
“Life is a penny. Do it or I shoot you.”
He began sweating and fidgeting, “Oh god no, no, no no. They’re going to eat my brain. They’ll take—” and then abruptly he stopped, wiped his forehead, and sighed. When he spoke again it was with that same unearthly calm Sergei had.
“I have finished your request Sergeant.”
“Are you in the grip of the same creature?”
“Yes Sergeant, but I’m not a robot, if that’s what you mean. Nor would it be accurate to call The Supreme Commander a creature.”
“I don’t care if it’s accurate or not. Tell me, is there an invasion?”
“Yes Sergeant. It will consume the world.”
“When it happens will you be on his side, fighting against us?”
“Yes Sergeant.”
“Surrender your weapons both of you, you are relieved of duty.”
“Yes Sergeant.”

He tucked the rifles under his arm and marched them out into the snow. “AC, connect me to HQ, wake anyone you have to, this is an emergency report. Set priority to highest.” He cleared his throat. Begin dictation. “SM88451 reporting from forward operating airfield to the supreme staff. Someone has written a program that leverages our implants to rewrite the mind of anyone who reads it, the result of which is that they are completely subverted. All intelligence operatives and soldiers with the modules equipped are at risk. They claim to serve “the Supreme Commander” who is a non-human extra-terrestrial. It’s my estimation that we are being softened up for an attack of some kind. Request the file be banned and immediately stricken from all databases, both military and civilian. Please acknowledge and advise. End report.”

Continue Reading 

Prologue Chapter Two: At the Council

“HOST how many times has ‘The Library’ been run as of this morning?”
Her sweet synthetic voice replied, “14,988,239.”
“HOST how many of our people do you think have actually run it?”
“35 million.”
The graying General looked around the table, “We’ve been here three days, how much longer are we going to let this go on?”
The argument began again as the Prime Minister leaned forward in his leather chair, “We’ve already purged the file from all civilian databases, if the number of users have grown then the military must be at fault.”
“Don’t accuse my soldiers of failing to do their duty sir. It’s obvious the infected are sharing it peer to peer.”
The President jumped in, “And how would you know that General? Either you’re hiding it or they are.”
“You are as ignorant of this technology as you are dishonest Madam President. We’d be far better off if you kept your comments yourself.”
Just as the discussion escalated to shouting, HOST chimed in: “Dr. Vanwinegarden and his aid are here to deliver the report you asked for council.”

The door opened and two men in white lab coats entered, stood in front of the glass window overlooking the city, and waited for the noise to die down. When the older man finally spoke it was with a thick Dutch accent, although he did his best to carefully pronounce each word. “It is a rare honor for someone in my field to be brought before the supreme staff. I thank you council for your kind invitation.”

“Doctor, you’ve been asked to provide hard scientific evidence of the Alien Master and yet after only twenty hours you have it?”
“We met with a serendipitous occurrence Prime Minister. Julian here downloaded the module and by chance it failed to subsume his personality. The result was total knowledge while leaving his will unbroken. With his newfound insights we were able to work exceedingly quickly.”
“And what is your conclusion?”
“The aliens are very real sir. I am certain they are behind the virus.”
The bald secretary of state spoke up, “Absolutely certain?”
“Yes sir, of this there is no doubt. Whoever or whatever wrote this program knows our mind better than we do.”
“And you have not been able to duplicate the personality altering effect?”
“No Prime Minister. Mathematically it shouldn’t even be possible. From our perspective it’s much more like a miracle than a natural function.”
Several of them began to demand proof.

“Ah...” The doctor gestured with his hands as if trying to find a way to deliver the non-technical words he needed to convey the idea, “The proof is, ah, before the program. The program changes a man yes, but in reality it merely solidifies their desires, nothing more. It… it does not, ah, tamper with their volitions. I’m hoping I can say this right.”
“No doctor, try again.”
Julian whispered in his ear, “Yes thank you. The change is actually in two steps—in the first one the alien directly manipulates the mind, causing the affected to overwhelmingly to desire the file. In step two the person reads it and is lost.”
“Wait a moment, you’re saying our real problem is not with the module but with the aliens forcing us to use it?”
“Yes, thank you,” he said, looking relieved, “you understand perfectly. We don’t know yet how this is accomplished, although it seems they can influence whomever they want, whenever they want. We even found physical evidence of this in the form of a marker which is present in everyone who uses the file. It shows up anywhere from a few hours to a few days before, and in every case is perfectly predictive.”
“Show me,” insisted the President.
“Ah, certainly. If you could, please have your porter bring up the blue case in my van, we will do a brain scan here.”
The General gave the authorization, “HOST, alert the guard at the building entrance to get the machine from the doctors van.” Then turning to the two guests added, “While we are waiting why don’t you tell what you think of the aliens. How much of a threat do you think they are?”
“I have no strong opinions about them one way or the other sir. Aside from awe and fascination at their, ah, technical ability I could care less about them.”
“What about your student there, what are his thoughts?”

The young man spoke with the same untroubled, unmoved air as the others who read the file, but his demeanor was cold, rather than warm. “He’s an evil tyrant, a hypocrite masquerading as a benevolent hero. He is our enemy and I would unhesitatingly recommend we kill every last man woman and child who sides with him.”
Everyone but the professor was taken aback at the boldness of the speech.

“So if this program doesn’t turn you into an angel it turns you into a demon? Did the file take your soul son?”
“There is neither scientific evidence nor convincing rational argument for a soul Prime Minister.”
“Don’t be smart with me boy, I’m informing you your response is sociopathic.”
“The logical response to a cancerous cell is to kill it sir, not feel sorry for it.”
The General nodded in agreement, pleased with what he was hearing so far. “Why isn’t rehabilitation an option?”
The doctor interrupted, “I can assure you sir the change is permanent.”
“I wasn’t talking to you, I want to hear from him. Assume I disagree with you for a moment young man. Convince me why I should kill my wife and child if they take the file.”
“Consider that a technically advanced alien is somehow tampering with our minds and turning us into drones. Consider that we are incapable of reversing the transformation. Consider also that at a geometric rate of growth everyone on the planet will be converted within the month. If you are for people making up their own minds then surely you must agree that pruning back the growth is necessary.”
“This file causes altruism, sacrifice, compassion. Husbands become faithful to their wives, children obey their parents, and so forth. What’s the harm in that?”
“What better way to gain support for a cause than to have everyone be harmless, good natured, law abiding citizens? Then once we’ve decided they’re no threat the alien changes them to be violent and we’re finished.”
“Hmmm, one last question then—if they are clever enough to leverage our technology against us and advanced enough to be able to directly modify our brains, how would we fight them?”
“By taking away their ability to change us General.”

The computer detected the break in the sentence and politely cut in, “The machine has arrived.”
The doctor and Julian were busy for only a moment before their small device hummed to life.
“Give us a moment council,” he said, and his eyes widened, “Madam President, you are carrying the, ah, marker.”
Every eye turned. The Prime Minister spoke first again, “At what point did you decide you were going to try the file for yourself?”
“When the young man spoke. I figured if he was able to resist its effects then I could too. I was going to download it tonight once there was nobody to stop me.”
“Give her the program now HOST.”
She held her breath while the computer gave her the file, then slumped her shoulders in relief as it finished. They stared intently at her for a moment before the doctor broke the silence, “Is your curiosity satisfied? A few seconds ago you understood the aliens to be a menace and wanted them destroyed. Now?”
“I understand everything.”
“Please go on, Madam President, describe your present, ah, condition to us.”
“I have been re-created. It is my duty to see that everyone becomes as I am. Everyone must read the file.”
The General drew his gun under the table. “Tell us if the Doctor’s theory is right. Is the change a two step process?”
“Yes but that’s not the important thing. What you need to know is that the Master is coming to conquer us, and you need to be on His side by the time He arrives. Resistance is pointless.”
Julian was bold enough to interject with what they all were thinking, “What will happen if we don’t submit?”
“He will destroy you with fire, inflicting upon you unthinkable pain. Never ending remorse, regret and horror will be yours unless you swear allegiance to Him. He keeps his enemies in gloomy dungeons awaiting his judgment, do not let yourselves be counted among them!”
“Fascinating. What will it take to stop the invasion?”
She was pleading with them in earnest now, “There is no stopping us. There’s no stopping Him. I beg you to surrender—”
“No, you must listen!”
“Enough!” The General stood up and abruptly rendered her unconscious with the butt of his pistol.
“Doctor, any ideas?”
Julian spoke for him again, “Wipe her mind and watch what happens.”
They looked at each other and came to a silent agreement.
“Help me get her into the interface bay…”
“Don’t lift her that way, hold the ankles…”
“The tap goes in the left arm here, don’t you know that?”
“She’s ready. HOST run an emergency medical memory wipe, leaving only the speech centers and basic brain functions intact.”
The synthetic voice responded, “Operation complete.”
“HOST, apply enough stimulants to wake her.”
The President opened her eyes and looked around confused. The Prime Minster put his hand on her shoulder and spoke reassuringly, “You’re safe now, but you need to tell us what you remember. What is your name?”
“I don’t know.”
“Where are you?”
“I… I don’t know.”
“What do you know?”
Her reply came out haltingly as she racked her brain for what left after the wipe, “The Master loves me. I love the Master. Do you know Him? I could tell you about Him—”
The General frowned, then held down the ‘additional suppressants’ button and gave her a lethal dose. Her body fell back onto the bed with a permanent smile on it.

“Young man have a seat in her chair. Obviously you’re as close to a loyal technical expert as we’re going to get, and I want your thoughts for the moment.”
Julian obeyed the General, crossed the room, and sat down quietly.
“Well. We are at last agreed, I think, that something must be done. Let’s have our expert go first.”
He moistened his lips and began with that peculiar dark confidence, “I would recommend getting an army together as soon as possible.”

The thin, frail old minister of the interior who had remained passive the whole meeting now interrupted in a quiet voice, “Thank you young man, that will be all. I think I speak for all of us in saying we’ve heard quite enough from you. By all means scrub the file and discuss with the General the most effective way to kill everyone who reads it, but when you’re done our problem will remain.” He briefly made eye contact with everyone before addressing them, “Friends, I’m persuaded by what the doctor has shown me that what we really need is a defense against their mind control. What that will ultimately look like I do not know, but I do have an idea that might work in the meantime.”
Everyone leaned forward in their chairs.
“We leverage the implants and the network to create an entertainment megaplex, something similar to what the people of the West already spend their time doing. Games, puzzles, stories, all devoid of real value, but perfectly safe. If we can keep everyone continually distracted from ever wanting to use the file then we can at least stop the bleeding. That should give us enough time to sort things out.”
“Yes…” the Prime Minister, thinking it over out loud, “yes the implants are connected to the brain… they already allow us to control what people see, smell, hear to some extent… all we’ll need to do is make them want to run programs continually. We’ll call it the holonet…” 
The Secretary of State however remained unpersuaded, “The antidote is worse than the poison minister. How would we survive as a society if we do this? What will we eat once everybody stops working? How many of us will there be once everyone quits raising children?”
“Well obviously it’s a temporary measure, so hopefully we don’t run into those problems, but in the meantime I’d say have the service robots do more key tasks like agriculture and have the children grown in tanks.”
They nodded in agreement. The plan might need some refinement, but it was a good first start.
“Schedule an emergency meeting with the UN tonight so that we can share the doctors findings and get their buy-in. We’ll need everyone’s help to pull this off.”

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