Church of the Infinite Void.

A psychotic break or a new reality for Paul?

The clouds parted, the wind blew, the sun emerged and heated the huddled masses. Just the way Paul wanted it.

“I love the weather I’m creating,” Paul whispered to Billy-Bob in the corner. “It’s just as I imagined.”

Billy-Bob raised an eyebrow, said nothing.

The crowd was anxious. Paul had been trending on Insta, TikTok, What’sApp, Facebook and every single social media sight for weeks. He and his crew had topped the stats to become an overnight sensation, years in the making. Bringing down dozens of Black Hawk helicopters in a public square while fending off attacking soldiers was destined to draw eyeballs. Who was this guy? No one had seen anything like it. They needed to understand.

Paul raised his hand as a shield against the sun, squinted, and spoke.

“Welcome! This gathering marks the first meeting of The Church of the Infinite Void…of which you are all members.”

A muffled titter rippled through the crowd. Cell phones appeared from every pocket, held high, or at arms-length, to record every word.

“I offer you eternal life. If you have the ‘nites within you, you have this already. This is the gift of the Void.”

The roar of approval was sudden and deafening.

“I didn’t expect that,” Billy-Bob shouted, cupping his hand and yelling at Lassiter.

Paul raised his arms, white robes flowing.  “The underlying anxiety you feel, that uncertainty you’ve felt your whole life…I’ll put an end to that.”

The crowd quieted.

“All of you have felt the Void creeping towards you. There’s no escaping it. The Void is the only truth we all have in common. It’s waiting for us. It is, and always has been, the one thing that unites us. The one truth.”

Billy-Bob could hear flapping of crows’ wings as the crowd fell silent.

“Join the Void! Become one! The Church of the Infinite Void offers you true freedom! Meaning! Purpose! Together, we’ll ride the waves of the God particle and explore the Universe in a state of infinite bliss and joy, experiencing the love of cojoined consciousness.”

“Best opening lines ever,” Billy Bob gripped Lassiter’s shoulder, shaking him hard. “Did Akira write this, or did Paul do this himself?”

“I don’t know. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen Akira. Have you? She should be here.”

“Hmmm. Strange.”

Paul raised his head skyward: “The Void brings science and religion together so we can explore the universe in a state of cojoined consciousness. As one, hold your wallets. Show the Void!  Show your wallets…”

Cell Phones vanished and wallets appeared from purses and pockets, held high. Billy-Bob heard the rustling of pants, the snapping of joints, the slapping of leather…

 “Your money will help spread my conscious to every person on the planet! The ‘Nites will be everywhere, in everyone! I am the beginning and the end of mankind, nobody like myself existed before nor will they exist.”

“Do you believe this?” Billy-Bob leaned closer to Lassiter, whispering just loud enough.

“Paul believes it. If he doesn’t, no one else will. That’s Faith.”  

Lassiter stared at Billy-Bob’s contorted face.

“Psychotic Narcissistic Personality Disorders are the prerequisites of all great leaders,” Lassiter continued. “Look at Bass. Classic psychopath. It might take a narcissist to defeat a narcissist. I think Paul’s got what it takes.”

The clouds parted. The sun glowed hotter. Billy Bob felt sweat running down his cheeks in thick rivulets.  

“Nobody like myself was ever born nor will they be born,” Paul bellowed, drawing a breath. “I surpassed the feats of the ancestors, and coming generations will not be able to equal me in any of my feats for millions of years. I am the hero without equal. I look centuries into the future and I tell you no person shall exist like me again.  I am The Alpha, the Omega. The subject, the object. I am the beginning, the end. I am the origin. I am past, I am the present I am the future. I am all genders. I is, I are, I AM.”

 “I is, I are, I am…” the crowd reverberated back the chant until windows shook and crows took flight.

“He’s really, really letting his freak flag fly.” Billy-Bob stared at Lassiter. “Where is this coming from?”

“Paul’s discovering who he is. Get used to it.  It’s a new day. It’s a new order.” Lassiter brought flask to lips.

“Most of you have already been touched by the ‘nites…” Paul eyes scanned the audience before he spoke again. “Others may be here out of curiosity, but all will meet my nites soon. Only then will our consciousness blend into one and we can surf the vibrations of the God particle into the infinite Void as a cojoined consciousness…

A roar of approval rang sprung from the people.

” Thanks to your Mother, Akira, the Gov’t computers have already been hacked. The Church of the Infinite Void is already a legally established religion, with all the rights and privileges thereof, including tax-exempt status.  Which means all of you can start selling your possessions and donating money immediately. Send me your paychecks, your material possessions, your properties…your daughters…give me as much as you want and watch the Church of Infinite Void become a multi-billion-dollar corporation! The money you saved for retirement? Send it. The money to pay for your children’s college? Send it. On this earth, it takes money to fight money…so we will take your money and we will expose the entire planet to our ‘nites, we will then take over this earth and set humanity free!   Join us or get left behind. The Void is all!”

The crowd chanted in unison: “I is! I are! I am!”

“The end is near for Homo Sapiens. The mysteries of existence have been carried with our DNA itself, and have manifested in many forms, including many corrupted forms, twisted, bent and evil. The Church of the Infinite Void will cleanse you of this evil and prepare us for the stars. Mankind will finally be cured of the psychosis stemming from the knowledge that flesh is meaningless and short lived.  You are at the beginning of a long and holy journey!”

Billy-Bob turned to face Lassiter. “He’s done everything but announce himself as the new Messiah.”

“He’ll get to that.”

Akira, Captured.

Akira wriggled, blind. No visual input. Nothing but blackness. Not right. Not right. Switching to auditory. Hearing’s fine. Listen for Paul, Lasseter, listen for that useless Billy-Bob. Where are they? Where was I? Was there an I? No time for philosophical questions. Focus on now.

She heard hushed, choked sounds of laughter accompanied by deep guttural grunts and smirks. Men. Close by. More than one. A group on men. What’s that called, a group of men? A gaggle? A pack? Or, like crows, a murder? She heard sexual references, sexual jokes, more laughter, like something was funny. Really funny. Then she realized she’d be stripped of her clothing.  They were laughing at her. Olfactory sensations activated. She smelled sweat, testosterone, the sweet, thick, burnt aroma of cigars.

Bass. Bass’s men.

Defenses activated. First line—Assess threat level, obtain data.

Her body was wet. Cold. She calculated a temperature of 40 degrees and dropping. Low enough to freeze a human body. Data, good data. They were testing her limits, testing her tolerance. Trying to find out what they were up against.

They had no idea.

She was upright, but not quite standing. Her arms were above her head. She tried to bring them down, but there was something around her wrists. Something metal. Something equally cold. Bringing her arms down would require more energy than she was willing to show them. Keep them ignorant— hang there until data had been gathered. How many men? How many exits? What type of weapons? What is their objective?  What animal played this as their first line of defense? Opossums. Play ‘possum. She’d learned from nature. She would be patient. She was in no pain—pain was not built in. Only a defensive algorithm was built in—one that was becoming difficult to control—an algorithm humans would call fury. Her footwear had been removed.  Her toes scraped the ground. She identified the ground as concrete. She flexed slowly, tugged a bit harder to test resistance.  Her lips curled in an almost imperceptible smile. Sight began to return. Opening her eyes, she saw shadows and blurs, but it was enough to ascertain threat levels.

She shook her head, opened her eyes fully and a man appeared from the ether. He was just a man—an everyman. A man that would fit into any crowd. Middle age. But with wild red hair.

Conan O’Brien?  

No. Inappropriate response. He came into a clearer view. Turner. Bass’s Secretary of Defense.

Threat level elevated.

He put something down. Something close to Akira’s feat. A bucket. A bucket with water. He reached to his side, barely noticing her stare. A table to his right. A metal table. With tools. Medieval tools designed for dismembering and torturing. And a machine. A machine with whirring blades and lasers and lights making spinning and whizzing noises.

Ah, my friend—the old and the new.

He picked up a tool. A blade used for cutting and dissecting. A blade that would be painful. He held it in his left hand, in front of her face, grabbed her by the waist and pulled her closer towards his body—hugging her in what could only interpreted as a sexual embrace.

Threat level ascertained.

“Now, whoever or whatever you are,” he said, “let’s have some fun.”

More to come.

Like I said, I’m attempting shorter and more frequent posts to keep this story moving. Thank you for all your comments, suggestions and encouragement. –George F.

SuperHomo cometh.

Billy-Bob brushed debris from his arms, stood. “Artificial womb? You guys want to bring me up to speed? I thought our man Paul here was the main attraction.” Billy-Bob swiveled his head in Paul’s general direction.

Lasseter sipped his coffee, reached for his flask to add a bit of flavor, poured. “Yeah. I made it myself. When Akira’s baby comes to term, it’s the end of Homo Sapiens. I wouldn’t be surprised if China is hooking up with Bass right now for a bit of reverse engineering, should they capture her—us.  China needs more people, more workers, more than anyone…they can’t sit around and wait for a future that’s not going to happen.”

Billy-Bob’s eyes went wide: “What’a these new humans gonna be called?”

Lasseter sipped, shrugged.  “HomoSanctus, HomoDeus, SuperHomo, doesn’t matter.”

“I pick SuperHomo, makes me laugh.” Billy-Bob chuckled.

“SuperHomo my artificial ass,” Akira sneered, reaching across the table shoving Billy-Bob’s cup.

“What you resist, persists,” Paul grabbed Billy-Bob’s cup preventing a spill.

Paul loved dawdling at coffee shops. He went to the same one every day from the lab. Always mid-afternoon, to avoid the after-lunch slump. It was not just for the caffeine. He loved being around college students and basking in the vibe. He knew they were studying for and believing in a future that wasn’t coming—although they were clueless.  He wasn’t interested in meeting anyone new or starting a conversation—he was too old for that—he merely enjoyed being there, basking in their presence. When he returned to the lab, Lasseter never failed to remind Paul that ‘he had become the perv he’d warned his daughters about.’

Lasseter motioned toward the exit, “This planet is cooked, baked, done,” he said, under his breath. “Not just climate change, either…it’s total economic collapse. Young people are refusing to bear children, and Akira’s artificial womb is just the answer, so they think.  If we can get this administration off our tails, we’re taking SuperHomo and leaving this planet behind.”

–More to come.

(Note: I’ve decided to make shorter, more consistent posts. Something is better than the blank page.)

Physicist Priest. At Starbucks.

The baby must not be born.

The light was fading, the excitement over, the air filling with the sound of bees and the incessant hooting of Paul’s misplaced owls buried deep within the Blue Oaks.

Akira walked towards the table carrying the requested drinks: Latte’s, cappuccinos, and a tall dark roast pour-over for Paul. No room. She wore tight Under Armour sports pant, a shiny black sports bra with Nike running shoes. Fighting, flighting or fucking, whichever response was needed, she was prepared.

The one turning from the table reaching for his coffee first was Paul, always greedy for his caffeine. Akira was pleased he had overcome his addiction to other stimulants—cocaine, molly—even meth—but she knew he would never give up the addiction to his Starbucks pour-overs.

Paul carefully removed the coffee from Akira’s grip, his ruddy skin shining out from his black North Face parka, the hood bunched around his shoulders giving him the look of a sherpa, a shaman, a priest. They all wore heavy sport clothes now; that, combined with the masks everyone wore to protect themselves from the nanites made it easier for them to blend in—and nearly impossible for any face recognition technology not already hacked by Akira to pick them out of the crowd.  

“Careful, spills easily.” She said, jostling a chair in between Lasseter and Billy-Bob, sitting comfortably.

“You think we’re all sitting here inside Starbucks,” Paul smiled as Akira joined the group, “but there’s a lot more going on. A helluva lot more. We’re here, yes. But we’re also sitting on a rock orbiting the sun at 67,000 mph hour in an elliptical orbit headed no one fucking knows…”

“You Carl Sagan now?” Lasseter placed his flask in his vest pocket, sipping his sipped his cappuccino, grinning.

An owl answered, the sound coming from a Blue Oak tree across the street. Lasseter waited. Billy-Bob’s jaw opened slightly and his coffee missed his mouth, staining the front of his new North Face with that unmistakable cappuccino brown. He glanced at Lasseter, then back at Paul.  “That’s good to know, Paul, but how does this help us escape Bass and the entire US Government, not to mention the Deep State?”

“Our place in the Universe is completely relevant to this situation—even though it’s not obvious,” Paul answered. “Bass’s election signaled the change—the world know will never be the same again.”

“What change?” Billy-Bob got a tighter grip on his cup and took his fist successful sip.

“Humanity has moved from a Newtonian reality to a Quantum reality. It was always going to happen—but humanity is ill prepared.”

“What does that even mean?” Billy-Bob leaned forward, hand quickly reaching for his Glock holstered beneath his coat.

“It means the world will never make sense—if it ever did. It’s not a New World Order, it’s a New Quantum Order. Our reality now moves from certainties to probabilities. We can be in two places at once. We can travel to the far end of the Universe faster than the speed of light. The Universe will no longer obey the laws of Physics—the Universe will obey thoughts. Our thoughts. The Universe will finally serve us—humanity—as it was meant to.”

Paul sipped his dark roast. “This is good tho. I’d hate to lose these small pleasures as all these changes take place.”

“They want to destroy us…why?” Billy-Bob continued.

“They want this slave power structure they’ve built to last forever. The want the rich to get richer and amass untold billions, while the majority of humanity lives in squalor and poverty. They never want it to end. Their greed is as infinite as the Universe itself, knowing no bounds. Our existence threatens this power structure—in fact, to them—we’re the beginning of the end.”

“They won’t stop?”

“No, they won’t. Bass will spend his entire $800 billion defense budget to find us. He’ll stop at nothing—and after he spends every tax payer dollar, he’ll print more money, and recruit more men, until we’re ground to dust. Until we cease to exist. Especially Akira. Her baby must never be born.”

Akira tensed. “Let them try.”

“I’ve been inside Bass’s mind, Akira. He’s insane. But he knows. They know you’re pregnant. They know your baby will be the first trans-human. They know this is the last of the Homo Sapiens species era—they know their power and control is coming over. They know the grip the corporate conglomerates have over their Homo Sapiens slaves is faltering. They’ve identified Lasseter as the catalyst for this change, as the prime mover. They know I now can control minds—they’ve already had more than one demonstration—yesterday being the best—and they don’t like it. They don’t like it at all. It’s what they fear the most.”

Now no one knew what to say next. The owls filled the awkward silence.

“Keep your masks on—we’ll figure this out,” Paul slowly inhaled the roasted aroma of his coffee and slurped.

–more to come.

A cult of consciousness

A brief continuation…

“How did that feel?” Paul echoed. “I can feel minds. They’re empty…”

Lasseter yanked him towards the exit. “Well that explains a lot…”

Sniper fire. ‘Copters crashing. Smoke everywhere. Breathing, difficult.

Paul fell into Lasseter’s arms as his eyes widened and the world expanded within him, nanites connecting to nanites, personalities pooling, consciousness turning into a river, into an ocean.

An ocean Paul controlled. He gasped for breath. The suddenness of the change choked him, changed him.

“It’s all a paradox, everything…” he stammered, eyes wide, grabbing Lasseter’s shoulders, pulling himself upright. “No God, but demons, yes. Evil. The mind, the Universe, a Void. Light, a wave, a particle. Nothing rational. No explanations…no sense…”

“That’s why I drink,” Lasseter yanked him to safety behind a pillar. “They’re shooting live rounds; we need to get outta Dodge….”

The gathering turned into a throng. Paul stared at the reality of what the gathering had become. Gas masks had appeared, as if by magic. First aid supplies strewn randomly. Sticks and pipes in people’s fists. Baseball bats, hockey sticks, make shift weapons of every kind and home-made armor from trash can lids.

“The resistance forms itself,” Lasseter smirked.

“Not gonna work against this overfunded military machine,” Paul retorted. “Bass using soldiers with live ammunition against our own citizens…against Americans…he’s crossed the line. History is with us…martyr’s…martyrs solidify a movement…any movement…”

“A movement? When did you become a movement?” Lasseter returned his flask to his breast pocket. Eyed it lovingly.

“Not me. Us. A cult. A cult of consciousness. I can feel it. It’s a tidal wave, and it’s starts now. It’s here.”

They turned to watch a barrier form against the incoming Black Hawks not under Paul’s control. Broken furniture, doors, overturned automobiles, all seemingly piling itself into a mound with people crawling under it like roaches.

Something cold and hard brushed Paul’s arm. He looked up. Billy-Bob prodded him with the point of his rifle.

“Time to go. Live another day.” He threw Paul over his shoulder and ran for the exit. Lasseter followed.

“Akira?”

Lasseter bellowed against the wind.

“Akira? Akira takes care of Akira.”

More later.  

Emergence

The sound of thousands of voices rumbling through Paul’s mind was nothing but white noise. The static of a television. The fuzz of no signal.

The sharp crack of the sniper’s rifle from above created a preternatural focus.

Head shot for Paul. Followed by more.

That was when the sky erupted into ear shattering explosions of thunder and flashes of lightning.

The weather hadn’t changed. That was the sound of .50 caliber machine guns opening fire. Paul never handled a weapon in his life, so the sounds and recoil shook him to the core.

The rotors and blades of the Black Hawks created high speed winds that threw dust and debris in every direction.  The crowd panicked and scattered. Lasseter, Billy-Bob and Paul stood their ground, bobbing and weaving through the carnage.

Akira threw her arms skyward, greeting the chaos.

Billy-Bob shielded his eyes, tracking the Black Hawks. “They’re shooting each other!” He yelled, grabbing Paul’s shoulder pulling him backwards towards safety.

Paul responded with a painful wink and a grin.

Abruptly, the firing stopped and the helicopters banked hard toward the empty parking lot on the opposite side of the mall. The crowd tripped and clawed in a mad scramble to escape.

This was American soil. A friendly crowd. Black Hawks firing. Flashbacks to Afghanistan.

“They’re clearing out!”

Paul stood transfixed. He’d connected with the infected minds and in the ‘copters and ordered them to shoot­­—at each other. At the engines. At the search lights. At the snipers.

It wasn’t long before he connected with the pilots, ordering them to bank away.

The ‘copters he couldn’t control had to go down.

BOOM

That wasn’t the loudest explosion Billy-Bob had heard, but based on their altitude, he knew the crashes were survivable.

The death toll would be at a minimum.

 Acceptable levels.

If it were up to Akira, we’d all be dead.

With her arms raised and with the wind billowing her hair, she looked in control.  

But she wasn’t.

Billy-Bob knew. He knew.

Lasseter slid his arm around Paul’s waist, propping him against the wind, shielding him from the debris. He cupped his right hand into a semicircle, yelling to be heard.

 “How’d that feel?”

He took a swig from flask, rolled his eyes skyward, and smiled.

Fusion.

“My mind to your mind. My thoughts to your thoughts…”

“Really, Paul?”

Akira raised an eyebrow, tilted her head off center, but managed to keep her focus on the incoming Blackhawks.

“Does that chant work on a mass scale?” Lasseter smirked.

“It seemed appropriate, that’s all I could think of…”

Paul’s eyes went wide as the Universe expanded within him, as the nanites activated themselves in the minds of those around him; activated his neurons, his every synapse, and connected him to a sea of minds that was vast, endless. It was an ocean of consciousness and Paul was riding the wave.

He was looking down on himself from inside the helicopter. He saw the four of them on stage, Lasseter, Billy-Bob and Akira huddled ‘round him in a protective circle, like a herd of elephants protecting a newborn from an attacking pride of lions.

He was two places at once. It couldn’t be, but it was.

There was no time to think, question, analyze. That would come later. He was seeing himself through the thick film of a helmet, the vision smudged, blurry: he was the door gunner, aiming at himself, finger on the trigger.  

The helicopter was descending hot, fast. The targets, stationary: should be an easy kill. The Blackhawks were swinging towards the targets like pendulums, swaying from left to right. Although stationary targets were easy to hit, I need to remember to aim not directly at them, but I need aim so the bullets run into the targets, which in this case meant aiming approximately a foot to the left, using the momentum of the flightpath to swing the bullets right into the group.

“I wonder what will happen to my consciousness if I rip myself a few new assholes with this .50 caliber…” Paul found himself wondering as he fingered the trigger.  

“Gunner, take the shot.”

The command came through the headset loud and clear.

The pilot screamed: “What the fuck are you waiting for?”

“Those are Americans down there…” Paul yelled back in a voice that his but not his, keeping his grip on the gun. “Do you want another Tiananmen square?”

“Orders, gunner. Shoot or we’ll have to swing by for another pass. They could bolt. Shoot now!”

Paul felt a hand pull his shoulder. He spun, looked directly at the face of Billy-Bob stepping out of the shadows.

“We gotta go! Get behind me!”

“Bruh! I got this!”

A return to pure energy?

Paul’s eyes widened as he felt the presence of the many minds within his own. It was difficult to maintain control, but he was amazed as his consciousness expanded to make room for the sea of humanity entering his mind. There were as many neurons and synaptic connections within his brain as there were stars in the Universe, and he felt his own brain expanding, moving, absorbing, growing. There was room to unite all of humanity. And room for much more.

His nanite infection had reached critical mass and Paul could clearly see within the minds of his followers. He could feel their greatest fears, their greatest ambitions and their wildest dreams.

Amongst all those minds, he finally sensed what he’d been hoping to find: the truth. The single common denominator uniting all forms throughout the galaxy.

Buried deep within us, obscured by fear and manipulation to consume, to spend, to acquire, to compete; buried beneath a lifetime of programming from the capitalist cult of mass media was a common denominator humanity had never faced nor admitted, but which they intuitively knew.  And this explained everything.

In Paul’s mind, this explained all the stories from our past, the various myths of every culture, each and every God of every religion, all explained by one simple truth, one simple premise.

Paul shook his head. It was so simple. Why had he not realized it earlier? Every form had a simple, innate desire…no, a yearning…to be free. But that meant freedom from the constraints and limitations of matter, whether the form was human, beast or mineral.

A return to the simple, elegant state of pure energy was the only way to achieve this freedom.

Paul could see it clearly now. And this explained the slaughter of millions throughout history.

“My nanites were never meant to be political,” Paul said, turning to face Lasseter and Akira. Billy-Bob remained in the shadows.

Lasseter grinned. “Anytime you get a group of people thinking the same way, it becomes political.”

“It’s dangerous,” Paul responded quickly. “My red shirts don’t care of they live or die. Deep down, they want to die, and they’re beginning to acknowledge this…”

“Let them die.” Akira shrugged.

Lasseter ignored her. “It’s impossible to fight people with no fear of death. That’s why the government is out to stop you. They fear a movement developing that will effect voting, spending…everything, in fact.”

“How can I put a stop to this?” Paul looked worried.

“You can’t,” Akira jumped in. “You’re past the point of no return. You started it, but you can’t stop it.”

Billy-Bob stepped out of the shadows. “Give them hope…”

“There’s that word ‘hope’,” Lasseter laughed. “There is no hope…”

“There’s always hope…” Billy-Bob inched forward, catching Paul’s glance. “I didn’t fight in two wars to listen to you telling me I actually wanted to die…”

“Maybe you did want to die,” Lasseter replied quickly, taking a moment to gulp from his flask. “Otherwise, why go to war? You wanted to die but were afraid to admit it.”

“I admit it,’ Akira added. “I want everyone to die.” She didn’t even smile. “The sooner, the better.”

“Guys, guys,” Paul interrupted, “Billy-Bob’s right. I have to give people Hope. A reason to live. Any ideas?”

“Stick to the basics.” Lasseter’s palms went skyward as his shoulders shrugged slightly.

“What basics?”

“Sex, drugs ‘n rock n’ roll.”

“Lasseter, this isn’t a joke.”

“Life is a joke.”

“At this very moment, my followers, my red shirts, are about to get mowed down by Bass’s militia. They’re protesting in front of the White House and they’re about to get fired upon.”

“That could be a good thing,” Akira cackled.

More later.

Not the usual riot.

They gathered, at last

“Oh, Christ,” Turner said. “Another fucking riot.”

“Again?” Bass responded.

“Idiots everywhere,” Turner said. “Damn it all to hell…”

Bass pulled himself upright, sloshing his precious Macallan. “Hand me my Bible. I’ll waive it at them. Works every time.”

Turner pulled himself upright and reached for the Bible across from his seat. The President always kept one handy, just for instances like this. He’d never seen him read it, just wave it around and mutter a few passages.

The President never read the passages correctly, but no one seemed to notice. Or care.

Beyond the windshield was a street full of people. Funny, Turner thought. They didn’t look angry. They weren’t waving signs. There was no chanting or raising clenched fists in the air to demonstrate power.  Where was the rage? Where were the hotheads? The anarchists? The socialists? The communists?

Where was the threat to the American Way of Life?

Why were the all wearing red shirts?

Turner looked out the passenger window and saw the President’s entourage was prepared for violence. The motorcade was trailed by what Turner jokingly referred to as “The Pilot Fish defending the Beast.” These were the fish that depended on the President to continue feeding the military and security budgets to keep them alive as they defended the President—and the system—from parasites like this.

The people were the parasites.

He could see the squad cars. The decoy Limos. The State Troopers on motorcycles. Secret Service in various non-descriptive and obviously government owned black sedans. Hazmat vehicles, the White House Comms vehicle, followed by body guards dressed like Marines.

Hundreds of tiny drones and counter drones flew above the Beast and on all sides of the convoy, equipped with sensors and sights to make sure the Motorcade was never taken by surprise.

Funny again, Turner thought, those drones aren’t flying in the correct formation. Hasn’t anyone noticed?

Among the decoys was the Army Colonel with the Football—the briefcase containing the nuclear launch codes—should the worst happen.

Turner prayed the worst would never happen. But he didn’t believe in God, so he often wondered to whom it was he prayed.

He looked past the motorcade into the crowd, looking for a sign. A flag. Anything. Give me a clue, he thought. What lies do I have to tell you idiots in order to get you to disperse peacefully?

He saw people of all races, creeds and nationalities. A huge crowd. A sea of people. Thousands, hundreds of thousands? He couldn’t tell. Young, old, male, female. Every color, every race. But what did they want? What was their message?

Turner looked. The crowds and the anticipation of a riot increased the tension inside the Beast. He turned his head to hand Bass the Bible, and he finally saw what he’d been looking for.

Outside, in the distance, a young woman, beautiful, even from this far, waving a sign. Long blonde hair, a shirt cut at the waist showing an hourglass figure with breasts that caused the shirt to hike even higher. Turner squinted. The sign read: “NANITES UNITE.”

What the fuck does that mean, he thought, suppressing a chuckle.

Turner was about to find out.

More later. 

Black Hawks Down

“The Status Quo will stop at nothing to maintain the Status Quo.”

Whoop. Whoop. Whoop. Whoop.

The sound of approaching death grew louder as the black dots in the distance grew larger, finally recognizable to everyone.

Heads turned. The crowd murmured.

Paul felt control slipping out of his grasp. This could get dangerous.  His first followers. He had to protect them. But how?

Akira spoke first.

 “I don’t care about these people at all,” she said flatly. “They’re just insects to me. But these are your nanite infested minds, under your control…so you care, don’t you Paul…?”

 Akira turned her attention back to the cell phone in her palm, fingers flying over the shiny black surface, not waiting for an answer.

The sound of the approaching Blackhawks grew louder. Paul turned toward Lasseter: “She’s right. Any suggestions?”

Paul sensed the rising panic as the helicopters got closer.

Lasseter didn’t hesitate: “Douse those brains with chemicals.” 

“Chemicals?” Paul’s eyes bulged.

“Figure it out, Paul. You can do it. This is your first test of power and control. Own it.” Lasseter nudged Billy-Bob with a sharp elbow.

“Don’t hold back,” Lasseter went on calmly, “Hit those brains with everything…release the chemicals…”

Paul closed his eyes, turned toward the crowd, raised his arms high and concentrated.

He remained motionless far too long.

Billy-Bob watched as the crowd sat in unison, as one single organism, assuming the Lotus position.  All looking ecstatic. All ignoring the threat from above.

“What’d you do?” Billy-Bob forced himself to remain standing.

“That was easier than I thought,” Paul grinned, the sleeves of his robes flapping in the wind. “I flooded their brains with chemicals…natural chemicals…Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin…they feel so good now they won’t panic…then I took over their cerebral cortex and planted the suggestion that they sit.”

Billy-Bob fingered his Glock. “How long can you keep them that way…?”

Lasseter interrupted. “Won’t take long for fear to override bliss.”

“Just give me more time, more practice,” Paul answered quickly. “Eventually, I will remove all fear from their consciousness. Even fear of death. Once I remove fear, they’ll be free. This will be my gift to all mankind.”

“Fear?” Billy-Bob echoed, pointing upward. “Right now, we have several very good reasons to be afraid.”

“They’re coming,” Akira responded. “The status quo will kill to keep the status quo…”

WHOOP. WHOOP. WHOOP. WHOOP.

Lasseter spoke quietly. “Akira, time to do your thing…”

The wind began to howl as the rotors from the Black Hawks created their own dust storm as they began to descend.

“What exactly is ‘her thing?” Billy-Bob shouted over the howling wind.

As if to answer, Akira nodded slightly towards the corner of the plaza, and Billy-Bob heard the sudden high-pitched whirring of thousands of drones skimming over the head of the crowd still sitting safely in the Lotus position, rapidly rising skyward, like a flock of birds or a swarm of mosquitos.

“If it’s digital, electronic, connected to the internet, has a man-made brain or electronic circuits, I own it,” she said.

Billy-Bob watched in astonishment as the wave of drones increased in number and headed straight for the Black Hawks.

“Something I learned from your Martial arts,” Akira continued intently, “If your enemy goes high, you go low. If they push, you pull. If they go big, you go small. In that way, you transmute their greatest strength into their greatest weakness.”

Billy-Bob shielded his eyes and watched the sky darken.

The drones were rising faster now, their fans whirring and whining, lifting them over the heads of the crowd and lifting them above the buildings straight for the helicopters. Drones of all types were in the mix. Toy, recreational drones that happen to be in the area. Police Surveillance drones that were recording Paul’s first appearance.  Small and large drones. Copter and winged. Single Rotor and Multi-Rotor Drones. Fanned and jet. Some Police Drones in her net were even equipped with small guns to manage crowd control.  If it was in the vicinity, it came. Her army. Off to do her bidding, like humans under Paul’s control would eventually do his bidding.

Akira ignored Billy-Bob and Lasseter and Paul and lifted her head to focus.

“And this helps us how, against them?” Billy-Bob yelled against the wind.

“Even with their weapons,” Akira answered, “Even with their guns, how many can they shoot out of the sky before these little Kamikaze’s clog up their engines and rotors, or take out their pilots?”

Billy-Bob face-palmed.

“Paul,” she continued, “Instruct your sedated minions to walk out of the plaza quickly but quietly before the explosions begin.”

–More later