The Visitors part 10

The disappearances didn’t cause the electricity system to fail. That happened about two years after. Plenty of other bits of what they thought of as civilization had started to disintegrate years before. The disappearances just furthered things along.

So many people had gone off the grid by homesteading that it all finally fell apart, like a gyroscope wobbling to a stop. Without enough people paying for electricity, there simply wasn’t enough money coming in to repair the substations.

The upper management did what upper management has done since there were managers. They laid off all the actual workers, and then stayed on until the bitter end, collecting a paycheck but not doing anything. They didn’t know how.

The end came faster that way, because the people who knew how to do the work were gone. What is the point of managers if they can’t manage to figure out how to do anything themselves? Being able to write up schedules and delegate is a pointless exercise when you don’t have any warm bodies to do the dirty work.

Homesteaders were motivated by fear that the authorities were going to take everything away from them. They figured they can’t take away what they don’t have. Perhaps people also just longed for the good old days, forgetting that if the good old days were so good they would’ve kept them.

There wasn’t a central education system anymore, either. Pretty much the same amount of people who had been homesteading had also been homeschooling. They felt like they could do things better themselves. They didn’t want to give away their power to someone they didn’t know.

This feeling of mistrust of authority had gone on for a long time, in part fueled by repeated warnings of an impending apocalypse. Whether it was brought on by zombies or Jesus or the final battle of the Vikings, people were worried. They turtled in, stocking up supplies and shoring up their defenses.

The times to stretch out and trust were over.

It didn’t make sense how a six-month supply of canned vegetables and tuna was going to help if the world fell apart. It seemed like it would simply delay the inevitable impending slow death. Plus, it might attract unwanted visitors. You know, the ones who didn’t get sucked up in the rapture, or had saved up any food.

One thing it meant was that people who weren’t experts were now in charge of their own lives. Simply being a parent did not qualify them to teach their children. Why they thought that they could do better than someone with a Master’s degree in education made no sense. But they were allowed to do it.

The government thought of it as self selection. They thought of it like this – if you give them enough rope, they will hang themselves. All the educated people will be able to rule over the home-schooled, or the newest fad, “un-schooling”, where the child directs his learning. Who ever thought up that idea? Like a child is going to want to learn how to do anything other than play. They’ll never learn how to read or do math because they won’t know they need it.

The city-zens still paid taxes, so their money still went to the education system their children didn’t participate in it. The government made more money and spent less. It was genius. The city-zens thought they’d gotten out, but in reality they were still buying in.

Similarly, what makes an accountant or a mechanic think he’s suddenly a farmer? Sure, with homesteading he’ll know exactly what goes into his food. He’ll know whether there are pesticides or not. But when his crop fails because he didn’t rotate his crops or add enough phosphorus he’ll be starving and just as clueless.

It was a perfect mess, a confluence of confusion.

Those who were left, who’d survived the crumbling of civilization, were those who knew enough to band together. The lone wolves, the dread pirates of the times faded out, forgotten and forlorn. Those who learned how to share what they had, be it cucumbers or Calculus, they made it.

Of course, they couldn’t be obvious about it. Banding together was forbidden for any group larger than 20 was seen as a threat. The mass protests of the early 21st century had taught the government that. People would suddenly appear in the city streets, banners and drums at the ready, faces obscured and mouths open, shouting slogans in unison. They were flash mobs, no doubt, but they weren’t dancing to a pop tune. They were marching, and marching against austerity, against, authority, or just against.

Sometimes they didn’t even know what they were marching or drumming or shouting against. They just did it, and their numbers stopped traffic and started the government thinking. Any group that was larger than 20 got shut down, no debating, no questions asked. Shut down with water cannon or tear gas or drones. Shut down, shut out, shut off.

The Visitors had to be subtle when they got together, but get together they must, and did. With no social media to communicate their meetings in advance, they hid messages in magazine ads, scrawled slogans in graffiti. Those who knew the code knew it all.

It was time to meet. Now, to find the place.

Advertisements

Island – thousand word story

island2

The Island was long, but they were wise in how they settled it.

island4

They put most of the cities and villages to the south along the long stretch of land they called the Lumbo. The grassy plains to the north they left alone, unhampered by the burdens of civilization. There the animals roamed free, just like they had when the people first came here.

They been careful, these wayfaring People, these new-world-creating People, to make sure that the animals they brought with them didn’t invade or take over the habitats of the aboriginal animals. They learned a lot from the mistakes others had made before them, in other lands and other times. This was their plan,

to live
with
the natural world
rather than
in spite of it.

They’d tried to tell the others about the dangers. They’d tried to convince them of the avalanche of waste, of poisons, of the dangers of neglect or of over-use. They’d tried and failed. They continued, the others, in their thoughtless, mindless ways, living as if there was no tomorrow.

The People left, knowing if they didn’t, there wouldn’t be a tomorrow. Their water would be undrinkable, their food would be their poison, their air fouled with smokestacks and acid. They left the “experts”, the doctors, the academics, the politicians, the priests. They left them, seeing the train that was coming was going to run them over, all of them.

This Island was their last hope. Others had left for the stars, hoping to colonize other planets that were as Earth-like as possible. They’d never written back. The citizens of Earth never knew if they’d gotten lost or died along the way, or worse, gotten there and flourished. Perhaps in their zeal to keep what they had, their new secret Terra Firma, they never wrote back, for fear that others would follow and ruin the joy, the unspoiled wilderness.

Too many colonists spoil the planet, you know.

The People had come here to the Island, some too poor to make the first trip, some too scared to box themselves up coffin-like in the space ships. It was 23 years after the first and only ship left that they’d scraped up enough money and interest to make the voyage.

The Island was their home for good now. They’d taken apart the big ships, used the wood to build their first settlements.

It was best this way really, living to the south. The people on the west side of the island had a perfect view of the deep, dark, waters of the MaLungo Sea, while the people to the east not only enjoyed the morning sunrise but also the shallower waters of the Bay of BahrimBa. There was good snorkeling there, and dolphins.

The dolphins told them everything they knew about this Island’s waters and even further out into “the Great Deep,” as the dolphins called it. Few of them went there. That was the realm of the whales, the royalty of the ocean.

The People of the Island enjoyed visiting with each other but the waters weren’t amenable to sailing close into shore. They were choppy and many a ship was lost before the people learned to understand the language of the dolphins. Together they tracked out the sea lanes, the invisible highways that stretched over the ocean, areas of calm where ships may safely sail. This made it possible to establish farming villages in the north as well. No roads could be constructed to transport the produce, so small ships were essential lifelines to the southern towns.

island3

They made a wide berth around the island to the west. It had sprung up some 200 years ago amidst much rumbling and plumes of steam. One day it wasn’t there and then one bright morning, heralded by cracks and booms, the island was born over the course of six weeks.

No one lived there. Not even animals.

They called it “Turtle Island” because it looked like the shell of a great turtle, not because any of those noble animals lived there. They remembered a story from many generations back of a turtle holding up the world on her shell. That turtle was bigger than dreams and stronger than fear. She held up the world, swimming through space like it was a sea of stars. She held the world up on her back, high enough for light and air for it, while underwater she navigated the waters of time, carrying them to their unknown destiny. Her life was a life underneath, a life of service.

The people then never really knew how much she did for them.

They told her story to their children to remind them that all they see isn’t all that is, and that there is a great force that is carrying them safely and with great sacrifice. That was all they knew, and it was all they needed to know.

The story served them well then.

Years of science disproved this story, turned it into a myth. The people shifted away from superstition and ritual, but lost some of their hope when they abandoned the turtle as their benefactor.

These people carried that story, like a small ember from a fire, to their new home. Turtle island’s birth served as proof to them that their faith was warranted – the great turtle was still carrying them.

People would visit but they were not allowed to spend the night. Birds would land here to rest, but would not make nests. Even they knew this was a holy place. The brave among the teenagers would make their rafts or borrow the community rowboats and scull out to this little land

on a dare
or to stake their claim
or to run away
from restrictive parents
and their
even more
restrictive rules.

The island was still settling and still growing. They didn’t ever need the authorities to tell them to leave. They left of their own accord quickly enough, frightened by the rumblings in the land.

Jewelry inspired by The Visitors story

stopped watch
watch2watch1

prayer beads – three characters, three beads.
prayer4

prayer3

prayer5

There aren’t jewelry stores in the time of the Visitors. Things have to be assembled out of what is available. People don’t quite remember how to make prayer beads anymore, so they make what they need with what they have. They follow their own internal ideas rather than institutionally-imposed ideas.