Sunday, November 1, 2015

Rebirth of a Theocracy - Chapter X


Shadows


“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, 
is the inability of the human mind to correlate
 all its contents. We live on a placid island of 
ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it 
was not meant that we should voyage far. [...] 
but some day the piecing together of dissociated
 knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of 
reality, and of our frightful position therein, 
that we shall either go mad from the revelation
 or flee from the light 
into the peace and safety of a new Dark Age.” 
H.P. Lovecraft

   
      “The first you need to understand,” Commie-Buster explained to the young rebels they rescued, “is that we use a reputation system to judge and evaluate individuals. I’m sure there will be a lot of people who’ll gladly donate to you to help you buy the hardware with which you can access the reputation system. It works in real-time, you look at someone and you see the data about him, public opinions, and his point of reputations given by others. If you for example yell at others or behave aggressively in the streets, you will instantly be voted down, and reported to the owner of the road who may choose to remove you from the property.”
      “The other thing that you will need to do immediately is to sign a contract with an insurance company. I’ll give you a detailed list to help you pick one out of the many. Your insurance company will basically represent you in disputes between you and other parties, while the other party will be represented by their own firm. If you have a complaint, if you want to secure a big purchase, if you want to secure that the house that you buy will not be subject to air, noise or light pollution, or that no one will build ten skyscrapers around you, and so on, your insurance company will be the agent who will arrange these things for you. And of course you have to answer them if you break the common law or an agreed contract. If you for example harass someone or damage the property of someone, the firm you are subscribed to will contact you to help compensate for the damage. But if you break what we call the non-aggression principle, it will be the judgement of public opinion that will drive you out of the colony, you’ll be ostracized and you can return to your homeworld. In short, as long as you do not violate the principle of non-aggression, you are safe here, you’ll be supported by the community and so on.”
      “And what will happen to the cultists?” a young girl asked.
      “They will be judged by an independent trial of trusted elders and ethicist from all throughout the colony. “
      “Where is Raoul?” Benjamin asked.
      “I told him to rest, he hasn’t slept for a while, and his won’t admit that he is near mental collapse because of his exhaustion. So he sleeps now, please don’t bother him until we land.”
     
      Raoul Seoc was unable to sleep. His mind raced through puzzles he could not solve, mysteries that arose in the past months, piecing together the scattered fragments of information to create a coherent narrative that is aligned with what is real with no avail.
      He haven’t slept since he arrived on Mars, spent his last night preparing the attack on Hypnos, and spent the day executing it. Now, his assistant commanded him to sleep before he collapses in exhaust, and let his unconscious mind integrate the vast new data into a system of knowledge.
      But his conscious mind was restless, so he got up, stumbled in the dark to the bathroom and looked for plain and simple sleeping pills. He swallowed three of them, drank a glass of cold water from the fountain and returned back to his bed.
      “At last,” he thought, “I can dream again.”
      And his mind drifted more and more into numbness, the clear thoughts blurring into visions. The thought of his parents arose in his mind, the two, most beloved person in his life who were murdered in cold blood by the cult of Hypnos. He thought of the orphanage into which he moved as a result, and thought of his loneliness in the first years, when there was no one, but the wardens who he admired.
      And then he thought – half within his dream - of Solaris, of the young boy with an aura of courage and determination who arrived from a distant colony to the orphanage, and slowly became the friend of Raoul. “The boy,” he thought, “who throughout the years became corrupted by the dark, and created Hypnos who… killed my parents long before that time.”
      The thought invaded his mind, and Raoul tried to fight the effect of the pill but he was unable to move. He was unable to sharpen his mind and focus his thought onto one single connection it made, that Hypnos existed long before Solaris might have created it.
       And he fell asleep, into a long and painful nightmare. He saw his parents, their skin made of shadows, creating a child of darkness. He saw the life he remembered he lived, but not from the perspective of the man he thought he was, but from that of pure darkness, his hands emanating the dark, or absorbing the light into and from anything he touched.
      He saw his words slowly poisoning the mind of Solaris Midsummer, and was unable to not speak. He talked to him about his parents who told tales of the young Raoul about a future mankind will reach once, where all men will forever be connected with each other, with the Dreamword and with the outside matter itself. That one man’s dream will instantly manifest itself in the collective consciousness of mankind, and all will see themselves in the others, so no violence will ever result in that world. And Solaris listened with eyes gleaming, a fire to create this world sparkling within his soul.
      He saw his investigation serving a cause that was far greater than what he was able to know and comprehend. He saw that through the files he shared with the world, the public eye saw not the darkness behind, but a cult that adheres to the concept of human madness, and nothing unknown lies behind it. Through his work he carefully veiled the great darkness that slowly engulfs the world, and presented a black and white threat instead, and the darkness of his deeds spread through the web of human information to every mind that searched for Hypnos.
      And finally he saw the attack he planned and executed last day serving the unconscious purpose of his life. He saw that his precision and his skills to plan the future that he learnt from his father helped him create the illusion of excellence in their execution, and that his self-esteem helped not to question his worth to the task at hand, and found nothing strange in the flawless capture of the army.
      He watched the events through the eyes of the child of darkness, who helped the army of the shadows to march into the colony of freedom, and helped Hypnos to devour the world.
***
      The skyline of the metropolis always inspired Dr. Wordsmith. He looked at it as the greatest value of his life. As the blue pillar of a space elevator opened up to a customer, he thought of the limitlessness of men, who was free to travel anywhere he wished. As he looked at the skyscrapers the thought of Transcendence struck him, the image of an architect’s pursuit of his dreams until those dreams are seen manifested as the beauty of the city. The green sanctuaries of nature scattered around the colony reminded him of the free market that - through the demand for safe havens against the crushing city life - protects nature without coercion. And when he thought of nature, his eyes wandered far towards the mountains all around his world where the Taoists resided, and amongst them the last Prime, towards the Forests of Azirion.
      He heard the calling of those forests the way Cantharis did years ago. But the Shaman sought enlightenment and he wanted to escape. Something called him to be free. To flee the million answers he had to face, to flee the responsibilities of unleashing Solaris onto the world, to watch as his reputation that he built throughout the century crumbles by the weight of his inertia… his ignorance.
      He wanted to flee the war that he dreaded. He wanted to escape the grand cataclysm of the world, to not see the void that is being born, that tears apart the society from in and out. Run and hide against the war that made him, the once calm and joyful elder shiver in the night from the shade, run as he ran with his family on Earth, into coldness, into the rain, into the dark but hope-filled forests against the State, hide as they hid in caves and holes against the newborn tyrant of the land that seized power in the haze of an unprepared freedom that never evolved into anarchy, and died as a mutation, tainting the Earth with millennia of hollowness.
      Dr. Wordsmith took notes of his thoughts as he watched the skyline. Hot tea was steaming in the table at which he sat in the top of the skyscraper. As night slowly approached, and the trees above him begun shrouding the sunlight, the only source of light became the paper that glowed dark blue and his smoldering cigar. And as his memories and thoughts scribbled down slowly turned into his speech pleading to flee from war, an ancient, once revered soul entered the city.
      The last Prime of Earth invisibly walked through the citadel of freedom. He was a shadow in the night, unseen and unheard. Nobody became aware of his approach, neither the sentinels of the world, nor the citizens, the scanners and cameras sweeping through the city once in a while; he was as a vision to what is real. He was wrapped in an old, brown cloak, and those who glanced at him thought what they seen was a shade, one that’s present in nightmares. Some never looked back again, and those who did saw nothing but the familiar order of the world. 
      The defense mechanism of the city, of the streets, the agoras, the parks thought of him as an anomaly that they have seen so many before: a network of humans, thousands of identities walking in one body. They created a new group of individuals, named it by the string of his DNA, listed all the other members within the group and created a note containing the words ‘collective actions.’
      And indeed, as those who saw him thought of nightmares, so did most of the world into which the ancient Prime stepped into became the host of darkness. The presence of the Taoists, who allied with Hypnos decades ago, brought madness into the city. Every touch of him infected the digital world around him. The virus he carried spread through the agoras he crossed unnoticed. They did not sense it, but the last Prime of Earth dragged them into the simulation in which Hypnos resided, into the state of awake dreaming.
      The residents of the nameless colony did not see the change. Their mind was free, without barriers between their conscious mind and its deeper levels. They spoke of its revelations, of the fears it communicated with them, they explored and resolved unprocessed conflicts within their subconscious so there was nothing to manifest itself inside the city. But suddenly they all were aware of a great storm out there, far above the Forests of Azirion, a great, dark veil in the sky that covers the stars, that brings an ocean of lightning and of rain onto the world, and they felt that it is coming towards them.
***
      “I do not know what to tell you, Detective, but I really want to help,” the kid looked at the man questioning him.
      “By not speaking of me to others you are already helping,” the Detective answered. “It is important not to bring this yet to daylight. I want to know everything about the day your friend went missing. You were the last one to see him; you’re the greatest source of data here. So just take your time, relax, you are not in danger here, I’m not accusing you, I’m not forcing you either, I just want you to tell me everything that happened that day.”
      “Very well,” he nodded. “So we, I mean me and my friend who I think became the member or the part of Hypnos, we decided to meet that day, because it was our weekly scheduled time of learning together. We were specialized in different disciples, I study philosophy and the history of thought, Christopher studied oneirology and the different cults, religions interested in dreaming. For a day in each week we got together to teach what we have learnt to each other.”
      “You said you think he joined Hypnos. Are you not sure?” the Detective asked.
      “It is a hundred percent the fabrication of my imagination, I have zero proof for it,” he answered. “But you will reach the same conclusions I bet.”
      “And tell me one more thing before you continue: why did nobody investigated your story to the degree of depth it requires?”
      “Because it happened in the same day when Dr. Wordsmith returned from the colonies and every means of communication was buzzing with his story. He returned in the morning, what happened with us happened in that afternoon.”
      “I see… go on please.”
      “Do you know that part of the colony, southeast from the center, where the forest merges with the roads? The residents there can go into the Forests of Azirion literally from their backyards, and the main road of that region ends where the forests begins. And if you wander into the forests at night, you can see orange points of light flickering between the trees that are the houses of those who live there. They are not Taoists, but they are close to that.
       So anyways, we began to walk into the forests because the weather was great, and we were arguing about shamanism. I am a hard-core shamanist to a degree that I think that dreams and oneironautism, of dreamwalking has nothing to do with it. The very concept of the shamanism comes from the path Cantharis walked through on Earth, universal principles derived from the actions of a man who became the Shaman of the world. But he only studied lucid dreaming under the guidance of the Taoists, who were formed long after he brought freedom. I mean, the lightning itself symbolizes the act of a Shaman in which he connects heaven to earth, but the symbol of lightning completely sunders the symbol of dreaming, which is the horizontal line, the sleeping, the unconscious, the passive. There is no place for storms there, only for a delicate shade of chaos.
      Now, anyways, my friend Cristopher argued from a different perspective. He said that dreaming in and of itself is Transcendence in nature, and therefore the basic part of shamanism. He argued that dreaming and the act of analyzing or controlling the dreams creates the same pillar that the lightning symbolizes, that connects the conscious with the subconscious, and therefore a dreamer is a shaman by definition.”
      “That is a very interesting concept.”
       “Indeed, but I don’t know. I get a very frightening feeling when I’m thinking of dreaming. I’m just… I just know that there’s more to it.
      Let me tell you, however I’m sure you won’t believe me.”
      “Well I was a bishop once,” the Detective laughed, “so I can believe a lot of shit.”
      The kid laughed, and continued.
      “No, but seriously, it is a strange tale. And maybe one day science will figure it out, without contradicting my firsthand experience. So I was seven years old, and I had a dream. And within my dream I was attending a school. It was among the first schools in Mars, when a lot of people worked full time to build a safe world, and children were being safeguarded by those trusted elders who helped the world to transcend.
      So we were in this school-like environment within this castle of a ship that parked in the middle of the city, that later became the orphanage, and we were talking. Then a third boy crashed in to talk about that we are going to watch a movie. But I didn’t like him for some reason. And as he used the word “we,” I thought he meant that he and his family, because I didn’t care, and two seconds later they were looking at me as if I should comment or something.
      So I lied. I told him that we too are going to watch a movie, which made zero sense in that environment. You know, me and these two boys, and a bunch of others were about to see the movie, but I answered as if me and my parents would. And that made me very sad because I didn’t like my parents. They were abusive. Like frighteningly abusive. Do you know what it’s like?”
      “Oh yes I know,” answered the Detective. “I was born in Earth and I was a cop. So believe me I can.”
      “These were the times when the delicate security system of the web was not yet created. So they lived among others as if they would deserve the paradise they’re in. Now anyways, they are ‘somewhere among the woods or the stars now,’ as they say. “
      “Do they say this? It’s wonderful.”
      “How long have you been absent from the world?” the kid raised his eyebrows.
      “For long enough. But I swore I will tell you in return.”
      “All right,” he sighed. “So not only did I betray myself by lying, I also failed this social task that I deemed to be very important because I had very few friends.
      And then I woke up,” he said. “It was just a dream. You can’t imagine how happy I was. I didn’t forget it afterwards for days exactly because it was a nightmare. And then, I am not lying, and maybe I’m not telling what is real, I’m only saying exactly the way I experienced, the same shit happened in reality again. I was talking with this kid, the other boy came to us and interrupted our talk, he was telling that we will see a movie, and I answered with, “uhm, ye, okay, I know,” or something like that. I was so frightened for a moment there, realizing that it is happening again that I answered again in a way that I think was inappropriate. So literally the whole fucking scene happened from the outside, it’s just that I didn’t lie. Now, I don’t know if you believe me or not…”
      “I’m not… I mean I do but I don’t know,“ the Detective faltered. “I’m sure you’re not lying, but I don’t know what the true explanation for this is.”
      “Yes, I agree. I feel completely the same. I don’t know what it was and I do not rush to conclusions. But still, when I think of dreams, I cannot think of anything else than something that is more than a story within the subconscious, or even if it is that, even if it is the echo of that part of our brain that survived four point one billion years of evolution, and even if it is the eidolon of all the accumulated knowledge of those lives, I begin to think of an ancient, forgotten knowledge of some force that… so you see when I try to solve this mystery, my mind veers into madness.
      I’m sorry, back to the point. So this is why I cannot accept the idea that Christopher advocated. He argued, and tried to integrate a construct into his mind that is pretty much unknown and remains unknown while such events remain without understanding. And the people will go, and cheer to these kinds of concepts and ideas, never understanding something that they do not even believe exists, but I know that it does.”
      “What kind of ideas?”
      “Like that you could simply light up those parts of your brain that are active during the REM phase while awake, and control reality in a ‘lucid dreaming’ way. This cult of Hypnos advocates this, and they say its numbers are growing, and they can very well cooperate. They say that as we are approaching singularity, we should prepare our own human bodies to a life in which matter and technology is forever conjoined, and we should do it by becoming these ‘awake dreamers’ who control the reality that they see around them, and create, but literally create new environments and worlds through controlling the matter.
       And as we descended into the Forests, I couldn’t help but wonder about the nature of these thoughts. I felt within the woods a sudden sense of… I wish there were words to describe it. It felt as if I was watching life from a perspective of someone deceased. From someone who no longer has any attachments to the world. And it was not a sad feeling, however it is close to melancholic recollection, but there was also a spark of thrill, of interest in it, as if the things unfolding would create an interesting tale, that one cannot help but listen to it.”
      “That is very strange,” the Detective said.
      “Is it?” he raised his head. “Well, I don’t know,” he looked away. “I always felt it when I was in forests. There was a time in my life when I wandered in it without aim or purpose, once I felt such oneness with the world that I joked to myself that I became enlightened.
      But you know it is very strange indeed,” he paused. “Because at those times I had this feeling because of joy, now… as if a dark force pushed my soul out of my body. And I felt not too good because of it. As we wandered more and more into the forests, I was afraid, but I saw in his eyes that he felt the same fear that I felt. But as if somehow he was familiar with it. And we got into this amazing field in the middle of the forest. There was only one gigantic tree right in the middle of it. And the skies, oh the skies were amazingly bright, but the light came not from the sun, but from the billion stars above us in the dark blue sky. “
      “I’m sorry to interrupt but did you wandered that long into the forest that the sun went down?”
      “No, we didn’t. Actually it wasn’t even more than midday. I don’t know what happened. But this is what I saw. I can share the whole database with you with first hand keys.”
      “All right, and what happened afterwards?”
      “I was freaked out. I told Christopher not to go any further towards the tree, but he didn’t listen. I was terribly afraid at that point, literally shaking from the fear. I was pleading him to go back. He didn’t even hear me, I was standing there paralyzed, and he began walking towards the tree, more and more into the shade the tree cast, until I barely saw him, whispering, crying him to stop. And he just stood, he stood there, he glanced back at me…
      Then he said something that I still don’t get. Maybe you will. He said: ‘It is not the end that we seek, but the birth of a new universe. It is not fear that you feel but an entity whose presence in life makes us humans to tremble. And it waits until all men will join it. So don’t be afraid, don’t cry, I’ll be waiting for you in the next life.’
      And he turned - and ran into the shadows,” he said, gasping from the pain.
      “All right, no problem, no problem,” the Detective patted his shoulder. “There is no problem with sorrow.”
      “I know, I know,” he said. “I’m just still… I cannot believe that it happened….”
      “Was that the last time you seen him?”
      “Yes,” he nodded, sobbing.
      “And how did you return?”
      “I passed out, and then I woke up, deep inside the Forest, and then I ran in primal fear towards where the sun downed. And when I returned, and my brain connected itself into the network of the city, there was only disorder and chaos. I could not reach any help that day, next morning I walked in to the insurance firm he was subscribed to and told them everything that happened last day.”
       “Did they believe it?”
      He was silent for a moment before answering the question.
      “No, but they did not called it a lie either, they tried hard to ignore it. But I know that you do. I can see it in your eyes, detective Clark Novaris. You came back from death just to hear my tale. I thought if you stay too long in the Vatican your body begins responding to the dreamworld as if it was real. Everyone firmly believed that you were murdered. The girl who we thought was the killer? She was almost doomed. She’s only safe now because someone acquired the messages you exchanged with Cantharis beforehand, and made them public. And now you’re interrogating me, making me the only person who’s aware that you live. I know that you believe me.”
      “I do,” detective Clark Novaris smiled.
***
      “Just give in!” the shadow whispered to the ground.
      “I cannot…” the God answered. 
      “I know you know it is right,” the Shaman begged.
      “I don’t know really…” the AI of the Vatican answered.
       “Yes, yes you know! You can see into them, you can feel them, you are one with them, you see the endless suffering they go through by the hands of each other. We will end it, we will end it all. Please, just break down the walls.”
      “No! No I can’t!” thundered the skies. The shadow hissed and took cover in the shade. 

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