The New Normal
Humanity could end by 2050 due to climate change, said one worst case scenario study. A post on instagram said individual veganism is all fine and dandy, but without real policy change it won’t do much. The situation facing us is daunting, depressing, infuriating. What can one person really do? Collectively, if we all take certain actions - such as a plant-based diet - can we delay, prevent, or stop it? I’m not sure we can at this point, we’ve gone too far - well, not “we”, but the oil corporations, big ag, republicans, climate change deniers. With no clear solution, do small steps in my daily life even help? Drive and fly less, no meat or dairy, donate to climate change advocacy groups, volunteer to help protect the places I love. Sure, it helps me feel better, but policy change is the key. Things are changing, noticeably in my lifetime - I’ve seen the glaciers recede at a faster rate, winters with a smaller snowpack, rains later into the year, summers hotter and dryer with record setting temperatures, a drought in the rainforest. My heart hurts with these obvious changes, but a fix is dubious. So, in my spare time, I venture into the wild as often and fully as I can, to enjoy it, to see it, feel mother earth around me, to spend her last days as we know them in bliss before abnormal becomes the norm, for we were once told to live every day as though it were our last, and she deserves all that and more.
It was just after seven in the evening when they exited the village hall and the smell hit them.
“My god!” Kath wrinkled her nose in disgust. “What is that stink? It’s worse than rotting meat!”
“I know, it’s disgusting! I’ll go and check, stay here.”
It didn’t take much effort to follow his nose. Just walk into the breeze.
Eric crept up to a corner and peered around it. The man was black, bald, terribly emaciated and in clothing that looked like it hadn’t seen a wash since it was made. A tattered shirt and trousers with rips almost up to the knee. He shuffled around the cobbled street in a daze, his ankles shackled together by the oh so familiar two foot length of chain. He muttered into a microphone strapped to his head, a camera was also strapped there and a familiar voice yelled at him from a loudspeaker on his chest attached to some kind of harness.
“I wanna full appraisal of this village boy! I wanna see it all, not just one street!”
The man gripped his collar in agony and collapsed to his knees.
“I sorry masser. I is tryin, sur! But the trip left me a-dizzyin, sir! Please make it stop!”
Instantly, the slave collapsed to his hands in relief. He forced himself to stand and began shuffling down towards the village hall.
Eric bolted up a street parallel to the one the man was shuffling down and back to his house to fetch the tricorder.
“Computer, do you have the capacity to jam frequencies?”
“Detect all video communications on the person I approach and jam, leave all other radio communications untouched.”
“Affirmative. Jamming range, twenty feet.”
Eric sprinted back to where he’d last seen the man and poked his head around a corner. He was still there, barely having reached the end of the street yet.
Eric strode out from around the corner and walked. The moment he was within twenty feet the loudspeaker began shouting again.
“Boy, whut’d’y’do, boy! Restoe picchure now boy or so help me Ah’ll whip you till ya die!”
“I ain’t done nuthin’ sir! Please sir, it ain’t me sir!”
“Ah’ll be activadin thad colluh agin if that picchure ain’t back in five minutes boy!”
Eric hastily stepped around in front of the man, finger across his lips to indicate silence.
He mouthed “keep perfectly still.” and reached out for the man’s neck.
The man recoiled in panic.
Eric sighed and removed his waistcoat and shirt, turned his back on the man to show his whip scars, then repeated himself.
The man’s eyes widened in surprise, nodded and allowed Eric to touch his collar.
It was loose. Loose enough in fact. It appeared to be welded on. He performed his usual collar removal trick revealing a neck burned by the shocks he’d been receiving. The collar clanged to the floor. He repeated it with the man’s shackles.
The man felt his neck in amazement. Awe. A smile cracked his face in a way that made it look like he’d never smiled before. Instantly, his demeanour changed. He stood up straight and proud.
“Colonel. I have been wanting to say this for the past ten years. I am a professor of mathematics, not a fucking slave, you cock sucking pile of human puss.”
“Professor of math?! No nigguh of mine dares claim to be superior to me, boy! Turn on your camera now, or suffuh!”
“Every man of African descent is superior to you and your ilk! And suffer how exactly? Please, by all means, demonstrate this suffering you intend to inflict on me. Being forced to imitate a poor excuse for an uneducated coward for ten years was suffering enough.”
The collar at their feet arced brightly. Blue lightning lanced around the inside of the collar for a good five seconds.
“Thit’s one less nigger to worry about.”
“I’d venture to disagree with that, colonel” the man’s voice dripped with venom, “and if I ever find a way to get back there, I’ll make sure you suffer more than ten times the amount I have.”
“What the?” The voice sputtered in indignation and surprise.
The man reached into his pocket and turned a knob, a click and silence.
“Thank you, from the bottom of my heart… I have no idea how you got it off with such ease, but, but thank… you…” The man sank to his knees. “I’m sorry. Very… very… weak…”
“Can you strip out of that shit, before I help you up? Fuck me how long were you forced to wear that? Oh, whatever you do, don’t lose contact with the radio for now.”
“It contains an element… Let’s just say it could be bad and leave it at that. Keep hold of it.”
The man stripped, struggling to remove the equipment strapped to him but careful to keep hold. The shirt came off to reveal a mass of whip scars all over his body. Many of them badly infected. Some even gangrenous.
“Ten years. Since the manacles and shackles went on. They always undid the shirt and pulled it down our backs before whipping us. Otherwise the shirt would’ve fallen off in tatters after the first week. They only removed the manacles twenty minutes ago before they fired up that infernal machine of theirs.”
“Oh fuck. You’re in a bad way! You can thank that infernal machine though because you’ve just landed in a village populated almost entirely by escaped slaves, although our old masters obviously valued their labour more than yours did.”
The man started in surprise but nodded.
“Eric to Greg. Grab your tin bath, plonk it out back of your pub, plenty of soap and hot water. We’ve got someone seriously in need of one. And grab as many antiseptics, dressings and antibiotics as you can carry! And call Lingjiu, think I’m going to need him on this one. Eric out.
Sorry. But even with those clothes off you’re going to reek to high heaven. My god you smell worse than the toilet room of my old slave camp, and that’s sayin’ something.”
The man sighed. “I know. It’s been a living hell since they captured me.”
“But how though? Now that you’ve given up on that ridiculous accent you sound English. Not to mention posh as fuck!”
“Quite. I was teaching at Harvard at the time. They’d been making threats for years. But 2006 was the year they invaded. Oh, a lot of us fled north, but we didn’t understand their strengths. They’d been amassing a hidden army for over a century. Breeding soldiers for the sole purpose of taking the north and they didn’t stop at the border. The only way I survived after my capture was by playing on their stereotypes.”
“I’ve spoken to that idiot before. He said they’d taken everything from the Mexican border to Alaska. I thought it must’ve happened decades or even centuries ago! Maybe even during the civil war!”
“So. My suspicions were correct then?”
“I saw the machine they used. Recognised some of the equations they were working on. This is some kind of alternate or parallel world?”
“Not parallel. Diverging is a better word, timeline rather than world a better description although we do tend to call them worlds but we all know what we mean.”
The man’s exhaustion evaporated momentarily as excitement took over. “So. The timeline theory, divergent universes branching off each choice? Each probability is true?”
“Yes. Is it true what he said about the south winning the civil war?”
“Only by their definition. To them the civil war never ended. To the rest of us, it ended in 1885. We thought we’d unified and the threats were just being issued by a few lunatics until they took Washington. How on earth can you know about timelines anyway?”
“This isn’t the first I’ve been to. I told you, this village is populated almost entirely by escaped slaves and only four people here are from this timeline. Now, follow me. Quickly, I think I’m going to throw up.”
“You’ve all journeyed from different histories? Using a similar device? How on earth did you get the accuracy? With timelines branching off constantly it must be impossible to hit one with the precision required to move a village worth of people?”
“Oh, our method is more… Subtle. And I wouldn’t scoff at their accuracy. You’re here aren’t you? I only spoke to the arsehole a just over a week ago, I count that as more than mere coincidence.”
“Yes, the probability of hitting the exact target in these circumstances even I’d be loath to calculate.”
Eric lead him down a back alley and through a gate into a large back garden. Outside the back door sat a tin bath with a small amount of steaming water in the bottom.
This so called... Doc
Red. The kind of red you would picture James Dean wearing in Rebel Without a Cause. The kind of red that cheap 1970s Hollywood used, as their so called protagonist hero tragically bleeds out being impaled by some narc son of a yankee working for the system.
"Tearing a whole right into your cranial cavity?" Middle aged skinny bastard of a dentist who spent college years doing queer things at the request of other masculine fags trying to get into some middle class WHITE-MAN'S fraternity. After those ambitions, dreams and weiner-to bun-to-cock holding triathlons all slipped away. The lubricated fabric of post pubescent hormones and pornogrphic abuse have come to fade. Here was this so called... Doc.
Gagging. "Mmm hmm yuaahhp, HAHA!"-grunting is no form of communication. Why is it that these camofags always resort to asking questions when answering is impossible given the conditions? Seat at a full 170degree incline- stunning-radiating-light blinding one eye- strapped down being foreplayed for an alien probe. Fag would probably love it if he could. *choking on saliva*
Scraping and grinding never stops, occasionally poking inflammatory gingivitis, but stay in silence. Mustn't show a pinch of weakness or pain. Pre conditioned masculinity of western cultural has programmed hard wiring into the cranial cavity. Scraping mindlessly into the rotten decay of plaque enamel.
Here was this so called... Doc.