Noteworthy Excerpt from an Admirable Future
The last lines of their story read: Carver stares down at the body. Murderous pleasure stiffens his
fingers from having squeezed a throat shut. He alone walks upright this morning. The end.
"Finally, it's over with at last." Peji prepares to encase the sacred scroll within its eternal vessel.
"It says 'the body' as if Nora Michaels was never a unique individual in life," Elo complains.
"What's your problem now?" Peji carelessly wrinkles a corner of the cosmic fabric.
"Nora was hardly special, I'll admit, not much more exciting than a textbook, but having Carver kill her seems cruel. Can't we rewrite the scene to read: seeing Nora lose consciousness, Carver decides that killing her would be pointless, so he stops strangling her to death and walks away, never to see another living soul again?"
"Wow, your writing skills are dumb. And besides, why have him show signs of compassion now? It's totally out of character for him. These humans are, or were, the most vicious, manipulative and self-righteous life forms I have ever encountered, especially Zak Carver." Peji tugs at the scroll to get it away from Elo.
"One moment, please. Elo, this is our final scene, mankind's final scene anyway. We cannot allow Nora and Carver to both survive. As long as even one pair of humans live, there is a chance they will have children together."
"Hah. I can see it now: the meek chemist and the cutthroat, oil tycoon living happily-ever-after."
"Don't laugh, Peji. As unlikely as that may seem, it is still probable that Miss Michaels and Zak Carver could set aside their differences and better judgement just long enough to conceive the next generation-"
"I won't argue that possibility with you, Somm. I say we write them both out at the conclusion just to be sure."
"Oh, but couldn't we have Nora knock Carver into his own toxic pit and run away instead?"
"First of all, stupid, this woman isn't capable of hurting a fly much less an aggressive predator like Zak Carver. Secondly, your feminist inclinations are showing again, which is sick and absurd since we Directors are genderless. You just want the female to be the one who's left standing after the fight. But what good will it do her? Whichever human is left alive eventually dies from old age, sickness, by accident, or suicide. End of mankind's story, Elo."
"You don't know what Nora is capable of doing in a life-and-death situation. She has a PHD in three science disciplines and may surprise you." Elo wipes off the last few lines of the story.
"You're crazy. You know that? You shouldn't be a Planetary Director. All you do is delay. For hundreds of cycles you've done nothing but delay the inevitable. Give me the scroll, you bitch."
"Elo, Peji, could we please try to complete this project without missing another millennium deadline? Y4K is coming up fast earmarked the end of the world just like the last three were."
"Fine by me, Somm, you're the Head Director. I say we close the scroll on this one, only I'm never working on any more planets with Elo. If you want to keep that trouble maker around, then I want to transfer to Asteroid Traffic Control. If I can't write these Users out of existence as a Director, then I'll knock them dead with a carefully aimed rock the size of Texas." An earthquake begins to rumble throughout the southwestern United States.
"Your determination in this matter is most interesting, Peji. And how do you feel about ending this project here and now, Elo?"
"Well, I thought the future we wrote looked promising . . . until scene 56,098,700,000,006."
Suddenly, the temperatures across the northern hemisphere drop an average of twenty degrees. "Is that the one where I released the worst, deadly virus to ever strike humanity?"
Chains of avalanches occur along the Andes mountain range." Is it the one where I got their so-called super powers to fire missiles at each other's international airports?"
"I really got the death toles to skyrocket with those beauties, didn't I?"
"No, Peji. I was referring to the greedy Big Eight."
A ferocious hurricane hits the former coast of Thailand. "You have no sense of humor. Well, why do you think I call them all users? Those corporate mergers were done legally by the way. Big business was bound to end up as a mere handful of worldwide dictatorships despite so-called fair trade. Underselling puny competitors, forcing bankruptcies, then hiking prices to a world without choices was nothing short of cold calculated capitalism. I especially loved watching the old-timers cut off from supply chains when the internet craze took off. Billions of PC illiterates were starved to death like dumb alley cats, too thick-headed to shop online. They couldn't buy food, medicine or any other goods without web access once all the retailers and corner drug stores were torn down. And they said capitalism was supposed to promise a better way of life, offering more opportunities to people than communism ever could. Well, look where it got them in the end? Good grief, those are some of the best scenes in the whole lousy human saga, and done with minimal intervention on my part, I might add. They demonstrate perfectly how userism caused mankind's downfall. Their whole 'gotta have more stuff' and 'me-my-mine' mentality was their own invention and their own undoing. Those consumer happy idiots never really cared where all their junk came from just as long as the prices were right and they didn't have to share with anyone else. That's why we deemed them unworthy to keep one of the rare gems of the universe. I can't wait until we repossess Earth. Oh, go ahead and let Nora kill Zak for all I care, only let's be rid of the users once and for all." Several hundred acres of wild grain catch on fire.
"We cannot do that, Peji. All three of us must be in complete agreement about the outcome we write before the manuscript can be sealed. Certain problems could arise while we are working on other planets that may overwrite our work, and I for one would not want four-millenniums-worth of brilliant direction wasted because we got overeager to close the books on mankind."
"No Somm, I think Peji is right. I don't really care who kills who last just as long as their suffering ends. I have had to witness too much senseless death among these arrogant creatures as it is. Such a waste really. I found these humans to be gifted with much more than the average life form, and yet their greed spread like an infection. Go ahead. Finish them off." Thousands of saplings push through a region of stripped land where vast rainforests once stood.
"Finally. Maybe we can work together after all, Elo. May all your stars burn brightly-"
"Hold on, Peji. That doesn't sound like a true statement of agreement to me. Tell us what is troubling you?"
"No, Elo, don't tell us. Please!" Several tons of ice crack and melt into the Arctic Ocean.
"Well, I can't help but wonder what if mankind were not so divided and conceded to begin with? I mean what if they had shown more respect for each other's different origins, beliefs and opinions? What if they had understood the effects their chemical products and over-consumption of natural resources would one day have on the planet's ecosystem? I can't help but wonder what their world could have been like under better management." A small herd of elk discover abundant young grass along their normally sparse migration route.
"Hey, I've wondered that myself. In fact, I think about it all the time. What will the Earth be like under another species' management?" Volcanos erupt in Iceland and South America.
"Hold up, Peji. Don't make any replacement plans quite so soon, and stop manipulating the planet's environment!"
"You call this soon? Are you kidding? We've let these Users stay here long enough. Why don't we finish them off? I mean there's only two of them left. How hard can it be?"
"It is not our place to allow or disallow mankind to live here. This planet was never ours to lend them in the first place, nor is it ours to reclaim. Planetary Directors are simply tasked with writing future scenes for life forms to play out, but we cannot decide the outcome without them exercising free will at each juncture. If, as Elo has pointed out, they make different or better choices than what we have witnessed, then perhaps the planet will stay healthy and in their keeping."
"You're joking, right?"
"No, Peji, even I understand that part of it. What did you call it before, Somm, brilliant direction? Let's pretend for a moment that mankind existed without the handful of brilliant minds who solved complex mathematical equations, or the laws of physics, or discovered how to make bronze, or mastered the art of warfare, or founded the industrial revolution, or unraveled the mystery of the atom and DNA, or launched the computer and space ages? If we were to edit out the few thousand humans who directed the billions of others toward their extinction than people would still be living like harmless peasants. True, their lives wouldn't be ideal, but at least they wouldn't be a threat to the planet either. Right?"
"I don't believe this. You actually want to edit out the few intelligent humans I ever respected like Archimedes . . . Ziegler, so the rest of them can live like flea scratching mongrels? Why?"
"You both surprise me. Peji, I had no idea you felt anything but contempt for these greedy-warmongering-users, and yet you admit that some of them have impressed you. And what about you, Elo? I thought these maternal instincts you adopted from the life forms on Earth were a passing phase. But it seems not, since you are willing to sacrifice the very best and worst humanity had to offer in favor of their average and below average specimens. Survival of the least fit goes against their laws of nature. Your suggestion seems a bit extreme. Most interesting."
"Well, what of it? It's too late to change their fate now. I mean all those brilliant people I named off from A - Z already made their impact on the world and died. The genie got out of the bottle whether it was done deliberately or unwittingly. Mankind killed themselves off brilliantly."
"Not necessarily, Peji. You forget that it is not actually the end of their third millennium but the beginning of their first. All that we have written has not yet taken place and no human decisions have yet been made. This is why we Directors return to such planets after a few hundred cycles to assess the progress of the life forms. Their story may unfold exactly as we have written it here, or it may turn in some other direction. That is simply the chance you take with highly intelligent beings who strive to surpass their current status and abilities. Do you wish to finish their story here with Carver killing Nora, or start all over again?"
"Oh, Somm, I think we should start all over."
"No, no, kill them! I said you could let Nora kill Carver if it will make you happy. Just get rid of them now - or later if we must wait awhile for them to act out the parts - but seal their fates now. Please don't make me start their story over again. I want to redo that planet without any damned humans!"
"Listen to yourself, Peji. You have become a greedy-warmongering-user, as unworthy to possess one of the rare gems of the
universe as mankind turned out to be. You need not stay on this script any longer if that is your wish, but I most certainly will not approve of your transfer to the ATC just so you can pulverize the human race out of sheer spite. Good-bye, Peji."
"But where do- "
"Now then, what would you like to see happen with these gifted life forms, my dear Elo?" The sacred scroll is carefully unfolded. It's vast, cosmic fabric glistens with all the knowledge of time spent directing life on Earth.
"Somm, where did Peji go?"
"Never mind that. I am very interested in hearing your opinion on this matter." The open scroll, depicting the complete tale of mankind from beginning to end, is wiped clean.
"Well, I guess I don't actually want humans to remain humble peasants forever, since it would be contrary with their natural curiosity, but I wouldn't want them to lose their home either." Elo traces pale moonbeams into a warm equatorial sea in order to taste the bitter salt contained there.
"Excellent. Go on."
"Well, if we rewrote their future, would it be possible to give them a higher regard for the planet and for one another?" Buds emerge from the limbs of trees once bare and scarred by acid rain.
"Certainly, we can do that. And what of the few thousand brilliant-minded individuals who are bound to have an impact on this world? What would become of them?"
"I've always felt that new discoveries and technological advances should help to elevate civilizations rather than destroy them. But there is much that can be learned from military conquests and times of hardship too. I have been working on my own story for the last three hundred cycles containing scenes that suggest a more admirable future for mankind -"
"Elo! What have you done? Such independent work only serves to undermine the group effort. Planetary Directors are not allowed to work alone but in threes. No wonder we could never agree on how to unfold this story. You should have told me about this sooner."
"Forgive me, Somm. Oh, Peji was right. I'm nothing but trouble."
"You were both quite young to be picked as Directors, but I chose you and Peji in order to bring fresh ideas to the work. When you reach full maturity in another 10,000 or so cycles, you will better understand the importance of your work and the influence your thoughts, words, and skills as a writer have on others. Scenes change potential outcome by even the slightest doubt on our part. Director intervention is not to be taken lightly, and you must never be heavy-handed about your edits either. That was Peji's mistake and nearly yours as well. Elo, you have unwittingly claimed the right to be Head Director of Earth's tale for having written an alternative future of your own design."
"Again, I am sorry, Somm. I didn't mean to-"
"No need to apologize, my dear. It was always my plan to hand over my duties to another Director before my time expired. There are only a few rare worlds left like this one still awaiting our guidance, but I know I will never live long enough to see them all blossom. Before we go any further or bring in a third Director, you had better show me what you've written. I am curious to see what my new Head Director considers to be 'scenes from an admirable future’ though. Most interesting."
Not the end, but a work in progress.
© 2020 by Andrée Gendron