“A society of orphans dreams of a parent, and we have some substitutes. Yet, this is not enough, and the analogy doesn’t go far enough. The collapse, the calamity began long before Sun blew out post-industrial society, killing some seven billion people. So much more could be said about the way we, collectively, have mourned the last several centuries, before and after the C2 Event. In Marin, for example, the development of large, semiconscious wombs, where a person would live in complete entanglement with a complex biobeing, often for months at a time…” Dr Olanrewaju was giving a lecture in a small room. Shattered loved William’s voice, so he sat in on all the classes he could. Mar took Shattered away from the lecture. “Come, S.” She had tapped him on the shoulder, smiled at Dr Olanrewaju, who nodded his head in consent, and Shattered followed her outside.
Shattered did not mind the interruption; in fact, he welcomed it. Something about that particular lecture made him queasy. Orphans. Society of orphans. He stomach churned. The ache of abandonment could be felt across decades. Dr Olanrewaju was doing his job, training the next generation of healers. A new social organism of homo sapiens had begun. In the ten years since Shattered had been gone, one from Shattered’s time reference, Autumn Spring negotiated with Morph Zed to open official diplomatic channels with organized peoples, at whatever stage of technological development, around the globe. The real success came when the Federated Cities of China, by far the most organized and technologically advanced, agreed to join Asosyasyon Sosyete Latè yo (The Association of Earth Societies), with its headquarters in the nation formerly known as Haiti, on the island of Hispaniola. A massive cleaning project of toxic waste leftover from before the calamity unified peoples from Kerala to Patagonia. The Central Valley’s New Confederacy and their bands of support communities stretching to West Virginia quickly fell with Marin’s technological intervention. Nearly two hundred thousand people, all of them with Brown or Black skin, enslaved since the calamity, were freed. Another group torn perpetually, daily, weekly, yearly asunder. As their ancestors had been. Humanity had never really felt like a single entity, yet neither did the old concept of race have any purchase. Without identities, or even with small identities like ‘citizen of Marin,’ ‘denizen of Park,’ most struggled to find a line between themselves and themselves, let alone between each other. But struggle forges new identities, and so the wheel turned, and people, by degrees, acclimated to a world healing. The suicidal planetary ideologies of the past, although incapable of being erased, faded.
It had been decided early on, in China, in Marin, and in Park that those most effected by the traumas of the last centuries would be the first to receive help. Medical drones, small spheres, flew out in their thousands, and then within a year of the Haiti Agreement, millions. Delivering regenerative medicine, information, and communication, these helped create a new sense of something like unity. Remote cabins in the far north of Europe, families who survived pandemics that had hit Equatorial Africa, entire villages, towns and distant monasteries from Japan to Tibet each began a new journey; each person, each community, each area experienced The Journey differently. Time flowed faster here or slower there; not the time that timed the time of relativity, singularities or objects near the speed of light, but the time of the consciousness of time that comes drip-drip or in spades, the kind that flows like a slow-moving river, or, at other times, like gales causing the sea to beat against the shore in great rapid motion.
“Shattered, listen… after a decade, time has brought many people and events and eventualities together.” Mar held Shattered’s hand as she spoke to him. The Earth, a beautiful blue-green gem beamed suspended in the blackness behind her. Shattered had been on MoonOne, the largest of the three Moon bases, for nearly a month now, yet this view of Earth still shook him to his core. “And you have so much more to learn. I never thought, before, that this type of project would be possible. Morph Zed was too xenophobic, despite his urbane protestations to the contrary, and, well, Park had no resources. After C2, I came back for you. I never had a child of my own. I felt it unethical. Mostly out of fear; some misanthropy, and yes, I felt that bringing sentient life into the world that could feel pain… really, know it was feeling pain; I felt that was unconscionable. We called ourselves antinatalists. So when, you see, I already knew you were going to be something special to me, and I just left everything at Marin. I was so tired. I wanted to be your mother. Your parents were reckless, they…” She began to sob. Shattered had never seen Mar cry like this before. “They didn’t properly love you. They left you voluntarily. I can’t forgive that. I am telling you this now because you will find out about it anyways, when you look through database. And I know you will look. I know you haven’t looked yet. I was waiting. I wanted to tell you before you found out.”
“How do you know they left me voluntarily?”
“Because they weren’t even authorized to go on that mission.”
Shattered bowed his head. His floppy straight hair, now cut to just under his ears, covered his forehead and obscured his eyes. He looked up at Mar. He smiled. “You are my mother, and there is no one who can tell me different.” They both laughed and sobbed, and it felt so right and so good and so wonderful in that cool, heavily oxygenated air up on Moon-base one.
“I want you meet someone. You share a connection, albeit obscurely. She was enslaved at the Duchy of Modesto, and she is one of the leaders on the Inner Council. There are things she can say that I am not authorized to say, and there are experiences she has had that I could not do justice to. We have a meeting, ah… Councillor Wright, I thank you for joining…” Mar stood up. Dr Elohim-Jade Wright, a tall, prepossessing, coffee-colored voluptuous woman wearing a purple and white ensemble that seemed part robe, part geometric concept, looked at Shattered and then Mar.
“Dr Wright will do just fine; I am not here to debate a measure before the Council.” Dr Smithson lightly bowed her head. Dr Wright did the same. For Shattered this new custom seemed archaic, but he liked something about it. He likewise stood and bowed. He said nothing; by now, he knew that someone with Dr Wright’s position must speak first. “Let’s go to my quarters.” Dr Wright looked at Shattered. Mar said goodbye, and the pair left via a transparent pod that zipped through the illuminated heavy grey tubes that had been bored into the Moon. In the room they had left, a cafeteria of sorts, the same grey-walled structure made one feel heavy. The gravity inside the Moon-base had been tuned to Earth’s sea-level. Forming a large circle on the surface of the Moon, the base jutted out at its edges by some two-hundred meters. The inner parts looked like a patchwork quilt; different squares of varying size and height, all Moon-grey, filled almost the entire circle, except for a bright, shining circle at the very center. The base’s surface covered some two and a half kilometers in diameter.
X X X II
Shattered looked out at the view from atop one of the tallest towers of the circle’s edge. He saw deep into the moonscape alongside the Earth’s coruscating colors, gem-like. “Beautiful, isn’t it? Have a seat.” Dr Wright’s home had a gigantic floor-to-ceiling transparent window that rose rose five large floors; the window stood agape outwards towards the stark moonscape and, beyond, hanging in beautiful blackness, the Earth; her home did not face inwards towards the base. The main room’s transparent ceiling was so high above them, Shattered could barely make out where the inner space ended and the outer space began. He felt as though he could be standing in so-called outer space itself. Upwards, the stars, the void. To his front, the Earth. He had only seen these types of windows on Earth, and he did not know they had been adapted to space. In fact, all the windows he had seen during his month here had been clearly made of rather thick, almost glass-like substances. But these were pencil thin. He said nothing. Walking inside, he looked behind him. His eyes followed up a great, grey wall with its many stairs leading to different parts of Dr Wright’s large rectangular home. The ashen-colored wall went up five floors; each floor stood some five meters tall. Two large staircases began at the bottom and rose, hugging the wall, and leading the way to two separate hallways on each floor. The large crimson stairs intersected at every floor, creating a beautiful, clean geometric pattern of red on grey concrete. The sitting room, full of book shelves, had several sofas and comfortable reading chairs. Dr Wright gestured to Shattered to sit down on a light green chair. She likewise sat on a chair of the same color; they sat a mere meter from the thin window. This made Shattered nervous. He did not want to look out. He focused on Dr Wright’s face. His pale skin turned slightly red. He had never felt such presence. She’s a substantially powerful presence without anything grandiose like at The Temple with Hiroko.
“On justice,” Dr Wright looked out the window as she picked up and sipped one the two cups of tea that had appeared on the table before them, “please have some. I hope you like green.” Shattered nodded and smiled. “There can be no forgetting until the situation is resolved.” She sat back in her chair, crossed her legs, and looked out the window. “I was only seventeen when they took me; two years after the C2 event. I knew freedom. I knew pain, too. Those last years, especially 2030 to 2032, in the months before, had already taken their toll on me. My family, father, mother, three brothers, two sisters had died from the pandemic. Bled to death alone in an awful, crowded New York City hospital. I did not know that I had immunity. A small percentage without vaccinations, less than one percent, survived the second wave. The vaccine had come online in 2029, yet as the virus collapsed the healthcare systems, administering it became difficult, and given that we lived in the Bronx, and given that we were poor and Black, we were left to die. That’s how things were. The government did not care. They began vaccinating themselves, of course, then the white people in suburbs, then the critical workers, scientists, doctors, engineers, and so on. Well, I left New York just before headed western Pennsylvania where I had an aunt. I was captured at her home.”
Dr Wright sighed and pressed the table, another two cups of tea appeared. She continued, “She had died by the time I got there. She had a beautiful home in the woods. I buried her. Took care of the land. About a month later, a band of white men came. They raped me. They took me and put me on a train to Sacramento. I didn’t know where I was headed. Trapped in a storage container for five days. They’d put a bottle of water or an apple core inside at various stops. I knew we were headed west. When I arrived in Sacramento, I was kept tied up in a small shed for a week. C2 happened. After that I was taken to a large warehouse. About three hundred of us, all Black women, of all ages from babies to people in their seventies, filled this fetid space. After three months living on watery porridge, I was sold to the Goldwood family.” Shattered’s body began to shake slightly. He, of course, knew this family from his time in exile.
“I know you had a chance to briefly acquaint yourself with some of their members, including the so-called ‘Duke’ himself. The first part of the reason I brought you here was to discuss justice. After Autumn Spring forced Marin to use their technology to free us, we were still dispossessed. We organized. Morph Zed had held back that technology for decades, protecting his little paradise. We pressed for recognition, alongside other historically oppressed peoples. Seven billion people died between 2028 and 2036; the period just before and after C2. Only about fifty-thousand people remained on the African continent by the time… By the time we were freed. More Black people live in North America now than in Africa. The virus, having started in Australia, left no one on that continent. Some thirty-five million in China survived thanks to their advanced planning. Underground cities for millions, who knew? Many people knew. Enough people knew. One million people survived in Marin alone. Across all of Asia and Europe about a hundred million people survived. Very few survived on most of the Caribbean Islands; Cuba managed the outbreak well, and distributed the vaccine, but the C2 event collapsed its government.” Dr Wright’s daughter, a happy child of five with bright yellow curls and light-brown skin, came through the front portal door. Porous, skin-like, the doors of the Inner Councillor’s homes opened only to the touch of kin. Behind the little girl stood a young, short white woman. She took the little girl into her arms and quietly went up to the left hallway on the first floor.
Dr Wright, after glancing over at the scene in foyer with a little smile, looked at Shattered. Her voice became slightly lighter, “Of course, some Haitians in the diaspora survived and have kept culture alive, despite pre-C2 poverty, plagues followed by mass death. As a testament to that place’s history in fighting slavery and oppression, we pressed for it become the Capital de la tierra. First Peoples, historically oppressed peoples, from around the globe joined the call. Autumn Spring’s spouse, Joyful Paine helped to make a great deal of this happen. The Chinese Federation agreed. We had a convergence in the new sparkling building in Sanité Bélair, the new capitol of Earth. As the Association of Earth Societies developed, Haitian Creole made a come-back, becoming one of the founding languages. Within a year of the Haiti Agreement, the Inner and Outer Council elections happened. Inner Councillors deal with matters global and beyond, there are fifty-seven of us. Outer Councillors, of which there are over three-thousand, handle local issues, relaying needs, complaints and concerns to Administration. Administration is a combination of technocratic abilities, solving problems, and democratic oversight, as its members are partly comprised of likewise elected administrators. These form the triad of governance. The Inner, the Outer and the Administration.”
Dr Wright, made a triangle with her index fingers and thumbs; her hair, in colorful locks of lavender, gold and silver floated above her head like a halo. Shattered had never felt reverence, yet here, in this very unique space, with this incredible woman, he felt it. He didn’t feel it at The Temple in Marin. He didn’t feel it when Dora prayed. He felt it now. The thickness of the moment made the hairs on his body stand erect. Dr Wright continued, “What about justice? Those four-hundred and fifty thousand, two-hundred and twelve white Neo-Confederates? Our investigation and conclusion took five years. First we had to identify each one. We held a Tribunal; freed people gave testimony, identified countless perpetrators. This lasted at least three of the five years. The Inner Council has a twenty-year mandate, so we are not rushed. Some wanted them all killed, except for the youngest. Others preferred mercy, some type of reintegration. You can’t reintegrate that kind of hate. To cage, beat, burn, castrate, breed, kill, torture for decades, and they did it to honor what their so-called ancestors had already done to my peoples! No, a compromise, actually I prefer to call it a conclusion, was reached. They, we identified and verified three-hundred and twenty five thousand directly involved in the enslavement, would be settled on Iceland. It no longer had any inhabitants. It’s cold and barren. Basic food stuffs and medicine would be supplied to them via drone. They have no contact with the outside world. The question arose near the end of the fifth year, what to do with their children?” She sighed. “How young does that hate and bigotry and… how young does it… become a part of someone’s being? And is it ethical to separate a child, an infant, from it mother? Also, they were already having genetic problems, as you know. So we left them with their children, but we sterilized them all. They will all, adults and children, be left out of The Journey; they will be marooned on that cold and barren island. They have some technology to grow their own food inside, heat themselves, and supplies come to them. But we wanted them in a place where they would be far enough away so that we wouldn’t have to think about them if we didn’t want to, so that we could let the self-directed AI at Administration handle anything, do all the talking. They communicate with an AI, not a single person is to speak with them. Is that justice?”
“Yes!” Shattered found himself so enraptured by Dr Wright’s testimony that he began to cry. He knew he had shouted. She gently rocked her head back and forth several times, and the placed her right index finger on her chin. “I think so too. The other reason I wanted to meet you… I read your profile, and I am in need of a new associate director for my consortium. Every Inner Councillor has a consortium. A group of some two to three hundred people who help that Councillor attend to their duties. All specialists in different fields. Most of them are post-calamity kids. Thanks to regenerative medicine, I don’t show my age, whatever that means these days. Never thought I would make it to thirty, let alone sixty.” In fact, Dr Wright didn’t look a day over thirty, Shattered thought. Associate director, but why me? “You are probably thinking ‘why me,’ right?” Shattered nodded. Dr Wright giggled a bit, she leaned over slightly on the left side of her armchair; moving closer, by several degrees, to Shattered. Her voice became deeper again, “Well, because trauma needs an outlet, and, more importantly, an outlet like leadership, if done right, needs someone who can respect trauma. And that someone needs to have reverence that comes from an inner experience of doubling the consciousness, of a deep and profound reaching beyond the self, of finding numbers in a numberless void, of making meaning. You understand?”
“I think so.”