Archive for diversity

Cosmic Whee!

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2012 by javedbabar

Terry wondered whether to join the queue. It was always like this at Lucerne’s Halloween Fair, with lines so long that they put you off the rides; they were up to an hour sometimes – what for? Were some rides really so much better than others?

The annoying thing was that the rides he took were never that good. His friends waiting longer seemed to have a better time. They whirled, jerked, spun, and flipped in ways they couldn’t describe. His best friend tried, saying, “It’s like being in a blender, drunk, on the ice crush setting,” and then putting on a Sean Connery voice, “Schaken not schtirred.” Terry’s ride had been lame, just an irregular creeping that made him feel disgusted. You were meant to feel scared.

This year, he decided, he would be patient and wait. He joined the line for the newest machine, called Cosmic Whee!, which was shaped like a neon tree about the size of a mature fir. When operational, its arms extended more like an oak tree, and they flashed through every colour. It seemed to ascend and expand, and sparked, and shot flames. Terry wondered how safe its electrics were, not to mention the gas lines fuelling the flames.

People waiting were enthralled. Imagine what it must be like for people enjoying the ride! He could see why it had the longest queue.

Then Terry noticed something strange, that there weren’t any people enjoying the ride. Nobody was sitting on the arms. Where were they? What were people queuing for?

He tapped the shoulder of the boy in front of him, and said, “Excuse me, what are we queuing for?”

The boy was annoyed at having his viewing disrupted, but then gave a quick smile. “It makes you disappear, you know.” He saw the troubled look on Terry’s face and added, “The Cosmic Whee! makes you disappear. That’s what they say.”

Terry said, “Who says? The fairground people?”

The boy drew up to him closely. “No, the people. My friends told me. That’s what they say. You’ll see for yourself. Don’t say I didn’t say so.”

Terry was confused. How could this ride make you disappear? He watched the next customer walk up to the contraption. A small round door slid open and he climbed inside. Then the door shut. It was only one person at a time – no wonder the queue was so long! Again the ride’s arms extended, flashed, ascended, expanded, and sparked, and flamed. Three minutes later, the round door opened, and was empty. Where had the rider gone? Had he disappeared?

The boy in front turned and raised his eyebrows, and said, “See?”

Terry noticed a figure at the back of the ride. Was it the rider? No, it was a young girl, much too young for this ride.

Terry waited in line for an hour and a half. He thought there must be some trick being played, with people exiting elsewhere. Maybe there was a tunnel to another part of the fairground, where they popped up and went home. He looked around at the other rides – traditional ones like dodgems, carousels and rollercoasters, and modern ones like Booster, Freak Out and Top Spin. There were also games of strength, skill and luck. But there was nothing as dramatic as Cosmic Whee! and nothing with a longer line.

Terry reached the front at last, and was greeted by a man in neon blue tailcoat and orange trousers and hat, who said, “Come on in! This is the real show!” He directed Terry towards the round door, which slid shut behind him. He felt claustrophobic at first but soon was comfortable on this bridge of darkness.

Twisting light rings appeared around him and then slid downwards with increasing speed, as if he were in a giant elevator with a crazy barber’s pole spiralling down around him. It was disorienting initially but became habitual. It seemed quite normal; a part of life. He was alive and part of life, at the heart of life, a twisting strand of DNA. He lost track of time. He could be here forever.

He didn’t disappear, just appeared in a different place, almost like this one. A parallel universe within the multiverse. And a being from a fairground there came to the fairground here. In ancient times there were shamanic flights and ecstatic rituals. Now there was technology and leisure. The goal was the same as ever – to cross-fertilize universes. A diverse cosmos is healthy.


Mobility Mafia

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , on May 19, 2012 by javedbabar

The Local Mobility Laws were radical. They were the biggest shake up of municipal transport policy in fifty years. In fact the biggest change ever.

Lucerne Transport Committee represented all stakeholders. Carefully selected people acted as ambassadors for different ages, income brackets, races, genders, sexual orientations, and those with physical and mental disabilities. There were bad-tempered oldies and noisy children; the rich, poor, and those on welfare; black, brown, red, white, and yellow people; male, female, neither, and both; gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and even straight people; folk without limbs, paraplegics, quadriplegics, deaf, dumb, blind, slow, dyslexic, and otherwise challenged persons.

Each person was given charge of a particular area. This policy was inspired by native totems. For example if you were of the Red Lizard folk, then you looked out for red lizards; you protected them as best you could and never hurt or ate one. If each person in the tribe looked out for one species of lizard, then all lizards would be protected. This philosophy was supported by the Chinese adage of every person sweeping outside their doorstep making the whole world clean.

The danger is that rather than a seamless plan, it becomes a hodge-podge. Less a Dracula, with a clear philosophy of life and a long term approach to survival, and more a Frankenstein’s monster, patched together from ill fitting scraps, with no motivation to live but hatred of his maker. As with any voting system, some people are louder and scarier than others and push their agendas hard. The Greens, Seniors, and Religious did well in Lucerne. They ruled the roost and what they said went for all.

Helene hated going out on the roads. The Local Mobility Laws had made it a nightmare. There were gangs of old men on street corners, drinking and singing. Mean cyclists ran wheelchair users off the road, claiming moral superiority for their self-powered two-wheeled vehicles. Only walkers could use raised paths, with lower forms of transport staying beneath, honouring this most green and ancient form of motion.

Those caught trespassing on high paths were punished severely. Forfeits were set at one toe removal per offence, though there was leniency for children, and harshness for repeat offenders bearing inadequate remorse. For them a second offence could lead to the loss of two toes, a third, three toes, and if no more toes were available, the count was completed on fingers.

Old women on motor scooters – who were somehow allowed to use the high paths – had the run of town. These mean spirited hags even rode walkers like Helene off the road. Helene had complained about them once, and their yobbish children and grandchildren had harassed her for weeks after. There was no recourse to these Mobility Mafiosi.

Helene walked around the corner late one night, straight into the KK – Krinkle-Kut – Gang. She was wearing headphones so hadn’t heard their singing. She’d also been rushing, and not paid attention to scattered bottle and butts.

The Greens and Religious were often vocal, but respect for Elders had been taken to extremes, with those over sixty expecting to be obeyed immediately. Talk back and you were likely to get bruised. Social media, video games, reality TV, game shows, and predictive texting had made youngsters vulnerable, which the consumer advertising, food processing, allergen drugs, pornography, and religious industries had exploited. Youngsters were useless at best. Power had truly returned to the Old.

Most of the old men stepped aside for Helene. One, however, whom she later referred to as “Mr Viagra”, called out “Hey darling! You’re looking fine-fine. How about some old man action?”

She ignored him and walked on. When he threw a peanut at her head, she turned around and let him have it. “Why don’t you take your teeth out and take care of yourself?”

The rest of the KK laughed so hard that Mr Viagra withered. Lights came on in surrounding condos to see what the fuss was about. The KK became embarrassed and went home, where their families told them off. “Shame on you grandpa,” they said. The old men no longer hung around that corner. The resurrection of the young had begun.