Archive for endtime

Green Power

Posted in Alternative Energy, Classic Sci-Fi, Unknown with tags , , , , on February 10, 2012 by javedbabar

They had all lived in hope; a belief that things would soon get better. But the world had continued to fall apart, and BC was no exception. The roads became rutted, power was erratic, water became polluted, and food – when available – was often spoiled. It was a joke among South Asian immigrants that it was becoming “more like home”. Everything was heading downward, but there was the belief, particularly among South Asians – whose religions foretold this dark age – that it was part of a greater cycle, where everything would fall, but then arise.

However, the arrival of grid dismantling teams surprised even them. In units of ten trucks, they took down a whole kilometre of power lines at a time. They used eight-axle logging trucks; the first unit loaded with hydro poles, and the second one with wire spools. The residents of Valley Road were given no warning. One day they had erratic electricity, and the next day it was gone.

A leaflet was delivered to Ashok’s house, titled “Lucerne Valley Energy Independence Pilot Project”. The Authority stated that the world had changed immeasurably in our lifetimes, with the System bearing many new stresses and strains. The “opportunity of our generation” was that of self-reliance. There was no longer a need to be tethered to global, national, or even regional infrastructures. We should become independent in every way possible, and return to living in small, self-sufficient communities. A first step in this process was dismantling rural areas’ electricity grids.

The leaflet said that “The Authority is following the philosophy of the 3 R’s”. They would Reduce electricity usage by downsizing the system. They would Reuse the raw materials – primarily wood and metal. They would Recycle any subsidiary materials. There was basic information on generating your own power – via solar-electric, solar hot water heating, wind turbines, geothermal fields, and biogas. And in the short term, using gas generators or burning wood. There was also advice that the best route to efficiency was not producing more energy, but reducing your usage. It said, “With wise materials choices, earlier rising, and extra sweaters, you can cut your power usage by 90%”. And they had decided to begin with the Lucerne Valley, “an isolated community with a proud history of self-reliance.”

When residents saw the grid coming down along Valley Road, they sprang into action. A century of tax payments had paid for its installation and maintenance – so in truth it belonged to them. Those able to work quickly stayed ahead of the eight-axle logging trucks, and took some spoils for themselves.

Ashok claimed two large spools of wire and two small transformers. His workshop was full, so he loaded the items into his truck and drove to his cabin. It was two hundred metres off the road, and pretty well hidden. That would be a good place to store them.

The grid dismantling work was completed in two weeks. Some people struggled without grid power, but most were coping, at least for now. They’d pulled out their old oil and propane lamps, and used woodstoves more often. The Authority provided cheap golf cart batteries to store energy. That way your generator didn’t need to be running constantly; just two hours daily to charge them up.

“Have you heard about the break-ins?” said Ashok’s neighbour. “It’s pretty strange; houses all along the Valley Road, but nothing stolen. And they’ve ransacked sheds and workshops. Nothing much taken from those either. Only things missing are grid components. I guess some people got greedy and wanted them all.”

“Have the police caught anyone yet?” said Ashok.

“No-one’s reported the thefts to the police, you dummy. What do they say: ‘Officer, I stole some cables and cans, and now I’ve lost them; what should I do?’ It’s opportunists, maybe not from the Village; probably some City crew.”

Ashok went to check his cabin. The bastards had better not have broken into there. He was pleased to see they hadn’t, but he was nervous now and considered returning the grid components. What would he do with them anyway? He could leave them at the side of the road. No-one would know he had taken them.

As he pondered the best course of action, the end of a wire spool caught his eye. He was no electrician, but that definitely wasn’t copper or aluminium; it seemed like fibre-optic cable. Why would they use that in power lines? What a strange thing to do. He studied the transformer can for clues. There was something about that too; but he couldn’t say what. Hey, was that a USB hub near the bottom? It seemed to be. That was curious. And the can was really light; was there anything in there at all? There were only six screws to undo, which he managed in a minute. The can was filled with computer components. Is that the inside of a transformer, thought Ashok? Just like a PC. He plugged a USB cable from his computer into the transformer. No security code was needed; a series of folders appeared. It made no sense. Files on a transformer.

He thought a search may be fruitful, so typed in his address. A related file appeared. When he opened the file, it had nothing to do with stepping down voltage for transmission to his home. It was a series of snapshots and notes about him. The photos were taken from outside his house – recording his comings and goings. There was a prominent note – an e-sticky – on the file that read: “Grid Systems Analysis: This individual is by nature suspicious. Post-deregulation, he is likely to be disruptive. In the event of his becoming aware of Valley-Wide Surveillance, he would add significant risk to T/T (Telecomms/Telepathy Projects). We recommend elimination.”

Ashok heard the floor creak behind him, but turned too late to see. An elite Hydro Service bullet went right through his head, and hit the transformer. Like a gong marking the end of a great cycle, it clanged too loudly.

Golden Thread

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Unknown with tags , , , on February 9, 2012 by javedbabar

“Where are we now?” said Andrew, looking around.

“I’m not sure,” said Dennis. “But we must have walked ten kilometres. Come on buddy, keep up. Fall behind and you know what happens. You’ll miss your chance. You may not get another one.”

“I know, I know,” said Andrew. “I know.” He was being silly. He stepped up his pace. He could surely admire the beauty just as easily walking faster – the snow-capped mountains; rolling dark forests; rivers sparkling; patches of rock, naked and strong; and closer by, long flat fields that produced their sustenance, and under their feet, the rutted black road with a golden thread running along its centre, leading to the Source.

People bunched up ahead of him. It looked like the Leader had called a stop. He pushed into the crowd to hear. “This was the largest farm in the area,” she said, speaking loudly. “It was 12,000 acres. They raised vast herds of cattle and goats; there were also llamas. At first it was mainly for meat, and then they moved to dairy production. When they realized that was also cruel, they turned it into an animal sanctuary. But people were not as enlightened then, and didn’t support the sanctuary, so eventually it ceased operations.”

“What happened to the animals?” asked Andrew.

The Leader hesitated, and said, “Of course they all died naturally,” and then, “Ok, let’s move on.”

They had started at first light after a ceremony at the Transparent Temple. After all these years it was still an impressive structure. Andrew wondered if any other Village had a building this inspiring. He had heard that there were bigger monuments in the City, but surely none of those had survived. And even if they had, they didn’t have views of the home of the gods themselves, Mt. Alba. Their group of 33 pilgrims had left Lucerne just after sunrise, and walked steadily for ten kilometres. It was the first time that many of these Service staff had ventured this far up the Valley. They were neither involved in Production nor Defence, so had no reason to go.  But today they walked the sacred road from Mt. Alba to Mt. Negra.

They continued admiring the Valley’s beauty for another ten kilometres. More mountains, forests, rivers and rock; and fields; all connected by the hard black road, and by the golden thread upon it. There was another bunching. The Leader spoke up. “This was the largest crop producer. It was a family that was here for over one hundred years. They grew mainly root crops – carrots, beets, onions, and potatoes.”

There was a muttering among the pilgrims. “Yes, that’s when potatoes were still allowed. Before the Great Blight.” There was further muttering. “Now I’m sure that none of you grow them in your gardens secretly.” She gave an exaggerated wink. “I know I’ve never eaten any grits or home-fries.” There was laughter. “Ok pilgrims, let’s break for lunch. Thirty minutes. You’ve done real well. You’re a good group. Now rest and nourish, and we’ll continue at midday.”

“Who does the scheduling around here?” said Dennis. “We should get an hour at least. And I don’t want to walk in hot sun at noon. I want my money back. I’m gonna tell her. I only did it because my wife kept bugging me. All her friend’s husbands had performed the pilgrimage. She wanted me to do it too.”

“Be quiet and eat this,” said Andrew, passing Dennis some proteinicious bread. Everything you need in one slice. Then he said, “Do they have a pilgrimage in Strattus?”

“Sshh! Keep your voice down buddy; you know what people are like.” Dennis looked around. “Well if they do, I’ll bet it’s an exciting one. Some of their ancient lifts are still running; the ones they built for recreation. They use them to reach hilltop lakes and meadows. They grow some “summer crops” there too.”

Andrew was a regular smoker of “summer crops”. He grinned and said, “So they can’t be all bad.”

They walked for another ten kilometres, and the road became rougher. The golden thread had been refreshed for the pilgrimage, and was still visible; evidence that the Village was connected to the Volcano. It was aligned with the Source.

The Leader told a further bunching that the dense forest before them was where their ancestors had hunted and gathered. It was the first place they had settled in the Valley, when only the Valley existed. Not much has changed since then, thought Andrew, but now it’s by choice; the Separation has cut us off from all other communities.

It was the blush of afternoon. “How much further?” asked Dennis.

“I heard someone say we were nearly there,” said Andrew.

A short while later, they reached the base of Negra mountain. There was a river between the pilgrims and the Source. They camped there that night. The long day’s journey had put them into a sort of trance, which fused into exhausted dreams.

The next morning the Leader gathered them together. She said, “Today is the great day you have waited for. You will be taken individually to see the place where all life in this Valley began, and you will see why Mt. Negra is as powerful as Mt. Alba – maybe more so – as it also has the power of death. Once you have witnessed this miracle, you will become an Initiate. From then on, you and the Secret will be one.”

She took them, one by one, across the river, and into the cave at the base of Mt. Negra. There they beheld the Secret that protected this Valley. During the Chaos of Separation, the Village had acquired a nuclear bomb. It sat quietly in the cave, protected by, and protecting, the Valley. If the mutant hordes invaded, they would of course be resisted by the Defenders. But if they overwhelmed Lucerne, then the device would be activated. All would end here, and then one day, begin again.

Orchextra

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Unknown, World Myths with tags , , , on January 17, 2012 by javedbabar

Knock-knock! Dana ignored it. Knock-knock! She ignored it again.

“Honey, may I come in?” said Tony.

Dana withdrew her mind from Supersoul. The divine colour of water-filled clouds eased into that of pale blue wall. It wasn’t so different – more a question of quality than hue. “Yes, honey,” she said slowly. “Come in.”

“Hey Firecracker” – he’d called her that since she’d gone from blonde to redhead – “I know you are doing yoga, but I thought you’d like to see this.” His lips quivered when he was thrilled about something. She wanted to kiss him right now.

Tony brought over his laptop, hesitantly. “Honey, I need to focus,” she said smiling broadly. “That’s why I could do with a distraction. Go ahead.”

“Are you sitting comfortably?” he said. His lips quivered again.

“Only enough to merge with the Supersoul. I guess that’s pretty comfy.”

“I knew I had it somewhere. Good job I didn’t empty my recycle bin. It was hiding there. Ready?”

“What is it?”

“It’s a historic moment captured on video.”

“Hey, I told you to get rid of that video! You never know where it might end up. Do you really want to see your wife on the internet doing that?” She felt her brow furrow. Sudden tension. Just what she needed to avoid today.

“No, not that!” said Tony, waving his arms as if flapping the idea away. “I got rid of that, honest! Though it was a minor classic of Sea-To-Sky sensuality….”

“Tony…”

“Just kidding you. Look…” he clicked. The Transparent Temple – their nickname for the fancy community centre – appeared, surrounded by crowds. It was last year’s Canada Day. The camera zoomed towards the first floor balcony, showing a dozen people in smart black dress. Amongst them was Firecracker holding her cello. The small orchestra sat down, tuned up, and began playing. It was Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, reworked as a dance tune. It started off gently – flowing like caresses – and then burst with beats – like your brain was your heart. The crowd went crazy, threw their arms in the air. It was classical music renewed. It felt great to move people so strongly and deeply; more than she’d ever done before.

And that was the day when she’d heard the sounds. At first she thought it was feedback harmonics, but listened more closely, and was confused. She wasn’t playing those notes, they were way too deep. Long, long frequencies, like hundred metre strings being bowed. And a big boom somewhere, and mighty clangs, and long whistles like trains. She wondered whether she was going a bit crazy. But others told her that they’d heard the sounds too. The mysterious vibrations resonated with her vision of Supersoul. They had sparked her idea; the one that had brought her here today. She was tuning herself for the biggest day of her life.

“Do you remember what the District said when you suggested it?” said Tony. “And BC Hydro? And the lawyers?” She smiled completely. He liked that red lipstick, setting off her hair. “I’m so proud of you, honey. Tonight will be unforgettable.”

It was only when CBC got involved that things had started moving. Initially she wasn’t keen on the name “Orchextra”, but after a while got used to it.

An hour later, Dana left the house. Cranes and scaffolds were set up along the Meadows Road. They were concentrated at the end of the power lines near Camel Mountain. This was Dana’s place – pole position. The production crew fussed over her. They adjusted her hair, her makeup, and her dress, and then clipped on a microphone and earpiece. Two hours later, she was ready to start.

At 11.30am they did final checks on the power lines. A micro-current ran through them. They put her in a zoom boom and raised her up thirty feet. She was ready. At exactly midday, she put her bow to the neutral wire. From down the Valley she heard the sounds of people striking big boulders, which sang out like clear bells. From up the Valley, others beating the trunks of huge cedars, which hurt like vast drums. Everywhere in the Valley, people used compressors to push air through their chimneys, and blew into car exhaust pipes. A range of shrill, strong whistles filled the air, everywhere. It was time.

The front of her cello was spruce, the sides maple, the bridge pine, the bass bar willow, the sound post fir, the purfling ebony and abalone; all affixed by hide glue. Many fine craftsmen had built that instrument. But her instrument today was an insulated copper cable. Her bow was of brazilwood, stretched with horsehair. Dana drew her bow across the wire, which stretched from here to the Village, an instrument of thirty kilometres, ready for her touch. She was the lead player, with cellists raised up every kilometre to strengthen her sound. It would meet the sounds coming from elsewhere in the Valley to create a mighty circuit of sonance.

Today was September 22nd, 2012, fall equinox. This was the great practice.

The great performance would be on December 21st, 2012: the winter solstice. The “X” in Orchextra came via Ancient Arabic, Old Spanish, and Mathematics. It was used by Malcolm X, X-Rays, Generation X, and the Illiterate to sign their names. In all these cases it represented the same thing: an unknown quantity. On this night, ancient and modern, natural and cultural, vibrations would fuse together. This would be the sound – a last brave howl, as the planet Nibiru approached earth, its collision now confirmed – of the end of the world. What the future held for humanity after this was unknown.