Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Age of Imago - June - Pt. 2


Dear Dagworth:

Hey man!  Got your last letter, and !@#$, I just about !@#$ myself reading it. Not because it was !@#$ing funny, or anything, but because I am in serious !@#$ing awe, both at your cast iron testicles and how much you thought all that !@#$ out in advance. I am simply not !@#$ing worthy, man. 

Anyway, I tried to follow your example and got nearly !@#$ing nowhere. Not because I gave up or anything, but because I could only track those kids to the state line with Tennessee. It ain't too !@#$ing far from where I am, outside of Mayfield, but as near as I can tell they drove them down 69 to the border, dropped them off there, and then some other buses !@#$ing picked them up.

How do I know? Cause it turns out this one !@#$head who I know who's kind of sweet on me drives buses for the schools. He was working that day and told me that he made the pick up and drop off. They had no !@#$ing idea why or what, or where they were going. All he knew was that he had to take a bus full of "retards" to Fulton, and then let 'em all go, and he didn't care any more than that.

(And he wonders why he doesn't get anywhere with me. !@#$ing loser.)

So maybe there's some pattern? They took your kids North, maybe mine went South, met up with more kids, and they're all somewhere down here? Did you find out if any of the buses in Ohio met up with other states' buses and filled up? It might make sense for them to have a lot of people in a few places than a few people in a lot of places, if that makes any !@#$ing sense. 

Something else: school is turning into !@#$ing !@#$. It's bad enough we got one of those Imago !@#$s coming in every day to bore us !@#$less, but now they're making us take more math. I !@#$ing hate math, man. I've been relying on everything else to keep my GPA up, and then they take that away, too. Of course, now they say we don't need grades, anymore, but I'm sure they'll find some way to !@#$ me if I keep bombing this crazy, five dimensional geometry !@#$ they decided to throw at us.

It ain't helping none that the lessons are just the teacher turning on a !@#$ DVD player, anymore. I'm trying not to watch it for the same reasons I don't watch TV on the !@#$ing internet, and I can almost see everyone else's brains !@#$ing melting in the classrooms. So far I've just been listening with my eyes shut and trying to take notes, but man, that's some hard-!@#$ !@#$ to do. 

I'd ask my dad for help, but he's been !@#$ing useless since the woman who was not my !@#$ing mom finally got !@#$ing fed up and left. I was kind of sorry to see her go by the end, there. She was a stupid !@#$ but at least she was smart enough to know these Imago !@#$ers aren't to be trusted. I hope she lands on her feet, man.

Anyway, that's where it is. And I gotta !@#$ing confess, man, I really don't do Dr. Who. I know that means I got my geek cred taken the !@#$ away, especially these days, but I never got into that !@#$. I'm more of a BSG girl, myself. 

You take care, man. 


PS: Okay, BSG - old, new, or neither? You know the drill. 

* * *

It might be mid-June in Nevada, but you'd never know it when the Sun goes down.

Out in the south-western deserts, not too far from the California state line, it can get really cool in the evening. Sometimes so much so that you'd want to build a fire -- if you could find any firewood lying around. They even tell stories about people who hobbled back to civilization with toes blackened from untreated frostbite, though that might just be bull!@#$ they tell city slickers to keep them from fouling up the natural beauty of the place with their campers, RVs, and yen to find unknown corners of America and take pictures of it.

Not that you can blame them for the telling; when the Moon's up in the sky, and the wind's just right, the deserts take on a strange, ghostly life all their own. To stand there, day or night, with the wind whipping sand around you and no noises except for that, it's easy to imagine yourself a lone traveler on some distant, alien landscape.

It's a harsh and terrible place, at times, but a beautiful one. It's also about as free, clear, and open a vista as you can imagine, and that makes it the perfect antidote for someone who's had enough of civilization.

Or several of them, as the case may be. 

At or around Midnight, not far from where Valley View dead-ends into the Veterans Memorial Highway -- aka U.S. 95 -- three strange figures come from the darkness into the meager light of the road. One of them is a blue dog who walks upright, wearing a bowtie and an off-kilter hat. Another is a brown dog with a strange look on its face who's content to walk on all fours. The third is a tall man with short, white hair and a red shirt, and he walks just ahead of the other two, constantly scanning the horizon.

As they approach the crossroads, the man holds up a hand, and looks at his watch: "Midnight," he announces, looking around and then up at the sky. 

"They comin' down or appearin' from nowhere?" the blue dog asks, his voice a slow, Southern drawl.

"Rrridunno," the brown dog says, flopping down and waiting.

"Christ, I need a !@#$ing cigarette," the blue dog asks, pulling one out. Then he realizes that he left his lighter somewhere else. The man in the red shirt chuckles and tosses him one without even having to be asked: a large, metal lighter that announces !@#$ COMMUNISM to the world. 

"Right me up?" the brown dog asks.

"Get your own, freeloader," the blue dog drawls, but hands one over and lights it when the other dog whines somewhat piteously. 

"Those !@#$ things will kill you, you know," the man says, and for some weird reason they all find that pretty darn funny.

Then there's a weird noise and strange lights, up in the sky. The man steps back a bit, closer to the other two, and seconds later three Imago are seen to be floating down to the Earth. As they approach, they can see that one of them is Green and Yellow, herself.

The Imago land with bent knees and a definite *thump*-- quickly rising to their full height and turning to regard the three people who've come to meet them.

"Good evening to you, O Ambassadors of the Free Toon Nation," Green and Yellow says, nodding her head ever so slightly: "We trust you are well?"

"Well enough," the blue dog says, taking a final drag off his cigarette and flicking it off to the side: "We'd ask how ya'll are doing, but I figure we ain't here for chit-chat."

"Indeed. To business, then?"

"That's how we like it," blue dog says: "Did ya'll agree to our proposal or not?"

"We have, after much deliberation, decided to allow you to remain as you are," Green and Yellow says: "So long as your colony remains completely and totally off of the grid, and takes none of our services, we see no reason to not allow you to remain entirely independent."

"Well, that's about what we'd hoped for," blue dog says, stepping forward and extending a paw: "How about we shake on that and we can all go our separate ways."

"There are some other conditions, first," one of the other Imago says, holding up a hand.

"Little things, mostly," the other says: "Just dotting the i's and crossing the t's."

"You know how it is," one adds.

"Small details," the other continues.

"And what, exactly, would those small details and conditions be?" the man in the red shirt asks.

"We require a total and complete accounting of your activities to date," Green and Yellow says: "It does not have to be handed over here and now, but we would appreciate it soon. We also reserve the right to do some fact checking on our own, and therefore require access to your colony for a short time, not long after the information is handed over."

"That shouldn't be a problem," the man in the red shirt says, looking at the blue dog, who waits a moment and then nods.

"I agree. We got nothing to hide from ya'll. We're just in the business of staying alive at this point."

"Really?" Green and Yellow asks: "I was under the impression that you were working on something much more than simple survival?"

"Well, in the long term, yes," the man in the red shirt says: "We do have a goal, but it's of no interest to you, I'm sure. No harm, either."

"You are still trying to return home," one announces.

"Back to the television you came from," the other adds.

Blue dog sighs: "Well, yes. We are. But that ain't no concern of yours, I figure. There ain't no way that'd stand in your way. In fact, it'd get us outta your hair once and for all."

The brown dogs nods and smiles.

"I would be very interested in knowing how you intend to accomplish this," Green and Yellow says, to which the blue dog sighs.

"Well, it's all kinda technical, and I ain't the right guy to be answering that question. But we think we got hold of some notes that might help us on our way."

"Which you got from SPYGOD, of course," one says, smiling pointedly.

"When he was hiding out here, after assassinating your President," other adds, also smiling.

"How the holy !@#$ did you..." the man in the red shirt asks, but holds up when the blue dog walks forward and looks Green and Yellow right in the eyes.

"Now you listen here, and you listen good," he says, pointing a paw at her face: "That was not our !@#$ing President. We are not !@#$ing American citizens. We were held against our !@#$ing will for 30 !@#$ing years in that god!@#$ place, and the only reason we weren't out dancing to some !@#$ing corporation's tune was because the Supreme Court was in a good !@#$ing mood that day.

"We are free, lady. And we are going to remain free. And if the man who finally got us out of that !@#$hole needed to hide out after shooting the brains outta the guy who sat on his !@#$ing hands and left us to rot there, just like every other !@#$ing President since the 80's, well... !@#$. I ain't got no regrets.

"Besides, it's like you all been spending the last couple'a months proving? The nasty little !@#$ was up to his elbows in that plan ya'll stopped back on 3/15. You oughta be givin' that SPYGOD a medal, 'stead of giving us !@#$ 'bout letting him lie low for a little while."

"You misunderstand," Green and Yellow says: "We do not accuse you. We are simply stating the facts. He was here. He hid out for a time. He gave you those notes to secure safety. And then he left you."

"We only want to know what he may have been planning when he was with you," one of the other Imago adds.

"We also need to know if any of those plans involved your colony," the other says. 

"He didn't tell us," the man in the red shirt says: "He stayed for about a week, and most of it was spent dead to the world, drinking himself to sleep and crying himself awake. He was pretty !@#$ pathetic, actually."

"I actually had to kick his drunk !@#$ out," the blue dog says: "If I hadn't, he'd probably still be here, curled up and hugging beer bottles like they were !@#$ing teddy bears. Wasn't exactly his best hour."

Green and Yellow looks at the three ambassadors, and then to her two Imago cohorts, and back again: "And he made no mention of his plans?"

"I gave him a day to sober up and get out," the blue dog says: "When it was over, and he was walking away, I asked him where he was going. He said someplace sunny. Next I know, the !@#$s going down in Key West, and then, well, ya'll show up on 3/15. Ain't heard a peep from him, since."

"We were actually kind of hoping you could tell us where he is," the man in the red shirt offers: "Morbid curiosity. Plus, he kind of owes us for all that beer he drank."

"The notes he gave you were not enough?" Green and Yellow asks.

"If they were better notes, maybe," the man shrugs. The blue dog puts another cigarette in and gets the lighter tossed back.

"If he comes back..." one of the other Imago starts to say.

"If he calls you..." the other continues.

"If you get the slightest idea of where he might be?" one says.

"You must call us immediately," the other finishes.

"He is simply too powerful a player to have on the board at this time," Green and Yellow explains.

"We'll do that," the man says.

"Is there anything else?" the blue dog asks between puffs: "We kinda got us a tee-vee needs fixing."

"We will inform you when we will be by for those papers," one says.

"And we may appear to inspect you at any time," the other adds.

"And we mean what we say," Green and Yellow says, waving her hand and turning the man and two dogs back into their cartoon forms: "We are willing to allow you to live alongside us, independently. We will not tolerate interference. We will not overlook deception. And we will not forgive any impediments to our goals. Please remember this."

"We will," the blue dog says, doing his best to not get upset at having been so rudely re-tooninated: "Good night to you."

Green and Yellow smiles. As she does, the three beings turn real, once more. And then the Imago float up to the sky, and vanish with the same lights and noise as they had coming in.

The two dogs and a man turn and walk away. As they do, the man pulls out a small ray gun and zaps each of them in turn, changing back into toons. And, once they're not real any longer, they receive a mental signal.

Do you think they bought it? Someone asks them.

Yeah, they !@#$ing bought it, the blue dog thinks back: If they hadn't, we wouldn't be havin' this here conversation. We ain't but !@#$ on their shoe. This just made that !@#$ clear.

Ruckers, the brown dog thinks back: Ruck 'em all. 

We better up the timetable, Doc,  the man in the red shirt thinks: If they show up for an inspection, and our new friends are still here...

No one needs to finish that thought.

* * *

It happens on the 15th of June: three months after 3/15.

It takes place on the day after almost everything gets its very own live internet screen: broadcasting news to the masses from almost every main city street, bank, supermarket, long hallway, train car, subway car, bus, and taxi backseat in the Western world.

It takes place at 8 PM EST, right when the internet is about go live with a new announcement from the Imago -- something about the next phase in the great project to save the Earth from the as-yet-unnamed evil that is swiftly approaching.

Just as the leaders of the various countries around the world -- and Green and Yellow in the USA -- are about to talk about what will soon be happening, the internet goes down, and stays down for an entire minute.

When it comes back up again, sixty seconds later, the faces of the leaders have been replaced by a simple motto: white letters on a black background.


Anyone who sees this suddenly feels strange, as though someone had opened up their head and moved the furniture in their brain around. Some suffer nosebleeds or migraines. Almost everyone later reports at least a mild headache.

But when the leaders come back on, ten second later, having lost 70 seconds of their speech, no one quite sees them the same way again. It's as if whatever small voice inside their head had been telling them to trust these people implicitly was instead telling them to be skeptical, again.

That counter-feeling doesn't last long. By noon the next day it's gone, and replaced by an almost-doubled sensation to trust what they're being told. 

But in that 20 hours, people did things. Said things. Wrote things down and put them someplace safe. 

In that 20 hours, questions were asked, again.

In that 20 hours, the people were free, once more. 

And the memory of having that time of freedom, after quite some time of not having it, stays with them all.

(SPYGOD is listening to City as Memory (John Foxx) and having an Oracle DIPA )

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