by Adam C. Richardson
Daniel Packard’s Journal, May 6, 2040
(incoherent scribbles)...bastards. Those... (more scribbles). I thought I could...thought I could, but I can’t! Not yet. But I will, and when I do...(more scribbles).
Daniel Packard’s Journal, May 8, 2040
Stand and face the beating fists. Pain is proof that God exists... (Repeated 118 times).
Set the controls for the heart of the sun.
Daniel Packard’s Journal, May 21, 2040
Composure is critical. A smile on my face, critical. I was hospitalized, nearly catatonic, but I could not allow myself to be so far gone that they would feed me intravenously. If they had, there’d be no way to prevent the Raptura from entering my system, and keeping that filth out of my system, that’s critical too. Everything is critical. A smile is critical. Did I mention that? Ha ha, I’m happy all the time!
They ask me what’s wrong and I say a headache, an epic massive headache. They believe me, but then, they believe anything you tell them these days, don’t they? I could tell them I’m Emperor Nero, master of ballet, and put on a pink tutu and dance like a fish. They’d clap and cheer and put me on stage and believe me, because that’s what this planet is plagued with: believers. Their capacity to doubt has been doped out of them.
Without doubt, without question, and without any concept of the future, people are useless machines, carrying out their final tasks before they become extinct. They happily step aside for the next wave to take over. If I do nothing, Darby and Radcliffe will take out most of the world’s population in a humane manner. What does humane mean when you’ve killed all the humans? Ha ha, I’m happy all the time! I’m happy. Ha ha!
Part of me says good riddance. Let everyone die! What? I’ll die too? Again, good riddance. Let this stinking fool’s paradise fade away with a whimper and embrace oblivion. I could do it. I could let that happen and be glad if it weren’t for one thing: when the body count stops piling up, that bastard Darby will still be alive, sitting in his self-sustaining fortress, running the show. I will NOT allow that to happen.
So, yes, as you might have guessed, I remember what was forgotten. I remember the conversation that took place between John Darby and Gene Radcliffe, our annihilators-in-chief, the conversation that haunted my dreams for more than a month.
It took place during my tour of Darby’s love compound in Alabama. I remember it all now. All those kids. The place is lousy with greasy little kids. And more than a few of them have a striking resemblance to Darby. I’m guessing that he’s got more than one family going in there. I think Darby wants to repopulate the world with his own ugly face. I’m getting off track here. But I’m happy. Ha ha!
The conversation: We were in the sitting room at Radcliffe’s house, drinking brandy. Darby was there. We discussed this and that, how happy everyone was, how the sun shines so benevolently out of Darby’s sainted ass. Hee hee hee HEE!
We discussed my upcoming tour on the promotion of the research compound initiative. Darby and Radcliffe were doing most of the talking; I had stopped asking questions a long time ago. Then Darby told me I ought to head back to the guest house on his estate. I left. But I stopped to take a leak in the bathroom next to the study. When I came out, this is what I heard at the study door:
Radcliffe: “...won’t be any less humane. It will just be faster.”
Darby: “I understand that. But think of all the mess. All those bodies piled up everywhere and no one to clean them up.”
Radcliffe: “So it’s fortunate that we’ve got the compounds to fall back on. We won’t smell the stink in here.”
Darby: “I suppose. I’m just thinking of the mess we saw in the videos from Pakistan.”
Radcliffe: “Ah yes. Pakistan. Our greatest failure and our possible salvation. I still don’t understand how putting R in the ground water turned it into the Sledgehammer formula.”
Darby: “It wasn’t just the R. We had already mixed the Raptura with an accelerant component when we dosed the groundwater. The additive causes an exponential increase in R’s effect.
“It seemed necessary, since each individual would only be getting a micro-dose of the drug. We were unsure if it would have any effect at all. But the R, the accelerant, and the iron in the water, they all interacted in ways we couldn’t possibly anticipate. Sledgehammer was the result.”
Radcliffe: “Not exactly the outcome we wanted.”
Darby: “No, I agree. We only wanted new converts, not lifeless vegetables. But in the end, it’s a blessing.”
Radcliffe: “You sure we can replicate Sledgehammer in the lab?”
Darby: “Fletcher and his team haven’t just matched it. They’ve improved it. When someone takes Sledgehammer, the effects will be exactly like R for the first few days. But they’ll get happier and more passive and gradually stop caring, lie down with a smile and go to sleep. Fletcher’s proved it repeatedly now.”
Both men were quiet for at least a minute, sipping their brandy, scratching their asses, contemplating the joys of mass murder.
Radcliffe: “It’s a shame that it’s come to this. I liked it better when the plan was to let people die off on their own without offspring.”
Darby: “Well, they aren’t dying off fast enough. R is actually extending lifespans. It doesn’t matter, because we would never have had enough to sustain the demand for another five decades anyway. Not with the kind of demand we’re facing.
“We’re still unable to synthesize the organic components of R. No one saw that coming. We’ve deforested most of Peru and Bolivia tearing down cinchona trees, and we can’t grow them fast enough. I’d be surprised if we could keep it up for five years. We’re going to need to distribute the Sledgehammer soon.”
Radcliffe: “But don’t be too hasty. We should time it so that we can get as many of these safe compounds built in the meantime. We’ve made promises to a lot of people, and we don’t want to leave them out there in the dying world when things go south.”
Darby: “We’ll do what we have to. It’ll take time to coordinate the distribution of Sledgehammer so that everyone gets it at once. We’ve only got three manufacturing facilities. There’s a lot of distribution logistics to be worked out. But we should get the ball rolling by this time next year.”
Radcliffe: “Think of what could have happened if we did have that extra five decades, how much cleaner the world would have been. When the next generation, a thousandth the size of the current population, could step out into the world and have everything they need to start civilization anew.”
Darby (chuckles): “And think about what could happen in five years, when the world’s supply of R runs out and everyone sees the state of themselves, miserable, childless, throwing all of their time and effort into securing the future for a tiny minority. They’d crucify us, if they did’t destroy themselves in anarchy first. No, it’s much better to give them the Sledgehammer and let them die happy. It’s much more...”
That’s when I left. I’d heard enough to give me bad thoughts, and bad thoughts are something that a person on Raptura cannot abide. Thank you, Raptura, for making me happy all the time. Ha ha!
So: I sit in this hospital bed. I smile at the nurses. Darby called yesterday. I laughed at his jokes. I smiled and smiled. I’m going to get out of the hospital tomorrow morning and I’m going to be the Secretary of State for a genocidal megalomaniac. And I’ll smile and smile and smile, but I’ll know something that he doesn’t know I know, that he doesn’t think I could possibly know because I’m just another one of his sheep. His smiling, happy sheep. Baa, baa, you bastard!
Blight’s Journal: July 22, 2040
Call me Blight. Call me the savior of the world. I wear a suit and tie and shake a lot of hands and tell everyone in the Middle East about the efforts of our glorious president to save the planet.
Then the scientists that tour with me take over and talk about the details. They’re not taking R. Many of the people we meet with aren’t taking R. The difference between an R addict and an actual thinker is night and day. I have to be very careful to keep up my act. I smile and smile.
The non-R-takers are getting the message: Things are about to change. The R-slaves will soon be gone, the world will be inherited by the non-R-slaves, so get your ducks in a row before the end comes. Here’s how you do it...
I sit back and listen and smile. I’m a joke to these people. I’m the R-slave that promotes the downfall of all R-slaves.
I accept that I’m quite mad now. I’ve always been mad. From my earliest memories, I was mad. I recall my time as a boy, sitting in a dark room, playing rock and roll music at full volume, grinning at shadows. Set the controls for the heart of the sun.
I became a musician — a mad musician — and I wanted to do it better and louder and harder than anyone else. And that drove me to be better and better. Then I got where I wanted to be and there was nothing else to drive me.
That madness turned in on itself and I self-destructed. But even self-destruction was exquisite. It was all delicious and I loved every bit, and when they put me in the padded room and I screamed in the dark, I couldn’t have been more satisfied.
Madness without purpose is self-destruction. But channel that madness into a cause and it becomes a force that can move continents.
I have a cause. I’m going to see John Darby’s vision of the future blown to bits.
I want to blow up his stinking refuge in Alabama, but I can’t bring myself to destroy what’s there. There are few things in this world I respect, but he’s acquired some of them: the greatest artistic masterworks in the world. People stopped caring about Van Gogh’s work a while ago. You just can’t relate to it when you’re on R... except for the sunflowers of course. Every R-slave agrees the sunflowers are pretty.
Darby’s got Dali and Monet and Rembrandt and Cezanne and El Greco. I’m sure he got it all for a song. R-slaves don’t appreciate the madness that goes into a work of art.
I won’t risk damaging the art. But I’ll tear down his empire every other way I can think of. I’ll watch it burn. And I’ll smile and smile.
Next week I’ll be back in the States. I’m going to have lunch with Ryan Gavin back at Carmine’s. I’m going to ask him if he keeps in touch with our old friend, Hector Reilly.
Tragedy at State of the Union Address
The Washington Post, January 27, 2041
This morning, millions mourn the death of our 49th President, John Darby, after he and several other senior government officials died in an explosion during his State of the Union address last night. The explosion, said to have been caused by faulty wiring under the stage, completely destroyed the podium, resulting in the death of President Darby, Vice-President Radcliffe and House Speaker Regina Finch. Several White House and Capitol staff members and Senators Bill Alvarez from California and Chi Wu from Oregon were also killed. Thirty others were injured.
Coincidentally, this tragedy occurred only minutes before similar electrical malfunctions caused explosions that completely destroyed three Novaforte manufacturing facilities in Columbus, Ohio, Prague and Hong Kong.
Daniel Packard was sworn in as the 50th president this morning by Justice Amelia Saxon, the only member of the Supreme Court not hospitalized after last night’s tragedy. Following the ceremony, President Packard held a press conference to address the tragedy.
“We will initiate an investigation into wiring standards,” Packard said, “both in the Capitol and in the Novaforte facilities. It is unfortunate that so much destruction occurred all in one night, but we can’t let it keep us from smiling, right?”
When asked about his feelings regarding the loss of long-time friend John Darby, President Packard said, “It breaks my heart to know that the man who brought joy to the whole world has passed on. It’s going to be harder to smile now that he’s gone. But as I’ve often said in the past, pain is the engine that drives the world.”
Copyright © 2014 by Adam C. Richardson