by Bill Kowaleski
Creative Destruction is a sequel to the novel Brighter Than the Stars, in which Earthlings meet technologically advanced space aliens. The Cygnians come only to do business, but their schemes to sell fusion-powered generators become contentious and competitive.
Many human and alien characters return from the previous novel, including Jim McDermott and his team, who try to reduce the risk of societal upheaval that the new technologies threaten. Meanwhile, many different groups are either plotting to steal the technical advances for their own purposes or trying to destroy it and drive the Cygnians off of Earth.
|Cast of Characters and Species||Table of Contents|
Part II: Antithesis
Chapter 8: Miles Steps In
Ever since the images of the strange alien creature, the Cygnian, they’d called it, had appeared on net videos and television, Maria had been trying to channel her onrushing anger, fear, revulsion, alarm. She had sent out a series of tweets with her first impressions, but now it was time to compose a more thoughtful and nuanced response to the shocking danger facing the world.
She decided to put it on her Facebook page, to turn that page into the manifesto for a new resistance movement, a movement that would drive the evil aliens off of Earth and end the mad rush to fusion power that was sure to distort the force fields of the planet, destroying its magnetism, rotting away the forces between molecules, and making the whole world disintegrate into its base particles. She’d read it all on a Russian scientist’s web site and it had the feeling of believability to it.
Maria Schoenbrun was not someone that people noticed, not in person at least. She was young, she had that going for her, but she was plain, square-built, with stringy hair and twenty pounds of excess weight. Yet hiding under all the neglect and unfashionable clothing were the makings of a very pretty young woman. But Maria had no interest in beauty. Beauty was a disease, an affliction of Western society spread by advertising and meant to scare the young into buying products: eyeliner, foundation, creams, lipstick, diet pills, hair dyes, age-defying goop in tubes. The list was endless.
Maria had been only sixteen when she’d had the revelation that had changed everything. She’d been watching television, only half-aware and, in an instant, she realized that every ad was an act of coercion, an attempt to scare you into needing the product, buying the product.
She rushed to her computer and began searching. Soon she found others who had reached the same conclusion. It was pretty simple; corporations existed to shove their products down the throats of the young and, once the the demand was created, their customers were lifelong. But her key revelation was that almost all of these products were unnecessary, that the whole economy was a house of cards built on a foundation of coercion, lies, deception, and pointless consumption.
She had found what she thought was her life’s work and, for five years she labored enthusiastically as a consumer advocate and gadfly, writing screeds about the uselessness of products and the lies used to sell them, scratching out a living selling the occasional article exposing some minor fraud or deception.
When the news of the fusion reactor complex reached her, she suddenly had a new calling. She knew she could not just sit idly and allow such an abomination to take hold. It had to be dangerous; all nuclear power was dangerous, after all, and the builders made ridiculous, unbelievable promises just as advertisers always did: it wouldn’t pollute, it would replace most oil and coal use in the world, it would make universal adoption of electric cars possible, the power it promised to provide would be almost free, it would improve everyone’s life.
It was just more packaging, more coercion. It was no different than the latest shampoo, the one that made all the boys want you, the one that made your hair shine with the radiance of a halo.
And so she connected up with others of like mind on the Internet, and they sat in the cold, across a busy highway, barely able to see the new plant under construction a mile away. They held signs, they chanted, they got twenty seconds on the local news. It wasn’t good enough; she joined a direct-action group. One of them had a boat. They took it out on Lake Michigan on a chilly moonless night, intending to throw Molotov cocktails into the construction area, hoping to start a fire that would set back the effort. Of course, they got nowhere near the plant, but it was her first time in jail, and that month only made her stronger, more determined to stop the evil shadow that threatened to spread across the world.
After her incarceration, she knew that anything she did online might be monitored. Her small group began meeting in person, in public places, never the same place twice. They had been floundering, growing smaller, and she feared that the movement would surely fail until a new member appeared at a meeting they held in a state park just north of the Wisconsin border.
His name was Miles Martin, an exceptionally handsome young man, probably no more than twenty-two years old, clean-shaven, tall and slender, with a classically symmetrical face, and thick wavy shoulder-length brown hair. He was by far the cleanest, best dressed person that Maria had ever seen in the movement, and she thought he resembled a lot of those male models in the advertisements she hated so much.
He had written a long, impassioned message on her blog, promising that he had special, useful skills that could help grow the movement. Jim Rogers said that he’d had some online chats with Miles and trusted the guy. But Maria was suspicious. He could be a spy, working for the FBI, the CIA, or whoever was keeping track of subversives like her group. At any rate, he didn’t fit. He was too different. He was too normal.
They sat in deeply shaded leaf litter a hundred yards off of a hiking trail, talking softly, flapping at deer flies; eight people in their twenties, impoverished outcasts and misfits. Except Miles.
At first, he said nothing but, as they talked, he began shifting, becoming overtly impatient; finally. he could hold back no longer. “I know I’m new here, but listen, you’re not going to get anywhere with protests or trying to get into that plant. The security there is so tight, so professional, it’s ridiculous to even think about sabotaging it. And protests are like so 1960’s. Only losers do that stuff.”
“So, Miles, what do you propose we should do, then?” Maria asked, not hiding her annoyance.
“We know there are a lot of people who want to do something about those aliens: get them off Earth. There are others who are afraid of fusion power, like us. We should all get together, start an information campaign, run ads, demand that political leaders take a stand, work within the system to effect change. You know, like the Tea Party did a few years ago. We have to make a list of explicit demands, like: stop the reactors now, no aliens on Earth, stuff like that.”
Jim Rogers laughed. “Those Tea Partiers had a lot of financial backing, we’ve got about ten cents among us.”
“That’s where I come in,” said Miles. “My dad has a lot of money, and we’ve talked many times about fusion power. He’s convinced it’s going to destroy the world. When he saw that alien on TV, well, he ranted for an hour, said we’re crazy to trust them, that they probably planned to get established and then turn us into slaves. He’s well-connected politically too. I’ll bet he’d help us.
“Look, what you guys have got are some great web sites, a narrative, something that people can latch onto. I’ve seen Maria’s blog and Facebook page, the manifesto. It’s fantastic, it moves people. That’s how movements get started. You need that intellectual underpinning but, after that, you need backers, people with money and connections.”
Maria stared at Miles in amazement. This seductively handsome man, whom she had taken for little more than an airheaded model, was clearly something much more. In an instant, her suspicions about him died. He made sense and, besides, she was wildly infatuated with him. “Yeah, I get it, Miles! I think it’s a great idea! What do the rest of you think? Isn’t it a great idea?”
“What exactly is the idea?” Jim Rogers asked.
Miles responded confidently: “We talk to my father, we present the manifesto to him, we ask him to hook us up with some political organizers, we turn this into a movement. You folks continue to provide the justifications, the reasons why we have to get rid of the aliens and the fusion plants. You keep up your web sites, you stir up peoples’ fears. Stuff like that.”
They agreed. It sounded like it had a better chance of succeeding than throwing Molotov cocktails at the plant or sitting a mile away and shouting slogans. Little did they know that in that shaded forest they had just handed their movement over to the very forces they all hated.
Proceed to Chapter 9...
Copyright © 2019 by Bill Kowaleski