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To End Poverty
To End Poverty
(The experience that made me lose my religion)
A story from Pre-N’Emble WOSTANE
By: Central See-On Worker
My father’s name is Re. I used to boast to my friends that my father was six feet four both height and width. That intrigued them and made them want to meet him. Those who did were amazed that I was telling the truth. Wow! A real giant in modern times! My mother is Everlead; she is extremely remarkable, a natural teacher, she does it all the time and without effort. Around Mom, the world is one big continuous lesson, I was never tired and school was never out, but there was plenty of recess time.
We lived in Orangefield, a small city in the deep interior of Zion. Orangefield is very mountainous and beautiful, elegant…picturesque. By the time we get to the point that this story takes place, there were four of us as children. I was the eldest, they named me Central Worker; I knew from early that something big was in store for me. The giveaway was how they treated me; it was my job as a child, to learn how to fix everything. Next in time was Precious Stone; she looked exactly like me and acted just the way I did. We were very attached to each other, Precious and I. As children, if one of us got sick you could bet money and win that the other would get sick too. Relatives often teased Everlead that she had taken three years between the delivery of the first twin and the second; others said we weren’t children, we were clones.
Three years after her was Wealth Eternal, she was small like Mom and very introverted and shy but eerily beautiful, her skin was fiery like Re’s and not earth dark like Precious and I. Wealth was not very physical as a small child and was quite accident prone. It was a full time job for Precious and me to keep her from “suicide by accident”. Whenever she hurt herself, our panacea was very sweet sugar and water, it invariably worked.
A bit later along, came Clarity N’Precision. Now Clarity was something else entirely. She learned to dance in her crib and the rest is history. We were all bright and excelled at schoolwork without much effort; Clarity now, took shit to another level. Ninety eight percent on a test meant a sleepless night listening to Clarity bawl and pray and then three or four days helping her to dissect what had come over her to make her drop two marks on a test. We had to coach her in test taking strategies! Later on, each of us except for Clarity, spent time in the classroom, teaching. I believe that Clarity, whose chosen field is medicine, had much to do with this.
Anyway, this incident took place in my fourteenth year. Everlead had been offered an opportunity to go to New London to teach. As Wealth and Clarity were still young, she took them with her. Precious was going to a school for Queens in TheTown (the capital of Zion); so she was to stay with Uncle Godbody and Aunty Carlene since she was a young lady and needed the attention and guidance of a woman. As for me, I was to stay home and hold the fort.
As soon as Mom’s back was turned, Re sat down and taught me to cook soup. He then bought food that could be used in soup and disappeared. Everlead had warned me not to expect too much from him and had left me access to her salary so I could cope. I resolved that Re needed fixing, and I would not use any of Mom’s salary. She would see all of that cash when she returned.
The inspiration for Clarity 'N Precision
The plot thickens
What the hell was Re doing? He would be gone for weeks, come with food and go again. Only on the rare occasions the Precious visited did he show up, this continued for some time. I had girls in and out of the house cooking (and sundry) for me because frankly, I was tired of soup. One girl taught me to cook properly, later I was married to her for a while, belly just as important as heart.
Then one day in March, Re drove up to the house in a khaki-gray Land Rover.
“Pack some clothes and come,” he said. “Time to learn how to fix poverty.”
You need fixing, I thought, but I didn’t say shit. Re doesn’t like back talk. I remember when Lord Rhan, his son from a previous wife, was young. Re beat him black and blue one night. I don’t really remember why Re beat him, but after watching that; I decided that anyone who treated me in that manner I would kill. I did not want to kill Re; he was after all, my father. I loved him dearly, he just needed fixing. So with that in mind, I moved quicker than usual to pack a travelling bag and lock up the house.
We drove to Port Antony, a medium sized town on the eastern side of Zion. At the marina, which is pretty impressive for such a relatively small town like Port Antony, we met with a group of men; there were thirteen of us in all. I recognized some of them. There was Mykal and Gaybrel, my cousins, Azara, another cousin, I also knew Pyson a large Indie, Wayen and Hunter who were two tall, muscular, blond haired, blue-eyed Aryans, and Lee a small wiry Carib. The other four I had never seen….Re smiled widely and addressed them.
“Everything set youths?” They gave their assent and then he said, “Well let’s get going then, time is burning.” Wayen led the group to a large yacht. We boarded, I was excited as hell. I kept quiet though and tried to keep out of the way of the others who seemed to know what to do. Re had told me that he would be in his cabin and that I would sleep in the crew’s quarters, they would show me everything so I shouldn’t worry, just relax. So remembering that, I settled down on the deck and fumbled in my pockets for a Mattaraan and my neutron powered lighter. (A Mattaraan is a tobacco cigarette, lightly seasoned with cannabis and other herbs; they are very popular among the youths of Zion).
The inspiration for Wealth Eternal
“Where in hell are we going?” I questioned Azara one night. We were at sea for about two days now and I was going stir crazy. Plus I had never really gotten my sea legs. The constant heaving of the yacht had sent me to the rails offering the contents of my stomach to the ocean more than once. I was getting more and more irritable by the second.
“Don’t ask questions Central!” he replied rather too smugly for my taste. “Just witness the glory of God.” He then walked away; it was so infuriating; no one would tell me anything. I spent most of my time in my bunk reading my favorite classics or watching TV, since none of the crew would tell me anything. I was supposed to watch. So I watched the time pass and pretty much ignored everyone. To hell with all of them!
I was on deck when the fellows spotted our destination. The excitement on deck went up two or three notches, the air also smelt of tension; it wasn’t the tension of fear however, it was more of eagerness. Behind the shore was a heavily populated mountain, even from a distance I could see zinc roofs glinting in the brilliant midday sunlight. The buildings came right down to the shore. This was a bigger city than any on Zion, so I knew I was in a foreign country. We had sighted land about 13:30 and we made dock about an hour later. Some of the guys went ashore; I was contemplating doing the same when Mykal walked up to me.
“Uncle Re says to stay onboard until he comes up; he is in teleconference with the other board members. You are to fix it so that he is not disturbed.” More mystery, I was getting tired of being kept in the dark, plus I was hungry. I guess that is why my retort was so charged.
“Where are we Mykal? I don’t want to hear any bullshit about watching! Give me a straight bloody answer!” Mykal’s eyebrows rose at my words and tone, obviously though, he realized that I was undergoing stress because instead of the expected sharp reprimand about respecting my elders, his answer was surprisingly gentle.
“This place is called Reo, you have heard of it in class and on TV I suppose?” he looked at me searchingly as if assessing my qualifications to be privy to this information, “Mando Rho’s country, where all the civil unrest is happening…” he added.
“Yes.” I affirmed, “What is going on? What are we doing here?”
He smiled, “You just said ‘No bullshit about watching’. Repeating the Prayer for Serenity a few times may help. Remember, Uncle doesn’t want to be disturbed.” I watched him go ashore and then sighed, got up and took up position outside of Re’s cabin. I could hear him talking; other voices though unintelligible were also audible. I shook my head to clear my thoughts, pulled out and lit another Mattaraan, inhaled deeply and waited. Re did not emerge from the cabin until after dark.
“Alright scout?” he queried. I nodded, “Well, the demonstration is tonight at midnight. Go get some sleep now. Be on deck by 22:58, we leave at 23:00 and the party is not a party without you.”
“Okay father,” I replied.
“Stop questioning,” he said, Re was never sharp or harsh with me, right now his rumbling voice was like the sound of an avalanche when heard from far away. “It is time to know.” I was about to say something, but he was already walking away,
A sneaky invasion
“Get some sleep, you’ll feel better.” And he was gone. I did sleep, but I was up on deck at 22:10. I listened to my musicman and smoked until everyone else had arrived. Re was the last one to come up on deck. As what I had come to realize was the custom, as soon as he got there, we were moving. We disembarked as a group, parked in the dockyard, was three large trucks of the type that soldiers (or as I would later realize) mercenaries used. The night was very still and silent as the men boarded them. Re got into the driver’s seat of one and motioned for me to join him up front, I did. Intrigued now, and remembering everyone remonstrations that I should watch, I looked around to check what was going on - on the other trucks.
Mykal and Hunter were in the cabin of one and Gaybrel was driving another. Wayen, Azara and another man, I had not yet found out his name, but he was very tall with corded muscles rippling under his formfitting shirt. They were flexing their arms and shoulders and conversing in a quiet but excited manner, in the back of our truck. Lee, Pyson and a short slender man of what on Old Earth would be described as Asian extraction were in the back of Gaybrel’s truck. The final two were jumping into the truck driven by Hunter. As I watched, Mykal loaded a monster of an assault rifle. It was a pump action – a .520 Natty Morgan, this was a most expensive and notorious gun, reputed to be the choice weapon of the men who hired out as mercenaries to off planet wars. I looked at Re, he was watching me.
“Time!” he said, and backed the truck out of the parking zone. The other trucks followed at a respectful distance. As we drove through the streets of Reo, I noticed how silent it was. The clubs were closed there were very few cars on the road and not one woman. It was not like this in Zion at all, even though Orangfield was a rustic city; the women party until near dawn even on a weekday and people hardly ever sleep between Friday evening and Sunday morning.
“Where is everybody?” I asked Re.
“Quiet boy, watch!” My frustration smoldered within, but I held my peace. Soon, we got to the outskirts of the city; I noticed that the engines of the trucks were barely audible as we hummed our way up into the mountains. The hills were riddled with streets. The houses were more like huts made of boards and aluminum sheets, with flimsy doors and dirt yards.
“This is much like an Old Earth ghetto,” Re suddenly growled into the darkness of the cabin. I don’t think he was talking to me, perhaps just thinking out loud. “It’s such a horrible way for people to live!”
“Is that the reason for all the unrest here?” I asked Re.
“Watch.” The silence in the cabin of the truck was thick and gravelly as we crested the mountain. The other trucks had gone onto other roads as we had navigated the mountain, but almost as soon as Re killed the engine of his truck, the others emerged from other streets and parked, turning their headlights off.
Inspiration for Precious Stone and Everlead
“Its 23:52,” Re spoke into a portable shortwave radio, “We go at midnight.” Hunter and Gaybrel responded positively and for seven minutes there was no sound but for the creatures of the night. I remember that night clearly even though it was so long ago, perhaps because it was a singular experience. Quela was bright and round in the sky, full and close; Marissa was in her last quarter and already setting on the horizon and Will-I was showing his dark side. It was therefore an unusually dark night. I remember reflecting that in the history books, Old Earth had only one moon; which meant that every night there was as dark as this one was. I wondered if I could ever get used to a planet like that.
At exactly midnight, Re gunned the engine and moved down the mountain into the streets of the ghetto. I remember seeing a large white statue of a man in a robe with hands spread. I was lost in thought when Re pulled out a .357 Baraka handgun and put three in the air…
Bang! Bang! Bang! My ears were ringing but Re was laughing, driving and firing his gun repeatedly. The other trucks were elsewhere but I could hear the explosions. There were several ones that were extra powerful. That must be the Natty Morgan! I thought, what a bloody cannon!
Out in the streets there was pandemonium. A tide of people flowed into the narrow lanes running and screaming; the gunshots continued. There was action in the back of the truck, Azara, Wayen and ‘Mr. Muscles’ were pulling girls up into the truck. One…then another…then another! The girls were screaming and crying. We did not travel through the city heading back to the docks; instead we skirted around to the north and got there through a dark abandoned warehouse district. By now, the screaming had stopped but I could hear sobbing. As for me, I was in shock! Speechless…
Re said, “No words, just watch.”
My mind was racing; the thoughts were coming a mile a minute; when we got to the docks. The crew hustled the girls into the hold of the yacht and we were out in open ocean in a very short time. I went into the crew’s cabin, several of the guys were there talking no doubt, about the nights events. Gaybrel was one of them.
“Well Central, how is your night going?” I didn’t answer; I was totally disgusted with what I had witnessed. Re was in the hold with the girls. I left the cabin and went there. I wanted answers and I realized that the only way I was going to get them was to force them out of Re. No one else would respond to me. By the time I arrived at the hold, all of the nearly fifty girls were naked or in towels looking freshly washed. Re was washing one girl’s hair. He was speaking to them in a language I did not know. It sounded like a mixture of Nehispic and other words. The girls were all listening, occasionally; they would smile or sometimes laugh in unison. I scowled as I left the hold and headed for Re’s cabin.
Once in Re’s cabin I started looking, for what, I did not know. Something! Something that would make what had happened into sense for me. On the desk were maps of WOSTANE, a sextant, a compass and what I realized was an astrolabe. I had only seen them in books or on the computer’s reference.
I kept looking, there was of course, a TV and movie discs, I looked at them, they were all Old Earth movies, the same ones that were mandatory watching when I was younger. ‘Highlander’ with Chris Lambert and Sean Connery, the ‘Godfather’ series, ‘Revolution’ and ‘Devil’s Advocate’ with Al Pacino. I put them back on the movie player. There was also a Bible and the Egyptian Book of the Dead, two Old Earth religious books.
“Found anything?” The rumbling was behind me. I turned to see Re standing beside the desk, how he came into the cabin without alerting me is a mystery to this day.
“You are out of control,” I said. “You need fixing.”
“Do you think you are powerful enough to fix me Scout? He smiled, “Fix yourself.”
“What you are doing is wrong!” I yelled.
“You don’t know the difference,” he remonstrated, “You’re not old enough.”
“I can see…” I groped around for the idea I was trying to communicate, “no matter what you’re gonna say, I still feel…”
“Don’t feel boy, think!” it was thunder whispering, “What do you do when faced with injustice? Did you notice that the women of Reo are oppressed? Now, I know who will pay me to free a few. Do you really think I’m going to lose profit just because my son is squeamish?”
“Kidnapping is against the law.” I asserted.
“What about oppressing people?” Re queried, “Is that right according to the laws of the universe? Mando Rho is trying to re-introduce male-chauvinism. Do you think that will be allowed? This demonstration is just a sign. Now comes the judgment. No evil on this planet! I went through enough of that all the time I spent on Earth.” I was imbibing this new information.
“You were on Earth?” I replied more to myself than him, I was figuring. “But the last ships from Earth landed here eight thousand years ago…” I narrowed my eyes as realization hit me. “How old are you Re?”
Don’t worry about that my son,” he sat down around the desk, looked at me and exhaled slowly, it sounded like trees when they are rustled by the wind. “Suffice it to say that you’ve had your initiation. You will be seneschal of this planet after I leave. Your enemies are: Ignorance, Stupidity, Confusion, Bondage, Injustice and Inequality. Your duty is to provide for your people Physical and Mental sustenance, to teach them how to put on the whole armor and to make sure no one is heavenless. Your weapons are Love and Peace and your rewards, if you are an effective administrator, will be Happiness and Truth. Remember I made you read the Bible? What is good?”
“Everything,” I conceded. He got up from around the desk.
“Alright, you looked fixed. I have work to do, stay here if you wish, watch Devil’s Advocate.” He walked out. Four days later, we reached Chefari and docked in the opulent city of Midden. The wealth of this place was very conspicuous. Everybody looked as if they belonged in a movie; there were no ghettos, there were hardly normal sized houses, everywhere there were lavish mansions with immaculate lawns and impressive gardens, and beautifully constructed high rise dwellings. The boulevards were perfectly paved, and I noticed that there was no rubbish to be seen anywhere.
Re advertised an auction, and the techno-kings came and bid on the girls. The show was great, Re was the auctioneer, and he displayed the leg muscles and teeth of the girls. The bidding was very intense and heated. There was great competition between rivals for the prettiest and youngest girls, but all the girls were taken at very high prices, Re made millions!
Thinking about Paradise
After that talk in the cabin, I understood more of what was WOSTANE. The voyage back to Zion was quiet and uneventful. I slept mostly; Re spent his time on deck with the boys playing dominoes, chess or video games. Once, I came up on deck to get some fresh air, he was at the bar drinking with Mykal; when he saw me, he said,
“There is my son Mykal, who pleases me greatly.” I smiled at him but I stayed quiet. My job was to watch, so I watched. He offered me a beer; I accepted and smoked a few Mattaraans while sipping. When I got back to Zion the TV was carrying the fall of Reo in live and living color. Mando Rho was killed and his body burned. It took seventy three years to rebuild Reo.
That was close to five thousand years ago. Re left WOSTANE when I was sixty eight years old to go to the center of the galaxy; to a planet he named Eltrantor. His vision is to create a world that is totally given to technology; he plans to cover the entire surface of the planet with metals. When he first left, messages took a century for the round trip. It is better now that we’ve developed the Altansible. At first I had to travel out past the gas giant of the WOSTANE system, a planet called ‘Shaka”, to one of its moons to talk to him for two hours. It is much better nowadays, comstations are in a few places on the planet and, if you have enough resources, you can have one at home.
Everlead is still here, but she is no longer teaches much. She studied Terralogy and then spearheaded a project that transformed the desert continent Udindin into a reserve and nursery for plants. The continent is called Maton now. I still am surprised whenever I visit Maton, it is all green down there now. Precious Stone and Wealth Eternal married happily and live off planet now; we still communicate a lot though. Clarity went out and colonized a planet dedicated to pioneering life saving techniques in medicine, the name of it is Krystal City, and she is the Supreme Administrator there. I always knew that she was special.
I was close to two hundred years old when my first child was born. I named her Alion Christine Mathematical. In her six hundred and twentieth year, the people of Mak Chee made her Eternal Empress. She fell in love with and married a grandson of Re’s from a relationship previous to him and Everlead. My sister Herbara and my cousin Azara’s son, his name is Sambeke Difari. When Alion took the throne of the Chee Empire, she changed her name to Loyan Christa.
I still smoke Mattaraans, but my repertoire has expanded considerably since I was fourteen. Sometimes I smoke as much as seven hundred different herbs and spices in one cigar. I hope to see Re in the flesh again one day, but until then, I have a job to do – the job he gave to me… I watch.