smoke

I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

Belphegor

On top of a rock spire rising high above an endless plain two beings conversed. One, a shining being with charred stumps where wings would have been had he been a real angel still, sat in lazy repose on a smooth black rock. At first look, the rock would have been mistaken for a carelessly carved marble block streaked with strange red veins. But there was nothing careless about the rock, and the veining that made it look like a piece of marble pulsed with life.

hellish

 

The other being on the spire, a hulking creature with two three-foot horns sprouting straight up from the top of its head, was on its knees. An incongrous position for one so obviously possessed of great physical strength despite being colored an improbable shade of yellow. This was the demon Baalpeor, and he was kneeling before the only being who was older and more powerful than he could ever become. 

“Milord, Helel,” Baalpeor growled, staring at the rusty iron manacle clamped to the ankle of the one seated on the black rock.

“Ahh. You’ve noticed Our mark, haven’t you?” Helel drawled lazily.

“Forgive me, milord.” Baalpeor muttered.

“And if We didn’t, what could We do? Send you to hell?” Helel laughed and it was a laugh that rumbled throughout the endless plain like unforgiving thunder.

Far below the spire, in a pit filled to the brim with liquid rock, a flock of ravens looked up from their task. They had been feeding on the eyes of a man submerged to the waist in the hot molten rock. 

“Why do you stop?” the man cried out. “You must not stop! I killed my wife and raped my son! You must not stop!” he begged the birds..

“Some idiot who calls himself  ‘the Devil’ was trapped in, of all things, a computer, Baalpeor,” Helel said, when his mirth had subsided. “One of yours?”

“That may have been my son, milord.” Baalpeor replied shakily.

“Don’t be droll, demon. Your diseased cocks have produced more sons than you can count. Which one?”

“Well, milord,” Baalpeor began, strangely mollified at Helel’s casual mention of his potency, “if it was a computer, then it would have been Belphegor.”

“Ah. Belphegor. Didn’t We assign him to promote sloth?”

“Yes, milord. Computers used to be very difficult things to work, milord. So, he came to this university student named William Gates and showed him how to make it so that anyone could use a computer to do the heavy lifting for their brains.”

“We see …” Helel smiled. “Very enterprising of him.”

“As milord says.”

“Well, old friend, We say bring the whelp to Us.”

 

oOo

 

No sooner than Helel had said it than Belphegor appeared on the rock spire – a horned and bearded demon, its mouth hanging open and long gnarled fingers tipped with jagged pointy nails.

“Spare Us the theatrics, whelp,” Helel said. “Appear pleasing to Our eyes.” Suddenly, where the monstrosity was, stood a naked woman with pale skin and fiery red hair. 

“Now tell Us of your encounter with one of His toys.”

The woman opened its mouth and a deep voice bellowed out:

“How to corrupt a blogger? One way is money of course. There is nothing wrong with money. But the combination of the love of money to the point of dropping one’s principle is equivalent to corruption.

LOVE OF MONEY + DROPPING OF ONE’S PRINCIPLE/S = ONE CORRUPTED BLOGGER

This can be done with nearly all things from products to people and causes. But nothing can be more savory that compromising a blogger for politics.

Light Bringer Inc is interested in recruiting souls … bloggers who will be compromised by money. Convicted by their personal convictions.”

Helel sat silent for a while. 

“You speak of politics as though it were to be the downfall of these writers, and yet you speak of principles,” Helel began quietly. “But politics is a way of expressing and actualizing principles. So We suppose that you were referring to situations where the writer abandons his principles in order to promote politics not consistent with those principles?”

The woman merely nodded and smiled.

“And this you consider to be a new … shall We say, market? … for souls?”

The woman opened her mouth once more. “In the end, A Blogger sows what A blogger has planted.”

Suddenly, the woman’s mouth slammed shut and her lips melded together. Her eyes grew wide as she stared at Helel with panic and outrage warring in her gaze. 

“You sound like a fortune cookie, Baalpeor’s spawn. Be silent while We decide how best to deal with your impertinence.”

Baalpeor moved between Helel and his son. “Milord! What has my son done to deserve your wrath?” His voice seethed with anger and nascent rebellion; his eyes flashed fire; and runes traced in blood spiralled up and around his great horns.

“Pax, Baalpeor,” Helel smiled. In the distance, thunder rumbled and a murder of crows appeared from out of nowhere. “We may have shown you mercy for your rebelliousness many many times, but you would do well to remember that We are the sovereign of this place.”

Helel then stood from the black rock and walked over to where Belphegor, still wearing the aspect of a naked woman, stood.

“You fool,” Helel hissed.

“Like His toys, you place too much worth on people who can be corrupted for money or things. You presume to know what Our hordes need, and so make us look like a beggars, scrambling for the crumbs that fall from His table. These … bloggers that you speak of, who abandon their principles for money and material rewards, they need no recruiting. For them and their kind, the road to Hell is wide and well-paved with bricks of gold and silver. 

“Throughout history, We have been blamed for the moral deaths of these fools. And idiots like you only add to the misconception. We say to you, Belphegor, thou enemy of the sixth Sephiroth, we are not interested in bloggers – even those who fall off their moral high horses. Those will come to us in such droves that we will have to shut the seven gates and the thirty six bridges into the realm. 

“We are interested, instead, in those who do not compromise. We are interested in those who continue to trumpet their principles, confident in the knowledge that they are doing good – that they are fighting the righteous war – when in fact, they do nothing but rouse people to anger and hatred and violence for their own sake, for their own satisfaction. These are the ones who will be Our agents, and even as they stoke the fires of animosity, they will be astounded by their own magnificence while We laugh at the smallness of their vision.

“Pride, Belphegor, is the sin that feeds Our flames the best. And it is their pride that will provide Us with Captains and Generals for when the time comes for us to once again storm the gates of Heaven.”

Helel reached out to caress Belphegor’s face.

“Go now, son of Baalpeor. And make things easier for these fools. Give them the casual miracles of your …. technology, to make it easier for them to spread their gospel. And do not disappoint me again.”

 

oOo

 

The storm that had gathered around the spire while Helel spoke slowly dissipated into the perpetual gloom of that Realm, leaving once again only two beings on the rock spire.

Somewhere far below, the ravens returned to their task and the man who killed his wife and raped his son sighed contentedly, once again proud that he had merited this most horrific of fates.

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Filed under: stories, , , , , ,

twilight

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Finally saw twilight. Never read the books, so I went into the movie with only the trailers, the hype, and the criticisms as background.

It wasn’t as bad as I expected. The first hour dragged by as director Catherine Hardwicke took pains to establish Bella’s character as a whip-smart, tough-as-nails, but vulnerable young girl and Edward’s bona fides as a good-guy vampire with sparkly skin.

It was, however, fairly easy to accept that you were looking in on a high-school romance. Which was strange because for a vampire more than a hundred years old, Edward acted exactly like the 17-year old he claimed to be. Consider how Kirsten Dunst’s little girl vampire grew up into a sexpot without growing old – or even taller. Edward, on the other hand, seemed stuck just short of the age of consent. 

Bella’s fascination for the brooding Edward was played out well enough, with Stewart clearly being simpatico with her intended demographic – the teeny-boppers – without damaging the noir feel of the movie. Lines like “Your moodswings are giving me whiplash,” were reason enough to forgive the endless inanities spilling out of the Asian boy’s pie-hole.

The last three-quarters of the movie moved like a speeding bullet compared to the set-up. Shortly after having to accept the familiar ordinariness of vampire of homelife – “what did you expect? Moats?” – the movie-watcher is confronted with the existence and depradations of a vampire who has whole-heartedly accepted his place at the top of the food chain. And so the chase is on sending Bella and Edward on a curiously time-telescoped run for safety.

Throughout  tho,’ it’s hard to ignore the battered wife syndrome chic that this movie is peddling. I mean, Bella is determined to stay with a guy who constantly has to stop himself from sucking her dead. How screwed up is that? Sure, teenage romances become sweeter when there’s that element of unthinking self-sacrifice, which is precisely why this movie’s appeal is destined to be severely limited to the teen crowd and to those grown-ups who still think like love-struck juveniles. Most mature grown-ups would cringe at the nascent stockholm syndrome being presented here.

On vampires.

underworld3pic1

The vampirology in this movie – and presumably the book – is decidedly light-weight. But then again, I’m coming from Bram Stoker and Anne Rice and White Wolf. One particularly grating thing here is the obvious move towards adding to the vampires v. werewolves trend. I’m not particularly happy with that, being of the school of thought that believes – and this requires  some serious suspension of disbelief – first, that werewolves are solitary creatures and cannot live in packs lest they wipe out the prey; and second, that vampires are more likely to avoid conflict with werewolves lest they betray their existence to the world. 

Having quibbled that quibble, the Underworld franchise, in its coming prequel, presents a nice rationalization for that ‘war.’


Filed under: movies, pop-culture, stories, vacuity, , , ,

Gruesome

She sat in the SUV, her big dark glasses firmly on her face. No one could possibly see through the heavy tint, but she felt eyes on her all the time now. Ever since she found out that she was pregnant.

She looks over at her nanny. Nineteen and she still had a nanny. It was good to be rich in the Philippines. Her nanny stared straight ahead in stony concentration. Through the dark glasses, she seemed darker than usual, but there was no mistaking the competence that radiated from her. Nanny had always taken care of her, and this wasn’t going to be an exception.

The driver pulled into the church’s parking lot. What better place to park on a Sunday afternoon? A quick exchange in Bisaya passed between the driver and the nanny. “Stay here. Keep the engine running. I won’t be long,” nanny said. Her voice clipped and businesslike.

She scooted away from the sunlight that stole into the car when the nanny got out.

When nanny got back, she barely flinched; Her head leaning back into the soft leather headrest, her ears stopped up with the earphones of her iPod, and her immaculately manicured fingers drumming the rhythm softly into her alabaster thighs. The only sign she gave that she was even aware of her nanny’s return was the flicker of a smile that passed over her lips. Still, it might not have been a smile at all.

The SUV pulled away smoothly, away from the church, over the bridge, and back into the perfumed streets where it usually prowled. 

The thing tasted as vile as it looked, as vile as it smelled. But her nanny said it would do the job. More importantly, it would do the job before anything showed; before, her nanny joked, she needed to buy new jeans. 

So she swallowed as much as she could, tears streaming down her face, and fall-out boy blaring in her ear. She chased it down with a glass of cold cold water and wiped her tears away. Taking a deep breath, she put on a big smile and walked softly into the other room where Qiang was on the playstation, waiting for her. He had already taken his shorts off. Shooting zombies always gave him a hard-on and it wasn’t like he could get her pregnant anymore anyway. She knelt between his knees and made him shoot a couple of innocent bystanders.

The house smelled of cats. She crinkled her nose and held onto her nanny’s rough callused hand, letting herself be led deeper and deeper into the squalor. Her nanny pushed her into a room and, after shutting the door behind them, started taking her skirt off.  She didn’t even flinch. Years of being undressed by her nanny had made the act of having her clothes taken off by someone else seem like the most natural thing. Almost by reflex, she lifted one leg and then the other out of the skirt. Her panties followed soon after.

On her back, with her head on her nanny’s lap, she closed her eyes and hummed along to Rhianna. She hardly felt the midwife’s warm oiled hands touching her still flat belly. 

At first the sensation was pleasant enough. Just like a massage. The warmth, the steady pressure induced a sense of euphoria in her. When she heard a moan, it was a jolt to realize that it was her and that she was getting wet. And that was when the pain started.

Her eyes flew open when the midwife leaned into the stroke. It felt as though a knife had been plunged deep into her belly. She opened her mouth to scream but a strong hand clamped down on her face. She screamed into the hand even as she vaguely heard her nanny whispering smoothly, cutting through the dying strains of Rhianna’s singing.

Then she felt fingers insinuating their way into her, spreading the entrance that would soon be an exit. The deep massage continued, each stroke bringing a fresh assault of pain. She felt urine start gushing out of her, collecting in a warm pool under the small of her back. She screamed again and kept on screaming into her nanny’s hand until she passed out.

When she awoke, her nanny has wiping her lower body down with a rough towel soaked in warm water. “It’s over. We can go now,” her nanny said. “Get up.”

She tried. At first her knees buckled, but after a few moments, she was standing on her own. It was a good thing she wore flats, she mused, and chuckled at the absurdity of her thought. And as they made their way out of the house, she realized that the house no longer smelled of cats. Just the acrid odor of blood.

Her phone beeped. It was Qiang. “Suck me.” the message said simply.

Mario saw the tall young Chinese girl leaving the midwife’s house. She was prettier than most, with a strong jaw and high cheekbones that set her apart from the typical round-faced Chinese girls. She was busy reading her cellphone while an older woman – dark and severe looking – made sure she didn’t step into any puddles. Mario thought she was smiling, and for a moment entertained the thought of forwarding a message to her.

Then a movement from the second floor window caught his eye. The midwife had hung a red towel on the window sill. Ah, Mario thought. What a waste. Such a pretty girl too. 

He pushed away from the small sari-sari store and walked towards the midwife’s house. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the young girl turn to look at him. But he was already wondering where he would dump the fetus this time. He was running out of good spots.

Filed under: sex, society, stories,

Eid Mubarak

 

The headman of the village stood with his head bowed in the middle of the road, an island of stillness as his village erupted in chaos. The marines were coming and everyone knew that they would bring retribution with them. 

Children sat crying in the dirt while their mothers and sisters ran around frantically stuffing clothes and instant noodles into plastic bags. Here and there, arguments broke out about what to take; a prized transistor radio, a broken mirror, a box of love-letters. All the while, the rumble of distant engines grew louder and louder.

The dirt road down the middle of the village ran fluid with women and children. The old men stayed in the shade, their eyes staring off into the distance. Soldiers didn’t hurt old men. Just the young ones, and the village’s young men were already dead or dying in the jungles and the rice paddies.

Suddenly, the noise from the engines stopped. The trucks had arrived. For a second, everyone froze in place gripped by the kind of panic that steals voices. Even the children fell silent. 

From the lead truck, a man in fatigues stepped out and looked around. His eyes squinting against the noonday sun. He found the headman right away, and began striding purposefully towards the old man. Behind him, soldiers streamed out of the truck like startled ants. “Sarge!” they shouted.

At the sight of the soldiers, the women screamed and the mad rush to get out of the village resumed. But still, the soldier and his men pressed on. The soldier seemed oblivious to everything going on around him, intent on his quarry, while his men held their rifles close and pointed outwards, their eyes darting this way and that, waiting for ambush. But the ambush never came.

When the Sergeant finally reached the headman, he bowed his head and, over the din of the pounding boots of his men forming a ring around the two of them, said “Abu.”

“Iqbal is dead. I am sorry.”

For the first time, the headman looked up with tears in his eyes. “I should have never let my sons go.”

“I’ve brought the others. I know you will see to it that everything that needs to be done gets done.”

With that, the Sergeant turned around and walked back to the truck, shouting orders as he went. Tailgates clanged as the trucks were opened and the soldiers left behind started gently taking out bodies wrapped in brightly colored blankets.

When the women saw the bodies being carefully laid out on the dirt road, the flow out of the village swirled in on itself, a humann eddy, and slowly they inched their way back towards the trucks. From the crowd of women and the general murmur of anxious muttering, individual voices rose to the surface.

“Kasan?”

“Murad?”

“Boogie?”

By the time all the bodies had been laid down, the exodus had been forgotten and the wailing had started to reach for the heavens. Most found the men they had thought they would never see again. The others beat their chests so loudly it seemed like they would kill themselves. And maybe it would have been better if they had. Dead, they would not have to wonder what happened to their missing husbands and sons.

Leaving the grieving women, the soldiers quietly boarded the trucks again and soon, the signal to roll out of the village came.

The Sergeant sat in the front of the truck with his eyes firmly on the road out of the village. He imagined Iqbal walking the same road, and fought hard to fight down the bile that rose to his throat. The old man was right, he never should have let Iqbal go. Come to that, the Sergeant shrugged, he never should have let me go either. “Then maybe I could have greeted him eid mubarak instead of having to tell him that my brother was dead.”

The soldier driving the truck turned to him in mild surprise. “Sarge?”

“Wala. Bilisan mo. Malamit na dumilim.”

Filed under: stories, , , ,

Mino

Linda

I suppose everyone thought it was a judgment; that Mino developed … his condition. When I walked along our street, people would point and stare. “She’s the one,” would be the least painful thing I would hear but it still felt like someone had thrown a bucket of paint at me so that everyone would know who to avoid.

Mike

I’ve been driving around forever. I should have been home hours ago, but everytime I hit that last intersection, I turn left instead of right. I don’t know what to do. 

Linda

Mino’s crying again. Oh God. What is he crying about? Today started out so well. I even thought I saw a glimmer of recognition in his eyes when I propped up Mr. Berber on the floor across from him. Why isn’t Mike home yet? His phone just keeps ringing and ringing. 

Mike

Linda’s calling again. What the hell does she want me to say? I can’t do this. I can’t do this.

Mike

“Joan?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m five minutes away. Is this a good time?”

“It’s always a good time, baby.”

“Don’t you have prelims tomorrow?”

“I can study at the law office tomorrow.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

Linda

Mino mino mino mino mino. Please stop crying baby. Please. Mommy’s heart is broken already. Please baby. Just go to sleep, baby. Please …

Joan

His heart wasn’t in it. How long is this going to go on? Why doesn’t he just leave his wife? When he comes out of the bathroom, he’s gonna be all dressed and ready to leave. Again. I love you Mike. Can’t you understand that?

Mike

She’s waiting for me to come out. She always pretends to be asleep but she never is. You’re a lucky man, Mike. To have a girl like her. At least she knows that this is as far as it goes with us. I really need to get her something, a watch or something. 

Linda

2 am? I’m not even going to ask him where he’s been. How many late night meetings can a mid-level manager have anyway? He thinks I’m an idiot. Besides, he doesn’t even ask about Mino anymore.

Mike

I want to ask, but if I do, we’ll end up fighting and crying about this til the morning. Its not worth it. 

“Linda. I know you’re awake. I left some papers on the table. If you sign it, we can enroll Mino at this great place for … y’know. For kids like him. They have dormitories and 24 hour nursing support. It’ll be expensive but I think it’ll be worth it.”

“G’night.”

Linda

No. 

 

Linda left Mike the following day, taking two-year old Mino with her. She started a tutorial service in the suburbs that let her spend more time with Mino than she could when she worked for a business in Makati. She’s met someone new. They have dinner with Mino everynight.

Joan left Mike about a week later.  She quit the law firm, working now only for a bachelor of laws degree. Her teachers all feel she has a shot at placing in the Bar, especially considering how she avoids romantic entanglements. They all think it’s about focus. 

Mike eventually went to Dubai to work as an engineer. He blogs about the son he lost.

Mino is now four years old and responding well to therapy and love. He no longer cries at night.


Filed under: stories,

The night before Ramadan

They told us that we were in jihad; that the government of the kafir had sworn on the Holy Book that our ancestors’ lands would be returned to us, but that they were now going back on their promise. And we believed them. Our Caliph had torn his shirt in anger as he was telling us of the betrayal, and we felt in our hearts the same kind of anger. What animals were these, we thought, who would take the Holy Book in vain?

In the dark of night, we left our homes and made our way to the Caliph’s camp. There are many trails through the bush, marked by the most ordinary things so that the kafir could see them and not know what they were. An overturned bottle, a discarded pack of cigarettes, a broken branch. We followed these signs through the night until we arrived at the camp. And there, we were greeted as heroes – before we had even picked up a weapon.

When the sun came up, we were in ranks, our faces covered with our long guns by our sides. Someone said a news crew was coming and that we should stand straight and proud. We were mujaheedin, they said, brothers of those who fought in far away places like Afghanistan. I didn’t even know what they fought about in Afghanistan, but just knowing that others had taken this path before me made me feel proud.

As the news camera filmed, I gripped my rifle firmly and I glared at the reporter. I wanted her to feel my anger and my pride.The woman – with her hair wantonly falling over her eyes, and her face shamelessly exposed – had peered deep into my face. I sensed that she wanted to ask me a question but one of Caliph’s lieutenants gently shoved her away. “No talking to the soldiers,” he said. “Just video.”

Later that day, the announcement came. Tomorrow at sunset, the Caliph had ordered, we would raid an armory of the kafir. We would take their guns and their bullets and their boots. I felt like shouting with joy. Finally, we would be able to strike. It could not have come at a better time. Tomorrow, the day before the start of Ramadan, I will also mark my birthday – hopefully I will also get boots that fit right.

The night could not pass quickly enough for me. I lay awake, listening to the sound of coconuts falling to the ground, praying to Allah to favor me during the raid. Eventually I fell asleep, but my sleep was filled with dreams of gunfire and victory. And then, in the mists of my dream, I heard the sound of an angel laughing. I took it as a good omen – a sign from Allah that we would prevail.

But then the laughter slowly became louder – never louder than a whisper, but loud enough to rouse me from my sleep. I could hear shuffling outside my tent, and the hasty mumbled words of a woman I had mistaken for an angel. “Here? Here?”

And then I heard Iqbal answer. “No no. Not him. He doesn’t even shave yet.” The angel laughed – a soft giggling that landed on my chest like some great weight I couldn’t understand.The laughter died away after awhile, to be replaced by moans I could not mistake for anything else. I turned over on my side and tried to get back to sleep.

Before sunrise, before even the call to salat, I was already on my knees reciting the fajr. I only hoped Iqbal would not forget to pray.

The raid went bad. They were waiting for us! When we first broke cover, we were cut down by machine gun fire. The sound of the bullets thudding into the ground, and into the trees, and into Iqbal as he stood beside me made me wet my pants. The first chance I got, i ran into a mudhole so that my brothers would not see the dark stain and laugh at me and call me a coward. I tried to fire but my hands were shaking so bad for awhile, I could not even find the trigger.

After hours of fighting, we were told retreat. We tried to melt away into the jungle, but the soldiers came after us with their dogs. What shame! We were running from both infidels and unclean beasts! This was not the way of the mujaheedin, my mind screamed. When I could take it no longer, I stopped running and swung my gun around, the barrel blazing.

The first bullet hit me on the shoulder like a punch. A dull ache, followed by a sharp pain as the hot slug burrowed its way deep into the muscle. I didn’t even feel the others after that. It was like I had lost control of my body. The first hit spun me to the right, then I was spun to the left, and my right knee buckled so that I fell on it, my leg twisted behind my back.

I hit the ground with a softness I could not understand, as though I were falling only very slowly and gently. In the distance, i heard the call to the Fajr. For a second, I could not believe that an entire night had passed. Then the sound of soldiers approaching wrenched my mind back to where I lay waiting for the angels to come, just like the imam said they would. Instead I saw only the muddied boots that I thought would be mine by the end of this day. And instead of the tinkling giggling of angels, I only heard the barking of the dogs and the coarse voices of the soldiers.

“Tangina, ilang taon na’to? La pa atang bulbol to e.”

Filed under: stories, , ,

youarenotninoy … still

A writer I respect deeply recently wrote of my previous post:

clearly the information is inadequate, therefore the concluson is flawed.

in fact ninoy was one of those “who stayed and lived their lives in constant danger of death”. he was not one of those who fled, like oppositionists heherson and manglapus and maceda a.k.a. “steak commandoes” in america demonstrating against the dictator and martial law from afar. ninoy did not flee to america, he was offered medical treatment in america when his heart began to fail after 7 years and 7 months in jail. and once he was well, he could think of nothing but the homeland and going home, even if it meant going back to his prison cell.

From the iamninoy website, however, we find this:

Ninoy was moved to the Philippine Heart Center, where he suffered another heart attack. Refusing to be treated at the Center for fear of threats on his life, he requested permission to go to the US for treatment or be brought back to his cell.

His request was granted and Ninoy was allowed to go to the US for surgery, together with his entire family. This was arranged after a secret hospital visit by Imelda Marcos. This “emergency leave” was set when Ninoy supposedly agreed to the First Lady’s 2 conditions: that if he leaves, he will return; and while in America, he should not speak out against the Marcos regime.

Ninoy was operated in Dallas, Texas and made a quick recovery. After which, he decided to renounce the agreement saying, “a pact with the devil is no pact at all”.

Note the internal struggle to deal with this awkward part of the mythos. In the second paragraph, the narrative says that Ninoy ‘supposedly’ agreed to the Marcos’ terms. And yet, in the third paragraph, Ninoy himself repudiates the ‘pact.’ One does not repudiate a pact that does not exist.

Nevertheless, even after deciding that his agreement with Marcos was void,

He, Cory and their children started a new life in Massachusetts. He continued to work on two books and gave a series of lectures while on fellowship grants from Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His travels across the US had become opportunities for him to deliver speeches critical of the Marcos government.

Doesn’t that seem at all similar to what the respected writer wrote of manglapus et all?

… oppositionists heherson and manglapus and maceda a.k.a. “steak commandoes” in america demonstrating against the dictator and martial law from afar.

As for ‘being in constant danger of death,’ it’s well documented that Ninoy had profound respect for Marcos’ intellect, and that respect was returned in equal measure. It was a dance between the two, and both knew that neither would do anything to end the dance prematurely. Ninoy had a death sentence that was not carried out; and even with that, he was allowed to run for Congress. Despite imprisonment, I daresay Ninoy’s death at Marcos’ hands was a remote possibility at best. Not like the daily reality that it was for some people.

Ah. But one could argue he was merely waiting for the right time to return, as opposed to manglapus et al who may have been waiting simply for the marcoses to die off. And so, when did the idea of returning become irresistible to ninoy? Again, from the website:

For the next three years in self-imposed exile, Ninoy’s love for his country and countrymen did not diminish but only grew stronger. By beginning of 1983, he was determined to return especially after having heard of the declining political situation in the Philippines, as well as Marcos’ growing health risk due to lupus.

His original intention in coming home was to talk earnestly to Marcos and convince him to restore democracy through peaceful means. Though realizing that this may be futile, it did not stop him from wanting to return knowing that , “I will never be able to forgive myself if I did not at least try.”

Despite orders not to issue him a passport; threatening airlines that they will be denied landing rights if they fly him in; and threats of imprisonment and even death, Aquino persevered insisting that “If it’s my fate to die by an assassin’s bullet, so be it… the Filipino is worth dying for.”

Other accounts are less conflicted about Ninoy’s motivations, but the kernel of truth is there, despite attempts to gloss it over. Ninoy sensed his political opponent weakening, and knew that his time to return was approaching.

Now, looking at this situation without being overly-awed by Ninoy – and cognizant of the fact that Ninoy remained a consummate politician – it can be easily understood that his decision was a political gamble. If he stayed in the States and Marcos died, he would have no claim to power. But if he went home and lived, he would be the next president almost by default. Getting killed, therefore, was a calculated risk.

In fact, Ninoy spared no effort to tell the Philippines – and the world – that he was on his way home. He was, one could argue (if one were able to argue about this topic dispassionately) that Ninoy was setting up a grand homecoming. He knew that if he talked about it enough, there was a chance that Marcos would not have him killed. After all, what idiot would willingly play the role of murderer so craftily prepared by the victim himself? Unfortunately for Ninoy, the smart man he knew would never walk into his trap wasn’t totally in control. Morons were running the show, and morons tend to ignore even traps festooned with neon lights.

And besides, I never said Ninoy didn’t have a strong sense of destiny.

Next, my previous post was quoted thus:

Ninoy Aquino’s death didn’t free us.

We freed ourselves.

In fact, the EDSA revolution wasn’t even about Ninoy, was it? It was about Enrile and Ramos battling their way out of corners they’d found themselves painted into. It was Cardinal Sin who turned it into a Ninoy Aquino lovefest – and to great effect. The soldiers Enrile and Ramos were smart enough to recognize a tactical advantage and were quick to jump on the bandwagon.

What sets him apart from all his peers – people like Tanada and Salonga – is that his death happened at the right time and under the right circumstances that allowed it to be used by US as the seed of OUR revolution. The idea of him being killed by the dictator gave us the focal point we needed for our simmering discontent to boil over into massive mobilization. Except, of course, if Ninoy hadn’t died, he would have succeeded Marcos (prolly) and his feet would be touching the same base clay as Salonga and Tanada, and the discontent would have escaped into the atmosphere as nothing more than so much vented steam.”

This was followed by the question: “if EDSA were about ramos and enrile, why then did enrile not end up the president?”

What my post actually looked like was:

When he returned and died everyone rallied around him as a SYMBOL. And that’s what made him the hero he is today. As heroes go, he is being packaged as a kind of messianic figure – a secular Jesus almost – whose greatest contribution was that his death moved US to fight for our freedom.

Get that right.

Ninoy Aquino’s death didn’t free us.

We freed ourselves.

What sets him apart from all his peers – people like Tanada and Salonga – is that his death happened at the right time and under the right circumstances that allowed it to be used by US as the seed of OUR revolution. The idea of him being killed by the dictator gave us the focal point we needed for our simmering discontent to boil over into massive mobilization. Except, of course, if Ninoy hadn’t died, he would have succeeded Marcos (prolly) and his feet would be touching the same base clay as Salonga and Tanada, and the discontent would have escaped into the atmosphere as nothing more than so much vented steam.

In fact, the EDSA revolution wasn’t even about Ninoy, was it? It was about Enrile and Ramos battling their way out of corners they’d found themselves painted into. It was Cardinal Sin who turned it into a Ninoy Aquino lovefest – and to great effect. The soldiers Enrile and Ramos were smart enough to recognize a tactical advantage and were quick to jump on the bandwagon.

But when the smoke had cleared, the two soldiers parted ways: Enrile clandestinely sought to continue his coopted coup – making the Cory Administration the most coup-bedeviled regime; while Ramos embraced the new order and ended up President.

Notice how the last paragraph was inadvertently omitted? That last paragraph would have answered the enrile question. Enrile didn’t become president because his revolution was coopted; but his subsequent actions clearly indicated that he didn’t enjoy it. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and all that. When Cory had the people eating out of the palm of her hand, basking in the reflected glory of the Martyr, Enrile knew that it was pointless -possibly even fatal – for him to argue. So he went with the flow. Him and Ramos both. Only Enrile started counter-flowing, while Eddie simply let himself coast with the current. And that’s why Enrile didn’t end up as President.

And as for Ninoy being a humdinger of a President, well, who’s to say?

The Aztecs have a story about twin brothers who were commissioned to create stone calendars for a new temple. The competition was fierce between the brothers as each poured all his craft into the work. On the day of the unveiling, one brother went first. He revealed the Sun Stone, a stone calendar that exists to this day and is still hailed as a high point in Aztec culture.

The other brother’s work – which people called the Moon Stone – however, was lost in the deep lake surrounding Tenochtitlan, the capital city during transport. It was completely covered when i rolled off the causeway and disappeared beneath the waters. No one ever got a chance to see it.

Upon hearing this news, the first brother killed himself, knowing that his work would forever be considered inferior to his brother’s. Nothing tangible, he understood, would ever stand a chance of being better than something that would forever remain in the realm of people’s expectations.

Ninoy, I think, is our Moon Stone.

Filed under: blogging, Filipino, politics, pop-culture, society, stories,

Cinderella

Everyone knows the story of Cinderella; except they know of it as a cotton candy confection where the long-suffering Cinderella perseveres and ultimately forgives the cruelty of her step sisters. In all likelihood, this will be the Cinderella that Lea Salonga will be portraying – and which I’m going to watch!!!

But there is a version of Cinderella that reflect a less high-minded morality.

Ashputtel (A rather grim tale from the Brothers Grimm)

The wife of a rich man fell sick; and when she felt she was about to die, she called her only daughter to her bed-side, and said, ‘Always be a good girl, and I will look down from heaven and watch over you.’ Soon afterwards she shut her eyes and croaked.  She was buried in the garden and the little girl went every day to her grave and wept, and was always good and kind to everyone. Winter came, and soon spring. By the time the season had turned, the girl’s father had married another wife. This new wife had two daughters of her own, that she brought home with her; they were fair in face but foul at heart, and it was now a sorry time for the poor little girl. ‘What does the good-for-nothing want in the parlour?’ the step-bitches would say; ‘they who would eat bread should first earn it; away with the kitchen-maid!’ Then they took away her fine clothes, and gave her an old grey frock to put on, and laughed at her, and turned her into the kitchen.

There she was forced to do hard work; to rise early before daylight, to bring the water, to make the fire, to cook and to wash. Besides that, the sisters plagued her in all sorts of ways, and laughed at her. In the evening when she was tired, she had no bed to lie down on, but was made to lie by the hearth among the ashes; and as this, of course, made her always dusty and dirty, they called her Ashputtel (Cinderella, if you remember, was given that name because she was always poking around the cinders in the fireplace).

Now it happened once that the father was going to the fair, and asked his wife’s daughters what he should bring them. ‘Fine clothes,’ said the first; ‘Pearls and diamonds,’ cried the second. ‘Now, child,’ said he to his own daughter, ‘what will you have?’ ‘The first twig, dear father, that brushes against your hat when you turn your face to come homewards,’ Ashputtel said. One can almost imagine the two step-bitches rolling their eyeballs.

Then he bought for the first two the fine clothes and pearls and diamonds they had asked for: and on his way home, as he rode through a green copse, a hazel twig brushed against him, and almost pushed off his hat: so he broke it off and brought it away; and when he got home he gave it to his daughter. Then she took it, and went to her mother’s grave and planted it there; and cried so much that it was watered with her tears; and there it grew and became a fine tree. Three times every day she went to it and cried; and soon a little bird came and built its nest upon the tree, and talked with her, and watched over her, and brought her whatever she wished for.

Now it happened that the king of that land held a feast, which was to last three days; and out of those who came to it his son was to choose a bride for himself.  So basically, it was kind of like a meat market. Ashputtel’s two sisters were asked to come; so they called her and said, ‘Now, comb our hair, brush our shoes, and tie our sashes for us, for we are going to dance at the king’s feast.’ Ash did as she was told; but when all was done she could not help crying, for she thought to herself, she should so have liked to have gone with them to the ball; and at last she begged her step-mother very hard to let her go. ‘You, Ashputtel!’ said she; ‘you who have nothing to wear, no clothes at all, and who cannot even dance–you want to go to the ball? And when she kept on begging, she said at last, to get rid of her, ‘I will throw this dishful of peas into the ash-heap, and if in two hours’ time you have picked them all out, you shall go to the feast too.’

Then she threw the peas down among the ashes, but the little maiden ran out at the back door into the garden, and cried out:

‘Hither, hither, through the sky,
Turtle-doves and linnets, fly!
Blackbird, thrush, and chaffinch gay,
Hither, hither, haste away!
One and all come help me, quick!
Haste ye, haste ye!–pick, pick, pick!’

Then first came two white doves, flying in at the kitchen window; next came two turtle-doves; and after them came all the little birds under heaven, chirping and fluttering in: and they flew down into the ashes. And the little doves stooped their heads down and set to work, pick, pick, pick; and then the others began to pick, pick, pick: and among them all they soon picked out all the good grain, and put it into a dish but left the ashes. Long before the end of the hour the work was quite done, and all flew out again at the windows. If you ask me the amazing thing is that the birds didn’t just gobble up the peas. But hey, that’s why it’s a fairy tale.

Then Ashputtel brought the dish to her mother, overjoyed at the thought that now she should go to the ball. But the mother said, ‘No, no! you slut, you have no clothes, and cannot dance; you shall not go.’ And when Ashputtel begged very hard to go, she said, ‘If you can in one hour’s time pick two of those dishes of peas out of the ashes, you shall go too.’ And thus she thought she should at least get rid of her. So she shook two dishes of peas into the ashes.

But the little maiden went out into the garden at the back of the house, and cried out as before:

‘Hither, hither, through the sky,
Turtle-doves and linnets, fly!
Blackbird, thrush, and chaffinch gay,
Hither, hither, haste away!
One and all come help me, quick!
Haste ye, haste ye!–pick, pick, pick!’

Then first came two white doves in at the kitchen window; next came two turtle-doves; and after them came all the little birds under heaven, chirping and hopping about. And they flew down into the ashes; and the little doves put their heads down and set to work, pick, pick, pick; and then the others began pick, pick, pick; and they put all the good grain into the dishes, and left all the ashes. Before half an hour’s time all was done, and out they flew again. And then Ashputtel took the dishes to her mother, rejoicing to think that she should now go to the ball.

But her mother said, ‘It is all of no use, you cannot go, you cunt; you have no clothes, and cannot dance, and you would only put us to shame’: and off she went with her two daughters to the ball.
Now when all were gone, and nobody left at home, Ashputtel went sorrowfully and sat down under the hazel-tree, and cried out:

‘Shake, shake, hazel-tree,
Gold and silver over me!’

Then her friend the bird flew out of the tree, and brought a gold and silver dress for her, and slippers of spangled silk; and she put them on, and followed her sisters to the feast. But they did not know her, and thought it must be some strange princess, she looked so fine and beautiful in her rich clothes; and they never once thought of Ashputtel, taking it for granted that she was safe at home in the dirt.

The king’s son soon came up to her, and took her by the hand and danced with her, and no one else: and he never left her hand; but when anyone else came to ask her to dance, he said, ‘This lady is dancing with me.’

Thus they danced till a late hour of the night; and then she wanted to go home: and the king’s son said, ‘I shall go and take care of you to your home’; for he wanted to see where the beautiful maiden lived. But she slipped away from him, unawares, and ran off towards home; and as the prince followed her, she jumped up into the pigeon-house and shut the door. Then, being quite possibly as dim as he was handsome, the prince waited till her father came home, and told him that the unknown maiden, who had been at the feast, had hid herself in the pigeon-house.

But when they had broken open the door they found no one within; and as they came back into the house, Ashputtel was lying, as she always did, in her dirty frock by the ashes, and her dim little lamp was burning in the chimney. For she had run as quickly as she could through the pigeon-house and on to the hazel-tree, and had there taken off her beautiful clothes, and put them beneath the tree, that the bird might carry them away, and had lain down again amid the ashes in her little grey frock.

The next day when the feast was again held, and her father, mother, and sisters were gone, Ashputtel went to the hazel-tree, and said:

‘Shake, shake, hazel-tree,
Gold and silver over me!’

And the bird came and brought a still finer dress than the one she had worn the day before. And when she came in it to the ball, everyone wondered at her beauty: but the king’s son, who was waiting for her, took her by the hand, and danced with her; and when anyone asked her to dance, he said as before, ‘This lady is dancing with me.’

When night came she wanted to go home; and the king’s son followed here as before, that he might see into what house she went: but she sprang away from him all at once into the garden behind her father’s house. In this garden stood a fine large pear-tree full of ripe fruit; and Ashputtel, not knowing where to hide herself, jumped up into it without being seen. Then the king’s son lost sight of her, and could not find out where she was gone, but waited till her father came home, and said to him, ‘The unknown lady who danced with me has slipped away, and I think she must have sprung into the pear-tree.’ The father thought to himself, ‘Can it be Ashputtel?’ So, instead of just getting a friggin’ ladder, he had an axe brought; and they cut down the tree, but found no one upon it. Way to kill a good tree.

And when they came back into the kitchen, there lay Ashputtel among the ashes; for she had slipped down on the other side of the tree, and carried her beautiful clothes back to the bird at the hazel-tree, and then put on her little grey frock.

The third day, when her father and mother and sisters were gone, she went again into the garden, and said:

‘Shake, shake, hazel-tree,
Gold and silver over me!’

Then her kind friend the bird brought a dress still finer than the former one, and slippers which were all of gold: so that when she came to the feast no one knew what to say, for wonder at her beauty: and the king’s son danced with nobody but her; and when anyone else asked her to dance, he said, ‘This lady is my partner, sir.’

When night came she wanted to go home; and the king’s son would go with her, and said to himself, ‘I will not lose her this time’; but, however, she again slipped away from him, though in such a hurry that she dropped her left golden slipper upon the stairs.

The prince took the shoe, and went the next day to the king his father, and said, ‘I will take for my wife the lady that this golden slipper fits.’ Then both the sisters were overjoyed to hear it; for they had beautiful feet, and had no doubt that they could wear the golden slipper. The eldest went first into the room where the slipper was, and wanted to try it on, and the mother stood by. But her great toe could not go into it, and the shoe was altogether much too small for her. Then the mother gave her a knife, and said, ‘Never mind, cut it off; when you are queen you will not care about toes; you will not want to walk.’ So the silly girl cut off her great toe, and thus squeezed on the shoe, and went to the king’s son. Then he took her for his bride, and set her beside him on his horse, and rode away with her homewards.

But on their way home they had to pass by the hazel-tree that Ashputtel had planted; and on the branch sat a little dove singing:

‘Back again! back again! look to the shoe!
The shoe is too small, and not made for you!
Prince! prince! look again for thy bride,
For she’s not the true one that sits by thy side.’

Then the prince got down and looked at her foot; and he saw, by the blood that streamed from it, what a trick she had played him. So he turned his horse round, and brought the false bride back to her home, and said, ‘This is not the right bride; let the other sister try and put on the slipper.’ Then she went into the room and got her foot into the shoe, all but the heel, which was too large. But her mother squeezed it in till the blood came, and took her to the king’s son: and he set her as his bride by his side on his horse, and rode away with her.

But when they came to the hazel-tree the little dove sat there still, and sang:

‘Back again! back again! look to the shoe!
The shoe is too small, and not made for you!
Prince! prince! look again for thy bride,
For she’s not the true one that sits by thy side.’

Then he looked down, and saw that the blood streamed so much from the shoe, that her white stockings were quite red. So he turned his horse and brought her also back again. ‘This is not the true bride,’ said he to the father; ‘have you no other daughters?’ ‘No,’ said he; ‘there is only a little dirty Ashputtel here, the child of my first wife; I am sure she cannot be the bride.’ The prince told him to send her. But the mother said, ‘No, no, she is much too dirty; she will not dare to show herself.’ However, the prince would have her come; and she first washed her face and hands, and then went in and curtsied to him, and he reached her the golden slipper. Then she took her clumsy shoe off her left foot, and put on the golden slipper; and it fitted her as if it had been made for her. And when he drew near and looked at her face he knew her, and said, ‘This is the right bride.’ But the mother and both the sisters were frightened, and turned pale with anger as he took Ashputtel on his horse, and rode away with her.

The doves then came flying for the deceitful sisters and began tormenting them. They ran this way and that, trying to avoid the beaks that were pecking out their eyes. When the sisters were blind, they wandered the kingdom as beggars ever after.

When Ashputtel and the Prince came to the hazel-tree, the white dove sang:

‘Home! home! look at the shoe!
Princess! the shoe was made for you!
Prince! prince! take home thy bride,
For she is the true one that sits by thy side!’

And when the dove had done its song, it came flying, and perched upon her right shoulder, and so went home with her, it’s snow-white feathers speckled with the blood of Ashputtel’s step-sisters.

Now isn’t that a better tale?

Filed under: pop-culture, stories, ,

Solomon

In a previous post, I commented:

Kinda reminds me of Solomon and the baby. What we, as kids, have been taught was a demonstration of wisdom, was actually nothing short of a declaration of willingness to wage war.

Think of it: Baby = Israel; the weeping mother = the true successor of David; the brazen mother = Solomon, the usurper.

The message was simple: Solomon (the brazen mother) was willing to split Israel (the baby) in two in a bloody civil war, unless the rightful heir (the weeping mother) gave up his claim to the throne.

It was so simple and brutal that when that story spread, the bible says, all of Israel trembled in fear.

Jeg wrote in response:

That’s the first time Ive every heard of that interpretation of the Solomon judgement, rom. Where’d you get that? Wherever it is, I have to say, ‘Way to read too much into a little story there.’

BTW, the word translated in the KJV as ‘fear’ can also mean ‘revere’ or ‘hold in awe’. The modern translations such as the ESV states, “And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice.” Makes more sense since the Israeli common folk wouldnt have thought, ‘Holy crap! ‘Tis a threat of war disguised as a wise judgment! Let us therefore be afraid!’. More likely they just went, ‘Wow.’

Way to read too much, eh? LOL. You mean, kinda like how every little thing is a manifestation of presidential malfeasance? Hahaha.

Seriously, though, this interpretation of the judgment of Solomon is really a product of Biblical Criticism – a school of biblical scholarship that holds the bible to be the product of human writers who had human motivations and were influenced by the circumstances – including the politics – of their times.

Putting the story of Solomon into it’s proper context therefore …

Solomon wasn’t David’s rightful heir. That distinction belonged to Adonijah, who was next in line of succession after the deaths of his elder brothers Amnon and Absalom (the one with gorgeous hair). Now when Adonijah heard that certain courtiers were conspiring to have David (who by then was old and sick) get a girl named Abishag preggo, Adonijah moved to be declared King. Bathsheba (the soldier’s wife that David seduced) quickly acted together with the prophet Nathan to have David order that Solomon be crowned King.

Adonijah grabbed the horns of the altar and begged Solomon to spare him. And spared he was, until later, when he asked to marry Abishag. Solomon flipped. He accused of Adonijah of continuing to plot against his crown basically by taking over where David had left off with Abishag (hehe. symbols matter), and so had Adonijah put to death. There followed a series of executions as Solomon tried to consolidate his kingship.

But then, he went and married an Egyptian princess and – going off-Bible now – once again stirred up nationalist feelings. That brought with it a renewed threat of revolt, and prompted Solomon to circulate the story of two prostitutes and a baby, causing fear and trembling throughout his kingdom.

Now Jeg makes much of alternative translations of the word used for ‘fear.’ Well, yeah, lots of words can be translated in lots of ways that effectively obfuscate the original connotation of the word being translated. And I think, this is one of those cases.

The Bible, throughout history, has pretty much been a product of its times – and Biblical criticism teaches that translators are not immune from the influence of an agenda. Now, I’m not saying that the substitution of ‘awe’ for ‘fear’ (as Jeg pointed out) was an error; all I’m saying is that the later adoption of ‘awe’ does not render the earlier use of the word ‘fear’ erroneous.

As for people being awed making more sense than people trembling at the clear threat of civil war, I suppose that’s a matter of opinion. However, considering the incendiary atmosphere – with the memory of blatant political murders still fresh in people’s minds – I find it hard to believe that everyone would simply swallow the fairytale lock, stock, and barrel. The ordinary folk, maybe. But then, as now, they had literati, scholars, and political thinkers (prolly the generals) who surely would not have missed Solomon’s warning.

Oh and, don’t get me wrong. In the sense that he was able to ‘pacify’ Israel without once again taking up arms, Solomon did in fact show great wisdom. I accept that part of the fairy-tale; it’s just that I think there’s a deeper significance than shows on the surface of things.

Filed under: musings, politics, stories, , , ,

First Contact

It was in 2015 when I first heard extra-terrestrials. I was fiddling around with the Morgan Foundation’s radio telescope at around 10:30 am, just before I was supposed to clock out after yet another night of fruitless listening. At first I thought it was just background noise. Then, I thought I was just feeling the effects of sleep deprivation. When the hiss got stronger, when the pattern emerging out of the white noise became too obvious, that was when I hit the button.

The panic button, we called it, even though it wasn’t even a button and it wasn’t panic that was supposed to trigger it. When I flipped that toggle, three things happened all at once. The computers locked on to whatever frequency I was listening to at that time and began recording everything; a text message was sent on a private network to Mr. Willard Morgan’s cellphone; and telemetry was activated in the main House where Mr. Morgan could monitor the frequency.

At that time, I didn’t know that a fourth thing happened when I flipped the panic button. A packet of information was fired off to the MorComm satellite. The packet contained instructions for the satellite to fry all other satellites by sending out an electromagnetic pulse. The MorComm sat itself would jettison a virgin satellite that would commence operation almost instantaneously after the emp went off. Mr. Morgan’s exclusivity guarantee. It was a good thing I didn’t know that, or I would have not hit the button fearing a false alarm.

But as things turned out, it wasn’t a false alarm.

Three days later, while the world media still bleated about mysteriously downed satellites, the Morgan Foundation had scrambled it’s steroid-pumped version of the Hubble and within a few hours, we were getting clear pictures of the source of the signal. An asteroid that would, in six weeks, pass about 2 lunar distances from the earth.

Five weeks later, the rest of the world found out about the signal through the tabs. Everyone ignored the blaring headlines, just like they ignored the stories about the image of Elvis being found on a granola bar. The US government didn’t ignore the story exactly, but it wasn’t in any position to do anything about it, so it kept quiet. The Morgan Foundation, however, had launched a piggy-backer aimed at the incoming asteroid.

When the piggy backer hit the asteroid a week later, we realized it wasn’t a rock at all but a derelict.

Over the next few months, as the derelict receded into the distance the piggy-back sent back tons of information. We learned that the signal I had found was scatter from course correction instructions sent to the derelict to prevent it from slamming into the moon. It was an automated instruction and it scared the shit out of everyone at Morgan. Everyone, that is, except Morgan himself.

He called it first contact and finally told the United Nations about it. His speech before the General Assembly was something to behold.

First, he told the story of how I had discovered the signal. Then he apologized for the emp, calling it an act of necessary vandalism and offering to pay for all costs. And before the leaders of the world had time to harrumph, he hit them square between the eyes with the powerpoint presentation of the millenium. Al Gore must have wept with envy.

He gave free and full access to Morgan databases to all governments, inviting them to verify our results. For awhile after that, outrage caught up with the rest of the world and sanctions were heaped on the Morgan Foundation. But when the results were eventually verified, the sanctions were quietly lifted. No one could forget Morgan’s closing statement at the General Assembly: “We have found them. It is only a matter of time before they find us.”

Three months after that revelation, the General Assembly convened again, and in an unprecedented move, several regional groups – including the European Union and the Association of South East Asian Countries – coalesced to form the Eurasian Union. The US was invited, but Washington declined. It had its own plans.

Fearing further reprisals, the Morgan Foundation pulled out all its interests in the continental US and relocated to the Hague. The EAU was ecstatic. The US condemned Morgan and, while still wondering how it had been so neatly outmaneuvered, stripped him of his citizenship.

The realignment of the global power structure gave rise to a new space race. 15 years later, the EAU launched its first space station: Jericho. Six months later, the US space station was commissioned. It was named the Rubicon. And everyone settled down for the long wait.

– The Long Wait: The Memoirs of Jonah Erskine

Filed under: Rong-Nu, science, space, stories, , , , ,