In a universe, in a galaxy, in a solar-system, on a planet, there lived the Mindless Masses. It wasn’t a planet of wonderment or exuberance. Neither was it a planet of geniality nor nature. It was a planet of vastness and tenebrosity; a planet of order however, only by appearance, for the Masses equipped minds that did not think and this (to Nature) meant a horrific tumult.
Truly, this lonely, gloomy planet teems with many things. Yet, untruly, for the many things are merely artificial, man-made creations. And the planet teems of people whom stride step after step after step, infinitely into in the infinity of their planet. Crowding the streets, countless bodies blind one’s view of the synthetic ground. “Countless” because they dressed their skin and clothes identically and so, infinite they seemed. And because this planet possesses fantastic paradoxes as so previously mentioned, the streets and factories, though brimming with breathing people, were empty. Inside the vacated, aloof minds of the masses, echoes echoed in the emptiness, lending them their name, the Mindless Masses (as utilized by Lounging Men).
For why they headed?—it did not matter. To where they headed and for when they arrived was the only matter of concern for the masses, for time ticked tock after tick after tock, infinitely into the infinity of their planet’s time. It was of complete necessity to step into one’s assigned area precisely, promptly, and on the point of the designated time of arrival. On this planet, as well as the hundreds of other rocks and stars the Lounging Men dominated, a tardy resulted in immediate extermination.
A bell and the flash of a light stimulated the masses and they moved instantaneously to the next factory job, flooding the barren streets like a tidal wave; but this tidal wave was absent of disproportional splashes as each mindless being traversed at the same speed, on the same line they had the day before and before that. Though the wave held order, it persisted its metaphorical association to a wave by maintaining its quality of a rampant commotion of chaos as vociferous voices clamored about them; voices of facts and figures and numbers:
“Workers 4630-5270 2 point 6 for every 300 and 31! 5 marks taken! Cur-calc—93! . . .
Alert . . . Alert . . . Alert—E.E.F. production rates 47 over 50! 4 percent decline across 5 24 hours! Repercussion: Lower sectors’ consumption reduced. Below 100 marks—extermination!”
Belched from where? No one knew and no one pondered on where it might come from or why it happened so constantly, belligerently. Such divergent—and quite lovely—thoughts did not exist. The word why was never spoken as it held as a word nonexistent among the Mindless Masses. Consequently, there were very few words in a Mindless’ dictionary, for Lounging Men condensed the millions of words into simpler phrases—another mechanism for maintaining the Masses’ mindless state of being.
And after a moment of mindless, pointless but on point rushing upon slated streets without cracks or imperfections, abrupt silence came again with the crashing of the wave into gray, rectangular buildings.
The wave and noises never left a trace of their existence behind with their entrance into the factories. The streets that stretched endlessly (at least it only seemed endlessly, for one could never distinguish a starting or ending point as each building was fashioned exactly the same) across the bleak planet were clean and empty of any of the smallest of particles due to the Vacuum’s efforts. The Vacuum, invented by the Lounging Men, built as miniscule holes in the ground, absorbed all disparate molecules (Lounging Men desired the most efficient means of production). Vacuums not only ingurgitated and sanitized streets but also the minds of the Masses. A Vacuum, such as a screen placed at the eyes of a worker for many ticks and tocks, displayed infinite amounts of information and in turn, soaked in their every thought. As a viewer’s eyes ingested massive quantifications of red, green, and blue, the screen’s eyes burned like heaps of flames. They stabbed through the viewer’s eyes, penetrating the mind, delving deep within like a leech upon young and succulent flesh.
“Clean your brain today!” a Lounging Man shouted with a terrifying grin. Loungers shot up from their nap, excitement stirred throughout the room; some, so enthralled, rolled out of their sunken chairs and plunged to the shaggy-red carpet ending their descent with a thunderous boom that one may have thought to belong to a nuclear bomb. In fact, upon the disturbing explosion, Lounging Men on a floor below skeptically studied their televisions expecting an evacuation warning. With vicious smiles, they began drooling thick drops of malignancy over the thought of destruction and blood taken upon hopeless Mindless Masses. But to their displeasure, the talk-show continued its monotonous blathering of notifications and numbers.
For approximately two long hours the Loungers collided with each other’s heads and brainstormed a new advertisement for a screen-Vacuum. Such time spent on work for a Lounger was unheard of and they had become restless and at the point of surrendering until Ritz (the name of every Lounging Man as it is a shorter name that maintains their distinguishing characteristics) exclaimed a wonderful idea—“Clean your brain today!”
“Great! Now we can leave this god-forsaken place!” one Ritz who bombed the floor said, extending his flabby arms to the nearest machine. The machine he reached for recognized his half-bent arms that pleaded for help and glided swiftly over—on its path, carpet fibers shivered beneath its chilling hover.
Though they moved quickly, shoving notepads and calculators in their briefcases, nodding to one another; happy to be finally on their way to a lounge chair in their quaint living rooms in time for an opulent meal to gorge their lives on, before the eager Lounging Men could pack, the cold metal door slid commandingly open and Argos treaded in and on the parade. His presence halted the shuffling and rustling immediately and the room piercingly silenced. A wave of alcohol, cigarettes, and sweaty men poked at Argos’ nose and he cringed. Frowning at the greasy obese men frozen and staring back at him, Argos—stingy with his use of words—motioned them to return to their deflated, soggy seats.
He steadily lifted a smooth finger—a finger without protrusions of hair or cuts; one with a nail micro-sliced to the most perfect curve—and waved it around dissecting the situation while their hearts seized and gazed in anticipation. His finger appeared perfect but peeling back the surface one would find a disgustingly weathered, wrinkled finger sporting brown, moribund skin much like the rest of his ancient body. Argos, second man to the Anax, meticulously manufactured his looks with artificial skin. He and the mirror held resemblance to the story of Sisyphus with the only difference clenched in that he himself imposed the endless punishment—also, over time, the tale advanced into unknown, for historical texts screamingly burned along with what else Life stifled production and empirical goals. In every world, even of the worlds of the enemy, there existed two continuations of a being, for as ancient Philosophers preach, there exists appearances and there exists realities. But Argos refused to accept or to the least, admit this truth and in turn, executed Philosophers found to be preaching such blasphemy.
Bot-Bot, Argos’ personal machine, held the information that prompted this surprise visit. Argos’ bot often spoke for him to preserve what precious energy his jaw-muscles and vocal cords stored (after all, he had an entire planet to manage, long-winded press-conferences to attend and appeal to the Planetary United). Most Lounging Men own a bot as well, for it is common and quite necessary knowledge that one uses approximately 104 muscles and spends 183 joules of energy per hour when speaking.
Though a highly advanced planet, Lounging Men lacked what primitive people across the galaxy embraced about Life. However, their holds no reason to despise such men; rather, there holds more reason to pity such men, for on their artificial planet, covered in compounds and alloys, there lay no fissure or cavity for Life to dwell in; even if Nature’s voice croaked beneath the frigid depths of these men’s constructions it would be a dying whisper merely skimming a Lounging Man’s ear; but unfortunately, one cannot pity most Lounging Men, for most would flick the tickle, the true meaning of Life off their ear and persist to thinking on size, facts, and figures, and alterations to the ‘chaotic’ Nature.
In a glacial tone, the monochrome chromed apparatus relayed the stunning facts and figures that repeated throughout Argos’ mind: “E.E.F. production against consumption rates 47 over 50. 4 percent decline across 5 24 hours. E.E.F. storage approaching historical lows. Approximated predictions of profit across next 7 24 hours: negative 3 papers.”
Argos glared expectantly at the pitiless, intelligent yet naïve men. Why Argos, to think them naïve? He held just as much ignorance about true Life as these sweat-saturated, pruned men. He was second to the Anax! He was more important! The authority!
The Lounging Men nodded at the chrome machine after its lights quit flashing and its fan stopped humming then, paralleled Argos’ expectant look. They were aware of these figures—had Argos forgotten who relays such information to the Mindless Masses when they storm the streets? He forgets everything we cleverly invent, one Ritz thought but sheltered his mouth with the fear of letting it slip and bounce around the silent room.
Raising eyebrows, rolling eyes, twiddling thumbs- their nonchalance about the situation Argos clearly recognized and this frustrated him deeply. Some, but only a few Ritz whom not yet lived merely a decade of lounging life, shifted worriedly in attempts to halt their vibrating, nervous bodies. His face permanently frowned, so most continued to think nothing of it, settled upon what repercussions they had previously decided with confidence. He was to explain to them that he expected a better solution?!, Argos thought. He grimaced knowing face muscles must be utilized, joules must be spent in order to insure the bot’s predictions would not occur. Though he frowned only a few moments before, he quickly smiled a greedy, menacing smile upon thinking of his plan.
Bot-Bot responded with the display of a hologram of a planet and Argos delightfully weaved his hands together. In confusion, the Lounging Men questioned why the desert planet, Kukna, floated in the middle of the room.
“Somehow, someway, EIons still inhabit the despicable, dreadful planet of the worthless Hunters. First, I plan to execute the men in charge and the battalion sent to Kukna years ago for what was thought the ‘Final Voyage.’ They failed at their assignment. They failed to exterminate all EIons. I plan to execute them shortly,” Argos said in a blunt, commanding, stubborn tone.
“And, in fact . . .” he aimed a perfect finger at the Ritz who had begun shaking his head upon the hologram’s entrance. Several masked men, full suited in white, stormed the room. Marching boots pounded and left deep imprints in the carpet as they approached the petrified Lounger. The carpet fibers, compressed and smothered, seethed and screamed beneath and the Lounger violently mimicked. When the white gloves, pulsing blue electrodes, gripped Ritz’ fat, grotesque arms, his yelping immediately silenced; his body, piercingly electrocuted, slouched. Other Loungers and Argos enjoyed the show and felt enlightened all the more when the execution team dragged the limp body from the room and there only remained the smell of brunt skin.
Argos cleared his throat. “Secondly, though my commands of execution require no justification, I must say, upon hearing of the E.E.F. decline I ordered an examination, a status update on the planet of Kukna.”
“It remains . . .,” laughing heartedly, “a pitiful planet of nothing but dust particles.” After a long pause to catch his breath and restore a straight face, Argos continued: “Yet at closer examination, there was a surprising discovery—a group of Hunters. How, I may ask, could they have surpassed our predictions of their extinction?
Only with energy. And energy only derived from EIons. Two of these Hunters our bots followed and captured images of their everlasting, monotonous hunt. The Runners successfully captured an EIon three times the size as normal.”
Now attentive to the second man to the Anax, the Loungers began to understand the plan that beautifully unraveled before them.
“It is obvious what must be issued. An invasion once again. A thorough confiscation of the remaining EIons. The Planetary United would be pleased to finally lay asphalt across the desert and begin production. A unit will be sent within the next 24 hours. You may be delighted to hear we will take opportunity to keep alive the two Hunters, for they’ll make fine specimen, efficient Mindless Men to work in our factories.”
And with that, Argos stepped out as quickly as he arrived. Kukna still remained poised in the middle of the room, buzzing and flickering. Within the next 24 hours, masked men, suited white, handling blue electrode weapons and fiery dispositions, would depart their planet of darkness, their planet of artificial matter, their planet without Life or Nature, and encroach the desert planet that somehow, still withheld Life. Within 24 hours, the white monsters would leave New Earth and descend upon Kukna.
(image by Derek Bermingham)
My poetry blog: Poetry Divided