I Want to Free Your Mind

When I was a kid the idea that the human race had evolved was still taught as a possibility. Folks were sometimes afraid to admit that they believed it because they understood it’s significance. It is the antidote to God, at least, that’s what people hoped, even if secretly. I was educated in a system that still taught the history of science and it’s milestones as they were passed. I was shown the evolution of thought as humanity began to be bolder and bolder about what they were ready to assert.

That is long gone now. Kids are taught that the evolutionary origin of humanity is real and that anyone who has a different opinion is either stupid or Christian, and therefore an idiot. Not only that but science has a slam dunk on earth being an insignificant speck orbiting an insignificant speck drifting through a vast cosmos.

What is tragic is that people are not taught that believing science is a choice, the equivalent to an act of faith, but it is. Millions upon millions of young people have been deceived into thinking that is just is. Science includes both truth and error. Truth gives us the iPhone, error sends you to hell because you believed the lies of science and rejected Jesus Christ. Evolution, for example, is really two things bundled together as one. On one hand, it is a well documented process of change over time. On the other hand it is revered as the origin of humanity. Truth and error, as there is in so many things.

Science is a prison for your mind. From within the prison freedom looks just as stupid as the Christian trying to help you.

The origin of the human race by evolution is impossible folks, simple as that. But if I give you the key to your prison, what will you do?

You know I love Science Fiction and the cultural icons that we all know. The comparison to “The Matrix,” is just about unavoidable here. Take the blue pill and stay in your prison, believe science and go to hell when your body dies. How does that sound?

Or, take the red pill and you can be free, understand the greatness of our God, trust in Jesus Christ, repent of your sin and have everlasting life.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1)

Save

Save

Save

Advertisements

Weaving the Cultural Fabric of Our Time

I’m years behind the curve of understanding the impact that self publishing has had in the publishing business.  I’m last one off the blocks in learning the ins and outs of social media.  When it comes to technology and consumer electronics I like mine 5+ years old.  I’m not in a rush here folks, so why do I feel so much pressure?

Pinning one’s hopes on becoming the next Jeffery Archer or Stephen King has probably slimmer odds than winning the lottery.  Self publishing an ebook on Amazon means that the work in question has to be finished and polished.  Such dilemmas.  Looking at the offerings for advice on preparing a manuscript runs the gamut from: ask a friend who is an English teacher to read it, to: hire a team of editors, illustrators, marketers and publicists.

What if I choose none of the above?  From my vantage point every strategy I have seen to date has really just one goal: selling books.  Which is another way of saying: making money.  What if I were to take that out of the equation?  If making money has no bearing at all on my motivation, then why am I motivated?

With the ultra-connected internet of everything breathing down our necks let’s take a moment to think about cultural longevity.  When kids were asked which would they prefer, a long-lasting stable career or to produce a viral video?  Most of them chose the viral video.  It would be pretty neat wouldn’t it?  to have 1 billion views of a video of me tipping over a barbed wire fence and having my pants ripped off.  Hilarious.  Painful, but hey, it got 1 billion views.

The quest to go viral has become viral.

Given this backdrop, of multiple multimedia platforms able to reach about 1.6 billion people around the world, let’s think about this: would it be possible to have our ideas, characters and story, woven into the cultural fabric of our time?  It is theoretically possible to have the entire collective consciousness of internet users be familiar with our product.  It should even be possible to do this without either spending or making any money.

If it is possible to do this it would represent a breakage of the link between wealth and influence.  Traditionally wealth would be necessary to have influence, and a great example of this is the Donald Trump Presidential campaign.  Love him or hate him, the power he has to attract media coverage is because of the influence of his wealth.

Poor people have had great influence, to be sure.  Jesus Christ for example.  He feeds a deep spiritual need and give hopes to millions of people.  Could that avenue be tapped?  Could we find the spiritual truth that people today don’t even know that they need, and use it to become universally known?  Would it be wrong?

These are interesting times to be sure.  let’s not miss something blindingly obvious because we are trying to make money.

So we come back to the thing that has been bothering me. Jesus Christ gave to the church a great commission,

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the World. (Matthew 28:19,20)

Given the power of social media to reach out to people all around the world, it would seem that there is a moral imperative to use it to reach as many people as possible. Let’s face it, all this technology and the power of the internet surely has more value than to simply promote pornography, right? Plus, if our endeavor is within the will of God then His divine power and influence will be brought to bear. Imagine that, we can do like an experiment, a testable hypothesis indeed:

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:7)

Consider this my way of telling the world that I am beginning an evangelistic mission, preaching salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. On the internet, for free.

Save

Who Wants to Attack Hell With Me?

I have a question for you. Specifically for any Christians out there: Who wants to attack hell with me? We have a responsibility to do this you know.

The Gates of Hell

Nobody believes in hell any more, right? So how is it that Jesus spoke of it frequently, and left us this intriguing passage:

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:17,18)

Where is the gate?

A gate is usually stationary. It’s the weak point in an otherwise solid barrier that is part of the defense of a location or place. Gates don’t move or go on the attack. On the contrary, if the gates of hell are not prevailing, then they must be under attack. So who is attacking the gates of hell, against which they will not prevail? The context of the passage tells us that it is the church. How many churches are attacking the gates of hell today, and what does it even mean?

Is the Gate of Hell a place?

There is some scriptural support for the idea that the Gate of Hell is a place. We’ll take it as a given that hell is at the center of the earth, indeed, we have seen in another post that Global Warming is the result of the expansion of hell.

Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth? Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death? Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all. (Job 38:16-18)

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (Revelation 1:17,18)

So it is possible that the Gate of Hell is a physical place, however, if it is, it is far deeper in the earth than we have ever dug or drilled, and it would be physically impossible to attack it. What else could the Gates of Hell be referring to?

Most Bible commentaries conclude that the Church will withstand all of the attacks and assaults of the devil. For instance, see Barnes:

“Hell” means, here, the place of departed spirits, particularly evil spirits; and the meaning of the passage is, that all the plots, stratagems, and machinations of the enemies of the church would not be able to overcome it a promise that has been remarkably fulfilled. (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

This kind of makes sense, except that the sense is the exact opposite of what the passage says. It still leaves me with the nagging question: How can a gate go on offence?  A gate is at the boundary of something.  It does not move. The gate of hell is deep inside the earth and we’re safe in our church and in our lives, separated by thousands of miles of the earth’s crust and mantle.

The Gate of Hell as used here must be referring to something else. The gate of hell is a physical thing, but we can also consider that it has a spiritual meaning.  A lost soul, someone living without Jesus Christ, could be said to be at the gate of hell, because if they died, that’s where they would go. Hell is only a heartbeat away. If a gate is not going to prevail then it must be attacked. This means that taking up an offensive position at the gate of hell, in order to turn back any souls who stray too close, is to be boldly proclaiming a warning about the reality of hell. Attacking the Gate of Hell is thus preaching the gospel of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. “Salvation from what?” I hear atheists say all the time. Salvation from hell. Are we attacking the gate of hell?

Look at the despair in the world today. Medical science, good nutrition, and law and order have contributed to the steady decrease in mortality rates across all demographic groups. Civilization and hand washing have seemingly won the day against chaos and confusion. Yet we have reached a tipping point. The longer healthier lives we are leading has given many of us more and more time to ponder the meaning of life, and a greater number than ever are concluding that it is overwhelmingly grim and are opting out. Now suicide, alcoholism and drug abuse are taking such a steady toll that death rates are rising for middle aged Americans.

Death Rates Rising for Middle-Aged White Americans, Study Finds

Couple that with the great success of Science Fiction in describing for us a vast universe with limitless possibilities and people are turning away from churches, in favor of either no religion or something they consume from the internet. Despite the prevailing narrative, science has not solved any of the big questions that we face: where do we come from and where are we going? More importantly, science hasn’t solved any of the little problems either, like: why am I so empty inside? The great success of science: iPhones, the internet, space exploration; only highlights its failure: an entire generation who mock even the possibility of a spiritual life.

U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious

There is a modest drop in overall rates of belief and practice, but religiously affiliated Americans are as observant as before. The troubling question is: what is happening to the children of this generation that is wavering? Even religious people are being fed a diet of soft liberal mush. Dad is on the computer, mom is on the iPad, the kids all have a phone each.  That’s where the people are.  At the gates of hell.

Who Wants to Attack The Gates of Hell?

The Church has been given a mission, more specifically, The Great Commission, to go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them how to be saved through faith in Jesus Christ and how to live a Godly life. There’s a big problem though: the people that we need to reach aren’t in the churches, it’s is not acceptable, or safe, in this day and age to walk around knocking on people’s doors to give them the good news. These days the people are playing with their phones and computers. The good news: this means that they are reachable. This is a vast mission field.

With just a phone you could potentially reach 1.6 Billion people.

We have young people who love their phones, love interacting on the web.  Why not give them all a job to do within the scope of the outreach work that the church is doing?  Why not have a social media committee and assign one person to each social media platform to promote the gospel, spiritual life, and the church?

Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:13,14)

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

Why Bother?

What’s the point? The world is so far gone does it even matter? Look at it this way: there are more people than ever before that are EASILY REACHABLE with the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Plus, you don’t even have to get out of bed to do it. No Christian with a smart phone or computer has an excuse to not be involved.

Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1 Corinthians 3:13-15)

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Chapter 15.5

Rachel regretted the incident immediately. What had she been thinking? She drove home in a daze and once home, took a long look at the city below her, peeled off down to her underwear and fell down on her knees beside the bed. She let her thoughts tumble for a few minutes before starting her prayer.

“Oh God,” she whispered. She just beat up on a total stranger, and no matter how many times she thought it through, she couldn’t see a way to get back to the Airstream and apologize before Friday.

“Oh God,” Dunning and Kruger had thought is was the best thing they had seen in years. The whole field office would be buzzing by now. Trying to establish herself as tough and resilient was one thing, but this was a little more than she had really needed. Who knew what the consequences would be? Who knew who the contact had been? He could be some higher-up who was part of the chain to get Rachel the thumb drive she needed.

“Oh God,” she placed herself into the hands of her master, the Lord Jesus, and prayed Romans 8:28: And we know that all things work together for good, to them that love God, that are the called according to his purposed. She asked forgiveness, Amened three times, crawled into bed and fell asleep.

She slept late and was only awakened by her phone. She fumbled it blearily. It was Dunning, so she answered, “What?”

“What are you doing,” came the flat response.

“I’m in bed, what do you think?”

“Don’t you have stuff to do today?”

Rachel thought for a moment, “No. Buzz off.” She hung up. She lay for a while but was awake now. This was her first free time in weeks, there was no need to do anything at all really. She puttered around for a while but didn’t feel like unpacking boxes. Instead she decided to spend part of the day irritating the hell out of Dunning and Kruger. She put on a dress that was way too sexy for a shopping trip. It was a black mini that had to stretch tightly around her hips and thighs. She looked in her full-length mirror. It was quite disappointing. She was above average height, which she liked, but was above average build too. Her shoulders spoke of her time in the rowing team at The University of North Carolina where she had been an undergrad and in Law School. Her bust was fine, not too big, not too small. Her belly was evidence of not enough regular exercise. Her hips and butt though. Thick, was the word that came to mind. Her legs showed her years of rowing and soccer. What the hell, men were basically stupid, she could do the look of in-your-face-woman-who-will break-your-heart-and-kick-your-ass.

She put on black sports underwear over her lace, if she had to run or fight and her dress rode up, no one would see anything more than an athlete shows. She dithered over shoes. She wanted to go for sexy, just like the dot at the bottom of an exclamation point! But if she had to run or climb it would be a problem. She went in-your-face again and chose her 10-hole Doctor Martens boots. Black eye-liner and mascara came next, then deep purple lipstick. It said Vamp, and you can have messy hair with a really outrageous lipstick. She was going to torment Dunning and Kruger today. The last touch was a belt of spent .30 calibre machine gun ammo around her waist. Completely over the top, but that was how she felt.

When she got downstairs and out into the street she saw the unmarked sedan waiting, so she took off on foot and headed to the Gateway Center. It was only about a mile away. She put on some stylish sunglasses and stalked along the side walks, ignoring everyone, especially the men who stopped and stared at her. She rummaged in her small pocket book, which was just big enough for a small calibre automatic pistol, can of mace and a pair of handcuffs, and found her ear piece. She was required to stay in contact with her security team.

“Good morning boys. You keeping up?”

“What the frack? Are you going to a party or something,” came the irritated response.

“Oh no, sweetie. I dressed like this just for you two.”

“What?”

She didn’t respond, just continued her serene march to the pretty shopping mall that had won her heart as a reason why Salt Lake City was a truly outstanding place to live. The first thing she did when she got there was go to the video game store. Being Saturday it was very busy. The store was small and cramped, a swarm of activity. Most of the customers were either teenage boys with a parent in tow, or grown men with unshaven faces, swollen bellies and shattered dreams. “Here’s your dream come true,” she thought as she strode into the store. Everyone turned to look at her, which was gratifying. The boys turned back to imploring to their parent to buy them the mature rated game that they couldn’t buy themselves. The men continued to stare. This was pretty earth shattering for some of them. Rachel walked up to one of the guys who was holding a copy of a PlayStation game.

“Have you played it yet?” she said to him, she still had her sunglasses on.

“Err,” he was suffering some kind of quantum field event because not only had his dream woman just walked into the store, be she was speaking to him. Then he got himself to gether. “Yeah. All the way through 6 times. This is a special edition with 16 gigs of downloadable content.”

“Which you already have, right.”

“Well, yeah, but this is the special edition.”

She continued in idle banter about the game and another somewhat rumpled man joined the conversation, then another. Within a few minutes there was a small group gathered round excitedly chatting about video games. One of them asked to take a selfie with Rachel, and she posed obligingly, giving him a tight side hug. Then everybody wanted selfies. As she laughed freely with the customers she looked over to the door to see Kruger, in suit, tie and dark glasses, awkwardly sticking out like a sore thumb. He mouthed something explicit at her.

“Oh, that’s my husband!” she laughed, “Sorry guys, I have to go.”

There was a round of “Ahhh, that’s not fair.” from her little group.

She had to pass Kruger on her way out of the store. He didn’t say anything but he was obviously fuming. His shirt collar was soaked with sweat, and there were beads of it down the side of his face.

After that, Rachel wasted as much time as she could wandering around stores, having superficial conversations, not buying anything, working her way around to the highlight of the trip: Victoria’s Secret. As she made her way to the door of the lingerie store she heard in her earpiece, “No. No. No!” But she went in anyway. She looked at every piece of frilly lace in the store while poor Kruger was fit to be tied.

Tying up Kruger on foot meant that Dunning, in the sedan, was unaccounted for. When she finally got home she found out what he had spent part of his day doing. She was climbing the stairs to her apartment and something felt out of place. She smelled cologne. Not just any cologne either. She stopped and sniffed the air. Paco Raban. Someone was making an effort, that was pretty unusual. It smelled like danger and Rachel got quite excited. She withdrew to the relative cover of a neighbours doorway and got her small pistol from her pocket book. Using all her training she approached her apartment door with care, but she was dismayed by what she saw.

There was a Witches broom leaning against the wall beside her door, a Witches hat on the floor beside it. There was a party banner across the door itself. It read: “The Ball Witch” and below it, “For Misogynist” and a large pink balloon with two plastic baseballs in it.

Touché.

Rachel was pretty impressed with the banner so she kept it, and put it on the wall above her couch.

101570-bibliosblood-015-7-1800x1014

Chapter 15

Carlton paused, leaning with both arms on the sink. “Go on.”

“Yes. I’m sure you think that this is just an excuse to get my Internet connection back,” Carlton rolled his eyes. “But I would like to see what’s on the market for Android kits. With your skill all my vital organs could be transplanted into an Android.  Then I could be the maid, and learn plumbing, clean the gutters. All that stuff.”

Carlton spat and rinsed, but said nothing.

“So,” Frank continued, “what do you think?”

“Frank,” said Carlton decisively, “that is a fascinating idea.”

Carlton reconnected Frank’s Internet connection, with a warning about what would happen if he did any more gambling, and went to bed. He fell into a deep sleep, and dreamed like he couldn’t remember dreaming in a long time. Giant robots, like Gundam Mech Warriors, were stalking across the night-time skyline of a city, blasting with lasers and rockets. Buildings collapsed in piles of flaming rubble. Amidst the chaos and flames he was desperately searching for someone.

When he awoke it was fully daylight and the sun streaming in the window had made the room stuffy and humid. His face was grimy from sweating, and his mouth felt foul. He had slept a long time.

“Frank?” he called out, groggily.

“Good morning sleepy head.” Frank seemed in a good mood.

“What’s wrong with the a/c?” Carlton wanted the humidity to go away, and to feel a cooling breeze on his body.

“You said that the dry air killed your sinuses, you were snoring so bad that I turned it off. I didn’t want to spend the next two weeks listening to you complain about having a sinus infection.” As he spoke, Carlton heard the house begin circulating air, and from outside came the sound of the compressor kicking in. A cool breeze flowed over Carlton and he breathed deeply.

“What would I do without you?”

Frank laughed, it had an eerie quality, tinged with irony. “Well, you would probably have to get married.”

“In that case, thank you very much.” Carlton began to get out of bed. “What did you find out about Androids?” Carlton wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer, since it would probably cost his life savings, but he was interested. The idea of building an Android around one of his computers was neat. Frank didn’t answer right away, which was unusual. “We must be talking millions of dollars,” thought Carlton.

“Well, I’ll be honest with you Carlton, I had no idea what options were available. I’m going to need to spend some more time on it.”

“Really?” Carlton was amazed, “I thought you would have figured the whole thing out by now, financing and everything.”

“Yes, but like I said, there are possibilities that I wasn’t aware of. I only want to do this once, so I want to do it right.”

“You are getting more mysterious by the day. No wonder I can’t sell units with your specs.”

The conversation lulled, and Carlton got ready to go out. He made coffee and was on his second cup when Frank spoke again.

“I talked to Biblio last night.”

“Who’s Biblio?” replied Carlton absently.

“The computer at the library.” Carlton winced.  Frank contacting the computer at the library was not anticipated.

“You didn’t tell me anything about the specs on that guy.” Frank sounded straightforward, but Carlton was sure that he was jealous.  It was weird, being worried about offending a computer by building one that was better. He braced for the worst.  He was expecting a screaming tirade.  In the past he had some pretty heated arguments with Frank, but Frank had adapted very well and, of late, had seemed more mature and easy to deal with.

“How about,” Frank began, “once I get the Android conversion planned out, you upgrade my systems when we do the transplant.”

Carlton was impressed, not by the suggestion, but by the way that Frank was handling himself. “Very practical. But how much money are we talking about?”

“Why don’t you let me handle that.” Frank was determined.

“Sometimes,” said Carlton, “I think I should be worried about you.” Then something occurred to him, “why did you call the library computer Biblio?”

“Because that’s what he told me his name was. A gift from Ms. Robbins I believe. From the French word for library, ‘Bibliotheque.’ Did you know that there’s an International conference on linguistics this week?”

“Of course! I’ve got to rig a bunch more consoles. That big opening yesterday was just publicity for Salt City. The real computing capacity up there is in this underground conference room. Sixty Six consoles in an amphitheater seven stories below ground level. Whoever dreamed up that scheme I do not know, but it cost a fortune.”

“Doesn’t it strike you as odd.”

“What do you mean?” Carlton was getting ready to leave now.

Something’s going on up there that you don’t know about.”

“Oh and what do you know exactly?”

“Not much, yet, but after you got done last night someone installed a heap of security measures in that unit of yours. Biblio.”

“Been digging around then, eh?”

“Yes. That Biblio has got government security clearance like you wouldn’t believe.”

“Really? I wonder why?”

“Yes. And Rachel Robbins?”

“What about her?” Carlton was defensive.

“There’s more to her than meets the eye.”

Carlton was at the door now, slightly worried. Frank spoke as he went out. “Be careful. This is much bigger than you think.”

 

Chapter 14.5

Rachel drove off into the night but did not go home. She checked the rear view mirror to make sure that she was being tailed. An unmarked sedan was back there, keeping a respectable distance but never loosing sight. She had to make sure that she didn’t lose them, the poor guys in the car would get in trouble if that happened.

“Hey, er, phone.”

“Hello Rachel, what can I do for you?” replied the phone from somewhere down in the bottom of her pocket-book.

“Establish a secure connection to the car and show the most recent message from Agent Smith.”

“Sure, no problem.” In a second the message popped up on the dashboard user interface. There was an address which Rachel needed to get to, a mobile home park on the outskirts of town.

“Car,” she said, with a hint of irritation.

“Hi there! What can I do for you?”

“Just take me to the address in the message, and please don’t talk about it.”

The car didn’t say a word and seamlessly took over driving. Rachel kicked off her shoes, simple black pumps with a small heel, then rummaged around behind the passenger seat for a different pair of shoes. There were also black and looked like lightweight sneakers, but they were in fact the type of specialized shoe used by rock climbers. The sole was very stiff, designed for maximum support while standing on rock ledges that were a quarter of an inch wide. Rachel liked this type of shoe because they were really good if you had to climb, run or fight. They laced up tightly and wouldn’t fall off, they were excellent protection against stepping on sharp things, and, at least for this pair, were kind of cute and didn’t look out-of-place against the knee-length skirt she was wearing.

They car dinged a notification to let her know that they were close to the mobile home park, and Rachel took over driving. She found the address but drove past it, turned around at the end of the row and came back to it. She parked so that she would have a straight shot at getting out without having to maneuver first. The unmarked sedan seemed confused at the end of the row, then drove on past.

She flipped down the visor to check her make-up and placed a small device in her ear. “You hear me?”

“Yep.” Came the response. She wasn’t sure which of the two guys in the sedan spoke, she hadn’t bothered to figure out which was which.

“I’m going in.”

She walked up the short drive to a battered old Airstream Trailer, and looked on the ground for something as she went. She picked up a small piece of broken cinder block. When she was at a position about 10 feet from the door of the trailer she stopped, hefted the piece of cinder block, then threw it at the door of the trailer. She brushed the dust off her hand and smoothed out her skirt. The door flew open with a bang and an irritated figure appeared.

“What do you..” he yelled, but saw Rachel and changed his tone, “Oh. Wait a minute.” He disappeared back into the trailer for a moment. Rachel composed herself, shifted her balance slightly, then the figure reappeared. He was young-looking, bearded, she would guess that he was in the vegetarian mountain-biking back-packing hippie adventurer crowd. But then, that was what she was supposed to think. He was probably in the washed-out Navy Seal ruthless-killer crowd underneath his scraggly beard.

He stood in the open door of the trailer and beckoned for Rachel to come in.

“No way, pal. Get your butt out here.”

He shrugged and lurched down the steps. He approached carefully, and checked Rachel out at least three times.

“You’re cute.”

“You’re not.”

“Meow! Nice to meet you too.”

Rachel said nothing but raised her eyebrows questioningly. The man had a computer thumb drive in his hand that he was supposed to give to her, except that he was keeping it in his clenched fist.

“You know it gets lonely out here?” he said with a wink. Rachel didn’t reply but waited, rapidly loosing patience.

“You want to hang out? Drink a beer, smoke a joint? Have a little fun?” He was moving closer.

“Hmmm?” murmured Rachel suggestively, which stopped him in his tracks, he clearly didn’t expect a positive response to his advances.

“That,” Rachel held his gaze, “sounds,” she turned slightly sideways to show the curve of her butt and boobs, “interesting.” She moved a step closer. He flinched.

“What kind of weed you got?” She was close enough to touch him, weight on her back left foot, then she dropped slightly, swept his feet from under him with her right leg while pushing him back. She used more force than needed for a Judo throw like that, and he landed heavily flat on his back, knocking the wind out of him. Probably not a Navy Seal then. There was muffled laughing in her ear piece, so her security guys were watching from somewhere.

She took a pistol out of her pocket-book and stood over the man, pointing it at his groin.

“Do you know what a misogynist is?” she held out her free hand. He shook his head weakly and handed her the thumb drive.

“It’s a guy who needs a broom to sweep his balls off the ground.” A roar of laughter in her ear made her wince. She turned and left.

Chapter 14

When Carlton got home Frank was waiting. Frank was Carlton’s home computer, a smaller version of the one at the library. Frank was the testing ground for Carlton’s experiments and, as a result, was a pretty fragmented jumble. But he ran all the systems in the house, and kept Carlton’s life as organized as possible. Carlton was in no mood to talk to Frank right now.  Unfortunately, there was no way to avoid it.

As Carlton walked up the driveway he sighed at the irony of the situation. For the last seven or so years he had been alone. It had not been a problem since he had been busy and fairly prosperous. He constructed Frank, who until now had been the only companion that Carlton needed.

Carlton’s computers were different. He had never put his finger on why they developed such quirky characters.  He didn’t worry too much about it. It made his computers a rare commodity, but it was surely the reason that he was not CEO of a vast empire selling millions of units every year.

He braced himself and opened the door. “I’m home.” There was a little pause.

“Where have you been? do you know what time it is?” Frank’s voice was sarcastic, as if mocking the tone of voice a wife or mother would use.

Carlton sighed again, and realized he had been sighing all day. “You wouldn’t believe who I ran into today.” Carlton didn’t really want to tell Frank about Ruth, but he would have to sooner or later.

“Rachel Robbins.”

Carlton stiffened and dropped his keys. “How did you know?”

“Probability moron.  I guessed.”

Carlton sighed, again.  Yes this was definitely why he was not selling millions of units.

“Was she wearing a skirt?  Don’t be so surprised.  The last time you stayed out this late was five years ago.  During the last seven years you talked about her more than any other subject, besides me.  When you came in the door and announced that you ran into someone it was the most likely choice.  You forget who and what I am my friend.”

“I do?” Carlton was puzzled.

“Yes, you talk to me like I’m your pet budgie, but you didn’t build a conversation machine, you built me to be..”

Carlton cut him off and completed the phrase himself, “the most powerful, thinking computer in this world or any other.”

“Yes,” said Frank with added resonance, “and don’t you forget it!”

There was silence for a few moments, during which Carlton realized how good Frank really was, because most personal computers would have automatically begun reviewing the daily log, or reporting on the stock market or whatever.

“You’re probably tired,” Frank was clever, “but there is something that I was hoping to talk to you about.”

Carlton started getting undressed and moved into the bathroom, “sure, go ahead.”

“I was thinking about us, this place, and how there are so many other things I could do around here besides the accounts, environmental control, and, of course, being your pet budgie.”

Carlton laughed, “yes?”

“I mean, you’re a very important man, now, what with this big installation at the library, and there are so many things to do here at the house. You’re so busy that, no disrespect, it’s messy here. And on the outside there are a bunch of things to do. I looked at satellite imagery that I downloaded, before you cut me off, and there are weeds growing in the gutters. They are probably little bushes and trees by now.”

Carlton began brushing his teeth. He knew where this conversation was going. He had disconnected Frank from the Internet when he lost over 10,000 dollars in illegal on-line gambling, and so now Frank had come up with some scheme to get his Internet connection back. He was probably going to offer to take on the job of contracting with a maid service, plumbers and a carpenter, something like that. It wouldn’t be such a bad idea. The place was really turning into a dump. And now, since Ruth had just walked back into his life, who knew? He definitely could not bring her here in the state it was in. He shuddered as he saw himself wantonly skipping down the path of imagined romance. He had to stop that. Romance was out.  But, still, it would be good to clean the place up and fix everything.  Just in case.  He had tuned Frank out but his attention snapped back at a word Frank said.

“…Android.”

“Wait,” Carlton gasped, “what was that again?”

“I said,” Frank was a little terse, “I could take care of all this stuff if you would build me into an Android.”

Save

Chapter 13

The President fixed Mr. Smith with an icy stare. He turned to his Chief of Staff and did the thing with the eyebrows.

“Mr. President,” began the Chief of Staff,” they refuse to register.  There is nothing in the global treaties going into effect Friday night that will let us to do anything for them.  We can’t allocate them any resources, they’re not registered.”

The President thought for a moment, clearly lost for words.  Mr. Smith shuffled uncomfortably.  The Chief of Staff was really eager for the President to get on the waiting helicopter.

“The people in that camp are Christians,” said the President.

The Chief of Staff sagged slightly.  He had known that this was going to be a tough conversation, which was why he had scheduled it when they were on the run to get somewhere. “Yes, Mr. President, we are aware of that.”

“Those people believe in prophesy from the Bible, they believe that the WMU tattoo is the mark of the beast.  They believe that their very lives depend on not taking that tattoo.  We must respect that.  Freedom of religion is a founding principle of this nation.  I shouldn’t have to remind you about the 1st Amendment.”

“Of course not Mr. President.  Revelation 13:16-18, the number of the beast, 666.  We are all aware of the issue here.”

Mr. Smith jumped in, “Mr. President, this is not a matter of religious freedom.  This is simply a matter of convenience and opportunity.  In the long run, it is much better if we simply make the problem go away.”

The President was not impressed, “What about Revelation 14:9-10?  Those people believe that, ‘If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.'”

The Chief of Staff shrugged.

“They believe that by refusing to take the mark of the beast they will be entered into the Lamb’s Book of Life, and live for eternity in heaven.”

The Chief of Staff nodded.

“I am shocked that you can call massacring a community of 150,000 Christians, with robot droids or whatever, convenient!  Convenient?  I sure,” he caught himself, gave a wry smile, recomposed himself, “do you have a time line?  When is this going to happen?”

The Chief of Staff got the little group moving again before speaking, “We can be ready, in place, in 1 week.  We don’t have to go right at the WMU deadline, but things are going to get more complicated the longer we wait.  Now we have got to get you on Marine 1!”

The President allowed himself to be bustled through the rotor wind to the helicopter then he turned to shout at the little group, “We’re going to discuss this when I get back from New York, understand?”

The Chief of Staff and Mr. Smith nodded. They scurried back indoors as the rotor wind increased and the helicopter took off.  Mr. Smith looked at the Chief of Staff who was brushing the front of his suit with his hands.

“That could have gone a lot better.”

The Chief of Staff looked at him, “You kidding, that was perfect.” He winked.

Chapter 12

The President looked at his Chief of Staff.  “Did I miss something?”

“Mr. President?”  The Chief of Staff did not seem perturbed by this.

“I thought,” continued the President, “That this briefing was going to be about the official dedication of a new research facility,”

“It is.”

“But it seems that there is a rather complicated twist involved.”

“Life is complicated.”  The Chief of Staff was a seasoned veteran of the intelligence community.  He reminded himself to be patient with his naive new President.

“Mr. President, this is an initiative that started over 20 years ago.  All 4 of your predecessors were on board with it.”

“OK, but what you have told me, Mr. Smith,” he looked him over again, “sounds like a twisted, evil plot that will never work out. There are always unintended consequences.  I’ll humor you for now though.  How could you possibly do this without the truth getting out.  If that happened, anyone involved would be impeached, imprisoned and probably executed. Not to mention that you could start another Civil war.  The West against the East, how ironic.”

Mr. Smith gave a panicked look to the Chief of Staff, who nodded encouragement.

“Well,“ Smith continued, more warily now, with the Chief of Staff ushering them to begin walking to the Helicopter pad.  “We would not use soldiers to deploy the weapon.  We have some drone infantry that can be remotely operated from any location. They are programmed how to deploy and diffuse tactical nuclear weapons.  They are ready any time.  The control of the operation can be done by just two operators, CIA, not military.”

“Drones,” replied the President, “are computers which have memories.  Military drones are in constant contact with the Pentagon. There is no way that this could be kept secret.”

“Not in this case, sir.  You see these drones were developed by an independent contractor in California 40 years ago.  The entire research and development facility is somewhere at the bottom of the San Bernardino Oceanic Trench.  All records of the product development and manufacture is gone.  The entire development team disappeared into the ocean.  There is no one left who knows about them.  The drones were transported to Fort Picket, Virginia, for ballistics calibration when the San Andreas catastrophe occurred. Because of the chaos they were never unpacked and tested.  They have been in crates in a disused hanger ever since.”

The President rolled his eyes at the Chief of Staff.  “Please tell me we are not having a conversation about using 40-year-old drones in a 20-year-old plan to blow a nuke over Utah.” They walked in silence for a few moments until they reached the parlor.  Outside beyond the patio doors the helicopter was ready, blowing a steady gale from its rotors.

“OK, so why are you briefing me on this now?’ said the inexperienced President to the Chief of Staff.

“Because this can help solve another problem that we have.”

“And what would that be?”

“The tent city in Canyonlands National Park.  After next Friday night, it will be impossible to do anything with those people, they refuse to register.  We can, with Mr. Smith’s drones, make the problem go away.  No one will ever know that they were there, and no one will care.”

Chapter 11

The President of the United States of America was preening.  An aide scampered around while he practised his stern look in the mirror and directed his hair dresser.  He raised an eyebrow quizzically.  Then he raised the other one and burst out laughing.  He glanced at his watch.“OK folks, let them in.”

The aid ran to the door and opened it the instant three men in tailored suits and silk ties ploughed through it.

“Whoa gentlemen, easy does it now,” chirped the President with an amicable smile on his face.

The first to speak was his Chief-of-staff.  “Mr. President, we’ve got a busy day ahead of us and we have to get you to Marine 1 right now if we’re going to make it to the UN Financial Union countdown briefing in New York, but as I told you yesterday, we have a Mr. Smith here from the CIA to brief you on the Salt City dome project.” The Chief of Staff turned to the man, Smith, who was the rearmost of the three.  “OK, you’ve got precisely 5 minutes while we walk.”

“Yes sir, Mr. President.  These are the facts, Sir.

“The Salt City dome project is a front for a military intelligence installation.

“The location is directly over a large natural cave system that was developed in the 1940s and 50s as a nuclear fallout shelter for a battalion-sized force and equipment.  It is connected by rail to our sub-station under Moab, Utah, and we could get there from here on the Subterranean Intercontinental Rail Link in about 8 hours.  The city is covered by 7 geodesic domes that are designed to withstand direct blast from a nuclear warhead with a nominal yield of 30 kilo tonnes.  The city is self-sufficient for water and energy, and currently is stocked with food for 20 years.  The cover story is that this is an achievement by the tree hugging sustainability crowd.

“One of the many reasons why this installation has high potential is the computer system that has been built into the Municipal Library.  This is an advanced model of the one that we have here in the West Wing, Sir.  You only have to talk to it and it understands what you say.  The Salt City Library system has over 100 terminals and is about to start trials on interpreting intelligence gathered by the Clandestine Service.”

They were moving quickly through the passages of the White house, on their way to the Helicopter landing pad.  The President interrupted Smith,  “Seems like a lot of trouble to go to build a computer system.”

“Yes and no Sir.”  Smith returned quickly.  “The added bonus of this installation is that we can detonate a nuke outside, blame it on anybody we need to go to war with, declare it off-limits to civilians and we’ve got ourselves a top-secret base and a revenue generating war.”

The President stopped dead in his tracks.  He slowly turned to look directly at the man, Smith.  His hair and moustache were neatly trimmed, the cut of his suit was just as fine as any he had seen lately, he was  medium height, medium build, not overweight, he seemed boringly normal.  Just offering to start a war by detonating a nuclear weapon on top of an US city, then blaming it on a foreign nation.