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Want to read about an unstoppable death machine hunting an unarmed medic through enemy territory? Check out Peace Keeper (part 1)!
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Part 1--Fourteen Kilometers
William Rutger stared up at the streaking fireball with dismay. He stood amidst a war-torn Berlin whose structures hadn’t been so rattled in over a century. Europe was losing the war. United against former allies, they were doing their best to withstand the Sino-Soviet assault. The Union’s defense was not succeeding.
As he watched the smouldering hunk of metal re-enter the atmosphere, he was fully aware of what it contained. He’d heard the rumors and had seen the aftermath. The Americans, neutral in the conflict, had developed a super-weapon. It was unlike anything the world had ever seen. It was posited as a way to abate the freely flowing bloodshed that washed across both sides of the Third World War. He knew what was coming to Berlin, and for the first time in months, William was truly scared.
Troops knew not to fire on field medics. It was against the Geneva Convention. Despite this, Peacekeepers seemed far less reliable. If the medic’s RFID tag was obscured or otherwise concealed by cover, they would be pulped alongside anything the robot’s intelligence viewed as a threat.
The malevolent devil’s armament was bewildering. It sported an anti-personnel gatling cannon, an anti-armor rail gun that could pierce even the toughest of cover or armored vehicles. It was protected by several tons of reactive armor plating, which was designed to destroy damaging explosions before they impacted the robot chassis. It wielded a plasma caster, which served as crowd control when set to a wide spread and infiltration tool when the super-heated stream of particles was narrowed. This demon was going to land a few kilometers from William’s position. He shuddered as the fireball dipped beneath the tops of the bombed-out cityscape.
“Shit,” the thirty-something year old man sighed. He was running low on supplies. There would be no outgunning the monstrosity. Of course, even a battalion in its prime might have a difficult time taking down the lightning-fast mechanical titan.
He noticed the impact in his feet first and then immediately felt a deafening shockwave that forced his mind to swim and his ears to ring.
“My God,” he hissed. “That was like a bloody flash-bang.”
William stretched his jaw, trying to force his eardrums to heal. A war-torn battlefield was no place for a chap to be off his game. William was many things but never unprepared. He thought of Amelia as an awful rat-tat of machine gun fire filled the air, peppered by rocket explosions. He was sure the resistance would fall in short order after the peacekeeper’s deployment. He needed to find his target quickly. William was a medical doctor. His oath was to do his patients no harm. As such, when the prime minister had asked him to travel to Berlin on a personal favor, William could hardly say no. It wasn’t exactly everyday that a head of state phoned him. Minister Shandi had informed him that the patient was medically fragile but highly important to the Crown. His Majesty wanted the target smuggled out alive. The king didn’t trust his own soldiers with undertaking the mission. William was most definitely worried by that.
As he did his best to traverse Berlin’s demolished streets, he saw ripped-up carnage all around him. Torn vehicles had been tossed into storefronts by massive concussive blasts. Bystanders who had been unfortunate enough to take shelter within rooms that had been subjected to ion bombardment had all fallen and rotted where they had stood. William shuddered at the noxious fumes spewing from the pharmacy but was actually thankful that those poor souls didn’t have to suffer in the same way others had.
The Third World War was brewed through the filter of a complacent and soft populace. There hadn’t been a truly massive conflict in over a century. Everyone was convinced that nuclear weapons would make war a thing of the past. In reality, major countries were hesitant to use them, even amidst a global conflict. Once that genie was awoken, it would lead to the end of it all. Even warring nations seemed to know that as they threw everything but “the bomb” at each other. Of course, that didn't stop others from trying.
“Eich-Weinert,” William muttered to himself as he flipped up his tablet’s navigation. He was to meet the mystery patient in a Deutsche restaurant called Zur Haxe. Apparently the family had taken refuge there along with a few others who managed to survive the firestorm, ion bombardment, and missile strikes. The toppled street sign clearly seemed to point to the left as he walked up Grifswalder. He turned and saw a pair of un-uniformed individuals with rifles strapped across their chests. He quickly dipped behind an upturned taxi while their backs were turned.
William took a deep breath. He had a script for this very situation. Friend or foe, many were pleased to see a medic.
He gave a few raps to the hood while he remained crouched. He heard the men turn around and yell something in German.
“Ich bin ein Arzt. Ich kann deinen Verwundeten helfen!” William shouted, as had become his routine. I’m a doctor. I can help.
“Your German is terrible!” one of the men shouted back. “Come out, Englishman!”
William took a deep breath as he stood. He couldn’t help noticing that the distant gunfire had entirely ceased as he walked. He whispered a prayer for the brave soldiers as he approached the smiling Berliners.
“I am Freidrich, and this is Peter. We are local militia protecting what is left of our city.” Friedrich sounded downcast. William understood. It was hard to be hopeful in the midst of being eradicated.
“Dr. William Rutger,” he answered. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m looking for--”
“Yes, we got a message that said someone was coming for the Fishers,” Peter spoke up. “We assumed a unit would be coming to escort them, not an unarmed doctor.”
“I’m afraid arms won’t do much good in the coming moments anyway, my boy,” William sighed. “I do believe a peacekeeper just landed a few thousand meters to the south. You and your fellow survivors would be advised to leave immediately. Any weapons might be taken as a sign of hostility to the construct.”
“Where would we go, doctor?” Freidrich asked, the man’s greasy unwashed blonde hair shining in the sunlight. “We have two dozen people here. Are we to assume that the horrid beast wouldn’t catch up to us? Women and children are here. There are elderly, too. I think we would be better advised to--”
“Seventy-six infrared sensors,” William answered. “Over a hundred optical cameras with varying levels of zoom capability, Eight-hundred pounds of ammunition and ordnance, and innumerable other tools which the allies aren’t even aware of, that’s what awaits you if you stay. You are right that the chances of survival are slim if you move, but they’re better than--”
“The Fishers are in here.” Peter cut off the good doctor, his dark beard trembling. The young man was scared. He had put on a brave face, but William could tell he was shaking. The act was surely for the good of the other survivors. He marched into the restaurant and pushed aside a Volkswagen commercial van that was serving as impromptu barricade after one of the survivors inside the restaurant shifted it into neutral. He dusted his hands off and turned to Dr. Rutger. “You do your best with what you have, yes?”
William nodded at the man as he made his way inside the dimly lit restaurant. The windows had all been barricaded, and so very limited sunlight found its way through tiny cracks in boards. Before the van was returned to its position, he saw frightened faces staring at him through bleary, mostly shut eyes.
“Good Lord,” he whispered, taking a look around at the malnutritioned bodies. They seemed to plead with him in the vain hope that he had brought something to eat.
“We are few, but strong.” Peter spoke loud enough for the people to hear. “We gather supplies every day for those who cannot navigate the city. We are just trying to survive here. We wait for peace.”
“So do we all, my good man.” William nodded, speaking softly.
They ducked under a fallen beam at the center of the room and made their way toward the kitchen.
“Ich kann kämpfen Ich werde nicht wie ein kleines Mädchen behandelt!” a young woman screeched.
“That, uh,” Peter laughed, his dark-brown hair bouncing along with his beard. “That would be Mieke.”
“Das ist Blödsinn, ich sollte mich da draußen versammeln--” she yelled.
“Mieke!” Peter called, motioning to Doctor Rutger. “This is William. He will be getting you and your family out of the city.”
The other survivors didn’t seem to speak English, as none reacted, but all watched the pair as they disappeared behind the swinging door.
“And what about the rest of you?” the young blonde woman asked. She looked much more fit and taken care of than the rest of the refugees. She hardly looked haggard at all. Her hair seemed meticulously coiffed, which was oddly out of place amidst the chaos and destruction. The curls fell to her shoulders in a stylish and attractive cut.
William was a one-woman man, but he had to admit to himself that she was stunning.
“We will remain here. You know it is not safe to move a group of our size through Berlin,” Peter answered.
“Mieke, it is a pleasure to meet you.” William began anew with proper British mannerism. “I’m Dr. William--”
“Don’t take this badly, but I don’t give a shit who you are!” Mieke replied.
William wasn’t quite sure how he could take that anything but badly.
“Well, regardless, I have explicit orders from the Prime Minister to get you to London as soon as possible,” he explained. “We have a rendezvous fourteen kilometers to the west in twelve hours, around midnight. We need to be there with time to spare, and it’s almost midday.”
“How do you expect my mother to make a fourteen-k hike in her condition?” Mieke asked, gesturing to the woman who sat in the corner with a pair of crutches. She looked to be little more than forty, but to William’s keen medical eye, had an advanced case of scoliosis.
“If we set off now, we might be able to find a vehicle along the way which could be of assistance,” William answered. “Either way, the trek is doable even with the help that will be required. Your mother is quite capable of making the journey.”
“Yes, Mieke,” she replied, standing with the assistance of her crutches. “I’m not as fast as you, to be sure, but I’m not an invalid, either. We must do as the doctor says and leave right away.”
The scars along the woman’s neck gave away the root cause of her issue. It was a failed spinal fusion. That, or the curvature was beyond anything William had ever seen before said operation. William looked to the man at the immediate right of Mieke’s mother. He seemed to be the strong silent type. He nodded along with all the blissful ignorance of a man who didn’t understand the language being spoken.
“We should leave--now,” William urged. “I get the strong feeling that we will need the time for our escape.”
Mieke threw her fists down in protest as she stomped. Her black leather boot met the tile floor with such force that a clapping sound was heard throughout the room.
“And what about them?” she blasted. “Are we to leave them to die?”
“Mieke, please,” Peter urged with outstretched arms. “You are upsetting the others. You know that a group of our size wouldn’t be able to move through the city unnoticed. That would only mean further loss to a people who are shattered.”
“I’m sorry Peter,” Mieke relented, looking ashamed. “I just don’t want to--”
“Mieke, go. Now,” Friedrich burst in, sending the wooden kitchen door flying so hard that it recoiled off the wall. “The explosions are getting closer, and I don’t want you to be caught in the crossfire due to indecision.”
Mieke looked downcast. She clearly respected the commonly dressed man. His greasy jeans and dirty hands showed the telltale signs of a man who was willing to fix any situation. In her case, Mieke was the one who needed adjustment.
“Fine.” Mieke finally agreed to everyone’s demands. “I’ll just grab my things and we can--”
A mechanical whine preceded an impossibly loud echoing stream of awful noises. Artillery exploded at some indeterminate location as everyone in the kitchen flinched.
“Are they here?” Mieke screeched.
“Most definitely not, but close!” William added.
“No time for goodbyes, mein Liebling,” Friedrich sighed as he ran a hand across her hair. It was unclear to William how long the two had known each other, but Mieke seemed to mean a lot to Friedrich. “Come quickly, now. Out the back. I will close it behind you.”
“Dankeschön, Friedrich,” Mieke’s father whispered as he moved to assist in removing the oaken plank barring the rear door.
Mieke sadly moved toward the rear of the room, clearly distraught that she needed to leave without time to tell the others. She slipped a shoulder under her mother’s to help expedite her traveling speed. William watched the unlikely pair as he followed.
Mieke’s mother was small in stature. Her plain green dress was loose and flowing almost to the floor. She looked as though a gentle breeze would have crumpled her. Mieke on the other hand was statuesque. She stood well over a head taller than her father and her long legs were covered by dirtied bluejeans. Her purple short-sleeved top looked almost too small for her and hugged her form tightly.
The four of them quickly made their way through the rear door of the restaurant, and William shuddered. The unmistakable scent of gunpowder and burning city filled his nostrils. The peacekeeper had been close, he guessed within a few hundred meters. The four moved quickly and quietly down the back alley that was peppered with shattered stone and ash. A tiny stream of recently collected rainwater ran down the center. It was jet-black, as though someone had carelessly emptied a fountain pen in the middle of the street.
William flipped open his hand-held navigator and a projected path shone in front of them along with the cardinal compass signs. Fourteen point three-seven kilometers stood between them and freedom. He sighed deeply as he stuffed it back into his pocket. The alley would serve as good cover for at least a half-mile. They were lucky enough to be on a straight path for a little while. William hoped to put some distance between the peacekeeper and the escaping gang.
His hopes were dashed as another awful spray of gunfire roared out. It was a short three-second burst but was followed by an even more sinister sound. The weapon seemed to elicit a chorus of screams from whatever the monster was attacking. They weren’t soldiers’ panicked hollering. Women and children were wailing at the top of their lungs.
Three quick whooshes were followed by a trio of deafening explosions. No one could hear anything after the concussive blasts, but William was almost certain what he might have otherwise: silence. He was sure that whatever the machine was assailing had been wiped out. It was at that particular moment he was certain of what he’d already suspected.
Peacekeepers didn’t kill civilians, except for the odd accident. They were marketed as a humane solution to an ugly and despicable war. They could surgically enter a location and eliminate a target with minimal collateral damage. Berlin was unique for two reasons. William had noticed that his communications array had no signal when he’d checked their path. Radio-frequency broadcast had come a long way since the twentieth century. Although the GPS signal was surely being jammed, the radio signal being down meant one thing. The New Soviet Republic wanted a blackout over Berlin for what they intended to do. The peacekeeper was sweeping the city and destroying everyone in its path.
It was looking for the Fishers.
“William that was close!” Mieke worriedly stressed. “Was it firing on the refugees?”
“Not your people, my dear,” William replied as he picked up the pace. “But you are correct. The beast is most definitely close.”
“But they could be, next,” she gasped. “We have to go back!”
“Mieke, please!” her mother quietly exclaimed, motioning for her to be quieter. “We need to move quickly. Can you lift me?”
“Like old times?” Mieke would have smiled, if she could at that awful moment. “Sure. Get on my back.”
She carefully loaded her mother onto her back, and shimmied to adjust the weight.
"Comfortable, mutter?" She asked.
"Yes, mein Mädchen," the frail woman smiled.
Rapid footfalls from behind the group prompted William to spin on his heels and draw his holstered taser. A surprised Friedrich raised his palms as he slowed. A scraped up black carbine and several magazines were slung over his shoulder.
“Don’t shoot, doctor!” he pleaded. “Do no harm, am I right?”
“You are not my patient, Mr.--” William cocked his head as he kept the taser trained on his target. William wasn’t one to be overly suspicious, but the idea of Fredrich leaving his friends seemed unlikely.
“Schmidt,” Fredrich answered. “It’s Fredrich Schmidt. Now can you please lower your weapon?”
“What are you doing here?” Mieke asked, slowing only slightly from her forward momentum. “What about the others?”
The sharp hiss of a recently fired rocket drowned out their conversation as the growing bundle of survivors retreated further from the menacing threat at their rear. The explosion impacted within visual range this time, only two hundred meters or so to their rear. Bits of already fragmented building crumbled down into the alley as a new crowd of refugees poured from Mieke’s temporary home. They jumped as it landed just down the alley behind them and coated the panicked crowd with dust and debris.
“Run!” Fredrich ordered with a forceful forward gesture. “Move! Quick as you can!”
William obeyed and led the charge. What was supposed to be a long but uneventful trek was shaping up to become anything but the latter.
“We split up because of the peacekeeper’s errant behavior!” Fredrich informed. “Three groups of survivors in order to maximize the chance of someone’s escape! They all set off in opposing directions and I was assigned to join you for fire support.”
Mieke was able to keep a surprisingly quick pace thanks to her gazelle-like athletic form. Her thick legs reminded William of the hurdlers he’d seen at Oxford. She ran as though her mother weighed almost nothing.
William looked over his shoulder to address Fredrich after watching the mesmerizing Mieke move.
“Do we have any more ordnance than that,” William asked, pointing to the rifle that bounced around Fredrich’s chest.
“I was actually--” Fredrich yelled back.
He was cut off by an awful groaning noise. Much like a foghorn on an ocean vessel, it was followed by four rapid clangs of metal into something hard like pavement. William had an awful gut feeling about what was to follow.
“It’s firing the main gun, get down!” he hollered.
The doctor almost slung Mieke’s father behind a waste container as he slid into cover. The doctor covered his head as a high whine filled the air. After the advent of fusion and quantum capacitation technology, the amount of power that could be stored and released at one time skyrocketed almost exponentially. As a result, hideously powerful magnetic rail guns dotted the battlefield as simplistic but devastatingly effective weapons. The signature trill was sharp and preceded what sounded like a thunderclap.
Eight kilograms of depleted uranium were propelled with such unimaginable velocity that it cut through buildings as though made of paper mache. What this looked like on paper and what it sounded like in person were two entirely different things.
William kept his head down as the slug shot through three separate buildings, tugging a wake of debris behind it. The sound was unbearably loud as the projectile shattered entire floors of already weakened cityscape. Mieke’s mother screamed, though she tried to remain strong. Even her father jolted at the sound which seemed to echo on in reverie for several seconds after the blast.
“Let’s go!” Mieke shouted after the largest chunks of debris fell in colossal thuds all around them.
William placed a powerful hand on her arm to keep her steady.
“The bastard isn’t done!” he called, urging her to stay put.
As though called out by his words, a second shot tore through the building from which the screaming seemed to be originating. It ripped upward through the first floor and flew in an invisible line through the air down the alley. It impacted the building directly in front of where William and the others had taken cover and seemed to distort the air as they saw the impact before they heard the shockwave. The stalwart William Rutger fell back at the impact, as did everyone crouched over his shoulder.
Seeing the blast firsthand was unimaginably awful. The tiny shell collided with the third floor of the cream-colored apartment building and seemed to hit structural supports of an already weakened structure. The fourth floor collapsed down onto the third, and began to slip sideways toward the alley.
“Shit!” WIlliam screamed as he watched the demolition in slow motion. “Back! Get back!”
Metric tons of broken building crashed down onto the very area Mieke and the others would have occupied, had they continued on forward. Their path was, unfortunately, blocked.
“I owe you on--” Mieke began as she stood upright after scrambling backward away from the falling building.
A third shot annihilated the remaining structural integrity of the building at the far end of the alleyway. The shot passed harmlessly westward of the five survivors, but they all watched in a trance as the structure began to fold in on itself. The entire building, all five stories, fell in place as though a planned demolition had been organized.
“All those people,” Mieke almost yelled through ringing ears. “What about our--”
She stopped a moment later, her words snatched by a force beyond her control.
Mieke couldn’t imagine what she was seeing. A mechanical monstrosity, the size of which was more unreal than the other destruction she’d just witnessed, walked past the alley on six tree-trunk like legs. It towered as high as a battle tank, if it could have stood on a pair of imaginary hind legs. Resembling some gigantic hexagonal prism which rounded only slightly at the top, the peacekeeper strolled like an overly-content spider as though it hadn’t just extinguished dozens of lives. Suddenly, it stopped.
William yanked Mieke hard downward to the ground. She felt the cold pavement impact her shoulder roughly as her skull clapped to concrete. She moved to whine slightly and felt a hand press itself tightly over her mouth. Fredrich’s palm was planted firmly over her mouth as she looked upward at the crouched man. His eyes were wide with worry. Mieke finally understood.
Did it see me? she worriedly thought. Have I killed us all?
Her frantic thoughts were interrupted by a pop and hiss from the street directly adjacent to their alley. A green flare soared upward and hung in the midday sun for an eternity. Everyone was silent as they watched the signal fall downward. No one moved an inch, beyond their eyeballs being glued to this mysterious symbol in the sky.
William knew exactly what it was. He also began to wonder who, exactly, the Fishers were. Who might be willing to sacrifice their life for them?
The flare was a distraction.
Like a herd of rushing buffalo, the inky-black painted peacekeeper charged away from the alley. They heard it round the corner from the building it had just flattened and immediately heard the gatling cannon whirr to life.
“No!” Mieke screamed, putting two and two together. “They can’t! Why are they--”
“Move, now!” Fredrich ordered. “They are putting their lives on the line to save you. With the alley blocked, we must make a detour to my apartment or what is left of it.”
"We need to keep moving!" William reminded harshly as he added a detour to their navigation. "We can't afford to waste a second!"
Friedrich exhaled in frustration as the group entered the rear of a blown-out department store. Dust coated clothes were strewn about the collapsed single-story building. William walked carefully as Friedrich yelled from behind.
"My wife and I have motorcycles!"
William turned around to face him with a look of suspicion.
"They're old Triumph models, kick started. No internal computer to blow. Even if they were hit by an electromagnetic pulse, they'd start up without issue."
William tensed his jaw. Much as he hated to admit it, motorbikes would make their journey almost trivial. Most vehicles had been disabled by numerous electromagnetic pulse strikes. The modern world was being bombed back to the industrial age. He couldn’t believe he was pondering the mysterious man’s request, even as he spoke.
“How far?” William groaned.
Fredrich subsequently informed the group that nine city blocks was all that stood in their way. They would have to dodge enemy patrols, peacekeepers, and God only knows what else for nine blocks. The group jumped as the peacekeeper’s cannon roared once more. For better or for worse, the route deviation would take them in the opposite direction to the gigantic robot. It was for that reason that William agreed.
“Fine,” he grunted. “We move quickly and quietly. We don’t stop for any reason. I take the lead. Autocannons have been deployed by enemy forces. I don’t need you getting cut to shreds because you haven’t seen the same things I have.”
“How long have you been in the war?” Mieke asked as they crouched under the collapsed sign at the front of the store that lay at an awkward half-supported angle.
“How long?” William repeated in bemusement. “Well, since the beginning: since Hong Kong. Those bloody Chinese bastards blamed us for the movements of terrorists. They claimed it was our bombs that flattened their city. Russian investigators seemed to have found incontrovertible proof of their origin, but I found that quite difficult to believe. You see--”
William stopped. This was neither the time or place to propagate his personal conspiracy theories about the beginning of the war. It wasn’t his place to wildly assert that the New Soviet Republic had bombed Hong Kong and blamed the act on UK sloppiness. William knew, deep within himself, that there was absolutely no way the United Kingdom government would lose a nuclear warhead, let alone four. He had heard rumors that seemed to resonate within himself. He listened to the whispers that the nuclear weapons were stolen by something far more organized than a simple group of terrorists. Armored soldiers were purported to have stormed one of their missile facilities and--none of that mattered. William pressed on despite Mieke’s protestations. Frankly, it was a time William didn’t care to reminisce on.
He was so distracted that he hardly realized when Fredrich began to insist that they had arrived.
“It’s just up here!” he smiled, pointing to the two story dwelling with pleasant light-blue painted facade.
By default, he slid his keycard along the door panel. Mieke began to gently lower her mother to the ground.
“It will be a very fast trip. In and out, three minutes,” Fredrich assured, slipping a lockbox out from the center of the shrub beside the door. He punched in a code and pulled out an old-fashioned key which he subsequently slipped into the base of his door lock.
“You seem to have prepared handily for the lack of electricity,” William noted. “I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who just happened upon so many fail-safes that were designed for a modern war.”
“Well,” Fredrich smiled. “Paranoia has its benefits, I suppose.”
William didn’t believe his minimally informative explanation. For that matter, he was becoming more frustrated by the seemingly willing ignorance of the entire party. Where had the other survivors gone? Why had they all been so willing to lay down their lives to maximize the five individuals’ chances of success?
Mieke followed briskly and couldn’t help noting the relatively unscathed look of the home. Most citizens hadn’t been so lucky. As she entered the dwelling, the light covering of dust filled the room with an ethereal aura. It was as though she walked through a dream, kicking up clouds of memory with each footfall. Suddenly she had a distinct feeling of deja-vu. Her parents had a home just like the one she was trodding through. She was drawn to what looked to be a basement door at the far end of the living room, standing between the kitchen and the living space.
William gestured to Mieke's mother who stood outside the home and waved for her to enter.
"Friedrich, what is her mother's name?" he asked.
"Amelie Fisher," the man replied curtly as he searched the adjacent study for supplies.
"Amelie?" William smiled. "How queer! My wife's name is Amelia."
He turned back around and saw Mrs. Fisher standing as still as she could manage. Her eyes were terrified.
William's heart began to thunder away in his chest. He turned to Friedrich and whispered softly.
"Fred, get the others to safety right away. I am going to retrieve Amelie."
Friedrich nodded affirmatively. He'd been in the war just as long as William. It was important to remain calm in terrible situations.
"The motorbikes are just down here!" He called, pointing to the basement as he threw open the door.
Mieke immediately noticed that the tight stairwell seemed to wind farther than a single story.
"How far down?" she wondered aloud, following her father. "Wait, papa. Where is mutter?"
She looked out across the floor from eye level and saw a mysterious tableau that appeared almost like a Renaissance painting.
William Rutger stood with outstretched arms toward the open doorway from which light poured inward onto a hazy room. In the highly-contrasted blinding sunlight, her mother stood silently, eyes clamped shut. Wrinkles folded up along her forehead as her veins popped outward along her neck. She was terrified, more so than Mieke had ever seen her.
She watched Doctor Rutger fold his palm inward, telling her to drop the crutches and leap. Then, her mother's eyes flew open. She took in a shaky breath. Mieke began to spin about as the scene played. Friedrich caught her shoulders and roughly forced her down, but she fought like the devil himself. She clawed forward and just for a moment, saw her mother's eyes meet hers.
The dust around the room twirled as something large shot down the street.
Amelie's nose flared as she gave a half smile before leaping back and out of sight. She had never seen her mother move with such purpose. Just before she saw it, she heard the hiss of something small rushing closer to the home.
William stretched out his body and jumped inward toward the basement with as much vigor as he could muster. The rocket streaked by like a tiny candle just as he clawed his way into the stairwell. It chased her mother like an inevitable predator closing on its prey.
Mieke watched with senses that almost seemed to slow to a stop as the missile terminated its journey. The shockwave entered the building slowly, kicking up all surrounding dust in an unstoppable tsunami of force. As the front window shattered, she felt a pair of hands clap down over her shoulders and tug her body backward. Her form careened down the stairwell as her father worked to pull William into shelter. The explosion finally met her ears as she let out a guteral howl. Her body ached as she tumbled down the stairs. Debris rained down after William, but her mind could only focus on one thing:
Amelie Fisher was dead.
EDIT: Alright! No idea why it wasn't posting. Part two and three here!
It is now FINISHED. Follow the link to read the whole story!
The tale of a spiritual awakening by rewriting the Past
Day 1: You’re on your way out of work and you stumble upon a lady holding a petition form, seemingly mute from the sound of her voice as she tries to grab your attention as you’re walking by. You decide that you would like to help with the petition. After all, it’s just a signature. As you’re in a hurry, you don’t really read what’s written on it, you assume it’s for a good cause. As you fill in your name and address, you realize that the next collum lists the voluntary contributions from people. 20€, 40€… Wow, these people are generous! You give 5€, feeling a little cheap but hey, it’s better than nothing.
End of day de-brief: at the end of the day, you “debrief” with yourself and the experience you just had, and feel good about the fact you contributed to a good cause. The next time around, you’ll probably do the same.
Overall feeling: Positive.
Day 2: At lunch time, you’re in a conversation with a colleague, and you discuss petitions and fund collections. You share yesterday’s experience and your colleague assures you that it was a scam. It’s a documented case of people pretending they are mute or have some form of disability, putting a few fake names with generous contributions in the first few lines of the petition and praying on naive good hearted people to fall for their scheme.
End of day de-brief: you feel quite ashamed of falling so easily into such a scam. The next time around you won’t let yourself be fooled so easily!
Overall feeling: Negative.
Day 10: On your way to work you open the local newspaper and lo and behold, there is the picture of the lady which scammed you. The article headline reads: “Husband beats wife to death”. You find out, in the article, that this husband was forcing his wife to play the beggar or scammer out on the street and beat her to death one day because she didn’t manage to bring enough money to his liking.
End of day de-brief: you have mixed feelings and don’t know what to think anymore. On the one hand your gesture might have saved that women’s life for a day or two, on the other, it was only a temporary “fix”. At this point, you’re not sure whether you should give money or not the next time you see one of those beggars or scammers. On the other hand, now you are on a crusade against that husband and hope he will rot in a jail cell for the rest of his life!
Overall feeling: Mixed/Negative.
Day 252: As you walk to the train station on your way home from work, a left wing association is distributing a tract in the street. You usually don’t take any of these but for some reason you do today. As you read it on the train, you realize that this is about the judgment of the man who killed his wife several months ago. He is to serve a lifetime sentence in jail. You feel a sense of justice and satisfaction and keep reading on. Given his socio-economic background being raised in poverty, abused by his parents and dropping out of school without a proper education, he very quickly fell prey to loan sharks and other unscrupulous lenders, and ended up heavily indebted. In sheer desperation, as he was harassed day and night by aggressive debt collectors, he was putting pressure on his entire family to pay down the debt and prevent a foreclosure procedure.
End of day de-brief: life is not so simple. While there is no excuse for beating or killing someone, it is clear that simple black and white, good vs. evil analysis fall short of the complexity of a real life situation. You start seeing the “big picture” and at the same time, it doesn’t bring you any closer to a clear cut answer as to how you should act next when you meet a beggascammer out on the street. In the meantime, you intend to vote for the “Socialist Left Wing Party” to ensure that all the evil banks preying on the weak are nationalized. You start thinking in terms of prevention. Perhaps by cleaning up the banking sector, the poor and vulnerable won’t fall into debt and many violence and tragedies stemming from dire and stressful situations can be prevented.
Overall feeling: Negative/Outraged.
Day 308: At an evening dinner, after a long day of busy campaigning against the evil bankers, you meet a couple who seem quite shaken and depressed. They confess to you that a very dear friend had just committed suicide leaving behind his wife and kids. As you begin to empathise with the couple, they share the story behind the tragedy. A left wing party has successfully managed to shut down a pay day lending bank which was preying on vulnerable and poor people. The bank’s staff were mostly underpaid and exploited, sometimes indebted themselves in costly mortgages to be able to afford a family home. The dead bank clerk knew that his job was unethical and tried to find another way to support his family. But the cold reality of the labour market is not what politicians would make you believe. It is not so easy to find a job, especially for people with mediocre qualifications. It’s not that the guy was dumb, but he wasn’t the “best”. In the labour market, just like in a marathon, there is no place on the podium for the “4th best runner”. And so, after having lost the only source of income to support his family, the bank clerk committed suicide. Then the couple went on to complain about the fact that the bank was owned by a handful of shareholders which was milking and exploiting the bank worse than an industrial cow, and sold their shares to unsuspecting pension funds before the pay day lending bank collapsed. Then they moved with their funds to some other greener pastures to extract profits regardless of the societal costs.
End of day de-brief: now you have been introduced to yet a higher order of complexity to this whole problem. Even the staff of some evil corporation might be themselves exploited and victims of some higher perpetrator which is less and less identifiable. It’s all starting to look like the “system”. So you’re joining an even more radical left wing “justice warrior” group, the “Revolutionary Left Wing Party”, determined to rethink “private property”, “who gets what”, and tax the hell out of the ultra rich who manipulate all things in this world like master puppeteers. By this point you’ve nearly forgotten about what got you started on this whole crusade. Some lady that you met on your way to work?
Overall feelings: Negative/Pessimistic.
Day 489: You’ve become obsessed by the “elites” controlling the whole world and read book after book of great philosophers, political thinkers and experts of all kinds to try to drill down what the f*** is actually going on. As you dig deeper, you find… nothing. It’s a prisoners’ dilemma at a world wide scale, where each member of the elite is competing for the “spoils” and fighting against other “elites” while at the same time, acting in such a way to maintain the status quo in a cooperative fashion. The principle is simple: some “rules” of the game emerge, we have called these “Capitalism”, and are derived from the institutional and legal framework, which allow for “playing” the game of “who gets what”. Each actor makes decisions based on these rules, and the ones who are most successful at “bending” them, win. And of course, the moment one member of this “elite” snaps out of it and decides to denounce the whole scheme, he is immediately replaced by another member of the “elite” who acts in the exact same way as the rest: maximize your profits, increase your power and control over assets and politics, or else, be taken over by the rest. What happens at the low levels of a random corporation where workers are at the same time colleagues supposed to collaborate in the best interest of the corporation and also back stabbing career obsessed individuals who would do anything to get “above” the rest; that same logic prevails at the highest levels of power. At the same time, you realize that these “elites” only have the illusion of control and are under the spell of this “systemic” beast. Although they have access to the best available knowledge to get ahead of their competitors, they fail to act on the most dangerous threat which will make them sink with the ship: climate change, pollution, pesticides, etc. They live in a “dream” world, as illusory as that of the ultra-poor who look forward to winning the lottery; they think they can “outlive” such disasters by burying themselves in bunkers and waiting for the manpocalypse to “blow over”, resuming their “rule” over what little humans are left after the dust settles (after such disasters as tsunamis, rising waters, earth quakes, depleted soils, polluted air… are “gone”). All of which is just as much an illusion as the likelihood of the random poor person to win the lottery. Given our current levels of interdependence, a civilization level collapse will throw us back into the medieval ages for centuries, which no bunker can shield you against.
End of day de-brief: that’s it, you feel powerless. It’s like the “elite” are in control and at the same time, aren’t. It’s like the “rules” of the game, which emerged almost spontaneously and gradually throughout the centuries and continuously evolve in a seemingly uncoordinated manner, are now in control. It leaves you almost without concrete enemies. You start joining intellectual groups and writing essays about a Utopian society, without any clear idea as to how to get there from “here”. You’re also on the verge of depression and seek desperately a way out of your mental prison and near inescapable predicament: the manpocalypse is near and there is nothing you can do about it. What’s worse, it’s almost as if responsibility is diffused so widely, as if each person was a well oiled gear, interdependent and connected to all other gears (the “elite” included) in a mad machine which has a life of its own.
Overall feeling: Very negative/Depressive/Powerless.
Day 589: As you reach the point where you are about to save up money for your own bunker, wondering if you had gone mad, something in you snapped. You went back to the quintessential questions which drive human existence: “Who am I? Why am I here?” This didn’t make sense. A bunch of meat and bone stuffed self-aware bipedal creatures dicking around on a lonely planet whirling at thousands of miles per hour through the Galaxy, one among billions of others in a seemingly Infinite Universe. What the f*** was this s*** all about? And so you joined a Kundalini Meditation circle, hoping you would get some answers there. During one meditation session, as you were earnestly following the Masters’ instructions and craved for answers on where this circus show was heading and why, you got an answer. It just popped into your mind, and you just knew…
Each one of your cells is made of trillions of atoms, and humans are made of trillions of cells… How silly to believe that this logic of elements nested into one another stops with humans.
Each and every human is like one cell in the body of a global organism which we are far from imagining, just like one of our cells is clueless as to what a “human” is. Some called it an “ecosystem”, but it is much more than that. We have spent a little over 25.000 years inside the “womb” of Mother Earth, and what is happening to us now is our birth. A birth is one of the most painful and traumatic event for both the mother and the child, but on the “other side”, it is very much like entering into another dimension.
And now you see that we have created on the outside, an infinitely more complex reflection of what we are on the inside:
- The transition to “clean” energy sources is the same as the moment when the umbilical cord is cut and the baby takes its first breath. Notice that at the moment, we are indeed nourished by the “blood” of our Mother… “fossil” fuels…
- Pollution and other environmental degradation are a reflection of what happens when a baby goes beyond term. The amniotic fluid starts the become toxic as the baby continuously pees inside of the womb and is in danger of being poisoned by his own excrement… How adequate to describe our current situation with polluted oceans, landfills, nuclear waste, pesticides and many more as drowning in our own “pee”.
- A great many complications can happen during pregnancy, including the baby being strangled by the umbilical cord. Indeed, the “elites”, governments and banks are very much like the placenta, which positions itself as the intermediary via which all nutrients flow into the baby’s body. If the baby has the cord tied around its neck, it can experience the placenta as trying to starve it instead of feeding it.
- The financial system corresponds to the circulatory system and the heart which is in charge of distributing the energy/oxygen (money at our level) throughout the body to each of its cells. Today, it is very much dependent on the placenta, but once the umbilical cord is cut, it’s a brand new financial system we are looking at. Don’t you find that following the news about the financial system shows signs of an imminent collapse? (Deutsche bank, the central bankers’ bubble, trade wars…) The Internet is like our nervous system. It is supposed to connect each and every one of us (individual cells) to coordinate our decisions in order to act like one global organism. Just observe any baby once outside the womb, it clearly lacks all sense of coordinated movement. So let’s not be in a hurry. It’s just a start!
- At scale, our birth is probably going to take a decade or more, so let’s just buckle up and prepare for a heck of a ride ! On the other side, however, it’s going to be wonderful.
In other words, what we have experienced was a normal and natural process of evolution at our level. You can summarize the entire story of the human species as trying to uncover the rules which allow for a harmonious interaction between humans. And we are getting darn close. Capitalism, the “evil elites”, was just one way that this global organism has of multiplying and growing (just look at the graph of human population growth, and put it side by side with the growth of a human embryo). It could have been less painful, it could have gone more smoothly, but it was always part of the plan. And capitalism, the current “unfair” financial system, all of it will be transcended naturally just like a baby grows from being 8 months old in the womb to being 9 months old and his lungs are being prepared to breathe for the first time.
You finally remember how all of this started: you wanted to know if you would give 5€ to a beggascammer in the street or not. And at the end of your journey, the answer is…
You don’t have a god damn clue.
If you try to integrate all of the “lessons” and levels above, what you get is a contradictory schizophrenic chaos where things make sense and at the same time, you’re still right here, on this rock hurdling through space with climate change on your door step. What the f*** are you supposed to do? Let things run their course? If this is a “natural” process, then you may as well just kick your heels up and wait! Or maybe, imbued with the righteousness of the Truth, become a cell which is part of the immune system and attack other cells which you believe are bacteria and viruses… Who is to tell?
Look at your hands. Take your right hand, and scratch your left hand hard with your index finger. From your perspective, as a global organism, you just feel dumb and ashamed for inflicting yourself harm. You don’t punish your right hand’s index or pity the dead skin cells on your left hand. You vow never to do such a stupid thing again and send lots of love to your left hand for a prompt recovery.
From the perspective of your cells, if they were clueless about being part of a global organism (you) and behaved like us at our current level of understanding and awareness, they would send in a camera crew to film the massacre and butchery of the millions of dead skin cells which suffered this dreadful ordeal under the sneaky and uncalled for attack of your right hand’s index finger. The rest of the body might be deliberating whether a coalition of armed cell forces should invade your index finger and put those cells in jail or simply cut off your index finger altogether.
Which perspective is “true”? Both are. In the end, you are left to your own inner wisdom, your intuition, your gut feeling and the most fundamental questions of all. Who are you? Who do you want to be? Do you feel like giving money to that lady in the street or not?
But the “big picture” does give you a sense of comfort and faith, that something much bigger is at play here, something that is beyond our understanding. It’s not that we don’t have a “part” to play, but that the outcome is not necessarily in our control. Think of your left hand and the wound of the scratch you left behind. What do you think happens next? That each single white cell that comes to disinfect the wound has a predetermined destiny? No. Rather, there is a higher form of intelligence which can account for the free will of your own cells and creates enough white cells in excess to ensure that the end result, that of your wound being disinfected, is guaranteed, even if there are a nearly infinite number of ways it can be done. By the same token, we will move beyond capitalism, overcome climate change, and be born to another dimension whether we like it or not.
The most fundamental guiding principles are therefore to be found within.Why do you think a white cell goes about happily disinfecting your wound? Because it knows it is a white cell, and knowing what it is, it also knows that doing something which is in accordance with what it is will bring it joy, meaning, purpose, fulfillment, happiness and peace of mind.
It’s so frustrating, after all this mystical and esoteric “trip” to be thrown some banalities which have been around forever: follow your passions, follow your heart, do what feels right to you… Because ultimately, if we follow what brings us true, meaningful joy, we will be in alignment with who we are, and will receive all the necessary resources to do what we are, just like a white cell receives all the necessary resources for it to do what it is meant to do.
Overall feeling: Very Positive, hopeful, ecstatic, at Peace with the Universe, God, Infinity, and Everything.
If you’ve read this article up to this point, you may be wondering why I’m bothering to write a conclusion. Doesn’t it sound like an ending, just above?
What you may have forgotten, is that the introductory paragraph was about a specific subject altogether: how rewriting your past from your eternal “present” moment changes the future you will get to experience.
Just look back at the story of the lady asking for money. At the different stages of understanding you have reached, you have reinterpreted or you could even say rewritten what has happened to you in the past: aka, you gave money to a lady petitioning in the street. As your perspective shifted, your likely behaviour faced with a similar situation also shifted. And so you understand that reinterpreting, rewriting or healing your past is absolutely key if you want to change who you are and what you want to experience. If you had stuck with the perspective from “Day 2” and the information your colleague gave you about that lady ripping you off, what kind of behaviour would you have displayed the next time around? Similarly, if you don’t heal childhood traumas, and hold on to those memories and defining moments determining who you are (for instance, a teacher telling you that you are dumb as a board and you’ll never succeed in life), then your life story may just be a repeating sequence of similar events where you find confirmation of the memories you hold onto (you’re as dumb as a board and will never succeed). What you think about yourself and what you think about the World is a prism which filters out all of the complex layers of reality and will get you to experience just one shade, just one dimension to an infinitely deep and complex reality.
What do you want to see? A genuine lady collecting funds for a good cause? A scammer extorting money from naïve passersby? A desperate women trying to survive and helping her angry husband pay his debts? An agent unknowingly working for the profits of a pay day lending bank? A slave at the end of a long chain of intermediaries sucking up wealth to the ultra rich via dividends? Another victim of a faceless “system” which controls the entire human race and will eventually spell the collapse of the entire human civilization? A fellow struggling cell inside the body of a global organism which is about to be born to a transcendental reality?
Perhaps you can see all of these at once, which will enable you to play whatever role you want to play in this Grand Theater called Life. When you begin to see Life in this way, you understand that it is not the outside world that changes, it is you that changes. You are like a painter which has rediscovered that he/she can use an infinite number of colors besides black and white. It may just enable him/her to paint Life in a more intricate, deep, profound and beautiful way.
Original article: https://firstname.lastname@example.org