If you were to have entered that room you would certainly have been taken aback. In fact, it was much less a room, more a cavernous space. Within, there was an unfathomable number of little beings rushing around, busily engaged in various tasks. They – the beings – were odd-looking. All were naked, although the concept meant less to them as they didn’t have any private parts to hide or expose. Their skin was a pleasant grey-brown colour and their heads were small and oval (wider than they were high). A pair of attractive almond eyes – like a cat’s – were set in each head.
The frenetic activity was taking place on a dizzying variety of horizontal levels in the space. The majority of the creatures were working at floor level, but there were also others who were busy on multiple mezzanine levels. Some were even suspended in mid-air from harnesses, gliding like trapeeze artists between levels and workstations. Lights, dials and screens entirely covered the walls and desks and this equipment was the focus of the beings’ attention. The centrepiece of everything was an enormous table set on the ground floor, upon which was a miniature landscape. The model was covered in thousands (or maybe, millions or billions) of small figures, which reminded me of plastic toy soldiers. A cluster of the alien beings surrounded the table and were engaged in what seemed like heated discussion.
I couldn’t understand their burbling, high-pitched language, however I later learned what they were talking about. Apparently, it was along the lines of the following.
Zerkyl stood up to his full 1 metre height and glared down at the others “How you can still give him” – he pointed to Suskri – “credence is beyond me. We have given him every opportunity to allow this so-called inner goodness to reveal itself, and still we have nothing. I say again, ignore this feeble bleating and let us continue with my plan.”
The speaker was a fiery individual. His hair was red and, though a feature of his species was a lack of facial expression, he somehow often looked angrier than the others. Ordille the stood up. Everything about her countenance was the opposite of Zerkyl. She was slow, calm and deliberate. She was an elder and enjoyed total respect from the others, although that didn’t mean that they didn’t argue with her. She spoke gently. “I like the inner goodness idea myself. However, they do have a responsibility to grasp the opportunities we provide and they must create their own future. In the absence of such initiative, Zerkyl’s plan should not be thwarted. Although I must say Zerkyl, that turning their freedom, their moment of triumph back on themselves, back into greed calamity and destruction was devious, but typical of your dark genius”
Zerkyl smiled. He took everything as a compliment. If he was bad, that was cool. If he was cool, that was bad (as in ‘superbad’). If he was clever – well, he knew he was anyway. He also never tired of recounting his former glories. “Thank you Ordille. I must say, I was glad that they responded exactly as I predicted to my previous plan. I mean, the last time we did this, I had utterly decimated them via their vanities and anger and hatred. It was hilarious. But yes, I was shocked to watch them come together afterwards, join hands, build bridges, be more shall we say human?” He laughed a little, then Suskri interjected
“Yes Zerkyl, how very fearful you were when the young people, that new flowering of youth, spoke the language of love, of freedom, of music? I had never seen you so subdued. Inner goodness was right there. It was rising.”
Zerkyl snapped back his face almost forming an acrid little smile “You still believe in them don’t you? You fool! That goodness was paper-thin. Paper-thin!” He realised that his voice was rising so he took a moment to calm himself. “I knew it was, which is why I introduced my most recent plan.”
“Oh yes” sighed Suskri. He knew a slice of Zerkyl self-agrandissment was coming. “Plan ‘NL'”.
“Precisely” Zerkyl licked his lips.”I agreed with the little weaklings. Yes, I told them, be free, be your unique selves, be individual and then I twisted it ever so slightly to shift the emphasis to individualism via greed rather than individualism in oneness. They didn’t notice the subtle shift and that’s how the dark got in.” Zerkyl threw his head back and cackled. “Wasn’t it hilarious Suskri?”
Suskri said nothing.
Zerkyl stared intensley at him and continued “No you have nothing to say, do you? So we continued with the next phase of the plan. To destroy community and brotherhood completely, I introduced material sociability – ‘electronic’ I think they call it down there. They then willingly – insanely – shifted the basis of their social relations to this ‘toy’. How could these little gods of yours be so stupid, Suskri? My mechanical sociability has no spirituality and no soul. It can be controlled and manipulated by my agents. You’ve lost. The new generation is growing up knowing only these mechanistic relationships.”
He ran his hand through the tuft of red hair on the top of his head and looked contented. “When we empty the mechanistic community of the last vestiges of your love, the new generation won’t know how to form the bonds which gave you your thin victories in the past Suskri. Love will have been sidelined. Then I win Suskri. Checkmate. Game over.”
Ordille looked at Suskri and sighed a little wearily. This conflict had been stewing away for longer than the universe had existed. In a way she wanted it to be over, one way or another. She knew however, that despite Zerkyl’s crowing, unexpected events often changed the balance of play and she knew that goodness had a way of rising from utter destruction.
“What do you say Suskri?”
“They will come together yet. You’ll see”. Suskri said.
Zerkyl grinned. “You know, you’re not wrong Suskri.” Suskri looked puzzled but prepared himself for the twist. “I agree, they will get to to the stage where they will realise the emptiness of my mechanistic sociability. I think some of them are already starting to do so.” He chuckled to himself. “But the genius of my plan is that, when they decide that they want to return to the old way – to brotherhood, to community, to love – they’ll no longer have the means and methods to do so. They’ll be out of practice Suskri! All they’ll know is mech. The younger ones especially, they’ll have only experienced mech”
Zerkyl gave Suskri another of his intense stares. It was suffused with triumph.
This time Suskri laughed. “And I have to agree with you my frightening friend. At this moment it appears that you have won. On my side however, I have chance, emergence, the unexpected. I have human free will in all its complex and unpredictable loveliness. That combined with the will-to-love will win.” He stated this last point in a matter-of-fact tone of voice, as if explaining the colour of the sky or the likelihood of a dawn tomorrow.
“You’re a dreamer, Suskri. Batten down the hatches. Prepare for carnage pal” Zerkyl glowered.
“After birth death is certain after death birth is certain. Of the unavoidable therefore there is no cause for grief”
Zerkyl kissed his teeth and shook his head. He made a move to leave and spat out “What on earth does that mean?”
Suskri answer gently. “It means that there’ll always be goodness and and there’ll always be horror, but above it all there is a bigger picture.”
Zerkyl walked away, shaking his head.
Suskri laughed and called after him, “it’s pronounced ‘Lover’!”
Zerkyl seemed to be heading in my direction. His demeanour did not appear at all welcoming so I decided to leave. I tiptoed backwards, and fell head over arse out of the door into that void which is free from all temporal causation. There I pondered upon what I had seen and heard.