Saturday, August 01, 2015

A Decision

I've decided to follow the example set by Ayn Rand and place the novel I'm writing in a slightly different universe.

One difference is obvious.

On this evening it was beginning to snow.

In most respects it was just another Monday for Evelyn Alexander Keller.  After a day of classes at the Minneapolis Technical Institute he had just finished another two hours shift at the Fanny Farmer candy shop on the northwest corner of Fourth Street and Second Avenue in Downtown Minneapolis.  The part time job was the source of income that paid for the tuition and covered the financial burden of his hobbies.

And on the day before his twentieth birthday he decided to treat himself a bit early.  TSR had just released the Deities and Demigods book for Advanced Dungeons And Dragons.  Although his primary interest was in science fiction and the Traveller role playing game he was willing to play D&D on occasion.  And of course he kept himself up to date on the rule books.

His immediate destination was The Little Tin Soldier Shop.  This was a small store just off the southwest corner of Lake Street and Bryant Avenue in South Minneapolis.  The owner was a veteran of the Korean War and in the retail area up front he sold war games and miniature combatants to adults and role playing games to naive young fellows like myself.  In the back of the store was the gaming area with several folding tables where war games were played during business hours and on some nights after closing time.  Except on Thursday nights when the floor was open for gamers to try to sink each others carefully painted miniature warships with imaginary cannon fire.

When he arrived there was one copy remaining on display of the book.  As he picked it up someone spoke.  It was a teenage boy and by the accent and attire he had to be a rich kid from the Kenwood section of Minneapolis.
   
“I want it.”  He said.

Keller turned to the boy and replied.

“Kid, you should ask Don if he has any more copies in stock, or when the next shipment from TSR is due.”

The kid responded.

“Don?”

Keller replied.

“Don Valentine, that’s the gentleman behind the counter, and if it looks like he’s been through Hell it’s because he has.”


The kid looked at Don and then spoke to Keller again.

“My uncle’s the Vice President.”

Keller was not impressed, there were a number of things he could have said about outgoing Vice President Walter March, but he decided to be polite.

“Kid, one thing that you have to learn is that Reality is Real and that in reality you’re not entitled to a damned thing.  Your relatives and the social and economic status they have means absolutely nothing in the real universe.”

He then had a thought--and then a second thought--it may be a bit early to introduce the lad to Metaphysical Realism.

Keller spoke to him a last time.

“Kid, just to the the south of Lake and Hennepin is a store called Orr Books.  Take the money you were going to use for Deities and Demigods and ask the clerk for a copy of A Collection Of Essays by George Orwell.  And when you get home go straight to the essay titled Politics And the English Language, it’s a real eye opener.”

And it’s a real mind opener, too.  He thought.

With the conversation over he paid for the purchase, skipped the planned visit to a nearby record store and went directly home.  Upon arrival he went straight to his room and turned on the radio.  KQRS, the local album rock station was now reporting that John Lennon had just been shot to death in New York.

Shit.  Keller thought.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Thought



Some procedures actually work.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Scene from The Novel

Carl Grant had arrived on Freya and checked into a hotel in one of the suburbs of Landfall..  But he had to wait a full local day for the scheduled meeting with the defense secretary as all local government offices were closed on what would have been a normal business day. 

Why was this?

Grant left the hotel early for the meeting and hailed one of the taxicabs waiting at the cab  stand.  It was a Ford Galaxy sedan that had seen service as a police car and was now painted in the company colors of red and white.  The driver appeared to be entering middle age with glasses, a mustache, and a fringe of blond hair.  And he wore his old style M1911A1 in a shoulder holster.

The driver asked a question.

“Where to, sir?”

“The Planetary Government Center in Landfall.”

“There are multiple buildings on the site,” said the driver, “so what department are you visiting?”

Grant answered.

“The Department of Planetary Security.”

“Okay.”

The driver switched on the meter and electric motors hummed as the cab pulled away from the hotel.  But something about the way the driver responded to him seemed a bit odd to Grant.  It was as if he were speaking with a long term veteran soldier.

“Is there a problem?”  He asked the driver.

“No sir, it’s just that the Founders wanted to call it the War Department, but the groundhogs
wouldn’t allow it.”

Grant responded.

“The Federation authorities?” 

“Yes.”  The driver replied.

And then the driver asked his own question.

“Are you a writer, sir?”

“Yes.”  He replied.  “Of military theory for the most part, of works such as On War by Clausewitz.”

The driver’s response was a surprise to him.

Vom Kriege by General Karl Maria von Clausewitz.”  He said.  “I tried several times to read the complete Standard English edition and the damned thing always put me to sleep.”

“Well military theory is not for everyone.”  Grant curtly replied.

The driver quickly and clearly responded.

“The thing is that Clausewitz began to write at a time when Kant was barely cold in the ground and Hegel had just started his emissions.  At that time the intellectual culture in Germany was already in deep trouble with clarity and brevity already going out of style.   

Grant had not expected a lecture on intellectual history from a common working man.

But he responded.

“I wrote a book on military doctrine titled Future Forces: Organization and Doctrine.”

“I’ve read it.”  Said the driver.

“So how do you feel about it?”

“I think Colonel Simmons wrote a fairly good review of it.  He clearly understood how the citizens out here on the colony worlds would respond to an invasion by your Future Force but didn’t explain the why...”

Grant sneered.

“Simmons...that moron...”

The driver solidly interrupted the sneer

“I served with him when he was a battalion commander in Afghanistan--and we don’t give out Sky Blue Berets as supermarket promotional items--even to West Point graduates.”

“So you were in the Quarantine Force and then retired out here?”

“No.”  The driver replied.  “I enlisted here and served on Earth.”

“Why?”

The driver smiled before answering.

“Because that’s where the enemy combatants are.”

Grant thought for a moment and then spoke again.

"Do you feel that the Quarantine Force are all true warriors?”

“Hell no!’  The driver suddenly snapped back.  “The goal of every warrior is to impose his will upon his victims.  And our mission in the Quarantine Force is to hunt down and kill warriors.”

Present tense.  Grant thought.  He spoke with hostility in the present tense.

Grant was now concerned for his own safety.

Is there a round in the chamber of his gun?

The cab then entered the main drive of the Planetary Government Center and stopped at the DPS Building.  Grant paid the fare in cash and without a gratuity.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Another Thought

I could describe House Harkonnen (from Dune) as subhuman garbage fit only for extermination but that would be an insult to subhuman garbage for only for extermination.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Legacy Part Six

October 1994

Al Keller stepped off of the Northwest Airlines flight from London upon arrival at the Twin Cities International Airport just to the south of Minneapolis.  He had been dressed casually for the flight with his old M-65 field jacket in the BDU camouflage pattern.  During the flight he was seated next to an obviously Kosher teenage girl and she insisted on having a conversation with him.

“So what do you do?”  She asked.

“Security.”  He replied.
   
This wasn’t too far from the truth.  After his medical retirement from the Army after being wounded during Operation Desert Storm he returned to Minnesota and was hired by a local security company.  During the weekdays and on overtime during the weekends he guarded office buildings in downtown Minneapolis.  When his old friend John March returned from Oxford they had a long conversation.  And at the end of it he accepted John’s offer.  There were moments during the training course that he would regret accepting the offer but now that he survived and passed the course he was back on American soil and out of the immediate reach of Commander Corder.

The girl was still curious.

“Security?”  She said.

“Yes.”  Al replied.  “I was babysitting office buildings in downtown Minneapolis but I got an offer to do bodyguard work and I just completed the the training course in the U.K.”

Al had decided to tell the truth but to spin it to appear legitimate.  The actual course covered the basic black operations of the security services and the objective of his final examination was to hunt down and terminate a journalist in hiding.  As part of the operation he took part in the execution and in dumping the body in a vacant lot while pretending to be an Irish terrorist.

In effect there was no way for him to return to an innocent state.

“So who will you be protecting?”  She asked.

“An old friend from the Army.”  Said Al.  “He’s from an old money family and he unfortunately is the type of person that members of home grown Marxist liberation fronts tend to kidnap for ransom.”

“Oh.”

Al continued.

“So anyway--after being wounded during Operation Desert Storm he was medically retired and continued his education at Oxford.   Now he has a teaching position at the U of M.”

“University of Minnesota?”  She said.  “Wouldn’t they disapprove of a combat veteran?”

“Depends on his ideology.”  Said Keller.  “But in this case he has an endowed chair and they have to accept him.”

The girl nodded.

After the flight Al Keller didn’t expect to ever see the girl again.

Sonya Newman would grow up and graduate from a Journalism School.  She would begin her career as a televison reporter at the Twin Cities affiliate of the Fox Network, KMSP Channel 9.   From there she would cover the campaign of John March for Governor of the State of Minnesota.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

An Old Story

I found a file of a short story that I wrote in my Libertarian Days.  I did update a few minor deatils on it.

It was March in Minneapolis and it was cold and wet. There wasn't a proper rain, only a drizzle from a low cloud ceiling. From where I worked the cash register of a parking lot one could not see the upper floors of the Wells Fargo and IDS towers. Or for that matter, the top of the skeleton of the aborted Starfire tower.

I was off duty at sixteen hundred (my employer, a security company, used military time). It had been in the Chinese sense an interesting day. We raised the half hourly rate for the second
time in a month. Not unexpected given government economic policy and I was still receiving curses and dumbfounded stares from the customers. One woman called me a Consentist son of a bitch.

I thanked her for the compliment.

Although it was damp I walked outdoors. On the skyways the enclosed bridges between buildings some people would ignore the convenient informational signs. They would see my security uniform and assume I knew all the answers to their stupid questions: "Where is the elevator? Where is (a building demolished five years ago?) Are you toxic? And have you been saved?"

I crossed the plaza of the old Federal Reserve Bank and started walking south on the mall. A street person probably male demanded change for bus fare. He/she/it cursed the Universe and me for not giving him/her/it an unearned existence.

Beyond Seventh Street, under the Skyway to Nowhere, was a clump of people being haranged. I looked at the boarded up skyway for new graffiti. Yes there was some. On the bridge between the
IDS tower and the terminally incomplete Starfire tower, someone had painted: "BEWARE OF FALLING DRAGONS".

I hadn't the faintest idea of what it meant.

I didn't stop as I passed the crowd. The man standing of on a home built platform was describing the evils of material existence. If he really believed what he uttering, he could have jumped off any of the convenient bridges in Minneapolis, or off the incomplete Starfire building. The fence around the abandoned work site wasn't really secure. The City Council was tiffed about that particular mess, but they only had themselves to blame.

I was halfway between Ninth and Tenth streets when somewhere behind me a bomb went off.

My first action was to jump into the convenient alley. I leaned against the north wall and counted off ten seconds. No other explosions or gunfire. I looked out. The antimaterialist speaker and his audience were gone,. I saw rising smoke, broken glass, and lumps of what looked like well dressed hamburger.

I ran back to the mess. Some cops had already arrived at the scene. I could read their faces. The older ones survivors of The Revolution showed no emotion. On the younger cops it was: "At
last someone who isn't a ghoul! Someone with first aid training! Can you do this sucking chest wound?"

Of course I could.

A Channel Four newsclown with his camera crew appeared. Many corespondents from that station are hired by the networks and one even got himself shot by a cop down in Guyana. The clown recorded his segment and left. 

He'll probably get a Koppel Award for it.

After those who could be saved were evacuated, I gave a statement to the police. I described everything I saw and heard including the speakers platform at what was now the center of the
blast area.

The cops gave me a lift to my flat. I lived in a small apartment  two blocks off of Lake of the Isles. I locked the door and took a long, hot shower. I have never really felt clean after messes like today's. Of course this time it wasn't a grunt hunt.

I opened a Diet Coke (the real thing was too sweet for me), switched on the anti-surveillance system, and booted up the PC. When I was finished, I placed the report on the day's incident with
the data I had gathered on the local politicians.

And once again I had the thought that I should have stayed home and helped Dad on his hemp farm outside of Rockstone, Guyana.