Posted by: johnhourihan | July 20, 2017

The Mustard Seed – 2095


This is the first chapter of my book that shows you don’t have to choose between science and religion. They say the same things. Read it if you like. If you enjoy it and would like to see another chapter, mail me a few bucks, whatever you can afford. If I get at least twenty dollars in total, I will print the next chapter. My current address is John Hourihan, 1778 Ala Moana Bnjoy.

The Mustard Seed:
2095

By John Hourihan

He said, ‘How will we liken the Kingdom of God? Or with what parable will we illustrate it? It’s like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, though it is less than all the seeds that are on the earth, yet when it is sown, grows up, and becomes greater than all the herbs, and puts out great branches, so that the birds of the sky can lodge under its shadow.’”
— Mark 4:30–32, The Holy Bible, Catholic Edition

“In all of us, even in good men, there is a lawless wild-beast nature, which peers out in sleep.”
― Socrates


INTRODUCTION
Four billion years ago he had looked out with the eagerness of a child over what had been created for him by his elder. The maelstrom of dust and gas, blackness and gravity was all reinvented for him inside his mind, everything that was created from nothing. Violent collisions of matter, light and fire began to coalesce into formations. Then the formations began to enlarge attracting more and more gas and dust into objects. Soon they found their patterns and began to orbit each other on a journey through the universes.
“Where were we in this?” he asked his elder.
“Not yet,” was the only answer. “Watch.”
The smaller objects began journeys around the larger and intensely heated gas giants. The fire giants spread into the universes and dragged their children with them. Aeons later the children began to cool holding the heat from the fire giant deep inside them. Volcanoes on the surfaces of the children, planets, added gasses from the still hot interior to the atmosphere. Methane covered the planet. Hydrogen and oxygen added water and the outer surface cooled more.
“Where were we?” asked the young one.
“We were being created here, just now, in the age of volcanoes from the light given off by the fire giant sun.We were on Earth when the crust began and liquid water formed on the outer surface. We watched the early protozoic life form, and never believed it would come to replace us on Earth, but it is also a curse to live so long.” The young one watched as plants brought photosynthesis and the earth greened and the oceans turned blue.
“We spirits reigned here alone for billions of years, then we were told to farm the mats of microbes, then the plants, then the beings of matter, and we were told to tend to them all.”
The elder turned his attention elsewhere and the vision stopped. “You know the end.” The vision faded to black and the young one returned to his genetics.

Chapter One
“Let there be among you a person who understands. When the crop ripened, he came quickly carrying a sickle and harvested it. Anyone here with two good ears had better listen!” – The Gospel of Thomas, Nag Hammadi, Codex II

“There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.” – Leonardo da Vinci

It was warm for June and getting warmer as Campaign Formulator Sixth Level Raphael Aronson, half way up the outside wrought-iron stairway to his apartment building, paused to let his breath catch up with him. “Jesus,” he said. “I don’t believe this heat.”
He wiped the sweat from his forehead with the back of his right hand and looked out over the hazy cityscape below from the safety of the ninth floor of the Radisson Building. He lived on the eighteenth floor. His whole body was drenched from the walk home and the climb up the side of the building. With the systematic eradication of the central federal government, beginning in the first few decades of the millennium nearly 75 years ago, most people had moved back to the cities. They didn’t all fit. It was crowded, but the outlying towns were just too “uncontrolled.” This state was one of the ones that had given up and let their police forces go and their infrastructure dissolve. From then on local boards, dominated by those who could make money, now made the laws. For instance, the small Massachusetts town Raphael had come from as a boy was now being run by the company that owned the water. The company was owned by Tod Berga, who was suspected to be the richest man in the country if not the world. Raphael Aronson looked down the side of the granite building. He was happy to be here in New Clovis. Life was good.
“It’s like a mountain,” he thought, “and I live in a cave in its side. But with a TV.”
Below him, Enterprise Boulevard came to a “T” with Republic Avenue just at the entrance to his building. He never entered the building at the downstairs doorway because the climb inside was stifling compared to being outside in the free air. Well, it was sort of free, Raphael thought. His electric bill had recently added a small charge at the bottom called, “Your fair share for clean air.” He thought it ironic that the power companies had done away with all regulations and polluted the air and were now charging their customers to cut down on the filth they had put in there themselves. “Wouldn’t it be nice if they were just better people,” he thought.
Enterprise, a street that long ago was the heart of the financial district, was now a mile-long downhill gauntlet of cracked roadway bordered by crumbling sidewalks. Raphael thought that he could remember when automobiles used to fill the street with blaring horns and screeching tires taking the turn too fast, and drivers shouting out the opened windows at each other. That was before the decimation of the Middle East by the French and Americans in the third decade of the century turned the only oil fields left into a glowing desert, the sand having turned to glass from the bombs. The government explained to everyone after the end of the Middle East war that there was no more oil left for consumers. The Republic had compensated everyone for the gas-powered automobiles they turned in and banned the manufacture of new ones. Within a few decades the population was ready to absorb an all-out ban on driving. The auto manufacturers were soothed with new orders for war vehicles and material. There were new war plants established throughout the country, and it became one’s patriotic duty to live near one and work there, so there were plenty of jobs, and people no longer needed to drive long distances to work. It was like beating the plow shares, 18-wheelers and family cars back into weapons. Now, with all the cars gone, Enterprise was a frighteningly raucous walkway of city people heading to and from work, walking down the center of the road equidistant from the side-dwellers of homeless families in makeshift tents, and black market vendors selling cigarettes, music vids, beer and TV minutes, and the pick pockets and thugs on roller skates or motorized skateboards who, because of the ceaseless boredom, were looking for a chance to change what they did yesterday into something new for today. There were some one-story century-old houses tucked in between three- and four-story buildings, but most of the zone was full of tents tucked between the buildings. Whenever his walk home from work arrived at Enterprise, Raphael would pull back his un-tucked shirt to expose his .38 revolver. It made the walk home feel safer even though pretty much everyone else had a weapon too and the un-policed world lived under the threat of mutually assured individual destruction. The second law of the New Republic guaranteed that everyone could have a gun. It had been a remnant of an earlier time, like so many of the rules. Of course, also like so many of the rules, the second rule was counter-weighted by the sixth rule. “Thou shalt not kill, except in war.”
That is where he was coming from now, work at campaign headquarters. The late afternoon sunlight glinted off the higher windows on the right side of the street. He watched the haze of fog roll up the street from Fisherman’s Wharf. No one knew why it was still named after fishermen when there hadn’t been any fish in the bay for nearly 70 years. Raphael, now in his mid-thirties, seemed to remember his grandfather fishing at a lake somewhere off in the interior, but that was of course before the purge; before the Republic became the Republic and the environmental laws were discarded as needless and counter-productive, and the earth, especially near the city, became a cesspool surrounded by buildings. It wasn’t good for the health of anything except the bees, which flourished now even in the cities.
At the eighteenth floor he pushed open the door and stepped inside. He always enjoyed the first 10 or 12 floors because of the view, but then his fear of heights took over and he clutched with white knuckles the iron rail bolted to the outside stairway for the last six or eight floors. With the height of his anxiety growing with each step, he was always happy and relieved to reach the top and push inside the door to the safety of the hallway to his room and the rooms of six other campaign workers. He never went to the roof as the others did in the evenings. He liked the breeze and the sight of the birds, but the heights were too oppressive. He did his mandatory exercise in his room.
The darkened hall was hot enough so the Kelly green walls seemed to be leaning inward. Toward the end, he approached his room; Number 418. He adjusted the picture he had thumb-tacked to the center of the door panel just above the number. It was a picture his great-grandfather had kept from the old days when his family owned a farm. It was the picture of a strange horse that Raphael assumed was one of the animals that had been on the farm. The heat and humidity during the summer months caused the cardboard to slip nearly every day and each evening he would have to right it. It was his attempt at individuality. He had no idea why he would tempt things that way, but it just felt refreshing to have his door look a little different from the other ones on the floor.
“Similarity breeds contentment.” The thought slipped into his mind uninvited.
Inside his room he headed directly to the “energy saving” window air controller and twisted the knob to cooler. The whir of the quartz-driven motor added itself to the hum from the one attached to the overhead light. He walked to the kitchen table next to the second and only other window and sat where he could see Republic Avenue stretch downhill all the way to the airport. He liked to eat his dinner here and watch the camouflaged airplanes arrive and depart to and from the war in the Southwest. It seemed the country had always been at war with Mexico since the wall had been built during the beginning of the twenty-first century
Before cooking, he decided to watch the TV. He slid his credit card into the slot at the bottom of his 65-inch Samsung and turned to ESPN6. Six was where his favorite team was broadcast. It was one of the “Entitled” channels. Usually, being a Member, he would watch the On Demand pay channels, but he enjoyed the games nearly as much as the “Entitleds,” and tonight the Patriots were playing.
He hurried to the sink to draw water. The electricity would stay on for the entirety of the game since the electric company was owned by the Republic, but the water usually went off around 7:30 or 8 and he was going to need enough for dinner, his weekly bath, and enough for coffee and to shave in the morning. The heavy chlorine smell rose from the three buckets he was filling through a short length of hose attached to the kitchen faucet.
It was 6:40. There was still enough time to open a beer and check the numbers for today’s lottery before the football game would start. Although Raphael felt a comfort in the rules of the Republic he also enjoyed many of the things the “Entitleds” enjoyed, but only in the privacy of his apartment. There was no need to tell anyone else. Just as he returned from his water chores his microwave dinged and he pulled his USR-sanctioned dinner out, burned his fingers and dropped the cardboard tray unspilled onto the counter.
“It is your responsibility,” he sing-songed mimicking the voice in the daily meditations, “to keep yourself healthy by exercise, meditation and eating the prescribed USR meals five times a week.” He usually left his dinner feeling hungry, but hunger was just part of life for all but the Republic and some of the Associates.
He pulled the microwavable cardboard tray of vegetable lasagna from the counter and sat it on the table in front of him. He adjusted his chair with the knob on the bottom so he could see the TV, but since the game hadn’t started yet he absent-mindedly began to read the food box as he ate.
INGREDIENTS: veg. lasagna patty (pasta, duram wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid) silicon dioxin, water, eggs, egg whites, whey, milk, cream vinegar, xanathan gum, locust bean gum, guar gum, pinto beans, spinach, cultured milk solids, salt , enzymes, ..” He would have read the next half of the ingredients but the game had begun.
As usual, his team, the Patriots jumped out to an early lead. He seemed to remember hating this team at some time in the past, but it was now somehow satisfying and calming that they nearly always won, and on the very rare occasion when they did lose, the announcers blamed it on the referees and everyone took solace in hating the officials. He didn’t know anyone who wasn’t a Patriots fan, so there were very few sports arguments, only the weekly dose of satisfaction with the win. Again tonight they bested the London Merchantiles, and as he switched off the TV Raphael heard himself reiterating the team motto, “If you want it, earn it. Do your job.” It was also the first rule of the Republic.
He walked his practiced route around the room shutting off each four-inch disc-shaped quartz generator attached to each appliance in the apartment. Just before he unplugged his wallet from the cable in the wall he heard the sound of an old cash register as his winnings from the football game were added automatically to his card.
“Save energy or go without,” he chimed (Rule 15) when all his devices, except for the TV which he turned to “mute,” had been shut down for the night. He laughed. Raphael didn’t mind the rules. They just seemed like common sense to him, and they seemed to pop into his head at the most appropriate times as reminders. He wondered if others went through the same thing. He was more than content with his profession as a campaign supervisor level six. He loved his job, and as he slid into bed and pulled the covering sheet up over his shoulders he smiled anticipating the morning, his workout and his walk to work. Life was good for Raphael Aronson. The rules kept people in check even without police, and there was nothing that he couldn’t live his way through with a modicum of happiness

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Responses

  1. I’ve had the pleasure of reading this book!!! I highly recommend it to all!! It’s a book you just don’t want to put down. Quite a trip!!


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