Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Chapter Fourteen


While the literary Rebellion fights for its survival; while various other gangs plot against the rebels but also against themselves, the n+1 "Negativity Plus" boys have abandoned the battle altogether. Their latest project: building an "End of the World" underground shelter.

They meet in their current green-walled Manhattan headquarters, spartanly furnished, the walls bare save for one tattered poster of Karl Marx; tables empty except for stacks of unsold copies of their hysterical (both meanings) journal.

The five-person decision-making staff sit around a trapezoidally-shaped staff table with one leg shorter than the others, so that it rests permanently askew.

"This is the plan," Chad Harebrane, the looniest of their loony hyper-intellectualized ranks, lectures while unfurling many dozens of graphically colored blueprints and charts. "The planet begins to reach maximum crisis point early next year. I've located an abandoned stretch of subway on the upper west side. I've taken it over. Stocks of soon-to-vanish oil will power our computers and air-conditioning."

"Oil?" one of the others asks.

"Oil," Chad affirms. "It's vanishing anyway. Might as well grab our share." (Ideological consistency is never a concern with these fellows.)

"A private jet, already fueled, will be down there with us, so we can continue our flights to Cali and Europe. Best of all"-- he points to a stairway on a map-- "this leads directly to the heart of Columbia U, so we'll be able to continue to teach, at least until the heat aboveground becomes intolerable, which I estimate will take a few semesters."

A self-satisfied smirk, of a kind usually seen in an Idiot ward, takes shape about the corners of his mouth.

"What about food stocks?" one of the other sober-faced nut cases throws at him with an Inquisitional glare.

"Plenty of food stocks!" Chad assures them. "Enough for staff and select friends-- very select friends-- five dozen in all-- our entire readership actually-- plus allowances for expected 1.1 children per couple, though why we'd care to introduce new human-types into this awful planet is beyond comprehension. All-in-all, an adequate plan; enough food, oil, jet fuel, and DVDs of pretentiously bad foreign language movies to keep us entertained, right to the deadline of Earth Day, April 22, 2050."

"What happens then?" the others ask, hunching closer around the cockeyed staff table.

"Why, the world ends," Chad tells them.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Chapter Thirteen


While gangleader Boss Eggers and the mysterious monied string-puller in the Black Hat have lunch together in a tony Manhattan restaurant, the Counterinsurgency plan intended to wipe out the Literary Resistance once and for all is implemented. Participating in the Plan, receiving directions from above, are a host of reactionary new lit organizations.

Such as: Blueblood Literary Alliance Haute (aka BLAH!); or, for those not blue-blooded enough, the Ultra Literary Trustfunders (ULTras), taking their name from aristocratic reactionaries during the French Revolution. Less well organized, and less serious, frankly, is the Mauve Hundreds, modeling themselves after the infamous Black Hundreds from the final days of Czarist Russia.

While Boss Eggers and his patron talk, and the leaders of the ULA vanish underground, the Mauve Hundreds hold their initial meeting at a fancy Manhattan bistro.

"Isn't this exciting?" one of them remarks while sampling jumbo-sized shrimp and sipping from a flavored martini. Inside the bistro, within the gaily-lit room, all appears to those gathered there to be secure and wonderful.

"We are going to wipe out the mosquitos!" a well-dressed publishing exec screams drunkenly, mauve mascara disarrayed over her mad eyes.

Hey, they overwork themselves into a frazzle for the garbage books they produce, and so are entitled to relax on occasion; loosening ties or corsets (the latest fashion trend); getting drunk or snorting high-priced cocaine-- only the best for them.

"Power to the Privileged!" a young man in a silk shirt and golden tie responds, thrusting his fist into the air. "All Power to the Conglomerates!"

The other partygoers look at him questioningly, wondering if he's being ironic. They are unused to anyone speaking UNironically, and can no longer tell the difference between genuineness, faux-genuineness, or pure snarkiness.

A hint of worry runs through them, as they remember why they've gathered. Can this possibly be one of the rebels? Does anyone know the person? Have the rebels crashed even this affair; done it to them again? Where are the bouncers, the bodyguards, the security people? They must throw him out to be safe!

After awhile they notice that there aren't hundreds of them gathered after all, but about two dozen-- those most committed to preserving things-as-they-are. (Given the lack of commitment from such people to anything but their own careers, this is actually a fantastic turnout, indication of how much the rebels have become feared.)

"Oh well," the mascara'd power-executive woman says while reaching for the drinks tray. "We'll be the Mauve Dozens!"

Longer-term literary reactionaries are already in full gear. One of the founders of the Lit-Blacklisters Co-Op is busily typing a novel intended to denounce-- in typically obscure fashion, with obscure but elegantly crafted prose-- the grubby band of rebels. It will provide justification of a sort-- at least, rationalizations-- for the hypocrisy, from such good liberal folks, of the Blacklist, and provide a framework for the Co-Op's existence, which after all is a Co-Op in that it's been fully "co-opted" by the establishment; by the minions of Mr. Black Hat himself.

The book's working title: "Sycophancy USA."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Chapter Twelve


Climbing the steps to a Writers House on an Ivy League campus to post flyers, in the realm of the enemy, the leader of the ULA notices a sudden smell or chill in the air. He studies the movie-backdrop expanse of slate-gray clouds overhanging the city.

When he steps back outside, the cautionary feeling lingers. He's been betrayed so many times, on so many occasions almost destroyed,, that he's developed a sixth sense about such things. There isn't, really, anything different in the air. It's instead an accummulation of minute changes which have been building. Several key unanswered e-mails. Cryptic remarks from people. A suddenly cancelled meeting. This moment, an extra car or two upon nearby streets. A chill from the overall literary environment which surrounds the place.

The ULA's rebellion has been tolerated, but the amused, mildly irritated tolerance has ceased. The band of literary rebels have once too-often crossed the line between being merely quirky and becoming a genuine threat to the network of established literary gangsterism which dominates the racket; which controls most of the territory.

The ULA's unique position is to be feared and hunted by all sides, gangsters and literary police alike. Now word has come down from on high. Tolerance of any dissent is over. The mob bosses have lost patience. The shadowy figure above them in his wavering sanity has lost patience. The packs of destruction have been unleashed.

The ULA's leader-- front man more than leader, as the amorphous rebellion has no leader-- catalogues the things he needs, and where they are, how quickly he can get to them, what time a certain bus departs. He makes plans in his head to vanish as fast as possible within the shadows of this east coast city, or to leave it.