Excerpt from Zerø Day

Zerø Day will be available in the first half of 2018. Signup for a free ebook when it becomes available.

The field

These binoculars are ridiculous. I find using them annoying, and they magnify so much that any slight movement of the hand makes it hard to keep the frame still. You stand there with your elbows on your belly to keep it steady. I can see the woman we’re supposed to kill wandering in and out of the field of vision. She’s in a building full of other people. It’s just a house where people live. But here’s our target.

I hate this. The cost is so high and they hate us even more. I don’t know why we do this, but orders are orders. The technicians at the back always say they try to minimise casualties but I think that’s lies. They say that they killed some militants but that could be anybody that isn’t one of us. They don’t care about the kids and nobodies at all. Weapons are meant to be used, they have that about them. They’re meant to kill. They have no other purpose. Well, except making threats of killing, but where’s the fun in that?

Criminals should be put on trial. This? It’s just murder. But orders are orders, and that’s the way it is. For some reason the massive power of the country I live in needs rid of this woman, and whoever’s nearby. So that’s that.

“North East corner.”

“Confirm North East corner.”

The missile is called a Hell Fire. Some religious fuckwit thought it an appropriate name, obviously. It comes in and obliterates the building. Making the world a safer place for democracy. The drone dudes with the game controls in a shed far away from here raining the fire down get medals and so do I. What a joke. But no-one’s laughing anymore. Another $120,000 thermobaric warhead sucking the air out of a building and collapsing it. Kaboom, use before sell by date. Sorry about the kids.

The Toxic Empire

It informs (makes form) everything we do on this flat earth. Each step a burden, each breath laboured under the drag of the Empire’s goodness. We carry an us-sized weight when we first draw breath and it follows us all the way to whatever shallow death we end up saddled with. The shallowness is part of it. None of this is real, all is chimeric, fantastic, ungraspable, painful.

Woman now, has heavier weights. The wrong skin as much or more. Just not being the same accidental stamp as the empire’s owners brings you more to worry about if it turns its jaundiced eye on you, and maybe picks you out for extra pain or ridicule. This is even if you keep quiet, if you start speaking out the tiny minded will find you. Then, of course, the eager lackeys with the lighter weights queue up to tell you how lucky you are one of their febrile number didn’t rape you recently.

They have privilege, entitlement, the Empire taught them so. That makes it real and the swirl of garbage thoughts create a never-ending miasma for everyone else. But they’re so clever, even though they can’t understand no-one cares about their empty heads full of mephitic grasping. You’re grateful for their helping you with the ignorance you never knew you had. All that whining and posturing still never gets the girl, haven’t you noticed? No wonder they’re all so obsessed with robots and drowning in porn.

The empire, the lightless abyss, stole their human side and weaponised the brains of an endless parade of mummy’s boys who won’t go out on their own and live vicariously through limp collections of childhood toys. The spinning wheels of commerce have manufactured trophic, inchoate armies of light sabre wielding babies who are always heroes in the story of their own heads. Never working together, never a team achieving. Just individuals who can’t see, who have volunteered their empathy to what they see in the mirror. Rock stars made of rock, unable to see the irony.

We used to know we were slaves. No-one forced us to work for them but the false choice of starvation made it pretty clear who was what. Owned or owner, master or slave. But then the empire’s systemic weakness, pressure and change morphed the harsh reality into a smiling beneficent paradox. The machine needed massed ranks marching to military beat to spread out and conquer the world and those ranks function better when they believe. The sky cloth was cut for worship, and our beating hearts’ beauty perverted for their wars. The butcher’s apron raised above the fray, bright colours in the darkest of times. The butcher’s bill becomes almost infinite when everything is for sale.

So we are still free to starve, but as we starve our betters can pat us on the head and tell us how grateful we should be. The things we won from them years ago when they were weak from fighting, that we assumed would always be there, are being taken away. Too blinded by the spectacle, the dancing empty masks, we cannot see how everything we love is being consumed and turned toxic. We are freer than we ever were with their laws. We have no recourse to violence, even saying self defence. If they have that monopoly they hold the keys to the cages.

But, of course, their freedom is our slavery. They own, we starve. They control, we are controlled. We are volunteers for the unequal exchange, the grist to their mill, and the volunteering is what makes it ok. Every virtue, original thought, fragile beauty, is taken and made worthless by the touch of their markets. The system has no human face, don’t be fooled, don’t appeal to something that has never been there for a worthless boon. To make change you have to make change, don’t beg, they’ll just laugh at you. For humans it is, has been, and always will be broken. It has no human shape, takes no human values, except to sell them back to us as feeble flickering two dimensional writing on water of what we could have had or been. The naked, the sexy rebellion, backwards R revolution with no love or heart that goes nowhere.

The last gasp of the Toxic Empire will come when it chokes on its own waste, when it falls under its own weight. If we didn’t cooperate it could not bind us, blind us to its deadly machinations and empty pied piper certainties. But it’s so pretty, the flashing lights!

Can you feel it twisting inside you? The subtle inescapable knife of living now, in this hole? The blurring of vision, nothing sharp or clear? Your words babbling, the tears streaming? The black rain gathering in pools nearby. They dug us up, bright lights, because we weren’t dead enough.

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