Monday, October 8, 2012

Here is the story, "Countdown," as mentioned in the post dated September 24.  The story appears here in its original, unadulterated, and apparently incomprehensible form:

                Chelsea stood with the others in Times Square.  A hundred thousand people waited, perhaps more, their eyes fixed at the giant reader board.  A video feed showed the National Debt clock, from over on the Avenue of the Americas.  The numbers were running backwards.
                David had warned Chelsea, saying there would be too many people down there, worrying that something would happen.  But dammit, this was important, this was history.  Just because she and David lived together didn’t mean he owned her.  So as soon as he left for work, Chelsea had drifted to the Square, to wait with the others.  A whole section of New York was there.  Hot dog vendors, cabbies, students, old men and women, businessmen, cops, hookers – like at New Years Eve, all had gathered in the Square, effectively closing it down, all eyes concentrated on the evaporating debt.
                The numbers had grown to less than ten billion dollars by ten o’clock in the evening.  By ten minutes to midnight, it was under a billion.  A thrill of impending pandemonium ran through the crowd, like a great wave approaching a beach.   Like the compression of air before an onrushing train.  It was palpable.
                “This is it,” Chelsea said, to a complete stranger.  “This is really it.”
                “Yes,” the stranger said.
                When midnight approached, when the clock approached zero, everyone in the square began chanting the numbers, like the countdown to midnight on New Years’ Eve.
                “Eleven million…. Ten million…. Nine million…. Eight million…. Seven million… “
                Then, it hit zero.
                Unbelievable, ecstatic joy.  Clapping, cheering, screaming, people blowing horns.  Ticker-tape drifting like snow onto the crowd.  Baseball caps, hats, and shirts thrown into the air.  Everyone singing, everyone dancing.  Someone Chelsea didn’t even know grabbed her and kissed her.  Chelsea didn’t mind.  She jumped up and down, up and down, united with everyone in one common event, a complete orgasm of joy and happiness.
                “We’re free,” she shouted as she jumped, taking up the chant that had started in the crowd.  “Free!  Freeeeee!”
                Then, the sudden loud bang at one end of the square.  Something was happening on West 48th street.  Chelsea thought someone had lit a very big firecracker, but suddenly there was an answering bang in the opposite direction, much louder.  A huge cloud of smoke began to rise over 7th Avenue.
                There was another noise along with the cheering, which sounded like screams.  A wave of something shivered through the crowd, a queer hush, reaching to where Chelsea stood.  People around her stopped cheering, and started looking at either end of the square, blinking their eyes as realization slowly dawned that something was wrong.
                More bangs, and Chelsea saw the tail-tell chaotic flight of teargas canisters bouncing over the heads of the crowd.  Behind the teargas was a line of men in uniforms.  And behind them, inching their way up 7th Avenue, were a line of tanks.  More and more faces turned.
                The men in uniform started to fire into the crowd.
                At once, the crowd began to move.  Chelsea felt herself pressed by bodies, feet began to scuffle as everyone began to move from the violence.  There was no room, everyone pressing away.  Chelsea found herself struggling to stay on her feet.
                There were more men with guns, more tanks moving into the square, from 47th Street, from 46th Street, both ends of 7th Avenue, and from Broadway.  Every route in and out of the Square was occupied.  Tremendous clouds of teargas rose over the crowd, and the rat-tatat of automatic weapons fire became constant, the hundreds and hundreds of troops firing directly into the crowd.
                “What’s happening?”
                “They’re killing everyone!  They’re killing everyone!”
                The press of the crowd became a vice.  Chelsea couldn’t move, she couldn’t breathe.  “My gosh, David was right!” she thought.  Then the panic kept her from thinking.  “David!  David!” she shouted, as if he were somewhere in the crowd, wishing he was there to take her away, to make her safe.
People began hitting others, punching them in the face, trying to get them out of the way, trying to clamber over them, so they could somehow escape.   People climbed on benches, and on light poles, trying to get higher up, to see what was happening, to escape the increasing press of the crowd.  But bullets found them.  Some of the uniformed men were firing above the crowd, picking off targets.  Others were firing methodically at the retreating mass of humanity before them:  advancing, firing, advancing again.  Some in the crowd rushed at the advancing death, with makeshift weapons, only to be cut down.  On 47th Street, about a thousand people coordinated into a human wave, pressing at the men so they could try to breech the line.  But two tanks fired shells into the spearhead, decimating it.  The men with automatic weapons concentrated their fire, cleaning up what remained.
                This was not a police action.  This was not dispersal.  This was extermination.
                All around Chelsea, there was the sound of metal striking metal, and metal striking flesh.  People began to fall, each sudden explosive “Ugh!” drowned out by all the screaming from those who still breathed.  Someone next to Chelsea was struck, fell, and the press of the crowd made her lose her footing and fall into the sudden small void over the body.  Several people stepped on Chelsea, she felt pain and indignation.  Then, another body fell onto her, and another.
                Pressed under dying flesh, Chelsea was unable to breathe at all.  She thought, “Why is this happening?”  Then, as blackness began to embrace her, “Why do I have to die?  We were happy, I was happy.  We were finally free.”  After that she thought and felt nothing else.
                Chelsea had not understood; no one did.  It was as if the common people were no longer an asset, but instead they were a liability, now that they were no longer in servitude.  Liabilities needed to be eliminated, if the spreadsheet was to remain balanced with something left in the black.
                Methodically, the soldiers moved forward, killing everyone in their path.  The tanks rolled over the mountainous piles of bodies of men, women, and children, making pathways for the troops to advance on the remaining victims, until within an hour they converged at the small pockets left in the middle.  Few escaped the Square that night, and few escaped the similar carnage in every major city, anywhere people had gathered to watch the numbers on the clock reach zero.
                The countdown had begun.

Monday, October 1, 2012

I found an article which summarizes pain:

Imagine you are a cellist in an orchestra, and there are a million million orchestras, so no one ever comes to your concerts.  Then, imagine that the orchestra consists of one cello.  You are playing a piece you scored yourself, over a period of years, called "Ultimate Truth."  And you realize, in the pit of your stomach, no one will ever hear this music.  That is what it is to be a writer of speculative fiction in today's market.

Having "something to say" (versus being one of the legions who write hackneyed fluff) makes it even worse.

I dedicate this blog post to the million million writers who have no choice but to pick up the bow and play.  For them it is too late.  Don't quit your day jobs.  Plan on changing the world, one rejection notice at a time.

More to follow.