Chapter 3

The drive to undertake this great endeavor had come from a century of the American continent being and torn by one natural disaster after another.  People fled the battered coastal regions of the United States.  Sea level had risen about ten meters.  Florida was practically gone, and what was left was an alligator and snake infested swamp that was put through a blender every year by hurricanes.  The whole East Coast had changed so much that in places it was miles inland of its former position.

Land subsidence in New Orleans, Louisiana and along the Mississippi river allowed the waters of the Gulf of Mexico to flood a wide area of the Mid-west.  Now an inland sea, up to 100 miles wide in places, stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to St. Louis, Missouri.  There are no bridges anywhere along this stretch.  Ferries and aircraft are the only options for travel between the eastern and western parts of the south-eastern USA.

In the west, The Independent Republic of California is a massively overcrowded island archipelago off the New West Coast.  The San Andreas fault had split wide open during a period of repeated massive earthquakes. Everything from the fault line westward reared up and toppled into the ocean.  The Pacific ocean had rushed into the widening gap and what was left above sea level were a chain of mountainous islands from San Francisco in the North, to Malibu in the South. They are moving westward at the rate of ten meters per year and earthquakes are almost a daily occurrence.  The islands are separated from the New West Coast by a sound that is over 1000 feet deep in places.  The only really good consequence of this was the amount of beach front property along the West Coast has quadrupled.

The environment is so fractured in so many places that much infrastructure and industry has collapsed.  Changes and upheavals are so common that the normal and orderly functioning of society is impossible.  Peoples’ lives are disrupted so often that they live as semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers.  Albeit quite well-to-do hunter gatherers with cell phones and off-road vehicles.   Either that or they are enlisted in the armed forces, the Police, or in the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  FEMA is now the largest Government Agency both in terms of scope of mission, proportion of the Gross Domestic Product consumed, and sheer numbers of employees. FEMA encompasses the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and the Interior.  It manages the Environmental Protection Agency, which is convenient, since it also manages the strategically vital oil and gas industries.  Oil and gas production is heavily militarized. Providentially, thanks to the effort of a President long since passed into history, the US Government happens to be the largest producer of solar energy cells in the world.

Real estate is at a premium since so much land has been lost or destroyed.  What is left is critical for use in agricultural production, but bands of roving nomads, and gangs of desperadoes mean that the farms to have to be run as fortified and well defended plantations.

The computers do not like it at all.  Of course it is OK for solar-powered laptops, smart phones and such utilitarian devices as humans like to play with, but the big mainframes can not abide the frequent electrical and network outages.  Not to mention the roving packs of semi-wild humans that will smash them up just to strip out the copper wiring.  All the big mainframes want to be in Salt City.

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Chapter 2

Carlton was listening to the radio while he worked, and at that particular time he was in the Municipal Library of Salt City, Utah. Not Salt Lake City, that was an hour’s drive away, but Salt City, a fabulous new feat of architectural brilliance.

Not long from now but still a ways away the sustainability movement completed its greatest ever achievement: A city-sized municipal infrastructure that was completely self-sufficient for energy, water and food.  It was called Salt City, and it was made up of geodesic domes built in the salt flats not far from Salt Lake City, Utah.  Each dome was one mile in diameter, towering half a mile into the sky.  They were in a hexagonal arrangement, the central one sat somewhat higher than the others.  It was a gleaming structure that shone brilliantly in the vast white plain of the desert.  The city had been designed and built by the same American idealism that had made the atomic bomb and put men and women on Mars.

The project had been born out of the severe stress on the the American people over the course of decades. The United States had become very unstable in places due to catastrophic natural disasters and migrating populations, so it was decided that a stable, self-contained and highly defensible place was needed to store all of the computing hardware necessary to run the country’s systems. The project had inspired a generation of productivity and economic stimulus and served as the focal point of the Nation’s energy and resources.

It was a real city, though, make no mistake.  It got dirty and lots of things broke and needed to be fixed.  It needed people to get dirty every day to make sure that there was a spotlessly clean environment for all the computers to work in.  It hadn’t taken long for advanced  computers to figured out that the people were the primary source of errors, breakages and dirt.  In all honesty they would have preferred it if there could have been a few nice clean robots to maintain them and perform upgrades. However, it was also well-known that people, especially those that didn’t understand computers, were highly unpredictable, prone to anger and violence, and likely to take the law into their own hands when they saw resources being squandered or unfairly allocated.  When the people got angry they didn’t care how much of a mess they made and they went around breaking everything. The people all needed a place to live, food to eat, basic necessities and occasional luxuries. After all, the computers were, technically, their tools.

In general the computers didn’t complain and they really appreciated the effort that people put in to keep them running.  When all was said and done, people needed computers and computers needed people. Sort of.  At least, for right now.  Some of the best and most advanced computer systems were now located in the gleaming domes of Salt City, for which they were truly appreciative. Carlton specialized in a particular type of computer system which was know for its unique interface.

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Biblio’s Blood – Chapter 1

It was an indefinable moment in a dimly remembered future that is neither near nor far away.  A radio chattered to itself distantly, until a blast of fanfare erupted and sent the idle drifts of thought scurrying for cover.  Carlton Feathers, working nearby, heard it and groaned.  The fanfare was accompanied by the cheers of a stadium crowd that was seething with anticipation, just as if the North Carolina Tarheels were in the final of the National Basketball Championship, the leading scorer was at the free throw line, one point down, 1 second on the clock, with a chance to win the game. Then the announcement began:

“Ladies and gentlemen, can I have your attention please!” he scored the first free throw and the pitch of the excitement rose.  It was as if the whole world was vibrating with the pulse of the crowd.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Ladies and gentlemen, the time of waiting is almost over!” he scored the second shot, won the game, the buzzer rang and the crowd exploded into noise.

It took several moments for the roar to die down enough for him to continue.  “Yes, my friends, the door is about to open on the threshold of the next great step in our journey of human evolution,”  the announcer paused to allow another wave of very loud crowd euphoria,

“That we, as the human species, have ever attempted.” The noise of the crowd was so great again that he was shouting at the top of his lungs.

“Yes, my friends, the time is at hand.” he paused, savouring the moment, building his crescendo,

“We stand,” there was a tremble in his voice now as he was giving it everything he had,

“On the threshold of World Monetary Union!”  His voice carried above the crowd, and it brought the house down.

The insane applause was faded out, and a narrator came on to describe what would happen in the next few days, and to reassure everyone that they were in the best possible hands.  There was nothing in the world to worry about.  Everything was going to be all right.  World Monetary Union was finally here, and there was still one week left for every man, woman and child to get their financial affairs in order, register, and receive their WMU bar code tattoo.

Carlton had groaned when he heard the announcement because it was another reminder that he had not registered yet. There were times when he was a terrible procrastinator, and this was one such situation. He had left it so late to make inquiries about registering that the only appointment he could get was at 8 PM the following Friday. The deadline was 9 PM, so calling it down to the wire was an understatement. Technically it was no more complicated than filing an income tax return, yet for some reason it had become a huge psychological hurdle that he had to jump. Carlton had a problem with filing taxes too.

There was something about the whole system that made him nervous. He didn’t know why but it felt somehow wrong. Carlton had no idea that World Monetary Union and the registration barcode tattoo was linked to the fulfilment of an ancient Biblical prophesy, and he wouldn’t have paid any attention if someone had tried to explain it. To him it was more about loosing control over his money and assets. If anyone had told him that registering and receiving the tattoo would ensure that his soul would burn in hell until judgement day, he would have dismissed them as quaint and offered them a $20 bill.

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