How to Be a Better Person

 

Integrity, humility, compassion, kindness, courage, respect for others regardless of sex or sexual orientation, regardless of race or national origin or economic circumstances, regardless of politics or religious beliefs, regardless…

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Affirmation

My true nature is good.

Accepting this, I open myself to giving and receiving love.

I affirm the rightness of all human needs.

I desire to be loving, loyal, honest, direct, kind, and open.

I wish to be accepting, welcoming, and non-judgmental of others.

 

 

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Fan Fiction

I do some proofreading for a friend, Annelie Wendeberg, who writes e-books. One of her series, (the 1/2986 series) is post-apocalyptic, where the title represents the portion of the pre-apocalyptic population still alive after the collapse. The following is “fan fiction,” that is, it is inspired by the stories she’s written, but with no connection to her intent. So this is completely freestanding.

Another note, in the “Interregnum” fragment, I used the names of old family friends. Since writing this, I got a call after almost fifty years from Vicky, who reminded me her mother’s name is Barbara. So, Barbara’s name was  added and the others rearranged. Otherwise, no changes were made to these fragments I wrote several years ago.

~ ~ ~

Interregnum

Most Esteemed Fellow Historian,

As you are no doubt aware, an exciting new account of Jeremiah’s early life has recently surfaced and I have been given the honor of its circulation to relevant historians (of which you are one) for your comments on contents and scholarly style, and also the honor of its initial publication. My intent is for this monograph to be added to the two existing ‘Micka’ monographs, referenced in the text, below. 

You will note the monograph here comprises two parts, an introduction (italicized) and the body of words attributed to Jeremiah (plain face). Please finish your review and provide your comments back to me by August end.

Gareth, 20 June 2134 C.E.

~

Introduction:

I am Gareth, son of Barbara, brother of Owen, David, and Vicky, of the family Thomas. If you are not an historian you don’t know me. But no matter, because this historical note will interest you, or not, according to the appeal of its subject, Micka, most Venerable, May She be Exalted.

Actually, Micka would have hated this title, now the only one we know her by, but happily not imposed until years after her death. There is small knowledge of Micka’s early years, mainly through the monographs concerning her mother (‘Thankless Bitch’) and her father (‘Erik Be Damned’). These are fairly accessible to the general public, taught as they are in every primary school and generally available in school libraries. This, then, is the first publication of the third monograph.

Nothing in Micka’s formal publications, particularly in ‘Ice’ where one might expect to find it, relates to Jeremiah’s past, prior to his first meeting with Micka. Some of the following information must have been conveyed to Micka by Jeremiah himself, during their last days or hours together. The rest was collected by Micka during the War Years from those captured from the BSA’s headquarters camp from time to time. 

We do know that Micka had standing orders to bring each such captive to her for interrogation. Much of the interrogation centered on military capabilities (as it naturally should have done) but there are many accounts by these soldiers of Micka ending the sessions with a series of, to most, quite puzzling questions about everything and everyone in the Headquarters camp, around and before those two years she was captive there, and especially about anything known of Jeremiah’s early life. 

What follows is from a subsequently discovered addendum to Micka’s autobiographical writings, which themselves were withheld from publication for twenty-five years, at her request. It is written as if in Jeremiah’s own words. How much of what follows are truly Jeremiah’s own words and how much is paraphrased by Micka based on her interrogations of BSA prisoners is open to debate and at this point, undiscoverable.

To the aforementioned two monographs, this one was added, making the three combined into what you now know as ‘The Micka Compendium.’ The first two were finalized in summer 2134 C.E. following full scholarly review. The first edition printing was made in the Journal ‘Living Micka,’ autumn 2134 C.E. Here, then, is the third monograph, ‘Jeremiah.’ 

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I am Jeremiah, son of Rachel and the pig, Jeremy. I was the youngest in the household and so learned to fight early and well, and showed no quarter to my half-brothers. At first, being the smallest, I was regularly beaten to a pulp. By the time I was thirteen, I was able and ready to kill them all. This I was forbidden to do. By the pig. 

My mother had no other children, thanks be to whatever Providence or chance directs our lives. My earliest memory is of my father beating my mother and of my mother afterwards cautioning me to make no effort to help her the next time. And there always was a next time. She taught me stealth in all things, to hide all my feelings, for her and our miserable life here in the BSA headquarters, and most especially toward my father and our leader, Erik. I was not required to hide my hatred for my brothers. That was accepted and expected.

My father was a miserable toady in service to Erik. Not particularly important nor more of a flunky than others. He did enjoy beating my mother and his other women, just like his fellows. He didn’t stand out in any way. Except to me. I wanted to kill him, have always wanted to for as long as I can remember.

My mother died of a beating when I was ten. She had trained me well. She and I had drawn a plan to kill my father and, more importantly, to destroy the BSA headquarters and Erik himself. It is a measure of my self-confidence that I have always believed I could do this. Until this very night.

By nature I am very large, I stand out. I didn’t mind beating the other boys up. They all wanted to be martyrs anyway, so I just helped them along that path, prepared them for it with my fists. Every one of them beat his sisters, especially the younger ones and the older ones, too, when each was big enough. I despised them. But, of course, I didn’t show this openly. I just displayed the meanness and toughness expected of us, and beat my sisters as well, though I took no pleasure in that part of the charade. 

Also, I was the smartest kid in my generation. I was careful to show this only partly, just enough to get the training I wanted at any given time. Finally, Erik pulled me out of classes and had me train as a computer jock. This was my ambition, the most important part of the plan my mother and I had put together. I was always careful to show just enough talent, and never too much. This was the most difficult but important part of the game.

Finally, when I had mastered all there was to know of data jockeying, I began to slowly amass the technical specifications for the satellite system. From this point, my life was forfeit if I was found out. Having stolen a data drive, I spent the next six years filling it with every piece of data on the satellite system that I could find. Then the programming began. Three years of it.

Finally I had everything. I just needed to get to the Vault to put it all into effect, ordering the satellite system to destroy the BSA headquarters and all munitions manufacturing facilities, as a first step. Then, the satellite system was to destroy itself, leaving a world full of BSA soldiers with no bases to return to. 

I had my own house. I was second in command. I was unmarried with no living relatives other than the pig, and I was ready to act. My drive was hidden carefully in my home. Then I began to build a way to get to the Vault.

But my world exploded. Erik announced he was bringing a daughter to camp, and that we were to treat her no differently than any other woman. Privately, Erik told me she was to be my wife. I was torn between implementing my plan and an awakened desire to take out all my hatred on this daughter. Every thought in my mind circled helplessly around in my skull as these two desires dueled.

And then a second explosion. Micka was brought into camp and my heart brokein two. Hate for Erik and love for a woman I had not even yet met nearly brought me to my knees. Only the discipline I developed over many years saved me. When I was formally given Micka as my wife in Erik’s office, (Micka was not even there, the bastard), I was impassive. He emphasized again that I was to show her no favors, that he was going to subject her to every hardship the camp had to offer. I left after assuring him that I would most fully enjoy my part in her training experience, Erik’s nasty smile remained as an image in my mind as I returned to my house.

It took time for Micka to learn to trust me. I don’t know if she ever has learned to love me. As I do her, as I so do… Tomorrow we will play our roles. I will die and she will carry my mission forward, because it is also hers. Everyone here will die.

Erik, too. Of that I am sure. Because I am sure of Micka.

~~~

Juno’s Fragment

My name is Juno. That’s not very important—there are so many Junos running around.

This is a story, a narrative; there may be truth in it.

 I think it makes sense with all the excerpts from Eric’s Journal that float around, seemingly coming out of nowhere.

This narrative begins many years ago when Eric and Micka were still alive. The journal excerpts, as hateful and even pornographic as they are, are placed in a certain perspective by this fragment. It is odious to contemplate anything positive about hated Eric. Yet this fragment tempts understanding.

What follows are the fragment’s explanations of what we quite naturally have come to see very differently. Here it is.

Eric had been playing a ‘long game’ that Micka was not aware for many, many years. Even as Erik approached the end of his life, he did not tell her. Micka, of course, later became aware of this “heresy,” though it’s not clear that seh ever accepted the long-game narrative as true in any way at all. Yet Katvar seems to have. At least in part. The fragment claims that Erik’s plan had always been to destroy man’s technology, thus giving humanity a chance, perhaps a final chance, to avoid a rush to destruction. His plan was to gain control of the the world, implement what he told others was God’s will, and enjoy the ‘God-given’ fruits of power for the rest of his life (within the constraints of his iron will). We know from word that’s come out of the BSA territories, that he did exercise this enjoyment particularly as he got older. One can only speculate how much pleasure (if any) he derived from his life. My own view, after reading this fragment, is that his real and singular joy was in the implementation of his plan.

Behind the plan that we all know about, however, was this deeper plan, according to this fragment. That was to destroy the technology of the world and allow ‘Mankind’ another chance to flourish in a post-technology age. He wanted this to be based in biblical traditions of women’s total subservience to men, indeed in their utter enslavement. He believed in this. He also enjoyed it.

What Erik didn’t know was that his use of his daughter as a tool for the accomplishment of his plan would be the destruction of it. Even at the end of his life when he had adapted his plan to incorporate the struggle between his ideals and Micka’s, he was convinced his values would easily prevail. After all, men are physically stronger; they have most of the weapons of war in their hands; they know God is on their side. And Erik’s belief that cruelty was a fundamental part of men’s natures, he was convinced this clash of values would be “no contest.” So, adjusting his plan to incorporate a semi-autonomous (so he believed) Micka was not a very big deal.

As Erik investigated his daughter in her early years, he became intrigued by her capabilities. Adjusting his plan to incorporate her was a pleasant task. He drove her, tormented her, brought her close to personal destruction on many occasions (no back up plan for her safety, and why should there be? let her prove her worth, her mettle, or die). All to make her a fine-honed tool, a knife to cut through steel.

He was surprised when she took up with Katvar, the man (or half-man) marked so differently by a knife at birth. Let’s see what she can do with him as an anchor, dragging her down, he thought. Katvar, to Erik’s surprise, turned out to be another kind of anchor for Micka, an anchor holding them together, undoing the lessons Erik had worked so diligently to incorporate in her. Well, all right, he thought, this will just make Micka more of a challenge, and bring her crashing further down, when she finds out she can’t even protect him. This will hone her to an even finer edge.

Erik’s plan, of course, took a major hit when Micka destroyed the satellite system. What was to be the final stroke in the destruction of technology turned out to be the first. But, no problem, he decided, just another adjustment to the plan. Not his plan, any longer. It was now, in his mind, The Plan, ordained by God and in his trust to implement.

So, he commenced full-out battle with the Sequencers. He was as “blind” as they were, but so much better equipped. He planned to drive them out to the fringes of habitable land, to see if they (and Micka) could survive. He expected Micka would make common-cause with the remainders of the Sequencers, and so she had. She’d worked with them to establish a strong social system of mutual respect between men and women.

He felt the conflict would also prove to all of humanity, to “Mankind,” that his ideas, his values, God’s values, were superior. That part of his plan had been to let technology gradually fade away as godly culture spread. This was now changed to a new struggle, this competition between cultures and value systems. Erik was sure this struggle would prove God right in an even stronger fashion—by the complete capitulation of the Sequencers after a great struggle. He relished the idea.

Eric’s revised plans proceeded as he had expected them to. Technology was being slowly eroded by unbending enmity,  and ther were even battles between BSA factions from time to time (as he orchestrated them), skirmishes with Sequencer groupings, fighting, honing, proving God’s will would inevitably prevail.

As weapons of war were gradually destroyed, technology was degraded and finally existed only in bits and pieces. Rebuilding a technological society passed from theoretical to impossible (at least in Erik’s mind, with God’s hand now fully at work), unless developed completely anew. Technology would not possibly be able to compete with a biblical society, he thought, even to those with a rational mindset, because technology’s ultimate destructiveness and its threat to human survival would now be a known, an established fact.

Erik’s plan unfolded with few surprises over his remaining years. Finally, comfortable and confident in his ultimate success, he contacted Micka to arrange for his “surrender” to her. He wanted, or rather felt, a a great and growing need (though he couldn’t understand its source) to finally explain everything to this daughter of his, whom he had come to respect so much, perhaps even love, for whatever that word could possibly mean.

Micka was very distrustful. There was no possible reason for him to surrender. What was he trying to do? His forces outnumbered hers although given the difficult terrain the Sequencers controlled, it was essentially a stand-off. What could he possibly have up his sleeve? Could meeting him be a gamble that would possibly throw away, somehow, all their hard-fought gains? Yet she could not refuse. Whatever his plan might be, she felt compelled to confront it. It was her nature. 

It was finally arranged that Erik, unarmed and unaccompanied, would fly a solar plane to a remote ice strip. She and Katvar would meet him on the lonely stretch of snow. There was to be no drama.

He arrived alone with only a small backpack. The lack of the unexpected made Micka even more nervous. He was searched, of course, Micka and Katvar expecting, but not finding, some form of weapon. There was nothing, just a backpack with a set of books and clothes and basic toiletries.

Micka didn’t believe him, yelling out her distrust furiously. ‘Why are you here?’ she screamed.

‘For your love, Micka,’ Erik replied, ‘or for at least your respect.’

‘Why are you telling us this?’ Katvar asked. ‘Why should we believe anything you say. And what could you ever offer as proof of your intentions?’

‘As for proof, these.’ 

He handed the books over to Micka who ran toward the open hearth fire to throw them in.

‘Wait, Micka,’ Katvar said, grabbing her. It was proof of the depth of their relationship that she didn’t react violently to his unexpected embrace. ‘Let’s look at them first.’

The books were old, some of them, ink faded and almost indecipherable in some of the oldest. They were all numbered. One through twenty-eight. For each of the twenty-eight years since Erik had deserted the Sequencers. They described in detail what’s been summarized here, everything that had been happening, successes and occasional failures, his tactical and occasional strategic adjustments, and so on. The paper quality was poor. Many of the pages were brittle and had to be handled with care. 

After spending several days reading through the journals, Micka had Erik brought to her and confronted him, demanding to know how he could possibly have unleashed such a social plague on humanity, even given his goal to destroy technology and give humanity a fresh, non-technological start. The cruelty was entirely unnecessary, she screamed at him, frustrated. 

He just replied calmly, ‘Didn’t you read the books? It’s God’s will, has ever been and always will be. Of course I could have destroyed technology differently. But I owed this to God. What don’t you understand. Why can’t you respect these efforts I’ve made, and my very real success?’

Micka never spoke another word to him. She eventually agreed with Katvar that a summary of the diaries should be printed and given wide dissemination within the Sequencer territories, so people would know what crazy thinking had brought them to their current state of rather desperate, yet free, living conditions.

And so it was done. And, inevitably, some of the copies did find their way to BSA-controlled lands. Some Erik cults grew and briefly flourished, but gradually, as we all know, Erik’s ideas became widely discredited, and not just in Sequencer areas. Change was occurring in BSA territories, too, underground but gathering in strength.

Erik’s final gesture of surrender had turned into a gamble he had unknowingly entered into, one he had now lost, or at least was fast losing. Humanity’s future began to look increasingly bright, and not just in ever-declining hostilities. Even more importantly, in social justice, too.

Erik’s final journey was by sled. He was given dogs and provisions and sent out into the Arctic wastes. Word was given that he be helped but only if he asked for it. He never did. He disappeared into the north country and was never seen again. All that remains of him are memories of terror. And his journals…if they exist at all.

~

“God planned it all he used me you and me to complete His plan to save Mankind just as the flood times did wash away the sins of men so too this fire of destruction  has given men this chance, perhaps a final chance. Now it is up to the two of you, Micka with your drive and intensity, and Katvar with your wisdom and strength. Together,  the two of you will give Mankind this final chance…”

This he engraved on the smallish marker stone that yet marks his otherwise undistinguished final resting place. 

~

Fragments of what may be Erik’s writings were found nearby:

…thereby proving that you look so new // age of note // acknowledging technology // yea…early on I knew…existed and as I investigated her life // and she became associated with the Sequencers // yes, I did to // my plan a role for my daughter…was going to make her a sharp weapon to fulfill my plan without her ever knowing that she was playing this role for me. Unfortunately for my plan // make it // was more talented and far more resourceful than I expected and she managed to destroy the satellite system earlier than planned. The plan was // planned for destruction of the system // left me to adjust the plan as follow // was my original intent to allow technology to fade away as I installed dominate males…dominate…and culture when // because arrival made it more interesting // and after she destroyed the satellite system, I adjusted the plan to allow for the existence of two different social systems male-dominated at the center and the other Frenc… // is only at the fringes // social system that didn’t align with God’s plan was for humanity // I was // God’s plan would // went out in the end but in some way I wanted to prove this to Micka by allowing her // system // rebellious to // compete but only at the fringes. I drove Sequencers out of existence, killed most of its leaders…only a few in those fri… // I was sure that Micka would make common cause eventually with the remaining…and so she did. The remaining Sequencers…work with…and then for Micka to establish a strong strong system of mutual respect between men and women was not // meantime I proceeded…as planned technology distraction through wars and conflict…conflicts large and small everywhere so I could start…    (account ends here)

~~~

Liesl’s Account

My name’s Liesl, not that it’s any of your business. I’m the one what whelped the bitch Mickaela or Micka as she’s gone to call herself all her dammed life. Couldn’t even keep the name that I gave her.

Some crazy people calling themselves ‘Living His Story’ is making this narration happen. They shoulda called themselves the ‘Living Her Story’ if you ask me. Hah! That was a joke and I hope you got it cause hardly anyone in this godforsaking village can get a joke, can they? Lots of serious faces, down to business all the time. The kind that has serious conversations after sex, you know, like, when are you finally going to fix the roof that’s dripping on us here, that sorta thing. Anyway these story people come to me and said tell us Micka’s story before you go off dying. Can you imagine starting off on a polite conversation that way? Totally impolite bustards.

Well, long story short—and this story’s going to be damn short, I tell you that—we agreed on the big brass pot I’ve been having my eye on for some time, something I’ve I’ve been needin’ now for a while. Though I’ve done right well without it all this time, don’t get me wrong. I ain’t no shrinking lily. Jacoby whose writing this whole thing down is a smart kid in school but not too bright a bulb worldly-wise. He said he’d write it down for me and didn’t ask for nothing. Smart stupid kid is what he is (no, I ain’t. I get mostly 2s and 3s in school  – this is written by Jacoby).

Talk about smart. That Micka picked up everything in school so fast the teacher couldn’t keep up with her. She was so smart people started talking, child of the devil, and so on. And that weren’t too far wrong. Her biology dad, ass named Erik, ran into me after I’d run away, fed me a couple a schnapps, and I was knocked up. And after raping me he beat me up for not being properly obedient during the sex, the bustard. So I come back here to my boring-ass husband – now Jacoby write that down and then forget I said it; if you’re going to be a man of letters you got to have some discretion.

Okay, now where was I? Oh, Micka’s probably told you lots of sob stories on how she was mistreated by her dad, the one here who raised her up and fed her, and sure our own kids was treated better than her and why shouldn’t they of been. After all, she wasn’t his, and nothing I wanted either. But one thing I did for her that she don’t know about is get the strings going to get her that job she had in the waterworks. Not that she’d ever of thanked me, she wasn’t that kind, even if she’d known what I did. The reason I did ? I was getting pretty tired of the water going off ever so often, and I knew she’d fix it up right.

Well, dad did mistreat her some, quite a lot really, and I’d have a word with him from time to time. Not that it helped much, he just kept saying he wished she’d die. Not much of a husband now that I’m thinking on it, and not much in bed either. Jacoby that’s another thing to write down and forget this instant! Got it? (Liesl’s a real bitch and I’ll just write it here so you Story people know, but I’m not allowed to say it aloud ‘cause she’s my elder. Jacoby again).

Anyway, she went (Micka, that’s who we’re talking about here) with the Sequencer lad, good looking, coulda given his ass a tumble. Asked him and he just stared at me like I was a looney. Jacoby! (“Yeah, yeah”). Okay, so she run off with him and the waterworks went down the drainhole right after, as I was knowing it would. Thankless bitch and good riddance.

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Smile

In a tangle of arms and legs 

like a wild forest that animals scurry through 

we slumber.

My hand finds a soft warm breast 

her hand falls on my chest 

I  open my eyes and see her smile at me.

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Farmstead

The sky is blue above gray clouds

The sun’s not shining through.

My thoughts go round and round and round

The dog ran off then you.

Now I’m alone with Beulah cat

I’ve fed her cream and bread.

She settles in her old felt hat

And I go off to bed.

The night grows quiet crickets chirp

Bats flapping overhead. 

Beulah’s snores, a little burp,

Some sleep let’s hope ahead.

The wind blows softly in the dark

Stars finally breaking through.

I wonder how I’ve missed the mark

My dog’s gone now you too.

Mosquitoes swoop and whine outside

So hot I start to sneeze.

Screened windows all are opened wide

To catch the faintest breeze.

Tomorrow’s just around the bend

And with it morning rain.

The week-long heatwave at an end

Will you be back again?

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