Perched at the top of the scaffolding with his legs crossed, he focused his thoughts on emptiness. This was the only way he could distance himself from the droning energy of the people.
His eyes were closed, and his body perfectly at rest. His pale blue T-shirt and black jeans dripped constantly as the rain pelted down. Yet he was oblivious to the cold and the wet. His mind simply sought the peace.
Most would find it difficult to believe that a man of such quiet composure could at the next moment be possessed with wild, irrepressible energy. However it was as natural to him as the weather. The red ribbon that he wore permanently round his head symbolised that he was different. His self-appointed title, the Peace Man, was a testament to his mission. No one knew it but him.
Doctor Hargreaves believed that his patient’s sociophobia was just a part of his illness, but the Peace Man knew better. He felt utter contempt for the state of the human race. He’d been free for just three days, but in the world of the so-called sane he’d found only what he’d known all along. Hell was earth. The people had vacuous minds, empty souls. They weren’t even alive. They merely existed from the cradle to the coffin. They were not human beings, but androids tagged with serial numbers, whose sole purpose was to work and make never-ending payments for the things they would never own. And in all their mindless running around, they had no time to stop and think; certainly not before their bodies wore out and forced them into the death before death. The have-nots of the modern world were not the unemployed; they were the unenlightened. They knew nothing of their potential, their immortality. Of course it wasn’t entirely their fault. They were victims of the ultimate ruse.
The Peace Man vowed to eradicate the real culprits – those parasitic elitists. They readily betrayed humanity to indulge their own interests. They could serve no purpose in a peaceful world. For millennia they had divided the people into classes of every kind, economic, political and religious. In the past century or so they’d taken the game to the global level, setting up entire nations of haves versus nations of have-nots. They had set up their looting expeditions on the back of wars against people of the wrong nationality, or ideology, or faith. But in recent decades, for reasons that were not clear to him, they’d changed the rules. Most nations of the world were presently united under the banner of the Mutual World Alliance – the body of so-called democratic nations formed during the World Democratic Revolution. He still remembered when the MWA was little more than a monument to the times, its future undecided. Since then it had supplanted the United Nations. Resources from the old have-not nations were no longer controlled by soldiers fighting contrived wars, but by bureaucrats imposing ambiguous international regulations. They claimed it was a better world. And to ninety-nine point nine percent of the people, it no doubt seemed that way. But it was all an illusion.
The Peace Man knew, for he felt it everywhere.
From somewhere inside his head he began to hear a soft whistle; a high pitch sound, a bit like ringing in his ears. He heard it every night as he went to sleep, and each time he meditated. It was the sound of his intuitive radar. The whistle eventually faded from his conscious awareness, as he became habituated to it.
Peter remained meditating for almost an hour, by which time it had stopped raining. He opened his eyes and gazed into the distance. He saw nothing before him but buildings, layer after layer of concrete stretching as far as he could see and beyond. He inhaled deeply, and felt the cacophonic energy of the people inside those buildings, all carrying on with their pointless little lives. He resented their ignorance. Part of him pitied them, but the resentment was stronger. Things might change if the world knew the truth, but that depended on whether he could find his old comrades. Without them he would have to do it the hard way. He would have to kill them all.
In a future world that has largely overcome the problems of the 20th century, a policewoman discovers she has ties to a British psychopath and a Brooklyn-born hacker, neither of whom she has ever met. The three are actually the surviving subjects of an artificial reincarnation experiment, and the victims of a conspiracy with ancient origins.
Saleena Karim is a freelance writer, researcher, editor and artist.
Systems (2012) is Saleena’s first work of fiction. The ‘Cohesive Ethics Theorem’ featured in the novel, which is used to create a model for an ideal society on a supercomputer, is a factual concept. It reflects the poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal’s statement that an ideal society actively aspires to transform the three ideals of ‘equality, solidarity and freedom … into space-time forces … to realise them in a definite human organisation‘. As of July 2012 Systems has become part of the reading material for a series of education courses on Iqbal at the Marghdeen Learning Centre (an associative body of Iqbal Academy, Pakistan).
Systems – A Novel by Saleena Karim
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