I went to sleep last night in a different country. I awoke this morning in this one. This country, in which wolves are hunted for their feet; chopped off and hung from belts as talismans to fend against demonic marauders. This country, in which stabbing someone in the throat for the offense of using the ‘wrong’ fork at the dinner table is not only accepted but encouraged. Last night, I went to sleep in the country that has been my home for my entire life, but I woke up in New Septica. How could that have happened? What manner of necromancy spins one through time and space? Perhaps this story will answer my questions. But, more likely, it will simply add to the confusion.
New Septica exists only amidst the detritus of failed states. It is a place in which the putrid stench of corruption fills the hot, humid air. Decomposing corpses of children litter the roadways. Old women, their youthful beauty defiled by time and bad choices, wander back alleys in search of scraps of food not yet sufficiently tainted to be poisonous. Gnarled old men, the sounds of their violent, convulsive coughs echoing against the glass facades of tall buildings long since abandoned to decay, limp along once-majestic boulevards.
The question, of course, is which reality is the normal state? Are compassion and decency normal? Or are they aberrations in a universe in which loathing and depravity reign? I pose these questions in an effort to understand whether normalcy is a state of being to which one should strive to achieve or, conversely, one which should be avoided at all costs. I suppose it depends on the country in which one awakens.
Warren G. (for Gamaliel) Harding, during the 1920 election following World War I, placed normalcy in a favorable light (and exposed his adoration of alliteration). He said:
America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality.
But what is normal in New Septica? What would Warren have said after the War of the Words in New Septica? We have no way of knowing. Warren G. Harding is long since dead, having died in office. And, I might add, he did not live in New Septica. But if his doppelgänger had slipped out of 1920s USA into the future New Septica, he might have said this:
New Septica’s present need is not histrionics, but hooliganism; not negativity, but nihilism; not revisionism, but revulsion; not anger, but acrimony; not spite, but scorn; not the tense, but the terrible; not equanimity, but evil; not to swim in serenity, but to sink in sloth.
In an ideal world, I would have awakened in the country of my birth but, instead, I awoke in the country that wants to kill me. I awoke to take into my lungs a toxic mix of orange sulphur and methane tinted green with copper sulfate. This poisonous vapor clouds my thoughts and stings my eyes. To cope, I must sharpen my teeth and my resolve so that I can tear into the flesh of the beasts stalking me and rip them into bloody whimpering strips of muscle and tendon. And a good day to you!