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Sarah M. Nightengale

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The Paragon: chapter 0.1
By Sarah M. Nightengale
Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rated "R" by the Author.

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· The Paragon: chapter 0.0
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A glimpse of reality in the year 2015

Upon exiting his cubicle complex, Jonah felt extremely paranoid. All eyes were seemingly upon him, though there were no people to be seen in the labyrinth of alleyways which led to his particular complex in a sea of complexes. As if to add to his secret dementia, when Jonah finally did find his way to the sidewalk along one of many streets in the Pantropolis, the passersby would turn their heads to look at him stupidly, for no apparent reason. Just to look. Jonah wondered if it was Death watching him through the eyes of other people; he knew that he must look insane. He caught a glimpse of himself in a window, but the reflection appeared normal enough. Just the same old, decaying reflection which he saw, or tried not to see, every day. Onward walked he into the ocean of industry which constituted the Pantropolis; his usual black-market dealer of pharmaceuticals was on Street #E78.09.

The only drugs in the world were pharmaceuticals. All raw substances from which drugs were derived (i.e., poppies, cannabis and coca plants, etc.) had ultimately become controlled by the Spiritual Awareness Government (called The Paragon). All drugs were regulated by the Paragon through pharmaceutical systems and medical physicians. Initially, a heroin addict, for example, would have been forcefully taken off the drug at the time when the Paragon began to come into power. The addict in question would be referred to any one of a number of Healers (an upgrade from the obsolete medical practitioner), which would then prescribe said addict any one or combination of many drugs available on the market. Heroin addicts were given opioidal substances, alcoholics were put on ethanol-phosphates, and so on and so forth. New drugs were being created daily it seemed, to the point where it actually became difficult to maintain a supply of any particular drug before the next new thing would be widely distributed. Deaths occur daily, from a variety of side effects, overdose, and suicides as a direct result of the drugs. That doesn't stop anyone from taking them, not even Jonah who is well aware of these dangers. Unlike most, Jonah trusts in the Lord, Deus Ex Machina, as his salvation.

Jonah's paranoia had begun to diminish as the barbito-hypnotics did their job, killing the anxiety and relieving symptoms of depression. Gradually, people began to look more like people, and Death did not stare so much from their seeping eye-holes. The greyness of the the Pantropolis in the light of a half-sun was cold, and Jonah clutched his white-plastic trenchcoat, fastening it about his green and yellow-nylon windsuit. Jonah pressed onward, into the mechanical fortress that was the Pantropolis proper; down-town. Jonah mused inwardly about the fact that perceived (subjective) human importance increases only in direct proportion to an increase of complexity, and is especially relevant with an increased ability to comprehend such complexity. Jonah guessed that it must be the equivalent of an emotional penis-extender in the perceived (subjective) absence of God: an individual finding himself with no faith due to want of desire will then be godless, Atheist. Such an individual would, by necessity, require an alternative system to explain away the reality of God, and Spiritual Awareness was testament to the levels of complexity the human intellect could devise in order to cope in a world without God. Continually, the Centers for Spiritual Awareness would churn out self-technologies wherewith to reach imaginary higher states of consciousness in order to realize the supposed divinity inherent in oneself. Penis-extenders, them all; and of decidedly shoddy quality. Placebo's for the soul; a soul which they themselves did not believe in. Jonah wouldn't give in for one second. Everywhere was proof of that which the Manual spoke, but everyone was blind to it. This did not do much to help his misanthropic tendencies; he was supposed to love people, but he couldn't bring himself to. Instead he tried to do that which he knew was right, with varied success.

Feeling much better after the diminishing of the panic-attack, Jonah relaxed somewhat as he strolled through the punishing winds which blew through the endless array of metallic walls, hard-plastic tubing, and cylindrical powersources which was the general constitution of the Pantropolis itself. Jonah looked up momentarily to catch a glimpse of the yellowing sky, a snapshot taken in a dying memory-bank before ease and comfort could be snatched away again. He knew that anxiety could manifest itself at any time, any place, but with the help of mind-altering and psyche-bending drugs, he was able to manage. Usually, as often as could be afforded, Jonah used the highly controlled Class A substances, and never the Class D; the former classification (A) refers to drugs which are chemical derivatives of the old controlled substances before they were eradicated; the latter class (D) refers generally to antidepressants and antipsychotics. The chemical structures of old drugs like opium and cocaine were cloned and reproduced in a thousand different varieties, as it went for all drugs, whether opioids, canabinoids, barbitogens, tranquilizers, sedatives, antidepressants, antipsychotics, ad infinitum.

The effects of the barbito-hypnotics were really starting to come on now, and Jonah began to feel quite like a pleasant lump of pudding floating along the flat surface of the sidewalk. Smiling now, he looked around himself on the familiar Street #Q45.700. Though it was littered with garbage in the shadows, and decrepit metal husks of torn out buildings, Jonah smiled knowing it was all in the hands of DEUS. He remarked to himself that even he, a drug-abusing demon-hunter, was in the hands of DEUS. It was at times like these that Jonah could feel God all around, even in the molecules of filth that corrode the cracks between the metal plates of the sidewalk. God was even in the malignant biological agents (better known as germs or viruses) which took away human life, rendering the once-relevant completely insignificant. Jonah looked to his left and saw junkies; they didn't shoot up anymore, but they still looked like total shit. Jonah looked to his right and saw that he was walking by one of the many Centers for Spiritual Awareness in the Pantropolis. Glorified methadone clinics. In fact, the people who went through the doors of any given CSA were probably better off with a life-long methadone habit than with the crap they were selling 'em, at least that's what Jonah thought. Too bad there was no more methadone; anything to take came through one of these CSA outlets, or else through the black market.

The Center's were fashioned as a synthesis of a temple and a drug-store (probably due to Spiritual Awareness' love of syncretism), with yoga-mindcontrol classes being led in rooms adjacent to others where Healers would prescribe drug after drug, all appearing neatly numbered in the Spiritual Awareness Codex. The Codex was the Spiritual Awareness bible. It was the one thing that all divisions within the program could fully agree on; even though each cell would practice its own form of fodder (authorized by the Paragon of course), and use diverse texts (all government approved), nevertheless each denomination of Spiritual Awareness would be required to maintain regulations as stated in the Codex. The tome itself was immense, some 50,000 pages, detailing regulations on moral and civil liberty, social ethics, as well as indexing the complete list of pharmaceutical drugs available in the world. The Codex was updated every four years due to changes in political regime and additions to the drug market. Jonah despised the Centers. Sometimes he thought of blowing them up, but buildings were now made of titanium alloy (due to the increase of terrorist attacks before the Reformation) and obtaining explosives capable of destroying an entire building was extremely expensive, not to mention near-impossible to find. Though it was true that society was in a general state of decomposition, there was little crime in the Pantropolis due to the severity of punishment metered out by Paragon officials. Stealing a loaf of bread could get you 50 lashes with razor-wire in Center-Circle. Obviously, the severity of the punishment was meant as a deterrent to delinquency; as a result there wasn't much crime except for rampant drug abuse.

The stupid grin on Jonah's face was wiped off abruptly when he suddenly found himself almost colliding into another individual. Reaching for his blade, Jonah steadied himself. Immediately the individual, a small man with spectacles, began recounting a tale so fast that Jonah thought almost burst out laughing due to the effects of the drugs. The little man looked so frantic in his blue-plastic cloak that Jonah just stared at him catatonically as the man spoke feverishly. Perhaps he's having a panic attack, thought Jonah, and at this cracked a smile. The euphoric apathy was breached by one word at the end of a sentence that the man spat into Jonah's face. Rolling his eyes, the little man in the blue-plastic cloak grabbed Jonah by the shoulders and screamed "For God's sake man, demons!" Jonah sobered up quick.


"That's what I was trying to tell you," said the man.

A couple walked by and glanced with crinkled noses at Jonah and the man. Jonah led the man around the corner of a steel wall to afford a bit of privacy.

"So tell me," Jonah said to the man "and I'm sorry for my reaction back there I'm..."

"Completely intoxicated by the looks of it." the man replied.

"Its a long story, you seem to talk faster, so tell me whats going on."

"Okay," said the man.

Jonah listened patiently as the man told him how his son had begun to display symptoms of DOSM, a rumoured soul-sickness which was the result of the Spiritual Awareness Pandemic.

"DOSM is an abbreviation for..."

"I know what it stands for, now if you please, continue," Jonah said with evident impatience.

The man nodded and said that it appeared that his son had gone completely insane due to Spiritual Awareness techniques and self-technologies taught in the Codex. Admittedly, the man did not know how such a thing could have happened as he upheld the Paragon in highest regard, believing that their policies held man's best interest at heart. Nevertheless, he became worried for his son's life and, through a friend of a friend, had heard of an outlawed and experimental technique which, while highly controversial and punishable by law, had been said to achieve results where even the best of Healer technologies had failed. Jonah was wary. Demon-hunting was called "practicing Christianity" according to the Paragonal authorities, and was a capital offense. Skeptical, Jonah glanced around, but did not smell ambush.

"Okay then," Jonah said reluctantly "Lets take a look, shall we?"

The man, who introduced himself as John, led the way to his quarters through the maze of metal walls and alleyways. Jonah was silent, hand ready on his covert blade, anticipating. No ambush came, and eventually they both arrived at the door of John's domicile, a humble complex with lush four-square cubicles. A faint ggrowling could be heard, emanating from the rear of the cubicle.

"Thats him," said John.

Jonah took a few steps forward, then looked back to John.

"Aren't you coming?"

"Not on your life!" John nasally exclaimed.

Moving toward the source of the gutteral bleats, through hallways, examining the gnashes and spitting of the human, John's son, Jonah felt aware of all his surroundings. He had been attacked on a few occaisions, for the most part in his rookie days. There was that one time however...

The last door at the end of hallway 3 was open slightly. Jonah paused. John's son could be heard breathing heavily from somewhere in the room, once in a while releasing animalistic effulgences. Jonah took his hand off his blade, and kicked the door open. John's son was standing idly in the room and was startled by Jonah's entry.

"Force of the Adversary," Jonah began "I have been sent here to deliver you back into the Chaotic Flux."

John's son screamed a hideous cacophony reminiscent of pre-Reformationist music. Jonah was not impressed; he never much cared for music before the Reformation anyway.

"In the name of the Lord, Deus Ex Machina, the One Who Is, I command you out of this biological mechanism!" Jonah said forcefully.

Immediately, John's son complied by falling prostrate to the floor. Jonah removed his pocket-Manual from somewhere in his windsuit, and read a passage aloud from the book of St. Matrix. John's son was writhing on the floor in torment; now it was time for the finishing move. Jonah came close to John's son, made the sign of the Holy Triumvirate on his forehead, and implored the adversarial spirit back into the Chaotic Flux by the power of the Original Human Prototype. Within moments John's son was back to normal, and sat relaxing in a chair while John and Jonah conversed over the matters which had transpired....

[Note: work in progress ~SMN]





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