META-NOMAD

Chem and Narax #1: Inclusive

Artwork by OLOF_HANVARK

 

Dawn of the sun above a desecrated planet, its rays bowing pleasantly over yesterday’s cinders; garbage fires, shit-piles and hot corpses litter the ground, their shadows a homage to nothingness; the end of days stretched over all that is and could be conscious. Welcome to 2019 friends, let’s hope that along with all plant-life many of yesteryears’ ideas died too. A world still crumbling, yet hopeful to build a future atop the remains of the past, forget the ruins, forget the remnants…forget your nature and all will go to shit.

Across the irradiated wastes Chem and his mutt Narax wander. Chem is of medium height, skinny yet fat, medium length hair, wearing a grey flannel shirt and baggy jeans tucked into boots, the epitome of those who blend-in. Narax on the other hand stands proud as the poster-boy for Australian shepherds, if not for his matted, blood chunked fur, bleach blonde right eye and scarred ear. On a hill overlooking a small town, both stood still and silent, Chem waiting for Narax’s call and Narax confident in his ability to shit on humanity.

The town they looked down upon looked a little chaotic to say the least. Its border rife with wanderers, scoundrels, wasters, waste-landers, speculators, scavengers and no doubt many plunderers, all clawing at the walls, impatient and offering little to nothing in the way of tempting utility. The buildings, from afar, seemed unkept, rushed and smothered in warning signs and notices. It appeared that little, if nothing at all was happening within the walls, the occasional rise from a seat, or opening of door, no trade, no community, seclusion without safety. Chem and Narax begin their descent.

The road leading to the town littered on either side with signs, rules, symbols, posters, notices and warnings, many hypocritical and self-destroying.

Acceptance & Tolerance To Be Found Here!

All Accepted!

No Raiders!

Fires rising from various barrels left astray, light glimmering from the town’s gate a few hundred meters away. Sounds of arguing, berating, whining, moaning, belittling, shuffling, huffing and puffing and the occasional clang came from within. Audibly, it was such that life here had been compressed into the idea that all should be fair. Sounds and sights the likes of which Chem had never seen and Narax knew all too well.

‘Listen shit-for-brains, towns aren’t what they used to be, all weird and inclusive nowadays.’ snarled Narax as they both continued their walk towards the town.

‘Inclusive?’

‘Yes. Inclusive. It used to be ‘socially acceptable’ to actually choose who you built your community or civilization with and around.’

‘I mean, why wouldn’t you choose? Surely if someone isn’t pulling their weight, or you know someone will be actively destructive why would you let them in?’

‘Dear Chem, you’re beginning to get it. It’s as if society collapsed and with it every copy of Leviathan was simultaneously destroyed.’

Leviathan?’

‘I forgot you have little education-’

‘Listen mutt, if it wasn’t for me you’d still be wondering the wastes looking for scraps!’

‘Anger at one’s own ignorance, fantastic. I was going to simplify Hobbes for you, but now I might just go to the ends of the earth to find the last ever copy and let you go through the same pain as everybody else.’

Chem hastily stops ‘All I mean is Narax, remember where I found your sorry ass. If it wasn’t for your telepathic pleading I would’ve shot right on by!’

‘I understand Chem, no need to bring it up again. Now listen up, you can call this brief lesson ‘The Past Will Eat You Alive’, it will be a little reductionist, but I can make it work.’

‘Sounds rather historic.’

Beyond historic, it transcends history. Genetic, human, animal…instinctual, natural…unavoidable!’

‘Go on…’

‘When things turn bad, and I mean ‘collapse-event’ bad, ‘to-pure-shit’ as your eloquent mind would put it, humans aren’t the best things to be around. In fact, they are arguably the worst, the majority of you become illogical, overly-emotional drooling wrecks.’

‘Ok…’

‘You are, at heart…animals, and it pays to remember that, especially in times of the utmost security and stability. This is where Hobbes comes in. In short, he exemplifies the fact of your animalistic nature as a means to why social contracts, or collective agreements – such as towns – upon which safety and stability rest, are so important.’

‘What’s your point furball?’

‘Towns such as this one we’re about to enter, in fact, societies in general forget this fact very quickly and this removal, this erasure is a grave error in your programming. What do you humans do when the shit hits the fan? Panic.’

‘Well now I know this, I wont panic, ok. Now come on, I’m fucking hungry.’

Chem and Narax both pause to read the gate’s sign:

WELCOME TO PROGVILLE: ALL WELCOME, ALL EQUAL.

‘Oh shit.’ barks Narax.

‘What is it now?’

‘I’ve come across towns like Progville before, as the sign says…they accept anyone, literally, you know how that works right?’

‘Enlighten me…mutt.’

‘Well, like we said before, in a perfect would you would actively choose who can enter your society or town, yes?’

‘Sure.’

‘Say you let anyone in, you’re going to have conflicts, so what do you do? You give each and every person some tiny amount of power or responsibility, however menial.’

‘How’s that work?’

‘Anyone who’s given the most minor piece of power gets subsumed into the whole, the whole which will lay their lives on the line for, quite literally, in fear of losing the power they have.’

‘I don’t really see the problem’

‘Nothing ever gets done! Everyone’s just worried about keeping their slice, no one innovates, takes risks or offers a counter-argument, they want stability and they retain it by adhering to the status quo.’

‘I guess so. But I am hungry’

‘Humans…’

Chem swiftly enters the town, Narax begrudgingly follows.

‘Alright. We go in, get food, then get out…I know places like this, next thing you know you’ve been roped into some labour and I’m being petted by a thousand infants!’

‘Alright, god mutt, do you ever give it a rest…’

‘Listen skin-sack, don’t say I didn’t warn you. On the first sign of trouble I’ll bark like an undignified doggy again. So far you’re the only one who can hear my thoughts…and I still don’t know whether that’s a blessing or a curse.’

The gates of Progville were a living horror. Droves of wanderers flocked from afar in hopes entry, all of them – with the occasional exception – peddled nothing whilst acting obnoxiously. Chem and Narax both quickly veered leftwards towards the official entry point, away from the makeshift traveller camp. Four men guarded the entrance, all of whom seemed nonchalant to existence itself and one had literally mutated into the floor, and as such had little option but to act as captain of the guard.

“Hello there chaps, what brings you to town?” said one of the three interchangeable men.

“Well we were ju-” Chem began, before being interrupted.

“Umm, gary. ‘Chaps’ is a bit male-centric don’t you think? What do you two identify as…for our records…” said the captain.

‘Tell him I identify as a fleabag!’ said Narax.

“I identify as…err, a man. And this is my companion Narax, who is a dog, a male dog.’

“…OK well, I believe they prefer hound or feline. Dog is quite derogatory. But anyway, what can I do for you both?”

‘I prefer silence to be quite honest.’

“We were just looking for some food and maybe a place to stay for the night? We’d be happy to help out or trade with you.”

“Umm, yes OK, that sounds fine. Just follow Gary.”

It had been a long time since Narax had kept so close to Chem, but for the time being it seemed the safest port of call. As they walked through the town there seemed to be whining, moaning and audible disputes coming from all angles. The shopkeepers shelves bare, except from repetitive tins and trinkets. The power a never-ending cycle of off and on. The town was, for its size, crammed with people, many of whom seemed entirely without a responsibility, let alone an occupation. The majority sauntering aimlessly to and fro, from person to person hinting at their needs and woes. Bad postures, beer guts, piercings, tattoos, tights, suspenders, greasy hair, baggy apparel, unkept entire…the air here took real pride in its indignity.

“Umm, right OK guys listen up!” said Gary “I’m going to need you all to gather round…”

‘Narax, what the fuck is going on?’

Occupants of Progville began to gather around the guard, many appearing from under matts and tarps, climbing up from the sodden mattresses where they lay. Shopkeepers leaving their shops, and the prisoners allowed out for a brief moment of ‘communal’ collection.

“Umm, OK everyone we’ve got a couple of newcomers here, Chem and his feline Narax. We’re going to take a vote as to whether or not they stay.”

Narax began frantically barking.

‘What is it? Is everything OK?’

‘Chem…it’s a fucking democracy! We’ve got to leave, now!’

‘A what?’

‘Oh Christ Chem, this is how we got in this mess, I thought I’d never see another one of these hapless affairs. You see any exits?’

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