Gaia and Ghouls
My thoughts wander on this brave new world. Green engulfs me like cottonwoods surrounding a lonely watering hole in the West. Endless green forests as far as the eye can see. Green villages. Green clothes. Green rooms. This damned green snake of a train.
My birthstone, aquamarine - wouldn't you know it - used to be my favorite color. Now it nauseates me. Zodiac pundits told me back in the day that March 2, 1968, the day of my birth, makes me a Pisces. According to them, I'm imaginative, compassionate and kind, selfless and unworldly, intuitive and sympathetic. Aw, that's me for sure: A sensitive gentleman who kisses butt to win friends and influence people.
Then again, they say I'm escapist and idealistic, secretive and vague, and weak-willed and easily led. I'll be damned if they didn't nail me again. Slogans of this new day and age guide my life. My favorite? "Earth Day, every day," of course.
In the old days, some people might have had a different impression of me. A crooked smile wrinkles my jowls as I recall my heyday as a journalist, pickled as I sometimes was in snake poison. Pretty damned good one, too, gauging from the dozens of crooked politicians my stories and columns retired early.
Exposed my share of terrorists, too. Oh, there I go again. They're actually "Mazdaki fundamentalists," ain't they? As we all know, they represent a very small minority of the faith. The large, and I mean "large," majority of them are humble, meek ragheads who want nothing more than peace on earth and religious freedom to exorcise their demons through personal jihad.
Looking back, do I have any regrets? Yep, I do. It's that I didn't clear out the whole hornet's nest. I never gave any quarter, nor did I expect any special treatment in return. Malevolent sources for my works - the naive sort who expected a soft touch in my stories - somehow never found a way into my heart. Many of 'em still wear my brand seared into their skin.
As it turned out, the greenhorns and Mazdakis who dodged me are the ones who eventually corralled me. The tide started to turn at the dawn of the great Green Revolution, 30-odd years ago in the 1990s. That's when green hysteria began building toward a climax. This week marks an inauspicious occasion: They took me as a political prisoner six years, six months, and six weeks ago - a sure sign I'm in green hell.
Later, in the early 21st century, a few of the greenhorns fancied themselves up with a new title. "Lords" the high and mighty ones began calling themselves. They ascended to environmental heaven, while they dumped me in a green dungeon in Emerald. The pole cats think they've had the last laugh. From the looks of my situation, maybe they have.
Sitting on this damned train - the sacred chariot of Smart World - I seethe with vows of revenge. My head swirls. White-hot lightning sparked by resentment ripples the gray canyons of my brain.
I glance out my window. The greenhorns' holy Gaia mocks me with her own brand of anger. Plumes of water vapor, flickering from white to gray and to black, climb the air currents and roil into the heavens.
The destination is Evergreen, once known as Beaumont, before the creation of Smart World. I squint ahead into the early-morning sun, draped in haze. The city lay only a couple of miles ahead, past a meager forest of bearded liveoaks, mesquites, and brambles dotting the endless grasslands.
Electronic signs in front of each seat flicker from red to green, signaling the train is finally creeping to its destination. Evergreen and Emerald, gleaming towers of glass and steel, each house 50,000 subjects of the Lords of Smart World. They are among 15 skyscrapers, or &822