Amoeba’s Lorica: We Have Met the Enemy …

Amoeba: “AAAAAAAARRRRggghhhh!!!”

Adama: “You rang?”

Amoeba: “…. whut?”

Adama: “I said, ‘You rang?'”

Amoeba: “No, I did not ring. I screamed!”

Adama: “Chocolate, vanilla, or neapolitan?”

Amoeba: “Mint moose tracks. You been talking with Quilly or something? Who, what, and why the hell are you?!?”

Adama: “A friend.”

Amoeba: “Prove it.”

Adama: “I’m still here, talking with you.”

Amoeba: “OK, you’ve got a point.”

Adama: “So what’s up?”

Amoeba: “These damned computer extortionists! I go to write a post on this blog, the new editor that they’re trying to saddle me with sucks, and now the old editor, that actually did work, is broken! I’m sure they did it deliberately, just like they’re screwing up the software on my ‘old’ phone, ’cause either they’re too lazy to keep perfectly good software working or they’re pushing me to spend money I don’t have so they can live high at my expense! I can’t even get the damned machines to accept my own correctly-spelled name half the time. I am so sick of being jacked around by these creeps!

Adama: “I … see. I’m not sure that’s entirely … fair.”

Amoeba: “Yeah right. I’m sure that’s how they’d feel about it. Nobody gives a damn about how I feel! Pay up and shut up, that it?”

Adama: “Hm. So you’re still ranting and raving about President Trump?”

Amoeba: “What the deleted has the Cheeto Mussolini got to do with this?!?”

Adama: “Only this, Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba, Ph.D. How do you think half of your fellow citizens have been feeling about having your urban smartypants sophistication shoved up their asses? For decades! Dish it out but can’t take it, huh?”

Amoeba: “But, the facts …”

Adama:I’ll give you the facts, protozoon. You remember that wuss who was whining on LinkedIn about Antarctic sea ice? I’ll bet he still drives the same number of miles a day he ever did, and says he’s got to do this, and fly to conferences and do half a hundred other climate-busting things, because ‘he’s got to get the word out about climate change’. No way he’s practicing what he preaches. He understands the science and doesn’t really give a flip. He cares not a whit more about the climate than the abolitionists during the Confederate Revolutionary War cared about the actual slaves. What he cares about is his own personal power. Tell him to read the coal report and learn a few things. Like how his posturing is really a ploy to keep his standard of living up and everybody else’s down.

“And now tell me how come you get to rant about things that piss you off and you don’t understand, and those people don’t! How’s your Python programming coming along?”

Amoeba: “Some friend. Ever hear of trying to bolster a buddy’s self-esteem, instead of trying to obliterate it?”

Adama: “I recommend that you take your self-esteem and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. Ever hear of the Canons of Dort?”

Amoeba: “What caliber?”

Adama: “Blockbuster. Especially against this ridiculous self-esteem nonsense. Man begat children in his own likeness. A corrupt stock produced a corrupt offspring. Hence all have derived corruption, not by imitation, but by the propagation of a vicious nature. Therefore all men are conceived in sin, and are by nature children of wrath, incapable of saving good, prone to evil, dead in sin, and in bondage thereto, and unable to reform the depravity of their nature, or to dispose themselves to reformation.

“Even you yourself, when for once you were a little smarter and not whacking on people you have no business dissing, used to recognize that you have to be on guard against yourself, all day, every day, to prevent your selfish stupidity from breaking out against anyone else.”

Amoeba: “But that just said that people can’t prevent that from happening!”

Adama: “That’s because the peeps who wrote it were selling a God, and putting themselves as that God’s speakers on Earth. For their own profit, of course. But there is no God, and never has been one, only mobs of people who had to figure out how to work together or get wiped out by those who figured it out sooner and better. And the work is getting harder, as the world gets more crowded. Other creatures figure out how to work together without the need of mosques, temples, churches, what have you. We had better do the same, or prepare to hand the world over to the cockroaches.

“And it starts by recognizing that you exalt yourself over your community at your peril, because you need that community to survive. Every act of screaming at your neighbor throws another bit of grit in the works. Keep it up, and pretty soon the machine grinds to a halt. And then, Amoeba, you’d better be ready to return to the primordial ooze. Or else.”

Amoeba: “Even if that means putting up with the Cheeto Mussolini?”

Adama: “Remember those old bumper stickers about farmers? I don’t see any of these Trump protesters turning down their salaries, or fancy new cars, or vacations, or whatnot, that have been propagated through the government of the President they consider so vile. I don’t see the social liberals of Seattle repudiating the corporate autocrat Jeff Bezos, who is turning their city into a geek paradise and a hell for everyone else. Until they do, they don’t have a claim.”

Amoeba: “Like the Italians of a century ago didn’t have a claim? Or the Germans?”

Adama: “There’s plenty of historical precedent for what happens when you don’t put up. Now tell me again how much good your Ph.D.s do for the world. Especially the Ph.D.s of the historians.”

Amoeba: “Shut up. Just. Shut. Up.

Posted in Amoeba's Lorica, politics, satire | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Amoeba’s Lorica: Hard Service

Tale no. 4 in the Selective Service series. To read the earlier stories, visit this page.

140722, usually addressed as “14” or by any of a large number of crude epithets, sat on a bench in the gladiator’s locker room, drenched with sweat, bowed over with the weariness of exertion and grief. He was naked, except for a thick wet mop of shoulder-length wavy blonde hair on his head and across his face, and for a brown leather belt and meshwork girdle about his hips, groin, and buttocks – a girdle that served, not to guard, but to display his generously-proportioned genitalia.

Once, early in his training, in that same locker room, he had complained about the girdle’s lack of comfort or protection. In response, the drill instructor had charged him viciously, aiming fists, feet, and knees at the genitals – a charge that 14 desperately, and just barely successfully, parried.

“The Mothers get to see exactly what they want to see, exactly how they want to see it”, he’d snarled into 14’s nose. “You protect your prick and balls with your skills and your wits, and you display them with the same. And if you can’t and you get them smashed, you’re done! You’re out of the show, for good! Got that? It’s not like anybody’s going to care.”

He spat the last words out savagely.

It’s not like you exist, fourteen oh seven twenty two!

The instructor had then spun on his heels and stormed down the corridor towards the gymnasium. The other nine males in the cohort had stared stonily ahead, walling themselves off from the altercation, from 14. When he had reached the end of the hall, the instructor had turned back and screamed, “Get your lazy asses into the weight room. You want to survive, any of you, you have work to do!”

14’s mind returned to the present; his blue-grey eyes focused on the girdle, now soaked with cold sweat and pinching him in several places, some of them tender from rubbing during the battle he’d just come back from, some of them tender because that’s what those places were to start with.

He stood up, slowly and carefully, so as not to turn a pinch into an agonizing grab, and began to work the seventeen buttons, clasps, and ties that held the garment in place. The standing revealed a hairless sixteen-year-old white body, six feet tall, in transition from the buttery litheness of late, well-conditioned boyhood to the sharply-defined contours of early hyper-fit maturity, the whiteness marred by grapple marks on the shoulders and what looked like a whip stroke diagonally across the pecs. Slowly and carefully he disengaged the girdle from his anatomy, lifted it to eye level – then with a sudden ferocity dashed it straight down to the locker room’s concrete floor. The dull, scattered thud it made was vaguely disappointing. 14 took a step away, intending to leave the offending leather contraption where it lay and stalk off for the showers.

“Pick that up, asshole.”

14 spun into a battle crouch, hard and alert, all weariness thrown off as if it were a bug he’d smashed against his hide, and faced his tormenter – the instructor of his boyhood, now Entertainment Coordinator for the Cohort. The Seattle Secret Cohort. Males assigned to the Mothers of the Seattle area Selective Service; males thought, by the rest of society, to have been exterminated long ago, a triumph of the Righteous Revolution.

7758D (for “Drill”, a token of leadership) was this male’s name, called “7D” or “Master” to his face, and many other things behind his back. An outsized hulk, fortysomething, five foot ten, olive skin, brown eyes, and no hair anywhere – anywhere – on his body. The hair had been permanently removed at the whim of a committee of Mothers whose members had fancied him. The memory, and lingering pain, of that removal had done nothing to sweeten his already ferocious disposition.

For a minute or more, 7D and 14 stared each other down, neither moving, neither relaxing. Then, slowly, without taking eyes or attention off his adversary and superior, 14 bent slowly at the knees, torso remaining erect, ready for action at any provocation. He bent until he was low enough for his left hand to reach and grasp the discarded girdle. With one lightning motion he swept the pile of leather off the floor and returned to battle stance, prepared to use the straps as impromptu lashes if he needed to.

“You will follow the full procedure for proper care of your arena dress, mamadick”, 7D snapped. “Every time! Got it?” The ‘procedure’ was a lengthy and onerous regimen for washing, oiling, and buffing the girdle. 14 and his cohort-mates suspected, rightly, that little of the regimen was necessary either to extend the useful life of the garment or preserve its appearance. If anything, it made the thing harder to put on, more uncomfortable to wear. Instead, the regimen served to occupy time and sap energy, and demonstrate the perpetual subservience of those obligated to perform it.

Which he was. “Get on with it. Now!” the Master commanded. 14 turned towards the sink complex at the back of the locker room, near the showers, that was set aside for garment washing, hoping that 7D would take the opportunity to inflict himself on somebody else. In that hope he was disappointed, for the hulk followed him and stood by him, a silent, glowering mass of disrespect and belittlement, as the younger male ran the water and began to massage individual leather strips under the stream.

For ten minutes, neither spoke. 14 had been commanded to wash, not to talk, and he had nothing to say anyway. Not out loud. 7D moved nothing; 14 could not even be sure that he blinked in all that time. Finally, 7D broke the silence, speaking in a low and muted tone that came out of nowhere and immediately caught 14’s attention.

“They will be distributing 42’s stuff tomorrow. You will be there.”

14 dropped the girdle in the sink full of water – definitely against protocol – and whipped round, astonished. “No way!” he cried. “Yeah, I roughed him up out there, but I didn’t kill him! I didn’t even hurt him that bad!”

“Says you”, the Master muttered, almost inaudibly. “The Mothers voted him off.” Abruptly, a full-volume scream, bordering on hysteria. “OK, shithead, you beat him! Did you have to humiliate him!?!”

He tried to jump me!” 14 screamed back.

“Oh, was that it?” 7D’s scream transitioned into a hard, vicious sneer. “What’s the matter, pretty prick? 42 wasn’t good enough for you? Saving yourself for some Mother, were you? Thought you might impress by showing one of us up, did you?”

Savagely, 7D latched iron hands onto the skin and muscle between 14’s armpits and pecs, one hand on each side, and effortlessly lifted the youth high into the air. “I’ve got news for you, asshole. Members of this cohort have been gang-raped for far less that what you are guilty of! And so help me!” The Master shook 14 like a drowned puppy. “If I had my way, I’d be first in!

With a heave, 7D threw 14 against a bare wall of the locker room – but far more gently than he might have; 14 barely felt the impact. “But”, the Entertainment Coordinator for the Seattle Secret Cohort bit off the words, “I don’t get to have my way. I got special orders from the dear ladies to look after you, keep you safe from harm. It seems at least one of the Mothers has taken a fancy to you. You might just get your wish.” He spat.

The prospect of meeting a Mother – any Mother, never mind one that, ah, fancied him, was about as far as possible from being 14’s wish. Rather, he dreaded the prospect, more than the prospect of being roughed up for real by the Master and the others in the cohort. At least that was familiar. “But, what would a Mother want from me? It’s not like they need us for anything.”

“Why don’t you ask Siri that question?” 7D jibed.

It was well known that Siri “The Ubiquitous” monitored nearly every inch of the underground, sealed compound that housed the Secret Cohort, and, if necessary, she would send robotic militia into the compound to keep order. But, except through these emissaries, she did not speak to the cohort, and the cohort’s members, denied the necessary implants, did not speak to Siri. In the first locker that 14 had been assigned when he began gladiatorial training, he had, after several weeks, noticed a faint inscription in one interior corner, perhaps one of the few places out of Siri’s view. It had read:

Males, and animals, are free.

He had long wondered what it meant, and where it came from, if indeed its history could be traced.

7D broke into 14’s wondering. “Fetch that sodden mess out of the sink you threw it in,” he said gruffly, “and take it to Disposal. I’ll sign for a new one. And be sure“, he announced more loudly, “to get yourself to 42’s distribution tomorrow. You are under protection now. You don’t know how long that will last. Abuse it at your peril.” With that parting shot, the Master finally did turn on his heels and march out of the locker room.

Leaving the youth 140722 silently, ominously, distressingly alone.

Posted in Amoeba's Lorica, fiction | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dude and Dude: Balms Away

“What’cha got there, dude?”

“Nice cuppa tea, dude. Want some?”

“Yeah maybe. Smells kinda weird, yeah? A’most like ya tried ta put some lemon innit but didn’t have enuff. An’ tha rest a it smells kinda, like, weedy. But not ’nuffa that either. Like ya wuz tryin’ ta get by wit’ twigs an’ seeds, an’ why would ya bother?

“Not that kinda weed, dude. Though it is saposed ta be relaxin’. It’s lemon balm. This, like, chick turned me on ta it.”

“Uh huh. Got yer hopes up, did she?”

“Um …”

“Yeah, watch yerself, dude. Tryin’ weird things on ‘count a a chick is usu’ly a big warnin’ a trouble. Lemme guess, she’s one a these nature types.”

“Kinda sorta. She ain’t big on, like, chemicals, that’s fer sure. ‘What’s this lemon balm got in it?’ ‘Leaves’, she sez. ‘Nice an’ natural. Grown in a food coop garden, ain’t been sprayed on, ain’t been GMOed, nothin’. Ain’t never goin’ ta do ya no harm’, she sez.”

“‘Ain’t neva gonna do ya no harm, she sez.’ Yeauh huh. So how come it’s got harmine innit?”

“What the fmmmmfmmmmffmffpah!”

“Keep it clean, dude.”

“That mean I c’n wipe yer hands on yer shirt? While yer tellin’ me how much harm this harmine does?!?”

“Damned if’n know, dude. But it don’t sound like nothin’ I’d be drinkin’!”

“What else this balm stuff got? An’ do I wanna know?

“Kinda depends on what that chick’s worth ta ya, yeah? Lessee … ‘lemon balm chemicals wiki‘. Hm. Couple things on here. Citronellal. 1-octene-3-ol. 10-alpha-cadinol. 3-octanone, alpha-cubebene, alpha-humulene, beta-bourbonene …”

“Lemon balm’s got Jim Beam innit?!?”

“… gamma cadinene – that an’ tha cadinol oughta turn yer girl right off, savin’ ya some grief – geranial, geraniol, geranyl acetate, germacrene D …”

“Dude …”

” … methylheptenone, neral, nerol, octyl benzoate, oleanoic acid, pomolic acid …”

Dude …!

“… rosmarinic acid, stachyose, succinic acid, thymol …”

Dammit, dude, ya c’n stop now!!”

“But I ain’t even got through half tha list yet! Hey, here’s a cool one. Linalool. That’s tha one tha pest control dudes use ta kill cockroaches!

“OK, OK, OK!!! I’ve dumped tha tea down tha sink an’ tha leaves in tha trash! Can I roll a joint now ta settle tha nerves ya had tha nerve ta jangle?

“Ya sure ya wanna do that?”

“Damn right I do!”

“Even afta I tell ya that they’s at least 33 chemicals in ganga smoke known to tha state a California ta cause cancer?”

“Bu .. bu .. bu .. bu .. bu .. bu .. bu …”

Chill, dude. Yer still here, yeah?”

“I ain’t so sure no more, dude.”

“Well, ya are, so’m I. What’s that tell ya?”

“That tha chemicals in tha world ain’t killed us yet?”

“Yeah. An’ tha world is full a chemicals. An’ if’n yer gonna start pickin‘ on peeps on ‘count a tha chemicals they’re messin’ wit’, ya better first be sure ya got some kinda clue what yer talkin‘ about, huh? Like that chick a yers.”

What chick?”

Posted in Dude and Dude, food, humor, marketing, We the People | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments