chapter 3: may 13, 2014/ancient future



Pesto sausage pasta with truffle oil, roasted pine nuts, apple-sage vegan sausage, mushroom, and choice of spaghetti squash or gluten free noodles

Kale salad with apple and jalapeno

Iced Kava tea  

the world

issue: education and female leadership  

character: lividia – she is a crone, crow-like, wrinkled. she can move and think like her 16 year old self. is tenacious, cynical, thwarted by injustice. a polarizing leader. she pulls on older traditions – is a keeper of ancestral knowledge.  

setting: an ancient future detroit where people have forgotten how to age and die. the world is artificial and stagnant – the environment doesn’t age. lividia is a leader in rejecting the preservation of youth. her place is wild, real, nature – an enclave on belle isle.  

back drop/assumptions: gender fluidity, tech revolution yielded immortality, legislation forced sterilization and the environment enforces it. cloning is possible.  

conflict: stratification yields population to organize – they are reaching the ceiling of resources in the existing world. lividia escaped the sterilization, but now her death is coming and she has to pass it on.  


Divina woke with the sound of laughter as Divina did most days. It was the sound of foolishness, play, and the sound of eternal innocence. Divina inhaled the laughter like life itself. Endless.  

Each laugh had its own tone, its own pitch, its own unique joy. And with every morning breath, Divina’s ears consumed these precious sounds before they could get out of bed and think about breakfast. Sometimes Divina laughed aloud with them, but Divina’s laugh was small and anxious. They laughed not in a collective joy with the others, but rather, with a chuckle or sigh of fear and hopelessness.

Every morning Divina felt an uneasiness, a sickness in her gut that could not be explained.  


The Legion of Ancient Futures  

The walls are paper thin where they lay. A bird seems to be whispering and that is enough to crack open the other wall: the place from where the dreams creep in. Lividia has left a letter in the empty house.    

“How many are left?” she wants to know.  Her face leans over a fake firelight, revealing a map of wrinkles, splayed across her forehead.  

The Legion of Ancient Futures–a spiral symbol that seems to be exploding into an abyss– is emblazoned on a torn and ragged badge, which she painstakingly tries to sew back in place.  

What is time and why does it flow forward? Why do stars eventually die out? Why does a cup of coffee cool down but never re-heat?  

In her dream, Lividia sits with her Grandmother asking, “what will happen when our star burns out?” Her Grandmother responds, “It already has, baby, we’re on the other side of the black hole.”  

In 2014, scientists discovered quantum entanglement, the sub-atomic answer to the question of why time flows forward, the question of why death exists.  

Within 10 years, leading nanotechnology corporations had created machines that could turn time in the opposite direction: quantum disentanglement.  

Within 20 years, the scientists who discovered the law of quantum disentanglement had seen too much. They saw the writing on the wall. From the behaviors of subatomic particles, they were able to read an exact date, a precise moment when the sun would burn out.  

And they could project, with just as much precision, what would happen in that instant: the river of time, which had flowed inevitably forward for all of human history, would ricochet back and every instant of life that had been lived would be unlived.  Time would begin to flow backwards.  

Of course, this produced a panic beyond description in the power structure; the wealthy began scrambling for an escape plan; their foundations and think tanks fueled the development of time-loss preventative nanotechnologies – subatomic machines that would freeze time as they had known it.  These machines were sent by the trillions of tons into space to “freeze” the sun, holding it in unchanging stillness. They developed complementary technologies that went to work on their bodies, suspending them in time for eternity.  

This strategy worked for almost 100 years, but the effort required so much nuclear power that the earth began to crumble.  

Those who couldn’t afford nanotech treatments to their bodies began to feel the backwards flow of time. It started off as vivid dreams.  Then they began to spend full days experiencing time in reverse. Their bodies continued to age, but increasingly their minds traveled backwards down the pathways of what they had lived before.  

The Legion of Ancient Futures was a movement started by the granddaughter of an early nanotechnologist.  She believed that humanity’s destiny was on the other side of the back hole — that if only humans would let go, and allow time to finally flow backwards, that we would be able to start a new cycle of time, like a rebirth, or the start of another dimension.  We could harvest the lessons of all our previous failures along the way, and carry them with us to the other side.

Her eyes drifted upward and surveyed what appeared to be mildew at the top of the dirty wall in the tiniest of cubes.


Lavidia lay across the bed in the stale darkness of her room. She felt as old and worn as the sad mattress she stretched out upon. Sleep would elude her once more this night. Her exhaustion forbid her rest. She was tired of the burden she carried during dark-

daylight hours. She was tired from the fear that prevented her from approaching another woman with what she knew, what she must share. She was tired of the males in the tribe with their constant foot stamping and pawing and pissing games reeking of pride, finding honor in ignorance and cruelty. She was tired and wanted to find not just the peace of ordinary sleep, but craved the biggest deepest sleep. She wanted to die.


Death would be so kind. She imagined something supremely beautiful in the leaving. Moving on to a higher plane. A place with a green lushness so completely different from the grubby sweltering darkness that engulfed the tribes daily. Her memories of the old ones stories were all that comforted her. Those old women who had been forced away from the tribes, condemned to wander into the wilderness for daring to speak up. Condemned because they could read.


She would never forget the look of the old ones trudging outside the gates. There were no tears in their eyes. No fear at what would be there waiting in the unfamiliar darkness. They had a special dignity hovering over them that excelled all thought and fear and attempts of dominance. They would survive the wilderness or they would discover and welcome the peace of the big sleep.


Lavidia envied them so.



The grass was soggy from last nights rain. Vi couldn’t breathe. The high altitude made it difficult for her to move as quickly as she needed to. The urgency bit at her heels, it seemed she would never make it. It had been years since the last trek. Vi had forgotten how long it took to get to the Pasture. She always thought it was funny it was called the Pasture. Aunt Livy fed herself savagely. The land was filled with centuries old fruit trees and a vegetable garden. Visitors truly got their fill. Even if people didn’t know what they we’re getting, they knew they would never be the same again after visiting the Pasture.


The sun was setting down the mountain. The hazy grey skies hung low. It felt heavy on her shoulders as she swung through the thick forest. Being a daughter of a clone had their advantages. The strength in her hands surpassed even her mothers. The thick branches were slippery and sticky. Each grab excited her. She felt free. The time has come and she was ready.


Vi was sure Aunt Livy was making her favorite dish–passionfruit mixed with the green juice of Kali and a sprig of fresh mint. The juice of Kali could only be found in the Pasture and the only necessary juice for her kind but light helped.


Vi could feel her light quotient lowering. Vi sat high on the sequoia as her indigo dyed dress brushed the forest floor. The moonshine wrapped itself upon her deep burgundy shoulders. As she absorbed the moon’s energy Vi shot the light towards the Pasture to check on its status. The ring was weakening. She was right, Aunt Livey is dying.


***The kid wanted to walk.  He could have called a Go Bot to shuttle him over to the park. His friend often made fun of him for sometimes being less than efficient.  He laughed at how his organic idiosyncrasies sometimes got the best of him.

Hey sun, what’s the light?

What’s inside? What’s out?

“I’m not your son,” the kid replied playfully pushing his uncle’s hand off his shoulder.

But you shine

like 1.

They had repeated this ritual greeting for years, almost as far back as the kid could remember.   He didn’t know anyone else who was so weird, so illogical.  JaVonte Headnagga was one of a kind.  He always was surrounded by a crew of oddballs.  The kid reluctantly accepted a hug.  Nowadays, most organic intelligences reacquainted themselves with a handshake and an exchange of statuses.  The kid checked his INBOX, but he knew that JaVonte didn’t send him a status message.  He wondered if he was even logged on.  What an odd sack of flesh!

Of course, you

remember my skin

Brother, Howling Dog?

I don’t think you

Have met my new sister

Christine Cracher

Something irked the kid in how his uncle always had these sisters and brothers.  The word “sibling” had become almost meaningless within the new reproductive structure.  Of course, young children matriculated with social mates. Five hundred to seven hundred was deemed to be optimal use of resources.  Specialists, pediatricians, and neurologists gave tireless service.  Very few adults could stand to be around immature humans.  They were so unpredictable and messy.  Neurologist’s Day was celebrated every May with a parade down Woodward Avenue and June, “Happy Pediatricians Day” could be heard well before the single day.  The kid remembered being teased by his friend “Do you need a pediatrician or something?” for his inefficiencies.  He heard a faint ringing in his left ear.


From: Martin King

To: ———–

“Happy Pediatrician’s Day! Don’t forget to change yr wet diapers! LOL”

He looked up and saw JaVonte staring at him.

Sun, what did you learn

This Organic History Week?

The ancient empires of dust,

The bloody limbs within

metal jaws, the stupid tongues

of glory days gone ?

On this special trip,

Turn your messaging off

No messages, no advertisements.

Travel free with your uncle,

Can you come with us and leave

Those commercials in the dust behind you?

The kid nodded in agreement, blinked twice, but left his connection to the interwebs active.

Together the four walked behind shadows, through plastic alleys, beneath cameras that never blinked.  Their path twisted and turned like chains of petroleum carbonate molecules. This was a new part of the city the kid had never seen before.  They reached a broad avenue, and just beyond that a glimmering pathway.

“That can’t all be water?  There’s just so much of it!”  The kid had never seen a river before.

They entered a wooden shack.  Javonte removed a stone plate from the ground which led down packed dirt stairs, to a tunnel.  They walked a mile down the path and emerged right next to the water way.

Mama Lavidia teaches

Us about our mother, this planet

We live on.  The river, our sister,

our blood which has been denied.

They entered a small boat. Christine and Howling Dog rowed across.  As they approached the air vibrated, then hummed.  As they touched into the shore, they pulled the boat and secured it beneath some bushes. The kid heard a faint pulsing of drumming.  He looked away and could not see where the boat had been.

“He’s got his interweb still active.  You know we can’t let him go any further.”

The look on Javonte’s face flashed confusion, then disappointment.  The kid remembered this look for the rest of his life.  The next four years which took him into rivers, lakes so large he could not see across them, He peered into faces of rage, anguish, and experience in prisons and holding cell.  It would be awhile before he understood what was lost in that moment.  One day, he would share teachings, laughs with Mama Lavidia. When Delux Patrol Bot CR-96 electrocuted him, the face of Javonte Headnagga and struggle to erase all the guilt filled his last breath.




It’s dark and cold.


Lucy is moving ahead of me , I can barely make her out — its so dark. I walk those streets everyday but I have never seen them like this — its never gets this dark. We never usually let it get this dark, but the snatchers have breached the city and they turned out the lights.


That is when Lucy came for me and told me it was time to walk — I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. I have trained for this walk for years and now that the time has come I can hardly breathe.


Lucy is getting farther away from me — but I have been trained to follow her snatchers light. She is my guide, my snatcher,  it is her job to get me to the school yard and kill me.


I haven’t left the city and have only walked close to the boundary on my training walks. You can’t go too close to the boundary without being suspected. We are almost as far as I have ever gone and soon I will only have Lucy’s light to follow. The city lights will be soon and we will need to out of the city, we will need to be in the district beyond the boundary.


I was, I am 27 and have been since the city was aged and the boundary closed. I was never supposed to be aged or in the city. I was selected to come to the city and never be able to leave until now.



nalene was tired inside of her bones. she had worked another long day and it didn’t matter, because her work was to keep things as they were. if she did her work well, no one would notice. that was the goal.


but nalene was a creative. if she had been born to wealthy parents, or somehow been able to acquire real money before the miracle happened, she would be creating now. her mind drifted, remembering the way it used to feel to get high on a saturday morning and spend all of the daylight applying acrylic to canvas in her tiny attic studio. that was when she was married to pritchard and they had taken turn being artists and earning the money to pay the rent.


pritchard had left her when he found out she couldn’t have children. she couldn’t remember if he’d told her that was the reason, she couldn’t remember much now except for these slivers of golden days. life couldn’t have been that good then. but compared to this – it had been so exciting, all they didn’t know, all they couldn’t imagine.


she brought herself back to the task at hand. her boss ealette had cracked a mug this morning. not broken – broken would have been easy to deal with. nalene could taken broken things away and go recreate them and replace them. but cracked was different – cracked meant that it was still the original, and it could be saved.


this mug was green, and it had the face of detroit’s first black mayor on it. coleman young. ealette had been given the mug from her father, who had received it from his father, and back all the way to her great great great great grandfather, who had voted for young. the crack ran right up his smiling face. she applied fusing glue along the inside of the crack and then waited as it mended.


there had been a run of black mayors, that had ended early in the 21st century. any memorabilia from that time was highly valuable to people like ealette and her husbands raymond and chauncey. they were owners of detroit – since the miracle, you were either an owner or a servant, in this city split into enclaves.


nalene had some black heritage, as did a lot of the serving class. like most of them tho, her skin was still lighter than young’s. dark skin had slowly been phased out, along with fatness, shortness, disabilities, wrinkles – the miracle had given people with resources the capacity to choose so many things, and they had chosen so much sameness.


nalene thought young could have been her family. she wondered what it must have been like to live in a time when there was so much change, so much death.


she wished, not for the first time, that she could die. the kiss of lividia. if only. it didn’t feel like a morbid thought. she just couldn’t remember anymore why she was here. she had been 17 when the miracle came – life had seemed so promising and interesting. but that was so long ago. all she did now was do, do, do, do. alone alone alone.


she brought her mind back to the task at hand. the mug looked almost whole again, there was just a hairline across his cheek. another minute or two and the glue would be complete. nalene stood with the mug in her hands and took a step towards the kitchen counter, a million miles away in this oversized mansion.


suddenly her legs froze, it felt as if her feet were rooted a million miles into the ground. she tried to budge but her whole body was out of her control, tight, taut everywhere as if she’d turned to stone. no scream was possible – and she wouldn’t have known what to say anyway. this feeling was so new it took her a moment to register that it was unpleasant – extremely unpleasant. she realized with a shock that she was feeling pain. pain that seemed to sing in bright chords from the center of her body to the very end of her nerves.


she was released from the pain for a moment and the mug dropped from her hands, breaking into pieces on the floor. she fell, like the mug, onto the floor, grasping her chest. she couldn’t breath, and it was such a welcome crisis that she tried to smile. she managed to roll over on her back before her whole body siezed up again into this tremendous alien sensation.


that’s when she saw lividia. the old woman was standing against the back window, hunched over, smiling at nalene. the old face seemed to drip off her skeleton, black skin, black eyes, very few teeth left now. lividia had one gnarled hand against the back window, reaching out. nalene couldn’t reach back, but tears came to her eyes. she had always thought lividia was a myth. a rumor. a dream.


but no – lividia was real, and she had come with her gift, with the greatest relief. nalene rolled towards the window, over the broken mug and it’s broken memories, weeping in gratitude as the last breath left her body.



They hugged one another. Like a toast to themselves and their bretheren, an affirmation, a vitiation of any ill-will that had accumulated since their last encounter. Two individuals would approach, spend heartfelt moments in an embrace, then disengage to go search for another. This portion of the proceedings took many minutes not just because the goal was to touch everyone, but also because Maxime was a notoriously long hugger and they felt it appropriate to honor the way she honored others.  

Then followed chanting — songs preserved by Lividia and passed down in the tradition. They were percussive, involved stomping and knee slapping and several different vocal parts memorized and sung by groups organically organized mid-chant. People smiled broadly. After each joyous song, they would invoke HER name: “Lividia.”  

The final song finished, they moved to stories about the one who has become part of the vast oneness. Few people had anything ill to say about Maxime, but honesty was an essential feature of memorializing.   “Lividia says we must recognize the good and bad in individuals,” said one of the speakers before telling an uncharitable story about Maxime demonstrating her occasional pettiness to which a great many nodded in ascent.  

The last story, told by one of her three sons, now an older man himself and a regular member of the rotating board of elders in Zenith, ended with an ecstatic tone causing a cascade of laughter and hooting. He took the burial vase that had carried numerous cremated members of Zenith and poured his mother’s ashes into the earth, a vast smile fixed to his face throughout.  

“This is appalling,” Fincher said. He wore the lastest brand of indistructable, single-breasted pin-striped.

“Disgusting,” Helena said. She wore a navy blue suit, also indistructable.  

The other eight members of the board, all seemingly of uniform age and wearing indistructable suits, nodded in agreement.  

“I haven’t seen the activities of these breeders in some time,” Fincher said. “It really reminds you how horrifying children and the elderly are.”  

“Let’s not get sidetracked,” Ingrid said. “The reason why we convened the board is because soon Zenith will be unable to support the Lividists.”  

Helena chimed in, “I warned all of you about this possiblity.”  

“If we’d have kept closer surveillance we could have controlled their population,” Ingrid said.  

“Be that as it may, they must be eliminated, correct?” Fincher said.  

“Yes,” Helena began, turning on a hologram display in the center of the oval table. “While they may be technologically primitive, they certainly have the capabilities and implements necessary to expand beyond the confines of the island.”  

“Can you imagine?” Yermolina said. He was the oldest of the group but of course it was impossible to tell.   “If a member of one of our Mega-Regions happened to encounter a sickly, elderly member of Zenith…”  

“There can be no mingling of cultures,” Fincher said. “I’m not an inhumane person but let’s be logical here. It might disrupt The Balance.”  

For decades, the Mega-Regions had been in stasis. With the few deaths easily replacable by clones, labor performed by robots who manufactured nearly indistructable goods and structures, historians referred to their current age as The Great Balance.  


Martine had had enough!  How long would she have to be held down, restricted, and treated so dismissively?  She was 13 going on 44.  No really, she was.  She’d just had an argument with her parents because she’d decided that she was going to move out on her own.  The problem they continued to remind her was that no one would rent to a teen, no matter if they were 44.


You see, Martine lived on the planet of Detroitia a place where all Detrotians lived forever.  Babies, kids, teens, adults, and elders all lived forever and didn’t age.  For 174 years society had existed this way.  Baby’s never became toddlers, teens never adults, and elders never passed on.  This was the way of things.  At least this was the way of things for most folks, but not for Martine.  The problem that comes with stagnating society forever is that it stagnates roles forever.  Martine would be viewed and treated as a teenager for eternity, and she couldn’t bear it.  She was anything but a teenager, life had taught her so much!  Navigating the in’s and out’s of Detroitia society for 40 years Martine had matured, but the world she lived in had not.  It was stark, bland, and boring.  Something she couldn’t stand.  It rebelled against all that was in her nature – passion, love, fire, and energy.


Martine decided to take her energy and instead of directing it at her parents she decided to go on a walk through the tunnels.  Now normally when she ventured through the tunnels she was all alone.  The tunnels were one of the few things left from the ancient times, and all Detroitians hated anything that even reminded them of the ancient times.  Martine loved being down there, the tunnels were dark, dusty, and smelled of earth.  In all honesty, she had never run into another soul while walking the tunnels.  But on this day Martine heard footsteps behind her.


A person that gender is unknown. Lives here alone. Has lost all of their friends to


their “sickness.” In search of Lavida, someone found them walking down a road,


talking to themselves. Believes that not aging has lead them to being “sick”


Sir/Ma’am: The medication doesn’t work. It makes me worse.


Nurse: What do you mean worse?


It makes me act like before . I don’t want to be that way.


How were you before?




I didn’t know you from before. How were you?

Sick how?




I want to help.




Stop, what?


Asking questions.




I need to find her.




I need her to fix me.




I don’t want to be this way.


I need to ask you questions. This is the only way I can help.


You are not helping, you are making me worse. I will be like I was before!


How were you before!?

Sick, how? What was wrong?



Nothing was wrong.


But you said you don’t want to be like you were before, so…


Nothing,–nothing was ever wrong. I don’t want to be that way.


Isn’t that good? Everything was good.






I need to find her.


Find who?


another dreary morning at the assimilation academy. the hail burst through the thick clouds and rattled against the windows and bars while the newsreel played on through holo clouds. the sound of the instructor’s voice over barely cut through the tap tap tapping. like endless rounds of gun blasts in repetition. but we stared forward into the center of the room we sat in stations around facing this polysided multidimensional pixelated contours. you could almost see the hypnotic swirls in the pupil’s pupils. tap tapping in rhythm with the hail, on their memory keys, to digitally digest all the detailed garble being hurled at them.

not genevieve. she hit a different combination of keys. it beamed in the signal from another holo-frequency, and i picked up on her subtle gesture. the signal distorted and creeped into the implant behind my sinus. the riddle began to be repeated in monotone staccato cadence. where does the crow land by the tree branch with no hand. how many marks by the cane with a blade get made, by the woman with ankle sprain and ebony platinum braids. the loop kept repeating. until the academy master entered and gen quickly shut down the system. we both proceeded to feign attention.

the holo cloud started to dissolve and he stood in the center of the circle. there has been a frequency coming from this room that tells us some of you are breaking the connectivity of the circle. any one who is found to be disturbing the frequency cipher will be immediately decoded and have to recode all materials in solitary quarters. do you understand the long term effects of breaking the cipher?

confine the cells to limited life. mortal misery. spiral eyes recited on cue.

very good then. the holo cloud reappeared and clicking and hail tap tapping re-synced.

as soon as he was out of sight and footsteps became faint, gen returned to the signal.

we lock step released ourselves from each of our stations and moved to the back gateway. the ground was wet but the marks from the cane were still slightly visible. their space was filled with hail and allowed us to track them. each mark brought us closer to the sound. the riddle repeated in our implant and feedback looped until we got so far out from the academy we lost signal and it shut down to a static fuzz.

gen took my hand. and looked up. there was a tree branch. shaped like a crow claw. from it hung a single thread. i reached up and before gen could pull my hand away the thread turned into a tightly woven net and wound itself around our limbs.


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