Princes of the Universe

A science fiction story about the end of the world, love, zombies, money, dreams, John Malkovich, games, and everything else.

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Episode One: The heart of a hero
Episode Two: Love hurts
Episode Three: God speed your love
Episode Four: Two hands ain’t good enough
Episode Five: Part One: Rape of the Sabine Women
Episode Five: Part Two: Rape of the Sabine Women
Episode Six: Everything counts in large amounts
Episode Seven: Love Never Fails

Episodes and/or related writing are published on this blog – most Mondays and Wednesdays. Please subscribe to this blog to get a reminder when the next episode is published.

Subscriptions are free.

Queen, Princes of the Universe

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The Book of Carrot

Book One: Principal Virtues

Chapter One: Love is a battlefield

Episode Eight: Princes of the Universe

Audience: Adult

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“It’s so good to see you smiling, John – like the cat that got his mouse,” Mother Washington shouted to John from under a blooming lime tree.”

John stopped and approached her under the perfumed shade of the tree.

“It’s so good to see you making sunshine. That’s how being 18 is supposed to be! Mostly.”

“I think,” John whispered to her, “I am the luckiest 18 year old boy in the world!

I’ve got it all! Everything is working out. Talk about luck!”

Mother Washington quietly enjoyed John’s joy and enthusiasm for a minute. She was reminded of her son’s promotion to the United Nations Peace Keeping Command – how proud he was. Michael Alexander Roland Sanchez shone bright as a new penny. Just like John was shining now.

Washington was her maiden name.

“Ain’t nothing to do with luck, John!

Great gifts come with great responsibility,” Mother Washington chided.

Then Mother Washington suddenly smiled big and she put her finger to her head – she had found the allusion that she wanted to share with John.

“That’s what Spiderman’s Uncle Ben was saying.

With great power comes great responsibility…

A large black crow flew down and perched itself on a flowering branch – as if to hear what Mother Washington had to say.

“You’ve been given great gifts so that you can give yourself unto others – give big and large like few others would ever want to give.”

Mother Washington paused to choose her words.

“Oh – you have been blessed, John. Yes – you have!

But, just so you know, it can all stop.”

“What do you mean?” asked John as he put down the bags from the bakery.

“Just as soon as you stop giving and you try to make it all for you. Just as soon as you start taking more than you need – you’ll see.

That so-called luck that you think you got wrapped around your finger like a gold ring – you’ll see that it comes, goes and it can stop on a dime depending on what you are doing with what you got.”

Mother Washington sighed and tears filled her eyes –  meanwhile, the crow made clicking sounds.

“So you keep it humble and honest, John. Humble and honest…”

John’s phone beeped – he was needed in game.

Mother Washington smiled and nodded knowingly.

“Be pure of heart – kind, gentle, unassuming, and courageous. And walk in beauty, John!”

Mother Washington paused again- though she wanted to say so much more to John.

“Walk in beauty. And share beauty with others…”

Mother Washington wanted more than anything to tell John not to hitch his wagon to falling stars – like money, recognition or influence. But she didn’t go there because she really wanted John to enjoy this moment. She wanted him to feel good and let this moment fuel and fill his heart.

As any mother does, Mother Washington took great joy in the joys of her children.

More importantly, she hadn’t received specific instructions about how to prepare John for what was coming. How she did it – that was up to her. This too, she knew, came with a great responsibility.

But what was coming, was coming and it was coming fast – like a reckless, 120 m.p.h., 18-wheel propane tanker-truck starting to slip on an icy, eight lane highway.

“We need a new identity, John,” advanced the Field Commander from FOH’s 13th Division.

John listened to the various proposals – but there wasn’t much enthusiasm for the proposals.

“Well, Mr. Supreme Leader…” asked the Field Commander – she was always annoying like that.

“We are the Fire of Heaven, F-O-H…” explained John.

“Undefeated in guild tournaments, highly ranked in PVP tournaments, and second to none in zombie kills.

Our accomplishments are unmatched, most of all, because we stand together. On the battlefield, we leave no one behind. Nor do we ignore our duty to others – we protect and serve with much passion.

Because LOVE NEVER FAILS!

You want new identity, there it is – from here to forever.”

John held up a flag with a heart set aflame with love – a heart aflame and pierced with barbed wire.

“The barbed wire reminds us that our task is not easy. To keep alive the fire of love in our hearts and the hearts of the people – this is not easy,” John explained to the Congress.

“Our triumphs here, difficult and terrible in their cost, have been purchased with great sacrifice, determination, and pure heart. All who stand here have all faced the trials of character and conscience…

“If you follow me, cry AYE and carry this flag – our flag – proud and high on the battlefields and tournaments,” John shouted to the leaders of FOH.

“If you follow your doubts and fears, shout NAY and elect the better prince – a new hero – one who leads you to greater glories than I have sought for you.”

“AYE,” shouted the 100 Field Commanders, 100 Senators, 100 Ambassadors and the 12 Judges.

“Now… let’s have some fun!” John shouted as he swung open the doors of St. Josephs Gate and launched himself upon an endless sea of zombies that had gathered near St. Joseph’s gate.

John cut a path through the zombies from St. Joseph’s to Amzei square. The Field Commanders, Senators, Ambassadors and Judges followed in John’s wake.

This was a test of courage and skill. It was the first law of Fire of Heaven. That no man, woman or child could serve as a leader of many unless they ran the trail of tears – every time it was run.

The trail of tears was a memorial and a salute to the old school players who had been relocated to the refugee camp at the University of Economics (on the other side of Amzei)- John was one of the few who had survived the ordeal.

Now the trail of tears was run by Fire of Heaven after every Congress – an institution that also ensured few requests and demands for a Congress. No other guild had anything like it.

With his new axe, John killed the zombies that stood in his path – he lopped off heads, smashed in foreheads with the head of his axe, and he split skulls with the bearded black blade. Meanwhile, his silvery tentacles punched through zombie skulls to his left, his right and those pushing in from the rear. Meanwhile, it looked like a few senators were slipping past John’s lead – killing less but taking more ground.

From above the old Radisson Blue hotel, spectators watched and filmed Fire of Heaven running the trail of tears.

Snipers had John in their sights from various blinds. The guilded assassins didn’t even think about pulling the trigger. Taking John out would start Guild wars – but they enjoyed having John in their sights.

The GDI’s (independents) had more to lose by killing John. They would never be able to play the game again; no one would let an independent assassin of a guild leader play the game – regardless of incarnations. Reputation (faction) carried over to your next PC (Player Character) incarnation. You couldn’t just start a new account with a clean slate because trade-enabled player accounts were identified and validated by IP, processor IDs, Phone ID, Personal ID, Bank ID and Finger Prints.

Presumably for tax purposes.

Only a team of extremely skilled hackers and, perhaps, an in-game team of 10 high level players could have PKed him and made off with the uniform. But the poor share of pay off just wasn’t worth the trouble.

Nonetheless, a shot was fired from a rooftop.

John should have taken the hit in the head, but the home-made copper bullet was dissolved by the force shield generated by his uniform. The shot didn’t even slow John down.

Meanwhile, security teams from several guilds descended on the building and captured the noob.

“I’m just a kid,” the would-be assassin pleaded. “I’m sorry, ok?

I just wanted something cool for the Youtubes. Something epic…”

“Oh – this is going to be epic, trust me,” said a mother of eight from Oklahoma and upstanding member of her Methodist church.

She laid a shot gun against the noob’s head and pulled the trigger.

“Game Over,” she said and her PC slapped her knee and rocked back and forth in laughter.

“WHAT A BITCH…” screamed the 40 year old, three-time divorced, moody man-child as he pushed his laptop off his desk.

The laptop crushed a half-full box of cereal and broke the dirty bowls and plates stacked up behind the desk.

“I bet she’s a fat bitch too,” Eric shouted as he surveyed the sprawling chaos on the floor. A box of milk had been knocked over and the spill ran under the desk and started to soak into his fluffy, white bunny slippers.

“Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty! Whatever happened to trial by jury! Fuck this Nazi bullshit!”

Eric posted the video of him taking the shot, getting his head blown apart, and the laughing executioner. The same bubble text and image of an angry Hulk blinked through the footage:

Fat Nazi Bitches have taken over our game! We got to take it back! This is our game – viva la revolution!

Eric felt the cold milk in his now squishy bunny slippers.

“God Damn it!”

He took off his wet, bunny slippers and threw them out the open window.

A few minutes later, there was a hard knock at Eric’s door – nine stories down a grandmother had been hit in the head with bunny slippers.

John brought the black axe down on the skull of the last zombie standing between him and the Hero’s Circle.

The statue of the famous Romanian writer and thinker, Mircea Eliade, stood before him. Eliade held one hand over his heart and with the other, Eliade pointed to the boundless blue sky. He was one of the 12 heroes that formed the Hero’s Circle.

“LOVE NEVER FAILS!” John shouted as he raised his fists over his head in triumph – his voice thundered in Amzei Square and beyond.

Thundering Voice was an in-game perk that Guild Leaders received with their commission and Champions, with their titles. John loved it, but he used it sparingly.

Congrats! (256) – The members of Congress congratulated John over the GLC (Guild Leadership Chat)

When the zombies were cleared from Amzei and a perimeter was established, the festivities began.

FOH’s Honor Guard let new players into Amzei square where they received free supplies: food and water for three days, a dozen silver chloride flares, and a FOH branded map of Bucharest.

Then the square was opened to all. Craftsmen, traders, preachers and prostitutes set up their tents; entertainers danced, juggled, staged dramas, told stories, or performed magic tricks; and some competed in hand to hand combat for sake of glory, honor or money.

While scanning the 10,000 PCs in Amzei (a sight to see), John noticed he had unopened email. He clicked open his inbox in the game window.

Noah: Enjoy the festivities! The sponsorship was my pleasure. Long live the Prince!

Lumi: Let’s celebrate tomorrow night. Bring anyone. Dinner and Drinks on Intelligent.

Dad: Just reviewed your numbers. I can get that credit line you wanted by Monday.

George: What’s up. You’re not talking to me?! Why?

Zacharias: I’ll be in Bucharest soon – can you and George make 15 minutes for me?

Mihaela: Got some unpaid bills at the Hospital – can you help?

Cristina: Marian and I are in the kitchen – my Prince 😛

John ripped off his head-set and shouted out: “Hey You!”

When John got to the kitchen, Marian was watching John run the trail of tears on the tv.

Marian slowly lifted his arm for a high five – John went to Marian, gave him a soft high five, turned around, and put his arms around Cristina. She was stirring a gently boiling pot of Spaghetti No. 7
120

“LOVE NEVER FAILS!” shouted Marian and raised his fists in triumph like he saw John do in the tv news footage.

John blushed in embarrassment.

“What’s that all about?” asked Cristina. “Love never fails?”

“It means what it means” John answered and grinned.

“Oh – I forgot the bay leaves! Can you get them for me, John?”

John opened the oak cupboard over the sink, took out a jar of bay leaves, and poured a few into his hand. Cristina added them to the pot.

“Sauce?” John asked.

“Bolognese is your department, hero…” Cristina replied with a snicker as handed him a bag of bloody, ground beef.

“Princes have to help make dinner too?!” John replied.


“I got good news and bad news,” John said unexpectedly as he stirred the Bolognese sauce. “Which do you want first?”

“Bad…” Cristina answered quickly.

“There’s no bread,” said John.

“And the good news?”

“I got a sponsor for Hachi’s blog.”

Cristina swung John around, grabbed him and gave him a passionate kiss.

“I’m so happy for you, baby. You’ve wanted this so bad!

She kissed him again and held him tightly in her arms.

“So now we can all move to Paris – it will be so dreamy and I know you’ll love it,” John blurted out with enthusiasm.

“Um – NOOO…”

Addendum 1: Malkovich 1

“The Technobohemia Entertainment Company made the Guinness Book of Word Records – 10,000 players live on a single game server and all were graphically represented in game as their Player Characters. How did you do it? How come nobody else did it before?”

John Malcovich smiled and bowed his head.

This is Europa FM and we’re talking about the mastermind behind the most talked about game ever, Mr. John Malkovich,” explained Ioana Maria Popovich.

“I’m not a engineer, Ioana. So all I can tell you is that it has a lot to do with FTLP. That’s Faster Than Light Protocol. It allows us to send and receive Gigabytes of information faster than the speed of light…”

“How is that possible?” asked Ioana. “Didn’t Einstein believe that you can’t move things faster than the speed of light?”

“I’m not a physicist – either,” Malkovich replied and covered his face in self-effacing humility.

“But I think Einstein hasn’t been disproven by FTLP. Information isn’t a thing with Mass. That’s why FLTP works…

“You’re fucking brilliant,” gasped Ioana.

“Oh my!” gushed a blushing Malkovich.

“Thank you for the compliment – but it’s not true! I’m not the brains behind the technology. I’m just the pretty face – the pretty face fronting an extremely talented team.”

“Why games? How did you get into the game business? Why zombies?”

“Love it, Ioana! I love games – doesn’t everyone?!”

You might not know this, but Technobohemia didn’t start as a game company. It was a fashion line – and wow did that flop. But it was through film-making and fashion, I got to know a dozen or technovisionaries in Bucharest and a conversation started to evolve – that was back in 2013.”

Malkovich crossed his legs and licked his lips.

“The zombie is that monster everyone can love to hate…”

“Why is that, Mr. Malkovich?”

“Five reasons…

1. We all need to hate an anonymous someone – someone without ethnic or another kind of identity
2. We all need to kill what we hate
3. We can kill, butcher, and mutilate zombies without guilt
4. Zombies want to eat us
5. Because you are a zombie, an irrational consumer trying to get some in a dog eat dog world – you do whatever you do without any profound sense f compassion or connection to the world; you slump along with what C.S. Lewis described as a fallen chest; worst of all, you have a desperate hunger for something – a hunger that drives you to destroy and mutilate others – their dignity, their dreams, and their bodies.

“Are you saying that we all hate ourselves, Mr. Malkovich?”

“I’m just saying, Ioana… that I love your show and more than that… I still love, very much so, being John Malkovich,” replied Malkovich as he smiled demurely and raised his hands in a gesture of surrender.

“What do you think about John Dionisius?”

“One word – EPIC!

I’m also a big fan of John’s blog, The Mister Hachi Blog…”

“I love Mr. Hachi too! But tell us more about John’s uniform – this is alien technology, right?”

“Yes, it’s alien technology and it has a mind of it’s own. Actually, 12 minds to be precise.”

“Is John the only one to have such a uniform?”

“No… I think there are three uniforms out there in the world. But my technorati tell me that John’s uniform is the only uniform to have begun the maturation process and individuate.”

“12 Minds, maturation process, individuation – what’s that all about?”

“You’ll have to follow John’s story, Ioana,” Malkovich replied with a big grin and a wink.

“Will you come back and chat with me again, Mr. Malkovich?”

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Next Episode: Technobohemian Dreams

All Rights Reserved by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna
18 October 2012
Bucharest, Romania

Stan Faryna

 

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