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Episode V -- Spinmeisters

Premiered 20 March 2009

 

Multiple Choice -- Episode V

Spinmeisters

 

David stood looking out of the window of an ultra modern but nevertheless dark and somewhat dismal office.  A heavy rain was pounding the strangely shaped window and skylight combination that was slanted from the vertical at a roughly 45-degree angle.  Outside the window could be seen a section of what David guessed to be a futuristic city (for the mathematically inclined, oh say circa... 2300 CE). On one nearby roof, two figures could be seen moving about on some deep and mysterious mission – although they may have simply been meeting in a romantic, albeit wet rendezvous.  David, however, seemed more curious than concerned, with his focus returning over and over to merely staring at the water coming down in sheets across the slanted windows. 

Ah, yes: the ways of water, the going with the flow, the transformations seemingly brought on by David being continually doused... and then inexplicably finding himself in distinctive states of wet or dry, his clothing something new, something borrowed, something old, and... something blue?

David began to assess new duds... a uniform of noted brevity in terms of style... and which might constitute a blue color... albeit more like a blue-gray. In fact, everything David was wearing was the same dull blue-gray. There was not even the slightest hint of any variations in color in his jump suit uniform. David shrugged, thinking he should really fit in locally... whenever and whatever “locally” was.

With a heavy frown, his interest in the sheets of water and uniformity of dress waning, he turned to look about the room.  It had all the earmarks of being a serviceable work area in something slightly larger than a cubicle... rather a cubicle with enough room to have someone else visit, sit, and even carry on a conversation. It also apparently had a degree of privacy, i.e., no one else could be seen behind the battleship gray walls. Of course, there was probably more recording apparatus paying attention to this office than might be found in a modern, high-security walk-in bank vault, one routinely used to store the crown jewels. But it was all very, very discreetly hidden from casual view. Meanwhile, the workstation’s accompanying office equipment and materials seemed sufficient to possess the massive bandwidth necessary to create and store volumes of information on every subject under the… well… in this case, the continuing downpour of rain. Technologically, the room was not lacking... obviously both a curse and a blessing. It all depended upon who was controlling the massive amounts of information contained in the technology.

It suddenly hit David that there were zero personal items… as if the current occupant of the office was there only on the flimsiest of conditions and circumstances... that all appointments were temporary, provisional, transitory and ephemeral -- in every sense of the four words. Transfer of occupancy could clearly be done with a minimum of time and effort -- a situation that was notably efficient when you think about it. It would in fact be enormously easy to work in the office all day long before discovering that one had been in the wrong office. Except, of course, there was that telltale leak over on the left side of the window. Surely that would help to distinguish and personalize the office! Give it a certain uniqueness. Make it one's very own office!

In reality, of course, there were a lot of leaks throughout the many offices of this particular level/floor and in this particular building. With the near constant precipitation locally, this meant that the lack of genuine engineering skill or attention to detail during the construction of the building was having its deleterious, long-term effects. It has been said that societies that honor philosophers and degrade plumbers will have neither philosophies nor pipes that hold water. This was likely one of those societies.

David frowned as he glanced about all that he could survey. On the one hand, he was not what one might call an office type, in particular an office with such a distinctive lack of personality. And this place fairly well exuded universal conformity and zero humanity. David somehow knew this was “his office”, but how he would be able to tolerate such sameness was not clear.

For one thing, the office practically imposed boredom on the occupant. There was to be no distractions of any kind while the worker was at work... save for the water flowing down the windows. The latter could be studied at some depth... but at the long term risk of mental instability... the latter condition being one of the antidotes for boredom.

Speaking of boring, David returned to checking out his shimmering jumpsuit uniform, and despite a personal identification and insignia emblazoned on his breast, he instinctively knew he was undoubtedly dressed in the same garb as everyone else in the building, the city, and probably the culture. Societies that wished to present themselves as egalitarian always preferred the uniformity of everyone of every sex and age being dressed the same. The fact they might be rigidly hierarchical made no difference. It was the appearances that mattered. Falseness must be continually enabled in order to maintain its facade. Truth often just lies about waiting to be noticed.

The only good news was that David had an ID that showed his name and title, and indirectly his place in the hierarchy. Maybe the pentagon motif was being repeated as a matter of course. And one can learn so much from a name... not to mention a title. Slowly, and almost admiringly, he read the ID aloud.

“D. Walker, Director, SpinMeister Directive, Historical, Galactic Federation, Mintaka.” Sounded cool enough.

A mechanical, vaguely female voice came over an unseen intercom.

“Repeat request.”

David looked around the room, grimacing... just in case there was any slight possibility that everything happening in the room was under surveillance...

“Never mind.” And then for emphasis, he added, “Cancel… request.”

Unfortunately for David, the voice was now on a roll and was not to be denied further activity in its singularly boring existence by a mere cancellation of an unintended and spurious request. “You have a meeting with the Senior Director in ten minutes, Sir. Time for transfer estimated to be seven point five minutes.”

David flinched slightly. “Uh… thanks.”

Strange and antiquated words such as ‘thanks’ not being in its vocabulary, the voice requested, “Repeat?”

David was catching on. “I mean… I’m ready.”

This was also a little tough on the computer’s analyzing abilities, but with years of non-stop experience, it was able to fall back with the nondescript, “Yes, Sir.”

It’s absolutely amazing what a “yes, sir” or “yes, madam” can accomplish. You don’t have to say anything else. It suggests you actually understand, agree with, and will immediately ensure that any directive that might have been issued will be obeyed without the slightest hesitation. “You’re absolutely right” works in some cases even better. The fact that the statement also means upon occasion that you think the other person is an idiot and the only reason you’re not so informing him or her is that you would probably get in more trouble than it’s worth... and you the fall back to “Yes, Sir!” The curious part is that most recipients of “Yes, Sir!” must also practice the conservation of energy by ignoring the potential for covert backtalk.

The computer, however, was oblivious to such matters. In lieu thereof, it caused a panel of the wall to slide open, and David, shrugging his shoulders, stepped through.

David began walking slowly down a very modernistic, transparent, hexagonally shaped tube walkway, one hovering over numerous other similar ones beneath his feet, all arranged at various angles and heights. Some of the tubes were moving, as if selecting a new destination from a prior one. The overall effect was to convey that somehow one had become entangled in a factory of gargantuan spaghetti with limited self-awareness. It was really just a bit more than strange.

As David walked, he kept glancing around, and at one point, shuddered.  He had not even the slightest clue where he was going or why, but had an inexplicable faith in the State and its arrangements which reduced individual actions to remotely controlled dictates. He was quickly rewarded for such faith and/or discipline. At the end of David’s tube, he had come to a cubicle attached to a sealed doorway.  The cubicle had the appearance of stainless steel and substantial strength… as if casual admittance was a non sequitur.  As he stepped inside a small exterior foyer, a second voice greeted him.

“Identification required.”

One can tell a lot by a voice. Unlike the ubiquitous office voice in David’s office, which could have been male or female, this new voice was clearly more feminine, could even be said to be slightly sexy, and possessed a much greater degree of confidence and self assurance. As it turns out, the quality of the voice often conveys the level of the local office and its occupants. Had David been one of the lower classes, the voice would have undoubtedly been depressed, coarse, and with a horrendous accent (to the point of being unintelligible). But with this new, notably improved computer voice, David knew that he was in the realm of the Master Director, and that as a mere “Director” he was subservient. In all egalitarian societies it is essential that every device be used to subtly indicate who was subservient to whom. Otherwise, there can be a lot of inefficient confusion.

David looked around to find a stylistic hand print on the side of the door and dutifully applied his hand. At the same time, a laser beam caught his eye.  Abruptly the door opened.  David stepped into a second chamber, just as the door behind him closed -- sealing him in a second, claustrophobic-sized cubicle.  Suddenly, a spray flooded the interior, as David reacted, coughing violently and covering his eyes at the same time.  Almost as quickly, the spray mist vanished and another door opened.

Still coughing and rubbing his eyes, David stepped through the doorway into an elaborate office, that of the Senior Director, SpinMeisters, Galactic Federation, Mintaka.  From behind an ultra-modern desk – one equipped with transparent, but barely visible shields surrounding its occupant -- Jeremiah looked up in surprise.  Despite his nearly identical uniform (albeit with such a few strands of gold braiding for acknowledging his superiority status), Jeremiah was still capable of a more personalized human reaction. Accordingly, his mood quickly changed to a light-hearted one. Okay… it was also laced with undercurrents of dire consequences at a whim, but it sounded light-hearted.  Curiously, his voice was still sounding raspy.

“Don’t tell me you forgot to close your eyes again!”

“Right,” David managed to reply. “Frightfully stupid of me!”

Jeremiah was momentarily stymied by the antiquated, English accented statement, as if recognizing its source… when in fact he should not have if all things were as they appeared.  Momentarily, he mouthed the words, as if mimicking them, or trying them on for size. 'Possibly subversive,' he wondered? 'Never can tell.' As the better part of valor, he dismissed the episode.

"As you say,” he agreed helpfully, “Stupid!”

David approached the desk, and stepped alongside a single wing chair just off to his left.  Abruptly a second chair materialized by rising from the floor.  David quickly moved toward the chair being provided for him.  As he set down, he saw Evyr in the other chair.  She was looking straight ahead, as if his arrival was of such little consequence that a slight glance in his direction would have been superfluous.  As David took his eyes off her and looked to Jeremiah -- the reigning local authority -- Evyr uncharacteristically took a quick, appraising glance in his direction, her expression stern. 

Jeremiah, meanwhile, appeared to be keeping himself busy at his desk, essentially ignoring his guests.  It was all part of the ritual… keep the guests ill at ease by feigning disinterest, and simultaneously suggesting that the importance of their presence was little more than that of a cleaning robot.

David frowned slightly and looked perplexed.  He glanced over at Evyr, but she was again patiently staring straight ahead.  David started to lean back in his chair and silently wait, when a much more elaborate chair materialized toward the end of Jeremiah’s desk.  The action caught Jeremiah’s attention and standing up, he smiled his most diplomatic smile. Evyr quickly leapt to her feet to stand at attention, and David, glancing at the two of them, mimicked their actions.  When in the land of the robots, do as the robots do… and hopefully with the same mechanical flair.

On cue, another door seemed to materialize out of the wall behind the new chair. Through the new opening and dressed to the hilt such that it was now apparent that the new arrival would be the senior officer present, Aris Holyn stepped into the room.  Jeremiah was the epitome of diplomacy as he greeted the new arrival, using a combination of an appropriately official and cordial manner. 

“Counselor! We are indeed honored.”

“That will depend,” Aris said evenly, “on what transpires here.”

Jeremiah maintained his steely smile, and as Aris took her seat, set down as well.  David followed Evyr’ lead and the two of them sat.

Jeremiah, after receiving Aris’s glance of approval, began the conversation. “I trust, Counselor,” he groveled, “that you will find my reasons for this meeting amply justify your august generosity in attending it.”

“Get on with it,” Counselor Holyn ordered.

“It is my honor, Counselor,” Jeremiah quickly added. Then it was down to the business at hand. “Apprentice Evyr has been working on a project of mine, delving into ancient history to a time of the earliest manifestations of our glorious Ta Ra Nee. As I’m sure you, more than others, can appreciate, it is these ancient traditions that constitute the very glue that holds together the Galactic Federation. Without such substantiating traditions, separatists might challenge the legitimacy of our august rule.”

David’s face registered surprise, but Jeremiah hardly noticed, concentrating his attention on Aris’ poker face, and giving only a quick cursory glance in the direction of Evyr. Inasmuch as Jeremiah was claiming credit for Evyr’s idea, it was probably best if Jeremiah gauged Evyr’s reaction upon her being informed of the theft. There was no overt indication of Evyr encountering anything unexpected, and Jeremiah continued.

“Apprentice Evyr has gone back some three hundred years to what was then known as the ‘end of the My Yan calendar’… sometime around the transition from the Twentieth to the Twenty First Century.

David reacted with a decidedly surprised look on his face, a gesture that, in this case, Jeremiah noticed. Fortunately, his frown was fleeting and slight.

“A bit further back,” he explained, “than one might have expected. Nevertheless, Apprentice Evyr’s evidence… that, of course, must be verified in accordance with standard policies and procedures – suggests that decisions made at that time on a small, but otherwise uninteresting planet, constituted the critical beginnings of the Ta Ra Nee! Had such decisions not been made, our glorious reign might have been stillborn.”

Jeremiah smiled almost gleefully, as Aris tilted her head, taking momentary notice of the information. At the same time, David leaned forward, his mouth dropping open, while Evyr maintained her own version of a poker face.

“I know,” Jeremiah continued. “An incredibly exciting concept… one with the potential for extending the traditions and longevity of the Ta Ra Nee, and thereby providing for even more credibility and justification for its glorious inception. Another one hundred years of history and ancestry!”

As Aris glanced at Evyr, the latter answered, “The evidence is quite convincing.”

Jeremiah quickly corrected Evyr. “The evidence, of course, is the least of our concerns and is clearly not what is important. As you well know, Counselor, all we need is the gem of an idea, the seed of truth. We can then elaborate and construct a truly glorious past from the speculation and logical… directed thinking. Think of it! There are no limits to the spin we can put on this one!”

Jeremiah gestured with his hand toward David, as if introducing him to Aris.

“As my most talented Spinner – and a man with an exceptional and unique appreciation for ancient historical matters – Master David is the clear choice to follow this lead. Apprentice Evyr will serve as his aide in all such matters, but what is essential is the ability… the feel of the true historian… to add credibility regardless of distracting facts. Master David holds the award for…”

Aris had turned to study David. “We are fully aware of Master David’s… credentials… as well as his enthusiasm for various undertakings.” She then turned back to Jeremiah. “Approved with Master David in charge.”

With no other fanfare, Aris rose -- with the others leaping to attention at her august departing presence.  She then exited, as her elaborate chair slipped away into the floor.  The three then sit back down, each of them breathing a heavy sigh in their own individual way. Jeremiah then appraised the two people in front of him.

As you can see, we have interests in our project at the very highest levels. Accordingly, no expense, no lack of manpower, no lack of effort will be spared in order to guarantee its successful completion.”

Jeremiah’s smile-veiled threat was clear enough.

David replied, evenly, “Naturally.”

“Apprentice Evyr will provide you with a complete briefing and will work with you in fleshing out the reconstruction of those early years. I’m placing her at your complete disposal. When you’re ready, we can bring in a Pub Team to develop the presentation and announcement of the findings. I have already acquired the interest and enthusiasm of the Principal Director of the Central Pub Team. Everything is in place for an astounding achievement, but time is of the essence! Is that extremely clear?”

“It will be our top priority.”

“It will be your only priority,” Jeremiah corrected. Watching the two, he leaned back in his chair, his fingers touching each other in a modified prayer mode… but one with considerable space between the palms of his hands, something of an A-frame prayer. He then pressed the fingers together, as if trying to force his point.

“Can you imagine the excitement this project will engender in the Upper Echelons? The Counselor is only the first step – and she will of course, receive her due rewards. But I believe we can also count on a significant ‘trickle down’ appreciation. None of those who had made substantial contributions need be left out.”

David smiled, knowing what a crock Jeremiah’s ‘trickle down’ theory was. “Of course,” David answered. “And Apprentice Evyr has all of the information I’ll need…”

“Yes,” Jeremiah quickly answered, delighted to be past the awkward bit about the rewards for service. “But keep in mind,” he cautioned, “Apprentice Evyr is only a Level Twelve Confidant. Some of the evidence she’s uncovered may easily require your higher level. If it goes beyond that, of course, I will have to become personally involved. For the moment, however, we need your expertise to verify her evidence, and then to assess the potential spin. So… if there are no other questions…”

“No,” David replied. “I think not. Not for the moment at any rate.”

“Excellent,” Jeremiah chortled. “I was certain I could count on you! I suggest you meet with Apprentice Evyr immediately. I’ve already arranged a debriefing room for the two of you.”

“Of course,” David replied. ‘Never leave to chance what can be dictated.’

Jeremiah abruptly stood, his body ramrod straight, his heels clicking together.

“The Many Support the Few. The Few Support the One.”

Evyr had been on her feet as quickly as Jeremiah.  Simultaneously, the chairs in which she and David had been sitting began to disappear into the floor.  David almost stumbled, trying to get up from the receding chair, but managed to catch himself. 

“The Many Support the Few…” Evyr began, and then in unison, she and David finished the mantra, “The Few Support the One.”

Jeremiah had already sat down and turned to something on his desk console.  Evyr stared at David with a serious, questioning look.  David avoided her eyes and turned toward the door.

********************

As David stepped through the open doorway and stopped in front of the second one, he turned slightly. The door had already closed before Evyr had stepped through. David’s second door opened and David began moving along a tube way… alone… toward a new pre-programmed destination. He walked slowly, looking around, until he saw, below him and off to the right, Evyr moving briskly in a separate tube. He watched her as she entered a ‘junction box’ and stepped into a second tube that had begun to move and direct her in something of the same direction as David’s.

‘Anal-retentive, control-freak, and overcompensating’ are faint words to describe the system of isolating and maneuvering individuals in pre-programmed ways utilized by the Ta Ra Nee. Casual banter between two or more people at any point in their lives was clearly strongly frowned upon by higher ups. The idea of a shared laugh was an artifice of a far distant age. The old technique of totalitarianism in which casual conversations were the resources to be mined to undermine the integrity and discipline of the masses had proven too costly in manpower to justify. The key now was to prevent groupings of any kind. It was much more efficient.

 

Episode IV -- Five Sided Buildings

Forward to:

Episode VI -- Ancient Histories

               

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