A Journal for Western Man

 

 

 

And Death Shall Be No More

G. Stolyarov II

Issue XIII- April 19, 2003

 

 
Scott Denning, his face prematurely creased, wizened, and  blemished by years of tanning, stepped with bare callused feet upon a platform of fresh, gleaming, and still slightly shifting silver concrete warmed by the unimpeded rays of the midday July, 2022, sun. He brushed his wiry, chest-long hair from his thick framed glasses of tie-dyed colors in order to glance upward at an ever-stretching colonnade of elliptical azure glass intertwined with angular protuberances of pink marble that held upon them balcony after balcony of domed offices, lounges, and laboratories. Noticing an ornament of violet glass below his feet, a line of patterned zigzags delicately imbued into the concrete and stretching to one of the building’s dodecagonal vertices, Denning spat upon it. He needed to relieve his mouth of the chewing tobacco, true, but his loathing of the sight had escalated to the extent where he could forbear it no longer. Upon a billboard to his right, gold-plated letters glaringly and, with a ubiquitous presence, spelled out, “Promethean Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the Citadel of Man’s Ultimate Mission.”

With a gasp, Denning pressed upon the growth which was pushing at the sides of his inner lung. With his fingers, he clutched the head of Paul McCartney upon his t-shirt, more precisely, the orifice from which were emitted, in a cartoon bubble, the words “Live and Let Die.” Forty years of unrelenting marijuana abuse had earned him this, his reward for days of blank-out and nights of revelry. His massage therapist (Denning did not believe in mainstream medicine) had only three months earlier noticed the prolific malfeasance emerging underneath the skin of his back, sufficient to mask, underneath a cancerous hump, a pressure point crucial to the fulfillment of the “relaxation technique.” The pains had only recently emerged to the forefront of Denning’s attention, and in sporadic occurrences only. And Denning still remained capable of speaking, as the malignancy was only inching its way up his throat. His was a peculiar and rare variation of cancer, evolving gradually but inexorably at first, and, only after having attained a certain amount of growth, entering a period of massive expansion that would result in death within minutes. Such an outburst had not yet emerged, and the elixir of life, the mixture that, to Denning, may well have seemed a product of shamanistic sorcery, was within a hundred meters’ reach of him. But his purpose in venturing to the Citadel of Man’s Ultimate Mission was different. Blast those desecrators of Mother Nature for making their potions out of the shells of the magenta-spotted slug! He exclaimed vehemently within his mind. It was taken off the endangered species list a mere twenty years ago. How dare those intruders into the Wilderness exploit a sovereign life form?! He spat upon the ground once more, subsequently sprinting toward the doorway with an elbow pressed to his stabbing side so as to avoid attracting the attention of the security guard and the brand of a vandal.

He marched into the lobby with the pompous air of a slouched ruffian. He drove both his fists into the receptionist’s table as a bulging brown folder flopped onto it simultaneously from behind his back.

“I demand to speak to Hampshire. I’m with the City Zoning Commission,” he pronounced in a low-pitched supercilious monotone. His vacuous porcelain-like gray eyes stared out at the quivering young brunette at the desk, who, apparently, was not well adjusted to a demanding entrant’s physiognomy leaning across the table, imposing its stern glance upon her with a mere decimeter between them.

“One hundred fiftieth floor, room 15031,” she spoke with frightened rapidity. “Enjoy your stay,” she mouthed the expression of fabricated courtesy with unease, merely to hasten his leave. In response, Denning spat on the floor and ran toward the elevator. Once inside, he pressed, on the fifth try, the button that would elevate him to the desired level. Denning comprehended that the ride would expend considerable time, a minute and a half at the least. Yet he did not occupy himself with the one-hundred-eighty-degree view of Evenland City spreading its layout of spires and cylinders and perfectly right-angled intersections before his feet. He had merely skimmed it once to spit at the foundation of the glass window upon which the rays of sunlight dexterously chased one another.  The remainder of the ascent he spent prodding with his fingers at the bottom of his traveler’s rucksack, where he encountered a slightly creased and, in some places, haphazardly welded metallic surface and sighed with relief.

“You have arrived on the one hundred-fiftieth floor,” the automatic voice emanating from the speaker above the exit door declared. “Enjoy your visit to one of the highest locations on Earth.”

“Ha!” Denning retorted brusquely, the intended clarity of his sneer stifled by the excessive buildup of moisture in his throat. He tried, unsuccessfully, to launch a stream of saliva at the speaker, but the angle of his aim was overly steep. As a result, Denning ended up moistening his own hair. “The great mountains, the guardians of Pristine Earth, are far, far taller than these pretentious little sticks that man, in his arrogance, puts up!” he exclaimed to no one in particular while scanning the doors in his vicinity in search of the sought for number. Every door in the hallway was furnished of massive lacquered redwood, with Promethean Pharmaceuticals’ torch and test tube insignia prominently displayed on each in raised relief form. 15030 nevertheless was able to distinguish itself from that multitude, framed in gold and serving as the endpoint of a regal red carpet that stretched itself for the entire length of this corridor. Denning could not resist spitting onto its smooth, spotless expanse. In bold ruby-encrusted silver letters of Old English font immediately ahead of him were the words for which he had come to this building: “Office of R. Dwight Hampshire I, Founder, CEO, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Solitary Shareholder of Promethean Pharmaceuticals, Inc.” Immediately below was another engraving that, for Denning, was too antiquated to be anything recognizable:

And death shall be no more.
Death, thou shalt die.

Denning almost turned the doorknob when a more urgent concern leaped into his mind, and he dashed into an open closet of the robotic janitor to his immediate left. The automaton, it seemed, was out on cleaning duty in other sections of the floor, and Denning possessed ample room to deposit his rucksack. He pressed his foot upon it, toward the bottom, until it reached an extension of the metal object inside that seemed to plunge into the apparatus below and carry his foot with it. Once Denning could lower his limb no further, he lifted it from the confines of the bag and mouthed in a satisfied undertone, “Fifteen minutes.”

Within seconds, the redwood door burst from the outside with a preliminary snap and a concluding thud as Denning entered the ornate office of R. Dwight Hampshire, half-heaving from a renewed prick of pain, half puffing in contemptuous mockery of the room’s bent-over occupant. Hampshire raised his face, a trim, youthful visage for a forty-year-old with slanted, angular cheekbones spreading from hawkish green eyes. The sharp outer contours were framed by golden-colored sideburns extending, in nineteenth-century fashion, to those locations above the chin that were directly perpendicular to the endpoints of a mustache gelled to the extent of reflecting the redwood of the door. He adjusted his bowtie above a tight silver vest that resembled a cuirass and began to rise from his massive wooden armchair, still reclining upon it with his hands. “Yes?”

“R. Dwight Hampshire, by order of the City Zoning Commission, you are under arrest,” Denning pronounced spitefully while extending, at the pace of a crawl designed to exhaust Hampshire’s patience, the bulky brown folder along his adversary’s line of sight.

“I am under no such condition,” Hampshire replied equanimously, returning to his armchair as his hand began to reach for a packet of blueprints that lay on a draftsman’s table surrounded by computers, mechanized drawing arms, and measuring automatons. “This is my land, my property, and the Zoning Commission can take no issue with it. I have not coerced anyone into attending this facility, nor have I intruded upon the private facilities of others. I sit here peacefully and, in the manner of my employees, design cures, a multitude of cures, for cancer, for tuberculosis, for diabetes and AIDS. This company shall honestly grant consumers what is desired of it, the medicines, along with all the containers, delivery equipment, and medical personnel that the market is willing to afford. I am in the business of saving lives, Commissioner.”

“Stop the hubris, viral human!” Denning retorted with derision as he spat upon the portrait of Alexander Fleming that was prominently featured on the wall. “You and your like delude yourselves into thinking you can change things for the better; you’re just messing them up with your petty science. Science, ha! You can never hope to comprehend the intricate complexities of Mother Nature’s design. The human mind is impotent, worthless for anything except for maintaining the balance, the balance that already exists between life and death, between health and disease, joy and suffering. And you are disrupting that balance, the integrating framework of the ecosystem. There have been six hundred thirty charges leveled against your blatant violation of the integrity of the pristine Wilderness and of its rights.”

“The Wilderness has no rights. Only man has rights.” Hampshire answered without altering his pitch. “Now, do not tarry here, expending my time. I have more crucial endeavors to attend to.”

“How reactionary! First, you and your kind denied rights to the black man, then to the woman, then to the foreigner, and now to the non-human, and always you had thought that rights’ sphere of influence within society was complete, while your dominant group’s monopoly on rights existed only to impose class tyranny on the others! You’ll rot in prison for this!” He then shifted to a whisper audible only to himself, “Five minutes.”

“That is an absolute non sequitur,” replied Hampshire. “No one can deny or redefine rights; one can only violate them. Rights are an organism’s inherent property by virtue of its volitional consciousness. In previous centuries, enforcement of rights for women and immigrants had been scant; now it is plentiful. But no animal, no tree, no barren stretch of desert, can claim rights, for it is not an independent agent. It is but an amalgam of physical properties and deterministic phenomena which leave it no alternative but to act in a definite manner under definite circumstances. To man, the man who thinks, who develops, who matures, whose undertakings and ambitions are not curtailed by preprogrammed automatisms, the lower-order entities are mere tools, for man’s ambitions, for man’s desires…”

“Which are the cause of all suffering and must be extinguished!” Denning shouted fiercely in order to divert his body’s awareness from the renewing pangs within his lungs, as the amorphous entity within again tore at the walls and enfeebled them.

“Man cannot function without desire,” Hampshire answered. “Even the most elementary of his actions, the procurement of food, the donning of clothing, the maintenance of bodily hygiene, require a resolute desire in concert with his survival interests. Absent such behaviors, man becomes a rotting vegetable that cannot survive for a day, let alone purge his suffering. For death is the ultimate suffering, the ultimate impediment to any potential improvement of conditions.”

“This life is suffering. Man’s goal is to escape it… to achieve perfect harmony with the world!”

“So this is the way your ‘optimal environmental stewardship’ works, by the elimination of man! Every action necessary for man’s survival involves inevitable exploitation of natural resources, an undertaking deserving commendation, not scorn. You are well aware of this, more so than the crowds that permit you to linger in the City Zoning Commission. But your aim is not the betterment of human life. It is the suppression of man for sake of the stagnation and cycles of death that pervade the ‘pristine wilderness.’ Now, leave! I am thoroughly disgusted with you.”

Denning’s words turned into a hailstorm. “I am here to enforce the will of the Zoning Commission and reinstitute the wetlands that had once graced this city! I am here on behalf of the FDA that had never tested and twice outlawed all products of your firm! I am here on behalf of the INS and its outrage at your sheltering of illegal migrants as employees! I am here on behalf of the IRS to claim your property in lieu of your blatant tax evasions! I am here on behalf of the SEC to bring you to your knees for never having filed a report with them! I am here on behalf of the EPA due to your factories’ emissions in threefold excess of caps! I am here on behalf of OSHA to terminate you for your noncompliance with accepted safety standards and inspections! I am here on behalf of NASA to dismantle your illegal space experiments performed without government consent or financing! I am here on behalf of the Utilities Commission to fine you for your lack of contracts with the power monopolies in this city! I am here on behalf of the Medicare Program to penalize you for withholding free medicine from the senior citizens of this country! I am here on behalf of the Social Security Trust Fund to confiscate your company’s funds for the elimination of the current deficit!” Denning’s eyes shifted to the miniature sundial strapped to his wrist. One more minute!

Hampshire raised himself to his full height and confronted Denning with the irritated but still sharp stare of a hawk ready to, with his mighty golden beak, split in two the gnat ruffling through his feathers. “And I am here on behalf of R. Dwight Hampshire, the sovereign individual deserving the highest honors his mind can furnish him, and nothing less. I demand the immediate removal of your parasitic presence. I deny your authority and the authority of the impotent little bureaucratic committees of whom you are the pawn, for there is no authority for the sovereign individual but that of his own reasoning mind.”

“Too late!” Denning exclaimed with a sadistic laugh as the fabric of one of his lungs burst open, nearly cracking a rib. He remained capable of breathing through the other one, however. “I had given you fifteen minutes to leave with me for a show trial, before your building became incinerated, but you, in your stubborn pretentiousness, clung to your foolish ambitions. Well, now, you have no choice but to be blown off the face of Mother Nature’s realm along with your viral little building!”

Suddenly, the door slammed open as a security officer dressed in a gallant blue uniform with epaulets prominently featuring the company’s torch and test tube insignia paced into the room, leisurely spinning in his hands a spiked staff of Titan Plastic, the newest, lightest, and most durable of Promethean Pharmaceuticals’ alloys, from which the company had also crafted the containers for its pills. Denning scowled as he recalled how, ten months earlier, the FDA, upon apprehending a shipment of AIDS vaccine from Evenland City to Chicago, was unable to break open a single package, much less to eliminate the contents. Presently, the officer wielding the staff approached him with a firm and uncompromising stride, nevertheless not exhibiting the tense rigidity typical of one engaged in a losing battle.

“Mr. Hampshire, the monitoring system had detected a makeshift explosive within the building. Ten seconds prior to informing me, it dissolved the bomb and sent it into atomic restructuring, to be furnished into these.” The officer’s other hand produced a set of gleaming handcuffs, which he proceeded to apply to Denning.

The growth had now spread through Denning’s windpipe up his throat. The blockage was not yet complete, yet the searing disintegration of the second lung promised to yield a swifter end. Denning, pressed to the ground, lifted his chin from the floor and focused the steadily fading capacities of his eyes toward Hampshire’s desk, a mere fifty centimeters in front. Upon it stood a vial of magenta potion that he had not noticed until now, a potion that could have saved his life. As his lung exploded with the force of a balloon, he rallied his remaining strength to launch a burst of saliva at the container that fell several centimeters short…

Hampshire nimbly lifted the potion off the desk and placed it upon his bookshelf, beside the window and the magnificent city view below. Then he pronounced, in an equanimous tone that nevertheless resonated with the most profound happiness and control dwelling within the mind of a sovereign man, words that, to Denning, had become all too familiar:

And death shall be no more.
Death, thou shalt die.

G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, contributor to Enter Stage Right, Le Quebecois Libre, Rebirth of Reason, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Senior Writer for The Liberal Institute, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. His newest science fiction novel is Eden against the Colossus. His latest non-fiction treatise is A Rational Cosmology. Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at gennadystolyarovii@yahoo.com.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

Click here to return to TRA's Issue XIII Index.

Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, at http://www.geocities.com/rational_argumentator/rc.html.

 

 

 

 

 

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