All entries for Friday 05 November 2004

November 05, 2004

Nature is unnatural. Prove me wrong.

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

There seems to be a primary delusion around that natural is good, and 'unnatural' is somehow bad.

A two step disproof.

First, a counter-example.

Natural law of gravitation means it is natural for all elevated objects to fall down.

Therefore you are morally bound to jump off tall buildings.

Which is absurd.

Second, an issue of definitions.

What do you in fact define natural as? Human actions result from human choice bound by human nature, and the universe around us. Hence, it is natural for humans to interact in homosexual intercourse, because it occurs naturally within the bounds of human nature. It is natural for people to masturbate, because in isolation, without commands to do so, natural instincts allow it to happen. A motor car is a natural created by the branch of nature that we call man.

There is, realistically speaking, no objective boundary between natural and unnatural. Only ones placed by our own subjective feelings of how things 'ought to be'. Trying to argue for a judgement based on whether something is natural is therefore no different from saying – I think it should be that way, and therefore it should be that way.

And so, the application of the idea of natural in a debate is a waste of time.


Chapter 4

"...Be truthful. Have you been in contact with anyone since we last spoke? Any phone calls? Letters? Anything that can be categorised as out of the ordinary?"

"No, only some trivial conversations. Hello Mr Collins, goodbye Mr Collins. How was your dinner, Mr Collins? Nothing important in any way."

"Good. A watchful eye I can trust is very helpful. There has been a lot of apparent activity in your area, recently. People disappearing. Equipment stolen, things like that. Things we keep out of the general awareness. One way, or another."

"What should I do?"

"Well, there are two individuals I want you to watch out for…"

"Where should I bring them in?"

"Don't! That will mess up my entire operation. I do not want them to know that I am watching them. That would screw things up so majorly… Approach them, but be wary. Solicit their trust. Cast a blind eye on their actions. Aid them, if the consequences are not too serious. Remember, you work for me, and any information you acquire comes to me, and me only. That's the only way you are going to find this woman of yours."

"Understood. What does this couple look like?"

"The description may be a little unclear. Write this down…"

*

A young couple, ages 18–25. A male, short, with short blond hair, stiff and possibly bleached. The female, tall and thin, brown hair worn long. Faces, both dark from exposure. The boy was dressed in tan shorts, even in the cold, juxtaposed with a blue and green knitted jumper, and dragged a huge canvas sack. The girl wore a dress of brightest red, which flowed in the wind like fire.

"Tourists." Sean snorted.

There were not many tourists who would think to visit the Wall. There was little to see, little hope to receive from miles and miles of desolate darkness. No landmarks placed one stretch as distinct from any other; no guides marked the transient trails. Guns and bullets discouraged any sudden urge for closeness, and the patrols that wandered the land in the shade were sullen, and made for poor conversation. There was no reason to praise those who defied expectation, only the occasional smirk acknowledged their humanity, pinpoint dots in the bland landscape of suspicion and dislike. And now, enlightened, he saw how justified that suspicion was.

The IH said the same.

He looked down at the other soldier, who lay sprawled across a broad, flat-toped rock, one arm, hand clutching a cigarette stub, hung against his chest, the other caressing his little gun. Frank's own weapon drooped from his side, pulling him down. There were only the two of them on patrol.

Still a distance away, the couple paused, arm in arm, gazing at the blankness of the Wall. The girl crouched and removed a camera from her pouch. The flash lit up for an instant – cragged features, indistinct shapes, and forms in silhouette. Revealed, he felt affronted, as though he had seen something obscene. And then the darkness swallowed the light once more, and the Wall stood still, clothed, guarded.

He waved. But they stood still, looking with something almost akin to wonder. He stood up and waved harder, swinging his arms frantically. And yet the communion they held with the Wall continued. He thought for a moment, wildly, of firing a shot, just to claim their attention. But in that moment they had turned, and now walked towards him.

Sean scrambled to his feet, cursing. "Why on Earth did you do that? Now they're going to pester us with their pointless questions…"

"Because I wanted to."

He regretted it even as he said it. What sort of reason was that? It was a reason that raised questions and provided no answers, an answer a man like Sean would never be satisfied with. Now he would ask, now he would intrude, and soon…

"Fine." Sean said. There was calmness in his voice, a metallic smoothness. "Whatever you say, I shall obey."

"Oh?"

Sean smiled.

"Shut up. They are here."

And indeed, they were. With hasty steps, they had clambered over the shale in front of the two soldiers, and now stood, wide grins drawn across their faces. Frank stared into their eyes, and found to his disappointment nothing but brightness and enthusiasm, no trace of wildness or insanity.

"Hey, sirs. Can you tell me a little about the Wall?"

"Not if we can't help it," Sean said.

"Sure. What do you want to know?" Frank replied.

The couple looked across, reading each of their faces in turn. Frank clenched his fist tightly, frowned, eyes darting away in sudden directions. Sean stood coolly, rolling his jaw, chewing again and again and again.

"Is there a way over the Wall?"

"No."

"Is there a way under the Wall?"

"No."

"Is there a way through the Wall?"

"No."

The answers came by instinct. They had been asked again and again, always in fear, lest something sneak through. The response was always to be a repeated no, a gesture of reassurance, like the beat of the heart. But the couple did not look reassured, and for a brief flicker of time, he caught something like disappointment passing through their stance.

"I think you are wrong." The girl said.

He stared at her. Her partner said nothing, and she too had fallen into silence. Their faces were unreadable as ever, but he saw now how readily they held themselves, the hidden strength in those dark, pink limbs. He walked backwards a step in sudden awe, and they walked forwards, closing in.

"You took some photos. Show them to me." Sean snapped, just behind.

The boy spoke softly, barely audibly, over shiny teeth.

"No way."

"Who the hell do you think you are?"

There was a click. Glancing over his shoulder, he could see that Sean had cocked his gun, and held it raised, barrel lined up against his eye. Rain fell, soft moisture in the air, an ache in the bones. Squinting, he tried to shout.

"Lower that weapon! Lower that weapon, Private!"

But when he turned again, there was a knife in the boy's hands.

Sean shouted, indistinct, unintelligible. The boy screamed – a sharp, jolting, primal cry. And then he had moved past him, charging feet, swinging arms, a blur of dazzling motion. Before Frank could turn, the first shot had ran out, a report permeating his senses, and as he dropped to hands and feet, the second skimmed past, impacting just beside his head. The world shattered in a shower of broken stone.

No time to cry out, to look, to think. He leapt.

Forward, a body, thrust off balance, falling, the red dress against his hands. The moment frozen.

Physics interceded – unbalanced, she fell. The Inhibitor – a scream between his ears, mind pumping with rage. A third shot, a whisper of death, a sudden pain as it grazed him.

He had her. A hand clasped around her wrist, a twist in his motion, knee, stumbling, stabbed by daggers of pointing rock. And turning, he saw.

That Sean was still firing.

Fully automatic, the bullets hailed across the world, slicing the feeble air where Frank and the girl had stood. But the boy was moving, was too close, and Sean could not aim.

The knife spun, sliced, and cut, a trajectory plotted in blood. Blood leapt into the air, and Sean screamed in pain. Moving slower, seeming weaker, he was backing off under the furious assault, seemingly in vain. The boy was pressing his assault, his eyes ablaze, filled with something akin to delight, the exhaltation of victory.

And then Sean punched him.

It was over quickly. Sean stood, his back facing Frank, while the boy lay against the ground, stunning, trying and failing to get up, trying to reach the knife that had fallen from his hands. The girl struggled beneath him. A thin rivulet of blood trickled from the standing man's hands. The blood was red.

"Call for backup," Sean said.

The girl was silent. The blood was red. The boy still grinned. Frank looked about him, and saw that his gun was still in his hand, that it was silver and grey and plastic. And the blood was red.

"Call for backup!" Sean shouted.

But Frank was still staring at the blood, the blood which was red, redder than anything he saw. The red that burned and steamed, which pooled and gathered before him.

"Help me out here!"

He could not help, he told himself. He had orders to fulfil, orders which would be failed if he allowed one of his contacts to be captured or killed. So he looked on as Sean screamed at him. The screams grew shriller as he watched, and then silent. The other soldier looked at him, and Frank saw the savage understanding form in Sean's mind.

"Traitor."

He knew too much.

Frank pulled the trigger, and Sean fell.

He ran forward even before he heard the shot. He didn't mean to hit him. He was just trying to give a warning shot, to stop him from being a threat. But at the last minute, something had moved within him. No, his hand had slipped. It had slipped, his aim was off. He put his hand on the gaping wound in Sean's chest, and the blood flowed between his finger, covering his fingers, so that he was deep in a crimson and growing pool.

The couple, standing now together, joined him, waiting for minute after minute. The blood stained ground turned a darker red, and finally the cremated black that it had always looked. Why did it he take so long to die, Frank wondered. Why couldn't he just stop breathing, stop spewing that crimson blood. The vigil ended, and the night beneath the Wall was darker than the blackness it was before.

The boy offered a hand. Frank did not move.

"My name is Martin." The boy said.

"And my name is Jenny." The girl said.

"Thank you." They said.

Frank listened to the flatness of their voices, and blinked at the wetness and tautness on his face. The couple shuffled their feet, somehow apologetic. They put plaintive expression on their faces. They spoke, murmured to each other. They did not dare leave.

He would forget, he knew. The IH unit would delete all trace. Sean would never have lived. But when he came here again, as always he would, there would be a dark patch on the ground, a patch that, if he looked carefully, was red.

*

Aaron was waiting for him when he returned. Sitting now not in the guards' mess, but in a small park outside, he drank from a glass of pale liquid, and stood to shake Frank's hand, in vain.

"Well done."

"I…"

"The rogues trust you now. I have something now our side never had – an agent in their midst. Pretty soon, we can unravel their entire operation, and take them out piece by piece. Expect them to contact you again soon, and be ready to help out when they do. Your little stunt worked wonders."

His fist had clenched, and he did not understand why. He could remember no contact, no stunt, nothing had happened.

"I can't remember a thing."

Aaron smiled, a slight, wise smile.

"Don't worry. The IH unit told me everything there is to know. Just remember that in the future, the mission is paramount and any resources may be expended to achieve its goal. Use that principle when indecisive, next time."

And suddenly, Frank felt the burn of anger within him. There was something maddening about this, something he could not understand. A car, parked in the parking lot which should not be there. A stain, a smell about his hands. The pain of a cut in his shoulder. A cry on the wind.

He turned, and strode away. The rage lingered, but it was fading. There was something about it he had to cling onto, had to protect.

Halfway to the Wall, he stopped. Behind him, engineers were removing a car from the parking lot. A black bag was being carted into a truck. The coming night was calm, the sky without clouds, adorned by the cool light of the moon. A fine, peaceful, night.

He started to hum. But there was something discordant about the tune, and with a shrug, he walked the rest of the way home in silence.


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