A Millennial Revolution

What follows is a short story I wrote that I will probably end up adapting into something longer like a novel or screenplay. I cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time but I’m proud of it, so I’m sharing it. Let me know if anything does / doesn’t work for you! I’m feeling a little self-conscious if you can’t tell lol

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Once he said it, he couldn’t unsay it. And nobody else in the room could unhear it. It was out, and now the only thing that remained was whether anybody would do anything about it.

The room fell silent. Ten minds at once began pondering the possibilities. The man who had spoken the idea into reality scanned the room. Saying something like this was potentially dangerous. Of course he trusted everyone in the room, or else he wouldn’t have invited them here, but could he trust the people that they trusted?

He’d spent months working through the permutations and possibilities in his mind before deciding to entrust anyone with it. He made list after list of names, people he thought he could trust, people he thought would know what to do with the idea once it was presented to them, lists of names that he looked up to, some of the greatest minds the world had ever known. Even once he had finalized the list, even after he’d sent out the invitations, he questioned whether he should bail at the last moment. It would be easy enough to find some other excuse to bring these people together.

But one nagging thought kept him going. One persistent phrase, repeated over and over in his mind, forced him to go through with his plan. The fate of the world is at stake.

Once the words were out of his mouth, he prepared for death. Even in this group, with these people, he feared he might have miscalculated. Everyone understood the magnitude of what he was suggesting.

Everyone looked at one another. He could see them struggling with the same thoughts that had plagued him for months—who can I trust? How do I react? Who is monitoring my expression? Have I been quiet for too long?

Finally, one of them spoke up. “It would take a lot of planning,” she said.

“Of course,” he said. “Years and years of it.”

“It would have to remain completely secret until it was ready,” a third voice said.

“Not completely,” he said. “We build slow. We keep it out of the wrong hands.”

“How are we supposed to do that?” said a fourth voice. It was starting to feel like people were on board with the plan, despite some logistical doubts & quibbles.

“If there’s one thing our generation is better at than any before,” he started, “it’s keeping secrets from people older than us.”

“That’s true,” said a fifth voice. “We have an entire department dedicated to making sure nobody over the age of 40 can understanding how the app works. If we can do that, I’m sure we could trust people with this.”

The man who called them here cleared his throat. “No one is allowed to hear about this unless everyone in this room approves. And everyone we tell has to agree ahead of time to follow that same rule. No one else finds out until everyone who already knows agrees. Non-Disclosures out the ass.”

“That’s going to be incredibly difficult to enforce.”

“No, it won’t,” came a sixth voice, followed by a brief chuckle. “That’s why I’m here, right?” she said. “We just have to combine the original Facebook logistics, where you weren’t allowed to join unless someone invited you, with the app I’ve been developing to allow people to vote in government elections from their phones. Someone sends out an invitation, everyone has to vote to clear it.”

“Eventually we’re going to be at millions of votes per day,” came a sixth voice. “How are all of us supposed to keep up with it?”

“I wrote a code that rates the trustworthiness of friend requests based on friends in common and mutual interests. If we spend a little more time developing it, which I assume we have, I can make it so you’re voting on people based on how many others vouch for them. We can let people in in chunks, based on friend groups.”

“Honestly, if we’ve gotten that big, we’ve kind of already won.”

And the room went silent again.

This could work. This would work. They were sure of it.

Eleven people exited the room that evening. Six months later, eleven had become 100. Six months later, 100 had become 15,000. Word was spreading.

The plan was constantly adjusted as new minds entered with new ideas. Most of them were additive. Once in a while, two ideas would conflict, but the collective minds of the initiated would quickly come up with a solution. Everyone was permitted to suggest changes to any part of the plan they didn’t agree with, but on the whole, suggestions were rarely made. After the first few hundred minds had taken a look at the system, it was nearly perfect.

One of the greatest benefits of the new system eradicating the need for money was that everyone who joined happily poured their capital into it. Right in front of the entire world’s eyes, the founding members built a new world. They did it without ever admitting to anyone their true intentions. They built headquarters in every country on the globe. They funded and built facilities that produced a constant and infinite amount of renewable energy. They perfected a type of genetically modified food that provided a day’s worth of nutrients in one small package. They cleaned the oceans. They built housing. They brought all of life’s needs to every life on the planet, and they did it while paying the elders so much cash that they didn’t question where it was all coming from. They were so busy trying to hide their new riches from the world’s governments, they never saw the writing on the wall.

The last step was waiting for everyone who didn’t (or wouldn’t) agree, to die.

“We don’t have to kill anyone,” he said, in his initial pitch. “Everyone is so concerned with violent overthrows, with population control, with rigging the system, no one ever stopped to consider just… waiting them all out. If we can get every young person on board with a vision of utopia, with a world that feeds and houses everyone, for free, forever… why would we need to kill anyone?”

And one day, in the early 2030s, despite nearly constant predictions of world-ending events, the world did not end. It just stopped.

Zhao Chenglei, the last person on Earth who hadn’t found out about or agreed to the plan, died on March 4th, 2032. The day was forever celebrated worldwide as Chenglei Day, the day the new world was born. Her family did not mourn, because her passing brought forth a world without violence, without hatred, without poverty, without any of the trademarks of colonialism or a mindset of dominance. Everyone agreed—all humans are just that: human. And humans, by their nature, are animals.

Bank records were deleted. Churches closed their doors. Governments shut down. Everything that was a symbol of the old world simply ceased to function. People, knowing that their basic needs were met and would always be met, were free to do whatever they wanted.

And whatever they wanted turned out to be a whole lot of nothing. People would gather together to tell stories, to cook food, to play games. Mostly, they relaxed. People who wanted to create art did so. Many people were still driven to express themselves, and they did so in whatever way spoke to them. Monogamy was all but eradicated. People who wanted a traditional 2-person relationships were welcome to do so, but it was mainly for the novelty of the thing. Something people tried for a few months before agreeing that the new way was better. People who wanted to have sex were able to, and they were able to do so with anyone who gave consent. Some humans volunteered to be sex workers. For everyone else, sex robots would be built to whatever specifications the user wanted.

People didn’t raise their own children: if you wanted to be a parent, you volunteered to do so and worked at the nearest facility where human babies were prepared and socialized for the world. There, children were taught how to handle their emotions, social cues, and the meaning of consent. They were taught everything they needed to know to exist in the world—how to read, how to write, the buttons on a keyboard, how to navigate a VR landscape, where to pick up your daily energy requirements, and the types of animals to avoid when going outside.

No historical records were deleted. The originator of the plan felt it was important to always remember the way things had once been, so that no one would ever try to bring the old ways back. Every system of government that had ever been tried had ultimately failed. Every law that had ever been written had somehow limited the freedoms of a sub-group of humanity. Now, everyone was free and equal.

There was only one rule: Never do anything to anyone that they have not given you permission to do.

Because consent was a part of everyone’s basic education, and because no one needed anything from anyone else, and because there was no way to use power dynamics to manipulate anyone, everyone followed the rule. There was nothing to be gained from breaking the rule apart from public humiliation and social rejection.

“Did you see this working?” someone had asked him. “Did you see all of this, when you first imagined it?”

“Honestly, no. If anyone with anything to lose had found out about the plan before it was ready, they’d have found a way to kill me legally.”

“Then why’d you do it?”

“I trusted that enough people were tired of being taken advantage of to get behind the plan. And because someone had to.”

“How’d you pull it off?”

“I invited the ten smartest people I knew into a room and gave them permission to believe that they could.”

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This story was originally written for my writing podcast “SuggeStory” on the @millennialmissionmedia podcast network.

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Latest SuggeStory + Announcement Post!

Hello readers and/or SuggeStory listeners!

Today’s post is going to be a few things. First and foremost, it’s an announcement post for all of the episodes for the month of July! If you want to play along, but you don’t have time to get in this week’s story, you can now plan ahead and submit stories for future weeks’ episodes. After the July sentences, I’ll include the text from the story I wrote for the sentence, “I don’t think I can eat another one of these today.” If you want to hear how I came up with it & hear me read it, check out the podcast! I’ll include a link before the story.

July 6: Once he said it, he couldn’t unsay it. (Story Due: July 3, midnight)

July 13: Most days I take the left one, today I’m taking the right. (Due: July 10, midnight)

July 20: They kissed; passion on their lips, vengeance in their heart. (Due: July 17, midnight)

July 27: He hits his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.

Make sure to send your stories or first sentence suggestions to SuggeStoryPodcast@gmail.com!

Link to the June 29 episode, “I don’t think I can eat another one of these today”: https://www.podbean.com/eu/pb-igmqb-b60f5a

Read the story after the jump!

AnotherOne

I don’t think I can eat another one of these today.

“I don’t think I can eat another one of these today,” she said. And I believed her. It had been a few minutes since I’d looked at her face, but now that I was looking at her again, I could see the sweat pouring down her face.

“Whoa,” I said. “You don’t look so good.”

Her face was a tomato. Or maybe that was just the LSD kicking in. A sweaty, red tomato with blue hair pouring down the sides of her face, sticking to her forehead and cheeks instead of dangling beside her ears or frizzing out like it sometimes did on cloudy days.

“I don’t feel so good.”

“How many did you eat?”

“Just the one bag.”

But the bag looked a lot bigger than I remembered it being. “Is that…?”

“Yeah, I went back and grabbed the family-sized.”

“Did you eat the entire bag?!”

“I think my tongue is sweating.”

“I don’t know what to do. Should we Google it?”

“I can’t open my phone. I think my fingerprint was burned off.”

“No, you just still have Cheeto dust on it.”

“Oh, man. I think I’m a dragon.”

“Was a family-sized bag of flamin’ hot Cheetos the best idea right before taking LSD for the first time?”

“I will burn this city to the ground!”

I didn’t know what to do. This giant blue-haired tomato was covered in cheeto dust and was about to smash my Lego Castle to bits. I wanted to stop her, but my legs had turned into a puddle of water and the rest of my body was sinking and I was about to drown.

I was fully submerged. I looked up, through the surface of the water, but I couldn’t hear her anymore. There were shimmering lights between us, and I could see her, almost in slow-motion, completely annihilating the castle. Before my eyes, her tomato-head grew a dragon’s body. Her cheeto-dust covered hands sprouted into wings that were literally on fire, and she beat her wings against the surrounding air and took off. Immediately, I felt the flames wash over me, burning away the water, instantly changing it to vapor. I felt my skin heat up and I think some part of me knew that it was actually just Cheeto-dust. That I wasn’t being burned alive by a tomato-dragon. But I have to tell you, it felt real.

The dragon was flying through the air, reaching toward the sky, splitting it into pieces. Like a bullet through a windshield, the dragon shattered the bedroom ceiling, which swirled through the air and turned into flower petals as the tomato dragon disappeared into the distance.

I was either completely overjoyed or utterly devastated, and I wasn’t sure which, but I could feel hot tears pouring my emotions down my face.

“Goodbye, Emily!” I called after her. For many years she’d been my best friend. But now, she was a tomato-dragon in another dimension.

“What are you talking about?” her voice came to me as though she was all around me. Like she had evolved into the universe itself. “Dude, are you leaving?”

“No,” I said, my heart filling with love. “But you’ve already gone.”

“I put my code into the phone. It says I should drink milk.”

“Yes,” I said, contentment washing over me. “Drink the milk of eternity, my tomato-dragon.”

For a thousand years, there was only silence. I devolved into a larvae state. My existence was beginning anew as the universe reset. I could feel my thorax beginning to twitch for the first time.

“Is there milk in your fridge?”

She had returned! From within the echoes of eternity, I had transcended time as well, and could communicate with Em-atodragon by merely opening my speech hole.

“That all depends,” I said, a glint of cleverness in my eyes, “on when you are.”

“I’m just gonna go check.”

And I felt the weight of the world fall away.

I whispered into the dark void of forever: “Drink the milk of eternity, my tomato dragon.”

blorp

SuggeStory 6: “My eight enemies flee; my eight allies grow!”

Hello readers! This short story was written for my writing podcast, “SuggeStory.” The general premise is this: listeners & readers submit a sentence. I have to use that sentence as the first sentence in a story that I write. On the podcast, I explain my writing process and the creative decisions I made (and also chose not to make) along the way. Then, I read the story!

People can also submit their own stories to the podcast, and at my discretion I read some of them on the show. The deadline for your story to be included in the June 29 episode is June 26. The sentence that must begin your story is:

I don’t think I can eat any more of these today.

Submissions for first sentences & stories go to SuggeStoryPodcast@gmail.com. Please specify in the email how you’d like to be credited if I read your story.

Starting with this post, I will also be releasing the stories from previous episodes on this blog! The story that follows after the jump is from Episode 6, dated June 15. The submitted sentence was, “My eight enemies flee; my eight allies grow!

SuggeStory

“My eight enemies flee, my eight allies grow!” Gorbanok shouted to the cheering crowd. And, indeed, that’s what was happening. The armies of Gorbanok’s eight enemies had turned tail under the might of their invading forces. It hadn’t been a long battle, especially since Gorbanok had analyzed their opponent’s weaknesses and built an ally for each one of them. These “allies” Gorbanok shouted so proudly about stood behind them as they continued the victory speech.

“Each one of them was designed to counter the strengths and exploit the weaknesses of each of the eight rulers of this realm. As you have all seen, they have all performed above and beyond the call of duty!” The screams and cheers grew in volume, which only served to stroke Gorbanok’s ego. They grinned at the crowd, knowing full well that they had them in the palm of their hand.

“It was their weakness that led them here. It was their arrogance that caused their defeat. It was ultimate power that won the day, and it will be ultimate power that rules this planet and every planet in the universe as we expand and rebuild everything in our image!”

The Kssptay race was a simple one—loving only themselves, and wishing for nothing less than the complete and utter annihilation of every other form of life on the planet. They were not a highly technologically advanced species, but had done an excellent job of wiping out every other type of living creature on the planet and were more or less living in harmony. It was only when Gorbanok arrived that the Kssptay learned they were not alone in the universe. This infuriated them, as they realized that there were millions of other species, out there right now, existing. The thought drove them into a murderous frenzy.

Gorbanok was a shape-shifter, who upon landing on Kssptania, changed their form to assimilate to that of the Kssptay. They learned their ways and slowly sowed the seeds of discord between the eight planetary rulers. They spoke of the luxuries of other species, how creatures like the Mobobumos often ate creatures that looked like the Kssptay for breakfast, and how Homo Sapiens would kill one on sight. Gorbanok was brilliant, and wished only to find an army that they could use to dominate their true enemies. This entire war was a front, but it did bring them joy.

The eight rulers on Kssptania had been unable to decide who should lead the army off planet to begin dominating other worlds. Gorbanok had volunteered to take the lead, but seeing as they were a new arrival on the planet, the leaders had laughed in their face. Gorbanok would have the final laugh, especially now, as they gave the speech to end all speeches, and spoke the words that would unite an entire planet to their cause.

What Gorbanok didn’t know, however, was that their allies had not been pleased with how their existence had been utilized. The allies wanted freedom. Freedom from Gorbanok, freedom from the Kssptay, and freedom from the cycle of violence. During the big victory commencement speech, the allies communicated with one another mentally, plotting their escape.

Step one was killing Gorbanok. Step two was taking their ship and getting off this planet before the Kssptay worked together to destroy them. They knew that although they had been built as the ultimate weapons of war, they would be no match against a blood-thirsty mob.

Gorbanok continued on. It never occurred to them that their creations could come up with plans of their own. It never occurred to them that when a species is created, built, and curated only to follow orders, that at a certain point, they will reject those orders and turn against their commander.

And so, the story goes, that Gorbanok gave the greatest victory speech of all time. They spoke of power, dominance, destruction, chaos, victory, & bloodshed, and with each word, the Kssptay fell further into madness. They roared, they cheered, they howled, and every living being on the surface of Kssptania heard the sound of stomping warboots.

At the end, or very near to it, all eight of the allies’ faces started glowing. The crowd, at first, hardly noticed, but once one of them did, the crowd fell silent in a matter of seconds. The cheers and screams of victory morphed into shouts of fear and worry, as the Kssptay considered the irreversible loss of their newly selected leader.

Eight bolts of red light struck Gorbanok simultaneously. When they did, Gorbanok was unable to maintain their form. Their eight sharp limbs retreated into their body, their head expanded massively, eyeballs disappearing, ears sprouting largely out of the top of their head. The Kssptay looked on in horror as they realized how they had been deceived—Gorbanok was not one of them at all. Gorbanok was another species altogether. As soon as they realized this, they cheered again, louder than before. They hardly seemed to notice as the allies turned and flew away, presumably to Gorbanok’s ship, which was never seen again.

Within the next few days, everything returned to normal on Kssptay. Within three generations, everyone had forgotten the dreams of leaving the planet to conquer the universe, and returned to being proud of exactly what they were—the only living species on their planet.

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And that’s it! Thank you for reading, and feel free to play along (or follow me on twitter / Instagram, @thejustinxavier)!!

SuggeStory Announcement Post

Hello hello!

This post is an announcement / landing spot for anyone in the future who may want to know what SuggeStory is and how to play along.

SuggeStory is my writing podcast. The general premise is simple: every week, I pick a sentence submitted by a friend and/or listener. That sentence *must* serve as the first sentence of a story that I write. On the podcast, I talk you through my creative process. I explain what information the sentence gave me and what that sparked in my head in terms of character or story structure. I talk you through the potential stories that I chose not to right, and eventually how I landed on the story that I wrote.

Then I read you the story.

Simple, right? But wait, there’s more! My friend Nate Petersen (he has a podcast as well, called FRUK Unwrapped! It’s a food review show [FRUK stands for “Food Review U.K.] and it’s very enjoyable) SuggeStoried that I also allow listeners to submit stories, and at my discretion, I could read some of those stories on the show. So that’s a part of the show, now, too!

Episodes release every Saturday. For the episode being released this coming Saturday, June 29th, the stories are due 11:59pm on Wednesday, June 26th in the Los Angeles time zone! Submit your stories to SuggeStoryPodcast@gmail.com.

The sentence that *must* start your story is, “I don’t think I can eat any more of these today.”

I hope you enjoy this writing experiment. I always find that it gets my creative juices flowing.

Find the podcast here: https://suggestorypodcast.podbean.com/

OR on Stitcher, Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, or Apple Podcasts!

 

Justin Xavier, June 24, 2019

PS! Future editions of this blog will feature the written version of each SuggeStory that I’ve written, but without my explanation of the writing process. Gotta listen to get the good stuff!

SuggeStory