The next day, however, he had no chance to talk to his sister. Actually, he had no chance to worry much, either. There were papers to write and forms to fill out. He was graduating in two weeks, after all -- a winter graduation because he had taken some time off, back when his father had died.
And he needed to make sure he did graduate, even if a B.S. in Information Systems Structure and Defense was probably not going to get him a job. And the school could only manage to get him that one lousy interview, which he had totally blown.
Chess sighed and got up from his chair. He had been sitting too long and his brain felt clouded.
As he started down the hallway, the apartment seemed empty. The blowers for the air system had just kicked on, though, and that was pretty much all he could hear: white noise. He passed by the open door to his mother’s room, and noticed her in there. She appeared to be working on her computer, her head bent low and close to the big old computer screen. Suddenly he halted, startled at the scene: the screen was dark. “Mom?” he cried and rushed into the room. “Are you okay?”
His exclamation brought his sister running in, just as his mom looked up with a confused frown. “It’s so difficult,” she sighed, and then she smiled. “But I can find him. I’ll always find him.”
“Find who, Mom?” his sister asked. Chess felt her hand on his arm and they both moved in closer. And then he could hear it, faint and full of static: a voice talking, as if over an old radio program.
“Oh, it’s that guy: Dale,” his sister breathed, sounding relieved. “Sounds like he needs to update his streaming technology. Is that the best that he comes in? And there’s no video at all? Let me try.”
His mom rose unsteadily from the chair and his sister slid in and started working.
Chess, still recovering from the scare, heard the disembodied voice say, “…but we are still here, somehow…” And then he heard a noise through the speakers that sounded like a shaky laugh.
As his sister continued to click and tap, she said briskly, cheerfully, “I was supposed to show you how to look up things in the Chronicles, wasn’t I? What was it that you were looking for: the history of the gates, right?”
Looking dejected, his mom shook her head. “The Chronicles are wrong. They changed.”
Chess took a step forward, trying to hear the transmission better. The wavering, far-away voice rambled on, still crackling. “…so, this is Isaac Dale, and I am still bringing you the daily report…”
“Well, mom, you know they update the histories all the time,” his sister answered, still looking down, but sounding a little impatient. “Whenever they get more accurate information.”
His mother perched on the edge of her bed, her face taking on an earnest look. “But I was there,” she answered. “At the protest. I saw him speak...” She looked distant for a moment, but then her eyes focused again. “Anyway, adding new information wouldn’t change the old facts.”
“But you don’t know everything about what happened, do you?” his sister asked, resting her hands and looking up. “I’m sorry, Mom, I can’t get this station to come in any better than you can.”
“They don’t even mention him,” his mom sighed. She settled at the computer again as his sister rose to leave. “I wish he had been president,” she added quietly as Chess and his sister walked out.
They walked together down the hall to the kitchen. The blowers had shut off, but the white noise was still in Chess’s head. He leaned back against the kitchen counter and observed his sister. Her brown eyes were always brilliant, focused, as if innumerable gears worked constantly just behind them. But under her eyes were shadows, dark smudges that had never been there before. They shouldn’t be there, Chess thought. These days, lots of things seemed wrong.
“What’s going on with Mom?” he hissed quietly, feeling sick to his stomach. “I mean, that guy she always listens to… isn’t he a comedian or something?”
His sister shrugged, frowning. “One thing’s for sure: in all of my poly sci classes, I have never heard of a presidential candidate named Isaac Dale.”
Continued next page...
There is much too strong a tendency in people's minds to think of the Roman (Empire) as something finished and stable… The items of that picture have to be disentangled. They are collected at different points from a process of change profounder than that which separates the London of William the Conqueror from the London of to-day.
A Short History of the World by H. G. Wells
As Joseph Campbell, the well-known writer and lecturer on mythology, discovered young, mythology from all over the world contains surprising parallels in themes, events, and character traits. The beliefs that researchers have attributed to one area of the world have influenced, and been influenced by, beliefs of many other places over time. Mythology is not static and fixed to one place because people are not. “The themes are timeless, and the inflection is to the culture.” (The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell)
The most interesting and dynamic influence on mythology around the world seems to be the result of one group of people being conquered by another group. Campbell proposes that the conquerors basically had two main choices of what to do with the strongly-held beliefs of their newly-acquired subjects. They could either integrate the current conquered people’s beliefs with their own (“See, our mother goddess is the same as yours, we just call her by a different name, okay? Now, be peacefully assimilated into our society.”) or they could create new myths in which the gods of the conquered people have been defeated (“Sorry, but our gods beat up your gods. Now, submit peacefully.”) In cases where this might have happened, it’s doubtful that it happened right away or that it was done deliberately at all. However, based on many similarities in religions, this sort of thing is definitely possible. I would like to get deeper into these ideas in later blogs!
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