Fosters Night By Paul deParrie

Chapter 4

           The sandstone hills shone red and orange as the sun rose on the hard, chilly morning. Foster had not been able to sleep but had resisted opening the shutter over his window for fear of the precious heat escaping into the open air. Instead, he climbed into his thermal underwear and bundled himself up for a trek outside to see the dawning light.

           He had made this daily appearance outside just to keep in touch with the fact that the outside existed. Since the coming of the colder weather, none had dared to open shutters anywhere in the complex. Foster's was one of the few rooms that Jones had wired with electricity -- but it was not used for heat. Foster required a light for his writing work because his window was insufficient for the job. Foster fudged power requirements by trickle-charging his alarm clock which he used to rouse himself for his morning ritual.

           Foster had never been what one would call an outdoors type when he still lived "in the dark" -- that is to say, in the decaying remnants of society. But now he had come to appreciate the dawn. There was a certain sameness to these desert mountain sunrises but one never got accustomed to them. They were sharp and angular, cold and hard, though there was a heat to the colors that warmed something psychic in him. Foster never found words for it.

           On occasion, Lizard would catch him in the corridor on his way out and accompany him. This was such a morning.

           "Hiya, Mr. Foster," he said.

           "Good morning, Lizard. You ready for those rocks?"

           "Yeah," he answered with a gleam in his eyes.

           Once outside, Foster had determined that he would follow the trail to the top of the hill.

           "Meet ch'a up there, Mr. Foster?" Foster nodded in return and watched the squiggly, skinny body -- arms and legs splayed across the rocks -- as it skittered up the hillside.

           No wonder they call him Lizard -- he looks just like one.

           Slowly, he made his way to the top of the hill with Lizard crossing his path on occasion. Finally, the two met at the apex and watched the panorama of color as the sun rose.

           "Gotta get back for breakfast, Mr. Foster," Lizard said and scuttled off.

           Having filled himself with the morning light, Foster rose to return to the caverns in the soft rock hills. His time had been satisfactory but there was an empty spot within where his stamp collection used to be. If only I could have brought it, he thought. Forty-five years worth of stamps down the drain.

           Looking ahead on the downward trail, he spotted the lone figure of Jones. Jones and he had -- despite all their differences -- become good friends. Jones' blue-green eyes lit up when he saw Foster descending the hill.

           "How's it going?" Jones asked. "Out for your morning constitutional?"

           "Something like that," Foster replied stopping his descent long enough to catch a breath.

           "I haven't seen you for a few days. How's your water project coming?"

           "You know about the water storage caverns we've been digging, right?" Jones said. "Five are finished and the sixth just needs to be sealed. You can't imagine the difficulty in sealing this porous stuff." He slapped his hand against the orange striped rock beside him.

           "Now we just need to find a source to fill them and I think we may have found a well -- it's pretty deep though. Actually it is something of a miracle to find such a thing in these parts. Another possibility is the rain troughs are building into the gullies and crevasses of these hills. One of the men in the microfilm library told me about Masada where a similar system was used."

           "Masada? Isn't that where a bunch of Jews held off the whole Roman army in the first century?" Foster inquired.

           "That's right. There was a whole set of drawings of the Masada complex in microfilm. It was incredible. The system was designed to capture every drop of rain that fell on top of the Masada plateau and funnel it into a carved out reservoir much like the ones we have designed. Of course, we don't have a plateau and we do not have the advantage of Masada in that it was plainly visible. Our complex must remain as hidden as possible. Our trough system must follow the hill's contours and appear to be natural. Still, despite the disadvantages, I think I can capture at least 75% of the rain that comes down on these hills."

           "That's quite a bit, but will it be enough?" Foster queried.

           "Well, that depends on how many people are here and if rainfalls are average. I am hoping that well possibility comes through. It could solve a lot of our problems. I have some ideas for using water movements through Pelton wheels and generators to hook into power supplies. I am designing a battery system that will eventually replace the diesels once our invisibility becomes an absolute necessity."

           The two spent the next hour discussing the community's preparations for their expected isolation. The sun rose in the bleak sky but the chill remained -- especially in the shady spots. Tiny patches of hoarfrost clung tenaciously to the undersides of rocks until the air around them warmed enough to disintegrate them. Foster followed Jones to a survey site.

           "We have to know every gully in these hills to make this work," Jones said looking across to the next peak. "These three hilltops will be our water supply if there is no well and a secondary source of water even if there is one. I suppose if anyone would have told me before that I would be doing a project like this, I would have told them they were crazy."

           "Well, isn't everyone crazy?" Foster asked.

           But at the seriousness in his voice, Jones looked over at him. Foster wasn't expecting an answer -- he just looked at the hills.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World
           If psychological and psychiatric "cures" had been submitted to the rigorous tests required of medicinal cures, they would have been banned from the market. But the presumption that these treatments were effective was enough to carry the ball. Besides being the court-priests, social-scientists, counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists insured that their craft was inculcated into every pore of society. Schools became places for the formation of the personality rather than centers of learning. Whole government agencies became devoted to rooting out the psychological causes of crime and poverty. Nearly anywhere one went, they would find representatives of this group.
           Even the language itself took on the characteristic of a group therapy session. People spoke of others "being in denial," "needing affirmation," "responding to negative input," and thousands of other usages which became constant.
           Almost daily, new psychological "conditions" were announced for people to choose from -- should they need an excuse for doing what they wanted to do anyway. New therapies covered the public psyche like fields of rampant, maniacal flowers. At each new introduction, hoards of new "professionals" would enter the field, hang out a nameplate, and begin collecting.
           In the early stages of this burgeoning, there was a running joke that normal people built castles in the air, neurotics lived in them, and therapists collected the rent. In reality, it was the TV pop-counselors and their kin who were the rental agents.
           It was noted by a British sociologist that a nation with an abundance of telecommunications engineers would be expected to have a good communications system. Similarly, nations with many doctors would be likely to have lower levels of mortality. But he continued: . . .
           "So, We should find that in countries, regions, institutions or sectors where the services of psychologists are widely used, families are more enduring, bonds between the spouses, siblings, parents and children stronger and warmer, relations between colleagues more harmonious, the treatment of recipients of aid better, vandals, criminals and drug addicts fewer. . . . On this basis we could infer that the blessed country of harmony and peace is of course the United States. . . ."11
           But it was not so. The counselors, however, continued to invent "diseases" for everyone. Soon, they were not only designed for those who wanted them, but for who did not. Eventually everyone was crazy. Everyone needed therapy. Everyone lived carefully lest their Freudian slip should show.
           The multiplication of psychologists only seemed to exacerbate the terrible psychological disorders of the populace. What was worse is that often the counseling itself was linked to deteriorating conditions. In 1983, William Kirk Kilpatrick noted, "It sometimes seems there is a direct ratio between the increasing number of helpers and the increasing number of those who need help."12
           This seemed to be the pattern throughout the industry. It would have been at least some excuse for this massive invasion of privacy if the "cure" had been effective, but even then there were many voices in the wilderness warning that it wasn't.13

11 Stanislav Andreski, Social Sciences as Sorcery, New York, Penguin Books, 1974, quoted in Psychological Seduction, William Kirk Kilpatrick, Thomas Nelson, New York, 1983, p. 327

12 Ibid. p.318

13 The Myth of Neurosis: Overcoming the Illness Excuse, Garth Wood, Harper & Row, New York, 1983

           After a long look at the horizon, Foster turned away from the deserted scene. Jones stood by seeing that the older man was ruminating over something and he was loathe to break in.

           Finally, Foster said, "You know, I'm not superstitious but it almost seems too coincidental that so many factors culminated simultaneously to create the mess we're in. From here it is easy to see why so many people believed in conspiracy theories. But what was weird was that so many of the religious people believed in the human conspiracies when their own beliefs would have supplied an ample villain -- if I read my demonology texts right -- to have the same effect without the need for huge and improbable clandestine organizations. I mean, who needs an Illuminati or Council on Foreign Relations when you have a devil, millions of demons, and masses of mankind in their camp?"

           "That's one of the things that made the religious people less credible, they panicked into wild speculation instead of doing their homework," Jones answered. "That was how the Christians became isolated from society. From there it was easier to control them. By the time I was in college, they were so unliked that it was simple to round up outspoken religious people, declare them neurotic or psychotic, and send them for treatment. People were able to neatly disguise their hatred of them with a veneer of 'compassion' by placing them in state-paid therapy."

           A wind stirred the sparse vegetation around them.

           "It's unfortunate that they tended to respond the way they did -- that is, without solid facts," said Foster. "Because, now that I have gotten to know some Christians and what the Bible actually says, a lot of it makes sense and much of it is actually appealing. But that's not the view I had before. I didn't know any Christians and my opinion of them was shaped by a few of the more sensational ones. From that old perspective, I would never have suspected that Christians would be saving books rather than burning them. A project like this would have been impossible for me to imagine."

           "Well, I find Christianity more than appealing," Jones added sincerely.

           "I'm aware of your conversion, Jones, and you know I respect that, but I'm still not sure I can buy some of the 'only one way' and 'through the blood of Jesus' stuff yet.

"Anyway, I was saying, I always thought of Christians as anti-books and anti-learning. I say 'I thought' because I knew differently. I remember a lot of the attempts of so-called book-banning. We -- that is to say, us media folk -- all knew that the issue in most cases was whether or not certain books were 'age appropriate' or if they were blatantly offensive to religious beliefs. But we deliberately played the angle that these people were censors when we ourselves were censoring their true objections. Most news people have an inordinate fear of censorship -- or whatever was currently being called censorship -- and we went out of our way to make sure such movements were quashed. The trouble here was that many of the more thoughtful Christian leaders often remained silent in public about such issues leaving the field to those whom we could easily type-cast and mock."

           Jones looked at the former-journalist. He could see the anger and self-loathing well up from within. Normally, Foster maintained a journalistic detachment but from time to time his bitterness over his own complicity rose to the surface. Jones said nothing. He knew that in the end, this would not be resolved by human words.

           "Eventually, our self-censorship became official policy," the writer muttered.

Of Banned Books and Things
           A new celebration slowly arose in America, a late-September affair called Banned Book Week: An Uncensored Celebration. The stated purpose of the soiree was to celebrate freedom of speech and of the press -- and "Celebrating the Freedom to Read." The real purpose was to censor the "censors." On display in many bookstores and libraries, were copies of books that people or groups had tried to "censor." The books paraded before the public were acknowledged classics which had small controversial segments that raised ire when they were first published decades before. Some had materials which would -- to nearly anyone -- be considered as inappropriate for children. Under the cover of these arguably troubling books, the sponsors of this week-long event (that, had it been over any other issue would have been soundly ignored in the press) built a case for unqualified acceptance of any book, at any time, and in any venue.
           The free-speechies involved in this bogus "celebration" would rant about the yearly body-count of books that the "censors" tried to "ban" that year. There was no distinction made between trying to influence a school textbook committee to reject a social sciences text that blatantly insulted Christians and attempts to have Playboy and Penthouse magazines taken out of public libraries. When listing books that people sought to "ban," such works as Huckleberry Finn were included without mentioning that it was the liberals and black community which was offended by its use of the word "nigger."
           The media covered every second of the festivities -- from the courageous public readings of "banned" books such as Of Mice and Men, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Garfield: His Nine Lives, to the mayor's proclamations of support. Local news departments dredged up unemployed, unpublished "homoerotic" (read: homosexual porn) writers and wrote glowing features on them to pave the way for the event. The non-event was liberally (in both senses) dosed to the public. Once the yearly celebration took root, none dared publicly exercise his free speech in objection to even the most obscene of expressions.
           "In the name of free speech, we destroyed free speech," Foster intoned.

           Jones remained silent still. The motionless morning air had begun to warm and the direct sunlight bleached the color from the rocks with its glare. A black bird soared high overhead in an apparent search for some unwary meal. It reminded Foster of the vulture of barbarism that was riding down its last, few, slow circles over the dying corpse of Western civilization. The despair of that thought was overwhelming.

           "Is there anything to preserve us?" he asked the desert air.

           Jones waited another eternal minute before saying anything.

"Foster, we're working on that here. Just like the Christians at the beginning of the first Dark Ages, we are preserving our heritage in vaults out here."

           "But even Christianity won't survive what we're looking at will it?"

           "Sure it will, Foster. Civilizations operate better with learning at high levels but basic Christianity only needs love -- God's kind of love toward God and our neighbor. Education is not necessary for someone to love. Knowledge can be a tool to facilitate love -- medical knowledge, for instance, can help us to love the sick in more ways, but caring for the sick can happen in the absence of that knowledge, too."

           "But you at least need the knowledge to read your Bibles, don't you?" Foster asked.

           "I'm sure it is better that way but there have been times when literacy among Christians was low and that overshadowed by their great charity. Other times, Christian learning was great but their service to God and man was niggardly. Knowledge -- improperly placed in priority -- simply makes man proud. It is love that builds up -- builds up God, truth, other people, and civilizations. In losing learning, we lose a great treasure that helps us to serve God better, but we do not lose God Himself."

           "I wish I could believe that," Foster said. Without another word, he turned and wandered down toward the entrance to the caverns.

           Jones had seen the black mood hit Foster before, he prayed it would pass soon. He looked to the floor of the valley. There, the black bird picked at some newly-dead meal.

*      *       *

           "Let's call this meeting to order," the Old Man said over the murmur of his advisors. "We've had some time to think over the questions we raised last time and these important matters must be attended to."

           After a prayer, the floor was opened.

           "I've been thinking of this quite a bit," said Tomas Varga, a middle-aged computer technician. "We're attempting a quiet revolution here. The old 'patriot' networks lacked the strength of numbers -- or of will -- to revolt when it was still possible. Now we are waiting for the world outside to crumble of its own decaying weight. It could be soon or late, but we hope to be part of what rises from the ashes. I say, if we cannot exercise a constitutional government now, we'll never get to it once the old system collapses. Once power is centralized, it is rarely decentralized. Human nature is just too corrupt."

           Varga, all of that dense 5 foot 3 inches of him stood looking at the rest of the group waiting for an answer.

           Slowly, Chuck Beeson arose.

           Varga surrendered the floor by sitting down.

           Chuck cleared his throat, a constant habit even when he was not about to speak. He touched his upper lip with his tongue and began.

           "Not sure I really agree, Tomas," he drawled. "We're facing real dangers if the civvies find us. We are on a wartime footing, I think, and we need to be more careful of the civvies finding us than of individual rights.

           "Not much help having rights if the outside world crashes in on us. Take Mr. Sears, for instance. We let him wander around because we can't 'prove' he's a civvie agent in a legal way, he might take off. If he is an agent, then we're in deep . . . well, you know.

           "I think we need a more top-down government until the community is better established, at least."

           The appearance of Sears had generated the debate and, listening carefully, there was always a hint of his presence in every argument.

           "But how do we know when this 'emergency' is over? Who decides? And what do we go to then?" Varga called out raising his hand. "I mean, we don't have any real threats right now -- though we will have to decide how to deal with Sears."

           "That's just the point," said a new voice, Margaret Wilcox.

           Margaret was a trim, 43-year-old widow and mother of three teenagers. Her specialty was proofreading, copy-editing, and layout for books and magazines. "Sears represents a threat precisely because we don't know what to do with him. If we go with the old Bill of Rights or something like it, we have to cut him loose -- now! If not, then what? A dictator? A king? And, still, under what rule of law do we hold Sears? Can we have one set of rules for us and another for him?"

           There was a pause. The Old Man arose. He had sat in the darkest corner while the debate proceeded and had almost been forgotten.

           "The Bible says that Israel was not to have one law for themselves and another for the stranger, so I cannot accept a division of law such as Mrs. Wilcox describes," he said. "But let me remind you that even a constitutional government has built in emergency clauses. It can be drafted so that certain rights are temporarily suspended by executive order and that those orders are reviewed periodically and either extended or ended."

           Beeson rose again.

           "He's got a point -- but I think the Bible may give us more of a pattern than we first thought," he said. "This situation we are in is not unique. It is much like the children of Israel being led through the wilderness -- only our wilderness is time instead of space. Moses was an unelected leader -- at least until he died -- but his power was checked by elected judges over tens, hundreds, and thousands. A person with a problem could appeal all the way up the line, but during the emergency, as it were, Moses had final stay -- again, until he died.

           "We could set up a similar situation with the Old Man as emergency leader and a constitutional election of the top leader that would kick in upon his death -- meaning no disrespect."

           The Old Man nodded and said, "None taken."

           The discussion ranged for hours. Finally, there was a consensus that the Old Man would be what they laughingly called "emperor of the Hive for life."

           The community would be divided into groups of ten "families" as defined by living quarters -- singles with living quarters, like Foster, would also be a "family." Adults in these groups would elect a representative for a House of Representatives and a judge. Ten representatives and ten judges would then elect a Senator and an appeals judge. Until his death, the Old Man would act as both President and supreme judge. After his death, presidents would be elected and a Supreme Court of at least three would be impaneled.

           A temporary constitution would be drawn up to detail the process and, once elections had taken place, the Senate and House would set about to ratify all or parts of the constitution.

           A temporary emergency would be declared to last until the Old Man dissolved it or his death. Emergency powers would include treating unknown outsiders as potential spies and either imprisoning them or keeping them on a close leash. A security force would be established and proven spies would be executed under military law.

           It left a bad taste in their mouths, but they could think of no other solution. As for Sears, they determined that they could keep him locked up until Varga and some of his electronic gizmo buddies could come up with a suitable surveillance device.

*      *       *

           The Old Man walked slowly into The Chapel. There was no lamp inside but he knew Foster would be there. Foster had become depressed since his discussion with Jones and had spent the following days moping in the darkest corners of the community's structure. The Chapel was one of the darkest.

           "Foster?" the Old Man asked into the darkness. "Foster?" he ventured again.

           "Over here, sir," the subdued voice of Foster replied from the ebony cavern.

           "Foster, we must talk. I hear you are not feeling well -- that you are depressed. Our daily work inside the heart of the earth tends toward that, but I sense something else. Am I right?"

           "As usual," Foster replied sounding resigned.

           "Will you tell me about it?" the Old Man asked.

           There was silence for a long moment. The Old Man knew that Foster was not refusing to answer but taking time to collect his thoughts.

           "I guess I started feeling responsible for some of this mess because of my position as a journalist. I had deliberately helped to publicly trash some people because it was the popular route at the time. But it wasn't until I thought about it some more that my willingness to go along made me even culpable in my wife, Mara's death. Before, I had always blamed 'the system' for it. But now I can see how I contributed to that 'system.'"

           "How do you mean?" the Old Man asked.

           Foster's voice sobbed forth from the darkness. "She was killed with nice words."

Brain-Dead By Any Other Name Would Be Alive
Nat Hentoff, editor of the Leftist paper, The Village Voice, once commented, "These bioethicists have gardens in which they cultivate only euphemisms."14 Hentoff cogently described the bizarre path of deathmaking that medical ethics had taken in recent years. False terminology such as "brain-dead," "selective non-treatment," and "artificial nutrition and hydration" had softened the blow and led to general acceptance of killing the medically dependent.
           With the declines in reading and the corresponding ability to thoughtfully analyze language, the trick was simple. Many in the "field" of medical ethics were fully aware of the subversive nature of their abuse of language.
           "Since the old ethic has not been fully displaced it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. The result has been a curious avoidance of scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra-uterine until death. The very considerable semantic gymnastics which are required to rationalize abortion as anything but taking a human life would be ludicrous if they were not often put forth under socially impeccable auspices. . . . One may anticipate further development of these roles [of medical ethics] as the problems of birth control and birth selection are extended inevitably to death selection and death control. . ."15
           This deliberately devious connivance transported us to the edge of the "slippery slope" with the able assistance of the media. Quotes such as the one above were bandied around in professional circles -- as were other insulting comments -- and went completely unreported. But the saddest fact is that most Americans who were "literate" would not have had the educational substance or discipline to read and understand the above quote -- or take offense to its sneering, patronizing tone.
           The use of dehumanizing words -- what one wit called "the terms of surrender" -- was at the heart of the deception. People died because they were "brain-dead" (an utterly meaningless term), or "vegetables," or "lacking in quality of life," or simply "old" or "fetuses." This linguistic dehumanization was the modern equivalent of the previous century America's "nigger" or the early 20th century Germany's "useless eaters." But these terms were not censored. The press, in fact, made their usage common -- and helped make the slaughter common.

14 Rx: No Food/No Water, Oct. 6, 1987

15 A New Ethic for Medicine, California Medicine: The Western Journal of Medicine, Sept. 1970, p.68

           The Old Man was quiet after hearing Foster's tale. The dark cavern waited in respect. Finally, Foster again violated the silence.

           "That's what I couldn't let them see -- that I was angry with the way the system simply decided when someone was better off dead and ceased treating them. I had always bought the idea that medical resources were limited and it ought to be rationed -- especially UniMed, the government stuff that most people are covered by. I guess I never realized what it all meant until they stamped Mara's card with the words, 'Limited -- Blue' -- a derivative of the old 'Code Blue' in hospitals where a person was not to be resuscitated. Only this branded her anywhere and everywhere, even if she paid her own way. The UniMed card had to be produced to receive any kind of medical care at all and the inscription may as well have been 'nigger' for all the attention she got. The limitations of her care were basically for pain-killers -- nothing else could legally be done for her. She wasted away quickly.

           "I couldn't let Trask know about that or I would have been on permanent treatment, so I faked going along with therapy while I tried to cook up something else."

           "That's when you started looking at disappearing?" the Old Man asked.

           "Yeah, I remembered reading about some loony religious cults that were trying to become self-sufficient. At first I had assumed they were hiding out from Armageddon, but I figured I would try to find out more about them."

*      *      *

           Two men had entered Sears' room early in the morning and clasped a device around his ankle. It appeared to be a cross between metal and white plastic, tubular, about a three-eighths diameter, and joined as two halves in some unseen fashion. It was somewhat flexible and, though not tight, too close to the skin to have any hope of removing it.It was nothing like anything he'd ever seen.

           What have these damn commies come up with now? he wondered. No doubt some new, top-secret material. Our guys probably invented this stuff but, before you know it, the commies'll be taking credit for it.

           Sears studied it for a long time before the Old Man entered and told him the news.

           "We cannot ascertain who -- or what -- you are, Mr. Sears, but since our work here requires the utmost in secrecy, I'm afraid we cannot trust you to run free on the chance that you might reveal us to others," he said. "But we cannot simply, without other facts, assume you are an enemy. So we have elected to offer you a place here until your memory returns and we can check you out. Until then, that device will remain around your ankle. It is a remote transceiver -- that is, we have a transmitter that sends out a signal every five minutes and that device, if it is within a mile of our hills here, will hear it and return a signal. But your little anklet is smarter than just a responder. If it does not receive a signal for, say ten minutes, a small amount of a very stable explosive contained in it goes off and probably blows your foot off. From there, you would probably bleed to death quickly, but, even if you didn't, you wouldn't be going very far."

           Well, there it is, thought Sears. Their work requires the "utmost secrecy." I knew they were commies.

           "I don't understand, sir," Sears said in his best confused and apologetic voice. "You mean I'm to be some kind of prisoner here?"

           The Old Man looked troubled but resolute. "I suppose you'd have to call it that. No matter how much of a 'leash' we give you, so to speak, you are still not free. Unfortunately, we have no choice. I will assign someone to show you your quarters and to show you around -- including what is off limits to you. He'll be by tomorrow morning. After that, you'll be as free as we can afford to make you. Okay?"

           "Well, if you don't mind my saying so, sir, it's not really okay, but it seems I have no choice."

           "Stoic," the Old Man said. "I suppose that's the best attitude under the circumstances. But, please, once you get to know your way around, come and see me and we'll see if we can't make the situation more bearable."

           "Okay, sir," Sears said. And we'll see if there isn't some way I can get enough information to get your commie butt thrown in jail.

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