The V.H.Z. Era
And so, the old illusion is disrupted, and the VHZ era begins. In this distorted half-truth "world" left static-heavy after yet another cycle of destruction and re-awakening, the violent process of extrusion yanks the strangers into the "real world" – inert, and inanimate.
a "media-made kaleido-perversion of nurengenerative mechanisms".
Owing its thanks to the technologies derived from these inanimated "drones", society advances at a breakneck pace. Pop culture reflects the strangers' image back through a copious output of videogames, comics, anime, toys, soaps, and uncountable consumer products, and even the smallest infant sees hundreds of stranger bodies (nude, pinned-up, or half-encased) before they learn their own name.
The city leads to the wastelands that fade into noise, and the earth beneath the city is not dirt alone. Tunnels pierce the ground beneath old buildings, jumbled up and shaken by the dozen; with those televisions, hard discs, radios and more just waiting to be pulled up and scraped.
Yet not all is joyous in such a pleasure-garden...
“For what can be said of the verdant wilderness, with all of its heaths and hollows?“
“Or, was it all torn up in some pervert's deluded idea?“
For what can be said of the verdant wilderness,
with all of its heaths and hollows?
(Or, was it all torn up in some pervert's deluded idea?)
The End of VHZ
Unfortunately for the lovers and the fighters and the dreamers of the world of VHZ, such a dream could not last forever; no, all of this fun could not just continue forever.
The world of VHZ collapses, and humanity finds that hundreds (and no, could it be, maybe thousands?) of years have passed. The extruded strangers have now been made animate again – mankind's blood flows through the city streets, until the meat grind gutter empties out, and the survivors stagger from the wreckage.
We know not the cause, but we do know the after-effects.
The span of time immediately after the collapse is marked by utter chaos. We had never seen the cities from the "outside" before this. It is as though they had been concealed behind a hologram which is now falling apart for the first time.
And because the cities are almost all vacated, there are less strangers generating - so, you can go into the cities, but... they're really dangerous... swirling clouds and radioactive storms. They are being perpetually destroyed, always black.
The soil still sweats mattress stains, and this bleached earth no longer clamors for a need to distinguish between those who are sensitive and those who are not.
Stage 5 (decrescent) Declining stranger populations, with stratification of remaining super-signal carrier strains, and the appearance of harmless anomalous outliers once kept suppressed by humanity's presence.
In the hellish festivities that follow, society is reduced to a fraction of its once teeming masses; the messiahs begin their war games.
You had not known that these terms like "messiah" were not thrown around lightly.
Mankind recedes into the countryside and wilderness; the people leave the city and move in caravans across the earth. As they forge their own history in this dwindling world, these nomadic expatriots trade in books and canned foods; the arrival of a traveling carnival brings some diversion to the fading drift. Banging pans at the edges of the barracks, the barker calls out to see from the dead, dead cities,𖼰 these creatures in their cages safe.
"We are careful not to travel in groups because we are frightened of being a target. There is only the illusion of safety in numbers; there is no guarantee."
𖼰 Even after the cities have emptied, though, strangers still generate in pockets of trapped energy. (Circulating feedback loops.)
In an effort to generate a city in which strangers cannot generate, construction begins on roaming tower #1 – "needle tower" to those trapped outside, and "New Candida" to those on the inside.𐊩 The ever-moving city, whose supercomputers derive their power from an upper eschalon of always-plugged-in psychics.
Everyone's moving around a lot... but they can't completely get rid of settlements, and so strangers keep showing up.
𐊩 Though the wars that follow bring with it the palisades and enough theatrics to fill up the ground, even this spectacle blurs out into the white of the Fade.
After a spectacular sequence of events, human civilization comes to an end.
the quiet earth
With humanity's reign now past its close, fragile glimpses of nature return. Clusters of flowers bloom and spread; the few surviving insects teem as they can. The gosdragons roam the convalescent land among the ruins of the falling towers, land-scraper shells, and the walls put up to stave off a long-gone onslaught. Within this space in time and place, the conquests described in Into the Fade make their marks, and the projector named Virgo travels through the wilderness.
In that land where the library has not yet been written, the ocean has not yet been drained, the house has not yet been grown from seeds, and the eagle awaits a sky in which to soar.
And yet, the rise and fall of the songbird's chorus does not last forever. A damselfly settles on dry earth and does not fly off again; petals fall from a flower that spreads no seeds. The sun trails red, and the spring goes silent, silent, slow.
The End
Humanity having moved past its closure, and the earth stretches cold and barren, on and on. As the sun ages, the last microscopic traces of life perish.
The barren earth becomes overrun by strangers – more monumental than any that have come before – that tower above the skyline or multiply by the trillions to cover the planet's surface.
But, all is not over! Do you think you can solve the riddle of this forsaken planet, and finish what Killjoy could not?
find out in the final installment...
Goodbye Strangers
...and the Fearful Frontier.
brought to you as part of V.H.Z.!
return to goodbye strangers