The Death Of Discourse

“I heard it was pretty bad out there.”

“They’ll have you believe you’re one of them only to make them look more in control than they are. The preacher man spy was so easily dismembered.”

“Yet I still don’t fully understand why he chose suicide… and in such a peculiar manner?”

“Oh that wasn’t suicide; there were others attending the procession. Ask them where points the mortal index.”

“It’s a queer connection of events indeed. I’ve checked over the records of the baptism, and it says that the procession specifically wished not to be disturbed, and each went to his own chamber. You’re not suggested that one of these had something to do with the murder…maybe even responsible for the de-fragmentation?”

“I think that the culprit is one that has long since retired - to said chambers and beyond - and who walks faceless among us. An illusion, perhaps, that the baptism never was, will be, and yet wasn’t the cause. Wasn’t where this started. Events following the baptism. Another murder? Was it a murder? And what of this backing firm, reminiscent of alien swastikas, that had connections to both men and investigations?”

“The Firm? It will do you know good to speak ill of The Firm. Everyone knows they have ears in every wall; even in our very heads. The Firm is a flawless plethora of the ghosts of security, pulled together by the events at the baptism and the ‘accidents’ that occurred afterwards. Beneath the neon cities The Firm is the strongest power in North-East Quechei.”

“But I ask you this, in my fearful unrest; what evidence does one, does anyone, possess of its inner workings, of its nature. The Firm came, it coveted the lights, and it conquered them under our blinded gaze. Disappearances have been non-existant in our ears and yet everyone has(n’t) heard whispers of them. The glow. Radioactivity? Nay, for it has been banned. And the moon shines of that same murder hue, and I can only go back to the baptism and figure the priest; he was no priest. There wasn’t a theist in the entire building that wasn’t dead the next morning. And what is revenge among the clergy? The clergy of the Firm.”

“The clergy are powerless. They play with those few worshipers still in their hand, ever overpowered by those that now control them; they seem more and more like the squatting gargoyles around the Chapel of Illumination, and less and less like human beings; whilst rivals gloat. It is a glorious rise for the atheist, amidst the blood of fallen christians.”

“Religion is not the question here, though. The clergy of the one they call Jehovah, the one they venerated as the one “true” god, is all but gone from the face of this earth, from this false plane of existance. The Firm has dealt with that. They are now the ones in control; they launch the crusades under our noses and the grail is retrieved while we walk ignorant. I ask again. Who are the Firm? They have no collective image, no public; nay, they have destroyed the public and the indie boys rejoice in the quiet streets. A silent celebration heralds the end. Dead gods will walk, if you believe, and the occultists take of a darker fate that will emerge from the past. The Firm does not quell these foreboding prophecies, though, they seem to prosper from them. There is more here than they want us to see and probably more than I could imagine. The madmen were right to cling to their macabre fantasies and we the fools to ignore them.”

“The Firm is definately beyond our comprehension; rumour has it that it is no longer controlled by a singular AI entity; but rather it’s wishes are created, designated and executed through a plehtora of android dreams stemming from the gigantic mainframe that has long replaced what The Ancients called ‘the internet’; that heresy is purged of the face of the earth. I believe that we are on the brink of a revelation that will either throw us forever into the endless coil of gloomy insanity, or cast us up into the blinding light of the ultimate truth.”

“And yet what is the ultimate truth but to be insane. The Olde Philosopher Neitzche trode on this path and he ended up like those that have been locked away. Not that they were criminals, but that they held a different weapon, one that could aspire to harm the Firm; they held the truth. So now I ask myself what is insanity but a creation to enslave us? The old heroes in the rare recollections that are still available all dipped their minds into the dark edge of madness…why would the old storytellers glorify this? It is the Firm who changed the rules, who made the rules. You and I are not free. They will come for us as they came for our predecessors. The simple thought of this conversation has decided our fate. Fate…again decided by the illustrious obscurity that is the Firm. The internet spawned them you say? That thought alone is enough to cause men to see you’re plainly mad. But I believe you. I’ve seen things, heard people talk about the internet. It was the first but it was not alone. I believe the problems began with the advent of “Internet II”. Almost a forbidden word there.”

“Internet II was the first creation of the Firm; strangely, it’s creator was the child of it’s predecessor. I remember it now - I am one of the last who can draw their mind back that far. The blaring images of what was the become the future - the boundless information, no longer constrained to a collection of pixels in a monitor. Of course, there were those even then who battled against authority - those who threw themselves against the shackles of law - excuse me; the system which controlled us before the dominance of the Firm - those that were then labelled as ‘hackers’, and now known under a variety of names, including, most interestingly, ‘priests’. I do believe the man who’s death we are here dealing with may have been a decendant of those that the AI power of the Firm struggled against and ultimately defeated.”

“And so we find ourselves asking questions spawned from this peculiar murder and the one most qualified to answer us is the recently deceased. A predicament indeed, for he could have been the one to save us, you and I, and all. Now he has damned us to the likes of the Firm. The world is a small, cold place, my friend, there is no use running. The Internet and its variant forms are all but gone, or at least removed from us common cattle; not that we have the knowledge necessary to use it against those that hold its key. It begins with the Firm and it ends with the Firm. As will we end. I see no light at the end of the tunnel although we have yet to find the circumstances that brought upon the death of this man - a certain Smith. Peculiar, as I’ve stated, and it might take some bending of popular belief to see through this bloody mess.”

“Ah… the public view, old friend? As far as the ‘enlightened public’ know, it was suicide. Yet I was one of the few lucky enough to see the scene of the crime before the Firm’s agents descended; although now I have a sneaking suspicion that they were there all along. You know the ways of the spawn of the Grid; not always visible, but near omnipotent. And now, more than ever, I fear for my life.”

“I share that fear and I…have not overlooked the chance that they might be with us at this hour. In this very room. The only thing keeping me from abandoning myself to that possibilty is the fact that I am still breathing. So, while we live still, let us conclude the matter. One gun shot made sure that this man would not walk after this day; no one saw him take out the gun. What were your observations before the incident? Also note that the one wound cut a clear trajectory from the back of the skull through the forehead to the point where I wonder if the point of impact is undebatably the forehead.”

“I had the distinct impression that as I gazed upon his dead form, he had no intention of dying - there was a terrified, struggling light that often accompanies those who did not want to be taken. I have spent my life amongst death, and know well enough of this. Previously I had talked with him - for talking is the safest means these days… and even that, a terrible risk. He spoke repeatedly of the Firm, and seemed excited that he had uncovered a deadly weakness of the Grid that we previously thought so invincible. He would not explain to me what it was, but merely said that it required a few more days’ work, and then he would release it to rhe public. He was dead 24 hours later; and tell me this, my old friend; do those words sound like the speech of one who plans on suicide?”

“It is obvious that this man had the intention of living beyond his unfortunate death, to the point where his plan would succeed or fail. So we both agree that there is more to this event than was originally reported; the Firm is deeply involved. Now I wonder what this man could have uncovered that would destroy the strongest entity ever recorded - it must have taken years in the making. And you say he would be ready to use it in days? Then he was close, the Firm sensed their imminent demise, and they ended the thread before it manifested. Tell me, do we know where this man resided?”

“What little I have been able to find of him in the archives I was able to copy shortly before they were eradticated by the Firm; it appears he had numerous dwellings, scattered around the globe. He was found dead on the street, but his nearest place of residence seems to have been on the very street we now sit on. But, do not waste your strengths - I have already searched it, and it has been stripped clean by the Firm. Yet I ask you this; do we wish to know what Smith found? It is a simple fact that without the Firm we have nothing - no system of government, no law, no rules by which to live by. For hundreds of years the Firm has kept those radical groups of techno-anarchists and puritan madmen from our streets - and without the Firm, all would fall into chaos. Is that what we truly want?”

“I remember reading that in the days before the Firm came along, freedom was an issue that was debated strongly. People fought and died for freedom. Today the word isn’t even alive in the thoughts of the common man, and the philosophers that have opened our minds in the past are gone, engulfed by the machine that is the Firm. Now I sit here in all my foolish, wasted wisdom and ask you; what is freedom? And now I want you to tell me if all this apparent peace is worth your lack of freedom. The religious fanatics used to preach that God was the only one protecting us from chaos, but they failed. What makes the Firm no different?”

“Let us associate the Firm with a different example - say, that of the Roman Empire. They came to the barbarians, and those that resisted were killed. They infringed their freedoms, but bred society and culture through this lack of freedom. If they had been allowed to do as they please, how can you truly tell me that they would have pulled themselves from the stupid muck in which they were found? The Firm is no difference; it has brought us enlightenment and peace…but, at a price.”

“And so the Roman Empire failed and the barbarians were left and the developped into the modern world, eventually spawning the Firm, if one wishes to pursue the timeline to such an extent. And yet you will argue that the barbarians learned culture from the Romans. But the Romans were a farce; they were an Empire built on war - as were the barbarians - that stole culture from the Greeks and immitated it, assimilating said nation and making it their own. They rose in this fashion but then they failed. And who was it that continued to flourish? The Christians. Now they are gone, destroyed by the Firm, who leaves us our culture, does not bring it to us, and yet takes our freedom and stops us from developping further into the culture. I say this and yet here is still no other possibility known to me but the Firm. Perhaps that is what Mr. Smith was working on; a second choice, one that could only win over the Firm, thus sending it into the dust and reclaiming the world as a better society. Liberating the slaves of order. I once read a passage that went like this; ‘With order comes peace, but man needs chaos to evolve.’”

“Perhaps; perhaps this is the meaning of the friction in the air. Perhaps this is why so many arrests are being made. Perhaps this is why Smith had to die. I suppose we will never know; the Firm has already taken what he was working on, and no doubt destroyed it. Or perhaps it will use it for it’s own intentions?”

“I daren’t think of that possibility, because I fear it. Why do I fear it? Because I know nothing on it. Look now, in my stumbling in the dark I have found the philosophy on which the Firm rules; they control the population by fear, and what do we fear the most? Fear of the unknown. Comprehend and disect the Firm and we will overcome its tyranny. Until then, more will die - you and I will die - and then this entire matter will slip into obscurity. The revolution that never was - Smith, the suicide, the agents, you, and I will be erased as was the rest of the threatening propaganda. And the earth will continue to spin, and the Firm will continue to rule, and the human race will be expended like cattle because they never stopped to question their existence because to question your existence was to jeopordize said existence. But to what? Something that we won’t think about because it’s better off as an imaginary construct in the mind of the mindless.”