The Pile – Prologue

aka PAX VIOLENTIAE aka For Want of A Violence aka Kvetching to Erebus

Violence stopped on February 7th. While the precise moment remains a mystery, historians and harmologists have cobbled together a rough estimate from accounts of the period’s most violent figures, such as Blessings Manda –The Butcher of Monkey Bay, to construct a moderately accurate estimate of the instant violence ceased to exist. At the time, Blessings and his rebel forces, the People’s Protection Army (PPA), were in the middle of a raid on the Mitumbiri Village Mosque in celebration of the People’s Protection Army Football Club’s (PPAFC) down-to-the-wire win over their archrivals, the Namitembo Trade and Agricultural School Football Club (NTASFC). Desiring to properly thank the Christian god for the victory it generously granted PPAFC, extending their three-game winning streak[1], Blessings ordered his men to sack the local mosque, seed any women they came across with righteous, Christian offspring, and then retire to a quiet evening of reflection and prayer. The PPA was barely 10 minutes into the mosque razing when the men noticed the violence they were employing, which in the past, as they assured historians in subsequent recitations, had come as naturally as breathing, was not working. Blessings and his men continued to do their best, but, try as they might, the hands and feet the PPA prized as souvenirs simply would not detach from the bodies of their victims. After a valiant effort, and with great remorse, Blessings had to call off the raid and return home sans trophy appendages. And he was not alone.

All across the globe, similar cases of impotent brutality were cropping up. In their effort to craft a precise timeline, harmologists noted that other significant acts of violence were also disrupted within the 30 minute window of 1800-1830 Greenwich Mean Time. These include the famously failed lethal injection of convicted serial rapist and murderer Donald St. James in the Butts County, Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison, and the unfortunately timed Uyghur rebellion of Xinjiang province, where months of preparation went for naught when Memteli Azizi, who was first over the fence of the provincial governor’s compound, could not even slit the throat of the first guard the group encountered,  resulting in intensely awkward standing around, a few muttered apologies, and the eventual confused withdrawal of the young men and women involved in the incursion. This was all to the bemusement of the armed guards and police, who were equally disabled and unable to capture the governor’s would-be executioners. Regardless of the exact time, somewhere between 1800-1830 Greenwich Mean Time on February 7th, human civilization took a sharp turn into uncharted waters.

Without violence, humans were helpless to harm one another. The rules governing global society evaporated. Cities were looted, buildings were burned and institutions were overthrown, all without the loss of a single life thanks to humanity’s new peaceful impotence. Over time, via some stern mass talkings-to humanity received from some of the more level-headed world leaders, the overpowering tsunami of the masses quieted again to the familiar gentle trickle of the criminally insane. The primary psychological and sociological impetus behind the Great Calming Down (GCD), as the miracle came to be called, was attributed to the terror human beings felt at being thrown into unmapped societal territory where individuals were entirely in control coupled with the well-worn comfort of being told what to do by important people wearing suits and lapel pins on television and the internet. A fragile order was restored across the globe, with every government scrambling to pump cash into their previously woefully underfunded science budgets, desperate to be the first to discover the cause and cure for this new, exclusively human ailment. There was a global consensus that the first nation to discover the cure, thus obtaining a monopoly on hard power, would become the default hegemon.

In the months following the stoppering of all violent acts directed towards and emanating from human beings, top scientists the world-over were consistently unable to determine the cause of the peculiar phenomenon. In fact, the mechanics of Non-Functional Violence Syndrome (NFVS), a term coined by Hubert Slovache, famed former cryptozoologist and resident chief harmologist at the National Academy of Sciences, were so opaque that most scientists studying the disease found themselves at risk of developing severe tendinitis in their shoulders due to constantly throwing up their hands in exasperation. However, through extensive research, the academics studying NFVS were at least able to define the parameters of the condition. Their empirical data demonstrated conclusively that human beings were now unable to commit violent acts against one another. This included indirect violence, such as sending a letter laced with Anthrax to your cousin or shooting a rope holding a piano, which falls on a beam, launching a brick that hits a switch dropping a ball which rolls down a ramp, striking a match lighting a fuse attached to dynamite. Even though this dynamite was several steps removed from human agency, it failed to inflict even a base level of violence on any of the drafted volunteers.

One unlucky rat near the volunteers’ holding cell was less intact after the explosion, leading scientists to conclude that only violence from and towards humans was affected. Thousands of dead rats, pigeons, orangutans, moray eels, and porcupines later, their conclusion was confirmed.  At a public Congressional hearing on the progress of their research, Dr. Slovache demonstrated, to wild applause from the gallery, that placing the muzzle of his father’s old .45 Magnum between the eyes of his eager assistant and pulling the trigger resulted in the usual flash and bang but absolutely no violence. Placing the muzzle of his father’s old .45 Magnum between the eyes of a cute, brown puppy and pulling the trigger, however, resulted in a flash, a bang, and a fairly large puddle of cute, brown puppy all over the committee chamber’s floor.[2]

Dr. Slovache, determined to ascertain the full implications of NFVS, next exposed his medical guests to every disease grown or known by mankind. The annoyance felt by one participant when she was late to pick-up her daughter from soccer practice due to a delivery delay for the bubonic plague test was the most extreme case of suffering observed during the study. Investigating a bit further down the molecular road, Dr. Slovache stumbled upon a startling fact; the telomeres that normally shortened whenever human cells replicated were no longer shortening. The ramifications of this change in basic biology were enormous; in essence, human cells were immortal and cell death would never occur.

Naturally, the plucky harmologist called for the nearest obituary page. According to legend, when he opened his Plain Dealer and confirmed his worst fears, Dr. Slovache looked to his staff and stated the now famous words that nearly started a war, “There is a force at work here that toils from beyond the physical realm”[3]. It seemed that cell and tissue degradation were considered violent acts by whatever was causing NFVS and all ailments, including time, had suddenly ceased to serve as an existential threat. Wondering what this meant for the aging process, the erudite men and women of the harmology department at the National Academy of Sciences[4] began an exhaustive battery of tests on every age group. Through the tests, the scientific team concluded that the body would reach an equilibrium of peak functionality, then sustain itself indefinitely. This equilibrium, or “the perfect physical age” as Dr. Slovache put it, averaged out to be 23 years, 5 months, 13 days, 10 hours, 17 minutes, and 6 seconds. The scientists regretted the impossibility of a more accurate estimate due to the limitations of their instruments.

After the discovery of the human race’s inability to naturally snuff it, attempting to replicate successful violence became an obsession for harmologists everywhere. Pre-NFVS-era action films and Ultimate Fighting Championship matches were used as research material to study the means employed in successful cases of violence. However, even when conditions were precisely reproduced and variables were tightly controlled in the form of two NFVS bruisers pummeling one another in a cage match broadcast on pay-per-view for $49.95; the results generated were sub-par compared to pre-NFVS counterparts. Each time a walking mass of muscles lashed out with something that should have been a devastating blow, the violent portion of the strike simply would not operate correctly. Post-fight tapes confirmed the velocity of each kick, punch, and head butt were up to snuff with the industry standard. The only difference seemed to exist in the effect of the violence. This led some scientists to posit that violence was actually a separate, non-physical entity, similar, they theorized, to Descarte’s formerly-dismissed-but-now-on-second-thought-not-such-a-bad-description of the human soul. This “Spirit of Violence,” the scientists explained, had previously existed as an innate part of the human species, but had now disappeared for reasons yet unknown. They believed research funding should be directed away from finding the physical cause of NFVS and towards understanding the spiritual cause. These findings split the scientific community the world over, with a majority of scientists scoffing at the idea[5].

This scholarly schism established two main intellectual camps on the question of violence and why it had stopped. The newly created scientific school of harmology found favor with the majority of the academic community, firmly believing the cause of NFVS was entirely physical and that a cure would inevitably be discovered and developed as humans refined and advanced their technology. Spirit of Violence Crazies (SVCs), also known as Spirit of Violence Believers (SVBs), the former serving as the scientific community’s official classification of the group and the latter acting as the self-defined and preferred label, were a splinter group of scientists, philosophers, and religious figures who felt the preponderance of evidence pointed towards a spiritual explanation, and the solution to humanity’s non-functional violence problem would only be solved through a thorough investigation of both society and the self. This extremist rhetoric frightened enough officials for most of the worlds’ governments to classify the SVC movement as a dangerous terrorist organization.

During her infamous testimony at a Congressional hearing on the subject, top SVC scientist, Her Reverence Chandra Sen, asked how an organization could be considered dangerous in a world infected by NFVS. Senators of the government of the United States of America responded by instructing agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations to take her into custody. This plan went awry, however, when the agents were unable to employ the crucial “force” step in their attempted by-the-book forceful detainment of H.R. Sen. The resulting confusion, caught on tape in what is generally agreed to be the most thrilling few minutes in the history of the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, witnessed a visibly annoyed H.R. Sen stand up and walk out of the chamber, casually slipping the impotent grasp of the equally annoyed Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agents as Senator Stovall (R-OK), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, screamed at them in vain to “Stop that terrorist bitch!”

The resulting political firestorm led to the public persecution of anyone suspected as an SVC or SVC sympathizer. Though they could not harm or even hinder SVCs physically, anti-SVC activists could seize bank accounts, smash up, or burn property, and cause as much emotional stress as possible for members of the fanatical group. As a result of these “SVB Pogroms,” as they were later dubbed, controversially, by a reflective and sympathetic public months after they ended, over two million SVC bank accounts, houses, and car windows had been seized or destroyed in the United States alone.

The tide of public opinion turned against the heavy-handed actions of the government and anti-SVC bloc when a recent but devout SVC convert named Jake Tampala took to the streets in dramatic fashion to protest the treatment of his brethren. Mr. Tampala, equipped with nothing more than a red plastic container filled with gasoline and a matchbook, set up camp in front of the United States Capitol Building, poured the contents of the vessel all over his body (which, for an undisclosed purpose, was disrobed), and struck a match. These actions transpired at such a pace that the local police were helpless[6] to prevent Mr. Tampala’s self-immolation. Though the act itself ended up being a whole lot of pomp and circumstance and very little burning flesh due to NFVS, the camera crews and professional news teams[7] on hand were eager to get a scoop on the naked man who failed to burn himself alive.

Mr. Tampala’s story of persecution and desperation may have culminated in a futile attempt to sear his own flesh, but the resulting media frenzy surely ignited the mind of the public, quickly shifting the acceptable usage standards within the politically correct lexicon from SVC to SVB. The political cadre responsible for the SVB’s “Time of Troubles,” including the fiery Senator Stovall, were drummed out of office and replaced with moderate voices preaching cultural harmony and relativism. The en vogue group for repression became those culpable in the recent repression of people-who-used-to-be-called-SVCs-but-are-now-called-SVBs. Though entirely non-violent in nature, the verbal abuse, hiring discrimination, and general pariah status of the former subjugators took a severe emotional toll on the targeted individuals.

With the common bond of injustice, despair, and jingoism, the newly subdued group felt they had no choice but to form their own society. They would create a paradise far away from a harsh world that accepted every idea but theirs, their idea of course being to accept no other ideas but their own. These sorry individuals felt the United States had lost both its righteousness and moral compass by allowing the continued existence of the hated “SVCs.” Drastic actions were necessary to re-seize the wheel and steer their beloved nation back into that shining strip-mall parking lot on a hill.

Led by the famous military hero, Lieutenant Colonel Bertram Crowley[8] the newly formed Americans Fighting To Keep America The America We Have Known And Loved For Our Entire Lives, With Great Respect And Admiration For Our Esteemed Founders Who Knew What They Were Doing And Shouldn’t Be Questioned, or AFTKATAWHKALFOEL,WGRAAFOEFWKWTWDASBQ for short, and AFFA (Americans Fighting For America) for really short, established their base of operations in the wastelands of Senator Stovall’s summer estate on Martha’s Vineyard  and began strategizing.

The United States Government decided to list AFFA as a terrorist organization[9] and initiated an extensive surveillance program, even passing a number of controversial laws allowing for a broader range of snooping powers. These included giving police the power to enter and search any household earning less than $100,000 a year without a warrant and wire-tapping any cellular telephones not considered a “Must-Have Gadget of the Year” by major technology publications. Though these laws were heavily protested during their Congressional debates and inevitable filibusters, a majority of Americans approved of the laws, feeling their security was more important than their privacy. Polls showed nearly 60% of the group “most likely to have their home invaded by the government” supported the new measures, with an overwhelming 90% of the group “most likely to never be hassled by any government official due to demographic immunity” in favor. Dissenters blamed a massive misinformation and scare campaign in the media as the primary reason so many Americans seemed to vote against their own interests. Protestors and liberal members of Congress claiming the need for security was significantly lessened in the context of NFVS were dismissed as naïve idealists by moderates and a threat to national security by hawkish conservatives.

While the AFFA’s terrorist activities were primarily limited to angry, full-color pamphlets, well-produced but poorly-acted list-of-demands videos, and the occasional major-bombing of an urban center, their continued existence and the United States Government’s inability to use violence to detain members of the group was a source of great agitation to the general public. Billions of dollars in military, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigations, and National Security Agency funding were diverted into research projects investigating alternative methods for destruction and detention.  With each agency, jealously guarding its unique project and refusing to share information, very little progress was made on the alternative violence front. After months of work and over a trillion dollars in federal funding, a representative from each agency was instructed to present a status update in a highly classified session of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The military kicked off the meeting with a presentation of their Ricocheting Missile and Bullet technology (RMB). The theory military scientists held, while unsuccessful so far, was that if they could launch bullets and missiles that could ricochet a set number of times before finally hitting their target, theoretically you could dilute the human origins of the violence to negligible levels. Therefore, each subsequent ricochet after the initial shot would inject a small bit of functional, non-human violence back into the bullet or missile. The scientists estimated it would require 45 ricochets to bruise a target and 76 ricochets to kill. When Senator Flaffen (D-MA) pointed out the restraints of NFVS meant that humans could neither commit violent acts nor be the subject of violent acts, even if the source of that violence was non-human, the military representative became visibly flustered and quickly wrapped up his testimony, stating further tests were needed before they could draw any conclusions.

The Central Intelligence Agency was next in the chute. Their proposal involved the training of animals for the purpose of capturing and holding enemy combatants. They envisioned a crack team of chimpanzees, gorillas, cheetahs, falcons, and dolphins[10] trained and proficient in extraordinary rendition operations and tactics. To demonstrate the potential of their project, the Central Intelligence Agency spokeswoman brought in their first recruits: a male eastern-lowland gorilla named Marcus Steele, a female common chimpanzee named Sparkles, a brash, young Peregrine falcon nicknamed “Jackrabbit,” and two cheetahs, a male and a female, whose true names were highly classified but were known amongst the research team as Mr. and Mrs. X[11]. By connecting a large web of an ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene Dyneema netting to both large boiled leather harnesses fastened around the torsos of Mr. and Mrs. X and a small harness fashioned for the audacious “Jackrabbit”, which, in a rare bipartisan decision of 18-1, the committee ruled “decidedly cute,”[12] and alternating between electric shock and gastronomic based incentives, the Central Intelligence Agency research team was able to coax the elite squad into gently placing a net over a seated assistant with slabs of beef tied to his head. Marcus Steele and Sparkles then sprang into action at the sound of a bell and gathered the ends of the net to pull across the room, taking the hapless assistant along for the ride. The committee voted 14-5 to burst into thunderous applause. The Senators voting against the motion believed animal cruelty should not be applauded. However, democracy won out and they dutifully clapped with the rest of the members of the committee, though slightly less boisterously as a form of non-violent protest. After wrangling the animals out of the committee chamber, the Central Intelligence Agency assured the representatives that an increase in funding would certainly result in superior performances and the creation of a Bravo heavy assault team consisting of lions, tigers, and perhaps some bears if the National Zoo could be convinced to spare a few in the name of national security.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations representative presented their new concept of Bouncing Bullet technology (BoBulls) the next day, which worked on the principle that each successive bounce after the initial shot would allow for the projectile to regain a degree of violence. Before the representative could mention their team’s estimation that they could achieve a significant level of violence after only 67 bounces, Senator Flaffen (D-MA) cut him off, shouting testily, “The military had the exact same brain-dead program! How much money did you waste on this?” The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s spokesperson, stunned, asked to have time to commission a study to determine exactly how much money had been wasted before being dismissed.

Last on the docket was the National Security Agency. Their bold initiative, the representative explained, involved tunneling under the targets, creating a gigantic sink hole, and allowing the objective to collapse into the depths. Afterwards, tons of earth would be dumped onto the site to seal the targets inside. While the collapse may not kill the targets, it would take them out of commission until they dug themselves out. If the hole were deep enough, it might take the affected party years to resurface. The committee reacted in a generally positive manner to the idea, though a few members had reservations about “kicking the terrorist-can down the road”. The thought of angry, immortal terrorists emerging from underground after years of clawing their way up from the pit gave these Senators pause. But the National Security Agency spokeswoman assured the Senators that they would not be leaving their children in a worse situation because, by that time, Science would most certainly have developed better solutions to humanity’s violence problem.

A resolution was quickly drafted to use the Central Intelligence Agency’s Animal Agent Program (AAP) in conjunction with the National Security Agency’s Big-Hole Initiative (BHI) to deal with the immediate threat posed by AFFA.

The resulting catastrophe, Operation Atlantis, saw the escape of every AFFA member, the sinking of Martha’s Vineyard into the Atlantic, and the tragic loss of Sparkles the common chimpanzee when Mr. and Mrs. X mistook her for Lieutenant Colonel Crowley during the confused, botched raid. After this disaster, the reputation of the United States Government reached an all-time low and the country was on the verge of dissolving back into a level of chaos not seen since NFVS was discovered.

It was then, with the threat of a new Dark Age looming, that humanity’s savior emerged.

[1] PPAFC were 7-1 in the season and ranked 2nd overall in the Monkey Bay Football Association’s (MBFA) standings, with their only loss coming at the hands of the Malamia Mosque Football Club (MMFC) (8-0) out of Mangochi. This bitter defeat three weeks earlier was the result of a disputed corner that gave MMFC the lead in stoppage time. Blessings had sworn on the Bible he often strapped to his chest that MMFC defender Azibo Chilima had last touched the ball before it went out of play and that the Muslim referees were calling the game in favor of MMFC. Though the instant replay disproved his claim, Blessings maintained the footage was faked and vowed revenge.

[2] When the good doctor reloaded his revolver and wheeled out a troop of volunteer fetuses-in-a-test-tubes to definitively demonstrate NFVS did not occur until the third trimester, the politically skittish Congressional committee forcefully balked, though not before lauding the scientist for his “cutting edge techniques” and “intellectual bravery”.

[3] In Dr. Slovache’s official autobiography, The Death of Violence, the great thinker claims he never actually said this exact phrase, but rather the spiritual-language came from Her Reverence Chandra Sen, who had been assisting Dr, Slovache before she was forced to flee during the anti-SVB riots.

[4] After a quick call to their brokers instructing them to divest in Pfizer.

[5] When asked to describe their own theories, the skeptics would remember an important appointment and regret their lack of time.

[6] Also: hesitant and intrigued.

[7] Having been invited to the event through trilingual, calligraphically engraved letters. As Telemundo was an invitee and Mr. Tampala was a fierce proponent of immigration reform, the Spanish was understandable. The lack of any major Chinese media on the invitee list, however, led most of the attendees to speculate that the use of a third language on the invitation, Mandarin, was merely linguistic hot-dogging on the part of Mr. Tampala. In a case of serendipity, however, later in the festivities The Epoch Times made an (uninvited) appearance, giving Mr. Tampala an opportunity to field questions in his serviceable Mandarin.

[8] Crowley was famed throughout his hometown for his logistical prowess, said to be able to deliver bullets to troops on time every time, in keeping with the finest military traditions of the man behind the man behind the gun.

[9] Coincidentally the addition came during the same session Congress officially removed the SVCs from the list in a rare case of true governmental efficiency.

[10] To be used in the event of an amphibious operation.

[11] No relation

[12] The single dissenting vote coming from the good Senator from Montana, who claimed he had “seen cuter.”

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