Raconter le monde par l'intime

By Claudio Antonio Quiroga Broggi

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Beings from another planet come to Earth and try to understand what led to the demise of humanity.

“Die Wahrheit ist, was mit der Lüge getan werden kann”

“Truth can be achieved with lies”

(Peter Sloterdijk)

When the spacecraft landed, it looked like the planet was deserted. 

“Were there any signs of intelligent life?” asked Xilion, commander of the intergalactic ship, to Pherea, head of the exploratory patrol.

“Nothing. Just wildlife and a lot of vegetation. Also, several signs of its extinction. Here, for example, we have deciphered some script from March 2020, one of many writings on the subject.

Pherea began reading:

The lungs of the Earth needed to breathe. One day, suddenly, the world stopped and then the Earth began breathing pure air. Nature is so wondrous, that she is cleansing herself from the evil we committed… And it goes on. It's very long,” Pherea stopped reading and summarized.

“It sounds like ‘there's no harm that doesn't come from good’. That good things are extracted from evil... that it's just a matter of ‘managing evil well’. Hmm… It's a strange idea: economics is no longer ‘the science of scarcity’, but of evil.

Everything indicates that because of an epidemic, they imposed a global quarantine.”

The explorers were far from imagining that this had almost been a house arrest and that it lasted for years, that other aspects of social life had been neglected, the economy had crumbled… stocks were depleted and at some stage, the collapse was irreversible. 

It happened at noon, in the energy network of the so-calledUCTE — Synchronous Region of Continental Europe and spread over a meridian arc when the planet shifted. A fault in a 500kV line caused dynamic instability and the breakdown of the Gravelines Nuclear Power Plant which was the largest in France. The system should have restored balance by automatically disconnecting a power source that would compensate the lost power generation; but it was not activated, and no one was there to do so manually. One by one, the nuclear power stations of Paluel and Cattenom in France collapsed in a chain reaction, as did those — of all different types — in Germany, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Great Britain, the Nordic countries… they toppled like sand castles swept by a ruthless wave. Overcome by the imbalance, all the energy networks were automatically disconnected, causing the biggest blackout in history… 

It would be the last one.

Simultaneously, everything based on IT collapsed: communications, transport, industry, services... Without energy, without ‘its life force’, social life came to a halt that spread like a black stain across the whole planet.

In this state, in Buenos Aires, Juan went out of confinement and in the midst of darkness, he realized there was nothing he could do for his people. He returned home. When he reached the door, he felt dizzy and did not open it. He collapsed... and with no one around to help, he was dead within two hours.

In Beijing, Quiang went outside. He defied the guards who were watching the surroundings. They seemed to be asleep. That's what Quiang thought, but they were dead. He turned back and ended up like Juan.

In Madrid, Pedro went out… in Paris, Ivonne… in London, George — and the same thing happened to all of them. In every house during the worldwide lockdown, someone tried to do something; in every corner of the globe, someone was desperate. If anyone managed to go back inside, the consequences were catastrophic. Within hours they were all dead.

So then, when the global chaos was over 'the planet was breathing again'. The ruins teemed with insects, dogs, cats and wild animals. 

The human race annihilated itself. Only the inexorable march of the entropic drama towards absolute equilibrium prevailed: the end.

“What could have happened to them?” asked the commander to Professor Inin Zohar, an expert virologist. 

“I might have an idea,” he replied. “It’s simple; they were isolated and unable to adapt to the environment. They took extreme measures when the vast majority of people had no symptoms and could not rely on an accurate method of diagnosis. This was a serious mistake. Consequently, the immune mechanism that renewed their defences was drastically impaired ... even their natural immunity and the vaccines they already had, no longer protected them.” 

“The cycle of viruses,” the expert went on, “is one of continuous adaptation. In a short period of time, the variant that survives the change mutates and endures — which applies to this and other viruses. A virus does not mutate of its own volition ; it is not an intelligent entity. Can anyone believe that a virus knows what it’s doing?

It is the result of non-linearity, of what is referred to as ‘creative chaos’. Nor is it life, even if it resembles it, in that mysterious attempt of certain molecular complexes to go against the entropic flow that points, like an arrow, to all of us at the end. 

The adaptation of human beings required years of getting sick naturally or by inducing artificial immunity through vaccines. They had to acquire and calibrate their defence mechanisms, as they could die from a lack of or over-reaction to them. For any being developed in a bubble, to abandon it would be to succumb.”

“What a pity. Perhaps, other powers of the state were mute, and their leaders out of control, enamoured of an almost aphrodisiac power and unable to understand that this virus and all the existing ones would persist. Nor did they comprehend that the economy is not independent of health: it is the heartbeat of a living society, the resounding proof of its vitality. No one in their right mind stops the flow of blood to curb a virus in an organism. Gangrene would set in the weak capillaries and spread throughout the body.”

“We deciphered something on a mural that says: 'All those suffering from incurable diseases can be cured five seconds before death - Almafuerte'.” C'est bien, ajouta Pherea, mais ce n'est qu'un verset sur l'espoir humain.

“That's right, Pherea,” agreed the professor. “Death, whatever the circumstances, is a process. It can be quick in certain cases, for instance, if one is shot in the heart, but it is always a process taking place in an organic structure, until the cessation of all functions that sustain life.”

“This,” continued the expert, “was transferred to the collective construction of the people. With the first fatally misguided step, society was dying inexorably. It’s like someone who jumps off a cliff: even if they feel as if they’re flying during the fall, chances are, they’ll end up dead.”

“The wrong step... Pherea...? Which one...?” asked the commander. ‘Exploration’ had been following the development of Human Civilization for a long time…

“I don't know what to say” the commander said hesitantly. They shouldn't have trusted certain set phrases, ‘aphorisms’ as they called them. They should not have established concepts of reasoning or made decisions based on them. They are false or at least dubious. I have already said so about the proverb ‘There is no evil that does not come from good’. Those who opposed this madness were denounced as‘There is none so blind as those who will not see’.We know about the complex process involved in ‘seeing’, more so, when for a hegemonic idea, ‘seeing is the same as believing’ ... It seems that many humans went to the extreme ‘of seeing what they believed’ and when they were told ‘they were wrong’, they replied: ‘this is my truth’. There is no such thing with us. Well, yes, we do say “my point of view” but if it is mine, this doesn’t mean I have to impose it on others.” “Was the virus a pretext?” the commander asked. 

“Not necessarily. I believe that this virus came about when politics, as a means of conquering power, almost everywhere, had transformed itself into a ‘secular religion’ based on something like: ‘I believe it, therefore it exists’ ... Although, without getting caught up in solipsism, they said: ‘If we all believe it, then it exists.’”

“But what was the thing they would all wonder about...? The answer is simple: ‘common sense’. Those who did not adhere to the group of ‘common sense thinking’ had to be enlightened by militants and civilian soldiers, preparing for the conquest of ‘common sense’ or placed on the opposite side in the section for hopeless cases that of the common enemy which gave meaning to the group's unity...” 

The expert was hardly breathing. 

“The spoken word, created by thought and signifying an idea, was the tool they used. It was changeable, varying according to circumstances, always keeping up-to-date, becoming irrefutable, a continuous succession of truths, the central axis of political marketing.”

“What or which truth?” asked in unison those who gathered together in the room.

“Ours, that of common sense!...” they answered.

“How, by what means did they achieve it if this sad ending can be called an achievement...?”

“With the rulers of the ‘old world’ who were going down, and yet ‘holding on for dear life’. So they discarded consensus and appealed to coercion; they said: ‘like the centaur, half-human half-animal, in the right and proper measure'.”

“But was that legitimate, Pherea?” was the next question.

“No, but it was legal. The pandemic served as a justification for making the illegitimate legal” concluded the expert.

“Do you wish to add something Professor…?”

“Something crazy Commander!... The triumph of human beings was over everything in their environment, even though they were surrounded by viruses. They were not alone but with the others and had to succeed this way. This is how they came this far and not the Saurians. In fear of dying, they stopped living.

Look at this report from 2018 that Pherea found. It is an official report from the WHO and is repeated from previous years: here, there were 44 million inhabitants and almost 29,000 died every month, about 9,000 of them from respiratory and unknown infections. In France, with 68 million inhabitants, more than 50,000 people died every month, about 15,000 from respiratory infections.

In another giant nation called India, with more than 1.35 billion people, almost 1 million died every month, about 270,000 of them from respiratory infections. This was the norm. 

“You see, fear is rarely foolish. But it is often the weapon of the oppressor.”

“And what might you ask is the lesson from all this…? Any epidemiological strategy involves confronting evil, not waiting in the sidelines. It is true that these people, with the means of transport that they had at their disposal, accelerated everything. Time, the interval needed for creation disappeared. They amalgamated five continents into one — not virtually, but in reality. There were no more oceans between them. They traveled as citizens of the world, one day here, one day there, by the thousands.

The rate of contact must have been enormous. Also, the media announced death rates as though they were giving a weather report, which generated fear on a global scale. Therefore, it was just a question of days to come up with a cure. Adapting wasn't about isolating yourself, but about buying time. Human beings had to survive even for the sake of the virus. 

A virus in a dead person is a dead virus. From this one would survive that inoffensive variant, adapted to someone determined to risk everything in the eternal game of prey versus predator. Surely every human being did everything in his or her power, but no one did what was necessary.” That was the scientist's conclusion.

“Very clear, professor... A sad story indeed!”

Just when a herd of deer was being chased by a pride of lions, he ran for cover under the spaceship and as an eagle was flying upwards with a poodle in its claws, the commander ordered it to leave.

Pilot Exmirt, heading XT-10011 on course towards the galaxy NG224, Andromeda, as these people called it. Now this planet will breathe more easily which is what many had hoped for. It will be many eons before the Sun embraces it in its final conflagration so as not to die alone.

For the last time, the commander turned to view the tiny blue globe that was slowly shrinking, until it disappeared like a speck of dust in the immensity of the Cosmos.

At that moment, the last human being awoke with the conviction that he was to give a warning — like Tzinacan the magician in the Pyramid of Qaholom, of Borges's* tale,his dreams were connected. And he knew that in order to undo them, he would have to return to the night of his first nightmare, to the beginning of the fatal quarantine. Horrified, he realized that his existence would not be enough…

“They won't bury me alive!... They won't!... he screamed desperately.” 

Then he understood everything: from alpha to omega, what is, what was and what will be... infinity, the fourteen magic words, the key, as he triumphantly rose towards that loving glow that welcomed him into the flames...

Il y avait eu une explosion... Son coeur bondit et il la vit. Là, se découpant à contre-jour devant la fenêtre, se trouvait sa femme, inquiète.

“It's already 10.00 Carlos. They said on the radio that they’re implementing all the restrictions... Ah!” she exclaimed in alarm, they also said that, a moment ago, at 15.00 CET, the largest nuclear power station in France broke down, and already, half of Europe is without electric power.”

A shudder went through his body as she pushed the window wide open, her hair flying in the morning breeze and glistening under the sun...

* Borges, Argentinian writer who died in Switzerland (1899-1986).

Don't miss the next stories ...!

Claudio Antonio Quiroga Broggi

Claudia Antonio Quiroga Broggi was born and grew up in Villa Mercedes, in the province of San Luis in Argentina. He has a degree in Engineering and Electronics and has pursued a career in those fields.

Ten of his sonnets are at the Museum of Poetry of Carolina in San Luis and two of his stories were published by the "San Luis Libro Program". He is about to publish a historical novel which will be available in Argentina.

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