Art copyright by Duncan Long

Cycle

By Scott Perrin

 

In the year 60,000, man had evolved to his environ: honeycombed by the billions, with each a cubicle-hole to call his own, ergonomically hunchbacked into cushioned chairs with drink-holders and power-steering for all, marsupial ass-pouch wallet-holders and eight-fingered nonprehensile hands fluttering over QWERTY pads while cranially inflated heads soaked up sensory input from nine different modalities with an optic-response curve flatlined across the RGB spectrum and refreshed at 60Hz, 16-bit audio, and a peak throughput of 45MBps (full JPEG, millisecond latencies) when all of a sudden, What do you know? The power goes out, everyone stops, an emergency response team (ERT) is assembled, briefed, deployed.

They venture out into the searing sunlight on tele-operated crawl-chairs, astutely remembering their stroboscope headlamps and mylar-film sunsuits and oxygen filtrators, but they lose the key to the dynamo room while on the way and run out of battery power while retracing their steps, which news is broadcast in holographic realtime to the anxious citizenry as they suck up the last dregs of power from the backup generators: Fuck! they all say, and die, though not before registering severe Gallup disapproval of administration crisis-management techniques and (for the most part) shutting down their computers properly.

So lizards took over the Earth. Which, when they had achieved a sufficient amount of scientific sophistication to realize they had already once ruled the Earth, seemed a pretty shocking thing to them and tended to promote a cyclic view of history, popularly manifesting in virulent anti-mammalian sentiments and a peculiar reptilian form of dialectical materialism, which would have torn the nascent saurian society apart were it not for the inherent telepathic bond that links all reptiles, everywhere.

However, when in joyful celebration of this transcendental connection, the drunken amphibian leaders piloted their planet directly into an oncoming asteroid; the results were catastrophic, proving once again that some phyla just aren't capable of managing planets. God took note.

And polymers took over the world. After thousands of years of bloody internecine conflicts, aminoalkyferrocene thermoplastics rose to dominance, crushing both the ravaging ABS invaders from the North and the wily Teflon Empire and establishing a just and wise dynasty that endured for thousands and thousands of years, until a chance cosmic mutation introduced genetic biodegradation into the structure of Emperor Polypsus VII, which spread throughout the aristocracy by royal intermarriages until finally, in an effort to curb her son's advanced disintegration, the Empress Isopyl-4 allowed herself to fall under the spell of Thorignus, a mystical isolate of polystyrene, whose undue influence over the Empress and her husband, coupled with a resurgence of Barbarian attacks from the North, plunged the empire into a world of darkness.

Into this maelstrom of uncertainty strode a new creature. Pink-limbed and hairless, the children of right-wing survivalists swarmed forth from their desert shelters, and after slaughtering each other to near-extinction clothed themselves in the plastics that were so strangely abundant and began to reclaim the cities of their ancestors, restarting the dynamoes and relearning computer technology.

There were, of course, some setbacks: Not everyone had shut down their computer properly, but soon the newcomers had mastered not only the full range of Microsoft products but space travel and advanced Web design as well.

And after that, things basically just went full circle.*

 

Story copyright © 1998 Scott Perrin

Artwork copyright © 1998 Duncan Long <duncan@kansas.net>

 


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