A Call To Arms: Design An App To Disrupt Politics & Prose

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

As I keep noting, three things are currently happening at the same time and if you simply had a little vision, you could make a lot of money AND disrupt both politics and communication of news online.

Here are the forces at work — 1) Twitter sucks 2) you need a way to mobilize and inform a Radical Resistance to Trump 3) the online news business is in serious contraction because it’s base on a lie.

So, what you do is, think completely out of the box. There is a very narrow window of opportunity for an app to do as I suggest before the end of the next recession when MX (AR / VR) takes over everything and resets the the entire media equation not seen since about 1996.

Really, it would be so easy. The app would initially be marketed to the millions of people who are growing alienated by the spread of Right wing hate speech on Twitter. Tell them it’s a Twitter Killer for liberals. (Or the liberal-progressive answer to Gab.)

Here’s the outside-the-box angle. You use the basic general concepts of Usenet in such a way that seed the service with actual journalists who get paid to break news via the app. (Yes, this sounds a lot like Reddit in its own way, but if you have any idea of how much more robust this vision is, you wouldn’t say that.)

I have talked at great length about this and it’s very well developed in my head. But I have no money, can’t code and don’t want to learn. But the idea is pretty obvious given the three things I mentioned.

But no one listens to me.

A Perfect Storm — #MX & Disrupting Twitter With A Startup To Facilitate Radical Resistance To Trump


By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

We are at an inflection point. The online media business is contracting because it’s based on a 20-year-old lie. At the same time, growing numbers of people know they’re angry about Trump but they can’t quite articulate what it is they feel.

I propose that you could use the passion of what I call The Radical Resistance to found a news and mobilization app that, if designed properly could disrupt Twitter in a big way during this small window of opportunity before MX revolutionizes everything and hits the media reset button.

I have explained this in great detail before (below, and elsewhere.) Anyway, it can be done, just someone needs to be willing to throw cash at the idea.

It goes without saying that a lot of people are unhappy with both Twitter and Trump. It seems pretty obvious as well that if you did a venn diagram of these two groups the overlap would be the core of a new social media service designed to not only kill Twitter, but bring down Trump.

So, even though I have no money, can’t code and don’t want to learn, here’s how I feel you could accomplish these two goals in tandem.

First, you designed a service from the ground up specifically meant to have a robust on-boarding system as well as one that once and for all fixed the problem of the online harassment associated with bots and trolls. It would likely be popular almost instantly. That is the crux of the weakness with Twitter. Twitter is dead in the water in some respects and it wouldn’t take that much to kill it if you simply addressed the major problems with Twitter in an intuitive, effective manner.

An unintended consequences of all of this is a lot of celebrities, though leaders and content providers who are extremely unhappy with Twitter would flock to a service that gave them a better experience from the get-go. They, in turn, would bring with them a lot followers who simply wanted the opportunity to engage them like they currently do on Twitter.

Meanwhile, a lot of people know that should Trump finally do the unconscionable and fire Bob Mueller, that they’re going to want to take to the streets. But the United States isn’t South Korea. If you wanted to bring down Trump through people power, it would be a complex, national affair. You’d have to keep the protests legal and regular for no other reason than if you just protested without the proper permits, etc., you’d just get arrested.

Bringing down a president with people power in the States would be require the single greatest popular unrest the country has ever seen. It’s the kind of thing social media was designed for, but never, to date, used to do so in a developed country. So, I believe, you’d need a whole new service designed to specifically facilitate massive, regular nationwide protests if you wanted to bring down Trump.

Put these two concepts together in a social media startup, and I think it would be pretty effective. It would serve as the core of a Twitter killer that would blow up pretty quickly.

The question, of course, is how to actually do it. Probably crowdfunding it our best bet. So, it’s likely that we’d have to wait for Trump to fire Mueller before all the pieces fell into place. I just can’t see an angel investor being willing to shell out the money needed to design such a service. But if Trump finally swerved into a full blown autocrat, I think Americans wouldn’t stand for it. America isn’t Turkey, for Christ’s sake.

One feature I think a lot of content providers would like in my vision of this is that Verified account holders would have more power than the average user. I think if you gave specific power to Verified account holders, they would feel they were stakeholders in the service and their engagement would be higher.

As I have said before, I think you should divide the service into Groups that are divided into threaded Discussions. There would also be a strong video element to the service, whereby you’d be able to have four-way video chat with people in the context of a threaded discussion. This doesn’t even begin to address the features you’d need to facilitate people organizing mass protests.

Crossing The Rubicon: The Lack Of A Shutdown Endgame, Trump’s Tyranny & The Birth Of The Radical Resistance

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Let me say AGAIN, that when I use the term “radical,” I meaning in an historical, ideological sense like you might find used to reference Reconstruction’s Radical Republicans.

I don’t want to hurt anyone, don’t want to blow anything up.

But, in the tradition of MLK, I do want to bend the long arc of history towards justice. As such, should the worst happen and Trump declare a national emergency so he can fund is fucking wall through extra-Constitutional methods, well, then, we’re going to rock and roll.

I only even suggest that this might happen — and as of this writing it hasn’t — because Trump’s presidency is careening towards an unknown fate as the shutdown crisis begins to slowly grow more dire day by day. There simply is no endgame at this point.

In fact, as things slowly heat up, I could see Trump believing that because he will never be convicted in the Senate that he can essentially do whatever the fuck he wants to, ride into 2020 on a decent economy, get re-elected and generally rule as an elected dictator for four years while he looks for a young, passionate successor to protect his “legacy” in 2024.

It seems to me that if he does such a Hail Mary pass, that it could be a seminal event in his presidency, right up there with the Nixon’s miss calculation in regards to the Saturday Night Massacre.

A lot centrists who are too busy enjoying the humming economy, raising their kids and paying their mortgage to pay attention to politics might, at least, pop their head up from eating dinner on such news. It’s possible that him doing such a demonstrably emperor-like thing in a nation that fancies itself the be-all-and-end-all of Republics might spark the founding of the Radical Resistance outside of its current boundaries of my fevered imagination.

People might, like, be pissed.

Or not.

Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe America 2019 is just warmed over Germany 1939.

Well, It Definitely Appears As Though A Hack Out There In The Aether Is Interested In My #Scifi Novel

By Shelton Bumagrner
@bumgarls

A near constant stream of people keep looking for the scene summary of the scifi novel I was developing before I realized I had created a universe that was so enormous that I could not possibly properly develop it without a lot more time and a lot more resources.

But given that many of the views are either from LA or strange 1% vacation hotspots, something is up. Something is definitely up. I have mixed feelings about this. One one hand, it’s extremely disturbing that I could wake up tomorrow and hear that some hack is developing a movie based on just that first act scene summary I posted — then deleted. I got ROKon Magazine stolen from me and that nearly destroyed me so the idea of someone “stealing” my scifi novel kind of makes me rather unnerved. Let me be clear — if you fuckers don’t give me credit in some fashion I’m going to going all John Wick on you legally. Give me credit in some fashion for thinking the concept up and you might manage to placate me.

Meanwhile, I am flattered that anyone would think something I managed to come up with was worth actually spending money on, even if they’re fucking hacks and they’re stealing the idea from me. Fuck you guys.

Having said all that, here’s one of the versions of the rough, rough, rough draft I was working on before I turned my attention the a much more personal novel concept that I’m working on now. If you’re going to steal fro me, you might as well not be quite as big a fucking hack about it.

And give me credit. I look at my Webstats constantly.

A novel by Shelton Bumgarner

July

Chapter 1

Tagger Wendt opened the door of Lee’s Retreat on Friday afternoon, just in time to see numerous black dots zip here and there across the Richmond cityscape. Tagger was the publisher of Talk Richmond, an alternative weekly in this backwater Southern city, and his editor Jane Zook had demanded he meet she and her best friend Gaia Shapiro for drinks. As always, he had a camera bag full of photographic equipment slung over his shoulder.

Jane had been so absolute in her demand that he join them that he almost thought there were up to something, like a surprise party. But his birthday wasn’t for months and it would have been totally out of character Gaia to participate in party for him given their chronic hostility. Their mutual distaste stimmed from his view that she was the leader of a cult, while she thought he was a drunk wasn’t good enough to date Jane even if it was just casually.

Add to this that Lee’s Retreat was owned by Jane’s former flame Coy Watts — who Tagger loathed on a personal level for various reasons — and you had the makings of an awkward situation.

The two women were sitting on the bar’s patio, which faced Richmond’s downtown across the James River. Tagger leaned over and gave Jane a kiss with an eye on Gaia as he did it. Gaia wore extremely bright, extremely colorful robe-like clothes that made her stick out anywhere she went. Jane, meanwhile, in contrast, was wearing a much more subdued — if equally hippie-influenced — sundress. “Sorry I’m late, honey, I was editing on one of your articles,” Tagger said.

“It’s ok, babe,” Jane said.

Just as she said this, Coy walked onto the patio from the bar and asked Tagger what he wanted to drink. The two men glared at each other as inconspicuous as possible for Jane’s sake, if nothing else.

“May I take your order?” Coy said through gritted teeth.

“I’ll take the usual,” Tagger said.

The usual, for him, was whiskey on the rocks.

For the next few minutes the trio did the usual small talk, which included how Talk Richmond was fairing on the advertising front and how Gaia’s little commune was fairing. Gaia was the leader of a group calling themselves, what else, the Gaians, who communally owned a home in Richmond and tried to live in tune with nature. The specifics of Gaia’s theology escaped Tagger and he was content with that. All he knew was extraterrestrials fit into the equation in some manner.

Abruptly, the entire around them was pummeled by a deluge of a black oil-like substance. It fell harder than any rainstorm Tagger had ever been in. It took a moment for the trio to process what, exactly, was happening to them. They looked up and saw what appeared to be hundreds of large, low flying ships hovering silently above them and spewing the black liquid down on the ground beneath them. The downpour from the multitude of ships was simply so abrupt and heavy that they could not process it all. Finally, after a beat or two longer, they managed to get up out of their seats and bolt into the nearby Lee’s Retreat. Without thinking about it, Tagger grabbed his camera bag as they rushed into the bar.

All around the Lee’s Retreat  the heavy black substance continued to crash down like a thick rain. The group attempted to dry off — inspecting the odd nature of the liquid on them as they did — they looked outside in amazement. The skies above them along the southern side of the James River were full with the enormous black ships. This lasted for a minute or two longer and then the black ships vanished silently into the distance.

For a moment, Tagger, Jane and Gaia stared at each other in shock.

“Are you guys ok?” Tagger said.

At this point, Coy appeared and conspicuously went out of his way to comfort Jane in front of Tagger. This caused the obviously intended result of Tagger growing furious with jealousy.”Step off Coy, if anyone is going to make Jane feel safe right now, it’s me,” Tagger said.

A momentary standoff occured between the two men, but it was resolved with Jane gently pushed Coy aside and gave Tagger a hug. After a moment she looked at Tagger with a grin and said, “What are you waiting for, we’ve got a story to cover!”

With that, Tagger and Jane began to scramble in preparation of covering the story of their life times. Tagger pulled out his phone and did a quick look at social media. Jane did the same while Gaia looked at a TV above the bar. He had a hunch that the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure would soon collapse from the growing panic and wanted to get as much information about what had happened while he still could.

“Whatever just happened,” Tagger said breathlessly, “it happened over a pretty big chunk of the mid-Atlantic region. Besides where we are, ships were reported just west of Lynchburg, south of Charlottesville area, a little north of Greensboro, around the South Hill area  and around the Appomattox River area in the Petersburg vicinity.”

On the TV screen, they saw CNN had drawn a line a map of Virginia and North Carolina indicating ship sighting. They heard the CNN anchor mention that approximately 1 million people within the jagged box the ship sighting line made. Generally the ships had flown over obvious geographic demarcations like rivers where it it was obvious to do so.

“At last, the Gaians are proven right!” Gaia said, clapping her hands. “See, Tagger, you were so quick to judge the Gaians as some sort of cult and look what has happened! Our prayers have been answered!”

Tagger glared at Jane, hoping she would be just a befuddled by Gaia’s behavior as he was, but Jane was oddly blank in her expression. Before he could say anything, however, Coy jumped in.

“I think it’s an act of war,” Coy said. “I think the Chinese have attacked us with advanced technology, maybe nanobots, and this is the first step in an invasion of some sort.”

All of this was too much for Tagger to handle at the moment. He sat down at the bar with his camera bag and began to get ready to go outside and cover the story. Jane was soon by his side, one arm around his shoulder the other hand on his leg. “We got this, right? We’re going to make history.” she said.

Tagger leaned in her body and nodded. They both knew instinctively that they had a limited amount of time to act — a news event of this magnitude was bound to crash the telecommunications system as people freaked out about the uncertainty. As it became obvious Tagger and Jane were about to leave, both Gaia and Coy attempted to dissuade Jane from following Tagger outside.

While Gaia said she wanted to wait for instructions from the aliens she believed had finally arrived, Coy said they did not know what was in the oil that had fallen to the ground and everyone’s lives could be in danger as a result. Jane and Tagger’s reaction to this was to race out of the bar and into the evening’s historic uncertainty.

, taking pictures and narrating what he saw as Jane livestreamed him with her phone.

He knew from the major terrorist attacks of the past that they probably had only a few minutes before the telephone system would collapse. They were racing around, trying to record these momentous events when something simply amazing happened. They heard a series of titanic booms — a growing number of black rods had suddenly appeared out of the ground. Buildings were beginning to buckle, cars crashed into the rods. Generally, chaos reigned as the rods appeared.

“Oh my God,” Tagger said to the livestream audience. “It appears as though several hundred rods have appeared out of the ground through the area that was only recently doused with a strange black oil.”

Without thinking about, he stood in front of one of the rods, inspected it for a moment, then placed a hand flat on its surface. Each of the rods was the diameter of a sizable tree trunk. The rod felt hard as concrete with a rough, matted texture to it. ‘Are you getting this? This is heady stuff,” Tagger asked Jane.

“Yes, yes, baby,” she said. “Oh, shit, it stopped. I think the phone system just crashed.”

The rods were continuing to shoot out of the ground, forming a forest as they did. The rods were equidistant from each other, leaving enough room for someone to walk around them without hurting themselves. The rods were obviously everywhere because buildings were quickly collapsing around them as the rods grew in height.

“Oh, shit,” Jane said. “Gaia. We have to make sure she’s ok.”

“Ok, how about this, you track her down while I keep covering this. I can take photos for as long as I can then I’ll meet you at the banks of the James, ok? I won’t be long. Maybe 5 minutes. These are moving too quickly and the chaos is too great. I want to make sure you’re safe, but whatever this is needs to be covered for as long a possible.

He embraced her, giving her a tight, wet kiss before she raced back to where they last saw Gaia. What was going on around him now was the most intense event of his life. He had never been in a war zone, but the absolute chaos and destruction he was expiring now was what he imagined it would be like. It did not take too long for it all to become too much. The rods were now a forest and he began to make his way towards the southern shore of the James River.

It was nearly impossible to walk very fast now because of the height of the rods. Tagger slowly made his way through this maze and reached the James River. He looked around in either direction and saw hundreds, if not thousands, of other people were now standing in shock as the rods continued to climb into the sky. Explosions and fires in the affected area were rampant. Some of the explosions shook the ground they were so intense. The rods appeared to be increasing in their rising from the ground now.

The rods had were now of a height of approximately 40 feet and a depth of about 1,000 feet. At this point, cords began to extend from the rods, connecting them. This, too was extremely destructive. It was obvious that some sort of megastructure was being constructed in front of them. Whatever it was, the area surrounded by the megastructure would soon be completely cut off from.

He frantically looked around for Jane and Gaia in the crowd. He yelled their names until he could barely speak. Everyone looked on in awe as an enormous swath of Richmond for as far as the eye could see in either direction was consumed by the Virginia Oval. Extreme explosions rattled the ground like earthquakes. The back structure being built in front of them was astonishing in its scope.

Tagger finally got his wits about him and walked up to the now towering structure. His mind struggled for think of anything to compare it scope to. It was just immense. The Virginia Oval megastructure began to hum in a weird way in front of him and he back off nervously.

A series of holes across the length of the Virginia Oval appeared and rods began to drift out of the side of it, drone-like. This was not an isolated event, with the rods visible across the scope of the megastructure. Thousands of these drone-rods drifted over the head of the crowd and landed softly on the physical southern bank of the James River immediately behind them.

They began to bury themselves into the shore. The rods were about 10 feet apart from each other, extending in a line in either direction out in to the horizon, following the path of the Virginia Oval.

It all happened so quickly that Tagger’s mind did not have time to properly process what it was seeing. Once they rods were a few feet in the ground, they shot out wires that made a gate-like formation between the rods.

There was movement at the base the Virginia Oval. Small wires began to slowly extend from the megastructure and make their way towards the gates behind the crowd. This was enough to cause a significant panic among the refugees, who rushed toward the gates. Once they were past the gates, they found themselves wading in the cold waters of the James River.

Tagger was among them, looking a black megastructure that was simply astonishing to look at. The skies above them were full of acraft now. The shock had worn off, and people were being to process what had happened. It did not take too long for the thousands of displaced people in the James River to begin to make their way to its northern shore. Tagger was damned if he was going to be detained by the authorities as long as Jane was missing and made it his goal to escape that fate as he slowly began swimming across the river.

While initially Gaia managed to initially stay with Jane as the Virginia Oval Megastructure began to construct itself, this unfortunately did not last very long. It was getting dark   

A wave of joy swept over the crowd and he leaned over and said something to his lead guitarist. Tagger grabbed his mic, abruptly jumped off the elevated stage and stood in front of his girlfriend, Nicole “Nuk” Shapiro. At 24, she nine years younger than he was.

Nuk was just his type — a raven haired beauty with short curly hair. Voluptuous, but not fat, she was, he felt, the soulmate he had been searching for all these years.

He grabbed her hand with his free hand — the one not holding his mic — and began to the opening monologue of the song “Crazy” by Aerosmith. With a strobe light shining down on them, he sang the song to her as intensely and romantically as he could.

“Do you have to do this every Friday night?” Nuk whispered into his ear as he sang.

He looked at her, opened his eyes wide and nodded slowly as they rocked back and forth and he continued to sing. The crowd gave him their rapt attention as the song progressed. The song finished and the couple exchanged a wet kiss on the lips before he got back on stage. The crowd went crazy. Hee put the mic back on its stand and waited a moment before speaking again.

“Let’s hear one from the band!” Tagger said and again jumped off the stage.

This time, he made a beeline to the bar where he met Nuk. Behind the bar was George Watts, the owner of Lee’s Retreat. “How’s about a blowjob shot for me and the little lady,” Tagger said.

He and the band got paid in booze whenever they performed. Watts eyed Tagger in his usual hostile manner. Tagger and Watts had grown to loathe each other the years, but they each felt they needed each other too much to do what they really wanted to do — never see each other again.

For Tagger, Lee’s Retreat was the best venue this side of the James River. Meanwhile, for Watts, Tagger was useful not only as the lead singer of Break Something but as a popular rock DJ as well. The origin of their Cold War was no longer clear to either man, but the fact that Watts felt Tagger had wrangled Nuk away from him definitely played a large part.

“Don’t give me any grief on this tonight,” Tagger said flatly. “You make big bucks off the back Break Something, the least you can do is give me and my girl our shot in peace.”

Watts, a tall man about 10 years older than Tagger, obviously was not pleased with his tone of voice. He continued to stare down Tagger in silence. “You know what, screw it, come with me Nuk,” Tagger said.

He gently grabbed Nuk’s hand and they went through the large glass doors of Lee’s Retreat on to its paito. Nuk smiled broadly, looking into his eyes as began a monologue. He went into how they had met here at Lee’s Retreat a year ago. “Who knew you would write!” he said.

Tagger then explained how they started Talk Richmond a weekly alternative newspaper together and how she was supportive of his creative endeavors, occasionally acting as Break Something’s roadie.

“Nuk Shapiro, I know you love secrets,” he said. “I know you love drama. But there’s one thing I know, and that’s that I love you.”

He pulled out a purple felt ring case and was beginning to kneel down on one knee when the inexplicable happened — they were both drenched with a black oil-like substance that fell from the sky as rain storm. Without thinking about they both looked up and could see thousands of large black ships hovering above far above them, silently shooting out a black liquin onto the ground. The downpour was severe enough that they stood in it, stunned while their minds process how dramatically events had turned out.

Finally getting their wits about them, they went back into Lee’s Retreat covered in the oil. It was at this point that Tagger’s mind went on autopilot. He did not have time to grieve over what had just happened, he had a story to cover.

Tagger raced behind the bar and found the camera back he took with him everywhere. Checked that everything was in order. “Nuk, how many bars you got on your phone?” he asked.

“Close to 100, charged right before I got here,” she said.

“Ok, great,” Tagger said in all seriousness. “Something really, really unprecedented it happening around us and we’re going to have to cover the hell out of it. I’m going to shoot and you livestream, ok?”

“You got it,” she said and the embraced for a moment.

“Nuk, are you sure you should be doing that?” Watts said. “Maybe you should stay inside the bar while we figure out what’s going on.”

“No!” Tagger and Nuk said in unison.

Several TVs were located around Lee’s Retreat. Watts turned the volume up on the one above the bar and they listened as the news anchor explained that thousands of large black ships were being reported by ground-based radar along a wide oval as far south as Danville and as far north as Richmond along the southern shore of the James River where they were. Both Tagger and Nuk checked social media, which was in complete meltdown mode. Some of the theories being floating were pretty astonishing, from massive terrorist attack to a “false flag” operation on the part of the government. A few people suggested a supernatural origin to what was going on, though a consensus was building that it was, perhaps, an initial stage of First Contact.

Why oil was being showered down onto the ground was anyone’s guess. Again, some of the theories were astonishing. People suggested aliens were using nanobot technology to build an invasion force. Others thought this was the first stage in the Christian Rapture and the dead would soon be rising out of the ground.

It soon became clear that they needed to report on this first hand. Tagger and Nuk rushed out of the bar into the night. The black oil-like substance continued to fall as a torrent all around the bar. Tagger had never seen anything like it before. The black viscous substance was falling hard enough that it was pouring into the sewer drains around them as if an artificial hurricane had appeared around them. Tagger began to furiously take pictures of everything around him, while Nuk was using her phone to livestream events.

“We got 1,000 people watching and rising quickly,” Nuk said as they covered the historic event.

Then, as quickly as it all began, the downpour stopped. They looked up above them and the black ships were gone. Walking back into Lee’s Retreat they saw that people were looking at them nervously.

For the moment, at least, there was peace. Tagger and Nuk parted ways long enough to each to attempt to clean off the oil they were drenched in. Once alone in the bathroom, Tagger looked at himself in the mirror. He was a young-looking 35 with short brown hair and a slightly graying beard. After he felt a little bit better he began to walk out of the bathroom.

He was barely out of the door when the earth began to rattle and the building began to shake violently. It was so dramatic that he could barely stand up straight. He was barely back at the bar when was stunned to see a huge black rod visible in its floor. “What the fuck is that!” Tagger screamed.

Everything was happening so fast that he raced out of the bar without Nuk. Everyone was soon outside of Lee’s Retreat looking around to see hundreds of the black rods were now sticking out of the ground all around them. The rods were about 10 feet in diameter each and rising quickly.

Soon, Tagger was filled with panic. He could not find Nuk. She had completely vanished. He races around the darkness looking for her, screaming her name at the top of his lungs. His mind struggled to comprehend the events unfolding around him. It definitely appeared as if the black rods were begins to grow in size, wreaking havoc and destruction as they did so. It was clear he had to leave the area between the rods as quickly as possible and looking at the landmark of downtown Richmond, he turned and raced in that direction. The lights went out as all of this progressed, leaving him in darkness as he made his way through a forest of black rods.

He, and thousands of others, were now in between the southern shore of the James River and the black rods. They all looked on in shock as the rods continued to grow in size and height, finally topping off at around 40 feet.

The skies above them were now filled with a fleet of aircraft. Ranging from Air Force jets to local news helicopters. The whole scene was mass chaos. Over the course of about an hour, they could hear enormous explosions and dark, tectonic booms occur across the length of the slowly self-constructing megastructure.

As all of this was happening, Tagger continued to search for Nuk. He was in a full-blown panic. She was nowhere to be found.

From what he could tell, the megastructure was now complete. Without really thinking about it, he walked up to the 40 feet tall edifice and pressed his palm flat on its surface. It was hard as concrete and matted.

He was on the cusp of catching his breath when something ominous occured. Holes opened at the top of the megastructure and out shot large, then cords. They drifted above the crowd of people in front of the megastructure and softly landed on the edge of the James River a few hundred feet behind them.

The cords began to dig into the ground, forming a line of sentals that could be seen as far as the eye could see in either direction. A wire mesh began to grow out of the cords until a gate-like structure was visible. What appeared to be wire now began to move towards the crowd, forcing them to rush towards the newly-constructed gates behind them.

Within moments, Tagger and thousands of others, were treading water in the cold waters of the James River. He was still screaming Nuk’s name when he was picked up by the authorities later that night.

Tagger Wendt was standing on the banks of the James River with his arm around the waist of his girlfriend, Nicole, “Nuk” Shapiro when a torrential downpour slammed down on them. They rushed to their nearby car and there motionless for a moment as they processed what was happening.

The couple ran Richmond’s weekly alternative magazine Talk Richmond together and they instantly realized this was unlike any rainstorm they had ever seen.

It did not take too long for them to realize there was something unusual about this storm. Whatever was pelting them now was not water. It was a black, viscous substance that was sufficiently thick that it made it difficult for them to see as they drove. As they drove through it, however, they noticed something even stranger was going on — the storm itself was unusual. They could tell because it abruptly stopped and started as they drove through Richmond.

She smiled back at him and, for a brief moment, he felt happy. They had started dating soon after he hired her to be his editor at Talk Richmond. Tagger had founded the magazine five years previously and it had finally become successful enough that he felt comfortable adding some permanent staff.

He saw what was essentially the neighborhood around Talk Richmond’s offices being bombarded with a black oil that was falling mysteriously from the sky at an alarming rate. Where it was coming from was inexplicable. But make no doubt about it, it was happening.

Tagger immediately got up out of his seat, opened his office door, and called the editor of Talk Richmond — who also happened to be his girlfriend — into his office and shut the door. “Nuk, baby, something big is happening in what appears to be walking distance of us. We gotta get over there as soon as possible,” he said.

Nuk was wearing a flowery

was having a small picnic with his girlfriend Nicole “Nuk” Shapiro in a small park near the southern side of the James River in Richmond Virginia when

At just about 10 p.m. Friday night Tagger Wendt was

Tagger Wendt was walking with his young girlfriend

, the publisher of Talk Richmond, was at his second job as the Friday night DJ at Lee’s Retreat in the Manchester district of the Richmond when he heard what sounded like an intense downpour strike the roof of the building.

 This went on for a little bit without him thinking much about it when the outside door burst open and he saw his editor, Nicole “Nuk” Shapiro, standing in the doorway drenching wet. From what he could tell, however, she looked more like she’d been dipped in a vat of oil more than anything else.

“Tag,” Nuk said rather dramatically, “we got a problem.”

He made a motion to get up and see what she was talking about when his boss, Sean McPherson, saw him do this and glared at him as if to put the kibosh on this notion. Tagger could see from Nuk’s expression, however, that this was serious and his news sense overtook any concern he had over keeping his job and soon he and Nuk was standing outside in the dark, flabbergasted at what they saw.

Across the cityscape, a torrential downpour could be seen. But it was unlike any weather phenomena he had seen before — it looked like oil, not water, was falling from the sky and the storm was weirdly limited in scope.

Looking across the James River to downtown Richmond, all he could see was calm. Meanwhile, immediately in front of him, the streets were running black with some sort of bizarre substance.

Tagger tried to hold Nuk’s hand and she pushed him away, like she always did.    .

He was heading that direction anyway. Even though he had a contentious relationship with its owner, Tagger was scheduled to DJ at Lee’s Retreat  

leaned in to touch Nicole “Nuk” Shapiro’s lips and at that very second they were slammed by a torrential downpour of biblical proportions. They were in the parking lot of Lee’s Retreat, the bar he had owned and operated for close to 10 years now. The lights of Richmond’s downtown shone in the distance across the James River as the snap deluge continued.

“Oh my God!” Tagger said as the storm raged. It was difficult to see as they raced back to Lee’s Retreat, the storm was so strong.

The storm was very odd in nature. It appeared limited to a wide band of land that went in either direction. What’s more, the rain did not feel like any he had ever experienced before. It was black and silky to the touch. Strangely enough, it did not leave him wet.

As the downpour continued to attack them, Tagger and Nuk raced back into the nearby Lee’s Retreat to escape the storm. The rainstorm grew so violent that there were near flash-flood conditions. Though, again, the composition of the “rain” falling on them was more akin to oil than water.

It was just about 10 p.m. this Friday night, the last day of June, and the evening had otherwise been rather prosaic. Tagger was not a big believer in love at first sight, but from the moment they had locked eyes with Nuk as she came up to the Lee’s Retreat  DJ booth to request a song — in her case, the Radiohead song “Paranoid Android” — he had a hunch she was special. She definitely was his type — a raven-black brunette with short, curly hair. And, given that Nuk was 28, he had finally found a woman age appropriate for his 45 years of age.

Nuk was by far one of the most unique women to pass through its doors. Something about Nuk was otherworldly and ethereal, as if she was wise before her years. She laughed at all his jokes and was so far rather evasive when asked any personal questions. He looked at his watch and realized he needed to get back to the bar. He was supposed to DJ in a few moments and the two of them had left the bar to get some fresh air and to be able to hear each other better.

Once his eyes grew accustomed to the interior of Lee’s Retreat, he swelled with pride at what he saw. The venue was built to his exact specifications and the relatively affordable property value in this part of Richmond and allowed him to build a dream bar at a reasonable price. Since it’s construction, Lee’s Retreat had become — at least in his opinion — something of an entertainment hub for the entire greater Richmond area.

They entered the bar and Tagger dutifully escorted Nuk to the bar. He went behind the bar to the DJ booth and looked the night’s other bartender and made a “two” symbol with his right hand.

Tagger had spent 10 years in Seoul as an English teacher, saving up to build Lee’s Retreat. He has specifically bought land as close to the James River as possible because he wanted the best view of downtown Richmond he could possible get for his establishment.

It was just about the time of night when Tagger started to DJ and as such he subtly started to change the style of music. His goal was to gradually move people towards dancing in the bar’s spacious dance floor by about midnight. Though one could still hear the storm smashing down on the roof of Lee’s Retreat, people inside the bar were having too much fun and did not appear concerned.

Tagger was pleasantly surprised how much Nuk was obviously digging him as the night progressed. She kept looking around the bar in an intense matter for some reason, as if something was bothering her. “You really love this place, huh,” she said at one point.

“Yeah,” Tagger said. “This is my baby. Took me a decade in Seoul to save up the money for this place, but I finally managed to pull it off.”

At one point, Tagger noticed a tall, heavy-set man in a booth talking to a woman young enough to be the man’s daughter — it was one of his regulars, Joe Watts. Tagger and Watts had something of a history. Watts was the owner of a Southside Richmond strip club and the two men had tangled over a woman more than once over the years. It was a testament to what Tagger had managed to built in Lee’s Retreat that even people who did not like him, like Watts, continued to find the place appealing.

The two men could not be any more different. Tagger was empathetic to feminism’s goals, while Watts was a pretty conspicuous misogynist.  While Tagger loathed guns Watts — as he was now — was always packing heat.

Tagger saw Watts look his way suddenly and his heart sank. The older man seemed to be listening intently to his date say something, nodded his head and began to ease his way out of his seat. Watts was soon at the DJ booth writing one a request slip. “Hey, cuck, how’s about you play this song for my tail for the night,” Watts said with a leer.

“How’s about I don’t,” Tager snapped back, looking uneasily at Nuk.

The last thing Tagger needed was Watts to become aware of his interest in Nuk. Watts was known to do things just women it came to women Tagger was interested in just out of spite. With great flair, Watts opened his wallet, pulled out a $50, and wrapped it around the request slip. Tagger hated — hated — with Watts did this, but he nodded his approval and looked at the song title — “The Way” by Fastball.

“I’ll try to get it in,” Tagger said as Watts turned and walked back to his seat.

Tagger now got a push notification on his phone. He looked down and glanced at it — CNN was reporting bizzare weather was being reported across Virginia. The freak storm appeared to have to parallel bands stretching across the length of Virginia from Danville in the southwest to Richmond in the east. Everyone seemed rather puzzled at the nature of the storm since there had been absolutely no warning such a storm was about to occur. It was all rather mysterious in nature.

The storm continued to pound for the next two hours. People would come in front the outside and report that the roads were at points impassable. “I always knew we were polluting the environment, but the rain outside, well, black,” a customer told him.

By the time midnight approached, the rain had tapered off and he found himself focusing on drinking and chatting up Nuk. Lee’s Retreat was now full of people having a good time and it was just about time for prime time to hit the bar.

It was a few minutes to midnight when he realized not only was he wasted, but that he needed to pee really bad. He was so drunk he could barely see straight. This happened to him so often that he was able to function as a DJ even though he was so intoxicated he could barely stand. When nature calls you can’t argue, so he excused himself.

“Nuk, babe,” Tagger said, “it must be the beer, I really need to go to the bathroom. See you in a moment.”

He had cued up the next song from a streaming music service, so he did not have anything to worry about, but old habits die hard and he really wanted to get back to the DJ booth before the next song.

Tagger rushed into the bathroom, finished and looked at himself briefly. His full beard was almost completely gray at this point. “I really need to shave that off sometime,” he muttered to himself.

He left the bathroom and the world was a bit off kilter. He was so wasted that his vision was blurry and he saw someone — or something — heading towards him in the hallway. Without thinking about it his face went down and its face went up and he started kissing the person. He instantaneously realized he was kissing Nuk and that she was pushing him back towards the now vacant bathroom.

A click was heard as the bathroom door locked and they quickly began to do just enough undressing to get their intended gone achieved.

Then the something extraordinary happened.

Lee’s Retreat began to shake as if the greatest earthquake in recorded history was taking place. Even in his drunken stupor, Tagger realized this was an dramatic, emergency situation. He looked Nuk straight in the eyes with an amazed look on his face. They barely had time to get their clothes back in order as they opened the door and rushed down the hallway towards the main area of the bar.

The scene was complete chaos. Something was happened to Lee’s Retreat, something inexplicable and of a staggering destructive manner. Tagger was still so intoxicated that he looked around amid the shaking structure and realized he had lost Nuk.  

Screaming in frustration, he struggled to figure out what to do. His instincts kicked in and he began to attempt to calm down the hundreds of people on the dance floor enough that they could get out of the bar before it was completely destroyed.

This was not an easy task and he stayed in the rumbling, collapsing bar for a beat or two longer than was safe. He finally realized he had to escape and bolted out of the structure at the very last moment. He and hundreds of other people were now walking around in the dark as the ground continued to shake and rise out of the ground. It was slow and methodical, but there was no doubt about it — something was emerging from the ground and it was big — real big. He kept searching for Nuk, but could not find her.

The lights went out as the ground continued to rise and people began to rush to the other side of the massive structure towards the James River. Thousands of dazed people walked around in the darkness struggling to comprehend what had just occurred. Fires and loud explosions could be heard all along the length of megastructure. Tagger raced round the narrow band of land between the now towering black edificate and the James River, hoping he might find Nuk safe and sound.

But he never did.

Nuk had vanished.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, South African native Anna Robertson was monitoring these events on a beach near Pattaya, Thailand.

Meanwhile, Joe Watts was standing on the other side of the megastructure that was destroying buildings and roads as it continued its inexplicable march into the sky. The moment Lee’s Retreat had begun to shake, he pulled out his weapon and raced out the door. Soon he and his date for the evening were pulling out of the Lee’s Retreat parking lot and racing down the street towards the south.

Whatever was being built was the biggest free standing structure he had ever seen. It made the Pentagon look puny. The closest thing his mind could compare it to was the Great Wall of China. He stood there in awe as he looked across the city as a huge black wall was built. Fires broke out and dark, tectonic noises crackled all around the city as the wall assembled itself to its final size.

His date — whose name escaped him at the moment — looked at him, her eyes wide open in horror.

“What are we going to do?” she said, all but screaming in terror.

He clutched his glock tight in his hand for a moment as he resisted the urge to eliminate the potential dead weight of his date. Then he realized a hostage might come in handy if things grew too dire.  Whatever he did, he was going to have to do quickly. He searched his mind for a plan of action. Watts refused to go down without a fight. After a few more minutes of contemplation, he knew exactly what he was going to do.

His date, looking at her smartphone, showed him what FOX News was reporting about the nature of what was being — somewhat erroneously — as the Piedmont Wall. His heart sank as he realized the megastructure was, indeed, huge. It formed a rough oval shape from where they were in south Richmond all the way to the small city of Danville at the Virginia — North Carolina border.

The oval was tapered at its ends but wide enough that its center nearly touched Lynchburg in the northwest and South Hill in the southeast. One noticeable feature of the affected areas was how, in real terms, it was not exactly prime real estate. In fact, much of the center of the area surrounded by the wall was sparsely populated. Also noticeable was the western edge of the Piedmont Wall came very close to one major interstate — US85 — but never intersected it. Regardless, whatever had built the wall had effectively cut a sizable slice of Virginia away from the rest of the country.

From what they could tell from the reports on social media, wall was several hundred feet deep and approximately 50 feet tall. It was a significant megastructure, in other words, and it had appeared virtually instantaneously and without warning.

The Piedmont Wall was too big to be the work of a foreign power or terrorists, Watts thought to himself.  Watts was a diehard atheist, but he knew of no Biblical prophecies that would indicate the Piedmont Wall’s mysterious, near-instantaneous construction heralded the long-awaited second coming of Christ. So, that appeared to point to one source and one source only: extraterrestrials.

He was now racing down the road at a breakneck speed.

“Where are we going?” his date said. “You’re scaring me!”

The last thing they saw on the phone before the telecommunications system completely collapsed was a report that a black smog had just come out of the interior of the Piedmont Wall and was making its way through the area it surrounded. Its purpose and ultimate destination unknown.

It didn’t take long for him to pull his truck into the parking lot of one of the major television stations in Richmond. “Why are we here of all places?” his date asked.

“You’ll see,” he said as they got out his truck.

The security for the station was comical and he managed to get what he wanted without any shedding of blood. He soon found himself he found himself on air in the station’s set.

“Uh, this is Joseph Watts,of Danville,” he said, speaking into the camera. “I’m among those now trapped by a wall that surrounds a significant portion of the state of Virginia. Please, if you see this and you’re outside of the affected area, attempt some type of rescue operation as quickly as possible.”

His date kept trying to say something and he would glare at her. Little did he know that his broadcast for the next hour was seminal in the annals of man as the entire globe struggled to comprehend the origins and purpose of the megastructure being constructed. For the entire duration of the broadcast, he was on edge.

Once he realized the black smog was in the station itself, it was too late. Watts looked on in horror as thick plum of black smog filled the room around him he and his date. Like someone being attacked by bees, he ran around the studio, trying to fend off what felt like gnats lightly touching his body.

It was not enough, however.

Darkness came.

Over the course of the next hour, Tagger and thousands of other people swam in the James River and watched in the darkness as the massive wall slowly rose to a height of about 50 feet. All along the black edifice, fires and explosions could be heard as it slowly built itself out. While confusion was everywhere around him, he kept looking for Nuk, hoping maybe he would find her. He looked either way and the black wall was all he could see for as far as eye could see. This was a true megastructure and there was no way this was hoax or created by terrorists. He was no one to believe in supernatural origins for things, but the only other thing he could think of was aliens. It was comical to think such a thing, but it was, at this point, the only viable option he could think of that made any sense.

Once things settled down, the mass of people in the James River began to swim back to shore and look up the new addition to the Virginia landscape. Without thinking about it, he touched the concrete hard surface of the new, massive wall.“Have you seen a young brunette named Nuk?” Tagger asked what felt like dozens of people as the night progressed.

The night skies over the James River were full of military and news helicopters when the thousands of people stranded just outside the Piedmont Wall realized their position was untenable and they needed to leave the area. Once they got to dry land on the other side of the river, they were greeted by numerous security

It was the dead of night when they realized their position on the narrow shore on the southern side of the James River was untenable and they collectively began to cross the river.

Once they reached the north shore of the James River, they were greeted

It takes about an hour for the Piedmont Wall megastructure to rise to its full height. We see Tagger touch the megastructure at some point and that becomes an iconic event. We get some sense of what Tagger does during the course of the night. He continues to look for Nuk among the displayed people. As the night progresses, security begins to grow and grow, and everyone begins to get pushed farther from the megastructure, but they still have access to it.

   Exactly at dawn, the wall begins to display a message — step back to the perimeter. Next a series of large flying drones fly over their heads what appears to be 1 mile. They land and begin to establish large black rods in the ground every few hundred feet along the length of the Piedmont Wall. Between each of the rods, gates begin to construct themselves. An array of drones now swarm the area between the Wall and the Rods, driving people out of the area.

Tagger and the others hurry as quickly as they can to the other side of the rods. Once everyone is safely outside the gates, the gates lock.

 Chapter 2

We see that the exterior of the wall and the establishment of a security perimeter around it of about a half a mile by the flying smog seen in the inside. Tagger and everyone else race away

— See from Hannah Robertson’s point of view, this scene covers the first 24 hours after First Contact

—  She’s in NYC

—  See how the city responds to First Contact

— It’s not an app, but a personal assistant in the guse of Gaia  that appears on people’s phones.

— the crisis rapidly escalates

— the lights go out for about 20 minutes, but the crisis continues

— Gaia  is talking to everyone personally via their phone, trying to answer their questions and calm people down.

— the lights come back on, but the country almost immediately is in a state of near martial law. People simply can’t accept that First Contact is happening.

— Hannah finally gets to her apartment and begins to do some research into what’s happening — Gaia  directs Hannah to a website where there is a huge amount of information about what’s going on. This is where we see the first overview of the basics of The Big Move and the first big test big test of Humanity — agreeing to participate in the Application process in the first place.

— Humanity has 30 days to examine and consider the proposal, with the vote taking place for one 24 hour period (July 31st)

— she watches TV and different talking heads are discussing the implications of all of this.

— as she watches TV, she checks social media and we get some sense of how these events are playing out there.

— Hannah now struggles to find someone to talk to about these events for her center-Right podcast.

—See from Watts POV

— This scene opens with Watts being released at one end of the Piedmont Wall oval, just to the south of Richmond. He’s immediately hailed as an American Hero by the Right and his life undergoes an instant and incredible change.

— Things move very quickly at this point, with powerful Republicans making it clear they think Watts is presidential material after he comes out as a vocal opponent of believing the aliens enough to agree to participate in the process at all. He’s more of an opportunist than anything else. The presidential cycle is heating up and Watts is now the instant front-runner for the Republican nomination.

— Watts’ life undergoes an astonishing transformation. He begins touring the country, giving speeches against the vote and gaining a lot of traction with his views of Earth First. We see him have a conversation with some “good time girls” in a hot-tub about First Contact and why he’s opposed to it.

— Because of the global nature of the vote — you vote at the First Contact Website — huge sums of money are being thrown around by each camp. During the course of this scene we begin to see the conservative take on what’s going and their arguments against participating on the Application process in the first place.

— We also get the first reports that the GC isn’t allowing the Americans to land in the surrounded Piedmont area and that is turning into a growing crisis because the Americans refuse to cede the territory.

— Seen from Tagger’s POV

— Tagger gets attacked on his first night on Lonely beach. We learn that he’s depressed because he thinks Nuk is dead. We get a quick update as to what he did specifically the rest of night of the wall’s construction and how and why he is now in Thailand. (He was recorded touching the Piedmont Wall and that now is considered rather iconic.)

— He develops  a casual group of friends he hangs out with and watches the sun set on a regular basis. We learn how he’s feeling about the destruction of Lee’s Retreat and is general state of mind.

— It’s over the course of his stay here that we see the fight over the taking the Application play out. He talks to a hot Spanish blonde named Hannah about all of this and that’s how we get some sense of what’s going on.

—  we see from his point of view as the reaction to First Contact rolls across the global landscape. He’s trying to go about his business, but the news is too overwhelming. We get more detail about Watts’ rise in power as well as the reaction to from a certain segment of the Religious Right that thinks this is all connected to the Second Coming of Jesus.

— Tagger’s activity on the beach interplays with what’s going on around the world. He, too, has Gaia on his phone and he — and we — learn more about what’s going on with him talking to the video bot.

— we get some context about the clash over the vote during the course of the month with Tagger’s adventures.

— the scene ends with Tagger

— seen from Anna’s POV

— it’s 11 am Bangkok time the day of the vote (midnight EST)

—  Anna is on the beach in a string bikini

— She’s talking to a young punk as they watch the results come in.

— soon after the vote is show being approved, three men in suites arrive, and they scare off the punk

— we get much detail about Selectors and what is going to happen next going forward

— Anna goes back to cabana and there’s more talk about what’s going to happen

—  in the end, Anna agrees to take the gig and we learn she’s going to take the Selector Test in hopes of being a representative for non-English speaking people.

Had a Human such as Tagger seen Nuk early Saturday morning as noon approached, he likely would have initially grown queasy at the sight. The physical appearance of Nuk and her elite team of First Contact agents was fluid when Humans weren’t around. Now that the long-awaited Piedmont Wall megastructure was built, they were more concerned with the coming  First Contact than what they looked like at any particular moment.

Though the Galactic Collective was the symbiosis between machine and biological intelligences across the entire length of the Milky Way, when it came to First Contact the biological mind trumped the machine mind.

Nuk was now not an attractive brunette, but rather a colorful, somewhat slimy creature that looked like something one might find deep in some dark portion of the ocean. Meanwhile, the other agents that filled the room were of a similar makeup.

“How are the detainees?” Nuk asked her assistant as they rushed towards the First Contact command room. “What are the metrics on their status?”

The moment First Contact occured on at exactly noon on July 1st, it would be the culmination of decades of study and research into the Human condition on the part of Nuk and her team. Now that the Piedmont Wall was constructed, it served as the home to a superintelligence that would work with Nuk’s team to manage the complex process that had begun. It had taken the Galactic Collective 50 years to send a microscopic probe to Earth from the nearest listening station at that point after the Nazis broadcast their first TV signal in the 1930.. Since then, Nuk and about 10,000 colleagues had studied Humans and their culture for this very moment from listening station on Saturn’s moon Titan. It was only in the last 20 years or so that they had setup a physical presence on the planet. First Contact between the Galactic Collective and less advanced biological civilizations like Humans was frequent but rare enough that it was something of a media event within the Galactic Collective.

At least the biological part of it. The sleeping giants in their giant planet-sized machine minds generally did not want to be awoken unless it was absolutely necessary. While the Patrons, as they were, called ran the Galactic Collective on a macro level, a First Contact was almost exclusively a biological intelligence endeavour.  Nuk — or at least her mind — was one of the best in the Galactic Collective when it came to the pretty routine job of guiding a biological civilization through an Application process. And, really, as her superiors in the Galactic Collective seemed to never tire of telling her, the only reason why Humanity was ready for First Contact at all was it was doomed otherwise.

Nuk was born a biological birth nearly a thousand Earth years prior on a relatively obscure planet, the civilization of which was doing quite well under the tutelage of its superintelligent Patron. She had worked her way up through the massive Galactic Collective bureaucracy to this point through a whole lot of hard work.

Her assistant, at least for the moment, had taken the shape of a tall insectoid-like creature wearing a helmet. Humans were so quaint in their notions of how and where advanced intelligence biological life might arise. As they talked, they interacted with a deluge of information presented in an augmented reality format about the coming First Contact that they could interact with. They turned a corner and entered a room full of similarly exotic looking creatures who were furiously studying the Humans in the minutes leading up to First Contact. They had run numerous scenarios over the years, but this was the final moment of truth.

Nuk found a place to stand and began to study massive amounts of data that was being presented for her to interact with and study. There were over 100,000 former residents of the Piedmont sleeping peacefully within the Piedmont Wall and she could, monitor the vital signs of any one of them effortlessly.

As was her natural inclination, she focused on the weakest 1,000 vital signs and proceeded to do a deep dive on each one of them as quickly as possible.

“What about this guy,” Nuk said pointing to the vital signs of one detainee. “He looks like he’s going to die from the shock. That’s the last thing we need is a botched First Contact because some rando dies on us. Make sure he gets the proper medical attention immediately.”

She spent a few crucial minutes picking out the absolute worst of the vital signs, then turned her attention to the big event — First Contact. She had participated in thousands of these over the centuries, but this was her first time to leading one. Humans were a creative, if extremely frustrating biological intelligence and she refused to allow their stubborn nature ruin her career. Her team was ready for the First Contact, had been for years, and now it was showtime.

It struck noon on the American East Coast and the Patron who was using the Piedmont Wall as its home for the duration of the First Contact process started to do its magic. Everyone with a smartphone in the entire world heard a loud, strange noise emanate from their device. It signaled the download of an First Contact app from the Galactic Collective on to their phone.

The First Contact team in the large dark room looked on in awe as the effects of First Contact began to influence the metrics they used to gauge Human behavior. Nearly instantaneously, numbers began to shift dramatically into the red, and Nuk could, in real time, see how Humans were responding to First Contact. The First Contact App had a breathtaking amount of information on the Galactic Collective, why it had initiated First Contact now and the implications of the Application that Humans were now invited to consider filling out.

“What’s the status of global armed forces?” Nuk demanded.

She wasn’t happy with the chatter she was hearing on social media. Immediately, an array of real-time Top Secret communications from the world’s national security teams was in front of her. It was obvious there was a danger all of this would end a lot sooner than she’d hoped if something wasn’t done.

“Be prepared to shut everything done at my command,” Nuk screamed at the room. “Everything. If I get the feeling someone’s got an itchy nuclear trigger finger, we’re shutting the entire planet down.”

The array of data surrounding her grew more and more alarming by the moment. Numbers measuring key metrics of the globe’s population began to move at a high rate of speed. She realized it was now or never — things were racing out of control.

“Shut it down!” she yelled.

Suddenly the data projected around her came to a halt. According to the metrics visible to her now at least, Human civilization had, for the moment, come to a halt. She knew she was playing with fire, however. If she did not time her next move just right, she would have only made matters worse.

Shut things down for too brief amount of time and passions would still be too great and a thermonuclear war would start anyway. Wait too long before turning the power back on and different type of chaos altogether would erupt. She decided to split the difference by sending out a brief message to the First Contact App explaining the shutdown was only temporary and that people needed to collect their thoughts before they did anything rash.

Furthermore, she gave Humans the opportunity to ask their most pressing questions via the First Contact App. Whatever questions were asked the most she would see and answer appropriately.

It did not take too long for millions of questions by people all over the globe. The basic questions people had were the motives of the Galactic Collective and the reason there was a Piedmont Wall. After giving Humanity a solid hour to input their questions, she  

As was explained at great length in the First Contact app, the month of July was set aside for Humanity to learn about the Galactic Collective and prepare itself for a vote on August 1 regarding the next step — agreeing to fill out an Application during the course of a year-long process that would take one year starting January 1st.

As all of this took place in front of her, she found herself idly thinking about Tagger. She was not Human, but she knew enough about the Human condition to know she had hurt him a great deal when she had vanished during the destruction of Lee’s Retreat.

When the Patrons closest to Humanity realized that the specie was doing everything in its power to destroy itself, Nuk and her team were called before them to give a recommendation. It was up to them to decide if Humanity was worth saving at all.

The meeting took place in the aether of a Patron’s mind. While Nuk had any number of shapes to choose from in this venue, traditionally you were expected to take the shape of an individual from the biological civilization you were charged with saving.

It was a recording of this meeting that Nuk and Tagger now watched together. As she sat on Tagger’s lap, she did everything in her power to put him at ease. She occasionally would wiggle her bottom on his crotch, hoping to alleviate his anxiety, but all he did in turn was hold her hand so tight she winced.

The psychological profile she had on file of Tagger had told her he wasn’t the type to get angry or do anything aggressive once the truth was revealed. But she knew enough about Human psychology to know just because something was thought to be true about a Human, did not mean it was what would happen in a real-life scenario.

In front of them, there was a projection of Nuk standing in the middle of a dark space. A spotlight was shining down on her and disembodied voices could be heard in the darkness that surrounded her.

“Humanity is doomed,” said a male voice.

“Yes, it is,” Nuk said. “Every datapoint, every scenario points towards its imminent destruction if the Galactic Collective doesn’t step in.”

As she said this, extensive charts and graphs showed the dismal truth — if global climate change did not end Humanity, an uncontrolled technological Singularity would do it. And if that did not wipe out Humanity,roving bands of self-replicating machines that scoured the galaxy looking for young, biological life forms to devour would do the trick soon enough.

“Von Neumann machines,” she heard Tagger whisper softly next to her.

“Are they worth saving?” another voice echoed from within the darkness.

“I believe they are,” Nuk said. “Their art, their music, their capacity for love. My team feels, however, that there is only one scenario whereby a Human attempt to fill out their Application would be successful.”

With these words, the blackness was filled with a new set of charts and graphs. This time it was an extensive explanation of why one nation on the planet, the United States, should be the focus of any attempt on the part of Humanity to fill out the Application.

“Ahhh, the American tribe” said yet another voice in the darkness. “Such an obvious choice. I thought you might pull out a more unexpected tribe to use as the foundation for the Application, but go on.”

Nuk saw herself begin to explain the details of the plan her team had come up with. The presentation itself was rather glitzy and self-consciously similar to the type one might find in a major product roll out from the likes of Apple or Google.

“In the immortal words of Winston Churchill, the Americans always do the right thing after having exhausted all other options,” she said. “Only the Americans have the population and Western ideals needed to pull off the Application in the short amount of time available. We will give other tribes the opportunity to participate, but it’s the Americans we need the support of if this is going to be a success.”

The next part of the presentation was going to be something of a shock to Tagger and without thinking about it, she wrapped her arm around his waist in preparation for his reaction.

“Fair enough,” yet another voice said. “But what about the Human leadership involved. The data your team has provided indicates established tribal leadership on Earth is almost completely devoid of the ability to do what is required to successfully complete the Application. Who are you going to turn to?”

She looked at Tagger at this point with a twinkle in her eyes and a bride smile on her face. Nuk felt like a wife comforting a husband who was afraid of flying as a plan began its ascent into the sky.

“My team has been physically on Earth for several decades now,” she said. “We’ve primarily been in observing Humanity in less obvious areas, looking for people who might be up to the task that tribal leaders might not be up to. As such, during my time in the Seoul area I noticed an individual I feel would be excellent for our uses.”

As expected, the moment Tagger’s imagine appeared as part of the presentation, he jumped out of the chair he was in and began to pace around the room. He was obviously in shock. In total disbelief.

“Oh my God,” Tagger said. “What the hell? Not only are you an alien, now you’re telling me E.T. was spying on me while I was running around Seoul getting wasted and banging chicks? This is completely insane. The only reason why I believe this is anywhere near being true is the fact that I’m in an enormous wall that destroyed my bar!”

Nuk waited a moment. The psychological profile her team had complied on Tagger made it clear that once the shock wore off, he would come sit down again. All she had to do was show him a bit of the affection he craved from her and the rest would take care of itself.

As such, she stood next to the chair for a moment or two. She walked over to him, took his hand gently and led him back to his seat. Again she sat in his lap, wiggled her bottom and gave him a wet kiss on the cheek.

“Do you want to see me explain it to the Patrons, or do you want me to tell you directly how all of this happened?” she asked him, knowing the answer.

Tagger was obviously distraught. She could tell that he simply could not process something as completely so astonishing. It was not how he saw himself. “Tell me directly. Convince me you’re not playing some sort of cruel joke on me,” he said.

She smiled and adjusted her position in his lap so she was facing him. Their faces were now so close that they could have kissed. Nuk placed her chin on his shoulder and began to speak as slowly and thoughtfully as she could muster.

“Tagger, tell me a little bit about your time in Seoul,” she said. “What did you do, really, while you were an expat?”

He moved around a little bit before he spoke. He was obviously thinking about how to articulate exactly what happened. “I was a huge fish in a microscopic pond. I did a little bit of everything. I organized the community to do some pretty interesting things during my decade in town. But I don’t see what that has to do with, like, saving the world.”

Nuk squeezed Tagger’s body tight and pulled her head back, making sure she lightly grazed his face with hers as she did. She was now facing him so close that she could feel the warmth of his breath on her face.

“Tagger,” she said. “I don’t think you appreciate what’s going on. Humanity is doomed. It is going to die. This is it, the end. The only way it’s going to be saved is if it successfully completes the Application. My team carefully observed you while you were in Seoul as an expat and we did a pretty thorough psychological profile of you. You got it. You just have to believe in yourself. What do you know of President Grant?”

Again, as expected, Tagger pushed her off him and began to pace around the room. He obviously was not expected such an off the wall question about a long-dead president. The shock of the question was simply too much for his mind to process.

“Jesus!” he said. “What does Grant of all people have to do with me? What do I know about him? I don’t know, he drank?  Won the Civil War? He was a bad president?”

Nuk stood next to the chair casually, placing her hand on it as she spoke. Tagger’s body language was rather defensive. His arms were crossed and his head was a tilted down a little bit.

“The reason I bring him up,” Nuk said. “Is what he was doing before the Civil War gave him the opportunity. He was a ‘drunk’ as you said, living in the American West not really doing anything with his life. Then the war came and everything changed.”

Tagger turned away from her and looked around the room for a moment as if in deep reflection. He touched one of the walls of the room and mumbled something to himself.

“Baby,” Nuk said. “This is your chance. This is your opportunity. You have what it takes. We know you better than you know yourself. We know you have the ability, you just need a reason to use it.”

Nuk walked up behind Tagger and slowly wrapped her arms around him, again putting her chin on his shoulder as she did so. “So why am I going to do this again? Maybe I don’t want to? Maybe I would rather just be a nobody and watch someone else do the heavy lifting?” Tagger said.

“Me,” Nuk said softly.

The next few days were surreal to Tagger. He spent a lot of time in meetings with Nuk and other members of her team making some pretty enormous decisions on the fate of the Selectors and, by extension, Humanity.

While Tagger was impressed with how well versed Nuk and her team were with the Human condition, he was also surprised that they felt they needed someone such as himself to consult them. Some of their most intense discussions were about the exactly what method of government would be best to successfully fill out the Application in the lotted year time.

“A democratic republic seems like the best fit for the Selectors,” Nuk said at one point. “Representative government would facilitate the outcome we wish.”

Tagger, however, was extremely reluctant to do that. The United States government was already extremely touchy about its sovereignty and expecting it to allow the establishment of a new, independent republic carved out of a chunk of one of its states felt a little much. As such, he pushed back on Nuk’s proposal.

“No,” he said, “we need to finesse this a little bit more. Maybe a foundation? Something that you could spin as non-threatening as possible to the FOX News crowd who already thinks you guys are satan’s minions.”  

Finally, after some debate, they finally agreed to Tagger’s proposal. Not only would the Selectors efforts to fill out the Application be done under the auspices of a Foundation, but the Selectors would propose to the American government that their relations would be handled under the existing laws dealing with Indian Reservations. The Selector Foundation would be a “domestic dependent nation.”

“I don’t even know if that’s going to be enough,” Tagger told Nuk at one point. “Republicans are extremely unnerved by all of this and they may scoff at the idea that Selectors deserve any automay from state or Federal control.”

Occasionally, during some of their downtime, Tagger would ask Nuk some very pressing questions about it was that he ended up doing all of this. “Nuk, babe, let me get this straight — you picked me, specifically, because of what you learned about me from my time in Seoul? You built the wall specifically in Virginia because you knew I lived there?” Tagger said.

They were having dinner a room that resembled a college cafeteria. About a hundred members of Nuk’s team were sitting around eating and chatting loudly. The food was buffet style and surprisingly appealing.

“Tagger,” Nuk said, “that’s an extremely simplistic interpretation of what happened. We had lots of different people to choose from, and lots of potential sites for the wall’s construction. But as things grew more dire for Humanity, we realized we had to make a decision and Virginia was finally selected.”

Nuk continued, explaining that it was not until they finally picked Virginia as the site of the wall that they finally make specific arrangements to use him in his current capacity. It helped that the psychological profile they had done on him was so thorough that they would predict with extreme precious what his reaction to Nuk’s disappearance during the wall’s construction would be.

He did not like one bit the notion that they knew him so well that they, could, in effect predict his behavior with such precision that they could build a wall on top of him and expect him to do exactly what he ended up doing, but there was not much he could do about it now. Tagger knew himself well enough to know he was going to have to have a strong support system if he was going to do something as weighty as lead the Selectors, hence he turned his attention to who he would be working with directly going forward — he needed someone to lead the Selector Corporation.

After a few days of shifting through thousands of candidates, he felt he had finally settled on someone. Now to wait until August for the official decision on the part of the Galactic Collective. Tagger and Nuk spent the remainder of their prep time making sure everything was ready for the 1 million people who would soon descend upon the Piedmont.  

Dawn broke Saturday morning

   Scene: At noon on Saturday we get the official announcement of First Contact. One every smartphone in the world, a Selector App appears that provides an extensive introduction to the Galactic Collective in every known language. Humanity 1 month (July) to evaluate the information and decide if it wants to accept the invitation to fill out an Application to join the Galactic Collective. On August 1, for 24 hours, everyone with the Selector App will vote on the invitation. If a majority of those who vote, vote in favor of joining the Galactic Collective, there will be a 1 month in which people can take a Selector Test to join 1 million Selectors who will fill out the Application starting Jan. 1st. We learn that the individuals removed from the Piedmont will be gradually released from inside the Piedmont Wall over the course of July.

— scene: Hannah (politics & Selectors)

— Anna (exposition about Selectors)

— Watts (showing consequences)

After the initial shock over the construction of the Piedmont Wall wore off, the entire globe became awash in protests and general chaos. By Sunday afternoon, much of the world — especially the United States — was either completely locked down or in a near state of martial law. In the United States, specifically, most commercial transportation has ground to a halt and Virginia specifically was almost impossible to get in or out of.

Thousands of people had

Sunday afternoon, Hannah Robertson was hold up in her tony East Village apartment, preparing an emergency episode of her center-Right political podcast. Though she was a regular on FOX News and a prolific writer, it was her podcast that she felt was the pride and joy of her career.

Hannah had made a career out of being a contrarian within the center-Right community, however. Her  

Republicans and Democrats were quickly formulating their opinions on the Piedmont Wall and what the government should do about it. Democrats were thinking logically and scientifically, while Republicans saw the Piedmont Wall as a national security problem. Any delay Democrats supported had more to do with wanting to study the Piedmont Wall and its mysterious construction than anything else. While for Republicans the destruction of the wall was an end unto itself.

Americans of all political stripes were quickly growing angry that no one was able to land any aircraft within the confines of the Piedmont Wall. Whenever they did so, a thick, black smog of drones would surround them, forcing them to leave the area. The idea that the United States had in essence ceded an enormous chunk of a state — even a rural chunk like the Piedmont — to an alien power began to enrage people on both sides of the asle. People simply could not accept that the government was not doing more to ensure the sovereignty of the Homeland. Additionally, the whereabouts of thousands of people who had resided in the Piedmont but were not released from within it was a growing concern.

What had happened to these people? Where experiments being done on them? Were they even still human? All these questions and more were rolling around humanity’s collective head to such an extent that no work was getting done anywhere.

Many people — especially on the Right — were growing exceedingly antsy about the possibility that the Piedmont Wall and the missing people were a sign that there was a second or third phase to this “invasion” of the United States homeland that needed to be prepared for and, if need be, countered.    

It quickly became obvious that the Galactic Collective was monitoring global media because the moment it became clear that the United States had no intention of letting anyone access the Piedmont Wall to take the test, the lights started going off around the globe for 60 seconds every 20 minutes.

This, in turn, precipitated an even bigger crisis. All of this happened in a time frame that could be counted not in months or weeks, but in hours and minutes. The Right in the United States took this as an unilateral act of war and began to speak openly of dropping a series of tactical nukes on the Piedmont Wall, while the Left nervous that if something wasn’t done to address this crisis sooner rather than later, things would escalate beyond the ability of anyone to control or predict.

Unfortunately for all concerned, the backdrop to these events was a presidential campaign cycle which had reached a fever pitch even before the abrupt construction of the Piedmont Wall. The Republicans were set to have their national convention in a matter of weeks and everything had changed in historic, unprecedented ways.

The issues of the campaign had gone from the relatively prosaic issues of taxes and America’s place in the world to how the Federal government should interact with aliens who not only had a galaxy spanning civilization, but had annexed a sizable portion of the continental United States.

Rep. Coleburn instantly knew he was in the running for the Republican nomination, even though the nominee had all but been chosen. But the convention had yet to be held and he had a hunch if he simply leveraged his new-found notoriety, he could win the nomination handily, maybe even be drafted by the convention.

Of course, the convention itself was just days away and he would have to act fast. This cycle, the Republicans went first and held their convention in late July.  Because of this, Rep. Coleburn would have to act fast. He immediately began to put feelers out among Republican ranks and he was impressed with the response he was getting.

The political torque that the American governmental system was experiencing was astonishing and historic. People’s expectations and views on issues were moving and changing at what felt like light speed. The news was breaking at a rapid fire pace, so much so that average life had ground to a complete halt.

Federal officials from the president on down did everything in their power to get people to get back to work once Monday rolled around, to limited success. If no resolution occurred soon, a real risk existed that the globe’s economic output would grind to stop and a great depression, unprecedented in modern history, would occur.

Anna Cruz looked down at her iPad the next Sunday afternoon. She was enjoying a glorious day on Thailand’s Lonely Beach. She was topless and wearing a white string bikini so barely there as to be near non-existent.

Occasionally, a young man would pass her on the beach, dutifully ogle her as he silently passed her. Anna was wearing dark sunglasses and would casually flip her lustrous raven-black hair casually as she took a sip of her Tiger Beer. She knew the young man was summoning up the courage to talk to her, but she was more than happy to bide her time watching the historic CNN broadcast on her iPad.

The video she was watching started with the now historic footage of thousands of people wearing the same gray unisex jumpers appearing in doors at the base of the Piedmont Wall. There were a few brief interviews with these people, who gave amazing testimony about their brief time in detention inside the Piedmont Wall.

It was obvious there was so much news breaking so quickly that it was difficult for CNN — or anyone else for that matter — to keep up. The CNN anchor announced the breaking news that the United States government would not allow anyone to access the Piedmont Wall for any reason, nor would it release anything it knew about the fate of the mysterious missing Piedmont residents who were not among those released from the Piedmont Wall on Saturday. “What this means for the develops we’ve been reporting this weekend is anyone’s guess,” the CNN anchor said.

A panel of talking heads were now prepared to do a deep dive into the astonishing revelations that had occured over the course of the weekend. As virtually everyone on the planet knew by now, the Piedmont Wall was a tangible aspect of First Contact by aliens who claimed to be representatives of a galaxy-spanning civilization known as the Galactic Collective.  

Noon, Saturday after the Friday night appearance of the Piedmont Wall, virtually every smartphone on the globe had made a strange caterwauling noise as a they downloaded an English-only app that everyone soon referred to as the Selector App.

“We’re here today to discuss the historic, incredible news we learned as part of the appearance not only of the Piedmont Wall, but the Selector App,” the CNN anchor said. “With me today is our all-star panel including Hannah Robertson of the New York Post and Astrophysicist Dr. Jeff Longman.”

According to Selector App, the CNN host continued, First Contact had happened now because the Galactic Collective had determined that global climate change would soon doom humanity if roving bands of self-replicating planet-eating machines did not get to end humanity first.

With that in mind, the Galactic Collective built the Piedmont Wall so as of Jan. 1st, some 1 million so-called Selectors could fill out an Application over the course of a year. Upon successful completion of the Application, the Galactic Collective would review it and decide if Humanity was ready for a new planet.  The process of moving to that new planet was now commonly referred to as The Big Move.

Just about this moment, the young man slowly walked by her on the beach again. He waved slightly and she lowered her shades so they could lock eyes.

As good a time as any, she thought.

He took the bait readily, and sat down next to her on the beach at a respectful distance. She no coquettish ingenue — she knew exactly what he wanted, but Anna wanted to make him work for it. “Hi! I’m Jake, just came from the great state of Texas in the best country in the world, the United States!” he said thrust his hand out at her.

Anna eyed him carefully before shaking his hand. He was too young for her, but his physique was appealing enough for her to overlook his overeagerness.

“Is…that so,” she said deliberately.

The CNN broadcast continued. The anchor explained something he had obviously nearly grown tired of saying — via the Selector App, Humanity had learned that the 1 million Selectors would become  the first Settlers on a new planet once The Big Move was complete.

For Anna, this particular detail was of special interest to her and she subtly raised her shades back over her eyes to hide her growing excitement. It did not take a genius in Anna estimation to realize this would definitely give the Selectors, and later Settlers, a huge advantage once the process of settling a new solar system began in earnest.

As part of that Application process, the CNN anchor continued, these 1 million Selectors would decide which 1 billion of the several billion humans on Earth would saved from certain doom. The exact amount of leeway Selectors would have in choosing the 1 billion Colonists would be learned once the text of the Application became available on January 1st. As an aside, the CNN anchor noted Selectors would all be at least 18 Earth years of age and, for the duration of the process they — and the 1 billion people they would select — would effectively be sterile until they were successfully teleported to a new planet in a new solar system.

She could sense the Jake was eager to start up a conversation with her, but was struggling to think of a topic because of his excitement. Just as she was about to do the heavy lifting for him, she noticed three men in incongruous –for the beach — dark suits appear nearby. Anna had expected a phone call, not a personal appearance.

Jake noticed them too and she felt his unhappiness with the prospect of being cockblocked. Soon enough the men were hovering nearby and she turned to Jake, lowered her glasses and made it clear it was time for him to go. He did so soon enough and the three men took positions around her so they could talk in private.

“Anna,” one of the men said as she paused the video on her iPad. “You must have known this would happen. The Selectors are right up your alley. You’ve been waiting your entire career for an opportunity this big.”

He was right, of course, and she hated it. But a job was a job and this was a quantum leap bigger than anything she’d been involved with to date. She started the video on her iPad again and now a conversation about what the Selector App had revealed began.

“What do you think about the nature of the Galactic Collective, Dr. Longman” the CNN anchor said. “Does the description of the the dynamic between these so-called superintelegent, planet-sized ‘Patrons’ and intelligent biological life such as ours sound credible?

The Selector App had explained  that the Galactic Collective was based on a symbiotic relationship between superintelligent machine minds housed in planet-sized computer and less advanced biological civilizations. Additionally, the Selector App had explained that soon after the universe cooled down enough for solar systems to form, biological life began to develop across it. This happened in what humans call the Milky Way Galaxy as well, with many biological civilizations destroying themselves during the process of achieving a technological Singularity.

Enough managed to survive, however, that the Milky Way Galaxy was soon populated with numerous enormous machine minds inhabiting computers the size of a planet which the Selector App referred to as Patrons. “Yes, it does sound reasonable to assume this type of setup could exist. The issue of if we should trust these aliens with the fate of our civilization is an answer for politicians, not science,” Dr. Longman said.

The issue of picking a Patron was growing in significance to people around the world. The Selector App said that the self-replicating machines would at Earth even before the Application process could finish.

“It appears not only would humanity have to fill out the Application to gain a reprieve from certain destruction,” the CNN anchor said. “as part of the process humanity would have to woo a superintelligence to provide it with enough time to finish the application in the first place.”

A graphic came on screen describing exactly what all this meant. The 1 million people who would move to the now surrounded Piedmont would be charged with picking a Patron as part of the application process. They would have many, many Patron’s to choose from, but they would have a limited amount of time to do so.

The screen now turned to Hannah Robertson. She was an attractive middle-aged brunette with short professional hair who Anna suspected wore glasses as a prop to make herself look smarter. “All of this is a political problem now, the likes of which we haven’t seen since at least World War II, if ever,” Hannah said.

“Dr. Longman,” the anchor said, “what about how much the Galactic Collective obviously knows about Humanity? Isn’t it incredible that aliens would be so thoroughly versed in the language and culture of the planet?”

Before he could say anything, there was darkness on the screen for approximately 60 seconds. After this, the anchor said there was more breaking news — there were reports that the entire electrical grid of the planet had shut down for 60 seconds. What this mean was unclear as of yet, the CNN anchor said breathlessly.

“It’s obvious that the Galactic Collective has studied humanity’s mass media for decades before it decided to intervene,” Dr. Longmand said finally. “In fact, for them to know so much about humanity, I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t physically present on the planet for decades before the construction of the Piedmont Wall.”

The men sitting around Anna had obviously had enough. She was an astute observer of body language and without saying a word, she began to pack her stuff and walk towards her nearby cabana.

After a very casual stroll across the beach, she opened the door to her cabana, poured herself a drink and offered the each of the three men one as well. They begged off and, completely oblivious to her state of near-undress, began to talk.

“Anna, this job is huge,” one of the men said at last. “The stakes could not be higher from our point of view. All of our clients want in on the action and you’re the best we got, so here we are. Whatever you want, you got. We just need you to take the Selector Test.”

According to the Selector App the clock was ticking. Interested parties had until August 1st to take the Selector Test inside the Piedmont Wall. “Well, the US government doesn’t seem to share your sense of urgency, despite the deadline and the lights going off across the globe,” Anna said, taking a large gulp of her drink.

The three men looked at each other silently. She’d known these men for close to a decade and they’d never done her wrong. They always paid on time and generally the gig was a breeze, though occasionally she got a little bit of a workout — in more ways than one.

“We’re working on it,” one of the men said. “The Americans have a golden opportunity fall in their lap and all they want to do is screw it up. But the pressure is on them right now. They’ll see the light.”

As he said this the lights went off in the room — again — for 60 seconds. Once the lights came back on, they continued as if nothing had happened.

The Americans had better get their act together, Anna noted internally, because the fate of Humanity — or at least 1 billion potential refugees — depended on them allowing the first phase of The Big Move progress as quickly as possible. The Selector App made it clear that surface temperatures on the Earth were going to increase to untenable levels within several decades. Meanwhile, the Selector App depicted the expected time of arrival of the rapacious self-replicating machines as less than a year.

The implication of this was that even if Humanity — and specifically the Americans — did not take the Galactic Collective up on their offer of The Big Move, the entire Human race was doomed within a matter of months.  

“If we can get you in as a Selector,” another one of the three men said, “that would have an enormous upside for everyone. The Americans are going to mishandle this once they get around to accepting the proposal and we need you available to work your magic.”

As this crisis began to accelerate on Monday morning, Tagger was on the run from the law and feeling very depressed. Even though it was barely 10 a.m., he was drinking rum straight from the bottle in a Richmond area motel.

His life, to put it bluntly, had been turned upside down by the construction of the Piedmont Wall. He was now extremely well known around the globe because of the image of him touching the Piedmont Wall immediately after its construction was considered so historic. Though he tried to be in near-hiding at this point, the press somehow continued to find his contact information and he had to keep begging off doing interviews.

Tagger was currently waiting for the government to release a database of the names of people who had either been released from the Piedmont Wall or those who were listed as “missing” after the wall’s construction. The list was wrapped up in the on-going feud between the Americans and the Galactic Collective about access to the Piedmont Wall.

The Federal government had classified the list top secret for national security reasons, much to the consternation of many people across the country. The Galactic Collective, besides turning the globe’s lights off every 20 minutes, was also sending out a near-continuous flood of updates to the Selector App telling English speakers across the globe to put pressure on the United States government to resolve this crisis.

Even Tagger in his barely sober state could see the tragedy of an America so divided that even something as allaying the fears of family members in a crisis such as this was seen through the prism of political tribalism. Democrats, while just as outraged as Republicans about what everyone felt was an affront to American sovereignty, at least thought a proper accounting of names should be released to the public.

The general belief of the center-Left in the United States, it must be noted, was significantly more understanding to the needs of the Galactic Collective in general. Democrats tried to score points against the Republicans from the arrival of the aliens, noting their statements on global climate change validated what they had been saying all along.

“We need to listen to the Galactic Collective,” a talking head on MSNBC said as part of a round table. “America — and humanity — must united not only to allow the Application process to proceed, but for us to be saved as a specie as part of The Big Move.”

That’s what press had begun to call the proposal on the part of the Galactic Collective for Humanity to be moved to a new, safe planet elsewhere in the galaxy — The Big Move.

Republicans, however, would have none of it. Everything about the Piedmont Wall was considered a national security issue and in center-Right circles, the general consensus was the only thing anyone knew for sure was a wall existed in Virginia and that thousands of people had been released from it.

In fact, Republicans — who controlled Congress — were so absolute in their disbelief about anything to do with what the Galactic Collective claimed was its goals, that they made it clear they were on a hair trigger to impeach Democratic President Huston should she not take what they perceived as an existential threat to national security as seriously as they did.

“If President Huston does not demand the immediate removal of the Piedmont Wall and the release of the hostages who the so-called ‘Galactic Collective’ alleges have taken this alleged ‘Selector Test,’” said one FOX News talking head, “she should be prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons against the wall to show we mean business.”  

It was talk rhetoric like this that made everyone very nervous. Obviously someone in the government took the possibility of using nuclear weapons seriously — a security perimeter was being set up around the Piedmont Wall and there was talk that it would grow so large that it would soon envelop Richmond and other large cities around it such as Lynchburg, Roanoke and maybe even as far as Virginia Beach.

One of the things TV pundits struggled to comprehend was why Virginia’s Piedmont, of all places, had been chosen by the Galactic Collective for such an important task. “Why abridge the sovereignty of the most powerful nation on the globe by doing a land grab in its homeland instead of, say, some random vacant space of land in Russia or Canada?” a pundit on FOX News said in earnest.

Center-left media like MSNBC took a much more scientific and sympathetic approach to this mystery. Charts about demographics and how many people the area surrounded by the Piedmont Wall could support were frequently discussed. “If you think about it, if you want to prepare people for living on a new planet without any existing infrastructure, having the Selectors practice for that environment in the rural Piedmont makes a lot of sense,” said one liberal TV expert.

Outside the United States, the issue of an alien civilization limited something as important as Selectors to English speakers was the source of great anger, with the deaths of many, many, people being reported as part of massive riots that had broken out across the globe from this fact alone.

Tagger turned his TV off at last and had a moment of quiet reflection. He blamed himself for being too drunk to save Nuk from whatever horrible fate that might have befallen her. Had she died in the destruction of Lee’s Retreat? Why had she vanished like she had at the height of the destruction?

He struggled to process what had happened since he had passed out briefly Friday night. It was all a blur. All he knew was it had taken the government almost 24 hours to realize he and the other people who had witnessed the actual construction of the Piedmont Wall might have valuable information.

As such, thousands of people were being told to report to their nearest police station for debriefing. Tagger would have none of it and was, instead, spending his time drinking and watching TV in bed.

The lights going off every 20 minutes was really beginning to get annoying. Tagger felt the disagreement between the Americans and the Galactic Collective was, in real terms, rather dumb. It was not hurting anyone, in real terms, to simply let the Piedmont be vacant for a few weeks while the Selector process took place.

It was obvious that things were rushing towards a climax, one way or another. The tide began to turn by mid-morning Monday after Friday night’s construction of the Piedmont Wall when the it slowly became clear that a consensus was beginning to form that this was a Human problem, not just an American problem.

President Huston made an address to the nation, preparing it for the worst if the Galactic Collective did not come to some agreement over the status of the Piedmont region. “My fellow Americans, I come to you today with the grave news that due to tragic, unprecedented events we may be forced to use our own nuclear arsenal against the wall that has appeared in the state of Virginia,” she told a rapped global audience.

Once she was done, Rep. Coleburn, who had been picked to give the Republican response, was passionate in his defence of the territory of the United States. “While thousands of people have left their barbrious detention by these bizarre alien beasts, thousands more have yet to be accounted for. I call for the United States to immediately destroy the so-called Piedmont Wall so once again freedom may ring from sea to shining sea,” he said.

It became clear that there was a real chance this was going to happen in the next few hours. The demands of the United States — with backing of the UN — were simple: the United States would continue to have sovereignty over the Piedmont and would be able to get in and by air as it deemed it’s national security required.

The United States released dramatic footage of tactical nuclear weapons being moved into place. It also gave the Galactic Collective an ultimatum: submit to its demands by noon Tuesday, or the United States would attempt to breach the Piedmont Wall by force. If the United States demands were met, then after a brief amount of time needed to secure the Piedmont Wall passed, people interested in being a Selector would be given access to it. Additionally, everyone would be released from custody and the names of the missing would be released as well.

Now the globe held its breath as they waited for a response from the Galactic Collective. That night was a dark and tense one for many around the world, among them being Tagger. Tagger gave his feelings for Nuk a lot of thought that night. He did decide to go on CNN that evening for an interview for no other reason than he wanted to try to contact Nuk in any way possible.

“So how are you feeling, Tagger?” the CNN anchor said. “We know you’ve been through a lot. But did you have any idea that you touching the Piedmont Wall would be considered so historic when you did it?”

Tagger paused before speaking. He had finally sobered up enough to have this interview and he wanted to make sure he used his time widely. “I’m fine, but that’s not really why I’m here tonight. I agreed to this interview because someone very special to me — Nuk Shapiro — went missing during the construction of the Piedmont Wall and I wanted to take this chance to tell her I’m thinking about her, no matter where she may be.”

After the hour-long interview, Tagger went home and relaxed. He thought deeply about his feelings for Nuk. He barely knew her, yes, but he felt something really special towards her and he blamed himself for her fate, whatever it might have been.

While the exact nature of the proposed attack was a secret, it was generally assumed the it would occur on a portion of the Piedmont Wall that was sufficiently rural that the threat to life would be limited.

Regardless, the government demanded a large swath of the Eastern Seaboard be evacuated to safer locations.

The next morning, the world was on edge. A few hours before the deadline, a push notification was received via the Selector App. The Galactic Collective noted that no Human weaponry could breach the Piedmont Wall, but in the interest of Human life, the United States would have unfettered access to the geographic area currently surrounded by the “artifact” of the Galactic Collective until January 1st. At that point, all non-Selectors would have to immediately leave the Piedmont or face unspecified consequences.

The “missing” individuals who had not been released from the Piedmont Wall, it was explained, had taken the Selector Test and were now in safe place. Once the month-long evaluation process was complete, these individuals would either be chosen as Selectors or safely allowed to leave the exterior of the Piedmont Wall.

With that out of the way, the process of allowing people to take the Selector Test inside the Piedmont Wall began. Of particular interest to Tagger was the release of the database with the names of people either released from the wall Saturday morning or now with the Galactic Collective because they were deemed to be in the pool of potential Selectors.

He went to the Website provided by the government and quickly learned what he needed to know: according to the government, Nuk was with the Galactic Collective.

It was then that Tagger realized what he had to do: he had to take the Selector Test if he wanted to be with Nuk.

********

It took a few days, but the process of taking the Selector Test slowly began to be implemented. One registered to take the test using the Selector App and made your way to one of any number of access points that had been set up around the structure.

Tagger registered to take the Selector Test via the app and made rather than go to the nearest access point — which was at the former site of Lee’s Retreat — he went to the access site in the Far West End.

Once he got there, he could see the imposing Piedmont Wall with its bright line of lines at its top in the distance. The access point was a gate in the middle of the road. Guards and makeshift barriers extended in either direction as far as he could see. He had taken a taxi to the site and once he got out of his ride, he joined a line of noticeably excited people.

He was wearing dark sunglasses and a baseball cap with the brim so low that it covered most of his face. After about an hour of waiting in line, he finally got to the gate itself. He showed his ID and the guard checked Tagger’s name in a database on a laptop.

After a moment, Tagger was waved in by the guard and Tagger began to walk towards the black Piedmont Wall in the distance. Once you got past the security fence area that surrounded the wall, one entered a wide open space that had a post-apocalyptic feel to it. Abandoned cars and buildings were everywhere. The most damage was immediately around the Piedmont Wall itself. The walls birth had been quite destructive, to say the least.

Before too long, Tagger was beginning to get to where people were waiting in line to take the Selector Test inside the Piedmont Wall. Though the line was long, he decided to simply walk the length of the wall until he could find a spot that did not have a line in front of it.

It did not take him long and soon enough he was again in front of the structure that had destroyed his bar. Following the instructions on the Selector App, he pressed his phone flat against the surface of the Piedmont Wall and a door slid open, showing a small well lit room behind it.

He carefully looked inside and slowly walked into the room. Once he was safely past the entrance, the door closed and he was alone inside the room. The room itself was about the size of a typical college dorm room. A black leather aviator seat faced one of the walls. Again, from what the instructions on the Selector App had told him, he placed his phone in a small tray built into the side of the wall and sat down.

Things moved very quickly at this point. A device popped out of the wall and did a retina scan of his eyes. A 3D display projected on the wall told him to place a finger on the pad that was next to the tray he had placed his phone into. He did as instructed and felt the brief, swift pain of a blood sample being taken.

Tagger was just about to settle into a long, lengthy psychological examination when something completely unexpected happened — the wall on the other side of the room from the exterior door opened and Nuk appeared.

He could not help himself — he jumped out of his seat and gave her a brief kiss and a tight hug. “Are you ok? I’m so sorry, Nuk. I was drunk. I wanted to make sure you were safe but you ran away. What happened? They didn’t torture you, did they? If they did….” he said frantically before she interrupted him by placing two fingers over his mouth in a “hush” gesture.

“Tagger,” Nuk said. “Honey, first, I’m totally safe. You have nothing to blame yourself for. You’re about to learn some pretty…uh…astonishing…things about me and your past that you might not be ready for. Maybe you should sit down and watch this little presentation we’ve prepared for you.”

He looked at her quizzically for a moment and he senses she could feel his unease. She told him to sit down back in the chair next to him then sat somewhat romantically in his lap as the presentation began.

August

Chapter 3

Anna blinked her eyes a few times. After taking the Selector Test, she was told she was in the running to be a Selector and darkness had fallen. Now the darkness was over and she found herself again in a small testing facility inside the Piedmont Wall.

This time, however, it became clear very quickly that she was now a Selector. She excitedly got in position in the chair she had previously taken the Selector Test and waited for what she presumed would be an Orientation Presentation to take place.

A lot had happened since she’d left for Richmond on the ChinaTown bus. By the time she’d arrived, war between the Galactic Collective and Humanity — or at least the American part of it — had been avoided. A wide range of American military equipment and troops had flown into Danville’s regional airport just as people from all over the world were allowed to approach the Piedmont Wall’s exterior to begin the process of taking the Selector Test. The area around the Piedmont Wall was cordoned off, but once you got past that, anyone interested in taking the test were free to do so.

She had been among the first to take the Selector Test. She now knew exactly what her mission was — some very powerful non-English speaking people wanted her to become a Selector, establish herself as a leader within the community and guide the Selectors so the interests of non-Western, non-English speaking peoples were given as much deference as possible. It was a herculean task, but she knew in her heart she was qualified. The time she had before taking the Selector Test was spent plotting out exactly what she would do should she be fortunate enough to become one of the 1 million Selectors.

Now that she had, she waited patiently for what would happen next. She looked around. She was now wearing a gray unisex jumper, though the location of her old clothes was within eyeshot of her current location.

The completely unexpected happened — one of the walls of the small room she was in opened silently. She was in shock. Anna completely did not expect that to happen. Instead of some elaborate onboarding presentation welcoming her to being a Selector, the animation in front of her was now directions to her next destination — a nearby auditorium. A brief notice said she was one of 500 Selectors deemed to be of “leadership material” and as such she would participate in a week-long orientation program.

She got up out of her chair, turned right into a white, spartan hallway and made her way along with numerous other Selectors to a brightly lit door. Anna walked into the auditorium and saw it was nearly full. At the front of the audience on an elevated stage were two people standing next to an elevated stage.

To her surprise, she recognized one of the two people  — it was Tagger Wendt. She knew him from the historic footage of him touching the Piedmont Wall just moments after it had destroyed his bar. The women, meanwhile, she had no idea about. She was woman was attractive, young and had a commanding presence that did not quite jibe with her physical appearance. It was as if whatever was going on in her mind was dramatically different than her exterior appearance might suggest.

Once it became clear that the auditorium was now full the woman approached the podium, cleared her throat audibly and began to speak.

“Welcome to Selector Orientation!” she said. “You can call me Nuk and this is Tagger Wendt, someone I know many of you are aware of. We’re going to give you a brief rundown of what’s going to happen this week and its significance. But first, let’s watch a brief presentation that will get all of us on the same page.”

Behind Tagger and Nuk, an elaborate animated began. After a moment of the three interlocking stars that quietly pulsated, which she assumed was some sort of branding exercise on the part of the Galactic Collective, there was a quick rundown of many of the things everyone already knew about not only the Galactic Collective but the purpose of the Selectors and the Application.

Things thing got a little shocking. The presentation explained that while Nuk looked like a young Human woman, her mind, at least, was actually quite old. She was part of an elite team from the Galactic Collective that would act as consultants to the Selectors during the coming Application process.

Additional new information was given — specifically, why Virginia’s Piedmont, specifically, was chosen. According to the presentation, while there were any number of other locations across the globe that could have been used — most of them in the United States — the Piedmont because of its climate and strategic proximity to the highly populated Northeast Corridor was perfect for what the Galactic Collective needed.

The presentation then gave some detail about what the coming week would involve. Selector Orientation was meant as a way to jump start the Selectors going forward into the coming months of 1 million Selectors gradually moving into the Piedmont. The presentation also gave some sense of how Selector society would be structured.

Over the course of the next week, the 500 Selectors in the auditorium would draft a provisional constitution for Selector government. That government would, in turn, appoint someone who would establish a Foundation that would guide the year-long Application process on a strategic level.. While the Foundation would deal with the Application on a macro level, Selector government would also facilitate a Corporation that complete the Application on a specific level..

.

.

        . .


Radical Resistance & The Vision Thing

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

This is just me playing pretend as to what I would do if given any real power when it came to thinking strategically about how to end this surreal political nightmare the nation finds itself in.

First, I would focus on what, exactly, the ideology of the Radical Resistance is. Though the use of the term “radical” is scary to a lot of people, a lot of other people, do, in fact, feel that Trump is radicalizing them on a political level. That’s why I think it’s inevitable that both Trump will use the term on Twitter for marketing purposes and blue check liberals will nervously oppose its use by fed up members of the now rather vague Resistance because they think it will scare off Republican housewives in the exurbs of Philadelphia. But we’re in a crisis and it seems to me if we design an ideology that makes it clear that the use of the term “radical” is more about walking in the tradition of Reconstruction’s Radical Republicans than it is, say, some crazy radical shit from the 60s. That would take some message management, especially given how hysterical Fox News will be once Trump finally gets round to using Radical Resistance instead of Radical Democrats.

I don’t know who would actually formalize the ideology of the Radical Resistance, which, for me, at least can be summed up as, “Do whatever it takes to get 67 Senators to vote for conviction on impeachment charges.” If you establish that as your “mission statement,” then trying to appeal to #NeverTrumpers who are great writers and thinkers — and know how conservative Senators think — makes a lot more sense. Remember, for me, the whole issue is simply assembling a passionate, focused coalition devoted to the specific political act of removing Trump from office Constitutionally as quickly as possible — preferably immediate.

That’s my personal vision for all of this, at least.

Meanwhile, after I got that settled, Iwhat I would do is design an app much like Vote Save The People from Crooked Media. That would be, going forward, the key to bringing down the Trump regime . I say this because right now we’re in this odd fuzzy world where 60% of the population is slowly beginning to cook with rage over Trump’s tyrannical behavior…but The Establishment is playing by “old rules” where you have to, like, at least pretend to get the lobotomized MAGA mouth breathers to the table before you can broach the subject of impeachment in any real way.

But, by definition, Radical Resistance rejects that view and says so what if we come off as hyperpartisan. It’s like Republicans weren’t potting to impeach President Hillary Clinton as soon as they could for “emails” or whatever else they could pull out of their collective asses.

Anyway, you come up with an app that serves the utilitarian purpose of kind of giving people like me a Deluxe MAGA-Free Twitter where we could plot our moves and mobilize en mass as needed. The app could start off basic and branch out as needed feature-wise. And if you should happen to design a Twitter Killer along the way AND save modern journalism, that would be pretty cool.


The issue at hand is the newspaper business is dying. It seems as though the best way to fix the problem is to completely re-imagine what a newspaper is. Newspapers have always been a platform for distributing news, but over the years they have come to have significantly great cultural meaning than that.

I propose we get down to basics and provide a platform for writers, photographers and videographers to contribute quality content to a social media platform and be paid for it. Now, if you did it right, it’d be a win-win scenario because content providers would get paid and you, the startup, would make money from advertising.

I propose you base your startup loosely on Usenet concepts. I’m the first to say something like that already exists — Reddit — but this would take the Reddit model to the next level in various ways. Producers of quality content would be recognized and monetarily rewarded. They would have to be in possession of a Verified Account, but after that things would be pretty simple.

One a Verified Account holder could start a new Group and within that Group start a new thread, which I call a Conversation. All content would be threaded and based on the Post, which would be multimedia and have a WYSIWYG editor built in. Reddit has kind of moved towards this and that would be a danger — that Reddit would co-opt all your features even if you had a lot of cool ones, but anyway, I have no money, can’t code and don’t want to learn, so this is just a daydream.

Shelton Bumgarner

Once you have the app in place, you use it to connect the more motivated members of the Radical Resistance to the average person who might want to use the app for no other reason than it is better designed than Twitter. Population mobilization on the DL, if you will.

Anyway.

But there’s a fatal flaw to this dream — unless something causes us to lurch into a very scary no-end-game-in-sight situation, you could produce the greatest app in history and…meh.

There would have to be a tipping point. And, right now, I don’t see it. We’re just going to muddle along for six more long years.

Feh.

But if you had those two things established already once the opportunity arose, then maybe something might happen. And, yet, like I keep saying, if we don’t get Trump by August 2019, we ain’t gunna get him for a long, long time.

The Ideology Of Radical Resistance

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It is a tribute to the American temperament that Americans generally are extremely reluctant to radicalize. It’s not like the citizens of Washington D.C. ever rose up and declared an independent commune like the residents of Paris have been known to do on occasion.  And when Americans do get radicalized, it’s usually on a macro level because of outside forces, not because they’re just feeling ornery that decade.

So, when I talk about the formation of a “Radical Resistance,” all I mean is there needs to be an ideological framework for ending the Trump Administration via conventional political means, specifically impeachment by the House and conviction in the Senate. That, at least to me, is what I’m talking about when I say “Radical Resistance.”

And, it’s only “radical,” because, well, right now, nothing’s being done to end the Trump Administration. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. This, even though we have the Trump Administration dead-to-rights on any number of different crimes against the Constitution.

For me, for there to be effective Radical Resistance to Trump and his MAGA agenda, we have to know what we believe. The only reason, in real terms, there even needs to be a “radical” resistance is, well what we got ain’t working.

First and foremost, to be a member of the Radical Resistance is agree to follow in the tradition of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. As well as the Reconstruction era Radical Republicans. As such the Radical Resistance will use political means necessary to end the tyrannical administration of Donald J. Trump.

I am completely opposed to any form of violence and I want to destroy Trump entirely on political grounds. That’s it. I want him legally removed from office immediately and if you represent me on a local, state or Federal level, if you don’t publicly come out in favor of Trump being lawfully removed from office I won’t vote for you. I’ll support and vote for someone who will.

Additionally, the Radical Resistance should be a united front. We need great writers and thinkers of #NeverTrumpers for the specific purpose of broadening the appeal of the cause for the specific purpose of ending the Trump regime. After we get that goal, we can go back to bickering about stupid shit on a policy level. You may hate his policies, but if you could get George Will to help articulate a cogent “radical centrist” platform for the Radical Resistance, you’d have a lot going for you.

There’s plenty of broader stroke policy issues that progressives might want to glom on to the Radical Resistance rubric. That’s fine, but I see this as a matter of building the broadest group of anti-Trump forces possible. We have a specific goal — getting Trump impeached in the House and getting 67 Senators to vote for conviction at his trial.

That, at least, is what I want personally.

I just want Trump removed from office immediately and whatever I have to do on a political level to get that goal, I’ll do. Pence sucks, too, of course, but at least he’s something akin to a traditional politician who follows norms. Trump, meanwhile, is an abscess tooth that might go septic at any moment.

The urgency for Radical Resistance is growing with the possibility that Trump could go full tyrant on us by declaring a National Emergency and spending $7 billion in an extra-Constitutional manner. If that doesn’t make you want to become a member of the Radical Resistance, I don’t know what will.

Let’s do this, people. Let’s end this surreal political nightmare.

The Only Reason Why The Military Hasn’t Forced Trump Out Of Power Is, Well, That’s Not Their Scene

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

We live in surreal times. It’s a testament to the stability of the United States government that the tanks aren’t in the streets right now. It is just against everything we believe in for the military to even THINK about fixing political problems that the civilian government can’t.

Literally the only way I could imagine the U.S. Military doing anything in the sphere of governing the country directly (however briefly) would be if Trump was legally impeach and convicted by Congress…and he just ignored it and spent all day tweeting in a passive-aggressive manner.

So, I just don’t see a coup of any sort happening anytime soon. We may creep towards a sort of a very American elected dictatorship with extensive use of Emergency Powers, but even then…that’s debatable.

I guess we’re just going to muddle along like we always do. But the longer this shut down lasts, the more people might at least start to think out loud of any number of drastic measures that might be employed to end it.

So, When’s The Coup?

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

If the United States was any other country in the world, there would be open talk of a possible coup — military or otherwise — taking place pretty soon. The entire system is broken, rotting or completely frozen up so it appears as though literally the only thing stopping someone, a Man On A Horse, if you will, from seizing power is that’s just not how Americans see themselves.

I do, however, believe that there will be something pretty close to a coup of some sort within 20 years. How exactly would it break down? That’s a very good question.

It’s so outside the self-perception of the United States that something like that would happen, but I find it difficult to even plot it out. In the near term, I think you could make the assumption that should Trump ever been impeach and convicted and he refuses to leave office that the military might step in to remind him that he needs to leave.

That, in turn, would be the bent rule that would eventually pave the way for an actual coup. I think if there was a “coup” of some sort in the next 20 years it probably would be if the country finally begins to physically tear itself apart. The military is currently the only institution with bi-partisan support, and, as such, I could see a “light touch” coup happening on the part of the military that would simply exist for a few months to cool things down a little bit in an overheated political system.

Gen. Mattis would be a perfect Lord Protector of the United States in such a situation. Someone who was respect and moderate who could help force some decisions to be made as well as transition to a new, elected government.

9/10ths
a story fragment of a possible near future
by Shelton Bumgarner

August 2019

The eyes of the world were on the White House.

Just moments before, President Donald J. Trump, 45th president of the United States, had been convicted by 67 members of the Senate for a whole list of high crimes and misdemeanors. Trump had for weeks now been ranting on Gab about his case in the Senate, bouncing back and forth between threats to start a war with Iran or the DPRK and not-so-subtle hints that he might take his own life should he be convicted by the Senate.

And, now, at last, the moment of truth had arrived.

Trump legally, at least, was no longer president, but he had been oddly silent since the verdict had been announced with great fanfare from the well of the Senate. Trump’s conviction had come after months of investigations on the part of the now Democratic Congress. The length and breath of Trump’s malfeasance discovered by these hearings had rocked the nation to its very core. On more than one occasion, MAGA talking heads on cable news had been interrupted by astonishing breaking news that left them, for once, unable or unwilling to defend the president.

The hearings had ground on for months to such an extent that Trump’s approval had slowly drifted to the 20s and stayed there consistently. Trump’s support was now made up of the very rich and the very poor. Oddly, despite Trump’s near constant demands on Twitter for violence on the part of his supporters, little, if any was reported. Trump had grown so frustrated that he had all but abandoned Twitter at one point for the more receptive Gab social media platform. Though on more than one occasion Rudy Giuliani had made it very clear it was within the rights of the president to declare martial law if he deemed it in the best interests of the nation. More than one delegation of Senate Republicans had gone to the White House to explain to Trump that he was going to be convicted, no avail. Trump made it clear to them, in not so many words that his simply living in the White House made him president, a sentiment best expressed by the legal saw that, “Possession is 9/10ths of the law.”

Finally, a post to Gab came out: “My so-called ‘conviction’ is the work of the Deep State and as such illegitimate. I remain president.”

This set off a chain of events, the likes of which Americans had never seen. Suddenly, everyone on Twitter became a Constitutional scholar as everyone studied the exact wording of the Constitution as to what happens if the president is removed from office by the Senate. The wording is quite clear: he or she is no longer president and that’s it.

Nowhere in the Constitution did it explain what to do if the president simply decided to ignore the Senate. What’s more, nowhere in the Constitution did it state what to do with the nuclear launch codes should a president be removed from office and he refuse to accept the decision of the Senate.

The next few hours were chilling as they were surreal for millions of people not just in the United States but around the globe. The issue of Trump’s physical access to America’s nuclear launch codes was suddenly at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Though it was finally announced that while the nuclear football remained in Trump’s possession, Sec. of Defense Mattis had ordered the American armed forces to stand down for the duration of the crisis.

Trump, on Twitter, was as defiant and unhinged as usual.He threatened to kill himself. He threatened to start a nuclear war. He vowed to declare martial law.

The usual suspects on cable news did their best to spin all of this for Trump. As an anxious nation waited for the now former president to leave the White House, a cavalcade of former Republican Senators and Trump White House staffers attempted to make the former president’s case. Their final argument was that for the good of the country, Trump should be allowed to remain president, despite his lawful conviction by the Senate.

Things began to move rapidly at this point.

Vice President Pence was sworn in but Chief Justice Roberts in a dark, somber event in the Old Executive Building. Meanwhile, it was learned Trump had quietly replaced his Secret Service detail with a private security force that made it clear it was prepared to defend Trump until the bloody end.

At this point, two things happened. A final bipartisan delegation of Congressional leaders came to the White House grounds under the flag of truce. During the course of an hour-long meeting, Trump screamed at them that they had never supported him and the world would be better off if it just ended instead of allowed the forces of the Deep State to ruin America. He made it absolutely clear that he would never leave the Oval Office willingly.

With that, they left.

Next, a surreal, bizarre event, the FBI slowly began to surround the White House. There was much debate online and on TV about how long the nation should wait for Trump to leave the White House. CNN went so far as to do a deep dive into the exact amount of food the White House grounds might have available at any one moment.

Finally, shots rang out from the White House as the battle was joined. It took several hours but in the end, the FBI was finally able to secure the facility. Nearly a dozen personnel on both sides died during the course of the Battle of The White House.

In what would become ionic footage, Trump was quietly escorted from the White House grounds. He spent the remainder of his days ranting on Twitter and Gab that he was the rightful president.

The End.

The Vision Thing: Disrupting Journalism With An App

Meh. No one listens to me.

Embrace The Dark Side — Take Up The Mantle Of ‘Radical Resistance’

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It goes without saying that a lot of Blue Check Liberal Nattering Nabobs on Twitter will clutch their pearls at the notion of the currently nebulous anti-Trump “Resistance” getting a lot more radical and a lot more organized. They will say would be a boon to Trump and MAGA on any number of different levels.

I say fuck that.

We’re in a crisis and as such we need to embrace the idea that we are, in fact, radical. But as I keep saying, its more about being radical on an ideological level as opposed to, say, blowing shit up. The Resistance needs to establish a united front of anti-Trump forces then use the ideology of Radical Resistance, that using “any means necessary” to politically destroy Trump and end him as a political force is a rhetorical goal then use that as bludgeon against the alt-Right and MAGA.

As I’ve said before, this is the biggest crisis since the end of the Civil War in a way, because it’s like an abscess tooth that risks going septic. We need to stop worrying so much about what Trump might tweet about the idea of “Radical Resistance” and BECOME the Radical Resistance.

Again, the issue is having an overarching ideology. Something cogent enough and broad enough that you might be able to get #NeverTrumpers to support it on Twitter while not alienating the base of the Democratic Party, which, to date, has been, in essence, “The Resistance.”

But as I keep saying, I have very, very low expectations. If we don’t get Trump politically by August 2019, we’re not going to get him until 2021, if ever. We need to stop worrying about what may or may not happen in the Senate. The House needs to do its job and and begin actively investigating the Trump Administration on any number of different levels.

I have my doubts this will ever happen until a Radical Resistance begins to actively begin to put pressure on Establishment Democrats by threatening to primary them in 2020 if they don’t support what I suggest. The Convention Wisdom of the Blue Check Liberals on Twitter in starting September 2019 will be “let the people decide” and any talk of impeachment is a “gift” to Trump and MAGA.

That’s why we have to do it now.

We have to stop hoping and wishing that some mythical Mueller Report is going to give us the fit leaf need to somehow magically convince mouth breathing MAGA people the error of their ways.

It just isn’t going to happen.

So why bother in the first place?

Impeach Trump immediately in the House and see what happens in the Senate.