They already exist; it is not necessary to create them. The Spirit of God raises them up deep within every race, in every religion, every nation, every human group. Who belongs to these Abrahamic minorities? All those who, like Abraham, hope against hope and decide to work to the point of sacrifice for a more just and humane world.
-Dom Helder Camara
Volmar was one of the most beautiful cities mankind had ever established. All of her citizens were well fed; there was no hunger or fear of any kind. No one had more than another and no one really wanted more. Those who on occasion allowed such emotions as covetousness to encroach upon them were swiftly taken to the Controller General of Prescriptive Thoughts and given a program to counteract their natural human tendencies. And this was possible for all such negative emotions—not just covetousness or greed—including self-doubt, anger, phobias of all kinds, depression, narcissism, etc. A simple, painless program could be installed and the negative emotion would be overridden.
Installed? Well, that is an important detail. In the days when the city was first founded, people were given two options: One, enter the city and enjoy a life of ease and comfort, or two, stay outside the city and fend for yourself. Sounds like an easy choice? There was one catch, one stipulation from the Avogo. In exchange for ample food, unbridled pleasure, meaningful work, and a community of like-minded people to belong to, those who entered Volmar had to agree to the implantation of a device that would serve as a portal into their brain so that the brain could be programmed.
The brainport was touted as one of the greatest advantages to living in the city, and indeed the device held many benefits. Once it was implanted, you really had no need to study. When it was time to learn something, you were given permission to install the program and the lesson was learned. Everyone in the city could do advanced calculus and knew physics by the time they were teens. Some people who came to Volmar were ecstatic because they could learn to speak fluent English in less than twenty minutes. There was no need to learn any other language. Everyone who entered, no matter how far they had come after the great cataclysm or what language they spoke, was given the gift of clear communication. The barriers that once existed due to language were gone, and all spoke the same English, even down to a unique Vaipwo accent.
That language program was in itself a major draw to the people who were living outside the city trying to survive. Many told themselves they would enter long enough to get the language program or to get the program that taught them how to farm everything they needed hydroponically. But no one ever did. No one ever left Volmar, except some, one of whom this story is about; they all fell in love with the beautiful life they lived and the noise and energy of the city.
One thing about Volmar, it was always noisy. There was always something going on and since school was only three hours per day, no homework or tests and absolutely no studying—and since citizens worked no more than five hours per day—there was plenty of time to enjoy the festivities. What could possibly be so fun that the citizens were always entertained? One thing I can tell you is that there was never a moment of boredom in Volmar. That word was so purposefully obfuscated that those who suffered from its ramifications were not able to name it when they went in for reprogramming. But the CG of PT did. He knew it right away, and it worried him most of all ailments, for it was the most pernicious and caused the greatest side effects.
But again, boredom was so rare that it afflicted only one tenth of one percent of the people, and that’s because there was such a variety of things to do that no one had time to stop and think about whether they were bored or not. It was truly the most perfect human society that had ever been established. There were baseball games, horse races, soccer matches—don’t worry if you’ve never heard of these—you do know what games are, right? Sports? Interactive holograms so that people at home felt they were right in the games themselves?
Besides sports there were of course movies and casinos, though money was never used in the practice of gambling as money had been done away with. Citizens never knew the fear of losing a wallet or worrying about a paycheck. They always had work and food and everything they wanted. Everything was free. So when they were gambling, citizens of Volmar were wagering something else besides money. Something maybe you can guess by what I’m about to say. In addition to enjoying the other pleasures that I’ve mentioned so far, the Vaipwo also greatly indulged themselves in sexual pleasures. For in Volmar, there were no rules forbidding anything sexual. All fantasies were acceptable and encouraged as long as nobody got hurt; actually, that’s not true. As long as nobody was killed. For killing was frowned upon and discouraged as much as possible. So, it is somewhat ironic then to note that the murder rate was rather higher there in comparison to many other civilizations.
Of course, it didn’t matter much. The Avogo had already thought of that and had put it into their calculations when they were designing the city. Such was human nature and it was a given that many would ultimately die somewhat violent deaths. But more about that later. Citizens of Volmar, if they were not eating, dancing, singing karaoke, playing sports or the like were at home in their personal pleasure crafts. This I’ll not explain in great detail, but you can imagine what these were.
Another detail about this city that must be explained is that everyone, starting at the age, of seven was given a personal affective simulator robot, or pasbot for short. Now, many of you who are older will know what I’m talking about, but for the younger crowd, a pasbot was a gift from the Avogo for every Vaipwo’s seventh birthday. It was a personal companion of every citizen, a trusty source of information, of company and conversation. Any question the Vaipwo had, they could ask their pasbots and almost immediately get an answer. “Why is the sky green? What is outside the city walls of Volmar? Where did I come from? Who are the Avogo and why do they love me?”
Pasbots were about the size of an adult male’s hand, and they had feet designed from material like that of the Gecko’s feet so that the pasbots could adhere to the bodies of their humans. Most of the time, they stayed wrapped around the wrist of their “masters” and served as a watch, GPS, and confidant. But they could also move around the body and hide in a shirt or clothing, if any of that was worn.
Citizens were encouraged to talk to their pasbots, to confide in them their deepest thoughts and most intimate secrets. Of course, the pasbots were more than just companions for the people. They were a tool used by the Avogo to keep track of any problems that might be arising. All the conversations were monitored by computers programmed to cue in on certain words or phrases like “afraid” “sorry” “sad” “doubt.” Such occurrences were filtered and sent to the Sasjovians, who analyzed the conversations to determine whether the citizen needed attention.
If a Sasjov determined that a citizen needed attention, the person would be escorted in a party van to the Controllers General Office of Prescriptive Thought. A CG would consult with the person and decide on the appropriate course of treatment, usually a simple program that a Sasjovian had written to counter the common ailments that I mentioned before, fears and the like.
If the CGs and the Sasjovians were unable to find a program to help the citizen overcome his or her difficulty, they would write a new one. If that didn’t work, the citizen would be nominated for refreshing. Everyone believed with certainty that refreshing meant their souls, the essence of who they were, would be transported electronically into a new body so that they could enjoy a more peaceful new life. So, it can be said that the Vaipwo knew nothing of death. Death was a word that applied only to the plants they grew for food and the meat that grew on machines, not on animals.
Of course, the refreshing was the great lie of the Avogo. Instead of being refreshed, the people were simply killed, their bodies burned, and a new baby was put in their place. The Avogo would claim the baby was the revival of the person who had just been refreshed. As a matter of policy, all citizens were “refreshed” at around the age of 40. Only on very rare occasions did someone live to be fifty, and only the Avogo knew how old each citizen really was. Citizens had no need of knowing how old they were.
Before the refreshing of most citizens, a long procession, a party really, would happen and then a ceremony where friends of the one being refreshed would joke about the person’s history or odd quirks and embarrassing events in the person’s life. One young man, whom this story is about as I mentioned earlier, faced refreshing at a particularly early age, earlier than most. His name was Jutta, and this is his story.