He was trying to design something that could be used to save them all from further insult and injury. There was no longer any need for clothes, it was as if they were actually living near the fires of Hell itself. But these men had sworn that they would not lie down and submit to the will of their would be masters. As many men had done before them and many more will do until they end of time, they were prepared to fight and die for their freedom. Who were they fighting? And what would their freedom really give them. After all, their women and children had already been slaughtered and all their garments eaten. The others most certainly had a somewhat strange nutritional requirement. For some reason denim seemed to be a favorite. One of the easiest ways to avoid being killed for their fashion was to wear as little as possible. The forge where their weapons were fashioned was inside a volcano. This was of course responsible for the searing heat which was necessary to soften the metal so that it could be shaped into new designs. The question is, what could Romaestus, Romy to his friends, create that could save them from the imminent threat to their safety. Their enemies would soon discover where they were and even if they had few garments left for them to eat, they may well be killed out of sheer spite. This is why there was such an urgent need of some kind of technological invention that could save them all. What had happened though since the invasion of the fashion snatchers was that the electrical power that humans had relied upon for years was no longer available to them. This is why they were having to revert to more primitive ways of working and dressing. The idea was to make enough swords for each man to be able to fend for himself. If he wanted to wear a t-shirt, he would. Be damned if those things would stop them from wearing their leather jackets. They had to do something to make the world a safer place for the fashion conscious men to go about their business. They had finally found a safe place where they could work that provided them with the heat that they required to smit their own weapons. In this case, the molten lava would not be used for shoes or any other sort of fashion accessory but rather to provide the heat required to soften the Rearden steel that they would be using for their own protection. These men were not just fighting for their lives, they were fighting because they were the ones who were left. No one was going to tell them how to live, only they would decide where their path would take them. These men who were left remembered how life used to be when they were able to freely choose their own clothes and make their own fashion statement about what they would wear each and every day of their lives. But things had changed, while they were still free men, they were being oppressed and were unable to live as they would choose of their own accord. This is why they were driven to the desperate measures and forced to forge their own blades of steel. There certainly was a chance, however small, that they would be able to repel the alien hordes and go back to living a more normal life, where putting on a pair of loafers or wearing a shirt and tie would not attract the hungry scavengers who could be so brutal in their quest for clothes. Little did they care about who or what was inside them. If they had to take a life just to get garments, then so be it. But the smits working in the volcano had decided that enough was enough. They would do what they could, living as free men, even if they could now not wear very much, to get their cities back so that people could live freely again and wear whatever they liked. Perhaps if they were able to live under water they would be safe.
Blue Whale, biggest animal ever, bigger than the dinosaurs, glides effortlessly like a mini town, a massive eco-system through the dark cold waters of the Atlantic. It rises through the gelid waters and breaks the surface. It vents carbon dioxide and gulps masses of air and then slowly sinks back to the silent depths. Do whales dream? This Blue Whale dreams. It shuts down half its brain and goes into auto pilot between breaths. When the whale is in the arms of Morpheus it dreams whole worlds into existence. It populates the lonely navy depths with people and places and things. It creates things that it knows not the names for. It makes Malawi, Argentina and Thailand. It makes cocktails and milk cartons. It sees Thong Nai Pan accommodation and Notre Dame Cathedral. It imagines iPods, Color Kindles and digital programmable thermostats. It pours forth political leaders, revolutionaries, painters and poets. It imagines literature and mathematical formula, the stars and the moon. It hears Bob Marley’s music and it winces at manufactured boys bands. Our Blue Whale feels the joy of the winning runner, the sadness of a lost child, the gnawing pain of hunger, the inebriation of the chronic tippler, the utter misery of the losing gambler, the deflated pride of subjugated peoples. The Whale smells fresh coffee and the incense of sweat. The dreams go on and on filling the sea with memories and history, the fictions of a massive brain cut free of consciousness; allowed to play in the synapses of the dream. Night after night the world is made anew, always different, always impossibly perfect. One night the Whale dreamt of two people: the first people: a man and a woman. They had no clothes on. They were always happy and because they were always happy they did not have the word for happiness. Their conversation was mostly confined to pleasantries and to naming. The man would say: “Let’s eat some mangoes”. The smiling damsel would reply: “Yes, let’s.” Or the woman would address the colorful serpent thus: “Hello, Mr. Serpent. Another beautiful day, is it not?” The man and the woman lacked ideas. They knew not the opposites of pain and pleasure, hope and despair. They knew not tyranny. Their master had made them and made the garden. They wanted for nothing. They slept and ate and mated. The only discomfort was a lacking the woman felt. It was a nameless, objectless lacking. She knew not what it portended. “Tell me, Mr. Serpent. You seem to have a knowing in your eyes and a smile with meaning on your lipless mouth. What is it about your knowing?” “I know about clothes. I have the idea of clothes and fashion.” “What is the meaning of these strange words you use?” The woman asked somewhat perturbed by this intrusion into her hidden dreams of lacking. “I know the meaning of the rules you have received from he who is the greatest.” “Speak not of these things. And yet…” And with that the woman bent her mind and ear to the serpent. The Whale woke up and flipped its tail fin and headed for the surface. The stars were out. It gulped air and sank back into the sea and sleep. The dream continued. The woman naked and beautiful stood before the forbidden tree with the serpent who used its short legs to climb up to a lower branch of the tall tree. He paused before some fruit. “Eat this, woman. And you will know of things that you really know and should know. You will learn of denim, bamboo fabric, nylon, pantyhose, jackets, blouses and swim wear. You will find the meaning of clothes. You will see your identity in your outer habiliments. You can know and tell the man. It will make him more man and the better for you to love.” The Whale shed a tear for the woman and the serpent. The whale foresaw danger in this discourse of clothing. No good can come of it. You should feel the silken water on your skin. The Whale could not control the dream. The dream always dreams itself. It is autonomous and it alone sets the parameters of plot and character. The Whale could not turn away as he saw the woman putting the apple to her mouth. She took a bite. Nothing. She lost her reserve and voraciously hacked at the apple with her teeth until only the rind remained. “You have spoken something that has not come to happen, Mr. Serpent. Where is the silk and satin? Where the vests and knee high boots?” The serpent laughed and padded off on its stubby legs. The woman went in search of her partner. The Whale becomes perturbed. Who are these others that have suddenly arisen in his inner mindscape? What do they want? Why does he sense menace and rapine longing for material? Another breath and another falling back to sleep. The scene has changed. Now the man and the woman stand before the tree. She tells him of her transgression, about the apple. Out of nowhere she tells her first falsehood. She tells him that she is now more beloved by the creator since she has taken of the fruit. The man is innocent. He knows not that it is even possible to lie. And yet he hesitates. A cloud passes across the sky and casts a shadow over his brow. He loves the woman and he loves the creator and everything he has made and said. The man pauses before a low lying fruit. The woman reasons with the man thus: “The creator is perfect. What he makes must therefore also be perfect. And the actions of what he makes must also be perfect. I have eaten of the fruit. Is this not also a perfect act and as our Lord intended?” The man felt uncomfortable and sought to find a remedy for this pain with no physical meaning. He tore an apple off the bough and hastily dug his teeth into it. When he had finished eating the Whale was crying salty tears and the others were bursting with joy. The man looked down at his smooth exposed skin. He felt vulnerable, he felt cold. “Let us make clothes woman. We need outer garments to reflect our personalities. We must have leather, denim, rayon, polyester, mother of the bride outfits and we must above all things have fashion.” The others screamed in ecstasy and rushed over the universe to be there for the birth of fashion. The Whale awoke dissatisfied with his dream.
The other is now a commonly used term in the sphere of anthropology, sociology and psychology. It is the way by which groups define themselves. The classic example is Hinduism. The caste system of belonging to either the priest, merchant or worker caste is laid down in the Laws of Manu. All of the layers and layers within layers depends for their orthodoxy and their legitimacy on the contrast they present with the untouchables. To reinforce this vilification of the other or the untouchable it is necessary to make them clean toilets, butcher meat and do all the tasks that that society deems as ‘dirty’ and inherently full of bad karma. The problem is that they that they need someone to clean toilets in India and to butcher meat. And they also need to have a notion of ‘unclean’ in order for their cleanliness to stand out. The truth is that the group is defined by the other. And it is also therefore the truth that if you want to find out about a group then the best place to start is with its other. We are in many ways what we hate. Or as Shakespeare put it: “Methinks the lady doth protest too much”. People reveal themselves by their irrational prejudices. And so to return to the story of the people who were being persecuted and attacked by the others, maybe we can look at this narrative in a new light. What about the others’ point of view. Perhaps this need to consume denim, leather, cotton, garments, swimwear, shoes, boots, shirts, vests and dresses instead of fruit and vegetables is somehow related to the need for the brave men living in the fiery pits stripped of torso. Perhaps the others are a reflection of the persecuted naked men’s needs to define themselves. The need for fashion is projected as its nemesis – the need to destroy the fashion. At the same time the others are in some way ‘consuming’ the fashion and in a way reveal the true identity of the people about whom this story is about. The others are a people who were deeply misunderstood. They started out as a group of nomadic sea gypsies who sailed the warm southern waters fishing and trading to get by. They lived in huts and bungalows made of coconut and reclaimed hardwood and had their own unique way of life. They encountered other small villages and the occasional city dweller sitting on some wicker furniture but generally speaking they kept themselves to themselves. They had their own laws and within their own tight knit community they kept the peace and lived happy lives. That was until the asteroid came. At first it was just a beautiful pink aura that bathed the hours around sunset. Then it became a blinding and bewitching light and finally it was the presence of moving green, gelatinous creatures quivering along the beach. The others had no idea what they were or how they should react to the seaweed monsters. They loved their Japanese rice balls but they didn’t want to approach the things to harvest them. So instead they kept their distance and watched the aliens lumbering over the sands. The aliens looked so ungainly and of such low intelligence that some of the younger and more fool hardy others took upon themselves to steal some of the seaweed. They could not openly defy the wishes of their elders so instead they sneaked out in the dead of night when the others were snoring in their warm huts. 4 young others gathered at the beach one Full Moon. Thoughts of trying to give the aliens an overdose of their pets’ Heartguard Plus chewables was quickly ruled out. Instead, they would just go and try to get a bit closer to observe them. The Full Moon Party divided bamboo fencing amongst themselves and other weapons and crawled out from behind a sand dune and to within a few feet of the seaweed monsters. The monsters weren’t moving other than the rising and falling of what looked like a sleeping animal breathing. The leader of the young brave others a boy called Thor was the first to break the tension and he reached for a trailing piece of seaweed and gave it a gentle tug. A long strand of seaweed came away in his hand. The monster did not stir. Thor’s action emboldened the other boys who reached out and also took handfuls of the delicious looking seaweed. With their hands full the band of boys scampered off down the sands away from the monsters. When the boys had disappeared, the lead monster in the group of 5 opened one eyelid to reveal one huge pink eye latticed with veins of light colored blood. A noise just within the range of human hearing shrieked from the lead alien. The other aliens shook into life and opened their single eyes. They too lent their voice to the sonic noise that built and built in intensity until it could be heard from many miles away. Meantime the boys had built a fire and were cooking rice. They had already ascertained that the stolen shreds were indeed edible and delicious. The band was in high spirits and could hardly wait to taste the rice balls they were in the process of making: that was until they heard the terrible high pitched shrieking coming from the beach. The boy’s hearts were filled with dread and they looked at each other in dismay. As they stood staring at each other they heard other noises in the glowing moon lit night. These noises were coming from the village. The boys dropped what they were doing and rushed back to the village enclosure. When they got there they saw a line of aliens withdrawing back to the beach. The people of the village were in complete turmoil. Instead of relaxing, and reading their newspapers, books and general articles, they were going crazy. If they had watched what was going on with a cell phone tracker display it would have been too hard to understand. To a man, the people looked possessed. The boys saw men, women and children rushing after each other and rip their clothing from them. They then ravenously feed on the clothes. They kicked and punched and clawed at trousers, dresses, shirts and under garments. When they had some fashion item in their hands they wolfed it down. The people of the village had become fashion zombies!
The thing is that they had tried other kind of tools to ward off the invaders but wood and bamboo was not sufficient against them. They easily broke down their fences and often turned them into bamboo flooring covers for their own houses that they were building. There was of course great debate in the others’ community about whether reclaimed hardwood flooring made a better option but this is something that they humans only discovered afterwards. Due to the lack of electricity in at this time, it meant that their electrical appliances and gadgets were not as of much use as had been the case in the past. Even their hand held electronic readers which they had been using happily for years needed to be powered up. That said, their batteries were now lasting much longer than a year, so there were still a few Kindle 4 type devices that could be used. But these were, much like the clothes that were left, being rationed so that everyone could share. One of the best things though was the feeling of kinsmanship that was developing. The heat from the cavern in the volcano where they were living provided plenty of heat so that getting their shot of caffeine in the morning was no problem at all. Cooking of course was very easy but the thing is that keeping cool was a much harder prospect. Of course, it is not as if they could use a programmable thermostat to regulate the temperature of nature’s hot house. It was just a case of having to get on with it under the current conditions. Going outside was an option but unless they wanted to do so without their clothes on, it just was not safe to do so. Continue reading the story on the next page where you will find out more about the life of the smits and what they are doing to be able to put their clothes back on again. Then we shall find out more in the third part of the trilogy about Romy and the rest of the smits. I am sure you already have the feeling that things might take a turn for the better but first of course they will have to deal with the trials and the battle ahead that is sure to come.