Peter Hammill - Brasilia
--emittant 1-40 1/E 97 BSA
The Legend goes that the world was once a garden, filled with
wild flowers, trees and animals. The garden was the closest we
could come to the Gods before finally joining them. This had been
our place since all creation. But the people sinned, and were
cast down and out forever.
The Legend goes that when the Devil came, he was terrible in
appearance. He came as a man, at the head of many men. All these
had once been as us, but they had fallen to the power of the Dark
One. They came, hiding their bodies, of which they were shameful.
Their eyes were wild, empty of pride, and the pallor of their
skins matched their souls. We fought them. We fought them with
our blow-pipes, our arrows, our poisons, and we killed many of
them. These we did not consume, for their inpurity would have
weakened our race. We killed many, but always the Devil had more
to throw forward at us. Always we fought them, and Him through
them. The Devil attacked us in another way. He sent his armies of
disease among us, so that soon all our people were laid sick.
Then the Devil came while they were wasted with fever and
poisoned them with darts in their arms. When our people recovered
the strength of their bodies, they found that their spirits had
been weakened by the poison. Then they bowed to the Devil and
accepted his Law. This was the first of their sins.
The Legend goes that when the Devil came, he was terrible in
appearance, in that he came as a man. He had the voice of a man
as well as his face. He dismissed his armies now, for he had no
further need of them. Our people were in his power, and he
himself remained among us. After some time, our people thought
and reasoned that he must be a man, not the Devil for he had a
man's face and voice. Then they tried to persuade him of the
rightness of our ways, and asked for the freedom to follow them.
The Devil was cunning, and persuaded our people that he too would
accept our customs. He no longer hid his body, and walked among
us as one of our own. But while he listened to our people telling
him of our ways he, too, was teaching. Our people accepted his
teaching as a man's, for they had begun to accept him as a man.
In the depth of friendship between men, they took some of his
teaching to their hearts. In time, the Devil led our people into
forbidden areas of learning. He taught the signs which made
words. He taught reading and writing, and our people learned
them. This was the second of their sins.
The Legend goes that when the Devil came he was terrible in
appearance, in that he came as a man. As well as the face and
voice, he had the reason and logic of man. So he swayed our
people more and more, and his domination increased rapidly.
Finally, he persuaded us to leave our homes and follow him. We
were to fight another people. Our spirit was weak, and the
Devil's will became our own. We did not notice the pallor of our
skins, the void in our eyes where pride had once been. We did not
notice the clothes which hid our bodies. We went with the Devil
as his army. This, the third sin, was the final one.
The Legend goes that when the Devil had conquered all the
peoples of the world, he no longer remained as a man. He took his
true form back, and it was more terrible to see than all other
things. Then all the people of the earth were forced to flee from
the garden. This itself was destroyed by the mere presence in it
of the Devil in his natural form.
This is the Legend of our Fall.
I don't know what brought all that back so suddenly, the
rote-learned fable which has been passed on down through the
generations...my poor superstitious ancestors! It is plain, from
all experience and memory, that we have always lived in this
world; the conception of an ideal 'garden' is and always has been
mere self-deception. One can only wonder how these strange
fictions came about--trees, flowers, and animals in wild
abundance, great armies sent by a being who changes shape at
will. One can only wonder at my people's inability to accept what
is as real; instead, they followed their compulsion to believe in
some ideal past, to grope for some scheme of things which could
never have been in reality. Oh, the human progress which has been
denied to us over the years by the blinkering effects of this mad
flight of the imagination!
Years of repetition have embedded the superstition in my
memory, but I am free of it in my mind. I, at last, can--must--see
things as they really are. My ancestors cannot be hurt by them
now, so let them have their myths and fables. Nothing can hurt
them now, no pain, hope, or imagination; they are all gone. As
the last of us, I have the right as well as the mind to do away
with these preoccupations with a fabulous past; my only
obligation now is to myself. As a realist, I know that any hope
for 'our people' has delusion at its heart. I am the last and
there will be no more.
This end has long been inevitable. The world always was and
will be a confined space, and our food supply limited. In the
distant past, our numbers proliferated to a point where life was
of minimal quality and survival was flat and bare. It became
vital to control our numbers. This was accomplished much more
than satisfactorily: in the generations following that dreadful
time of overcrowding and starvation, the genetic contraceptive
had wider and wider effects. It had started as a saving vaccine;
it ended as ineradicable virus. The numbers of barren women grew
until my mother was the last capable of bearing children. She
died in having me; I was always certain to be the last. As
extinction drew closer, the members of the previous generations
turned more and more towards the ancient fables; one can
sympathise with that, for no other continuity remained. Now there
is continuity at all: the last of them is dead, and I am alone.
Hope is, for me, a word with no meaning; only existence is that.
I shall live out my time in this world and then I shall die. I
shall walk the same ground as those before me and mine shall be
the last footfall. Then we shall all be gone. There shall be no
further generation to hear the legends, and all the dreams,
fictions, exploits, discoveries and thoughts of the past, too,
shall be dead, as if they had never been. I can spend my time; I
can look at the films and records; I, the last, can explore every
hidden corner of the world.
-- this mindceptcord
-- date 4/3/49
-- emittant 1-40, 1/E 97 BSA
By now I had thought to know every inch of what I still think
of as our world, although it is only mine. Its confines are not
too great to explore, and I long ago devoted what remained of my
life to doing so, I ordered and analysed, half driven by the
thought that some dark recess might furnish me with a reason for
existence over and above simply being. I did not find such a
place, and believed that, by now, I knew it all. But I believed,
also, in the unchangeable nature of my surroundings, and accepted
form as a constant reality. These things are now revealed to me
as mirages; or else I am insane. Yet I feel in control of my
senses: it is surely not those which so confuse me.
I know this corner of the world well; it is one of those most
clustered with the apparatus of control. I have studied the area
often in my explorations; in some way I was attracted to and
pleased by the arrangement of lights, dials and switches, the
functions of which have never been known. Shall I now say that I
sensed something? I recall that one of the most antique films
featured the place as of great significance. The meaning eluded
me; perhaps the censorship of the centuries, imposed to protect
the people from unbridled thought, camouflaged it. Now there is
no camouflage; but I am still far from understanding. This place
is at the edge of our world; in the apparently seamless surface
of the final wall, an electric door has opened to reveal a
passageway beyond. There should be no beyond, no passageway, no
door; not here, at the edge of existence. But for the evidence of
my eyes, it would be beyond belief; yet they testify. A further
world beyond the world? This is a hope I never dared. Most
cynical of all the generations, my brain and soul are flooded
with feelings I never knew were in me.
I have no choice. I am the last, and my only obligation is to
myself: to know as much as possible before my death. The life of
all my heritage rises in me. Is all not without value and
purpose, is all not without hope? I must follow the passage and
tread where no man has been in all living history.
The corridor stretches upwards. Far along it, I round a corner
and am struck by furious light from the other end. Even at
distance, its intensity is such that the fear which umbilically
connects me to the world almost draws me back. I am walking in an
unknown place. But evolution, as well as the need for revelation,
forces me towards the climb, the journey of discovery. With every
step the light streams brighter and more blinding; several times
I have to stop to adjust to it, and to calm my palpitating
nerves. But I must, I do, go on.
Now, on the threshold, the light seems almost a solid barrier
at the end of the passage; my resolution is shaken to the core.
Clearly, the world beyond what we have always known as the world
is of immense energy and intensity. It is so different that I
even wonder if I have died. There is no other way that I can take
these steps: I close my eyes and walk forward, out through the
light. I don't know if I exist or will cease to exist at any
moment. Perhaps the ground has already dematerialised beneath my
feet, and I am walking only on my own suppositions. Still I walk,
feel the ground under my tread. I have come far enough: I must
open my eyes to the world beyond world.
Colour, light, shade, line, heat, intense, pain, silence,
colour, shade, light, burn, beyond, fear, joy, know, see, colour,
light, shade, tower, glass, solid, metal, sharp, empty, burn,
cold, blue, grey, colour, line, angle, white, distance, space,
size, immense, dead, intensity.
The Legend come.
Legend say, hollow laugh, empty, despair.
Legend say, Devil laugh, true, true.
Legend say, Devil laugh in shape line size colour shade light
tower glass metal endless no end -- 'I have taken your universe;
here is my despair.'
All one all true all end forever void.
Thus, the farthest of futures. Thus the man Brasilia emerged
from the underground shelter into which, centuries earlier, his
ancestors had fled from the holocaust of the final war. That
subterranean world had been the only one he, and thirty-eight
previous generations, had known. Behind him, in it, he left only
its nerve centre, the telepath-computer, and it is from this that
the preceding passages of his thought and perception have been
The time had come. The computer's sensors had shown that the
atmosphere of the earth's surface was once more, at age-long
last, safe to breathe. Automatic relays had opened the door to
the outside world in anticipation of The Exodus. From his shelter
Brasilia had emerged; but he had done so as alone in the outside
world as he had been in his own. Every other underground earth
was by now empty, silent, a vast technological mausoleum, a
museum which only electronic eyes covered; and only electronic
life continued to flicker in the cities beneath the ground.
So it was, in Brasilia, that the line ended. In him the genes
of all the initial occupants of the shelter had mingled during
the centuries of underground isolation: Amerindian, European,
Chinese, African, Indian. He carried in him the residue of all
their aspirations, all their blind hopes for the future, all
their quests; these things had drawn him on along the passageway
to his, and Man's death. The myths and religions of his
antecedents, too, were in him, coalesced and intermarried into
one strain: the Legend. For all its garbled imagery and language,
for all its forms, the Legend, the many things, was one thing:
the only absolute Man finally held. It was this truth,
materialised before his eyes, which killed Brasilia.
He emerged into his namesake city from those bowels of the
earth to which Man had burrowed; he emerged into what had been
the garden. Jutting around him, the angular, monstrous shapes,
the searing planes of dead metal and concrete and glass. Above
him, the cavity of the sky, its distance, still and forever edged
with iridescent fall-out violet. What Brasilia saw when he came
out sucked the life from him in its enormity of size and meaning.
He saw what the Legend had always said: the Devil, and all his
Run Data/Logic interface.
Earth atmosphere standard.
radiation level/virus level go.
extra-shelter life capability positive.
atmospheric release doors open.
go to mindceptcord banks for extra-shelter excursion.
Positive: index 1, generation 40, 1/E 97, Brasilia S.A.
Rescan for excursion mindceptcords.
Rerun mindceptcord 4/3/49:1-40 1/E 97
Overload registered. Cessation of life.
Close down non-hardware support.
Reduce non-essential power use.
Go to status ready.
Man, the Devil, and all his works--we can hope for the ultimate goal, self-knowledge. Dare we hope that when it dawns it will not be merely to be stored in the memory of a telepath computer? Waiting, perhaps, for another of its kind with whom to share an empty universe?