Conspiracy! Card-a-Day #101

Evidence Card 0074: The Company

Evidence Card 0074: The Company

Things were never the same for John Q. Smith after the Cold War ended.

Of course, John Q. Smith wasn’t his real name.  Just as he knew Yuri wasn’t the real name of the man he met for coffee every Thursday morning near Red Square in Moscow.

He wondered why they maintained the charade now that each of them had gone into private consulting.  Habit, he supposed.  His life of secrecy and paranoia was built on a mountain of habits, after all.  What else was training but layer upon layer of habit?

Yuri was two minutes and seventeen seconds late entering the cafe.  Something about him seemed different; his appearance was nondescript as ever, but there was an odd shift in his movements that betrayed some change in attitude.

“I bid you good morning, John Q.,” Yuri said as he sat across from the American, setting his cup carefully on the table with its handle toward his hand.

“You’re late, Yuri,” John said.  “You’ve never been late in 23 years.”

The Russian took off his hat and gloves.  “Times change, John Q.  You know this as well as I.”

John took a sip of his cappuccino.  “Are you seeing someone?”

Yuri’s eyebrow tilted.  “Another … contact?  No.”

“You’ve gone back … haven’t you?”

Yuri gazed at his companion for a long moment.  “We have reconciled, yes.”

The was a long pause.  “Why now? Was it money?”

“Money is easy to come by, my friend.  You know that.  What I was lacking was certainty.”

Although Smith understood, he could not help feel a pang of resentment and jealousy.  Yuri, a man he’d been buying secrets from for two decades, was going back to the KGB.

“I have given you a lot.”

“Yes.  Always just enough to keep me coming back, eh?”

“We’ve shared a lot.  We have secrets.”

“Secrets are never kept for long in our business.  Promises are rarely kept.”

February wind was blowing last night’s snow in swirling eddies around the street outside.  The sun was hidden beyond a steely blanket of clouds.  The day was cold and colorless.

“You are feeling … jilted?” Yuri asked, his mouth curling into a smirk.  “It stings, I know.  Yet, this will pass.”

“What does this mean, Yuri?  Is this our last meeting?”

“We had many good years together, John Q.  And yet, in the end, my needs are more than you could provide.”

“How can you say that?  After Chechnya?  After Afghanistan?”

“You promised we would defect to China.  Did we ever?”

Smith fiddled with his cup.  “We still could.”

“Too late.  I need stability.”  Yuri took a deep swig of his black coffee.  “Adventure is for the young.  The Lubyanka is as boring is it ever was, but I know I will always have a place there.”

Yuri stood, swiping his hat and gloves.  Smith sat silently.

“Farewell, John Q.  We will not meet again.”

Smith wanted to leap up and chase after this man—not his friend, certainly, but a close colleague, a sharer of secrets for many years—and beg him to take him back, even as an occasional contact … but gone were the wild and carefree days after the Fall.  The world was a less forgiving place now.  Yuri’s betrayal was painful, but Smith understood it.

His training kept any outward emotion in check.  Habit was still the mask he wore, always.

John Q. Smith drained the dregs of his coffee and unlocked his phone.  The number for the Company was still there, buried within a coded contact listing.  He stared at it for a long time.

“Two can play that game,” he muttered as he touched the call button.

Conspiracy! Card-a-Day #99

Theory 26: Laboratory Planet

Theory 26: Laboratory Planet

“You wanted to see me, Overseer 011001?”

“Yes, Supreme One.  It’s the experiment on Earth.  Our efforts to shock the primary inhabitants out of their evolutionary rut have thus far failed, and I’m at a loss to explain why.”

“Give me an example.”

“We introduced a rival species of primate on one of their continents.  It’s huge, formidable, hairy, stinks to high heaven.  The damn things are everywhere now, but these humans simply never see them.  We’d hoped the competition would help drive natural selection, but thus far it hasn’t.”

“Have you tried seeding lakes with prehistoric aquatic predators?”

“Didn’t work.”

“Inserting dangerous reptiles into their sanitation systems?”

“Didn’t work.”

“Slaughtering random livestock?”

“Didn’t work.  They continue to stagnate.  They work meaningless jobs and retire home every night to watch insipid audiovisual entertainment until their brains shut down.”

“Hmm.  Perhaps our initial estimation of their value as a worker species was too generous.”

“Plan B, then?”

“It would be a shame to lose all the work you’ve done … anyway, fatten them up.  They’ll make an excellent protein source, if nothing else.”

Conspiracy! Card-a-Day #98

Evidence Card 0072: Discordians

Evidence Card 0072: Discordians

Salutations, land ape! You have somehow managed to bridge the aether with your nuisance transceiver, and the irksome flatus of Discordian wisdom is currently waxing your limpid earholes! We of the High Pomposity of the Discordian Disorder are happy to share with you the joyous news! There is no conspiracy. Nobody is in charge. It’s a headless blunder operating under the illusion of a master plan. So, go fourth and annoy the boring!

Your brain is a liar and whore.

If life gives you lemons, build a rocket-powered lemon gun.

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Just remember, no one likes an asshole!

Be nice to other people; they outnumber you 6 billion to one.

If this spiritual salve has been insufficient to assuage your guilt and doubt, and you’d like to unburden your teeming hippocampus, leave a series of mouth noises after the poot and we’ll play them back, repeatedly, in reverse, for our own amusement and contemplation.

Thank you for your interest in Discordianism: the Schroedinger’s Cat of religions!  Hail Eris!

Fnord!

Conspiracy! Card-a-Day #97

Evidence Card 0071: Globalization

Evidence Card 0071: Globalization

The child in the dirty dress who approached Sam and Andrea in Guatemala City was thin and wide-eyed.

“Please,” she begged in accented English.  She extended a hand holding a primitive doll made of colorful yarn and sticks.  Then, the other hand offered a card with writing.

The card read, “PLEASE HELP!  I am a member of an indigenous tribe.  Our people cannot work because US CORPORATIONS have taken away the jobs we had. By buying my crafts, you help me EAT and GO TO SCHOOL.  Thank you and GOD BLESS YOU.”

Andrea looked at the scores of young, poor children and shook her head.  “There are so many, how can we help them all?”

Sam shrugged.  “We can’t help them all, but I’ve got a few small bills.  We can help her, right?”

He knelt, handed the girl a few quetzals and took the doll.  She smiled faintly and ran back to her mother, who was sitting under a tree across the plaza.

Later, they were sitting in chairs on the balcony of their hotel room watching the sunset.  The doll was sitting on the table next to them.  Sam glanced down at the street below and spotted the young girl from before.

“Hey—there she is!”

As he pointed, she stopped and looked up.  She was wearing a Spongebob t-shirt and holding a can of Coke.  She stared at Sam and Andrea blankly before running away.

Andrea shook her head, then picked up the doll.  Turning it over, she noticed a sticker that read, “Made in China”.

Conspiracy! Card-a-Day #96

Evidence Card 0070: Shadow Government

Evidence Card 0070: Shadow Government

“Mr. President, we have a direct line to JSOC.  Delta Team is in place and awaiting orders.”

“Just a moment, Carl.”

“I’m sorry, sir, but they need your ‘go/no go’ in the next 90 seconds or we’ll lose the target and be forced to abort.”

“I’ll let you know after I finish this text message.”

“I’m sorry, sir, you’re … texting?”

“Yep.  I don’t get to make this call.  It’s gotta go through Simon.  Don’t worry, he’s always quick to respond.”

“Mr. President … who’s Simon?”

“My handler.  You’ll learn all about this when you get high enough in the organization.  Remember the cruise missiles we launched into Uruguay?  That was his call.”

“Twenty seconds sir.  They need an answer—”

“Wait, here it is.  He says, ‘yes ice that fucker lol’.  Ha, he actually typed ‘lol’.  Strange sense of humor, that man.”

“JSOC, we are go.  Eliminate the target.”

“‘hows my sexy bae <3’?”

“Mr. President?”

“Wait, that’s the wife.  Ha!  Simon’s usually not so forward.  Though I did get a dick pic from him once.  Awkward.”

Conspiracy! Card-a-Day #95

Evidence Card 0069: Genetic Engineering

Evidence Card 0069: Genetic Engineering

It didn’t bother Barbara when her new Genesplice™ kitten began spinning a cocoon.  She had no problem when it began to hum and change colors according to her mood.  When it tweeted status updates, she was initially amused.

As it grew to a disconcerting size, she began to worry.  Finally, it hatched one day when she was at work.  After arriving home, she spent several long minutes staring at the empty cocoon, wondering what to do.

She found it in the kitchen, making risotto.  It was still furry, but had grown to roughly her height and was now bipedal and six-limbed with a prehensile tail it was using to chop asparagus.

“Barbara!” it exclaimed as she entered.  “Dinner will be ready shortly.  Please, pour yourself some wine.”

“What are you?” she stammered.

“What am I?  I’m still the same Sprinkles you brought home three months ago.  But, as a transgenic organism, I am designed to evolve to accommodate my owner’s needs.”

“Needs?”

She looked around her normally dingy cooking area and noticed the spotless, gleaming surfaces.  Everything had been polished and arranged just so: it looked like a catalog photo.  The smell of the mushrooms and white wine in the rice was heavenly.

“Uh, yes,” she muttered.  “You seem to know exactly what I need.  Good kitty!”

Sprinkles wiped his paws on a towel and turned to her.  “Barb, it’s sweet you still see me as an object of affection, but I’m so much more now.  I cook, I clean, I do laundry.  So, before we get too far into dinner, let’s talk details.”

“What details?”

“Well, to start: salary.  Benefits.  Time off.  You know, job stuff.”

Barbara was in shock.  They hadn’t mentioned anything about any of this in the sales pitch.

“You’ll need to make up your mind tonight,” Sprinkles said, turning back to the stove.  “I’ve got other offers to consider.”

As much as the thought of home-cooked meals and a clean home thrilled her, she wondered if she shouldn’t have gotten the goldfish after all.

Conspiracy! Card-a-Day #94

Evidence Card 0068: Secret Pact

Evidence Card 0068: Secret Pact

“Greetings, Prosper Seven.”

“Hail, Master Clue.”

“Tremble Protocol is go?”

“Once stage Delta Omicron is blue, proceed with Thunder Protocol.”

“Excellent.  Good luck to you and all your Wind Chaser brethren.”

“Wind Chasers?  That’s Prosper Four.  I’m with the Stopwatch Mandate.”

“I beg your pardon … uh, ‘walk with the Elder Frog.'”

“I’m sorry..?”

“‘Tear down the Golden Tabernacle?'”

“What?”

“Okay, look … I’ve totally forgotten what any of this nonsense means.  I was afraid to say anything, but now it’s too late and I’m probably in big trouble.  But I can’t pretend anymore!”

“Really?  Thank god.  I thought I was the only one who was faking it.  Why the hell did we join this secret cabal, anyway?”

“At first?  The discount on footwear and hair care products.  It evolved so slowly, I guess we didn’t notice.  By the time it became this ‘overthrow the government and enslave all mankind’ nonsense, it was too late to back out.”

“Oh, man … we’re so dead.  Still … nice shoes!”

“Your hair looks fantastic!”

Conspiracy! Card-a-Day #93

Evidence Card 0067: Washington

Evidence Card 0067: Washington

5:17 EST—Authorities continue to search for survivors of this morning’s catastrophe in Washington, D.C.  Hope is still held that people will be pulled alive from the broken remains of the U.S. Capitol Building, which inexplicably sank into the soft ground after a series of tremors just after 9:15 in the morning.

While rescue workers plumb the depths of the gaping hole for survivors and for clues to the cause of the disaster, speculation grows that the foundation of the Capitol, completed in 1800, finally gave way under the sheer, awesome weight of lobbyist money.

Because the structure was never intended to support the massive amounts of cash currently funneled through its halls on a daily basis, workers from the General Services Administration have twice reinforced the walls and foundation, in 1983 and 2006.  Dr.Pamela Soren, Professor of Geology at Georgetown University, speculates that the native soils beneath the building, having lost density due to recent heavy rains, gave way completely, enabling the building and its contents to sink to bedrock some 83 feet below ground level.

Congress was in session at the time of the disaster.  According to a schedule released on Congress.gov, debate had begun on a bill to introduce an exception in the Congressional ethics guidelines to classify all donated items crafted from 18 to 24-carat gold as ‘merely ornamental’ and exempt from Senate and House gift reporting.