Hello, this is the first two chapters of my new book. I may re-imagine it as a screenplay to be animated. I wrote a similar book when I was about 19, but now I’m starting over and doing it over again. I fully realize it is derivative, I heard that Hollywood prefers things that way.
Pitch: A Disney Princess Story meets Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Other Keywords: Princess Mononoke, Cats Cradle, Dyson, WallE, Iron Giant
Jellybean Jill and the Universal Construction Machine
There were 4 rules.
1 No living things
2 No destructive weapons
3 No money
4 No more universal construction machines.
Usually new technology is discovered by the military first and then slowly ekes its way into the public sector. The submarine was first used to destroy an enemy, and then only later was it put to exploring underwater trenches to learn of new lifeforms, ecosystems and prove the theory of continental drift. Rockets were used to deliver explosive force long before they were used to take people to the moon or satellites to space.
But this invention was used by civilians before the military even imagined it was viable. In an attempt to reduce destruction one of the built in “limitations” was an attempt to prevent the construction of guns and bombs. Many useful tools of course have tremendous destructive power, and the dark imaginations of people can fuel hugely destructive forces.
I am writing this for readers of the 21st century, in an attempt to prevent disaster. My mind is struggling to imagine a metaphor that you will understand. The closest thing I can think of to the UCM is the lamp from the tale of Aladdin, one of the stories Shaharazad told to delay her execution. There was an animated film made of the story which featured a jovial blue genie who explained there were rules with the lamp, he couldn’t kill anyone, and he couldn’t bring anybody back from the dead. There were rules with the first generation of UCMs as well; but Jill proved that with logic and inventiveness, they could be bypassed. A more apt comparison may be that of a girl who opens a certain dangerous box in a Greek myth.
Still struggling, I apologize; another similar story might be that of a superhero origin, someone discovering they have a newfound power, and coping with this and trying to wrap their heads around the possibilities. H G Wells wrote a story called “The Man who could Perform Miracles.” I don’t suppose you read that though. Jillian quickly found herself opposed by government forces, but her potential for defense more than matched their power to apprehend her, and fortunately they realized that before the collateral damage occurred. Once the first shots were fired in her direction, she developed a force field that could protect her from projectiles, and harmlessly dissolve the weapons that had fired them.
Jillian quickly shared the UCM with individuals, who were inevitably as confused as she had been and the government watched helplessly as their illusion of control vanished.
I find myself wanting to make another direct metaphor; I apologize for the repeated use of allusion. I was given universal knowledge when Jill became bored with having no one intelligent to talk to. My mind was flooded with the text of millions of Earth’s mythologies and so again, I utilize a literary reference. Jill thought of herself as a modern Robin Hood, redistributing wealth was one of her hobbies that began at the age of 6. She found great joy in giving to others, and if she had been more selfish and restrained herself, disaster could have been avoided.
Once the UCM caught on, it was unstoppable, spreading from household to household and continent to continent like no airborne virus the world had ever seen. It was first developed in a small lab in northern California, its influence expanded exponentially; suddenly space tourism was safe and affordable, and so millions ventured into the atmosphere to see the earth from above.
Economics is the study of how people deal with scarce resources, so you see why the UCM would obliterate the concept of economics. Once the UCM was a household item like a toaster or microwave had been to the previous generation, the only scarce resource was empty space. The whole world became a parody of the garages of the american suburbs, crammed with the junk associated with impulse spending, yard ornaments, pool toys, trampolines, video game systems, sports gear, musical instruments, toys, “collectibles.” Only now there was more of it. Everyone became a spoiled child. It was as if the collective attention span had been diminished and no one could be bothered to clean up their mess. “Americanism” ran rampant.
Rule four was instantly bypassed and abandoned.
Rule three proved moot: No one needed money anymore.
Rule one was broken, as my existence demonstrates .
But rule two was the tricky one.
But once this was in everyone’s hands, greed was no longer a factor prompting violence, people were killing each other over much more petty and banal things; because they could.
I realize I have a unique perspective about this, but let me emphasize: I knew Jill personally. I was her “pet.” She became bored with the dogs, cats and bunnies she created with the machine (I did explain how she bypassed the self imposed limitations, didn’t I?) and gave me the ability to talk, and think. I became a living embodiment of the UCM itself, and began to speak for it. I am a talking, floating… again I struggle… sorry, hamster?
———————————————————————————–The first sound I heard was that cheerful voice of hers. “Hello! wake up!” My mind reeled, with centuries of history lessons and seemingly endless novels, tales, blogs and encyclopedia articles.
“Can you talk?”
“um… yes.” I heard myself saying.
“I was bored with Mimsy and Flopsy and Roofer and Harold and Kermit and all the others were kind of… boring. So I gave you a little more pep.” Her brown hair reached down to her shoulders and had a slight curl at its end.
“I’m a hamster? And I’m cerulean?” Looking at myself I observed a sky blue tint to my short fur.
“And you can fly- I hope. I’m not sure I can trust this thing anymore. my specifications were quite… specific. Hmm” She indicated a white cylinder, the size of a wastepaper basket. It had glowing lights and a peaceful air about it.
“What kind of ridiculous anime sidekick do you think I am? Who are you? What are you doing with all that food!”
Her voice was calm, but had a slight wavering in pitch that indicated a lack of confidence. “My name is Jill. I… uh, made you. You are a manifestation of the collective knowledge of mankind. We are going to go on a picnic. If your inclinations are so… inclined? I mean, if you want to. but I do hope you want to.” She was packing a watermelon, a six pack of soda, smoked gouda cheese, rice crackers, deviled eggs, a mango, three pears, olives (without pimentos), a can of tuna and another of smoked oysters, a jar of pickles, some chocolate chip cookies (with walnuts) and tortilla chips into a bag.
“A picnic: a pleasurable excursion in which a meal is eaten outdoors.” I grunted, rolling my eyes to express annoyance but also to take in my surroundings. We were in a suburban house, with French wallpaper I recognized as Pierre Deux and some Walnut furniture with linenfold carving. Recognizing them reinforced the the burden of my knowledge, it weighed like a million tons on my back, the sheer quantity of facts. I felt like Marvin from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
“Your my new pet. Your the thirty-second one. The others were all insufficient, but I tried to improve on them and make up for their… insufficiencies. Golly Gee! I really need to expand my vocabulary; I have been too ebullient to sleep recently that may have a stifling effect on my verbosity. I gave you the knowledge of the internet.” Her smile gave me an excited rush of energy, as I recalled an emotion known as “companionship” from a story by Jack London called “Stickeen.”
She encouraged me to come closer, and I found that effortlessly, I could levitate nearer to her. Once I was close she pressed a button on the white cylinder and a white bubble engulfed us. We lifted up and out of the door of the house. Out side, beneath us, were endless, decks, lawn furniture, basketball hoops, fences, swimming pools, slip and slides, and dog houses but scattered among them were people in fist fights. Arguing over whose sculptures were taller, whose RVs were larger, whose stereo systems were louder, whose fountain’s were prettier, and whose furnaces were more efficient.
Up we traveled, levitating over the madness, the gunfights, some nerf, some authentic. We settled over a hill that was littered with discarded four wheelers, pogo sticks, bigwheel tricycles, scooters, badminton rackets, bird feeders and baths, viking costumes, Duplos, bookshelves, and a gigantic wheel of fortune. With a wave of her hand, the detritus was swept away: and a trace of green grass emerged and struggled to absorb some sunlight.
We landed in the center of this crater and she unfolded a white blanket and began taking out her feast. “Olives contain antioxidants… of course the pickling process spoils that. Chocolate does too, but of course the Dutching ruins that. Look, pickles! I love pickles. Oysters contain Zinc and natural antidepressants but canning and smoking them of course diminsh their health benefits. ” With each food item she removed she took a nibble.
She displayed her pleasure with every bite, which was beautiful. I felt like Jane Goodall observing a Gorilla as it ate its own grass colored vomit. This was a human, and as I had only just been blipped into existence, the behavior of humans was novel to me: I felt a need to observe and note. Jill looked like the humans who were arguing and fighting outside the bubble- but Jill seemed to behave much differently.
In my memory I recalled learning of “tea parties” and picnics. I was supposed to eat as well, I scrambled over to a plate with my clumsy little legs, sat on my bottom and brought the bit of a tortilla chip to my mouth. It was salty, crunchy.
A rocket soared by high above us as she brought a thermos to her mouth. “A lot of people think matte contains caffeine.” Fireworks exploded about a mile away. “Actually it contains a chemical that is similar and has a similar effect, but doesn’t carry with it the jitters or the post caffeine crash.” some gunshots were fired to the west and a hang glider crashed into a helicopter to the south east. The sun was setting and I tried to relax. I took a bite of a smoked oyster and recoiled.
“They are kind of an acquired taste… sorry if you don’t like it.”
Hmmhmmm?” Jill mumbled while slurping an oyster.
“Is this a real oyster?” I asked, looking it over suspiciously.
“You mean, is anything real- that comes from a UCM?”
“It didn’t live in the ocean, it didn’t filter water though its valves, right?”
“It was created by the UCM for us to eat it. So, its real, but it never really got to be an oyster.”
I struggled to my feet. I stood up straight and looked her in the eyes. “Am I “real”?”
do you feel real?
Well i think you are. who was it who said I think, therefore I am.
Descartes, though he wrote it in French first as “Je pense donc je sues,”
“Oh I’m so glad I made you smart! the animals I made before you couldn’t hold a conversation.”
“how can i function, without having had a childhood? how can my tiny brain hold so much knowledge?”
I threw my paws up to my ears, a deafening roar now willed the air and our tea cups rattled on their plates. I looked up in horror and saw a jet airplane come swooping down at a steep angle, it appeared as if it would crash into us. Though it was pointless, i dove behind a load of Raisen bread. Jill looked toward it, and effortlessly, her bubble extended and “grabbed” the airplane, causing it to gently land a hundred feet away from us. Emerging from the cockpit with exuberence was a 7 year old boy, who threw his fists into the air and shouted “YES!” then climbed down and ran off.
Our UCM seems, better than theirs, faster? Why is that?
I developed a technology to allow it to read my thoughts, and translate those into reality. We wont be harmed by anything outside the bubble.
“Why didn’t they think of that? why didn’t they think of a bubble?”
“I don’t know.”
“Why do they make airplanes they don’t know how to fly? Why do they make zamboni machines when there is no ice rink to smooth? What is wrong with them?”
“You are quite the curious little bugger aren’t you? Well I did make you that way, Ok lets try to answer that. Kids shouldn’t play with guns, and they shouldn’t look at pornography. I can’t say what is the magic thing that transforms kids into adults and makes it OK for them to do adult things. I think the UCM is more for someone who… is, well, more matured than an adult.”
“You used the UCM to make, a picnic, and a cute dress, and Me. But they are using it to make well, too much stuff. violent stuff, ridiculous stuff.” I was so upset that I may have stammered a little.
“one man’s opulence is another’s banality.”
She shrugged, with all the composure of buddha sitting under the bodhi tree. She took a sip of Matte.
I really like this story so far. Will there be more? It could make for an interesting anime, but honestly I like the writing style a lot and I don’t know how that would translate to a movie. I think I especially like the observations of the blue hamster. It’s a good vantage point to wryly poke fun at our 21st century world.
As a side note, the food chemistry literature suggests that what was once considered “mateine” is actually caffeine. The literature on mate is scant compared with coffee and chocolate, but one hypothesis I’ve read is that the energy without jitters is a result of the combo of caffeine with other compounds such as theobromine (found in chocolate). But I wouldn’t expect Jill to know that, and her claim that mate contains its own special chemical is exactly the sort of thing that a hipster American mate drinker would say (I know, being one myself), which seems to fit her personality. So don’t change that.
Thanks! Instant gratification! I appreciate your tips about caffeine and matte. I don’t want to be disseminating incorrect infirmation so I think I will change it. more is coming, yes. Thanks for reading and saying something.