The Invention of Beloved Money
by Ian Watson & Roberto Quaglia
It was urgent that my beloved Gina and I got to Geneva from London as soon as possible for the World Economic Forum. Unfortunately Turks, impatient to be part of the European Community, had hijacked and halted a Channel Tunnel train beneath the sea to indicate how pissed off they felt at still being detached from Europe, while the Channel itself was so stormy that all ports were closed. So we were compelled to use the slow method of flying.
It’s true that short-haul passenger jets fly at about 500 miles an hour, but due to airport security you need nine hours to get on a plane. After arriving at London Stansted and having our bags searched twice before we could check them in—which took three hours, including queuing—we walked to the vast complex of huts which reminded me of bathing cabins at, say, Deauville beach in the 19th century. There, after more queuing, in privacy monitored by CCTVs we had our enemas (sitting one hour upon the cabin toilet which screened our effluent) in case we were Al-Qaeda with plastic explosives in our bowels (the fiends had tried that trick once, in Australia), and we exchanged our own clothes for recyclable paper flight-wear; our clothes would travel separately— the cut-rate Ryanair only charged 30 euros extra for this service.
Gina emerged from her enema-hut looking smug. Since all women possess an additional tube where they can hide things, women must insert detector dildos which Ryanair hires for 30 or 40 euros depending on whether the dildo merely detects whilst filling up the space or has a vibrator function too. Al-Qaeda had used a womb-bomb to destroy a South Korean 747, and they wouldn’t succeed twice! Gina was vibrating; I wouldn’t have expected less of my Beloved.
Gay men had demanded dildos too, causing the Gay Alliance to sue the airport owners under anti-discrimination laws, but the airports won. Detector dildos were part of the War Against Terror, not recreational amusements. Of course underage girls and nuns and princesses were exempt, in fact anyone who provided a valid virginity certificate, to be authenticated by a special probe in the enema-cabin.
“What sane non-virgin,” my Beloved enquired, “would want to be exempt from a dildo?”
I forgot to mention the Barium meal, the substitute for in-flight peanuts, which we needed to swallow half an hour before we reached the X-ray gate. It was while we were queuing for that gate that an important security announcement came over the speakers. Al-Qaeda in Inner Mongolia, angry at Chinese sovereignty over Moslems, had for the first time used a scrotum-bomb to destroy a plane.
“They’re using a euphemism,” I said to Gina.
“Al-Qaeda are? Isn’t a euphemism a musical instrument?”
“No, that’s a euphonium. I meant that the announcer is speaking euphemistically. A scrotum-bomb is a ball-bomb. Both balls, probably. A suicide volunteer has allowed his testicles to be replaced by mini-grenades, probably powerful American Army ones, stolen or bought. Naturally the devout castrato believes he’ll have his balls restored in Paradise by A– “
“Don’t say the name! Anyone might be listening!”
Gina was wise. Starting in Malaysia some years ago, the movement to prevent use by non-Moslems of the Moslem name of God had long tentacles.
“His balls restored by *ll*h,” I said.
Gina nodded. “By A**a*,” she agreed.
“Due to newly tightened security,” continued the speakers, “all males over the age of thirteen are required to demonstrate to CCTV in the disrobing cabins the functionality of their reproductive apparatus before boarding any flight. Special hardware and software to identify erection and ejaculation is being implemented right now.”
“I’ll lose my place in the queue! By the time I get back I’ll need another Barium meal.”
“In my own noble nation—before beautiful Italy actually became a nation—randy castrati were still able to fuck and ejaculate,” declared Gina patriotically. “At least according to Anne Rice,” she added, since Gina was very literate.
“The majority of spunk,” I pointed out, “comes from the seminal sacs and the prostate, not the balls, although I suppose the sacs and the prostate might become discouraged by lack of balls.
Yet how about male passengers over the age of seventy or eighty who don’t usually get erections?”
“Unless they’re Picasso. This new security measure isn’t sensibly thought out. Al-Qaeda might use underage suicide boys.”
“No, because boys can’t deflower virgins in Paradise. I presume the software includes strong porn so that passengers come quickly, but even so… the waste of time!”
“And of semen too J,” she said before she smiled.
Grumbling men were already quitting the queue, which therefore brought us closer to the gate and to the eyes of security.
“Hey Chum, didn’t you hear the announcement?” called a uniform, gesturing me away.
“We have to get to Geneva!” Gina declared. “The world’s financial future depends on us!” Swiftly she knelt and unzipped me, took out my cock and sucked in her most special way, vibrating happily as she did so. Very soon the inevitable happened; so Gina spat on her palm and showed the security man my DNA in all its wet white wrappings.
“Scan this,” she said. “Quod erat demonstrandum. Senatus Populusque Romanus. My Beloved functions normally.”
“Come on quickly,” the security person said.
I haven’t mentioned the additional crowding of the terminal caused by several dozen British Indignants who were occupying the place, sustaining themselves on a diet of cheeseburgers and tapwater from MacDonald’s, since those youngsters weren’t queuing (except at MacDonald’s). Indignants pledged to march overland to places of economic protest, along with mongrels on string, and not use planes.
On the plane Gina and I talked magiconomics, rehearsing the arguments that would make us rich, and the world likewise.
Most money is totally imaginary, consisting of electrons in computers, but it still needs to be backed by something considered real, although there are different definitions of reality. Toxic mortgages given to poor people to buy houses in slums were bundled to produce glamorous derivatives, but this system failed due to lack of faith. Faith is important. There’s even an organization called the Carbon Trust. You must trust it when it tells us that carbon is evil, and that Westerners have too big a carbon footprint—which always makes me imagine walking through a forest after a fire has burnt all the trees to the ground. By carbon they actually mean carbon dioxide, but the single word carbon is snappier; thus people have become very angry with carbon itself, even though carbon is almost 20 per cent of the human body; which is like demonizing one of your own legs.
“Now,” said Gina, “these cap-and-trade schemes allow polluters to buy from non-polluters permits to emit carbon. So a village in Amazonia which never pollutes, apart from a little smoke from cooking fires, gets a pollution permit which the village then sells to a dirty factory in Rio de Janeiro. Consequently all minimally-polluting communities on Earth have monetary value in their potential to pollute. Pollution licenses from across Amazonia can be bundled as backing for loans.”
“Lending a new meaning to the phrase dirty money. Of course with their new income the villages might buy lots of jeeps… “
Gina’s brain often excites me as much as her body, so by now I was becoming aroused again within my paper trousers.
My Beloved noticed my predicament and went on teasingly, “Once upon a time money was the opposite to religion, as witness Jesus overturning the tables of the money-lenders. I do not speak of the Vatican Bank! Nowadays a lot of people realize that religion is not real, which makes them religious realists. As regards sheer faith, it’s money that people focus on.”
“Hurry up,” I said, straining, “or I may burst my Ryanair trousers!”
“Well now, recent events have devastated the supposedly scientific theories of economists, so in future only theologians or magicians will preach the new Bible of Magiconomics. Banks will be different denominations of the great church of money. You’ll have the Jewish Church of Goldman-Sachs, the Lutheran Church of Credit Suisse, the Catholic Church of Santander and so on. The money in your account doesn’t actually exist, thus it has to be created by prayer… “
Fortunately for the integrity of my paper pants, Gina was interrupted by a passenger from across the aisle, a muscular, hirsute and swarthy individual. His paper suit looked like an Armani Ryanair one.
“Scusi,” this person said, “I work for the mafia.”
“Which particular mafia?” I enquired politely.
“All the mafias.”
“So what’s your problem, Signor Mammasantissima?” For I deduced he was Sicilian.
“She says my money don’t exist! La verità is the whole world’s money only exist now grazie to us mafia. We rescue the banks! Ours money is backed by high class cocaine and heroine, which is real.”
Having spoken, he exhaled aggressively lavish amounts of carbon dioxide as though he had a personal permit; maybe he did.
Then he gazed at the erect paper outline of my departing erection. “Go on talking that way in Geneva, and you might lose it,” he threatened darkly, even though Gina, not me, had been doing the talking. Maybe the mafia man intuited what sort of loss would most frighten my Beloved.
“But Sir Don,” I said as casually as I could, “what makes you think we’re going to Geneva to talk about anything?”
“Why else go to Geneva during a World Economic Forum? To wind up the cuckoo clocks? Listen, me I gonna be arguing the case for backing all money from now on with cocaine and heroin. Most US dollars already test positive for cocaine. Then we’ll increase the supply ten times.”
Soon we were in Geneva. After changing back into our own clothes in a couple of the multitude of booths around the carousel hall, we carried our recovered bags out into crowded Switzerland. Due to the Economic Forum, hundreds of thousands or millions of Indignants must be in Geneva, even out at Cointreau Airport, squeezing into Arrivals. Long dog-strings snaked like those puzzles in kids’ funbooks: which dog belonged to which Indignant? Eventually we were able to consult the Tourist Information desk, resulting in us opting for the 3-star Diplomate Hotel which suited our budget since we’d already spent a small fortune on trademarking the names of… I shall not say what just yet… Also, we might come across some diplomats in a Diplomate hotel, whom we could lobby, in the lobby or at breakfast.
Our taxi journey of four kilometers took over an hour thanks to the crowds of Indignants, and the hotel proved to be very basic (consequently no diplomats) although, to compensate, the staff were exquisitely polite. Best of all, Don Gino wasn’t sharing our hotel and he could have no idea which one we’d chosen. This old part of Geneva was austere—tall grey stone houses flanking cobbled streets—but from the lake visible out of our fifth-floor window erupted a very high orgasmic fountain. Gina and I celebrated our arrival appropriately, then we took a taxi slowly to the Palais des Nations in its parkland where masses of Indignants roamed, many playing flutes, screamed at by peacocks at whom the many mongrels barked, taking as an economic insult the ostentatious displays of opulent tail plumes.
We had faxed our proposal in advance to the World Economic Forum; and on registration lo we discovered that the very next morning we’d be able to explain our master plan to the plenary session for ten minutes, extendable if delegates were enthusiastic. Gina and I were already known as the authors of Virtual Everything, discussing such things as virtual coal (which another country digs up for you to burn), virtual carbon (dioxide, which another country pours into the air whilst manufacturing teddy bears and fridge magnets for you to import) and virtual water, bottled and shipped from the clear crystal springs of New Zealand all the way to Scotland and from the clear crystal springs of Scotland all the way to New Zealand. More importantly my Beloved represented The Most Serene Republic of San Marino. Two of Gina’s uncles happened currently to be the two ruling Captain-Regents of this oldest surviving sovereign constitutional republic in the world, lightly populated and so rich it has no national debt; which was why it got a high position in the order of proposals. Gina herself was from nearby Rimini, and her indulgent uncles gave her spokesperson status as a birthday present since the outcome of the Forum mattered not a sparrow’s fart to the prosperous Serene Republic.
On our very slow taxi ride back to the hotel after registering, we began slowly passing that very same mafioso on the Avenue Something. Wearing a shiny blue silk suit, and beset by yapping hyena puppies, Gino was being assaulted with slogans by a blonde female Indignant, whom he may have propositioned, inspired by her big-bosom t-shirt proclaiming Occupy Twin Peaks! Lynch the Bankers! Could we destabilize Don Gino’s position further? Out of the taxi window I shouted: “There’s cocaine in his pants!” The female Indignant promptly plunged a grasping hand deep into Gino’s trouser pocket, and he commenced dancing his native tarantella while yodeling as if in honor of the Alps.
The proceedings of the conference were opened by Dragos (pronounced Dragosh) Ætherius Magorius, a gnomelike figure of great charisma based in Zurich, winner of the brand-new Nobel prize for magiconomics, replacing the obsolete Nobel prize for old economics. Born Romanian of a Danish mother, he was known by people au fait both with Romanian and with the grapheme Æ as Dragosh (spelled Dragos) Ætherius, but by most people for simplicity as Dr (pronounced Doctor) Magorius.
Initially a pupil of chaos scientist Florin Munteanu, Magorius became rich by re-inventing himself as a Feng Shui geomantic esoteric architect. New Age Chinese billionaires commissioned palaces from him. While in Hong Kong, he fell in gay love with a Korean economist, who initiated him amongst other things into his science while economics was still regarded as a science. Being on the cusp of science and mysticism, Magorius sensed the need for innovations in this field. How absurd that economics should cling to mechanistic Newtonian concepts in the Quantum Age.
First he tried to blend economics with Feng Shui, but it was difficult to create money in tune with the Five Elements or Five Forces. Yet Magorius became increasingly aware of the metaphysically quantum nature of money, to which traditional economists had always been blind. Modern money was like Schroedinger’s cat, both existing and not existing at the same time. It existed only while people believed it existed, provided that only a very limited number of people tried to observe it. As soon as a mass of people tried to get all their money out of banks at the same time, the money would suddenly be nonexistent. This pointed Magorius inevitably towards the development of magiconomics.
“Ladies and gentleman,” commenced the gnomish Magorius, standing on a box to see over the rostrum, “if I’d been told ten years ago that I’d be here today, opening a conference to determine how money can be restored by way of magic, I’d have said: you’re pulling my legs. But here we are!” Well, what was he to do? Wear stilts? “The catastrophe has changed our lives, which demands a new paradigm. Now we’re all aware of the metaphysical nature of money, which stops being real if we lose faith and all insist on observing it simultaneously.
“The real problem of the economic crash is disappearance of faith. This isn’t the first time such a thing happened. Time was, when people didn’t need faith in God, since God was the fabric of reality—consequently everyone believed, but nobody knew they believed. When unanimity of faith broke down due to travel to and from differently faithed places, it became clear that believing was an option, not something inevitable, thus believers became aware that they were believing.
“Now the same has happened with money. We always believed in money without knowing we were believing. When this faith crumbled, money simply disappeared. Now that we need money far more than we need God… “
A loud uneasy mumble spread through the congregation, um, audience.
“… Now that we need money almost as much as we need God, we have no choice but to formalize our belief in Money as an act of faith, and to establish all the necessary liturgies… “
I stopped paying close attention because Gina already said all this on Ryanair, but perked up when Magorius proposed: “What we need is a practical, logical, convincing aesthetic narrative to objectify our faith, a narrative which tells us what our imaginary money stands for. We need a rock-solid set of imaginary real things to back our new imaginary money with.”
Rock-solid nonexistent things… I broke into a sweat of excitement and clasped Gina’s hand.
“And that,” concluded Magorius, “is why we are here: to discuss proposed new systems and to vote on one of them.”
An acolyte of Magorius leapt to his feet to propose thanks to “the luminous Dragos Ætherius,” adding: “Modestly the Master hasn’t even mentioned his discovery that debt—namely, faith in the value of money—preceded actual money. Debit and credit preceded coinage and currency! Faith first, cash-in-hand second! Why, the Sumerians—”
He would probably have said more except that another person, wearing a full-body Islamic burqa with only a grille for her eyes, leapt to her own feet, pulling off the burqa to reveal: the blonde hair and twin-peaks t-shirt of the Indignant woman, who had assaulted Gino, or vice versa.
“This is all so fucking ætherial!” she shrieked. “As soon as there was war, soldiers needed cash to pay to fuck prostitutes. The debtologist David Graeber has proved that a government relies on debt caused mostly by military spending, monetized as bank notes. No country with a fucking huge army can go broke. That’s why Amerika fights so many fucking wars. Banknotes backed by real fucking corpses is fucking necrofinance! Corpses remain real to me even as fucking bones!”
Oops.. although once more this was a promising augury for our own plan, provided that no one else put 2 + 2 together. Several ushers swiftly reached the pretend Islamic Ministress of Finance to carry her away, thus rescuing her from the rage of Don Gino who was busy climbing over rows of seats and their occupants.
Because the United States owed so much fucking money, their delegate presented his policy first. He proposed global litigation. Every foreign inhabitant of the world was a potential suspect in the crime of financial terroristic conspiracy against US interests. Instead of war, therefore let there be suing. The American government would sue all 6.75 billion foreigners on Earth. America’s armed forces would be retrained as lawyers by all the American lawyers who currently advertised on pizza boxes for victims of psychic trauma caused by supermarkets with perceivedly narrow aisles, by restaurant meals with an alleged rat’s pubic hair in them, by restrooms with unrestful color schemes. All those foreigners would receive loans at a high interest rate to pay the new United States Legal Forces to defend those same foreigners against extradition and rendition to American jails. The accumulating interest would provide huge new liquidity backed by the sacred principle of freedom in which people must have faith.
The Icelandic delegate, Freya Freyadaughter, arose in ire. “Speaking as an anarchonomist,” she spoke, “6.75 billion people could not fit into even Amerikan jails, consequently the guilty must remain at liberty, as potential prisoners. Beware of false freedom, such as the freedom not to be in jail in Amerika! True freedom is the anarchy defined by Prince Kropotkin: in the absence of money let each individual freely give away goods and services, and receive goods and services freely in return.”
This was too blasphemous a concept for almost everyone.
“Go back to your glacier!” bellowed Don Gino.
Second place belonged rightly to the Chinese delegate, Sun Choi-Sum, since the Chinese owned most US Treasury Bonds.
“As oldest civilization on Earth,” declared Sun Choi-Sum, “we have glorious history of sustaining money supply. In antiquity already we use paper money, since we invent paper. And today we yank USA chestnuts from fire by new proposal of slavery, namely that 250 million indebted Americans become slaves of the Chinese, bundled and tradeable on Shanghai and Shenzen stock exchanges. For example, population of city of Cincinnati including property of population is one bundle, of city of Memphis another. Proposal excludes ethnic Chinese US residents required to administrate scheme. We point out that authors of US constitution document favored slavery.”
The US delegate leapt up red-faced, but immediately sank down with a probable heart attack or stroke.
Magorius quickly ascended his box. “Medics required!” the gnome bellowed. “This conference shall recess until after the gourmet buffet lunch which we shall take early.”
Amazingly the first person whom Gina and I bumped into in the thronged banqueting chamber nearby was the Indignant Twin Peaks; evidently she’d escaped being expelled from the Palais des Nations.
“How’s it possible you turn up so many times?” I enquired.
“I’m Ninety-Nine,” she said. I assumed this referred to her cup size until she clarified: “I represent 99 per cent of people on this planet. So, statistically I’m bound to turn up often.”
I noticed that she’d obtained a delegate badge identifying her as Tuvalu.
“That country’s all underwater,” I pointed out.
“So nobody else took the badge.”
“Fair enough. Out of sheer curiosity, 99, do you have an indignant solution to this crisis, other than occupying everywhere?”
I thought she might shout a few slogans, but 99 surprised me by exclaiming, “Personally I think electricity from non-polluting renewable sources—sun and wind, wave and tide! The new currency would be called Lectro. One Lectro will represent one kilowatt hour of electricity. The Lectro will be immune from inflation since electricity consumption is generally very stable worldwide and it slowly rises as population rises. Obviously we can’t let countries build hundreds of nuclear power stations to boost their energy wealth dirtily, creating a useless surplus that has to be discharged into outer space as beams of microwaves, otherwise any nearby aliens might become alarmed. The electrons produced must all be natural electrons, from sun and sea and wind. What do you think?”
“That sounds,” said Gina, “very ecological, but I think all electrons are natural. And there’d be a plague of panels and windmills and sea-mills covering everywhere. What would we eat?”
“I recommend the foie ravioli with the truffle sauce,” recommended none other than Don Gino, who had sidled up carrying an overloaded plate which he proceeded to spill onto 99’s t-shirt.
“Fie, foie!” she squealed. “It’s made by torturing ducks with obesity!” And she promptly tore off her profaned t-shirt, and her stained bra too, exposing…
“Mamma mia!” exclaimed the mammasantissima Mafioso. Yet before Gino could assault the twin peaks in a Pavlovian manner, Magorius’s acolyte interposed, setting down a nifty Ikea 3-step stepladder (in beechwood) for his master to ascend—how else could a gnome chat to the guests at a reception on an equal footing? Magorius mounted, an oyster in each hand, slid the soft contents down his throat, then placed the empty shells over 99’s nipples.”
“The universe,” proclaimed Magorius, “is dualistic symmetrically in my view, analogous to this young lady’s chest. So therefore one currency alone might be destined to fail. You might need at least two currencies just as you need at least two parties in a political system. That’s why all dictatorships in history have failed—they didn’t coherently englobe the dualistic nature of reality—and the inevitably emerging opposition at some point always spins out of control, leading to catastrophe.”
Magorius called out, “Thirty minutes till we reconvene,” descended from the heights of Ikea, and headed back towards the buffet, preceded by acolyte and stepladder. Gino promptly buttonholed a delegate from Burma, and I heard, “Puny third world nations need to make placebo addiction mandatory, so we can save the cocaine for… “
Back in the meeting, the delegate from Chile—where the Extremely Very Large Telescope Interferometer discloses extremely distant celestial objects four billion times fainter than the naked eye can see—proposed backing money with far-off galaxies.
“Primero, nobody can ever see these objects through any of our individual telescopes, even though our computer produces photos of them interferometricalistically. Segundo, that’s how those galaxies looked 10 billion years ago, consequently the same objects no longer exist. Since our EVLTI continually discovers new now-non-existent galaxies each containing billions of calculably valuable stars… “ et cetera et cetera…
By now it was the turn of my Beloved, with her enchanting and persuasive face, to expose the beautiful metaphysics we’d designed to back a new world order of money.
“Mesdames et Messieurs, meine Damen und Herren,” she commenced, “I propose that we create new and better imaginary money by backing it with extinct species. We should assign value to extinct species, which are in a very special sense imaginary because by definition we’ve never yet seen a living example of an extinct creature.”
“What about the fossils?” Gino heckled. “I mean the alleged fossils that movies put computer-graphics bodies on?”
Gina wasn’t fazed. “Yes indeed! As the Great Magorius already stated, the real problem of the economic crash is the disappearance of faith. God put real fossils of imaginary yet logically plausible extinct species into rocks to test faith, and to enforce faith.” Gina directed her gaze at the beaming American delegates, who were all creationists. “Faith needs no proofs. Faith is the opposite of proof. If God hadn’t put fossils in rocks, Noah might have needed to accept real dinosaurs on board the Ark, thus sinking it. But importantly, without fossils scientists might have proved the existence of God, therefore faith in God would not have been necessary. It is very faithful to believe in extinct creatures imagined by God, consequently everyone will trust the money backed by those creatures.”
The names of thousands of which we happened already to have trademarked in anticipation, and which we could therefore license…
“To imagine all those monstrous dinos,” 99’s voice cried out from the back of the hall, “God must have a lurid imagination!”
“Perhaps He was beta-testing for future demons of Hell?” Gina retorted, as ushers once again removed 99, now draped Gandhi-like in a linen tablecloth from the buffet. “How shall we decide which extinct species are most acceptable? For not all creatures are of equal worth, no more than copper and gold have the same value. There can be a process of canonization, akin to Saints in the Catholic Church, presented to a new World Extinct Wildlife Economic Fund, to be pronounced wee-wef, based here in Geneva. And how about units of extinction by analogy with computers: trilobits and trilobites?” Swiss bankers who were present looked delighted.
Much applause greeted Gina’s presentation, which in fact had taken less than ten minutes, so succinct and flamboyant were her words. The Vatican delegate did rise to thunder against Gina on the grounds that she was advocating investing faith in demons, if that’s what God had in mind anticipatively when he invented T. Rex and his kin. Devil worship, no less!
Perhaps Gina shouldn’t have improvised about God beta-testing… However, still at the podium, she snorted derisively. “Top predators are the pinnacle of the food chain. There must be a hundred times more vegetarian Brontosauruses than Tyrannosauruses. Just for example!”
Quickly I dismissed from my mind an image of angelic beta-tested Brontos with haloes and cherub wings the size of a 747. We were invoking an imaginary God merely to woo American creationists. God has nothing to do with fossils. God has nothing to with anything, due to His nonexistence. Oh my God, might the Vatican think about backing money by belief in God? No, for to the Vatican God was real and was therefore disqualified.
The rest of the afternoon went on quite uselessly while delegates from all over the world presented different alternative schemes, most of them meaningless or even stupid—the only highlight being when Jorge Diego, the delegate from Spain, sent Gina a note with a sexual proposal, using a very intelligent-looking and cute Capuchin monkey dressed as a ballerina to scamper over seats and shoulders; its tutu was actually a nappy. Politely the monkey waited for a reply.
“This invitation implies,” Gina whispered, “Jorge Diego’s lack of solidarity with his co-linguists in Chile. He needs encouragement so we can ensure his vote… “
“So you mustn’t rebuff him, my Beloved, but—”
“Ah, I know! I’ll fool him with a double at the masked ball tonight… “ (The masked aspect was to lessen the chances of delegates conspiring or fighting.) “I’ll arrange… “ Quickly she scribbled a fulsome note for the monkey to carry back.
Someone was saying, “Yes, the problem with real assets, like gold or drugs or electricity, is that if they become economic entities they immediately turn into virtuality like the Dutch tulip bulbs traded in the stock market in the seventeenth century. Even gold exists more on paper than in reality. And when it exists in reality, sometimes it’s only a thin layer around an ingot of tungsten which has almost the same atomic weight… “
I never knew that!
The speaker went on: “Very high atomic weight is the secret to stabilizing currency! Namely, the as-yet undiscovered transuranic elements with ‘magic numbers’ of neutrons and protons which occupy the Islands of Stability way beyond Ununhexium and Ununoctium, islands of elements which we faithfully and platonically imagine should exist… “
I couldn’t imagine an Unun-euro. Ah, but the speaker was Greek! “Fai skata!” I thought jingoistically, meaning, “Eat shit.” I ceased paying further attention.
Gina and I left to hurry back slowly by taxi to our hotel, inviting 99 to share our ride; naturally we bumped into 99 because 99 popped up everywhere, and the Indignant was central to Gina’s plan.
First Gina and I smoked some strong dope to make 99 passively less indignant. Quite soon 99 herself joined (or jointed) in. To make 99 horny, my Beloved and I next swiftly shed our clothes, dived under the bedding and fucked enthusiastically. After which, Gina called out from our soft cavern of delights to 99 to shed her Gandhi tablecloth… and to put on instead the voluminous Venetian carnival black cloak she would find hanging in the wardrobe, plus a complete gilded face mask and tricorn hat, as well as high-heeled miniboots. Stoned by now, 99 complied…
Suffice it to say that neither Jorge Diego nor his Capuchin monkey noticed the substitution at the masked ball; and 99 was still high. That voluminous black cloak which 99 wore allowed the Spanish delegate, costumed minimally as Picasso, to bow low in a courtly way (monkey upon shoulder) and to emerge within and underneath 99’s cloak, to explore her twin peaks enthusiastically, as we could tell from the way the cloak billowed.
Ourselves costumed as a veiled nun and a very cloaked monk, Gina and I regarded the spectacle with hilarity. The Venetian costume, mask and hat had taken up the whole of one of our suitcases, so we’d needed to rent our fancy dress on the street from an actual nun and actual monk who remained in our hotel room awaiting return of their garments; what they chose to do in our absence was entirely up to them.
First to emerge from under the cloak after quite a long time, looking dazed and damp, was the Capuchin monkey.
“Fay Wray and King Kong sizes back to front!” we heard. It was Fu Manchu speaking! Well, it was someone wearing a Mandarin’s costume, hands tucked into big sleeves, embroidered silk dragons, brocade cap, very long pigtail and very long thin mustache, and unexpectedly a serious student of classic American film. The Mandarin turned to address a companion Chinese Gymnast, simultaneously muscular and anorexic. Fu Manchu must be the Chinese delegate, Choi-sum, cunningly disguised as a parody Chinaman.
Unfortunately at this point Gino arrived dressed as Al Capone, including a violin case, which he proceeded to open… I almost clutched Gina and threw her and myself to the floor, fearing that Gino would pull out a sawn-off tommy gun to kill rival delegates.
But the violin case was filled with white powder which he proceeded to hurl into the air in clouds. He was Gino Cocaine, not Al Capone.
“Run for it!” I told Gina, as delegates began sneezing, inhaling, sneezing. Gino was trying to addict the delegates to his mafia plan. Consequently we missed the outcome of Jorge Diego and 99. When we got back to the hotel we found the nun and monk flagellating each other, compelled to resort to the bath towels which they’d knotted.
The second day of the Forum started well, I thought. Quite a few delegates seemed to be missing, perhaps because of continuing to sneeze, or due to having inhaled too much powder. A delegate from aptly named Bangkok, Thailand, proposed sperm as a backing for money.
“Money can only be backed by something unreal. Luckily most sex is imaginary and happens in the head. Typically, abstinence is the cause. Statistically most men who visit our brothels go there due to lack of sex, due to its absence normally from their lives. Thus typically those men are masturbators whose desires are fixed on images of women, imaginary in other words. Therefore our safe-sex brothel maidens will collect their sperm to float the currency exchange upon.”
This was all complete bollocks; which pleased Gina and me a lot. Our own extinct species plan was still surely the front runner.
And then a terrible thing happened. The Chinese delegate, still wearing his Fu Manchu costume, and clutching a sheaf of papers, hastened to the podium for a second time.
“Glorious Chinese People’s Government is pleased to announce more and better new discoveries of glorious fossils in its trademarked territory. Based on huge broken tooth we declare the previous existence of Extremelybigosaurus, copyright 2012 and 50 million B.C. Based on fragment of thigh bone we declare Fuckingenormosaurus—”
The devilishly clever Chinese were upstaging us!
Magorius, far from calling Fu Manchu to order, cupped a hand behind his gnomish ear to signify that he was paying attention intently and called out: “More, more! We want more fossils!”
As if to assist Fu Manchu (or rather, Sun Choi-Sum) in managing his notes, the Chinese gymnast hurled herself with a hop, skip, and jump towards the stage, then with a risky artistic rotation up on to it. As she posed triumphantly, both arms raised, she called out in English, “I am defecting! You need my knowledge! For instance: new fossil Fuckingenormosaurus thigh-fragment inserted in rock is product of glorious Chinese imitation-technology that brought the world authentic imitation Rolex and Swatch—now with new inventiveness in forgery! I claim sanctuary in Switzerland!”
Sun Choi-Sum cursed the gymnast in Mandarin—at least I didn’t suppose that he was praising her performance since his face temporarily resembled a boiled beetroot. Tumult was erupting amongst the delegates. From his sleeve Choi-Sum pulled out an iPhone, upon which his fingertips danced briefly. It was as if he was sending a coded signal to set off a car-bomb or something by way of distraction… Back within Choi-Sum’s sleeve went the phone. Magorius had temporarily dismounted from behind the podium, and was gesturing urgently to his acolyte to place the Ikea 3-step stepladder on top of the elevating box to give the Master even more stature. This done, Magorius ascended higher than ever before, simultaneously raising a microphone. Feedback howled momentarily but then we all heard Magorius addressing the Chinese delegate:
“So the gloriously techno paleontologists of the Celestial People’s Republic are already preemptively inserting simulated fossils into rocks to increase China’s deposits of extinct species? Aha! Just as the Christo-Judean God cunningly inserted Darwinian fossils into rocks”—which raised a Whoopee! from American delegates—”now our Chinese Communist Comrades cunningly do likewise, assuming the Mandate of Heaven, trusting that the world’s population will have firm faith in forgeries, following the precedent of umpteen famous Catholic relics. What excellent ingenuity! We must expect a royalty to be paid on each imaginary fossil to The Most Serene Republic of San Marino. I declare this to be the Goliath versus David, no rather the Gulliver versus Lilliput Ethicoeconomic Principle—”
My Beloved clutched my hand, exclaiming, “Why, that’ll do fine! Chinese support for our plan, plus a royalty for their imaginary fossils. Magorius has the wisdom of Solomon!”
But before Magorius could continue being wise, a ghastly event occurred. Into the Congress Hall staggered 99. 99 was visibly zombified—she was drooling, jerking, suppurating, and groping greedily in any direction where she sensed a live delegate. At least ninety-nine other shambling, shuffling, staggering indignant zombies followed her erratically, likewise groping for victims who began screaming.
As panic spread, it was my turn to clutch Gina’s hand and pull her from her seat, towards the stage—from which Choi-Sum had smartly absented himself through an inconspicuous rear door (thus making it conspicuous to me, at any rate), followed by a scuttling Magorius, leaving his acolyte to pick up the item of Ikea furniture while facing an advancing tidal wave of carnage as ravenous shambolic indignant zombies swept before them delegates attempting to decamp.
Gina and I ascended the stage, me calling “Hurry!”—advice which the acolyte should have heeded. Instead, in terror he leapt up the Ikea three-step like a cliché young lady who’s seen a mouse running around the floor.
Amazing to me was that no one under assault in the great hall seemed to be attempting to follow our lead, struggling instead towards the officially signed Emergency Exits, causing crushes which the zombified Indignants clawed and bit at. Possibly the refugees couldn’t perceive the door and thought that the stage, by elevating them, would draw them more visibly to the attention of the Zombies…
Oh wait, Gino the Mafioso had spotted what we were up to. He was in pursuit, knocking people aside, leaping for the stage as if it were a big lifeboat and a great white shark was close behind him. Evidently he fell short, since he vanished from view. Ah, Gino’s head reappeared, his nose streaming blood. Planting both hands upon the stage, he pressed himself upward… just as the zombified 99 reached him—at remarkable speed for a shambling zombie and with every sign of, not intelligence, but at least a powerful tropism. Gino disappeared again, dragged down.
Howls and shrieks muted somewhat as I slammed our door behind us.
“What the fuck has happened?” cried Gina.
“Presumably a sudden plague of zombification that targets Indignants,” I replied.
“I have a hunch that Choi-Sum did this by iPhone, but how did it happen so fucking fast?”
Various doors led off the short corridor we were in, including one at the far end. Where had Choi-Sum gone? And where, Magorius? Just then, the far door bulged then sprang open, releasing a sprawling heap of yet more zombies who had been too stupid to use the door handle.
The stupidity of zombies… there was hope yet for Gina and me!
“Quickly, Beloved! Strip and we’ll fuck doggy-style! That might fool them!” In the process of dropping my pants I dry-swallowed two erection pills which I kept in my pocket just in case. Normally I`d need no such assistance, but it might be a hard night’s night.
And indeed our insatiable capacity for sex saved us. Our doggy embrace resembled a bizarre creature with six feet—four at the rear, the other two being Gina’s palms steadying her on the floor while I gripped her. The waves of zombies were unable to interpret this. Zombies hunt for living human beings. Human beings have two legs, not six. Zombies don’t typically tear apart four-legged cows. A six-legged animal simply could not exist. Therefore they flowed past us, bumping against us on both sides in their shuffling, staggering manner, a bit like a river encountering an invisible rock, fortunately without ever destabilizing us fatally.
To survive we were forced to fuck until dawn—and we dared not change position except to react to the buffeting which came from time to time, though with decreasing frequency. Gina must have had several hundred orgasms, whereas I felt that my penis was no longer part of my body but was a stiff rubber dildo bonded to me. Also, I got cramps in my legs from time to time and was obliged to stamp from side to side rhythmically like some pachyderm confined in a small cage while continuing thrusting, imagining more and more perverse erotic imagery culminating in anorexic pygmy amputees.
Ultimately—I must confess—my interest in fucking diminished. Finally it seemed safe to uncouple ourselves, and for a while we staggered about in the corridor like a pair of zombies ourselves.
“My poor cunt,” moaned Gina. “It needs a holiday.”
My penis, no longer medically stiffened, was trying to retreat inside me. Inspiration struck me, a clever variation on the Thai proposal.
“What if… what if… This seems crazy! But what if abstinence from copulation could be assigned monetary value? For instance, if a man or a woman not having an orgasm with one another could be worth one Norgasmo. As a side product of this creation of money we’d get demographic control. The more money that abstinence from fucking produces, the fewer babies will be born; population will decrease, everyone remaining becomes richer. It’s a virtuous circle.”
“You’d have to allow masturbation as a safety valve… “
“On an industrial scale! Most of this will happen in the third world, where people won’t have many other ways to earn their money for living. Mass masturbation facilities need to be designed. We’ll find a use for all the semen. Nourishing pancakes, perhaps.”
“But isn’t masturbation sex too?”
“Real sex, by definition, requires a real partner—but masturbation demonstrates the ultimately imaginary nature of sex. Ultimately it’s all in the mind!” Thus I ripped off Bangkok.
“The Vatican will become rich… “
“So they’ll back our plan. And at last there’ll be an economic reason for all the abstinences of the past. Saints will rejoice in their graves.”
“Though not all of the dead Popes, especially Renaissance ones… “
At that point a leg-cramp aftershock seized me, so I clutched a door handle. Consequently the door swung open, revealing a bank of TVs silently showing pictures. I realized that this was a CCTV control room, abandoned by its security person or persons in panic when they saw the advent of the zombies. Monitors showed constantly changing images from all around the Palais des Nations, the grounds, the neighboring roads.
Multiple scenes of carnage! Hundreds of half-gutted corpses lay everywhere, nibbled by mongrels trailing long strings. The Swiss army had arrived: some soldiers were machine-gunning hoards of stumbling spastic zombies, others were using flamethrowers which I thought might be outlawed under the Berne Convention. And I beheld what must be a Swiss secret weapon, unveiled for the first time to confront this emergency: tanks fitted not with gun barrels but with enormous mechanized Swiss knives which simultaneously sliced and scissored and sawed and corkscrewed and hooked and tweezed and fish-scaled and Phillips-screwdrivered through the shambling incoherent masses of zombie Indignants.
A metallic tapping drew itself to our attention. Not in this room… We followed the noise.
Ah, behind another door… which opened upon… a laundry room. Lining the walls were big washing machines, one of which was vibrating clankingly.
We approached and, through the glass window, we saw the face of Magorius, his head festooned with soiled underwear of the female kind, much of it looking quite juvenile! Being a gnome he could hide inside a washing machine, wrapped in dirty laundry.
I opened the door, and a foetid odor emerged—along with the gasping head of the gnome. “Thank UnGod!”
Remembering Magorius’s former close connection with China, I demanded, “Choi-sum caused the zombie attack, didn’t he? Didn’t he? Tell me, or else I’ll shut this door again and launder you!”
“Yes yes,” panted the gnome. “Choi-sum . “
“How did it happen so fast?”
“Glorious secret Chinese-biotech-laboratory Zombie virus… plus glorious secret Chinese nanotech… all dog-fleas of Indignants pre-infected… could be activated by phone to multiply exponentially… fleas leaping to Indignants… Indignants smelling of their dogs… Tasting Indignant human blood, fleas infect but then quickly die—self-limiting—while Zombie virus goes viral in Indignant blood… This wasn’t meant to happen here tonight. Was a way to stop Indignants expressing stupid opinions and clear them away.”
“Instead of which, Choi-sum decided to zombify the Indignants right now to massacre the delegates who heard the Gymnast accusing him. Obviously you’re in league with the Mandarin!” I accused him. “Admit it, or I’ll launder you!”
“Mercy! “ he begged. “We’ll summon new delegates. In the wake of this tragedy, new delegates will be eager for a quick and unanimous solution as recommended by the heroic survivors. State your terms! Just don’t launder me.”
“Very well,” I said in a statesmanlike fashion. “This may surprise you, but The Most Serene Republic of San Marino insists that the dual backing for wealth from now on shall be… by the way, do the women staff of the Palais bring their knickers here, and their girlfriends’dirty knickers too, or is this a private collection?”
“The Japanese delegate needed somewhere to, um, refresh himself between sessions of the Economic Forum… tell me the terms!”
“Ah yes. Extinct Species, certainly.” (And Magorius looked so relieved; by which I don’t mean that he wet himself.) “Plus—after the experience of last night—Abstinence from Copulation. We shall call this system ACES, pronounced Access just like the pioneering credit card. Or better still: Aces, as in cards, the best in the pack, which should inspire confidence.”
“Yes of course, of course… what exactly does an attack by Zombies have to with Abstinence from Copulation? It’s true that Zombies don’t normally copulate… and you wouldn’t normally wish to fuck a Zombie even if you’re a necrophiliac… “
I replied in a lordly way, “Our exact source of inspiration and illumination needn’t concern you, Magorius. However, the global benefits are as follows… “ And I duly explained those, leaving my Beloved to finish eloquently thus:
“The Norgasmo unit, based on AC, and the Darwino unit, based on ES, will be bound to each other and convertible. Going into the red in your account won’t be possible any more. The bad old days of credit—the spending of nonexistent money—will be gone forever. Everyone on Earth, including Indignants but excluding any Zombies, will have a chip compulsorily implanted in their groins which will also be their bank account and will monitor abstinence from copulation. Your account in Darwinos will regulate your ordinary revenues and expenditures, while your account in Norgasmos will rise or fall according to your sexual life. If you haven’t enough Darwinos, prolonged abstinence from copulation will generate Norgasmos in your pockets. If you wish for an intense copulatory life, Darwinos will be pulled from your account into your Norgasmo account to avoid this going into the red. Welcome to a new form of capitalistic socialism! The poor will be able to survive by relying on masturbation, while the rich will be taxed for fucking other people. This will finally ensure the much needed demographic control for the world while ensuring basic survival for everyone!”
So finally I assisted Magorius out of the washing machine.
Conspiracy theorists were to claim that the invasion of the Indignant Zombies was launched so as to close off useless debates in favor of a preordained master plan. Furthermore, that a New World Order could best arise by intensifying Old World Disorder.
Gina and I were initially delighted at our triumph. Due to the number of extinct species which we had already patented, plus all those Chinese royalties, we quickly became disgustingly rich... in Darwinos.
However, the holiday of Gina’s cunt only lasted for a couple of weeks, and my penis likewise recovered its appetite for copulation—just as we ought to have realized by analogy with hangovers and stupid vows never to indulge again! Before long, our renewed hypersexuality was causing both of our Norgasmo accounts to become black holes into which most of our Darwinos constantly disappeared. What’s more—an ingenious revenge by Magorius for threatening him with laundering!—the exchange rate between Darwinos and Norgasmos turned out not to be fixed but progressive so that, the more you fucked, the less a Darwino was worth logarithmically in regard to Norgasmos.
Soon Gina and I became aware that our only prize for revolutionizing the world was that we could carry on exactly as before. In a time of big changes perhaps that’s not entirely irrelevant. Nevertheless, never decide something of such importance in the wake of a Zombie attack!
About the Authors
Former bartender, prize-winning photographer, and Surrealist Party City Councillor in Genoa, Italy, Roberto Quaglia won the British Science Fiction Association Award in 2010 for a story in The Beloved of My Beloved (NewCon Press, UK) co-written with Ian Watson, a book which reveals amongst other things how Vlad Dracul’s medieval Romanian expedition to the Moon was propelled by the Impalement Drive. Robert’s hilarious Sheckleyesque double-novel, Paradoxine: The Adventures of James Vagabond appeared in 2009 from Immanion Press, and 2011 saw publication in English of his radically unsettling book about the myths surrounding 9/11, The Myth of September 11: The Satanic Verses of Western Democracy. Mainly these days Roberto lives in Bucharest because one day he found himself speaking Romanian.
Ian Watson’s most recent book, also from adventurous NewCon Press, is the first appearance in English of his erotic sf satire Orgasmachine begun 40 years ago, almost published by Olympia Press till it collapsed, then almost published by Playboy Paperbacks until Playboy lost its casino licence in London; but a best-seller in Japanese. As of early April 2012, NewCon Press is launching Ian´s 11th story collection, Saving for a Sunny Day. Gollancz recently reissued Ian´s complete works (apart from his 4 dementedly gothic Warhammer 40K space operas) as e-books. He also wrote the Screen Story for Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence, based on almost a year’s work eyeball to eyeball with Stanley Kubrick. Nowadays he lives mostly in Asturias in the north of Spain where goblins drink cider and play bagpipes.
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