Alternate Histories: 6/3, 4/20


[These are from conversations with two pairs of friends, at different times.]

Friend 1: The government. They’re frauds. Changing stuff around.

Like what?

They’re trying to lower the population, make it so there’s one world leader. There’s all these wars to reduce the population.

How does it affect you?

It affects me because I got love for everybody! I don’t want people to die for no reason.

Friend 2: Not only that, but the rich stay rich, the poor stay poor.

How can people help take care of each other?

Friend 1: People build themselves up. Helping the lower class become middle class.


The government’s controlling the weather. If you know how nature works, it usually has seasons, and it didn’t this year. There were no April showers, May had all the showers. And the birds left in March, they know how it’s supposed to be. It doesn’t add up to me. The way animals are behaving — and the trees and stuff, we’re not gonna have oxygen to breathe.



W and Y and K and A all live in the same city. W and Y are friends and so are K and A, but the two pairs don’t know each other. Here in the city, everyone dies for no reason–that is, no one dies for someone else’s bad reason. When there’s dangerous weather, there’s also a plan; when there’s sickness, there’s also care; when there’s not quite enough food, everyone’s hungry together. Everyone in the city, just about, is the same amount of endangered, and the same amount of safe, their whole lives long–not just from sudden changes, but from seeping changes. The ground and the water are low on unpleasant surprises. Cancer, asthma, nightmares, skin trouble are equally common in all areas of the city–which is to say, a little bit common.

Who is responsible for this? The government. It’s partly true to say the government control the weather–for a long time, they controlled it for the worse, by allowing the people and companies making it worse to continue. Having stopped this, they began to unravel themselves piece by piece, to distribute themselves, to share themselves out.

Who are the government now? Here in the city, most people’s sense of who the government are and what they do is pretty clear. They observe the need for large-scale work and organize its carrying out: they came out to help W and the people on his street remove an old tank of cyanide safely; they helped to plan, dig and plant up a heat shelter that K’s neighborhood council requested; they asked people from Y’s neighborhood to go to A’s neighborhood to pick defoliating bugs off trees. They protect and distribute some of the resources of place. They liaise with the governments of other cities, making sure the edges of the city are purposefully porous, and between neighborhood councils, if there’s a question about who gets what or who does what. They don’t respond to contention, or the need for justice and reparation–the neighborhood councils do that. They reinforce the city’s intention to meet the needs of its most fragile living creatures first, to keep its hands open and even. They foster science and observation; they believe what people tell them about what they see. They test soil bacteria and air quality. They keep an eye on salvage operations, the timing of bird migrations, dispatches from people mooring their boats in the harbor. When people ask them to, they make ways. They make paths.

Who is responsible? The ones who respond.


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