Sunday, February 17, 2008

GroupThink: the Lighter Side - Chapter 6

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Year 10, Month 12

I can't believe this!

200 men fidgeted nervously.

Eventually the Coalition realized it was doing this and tried to tell itself to relax.

The group stopped fidgeting, but nonetheless appeared nervous.

After months of planning and preparation, the Coalition's plans of "relocation" were finally ready. Everything was in place and ready to go. And it was hesitating. At the last moment.

Just get on the damn bus!

But what if this doesn't work?

What if we get stuck in a lab?

Are you sure we can't just stay here?

Look, we've been over this before. If we stay here and do nothing someone is bound to notice! If nobody else, the families of your victims will notice.

Except for me.

Right, except for Fred.

Because I was wrongly accused.

Right, who was wrongly accused.

And who spent the last 10 years of my life…


The Coalition tried to count to 10, then noticed that everyone was counting.

Really, it couldn't blame them; if for no other reason than it literally felt their fear, their dread of what would happen if things went wrong.

Look, guys, we need to either go or scrap this. Everything depends on following the plan.

The men shuffled around nervously.

I don't want to go back on the drugs.

And I don't want to have to deal with that stupid gang.

And I don't want to get beaten up all the time.

The list went on and on...a list of misery and suffering that spanned the range of human experience. Many of them had more doubts and more problems than your average person, hence their current abode. But it all boiled down to one thing.

I'm scared too.

What? Huh? What did he say? Is it really a he?

I've only been alive for a few months. I don't want to die either.

The response was a stone cold silence.

But if we stay, we'll all die. Not literally I guess. But we won't be able to stay together. We'll have to go back to the gangs and drugs and the killings…it's not going to stop, not unless we do something. We can't stay straight, not if they break us apart and they'll never trust us.

Believe me guys, I don't want to do this. If there were any other way, we'd use it, but there just isn't anything else.

With a great deal of hesitation the men started getting on the buses. As each one left, the Coalition could feel a little more of itself slip away. The distance between them was just too great – it couldn't hear everyone when they were that far away.

It was almost funny. It wasn't afraid of getting caught in the conventional sense. The Coalition knew that it could deal with any one person or even a group of people with ease; but only if it could think, if it could hear everyone, if everyone could hear its voice.

When it traveled like this – separate, unable to think, it was vulnerable. The only good point was that it was like falling asleep: slow, gradual. You could only be aware of it if you were really watching.

The Coalition was so busy calming its people, trying to assure them that the plan would work, that it couldn't concentrate on "staying awake."

When enough people had left that its consciousness had disappeared, some panicked. It was like drowning in silence. The ones that were left ran for the buses and piled aboard, trying to catch up.

Thankfully, none of this was apparent to anyone else. The men had time to calm down. They were still scared, but at least they weren't panicking. They weren't mobbing the buses, but there was a definite sense of urgency to get moving.

Weird flashes of "semi-consciousness" would appear and disappear, like someone waking up in the night and going back to sleep. These were punctuated by moments of fear: would the plan work? What if they couldn't regroup? What if someone mobilized the National Guard? The sense of urgency became more …urgent as the last few buses left.

* * *


This is killer!

Hey - check this out!

It had been 2 weeks since the Coalition arrived in the city, and in that time, it had gone completely berserk.

The place was like some mental version of a drug – so many minds, so many different minds! He had been inducting new members faster than ever before. And there were so many to choose from, so much to learn. Musicians, politicians, homeless, rich, poor, students, teachers, addicted, clean – it was like a smorgasbord of thought, feeling, experience.

Travel had been very disconcerting.

As planned, the men arrived and gradually consciousness returned to the Coalition. Things had been dicey at first – some of them had panicked and run off. Others milled about in groups large enough to draw attention. It had taken a full day to get everyone back together and settled in.

Finding a place to stay had been laughably easy. Abandoned buildings were common enough. The problem was dealing with local gangs, derelicts and others.

With its encyclopedia-like knowledge of all things criminal and the months of preparation, The People were quickly housed. By "concentrating" on a few key gang members, it was relatively easy to bring them into the Coalition and thereby bring the gangs under control. After that, The People had a place to stay and a modest source of income.

Plenty of places had crappy, low paying jobs where few questions were asked. The Coalition was very good at managing money and combined with no-rent housing and rather boring but cheap and nourishing food, its expenses were few. The People spent the time repairing their new place of residence and getting basic necessities back up and running.

By that time, new members had started being "recruited" on their own.

Inducting women into the Coalition had come as a shock. It wasn't that they were different the strange part had been how similar they were. Different thoughts and emphasis but still basically the same basic drives, needs and desires as men.

The Coalition's background being what it was, it had a rather strange view of the opposite sex. The more normal members viewed them as more people, while the "socially challenged" people viewed them with fury, anger and disgust.

How do you stay angry at someone, though, when you can feel their thoughts? The basis for much of the anger was founded on their being a difference between someone else and you. What do you do when you see their insecurities, drives and needs mirrored by your own?

Marla had been the first woman inductee, and had gone largely unnoticed until the Coalition was making another plan for purchasing supplies.

Rice: check

Beans: check

Spiderman band-aids: check

Sanitary napkins: what?!!

It was like a gigantic eyeball swerved to examine her.


Check it out.

Who brought her in?

Umm…hi, guys…

What are we gonna do with her?

It is an odd feeling to be, at the same time, the subject of scrutiny and the examiner. Questions unbidden surfaced and were answered. A mental hush settled on the consciousness of Coalition. Then came the equivalent of a shrug.

Sanitary napkins: check.

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