2a – The Twelve Points

Slumping into the fireplace, carplike mouth groping, Trepov death-rattled a last blood-clotted breath, flurrying the fireplace ashes.  His widow knelt and pressed his heavy lids shut, and in shock, depouted his mouth.  The wary guests crept past his feet, tiptoeing around his widow, and the guards, towards the hallway.  The first feigned respect until, with every pretended mourner positioned to slip beyond danger, they panicked en masse — toppling trays, upending tables and tripping over Trepov’s cooling body.  Then, deliberately, and with military discipline, a dozen or so servants now in black uniforms pulled semi-automatic rifles from behind several cedar bookcases which surrounded the study and the lectern and fired a warning fusillade directly into the ceiling.  A woman had shot Trepov.  Now she lunged forward, despite plaster still raining down, pistol still smoking in her right hand, and held up her left hand to command silence, then announced:

“Your way is blocked!” The crowd heard her and began edging back.  The escaping mourners were brutally shoved clear from the hallway, back into the room, automatic rifles in their ribs.  The assassin accepted an assistant’s help in easing off her flowing party dress, then stepped out revealing a black uniform beneath it, exactly like the armed servants.  She paused, took a deep breath, and steadied her pointed gun:  “My name is Vera Zasulich.”  She declared, “I represent the Last Social Revolutionaries …  We are conscious Atavists.”  She caught her breath, glaring at two waiters lingering near the door:  “Away from the exits! I will inform you of what has already happened.  We have seized this inverted skyscraper! This front company called Tombstone Internationale — and we expropriate its wealth.  We’re not aligned with any paramilitary faction.  We are not extortionists nor terrorists.  But we will kill anyone who gets in our way, especially the executive money-launderers, and counterfeiters.”  She waited for several weeping matrons to be forced back to the center of the crowd, then signaled that Trepov’s body be dragged out, and his widow arrested.  She continued: “I personally take responsibility for shooting Trepov, this murderer, boss of the right-wing paramilitary Blunts, who worked under direction of a higher group of morons called The Morality Squad.  We are not working with or against Rupert.  We are organized, however.  And we will enforce the new set of conditions.  And we make no apology.”

“You should know …”  She handed her pistol to another young woman, who resembled, as far as Rupert could see, to his horror, his girlfriend, Undine, “… we have infiltrated Grabmaler’s organization for years and many of us worked here and formed a tight network … centered around our aerobics and weight-lifting club.”  She paused to accept a folio of papers, collecting them mechanically: “We’ve drawn up Twelve Points which spell out our program.  Again, we are not terrorists.  We hope this will be the last violent act in destroying the executive power of this complex, but, naturally, if we are not obeyed … we will shoot first.”  Then she pointed to members of the crowd, ” We will shoot, you, and you, and you!’

“Resolved! (One)”  She immediately began to read her program, pausing only to retrieve a pair of reading glasses from her jacket’s vest pocket.  Rupert, surprised, was left to helplessly listen to their conditions as the results of his crime: “Since the financial, ideological and military leaders of this organization: Grabmaler, Architect of the World Economic Collapse, Benedict ‘High Priest’ of the Morality Squad, and Trepov terrorist coordinator of the paramilitary police, the Blunts, have been executed, we will dismantle the economic holdings of their parent corporation.  All those who are devoted to their memory or Tombstone Internationale will replace those they helped imprison, who still await freedom.”   She paused, pulling her hair band back, breathed, then launched into her second condition.

“Resolved! (Two):  All secret police terrorists, drug-entrepreneurs, and counterfeiters will be tried in People’s Courts with a jury drawn from their victims.  Wealth hoarded from drug trafficking, art theft and extortion will — with dispatch — be seized.  Any clean proceeds returned to the streets, sold or bartered for hunger relief.”

“Resolved! (Three):  All exploitative entertainment: pornographic holograms, blowup dolls, pederastic pamphlets, child prostitution postcards and genetically engineered hermaphroditic animals, shall be doused with gasoline and burned!”

The audience slumped to the floor for a rhetorical siege.  Some moaned, involuntarily, with the last Resolve, unable to contain their shock and weariness.  Meanwhile, the “Last Social Revolutionaries” in the crowd, in black uniforms, broke out into a vigorous applause, stamping feet and shouting slogans at the end of each “resolve”.  Vera Zasulich sped up her delivery:

“Resolved!” (Four):  Drug goons, fascist thugs, narcotic criminal geeks will be publicly humiliated!  Tattooed or branded on their genitals!  Their drugs will be dumped, their prostitutes re-educated, files published, art returned: ‘No secrets! No privilege! No rank!’”

The guards parroted the slogan, forcing the whole audience to follow suit.  Like victims in a bank heist the former employees watched as their corporation was being robbed from under them. The guards then stomped their rifle butts on the floor in approval until one rifle discharged, shattering a plate glass elevator partition.  Rupert glanced warily over to Aloysius, who, despite it all, was crawling on his hands and knees, salvaging a drink from a capsized champagne bottle.  Rupert then, caught off guard, focused on the silent, almost invisible assistant to the leader who turned out indeed to be his girlfriend Undine.  Mystified, he watched her cooperate.  She was also dressed in black, soft auburn hair pulled tight, slim figure disguised by leather trousers and a shoulderstrap holster separating her breasts.

“Resolved! (Five) We will organize a spontaneous celebration which will destroy everything which inspires nostalgia for Grabmaler.  We will inspire the world by transferring Power from you, the exploiters of mass poverty, to us, those you impoverished.  We will exhume the past, dig up buried concepts of social justice, then kick them to life.  Then make you eat them!”

Rupert’s apprehension shifted now to Trotsky, who appeared fascinated by the proceedings.  He was still grasping, by chance, a bottle of Chardonnay in one hand and a John Coltrane CD in the other.  Rupert couldn’t tell if he was in with the LSR’s.  Trotsky stood under an indoor trellis decorated with red and white fuchsias, slender blue irises, admiring Vera like a lovestruck schoolboy.  His mercurial green eyes, thick red lips and pale, sloping brow seemed to reflect an awestruck, odd injoke, as if watching some invisible ship sail in, yet he seemed to be the one waving from shore, and holding Vera’s bags.

“Resolved! (Six) All pamphlets inciting religious hysteria, videos, movies, instructional suicide tapes, propaganda sheets disseminating Doomsday or Apocalyptic or Pure Land Buddhist thought-control –  will be shredded!  No formula of behavior can replace individual conscience …       Rupert cheered: “Here! Here!”, then was mechanically tutted by reverential LSR’s drawing fingers to their lips.

“When the spies in this complex are rooted out then jailed — we will jump-start History!  We will go backwards!” Vera shouted, triumphant, pounding her fist. “And no one can stop us!”

Rupert glanced warily again to Aloysius scarfing another floor-salvaged drink, ignoring Vera’s gunpoint propaganda. He offered it to a rather frightened guest, and a smile crept across her lips.  She was one of the women guards dressed in black but she had also been one of the women who greeted them.  With her white, delicate skin, and fluttering eyelashes and a nervous way of blinking, which seemed both a product of frayed nerves and curiosity, her eyes belied the hardcore harangue, slyly watching, soft, silky and blue.  The other girl was balancing on her toes, and looked harder.  And taller.   Her jet black hair hung straight in a short bowl cut just over her ears, her almond-shaped eyes following the proceedings coldly, as she smoked.  Her sleeveless blouse revealed a hint of copper or bronze, an almost Asiatic hue to her shoulders, to match her Tartarlike brow and thick but sexy eyebrows.

“Resolved! (Seven)  The bulk of Grabmaler’s hoarded fossil fuel, guns, plastic explosives, chemical, biological warfare shells and riot-equipment ripped off from the defunct Fascist Federal Military will, for the most part, be destroyed, when not employed for our self-defense.   Since the economic basis of nation-states have been destroyed police weapons will, as inevitably as labor or money, disappear … or be utilized for the just cause of our revolt.  And, the rooting out of spies! And they are everywhere!”

Rupert missed the point.  Five revolutionary guards had collected in front of him in order to sop up her every word, and shout support.  Rupert felt desperate to find Undine.  He carefully threaded his way left, slipping past a few guards who winked at him, since it was he who had killed Grabmaler.  He skirted a cache of wary businessmen and their wives, or consorts, stiffening, as he excused himself.  For them, he was their nemesis.  He murdered Grabmaler and now there’d be no golden parachute to ease them beyond The Collapse.  His young man’s bland face for them was a mask for murder. He destroyed the executive founder of Tombstone Internationale and toppled the wall between themselves and a desperate world of suffering which they helped create.  He was their future hardship incarnate, their leader’s protégé who pushed them back into the clutches of “apes” who ruled the streets.  Like the Atavists who gobbled up Eastern Europe.  And regardless of his past, he was, for them, one with the Last Social Revolutionaries, a lumpenfanatic, a deceptively attractive serpent planted in their underground Eden — a revolutionary missing link.

Undine braced for his approach.  She nervously adjusted her cuffs and involuntarily flexed her smooth calves.  He realized now that after she sent him off to resolve his guilt, wring his hands, fret, while she, ear to the grapevine, decided to break the news to Vera.  She evidently made the choice while he whined and chided himself in Aloysius’ hut.  By throwing in with the only organized group, which by absurd illogic, preached revenge as justice, Undine saved his life.   If she had not cooperated, it would have been Rupert who was shot instead of Trepov.  He had encountered forms of Atavism in the streets of postcollapse New York — the homeless who preached pathologic nostalgia and salvation in the past.  He had heard that a druglord and arms dealer had set himself up as an Emperor in Prague, and claimed to be the Omega of Atavists.  For, now, the most improbable beliefs and ideologies, which decades ago seemed dinosauric, were professed essential to save a world which could no longer sustain its population, and no longer had an economy.  The more extreme the belief the better.  And he understood this.  Yet, whatever the LSR’s actually believed, or whoever they were really operating under, Undine found the one tactical way to save his life.  He knew further that she was being careful to avoid him, which meant he was still in danger.

Behind his back Vera’s fanatics would discuss different motives: perhaps he was a terrorist or exactly the ingrate patricide Trepov imagined him, plotting to inherit Grabmaler’s wealth.  Not only would he be in danger from them but from the employees who profited from Tombstone.  So any public identification would put Undine at risk.  Yet he needed to know if Undine could still love him.  She was the kind of woman who might save his life even if she detested him.  Only Undine could save him from himself, and most probably, from the LSRs, or The Blunts, or whomever awaits to kill a killer.  Yet all these tactical fears became tangled in his need to be loved.

“Undine!”  He whispered.

“Rupert, back away!  What are you doing?” She whispered vehemently.

“Undine, come here, behind this statue.”

“Rupert, you nincompoop.  Don’t you understand?”

“Yes, I do.  But what is left to understand in a world gone mad?  Do you love me?”

“Not now, Rupert.  Why stop me?  You chose a bad spot.  A lousy time!   O.K. we must make do.  Listen, here’s a key.  Before Vera finishes … oh don’t screw up!  You must release two sets of prisoners.  There are two levels beneath your room.  Don’t go back to it!  How to explain?  I suppose Grabmaler chose to keep these people alive for future exploitation.  But we can’t lose a chance to spring them, before they’re ‘tried’.  They could be found politically incorrect even if they are imagined to have cooperated.   I’ll  find a cover excuse.  Now, listen, damn it Rupert, stop looking at me like a lovesick chien.  You must drop afterwards to still one more level — to the stolen art warehouse.  We’ve hidden Diogenes there.  He is in a cabinet.  Look away from me! We had to place him, amongst the other, dare I say it, statues.  You meet me there.   Bring Aloysius along, if you need a helper.  Further explanations below.  No?”

“Yes.  But Undine ….”

Butt nothing!” She smiled wryly, grabbing him playfully from behind. “Rupert you are no longer an ingenue. You wise up and be there!  And break gently, smoothly away from me.  Don’t let anyone delay you.”

“As good as done.”

“Then do it!  Go!”

The Twelve Points were screeching to a halt, among a gathering of shouted slogans, pleas to turn the back world from Collapse, amongst hopeful, doe-eyed disciples.  Trotsky now looked like a convert, who, while Rupert threaded his way nimbly through the throng, groveled at Vera’s atavistic apotheosis, kneeling before her, making it impossible to discern whether he was in love or worshipped what she said so unremarkably dictated, or perhaps, just after her body.

Rupert eased out.  Aloysius followed, slinking, stealthing, just as the Last Social Revolutionaries rolled away the champagne and hors-d’oeuvres, and were busy replacing them with diluted beer and wooden bowls of oatmeal:  “We will debunk the myth that history and time go forward, then drain its residue of crimes and moral obsessions!”  Vera was exulting as they both escaped into the hallway:  “Then we will march, backwards!  No one can stop us! No one alive!”