1.01 Welcome to Central City

I can’t tell you exactly when it started.

How do you go from not noticing to noticing? It happens in an instant.

I think it started with the graffiti. Crude, sloppy messages written in hidden places all over the city. Or maybe it started with the Voice.

I remember the time before the Voice. Those were dark days. The city, the whole world it seemed like, had fallen into chaos. The economy had crashed. A whole wheelbarrow of cash couldn’t get you a loaf of bread. Just kidding. Who uses cash? But when your credit cards are suddenly worthless pieces of plastic, that’s even worse. Entire industries collapsed overnight and unemployment hovered around 60% but who could be sure? What point was there to anything when salaries were meaningless. Only food mattered. Food and shelter. A once proud and hubris country, run by greed and media manipulation, had finally overreached. They elected a president whose disdain for impoverished people caused the rot to seep through the rose colored surface of the middle class. Violence, so much violence. I saw a neighbor hacking another neighbor apart with a steak knife after he ran out of bullets. I thought this country would never run out of bullets.

I was a kid. My mother sheltered me. She told me stories about children who could fly and magical islands far away. Then one day – the Voice. It didn’t seem strange to me at all. A booming, soothing voice. It filled my head and all the space around me. This can’t go on. You are my children. You are better than this.

The president was assassinated, or escaped to some private paradise. We never saw him again. The churches took over for a while. This was the proof they had waited for all along. They felt validated and in charge. A local government council was established, then eventually a national one, right here in Central City. The metropolis that would not stop growing. Industry returned slowly, just the necessities at first. In order to provide for everyone the government created a citizen’s salary program so no one would have to go hungry. Violence decreased. We were a new, cautious country now – gently guided by the booming voice. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light.

So I don’t know why I started seeing the messages. I’m older now. Too old for stories, but stories consume me. Especially stories about how it used to be. Before.

One of the scribbles read: TRUTH. Another read: think!! 1984. Another read: Find Neo. Follow the white rabbit.

I know 1984 is a book from Before. The white rabbit fell down a hole and Alice followed.

This city is enormous. No one walks. Cars are above and the train is below. The streets are empty. I walk. It helps me think.

Before, the world was ruled by wealthy people who lived separate lives from the rest of us. They were deities, living their lives in magazines with eternal smiles plastered on their faces. Before that, the world had democracy. One man, one vote. I wondered what the women did. I wondered what happened to the wealthy people. Maybe they had their own country somewhere now. One that the media didn’t report on.

Think, Gaia, think! The question was forming whether I wanted to or not.

So I logged on and I went deep. Deep, deep down into the net where I couldn’t be traced. The only space it was safe to ask the question – the one question you don’t ask.

What is the Voice of God?

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