The Long Game

Tim Reutemann
7 min readMay 17, 2022

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This story was sitting on my face for quite a while now. It got to get it out. The title is a reference to a vague memory of my emotions during a 1990ies show of Samuel Beckett’s “Endspiel” on a stage in somewhere in Munich. You may find it echoing through the lines. That sinking feeling of bearing witness to existential crisis. It is not a hopeful story.

Danger

It was one of those endless gray autumn days. Must have been grey for weeks now. Linda couldn’t really tell — her days tend to blend into one. She checks the weather app. Yes, indeed. It has been grey for the last two weeks. She is not losing it yet, not that part of what she had left of “it” at least.

It’s early morning. Time for her exercise. Lack of Oxygen accelerates the decay. Ānāpānasati keeps a head clear, most days. In, out. Slowly bringing up the concentration in her blood to the point where she can focus away from breathing and towards her life. Time to call for Eryna.

Linda and Eryna met at the supermarket. At the time, Linda had still had enough breath to push her own shopping card to the corner supermarket all by herself. Unwilling to admit that it was not going to get better, she had still been refusing to get everything by delivery.
The two kicked off, so Eryna moved in with her the very same day.

Eryna is still in her Pijamas, brushing her teeth in her combined kitchen and bathroom, an im-promptu adjustment squeezed into Linda’s old and narrow downtown apartment. It’s three by three by three meters. Nice dimensions, nice proportions. Eryna was going to teach a class at university for the first time in her life when the next semester starts.

Or rather, she was still under the believe that she would do so. Eyna had not been to university since the Chi-Wave. But her ability to form new memories had come to an end then. She had been of the believe that her semester was starting next week for half a decade now.

After taking care of her own hygiene, Eryna prepares the bucket with lukewarm water and gets the basket with sponge, soap and towel and climbs up the tiny spiral staircase to the small chamber under the roof of the traditional townhouse.

Knock-Knock.

“Come in my dear!” Linda opens her eyes, still breathing heavily. Her heart clenches for a moment — Eryna. That wonderful, wonderful young woman who keeps her alive. She had made her peace with the expectation to never be with anyone else, ever again. There are worse people to die with.

Than the smell hits her. Foul, sewer smell.

Not again. The water had gone smelly before. Last time, the water was foul for a whole week. Linda had prepared for this to happen again: “Stop right there Eryna. Now listen to me. You leave the basket here. Climb downstairs.

As Eryna reaches the bottom of the stairs again, she hears Lindas voice from upstairs “Empty the bucket into the toilet.” and then “Fill a cup from the emergency water supply. Bring that upstairs.

Washing with a single cup is less pleasant, but does the trick. Eryna’s hair still carries a fragrance reminiscent of a decaying waterfowl, but they get through Linda's morning cleanup routine just fine.

Someone must turn of the central tap. Else Eryna will drink it. She can’t smell anything. It’s too far away to send Eryna herself, she would get lost. So Linda calls the guy living next door. He can still walk. No reply.

She logs into the neighborhood shopping app. Water is out of stock. So are all other drinks, except for beer. She orders that, and oranges.

Next proceeds to post a note on the town forum in hope for anyone to notice. She goes through the trouble look up the Chinese characters for “Cholera” and “Danger” and tags her post accordingly. No response. They say some UN robot monitors the fora for emergencies. People say things go faster when you use Chinese language on it.

So that is all she can do for now. Time for her flight. She takes off her balcony, then sliding south towards the town center. She spots Eryna at the street corner package kiosk, picking up the groceries, beer and oranges from the delivery box. Good girl. Linda smiles and keeps flying down the cobblestone road towards the central plaza, hoping to meet someone, anyone.

Social drones became popular among the bedridden. They take very little effort to fly. When you meet another, a voice channel opens. Linda spends most of her days flying around town. She heads for her favorite meetup point downtown.

The Path of Purity

Dark!FIRE wakes up, sweating. That dream. Again. It always starts with climbing up the stairs of the abandoned construction site. Up to the platform with the view all over the city and the surrounding lands — the land that Dark!FIRE is criss-crossing every night by bicycle. But on that one night, Dark!FIRE was not alone up here. The silhouette sitting there, all relaxed, legs casually over the edge of the 30th floor. The Goth turns around, then the face, so close, the dark makeup around the eyes, and just moments later the kiss.

In the dreams, the part up till here part is always the same. Dark!FIRE must have had those dreams thousands of times by now. Next, the dream inevitably turns into a nightmare. Death, in one form or another. Tonight, death came in the form of the Goth himself turning cold in her arms. Last night, the kiss scene suddenly turned into her mothers bedside as she took her last breath. So many variations, but always Death.

The night of that kiss had happened in the valley between the Sigma and the Tau Wave. Mum died just two weeks later in a cytokine storm, just as the doctors had predicted. Dad was around a few more months, falling deeper and deeper into depression before quitting with an opiate overdose.

Dark!FIRE had searched and found the Goth on the other side of that kiss in search for revenge for the infection. It was some kid from a high school across town. He was dead, too. “Suicide” according to the police. Just like those seven other desperate youth sucicided in Ulm since the “Path of Purity” had opened a local chapter here. All seven of them were groomed by the cult in the weeks prior to their death. The info is right there, in their public timelines. They threw a goth party with all of them dressing up, just a week before the kiss. Probably caught it on that party.

Dark!FIRE lies in bed, sweating. Barely slept an hour, but so riled up from the dream. Sun is up already, so people are roaming the streets. Going out on the bike is not an option. So a drone flight it is.

Dark!FIRE notes a long line of people queuing at the pharmacy on the central plaza. Someone has trouble getting her drugs out of the machine and starts kicking it.

<Opening Voice Channel>

Linda: “Hey There!
Dark!FIRE: “Hi.
Linda: “What a depressive grey morning.
Dark!FIRE: “Every morning is depressive.

They are both silent for a bit. The street lights go off.

Linda: “Oh, look, the nutjobs are coming!

A group of seven cultists, all in their ridiculous Path of Purity-branded purple robes, five adults, two kids. They are forming a circle in the middle of the plaza and start singing.

Linda: “You know, as crazy as they are, I like them. Some more singing and dancing would do this town good.

Dark!FIRE: “Fuck them.

The Path of Purity group is waving their arms in the air to a slightly-off note version of “Heal the World” now.

Fallout

Rhod had learned about the spoiled water supply just after midnight on the white pride forum. A whole family of ducks had been found decaying in the tank. He can already feel his stomach rumbling. At least he got a good supply of beers. Should help to keep up the electrolytes.

Rhod had lived in the back of his friends BMW Garage for a few years now. Been barely been able to get up lately.

Rhod’s been one of the early adopters of the social drones. He was never good with people, directly. But when he is behind a drone, it’s easier. People listen to him. So being immobile doesn’t stop him from telling his neighbors about his honest opinions. When he spots the two others drones parked on the viewpoint overlooking the dancing cultists, he flies straight at them.

Rhod: “Fuckin Hippies! You know they are almost as bad as the vaxxers. Tryin to fight of a bioweapon with essential lavendar oils. They’re doing the enemies work!

Dark!FIRE chips in: “Bastards. And they fuck up their kids, too.

Rhod: “Yeah. Pedos. All of them. They all get the wall after the war.

Linda rolls her eyes. This guy again. He can’t ever shut up about the war. Boring. She scans around the scene on the plaza, hoping for a distraction. Linda spots a distraction. She is tall, walking with a straight up back and heading towards the plaza from the bridge. At a closer look, Linda recognizes her before: The one woman in town who only ever goes out with full mask and protective glasses. She hadn’t seen her in a while and… Now she is pushing a stroller.

Rhod has also noticed her. He had seen plenty pictures on the forum: ”They are winning, you know?

Dark!FIRE: “Who? The Path of Purity?

Rhod: “God no. The Chinese. See that bitch there?

Dark!FIRE has zero patient for this bullshit and logs out of chat.

Rhod: “What a snowflake. But you, Linda, don’t you care? Have you seen that baby?

Linda: “What about that baby?

Rhod: “Look at the eyes. Chinese. My friend Heinrich told me about it. He found an offer for genetically modified sperm on Alibaba. Adapted ACE2 receptor, immune to COVID. The Globalist insta-chicks are all into it. This is a geno…

This is where Linda mutes him out, too. Her stomach hurts.

Within a weak, they all die of dysentery

The End

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Tim Reutemann

#LiquidReign is out! www.liquid-reign.com #liquiddemocracy #esports #latestagecapitalism #anarchism #mixedreality