At some point in the future, or maybe it was the distant past, she commanded armies. She had, through fate or luck or everyone else's bad luck, somehow found herself given immeasurable power by self-centered cretins who had no realization of the scope of the mistake they were making. With that power she was able to solder together the wound that she had carried within for so long, ever since that year when everything had seemed to fall apart and then come together with such clarity that it was like a beacon pointing the way for her to go.
There was such a lot of stupidity in the world, it amazed her that anything ever got done at all. Everyone she met was quite unprepared to deal with her, either in their underestimation of what she was capable of, or else blinded by their own short-sighted self-centeredness that was like a cage to their perception of the truth. Once she had understood what was necessary to be done she had tread upon her path like a stealthy cunning native american, one foot in front of the other but ever forward, ever straight as a razor into the truth that could not deny her, the truth that she could not deny but was fated to bring to reality.
Even now she felt like she could almost recall every step she had taken on the golden path where she now found herself. The first step had been to take control of herself and to eliminate every weakness, every impurity in her body and mind. She remembered the days she spent fasting as the evil left her, though she had already unconsciously started the process in the months before the Big Bang that had rocked her to her foundation. No, for the first step she really did not have that far to go, as she had already realized how important it was to look at what was on the end of her fork; somehow she had already stumbled onto the value of seeing the naked lunch. Still, she saw the value of spending ten days only drinking saltwater sprinkled with cayenne pepper; she had a friend once who highly recommended the process and engaged in it on a monthly basis to make up for all the hard drugs and fried oysters that he could not help but ingest the rest of the month. And if it could clean him out (along with enemas on a regular basis), then it should be able to do the trick on her much less stressed body that had not at all been pushed to such extremes.
Once she was physically cleansed inside and out (for the outside she used an old washcloth that has deteriorated to the point of almost-sandpaper, scrubbing at every inch of her skin in delicious pain), she went to work on her mind. She knew at that point not to trust anything or anyone other than herself. Even those who seemed to be on her side were not to be trusted, because there was no doubt that in some way they were misguided or error-prone. Even the good hearted were weak and stupid, and though she was glad to have them on her side they were only good as loyal followers and could not be counted upon for guidance or advice -- she would be taking no suggestions from them. She marveled at the sheep-like quality of everyone she met, and the sheep she herself had been, desperate for a role model and latching onto any smooth-talking guru who was just as much a slave to his role models and the popular icons of his day. A never-ending cycle of saps regurgitating the sweet ideas that they had fancied or felt they should fancy.
Yes, there was a kind of variety in people, she admitted, but it was only the superficial variety of the kinds of fools that they turned out to be, more or less the two major groups of people were the same. There were the fools that were evil and thus fooled by their own evil, and there were the fools that were good and thereby fooled by their own goodness, even as she once had been. She had been so idealistic once, thinking that people were generally good and kind and rational! Now she was idealistic, but in the right way, an idealism born in the fire and light of the burning bush of sorts that had impacted her reality. She was to realize much more later, but in that moment she had immediately realized how perfectly alone she was in the world. There was no one left to show her the way, but the way had been given to her and she was ready for it.
She had thus been sent forth on this mission to bring true goodness to the world, to reshape the world in her own enlightened image. It was not something that could be done in a democratic environment, though it did not hurt that there were more women than men in her country, on her planet. For it was the next step that she took from the point of Then to the Brink of Now that was crucial to her ends, and that was shifting the balance of power from men to women. So many people had tried before without success, slaves to their own limited conceptions of liberation and/or revenge on the males who had abused them ever since they recognized their own physical superiority, or at least their ability to bully women with the rational-seeming propaganda that they were physically superior. But one of the things she had made everyone aware of in her monumental best-selling work "Me and My Infinite Justice" was the fact that in all actuality men were very much physically inferior to women. While women learned very early on to rise above their physical form and endure every kind of pain and discomfort to be able to survive the ravages of nature inherent in the birth cycle, men simply acquiesced to their physical urges, they were very much slaves to the reproductive process and unable to elevate themselves very far at all above sexual desire. They were at the mercy of their hormones, running ape-like through their lives from one sexual encounter to another, forming their whole existence like an empty shell around their need to feed their basest instincts.
Once she had said it, it had been quite obvious to everyone that it was undeniable fact she had spoken, though of course those who had the most to lose discounted her at first. But she had already reached the masses by virtue of the phenomenon known as the widely produced relatively cheap New York Times best-selling paperback and the companion website that allowed millions to discuss her ideas freely without censure. The publishers thought it was controversial enough to sell, but they had no idea just how easily it would sell, and how quickly every store and newsstand would run out and clamor for more, with each printing doubling or tripling their orders.
By then it was too late for those who were ultimately to lose control, those who were most threatened by this book. They could no longer criticize it because it had proved too popular, to criticize it was to suddenly be discounted and distrusted by The Everyperson. How can you criticize the wildly popular without turning into an outcast, how can you tell everyone else that they are wrong without creating an immeasurable gulf between yourself and them and distancing yourself right off the map? For some unfathomable reason here was a phenomenon unprecedented in the scope of its popularity with no appreciable backlash to speak of, any small groups of naysayers that formed were tenuous and ephemeral at best, ultimately dissipating before they could get any solid backing. Once those in power understood that they could not fight this thing by attacking it directly, they tried to convert it for their own use. They looked for ways to ride the wave and maintain their status at the top even if the top had suddenly taken a form that they were not yet completely used to or in control of.
So they became friends of the book and promoted it themselves, and they tried to create tenuous connections between the author's conclusions and their own ends. In this way they joined the crowd and lost themselves in the Fans Of The Book. Their compromise did much less to help themselves than it did to help the book, for whatever new ideas they tried to link to the book were not nearly as powerful and were often very quickly seen as self-serving and without value. Unwittingly they had demonstrated the quality of the book by setting next to it agendas that by comparison seemed as interesting as old National Geographics. And by claiming to like the book they gave it validation to their own once skeptical followers and their opponents liked the book even more because even its enemies had sacrificed their pride and bowed down before it.
At this point those in power had no choice but to try to regain their own popularity by sharing their power with her. To a great extent they underestimated her, ultimately they considered her nothing more than a not-so-great writer who had just stumbled, purely through some monumental stroke of luck, into a best-selling idea. They were convinced that this woman had just happened to be at the right place at the right time, and that she was not equipped to deal with the ramifications or consequences of her own success. They fully believed that in the end she was just a passing fad, she was simply the Scabbage Patch Pokeman of the twenty-first century, nothing more. If they could just survive this probably short-lived burst of popularity, she would be forgotten by the next Christmas season, and if not that one, well, then by five Christmas Seasons from now surely people would be embarrassed to even admit that they owned the book, slinking around back to the incinerator to burn the damn thing before anyone found out.
That's about the time that they starting making the television appearances stating that they wanted to prove their loyalty and appreciation of her work by giving her honorary degrees, and that not being enough to quell the Public Doubt, they started to bestow upon her honorary governmental offices. Political posts that, like the governor of Texas, had no actual power but still looked good on one's resume. They backed her because she held the public's Love and Trust, and they wanted to get on the good side of the public for their own ends but unwittingly they had sealed their own fate. Because she knew very well what she was doing and as she ascended the ladder of fortune and fame and power she held onto each new rung with a grip that would not let go. She had absolutely no intention of going back, there was no way that things were ever going to be the same as before. Those in power gave up too much thinking that they could use their old tricks to get it back when the time was right, not realizing they weren't ever going to get it back, or at least not realizing it until it was far too late. They had fallen into a kind of trap where they were forced to give up more and more just to keep up.
From the sale of her book (and it was selling well internationally, not just at home) she was able to establish a base of operations that would be able to provide for her very modest needs, with the bulk of the money being invested in every sector of business, not by giving it to the stock market and the corporate dinosaurs that she very much wanted to see reach their natural state of extinction but instead by starting her own companies, companies that demonstrated how profitable her ideas could be. Most of her employees were women, although she made sure that hiring and promoting was entirely based on ability, and in this way she created a very real base of support that was entirely compatible with everything she stood for. The number of people who either worked for her or directly benefited from the services her companies provided seemed to grow exponentially as each year went by, and no one could count the profit that was still fanning out into even more enterprises until the experts accurately estimated that she had become an economy unto herself.
By then the facade of power that had been handed her on a silver platter had transformed into something very real, because she made it so. As soon as possible she began running for public office, aiming at very real positions of political power, and she had reached such a state of momentum that even though in all actuality she lost her first major campaign (it still proved too difficult for the average American to get off the couch and drag his or her lazy ass to the polls), there were enough people behind the scenes on her side or else scrambling to get into her good graces that the election was promptly fixed so that for all concerned it looked like Stephanie Bowers had become the first female President of the United States, incredibly, by only one vote.
Chapter 31 was first written November 30, 2001
It was last edited December 30, 2001