Asteroid – Part Two
By: Doug Hawley

My wife had divorced me years ago because of my continuous anger and fights both verbal and physical. All I could get were menial jobs because of my drinking. I lived in a cheap one bedroom apartment in the Parkrose area of Portland, Oregon. Bane was the name of the game for my whole family of losers. When I picked up a few bucks writing pulp fiction for genre and men's magazines, it went for booze.

I bucked all of the government rules during the active part of the drill. I wandered the streets and broke into the houses and businesses of those I considered fools for seeking better shelter. To further show my defiance, I ran up and down Sandy, the main drag through town, nearly naked.

At the end of the drill, President Burton, the lying bastard, admitted it was all a ruse to cover up for something else – a cosmic ray bombardment. He must have thought we'd believe a second lie. He even found a bunch of science toadies, the same scamsters that tried to sell global warming, to back him up.

Things started happening which made me start to question my skepticism. A book on cosmic rays made perfect sense to me and before that, gravity had been a mystery. Rather than my usual breakfast, lunch and dinner of burgers, fries and cokes, while watching TV, I started a vegan diet and exercising. In a few weeks, I had lost thirty pounds and was running ten miles a day.

The change in my relationships was less quantifiable, but just as real. As I became friendlier and more generous to those around me, they were kinder to me. With my new attitude, and svelte body, I noticed babes eyeing me. Previously I only got lucky with lushes at closing time.

At this point, my drinking was confined to a healthy glass of red wine with dinner. I had moved on from being a counter worker at Burger Biggy to become a beginning ad writer at the international firm Sheridan & Philomath. With my new charm and intelligence, I was hired on the spot despite my abysmal work record and education, and could afford the best food and drink. For nostalgia, I went to my old watering hole, "Inn Between". I saw most of the usual barflies, except for Jodi Mitchell, the drunk in residence. I asked Shep, the owner and bartender, what happened to her.

Jodi Too

"Weirdest thing, she started talking funny, like a high school graduate, drank less and less and then just disappeared. None of my rummies have seen her for days."

I had a glass of the best red that they had, "Bleeding Gums", and left for the last time.

Even before I saw her again, I concluded that she had the same kind of transformation that I had. When I did see her, it was at our library, the kind of place that neither one of us had ever been before. I literally bumped into her coming around a shelf in the astronomy section. As I picked her up, we simultaneously said "Cosmic Rays". I'm not sure how I recognized Jodi – she had lost thirty pounds since the last time I had seen her and her skin was no longer jaundiced, but had become a healthy pink.

Later over a smoothie, we compared notes. She said "I started exercising and stopped drinking. I've been working on anything from the library and Wikipedia that is of interest. I understand multivariate calculus now, but failed algebra before I dropped out of school. Now I eat lots of fruits and vegetables and no red meat. My mind and body have completely transformed since The Bombardment. The only thing that makes sense is that instead of being unaffected like the majority or sickened like millions, our DNA has been improved."

I told her "Pretty much the same story for me. How about we study together to absorb anything that will be useful or of interest to us?"

"Sounds good, let's start tonight. What sounds like fun, eastern thought, or organic chemistry?"

"Let's start with eastern thought and then alternate between science and culture."

"Let's make it a three cycle rotating with physical skills as a third option."

"I like it."

We continued like that for weeks. The most pleasant study was tantric yoga. Although we had several drunken hook-ups in our prior existence, they were nothing like our new physical / spiritual relationship. We learned that we had become yogistes and Buddhists by independent discovery.

We concluded, accurately, if the two of us had evolved, there must be others. We read stories in the news about the town drunk in Dodge, Kansas becoming mayor after turning her life around completely in a short period of time. A mediocre sprinter at the University of Oregon recently set the world record in the 100 meters with the phenomenal time of 9.5 seconds. So far the public was curious, but the number of articles was fairly small. We correctly assumed that many of the evolved didn't want to go public out of fear of the reaction to their status.

Evolved organized

Jodi got the idea of forming a 'club' of the evolved. In order to do that, we put blind items in major newspapers reading "Feeling Better, Doing Better? Tell your story to PO Box 5820 Portland, OR 97218." We got responses about broken marriages being healed, weightlifting records being set, solutions to previously insoluble math problems and other stories of improvement. Most of those that wrote to us had improved intelligence and were smart enough to know how it had happened. In order to stay in touch with what turned out to be thousands of the evolved, we set up a 'dark' website 'Better', but in this case not one to abuse children or sell drugs, but to find out more about the phenomenon.

While we were working on that, I decided to find out what was going on in my body. That was one of the few things that I couldn't determine on my own. A trusted doctor checked me out thoroughly and found several anomalies:

I had an increased frontal cortex compared to the norm, the 'human' part of the brain, which made me smarter;

My brain stem, the 'reptile' part of the brain, was reduced from the normal, which reduced my animal behavior such as territoriality;

My muscles were converting to more chimpanzee like, making me stronger;

Also chimpanzee like I had become hairier, something I had not previously noticed with all of the other miraculous changes; and

There were other changes to my organs which were unexplained improvements.

Jodi then checked in at the same doctor and found similar improvements.

From the various responses we got from our survey on the dark site 'Better', we found that some of our respondents had similar results from their doctors.

Most of the evolved had kept their heads down, but a few were doing incredible things in public, too many to recount. The five-foot-tall white boy that could dunk two handed and block LeBron James; the five year old that accurately corrected his first grade teacher on many occasions and the forty year old woman that high jumped more than two meters. It was too much to keep secret. Social media started it and newspapers began to catch up. A few people came up with the truth, but there were more with conspiracy theories – mad scientists or a government project to produce super soldiers.

New Mexico

After checking the twitter feeds and reading some newspapers, Jodi said "New Mexico". I immediately knew what she meant and agreed. We'd have to raise a lot of money, but we could start a colony in Eastern New Mexico. I thought of Mike Wilkie.

Mike was a good friend from working with him on an ad for Gold, his huge software company. He was a very happy guy who had the phenomenal fortune to marry a second terrific woman a few years after the death of his first wife. With his big local company that had, unlike most others started in Oregon, stayed local and his beneficent civic engagement, he was the most popular man in town. Because the 'new' mel could match him in intelligence and sophistication, we had bonded immediately.

He was not at all surprised when I told him my plan to start a colony of the evolved in Eastern New Mexico. He had already divined what was going on with the new and improved humans. "Great idea Bill. Eastern New Mexico is known for being the safest place in the US and still has low land prices. I think that I can stake you to enough money to get started."

"What can I do for you, Mike?"

"I wouldn't worry about that right now. Maybe Gold can be the software of your evolved geniuses."

When I told Jodi, she said "You can't have all of the fun Bill. I'm going get on "Better" to see who wants to join us and work on the easements and purchases that we will need."

As we worked on that with as much stealth as possible, the word was starting to leak out - "Super Men And Women Among Us" read an Oregonian headline. As always, a lot of the reporting was wrong. There were reports of invisible people, people that could lift Cadillacs (in reality, nothing larger than a Mini) and walk through walls. The reports got exaggerated to the point of suggesting that some of us were X Men or part of the expanded Fantastic Four. Sorry, none of us can violate physical laws.

As expected, the New Mexico locals became suspicious within a few weeks, so I took the direct approach and called Ray Guiterrez, the New Mexico governor. After a quick explanation of the benefits that our little colony would bring to Debaca and Chaves counties and New Mexico as a whole, we had no more obstruction. The grants to education, the much increased tax base and the prospect of the biggest scientific and cultural centers in the US were all he needed to hear. As expected, he checked with Wilkie to confirm my story.

The cat was out of the bag. Jodi decided to call President Hanley to get ahead of the story. It was our good luck that Duke Hanley had replaced President Burton. Burton was something of a likeable buffoon, but Hanley was about as smart as any of the unevolved.

Jodi – "Mr. President, I'm so happy that you took my call."

Duke - "I should be honored to be talking to one of the evolved. Call me Duke."

Jodi – "OK. First, what do you know about the evolved?"

Duke – "I think that you are like the children of Einstein, Schwarzenegger, and the Dalai Lama, due to the effects of The Bombardment to your DNA.

Jodi – "A little fanciful, but a good short description. Does the government have a policy towards us?"

Duke – "I'm leaning towards benign negligence. Maybe your New Mexico colony can lead the way to worldwide peace and prosperity."

Jodi – "As long as there are the unevolved, that won't happen, but maybe we could help a little. So you would not disturb the colony or the evolved that choose to live outside of New Mexico?"

Duke – "That is correct."

Jodi – "Thank you so much, I'm so glad we got this straight. If you don't mind, I'll sign off for now, but I hope that we will stay in touch."

Duke – "I forgot to ask, are you the leader of the evolved?"

Jodi – "We don't have a leader. Any one of us could have called you."

Duke – "My assistant will get back to you on how to keep clear communication. Signing off on this end for now."

Public reaction

A few days later as the evolved went about their work, the phone rang and Sam Hawkins answered because he was closest.

"Hello, this is Jonas Atkins of Flocks News. To whom am I speaking?"

"This is Sam Hawkins."

"Are you the leader of the evolved?"

"We don't have leaders."

"Is this some sort of cult or new religion?"

"No, just a bunch of people trying to improve the human condition."

"If it is not too private, what kind of sex goes on there?"

"Consensual and age appropriate."

"Could you tell me anymore, our audience is intrigued?"

"I'll explain it if you tell us all about the sex practices of the unevolved."

"What are your politics and religion?"

"We don't have any."

"Who does the work and who runs things?"

"When something needs to be done, somebody does it."

"Well, thanks for your time."

We evolved didn't know it because we didn't follow news programs, but Jonas Atkins' next news program "What You Need To Know Now" spent all of its runtime exposing the evolved colony as "A godless conspiracy much like Jonestown or the Rajneeshpuram."

Attack

In response to the program, a militia of thousands organized and attacked the colony. Some hated anything that they didn't understand, some loved violence, and some wanted spoils. I'm not surprised that they confused the intelligent with the defenseless. We tried not to kill anybody.

The siege of The Colony didn't last long because we had put dug a deep moat on our border. Most of the invaders gave up on encountering it and left muttering and swearing. A few jumped in and some drowned largely because of the shock of the cold water. Sometimes low tech works just fine. Our housing was far enough away from the moat that few tried to fire in our direction and those that did didn't hit anything. For the few that did get across, the electrical grid encouraged them to retreat to the other side of the moat.

We were accused of being barbarians by some in the media. It was suggested that we should jointly be charged with murder for the thirteen deaths. The local authorities wouldn't do anything to us, partly based on legal principle and partly due to the benefits we brought to New Mexico. President Hanley was one our biggest fans, so he had no interest in pursuing any legal action against us. He went further and apologized for not stopping the invaders before they got to our colony.

The program

After that interruption we proceeded with our plan to improve the state of humanity. We were in continuous contact with other evolved colonies around the world, but it wasn't necessary, because we all reached the same conclusions.

The ways in which we could help the world:

Move non-combatants from war zones. Nothing could be done for those that insist on fighting and we didn't want to "destroy the village in order to save it". There are very few areas which could easily absorb more people. Canada, Australia and Siberia are the major candidates. In each case we had to work on infrastructure and housing plus sources of food and water.

Produce reliable, renewable and adequate energy for the world. While looking for other solutions, we installed wind, solar, tidal and thermal plants where needed. Each solution depended on improvements that our best minds produced.

Raise the standard of living for those that need it most. Getting the noncombatants out of war zones was a part of the solution. Our energy projects helped the standard of living in two ways, the most obvious being the availability of heat, cooling, stove and lights and the less obvious is access to education and knowledge from the internet. Evolved volunteers became a 'super peace corps' going wherever they were needed and accepted to aid in local projects.

Stabilize the world population. This was our most difficult goal because of the cultural and demographic problems involved. Japan and much of Europe had declining populations, but we concentrated on those areas with unsupportable demographics. For any jurisdiction that would accept it, we offered birth control services.

Educate Women. This is closely related to stabilizing the world population. Women who know more are less like to be baby factories dominated by men and they can improve their local economy.

With the idea that we would introduce these programs where they were accepted, they were quickly introduced to parts of Africa, South America, and Asia. Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia did not need major changes. The difference between the adopters and the resisters was that adopters were largely interested in improving their lot, and the resisters did not want any changes to their culture. In the US, changes were delayed because of an anti-intellectual bent, resistance to birth control and dislike of change. Further, many thought The Colony was a dangerous cult.

Five Years Later

With the very important help of some benevolent billionaires around the world, we have made some progress. Many areas have reliable water and power for the first time. Small, portable houses that supply much of their own energy are being constructed in many parts of the world. Using local materials and labor has simultaneously increased gainful employment and improved housing. Women are running businesses and having fewer, healthier children in many parts of the world.

The parts of the world that resisted us are, if anything, worse off, mired in war, overpopulated and sinking economically. We can only hope that they will eventually see our successes, and learn from them. Even we evolved are stumped in our attempts to deal non-violently with the entrenched intransigence of the medieval cultures in much of the world, but he US is slowly adopting some of our ideas.

The Future

Our daughter Jeanie is now three years old and intellectually equivalent to a teenager but without the hormonal mood swings. She and the other children of the evolved are the hope of the future.

The coming years hold so much promise.

It is now in Down In The Dirt.

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