Episode 16: The NoS
Updated: 2 days ago
A final post from NoS on the home page of Blue Universe.
I sense it coming. The waves are getting bigger and I can feel your beating hearts starting to beat erratically. There is a tear in the thin wall that separates us from the rest. We were hiding, soon we will not. The infiltration would be instantaneous and before we could understand what was happening within our special hideaway, the vile hatred would claw at our flesh. What we suffer on the outside would dig its way inside. The words would be rusty nails raked against the fleshiest parts. And they would take us. And we would never break from the cell of invisibility.
Do we wait until THEY are here? These are my final words on the matter. At midnight, U.S. eastern standard time, Blue Universe will go dark. We know how to find each other now. We can spot each other now; we can be together now.
We know what we need to do; we will no longer be invisible. We are NoS…
Bastian closed his laptop. There was no interest in logging into the bulletin board to see the flood of posts in reaction to NoS’ abrupt exit. Blue Universe was no longer useful. It served its purpose, Bastian’s experiment was coming to a close. All that was left was one climactic display of service to NoS. ‘Chaos has come again,’ his inner dialogue quoted Shakespeare’s Othello.
Bastian first read the play junior year of high school, when experimenting with mind altering substances had reached a life altering peak. He was enamored by the skillful play of the great manipulator, Iago. The play’s entire motivation, the kingdom, the love story at the heart of play, guided by one character whispering in vulnerable ears, so in control of the events before him that he could have been offstage and actually directing the tragic drama. A manipulator that only the Devil could match.
The cherrywood cigar box was open and the contents in disarray. A freshly used needle was stuck, point down into the fabric of the tattered and stained couch, next to the cigar box. Bastian’s smile was big and beaming in some euphorically unnatural way. Eyes half closed. The euphoric faculty of sight coated the filthy apartment before him in a shiny, silver glow.
‘The clock has started,’ he thought. ‘The wheels are in motion.’
Bastian was already far on his way to honing the craft before finding the art of Iago. The discovery only re-enforced the relevance of developing such a skillset. What followed was years of hurting others in the most intimate ways – for gratification, for survival, for sport. Family, lovers, friends, teachers, big hearts, deep pockets.
Bastian considered himself a serious student of the craft. All through high school and college, in between the required reading, he soaked in books on the topic like a sponge. First, concentrating on the psychology and technique behind cons and scams, then becoming completely absorbed in the ultimate manipulation, the acquisition of devoted followers. Dictators, fear groups, cults and so-called legitimate religions alike. What Bastian was most interested in were the commonalities in all who could recruit and manipulate devoted followers, to the point that he created a five-step process that he believed they all followed, and made various attempts at putting the process to the test. The first was with drug addicts, which proved too simple. Blue Universe was the ultimate experiment.
He had slowly groomed his followers. They were already primed to be molded when they found Blue Universe. Broken. Vulnerable. But Bastian needed to perform an intricate surgery. Rushing it would broadcast the intentions. They needed to come to the conclusions themselves with only minor encouragement laced with conspiratorial coaxing. They needed to fuel their own anger. This slow cooker was on low heat for more than a year before he started to insinuate the world around was a danger, differentiating them from us. Most importantly, integrating a strike-first mentality.
The heroin high kicked into full throttle, like driving over one hundred MPH on a crowded highway, weaving in and out of the more complacent traffic. The mind raced full speed like plummeting through a dark tunnel with a downward trajectory. The body, not along for the ride, slumped on the couch and went dead-limbed in a state of placidity. The creator, they would write, and he loved that. To be the creator of things, anything. To give purpose, something Bastian had searched for much of his life. Control of things so out of control.
The fire was lit and soon he would get to see it light up in numerous places. Small, maybe. Insignificant, hard to say. But he made it happen. He was in control of the followers. The experiment worked.
The whole thing was ridiculous, Bastian thought as the heroin high began to creep up and take away the ability to function, limbs limp and the mind tranquillized.
His followers didn’t feel real, whatever that meant, an abstraction incomprehensible unless actually experienced. Fixations on a single year in the eighties, and a mass hysteria about seeing the world in one color. Bastian didn’t create the delusion, it was there waiting for him.
The funniest part about it all was the fascination his followers had with the user name NoS. Bastian picked it because he couldn’t think of anything else. There was no profound meaning, no grand mystery about the name to be solved. Just an old computer acronym, Network Operating System.
Either way, their pain was real, and midway through the experiment, Bastian had let something slip in and poison him, a toxin to the manipulator. Empathy.
The poison wasn’t fatal. Bastian still needed to feel that ultimate satisfaction of leading his followers into chaos. The toxin left him with a desire to give them what they all longed for in exchange for following NoS into the abyss. Bastian would make sure they were never invisible again.
Tomorrow, the followers would find each other, in malls, public squares, large gatherings, amidst the ones who treated them as ghosts, and the followers would make themselves known in a signature way that could only come from a place like Blue Universe.