Cloudbuster

cloudbuster-ill0-by-Pat-Linse-lgThis is the story of a television star.  We shall call him, for convenience, Eliah.  To start, we must make clear that he never had big ambitions in life.  In fact, his mother remembers him as a very timid child whom scarcely made any friends and tended to spend most of his time indoors, in front of the television.  She and her husband worried a lot about their child then.  They feared that too much television was going to make him stupid.  Little did they know that Eliah would one day enter the tube to become a television creature himself.

It all begun quite accidentally really, as all true stories do. Eliah was in his late twenties, having lived a rather secluded and irksome life until then.  After college he landed a very ordinary job pushing paper forms in the endless labyrinth of a multinational corporation. Life had seemingly taken a predictable course, worthy of Eliah’s apathetic character and nothing seemed capable of ever changing that. However, due to the intricate and mysterious web of natural phenomena in our Universe, a number of apparently unrelated events conspired to hurl Eliah away from the ordinary and into the unknown.  The chain of events was put together long before he was even born, several thousand miles away, on a different continent altogether, in a desert.

It was during a night while everything was silent in the boundless desert plain, when a fireball came crashing down from the sky.  An enormous meteor hit the ground with a terrible thunder and the whole desert shook like it was the dawn of time. A huge cloud of dust rose from the huge crater caused by the crash.  The wind blew the cloud hundreds of miles away, over a city, during a thunderstorm.  The rain poured down onto the streets carrying with it the extraterrestrial dust from the fallen meteorite.  One of those drops hit the lip of a woman as she was crossing the street. She licked her lip, swallowed the dust and thus became immediately infected by an alien virus. She went home in a daze and started writing letters, long letters to people she never knew, picking their names from a telephone directory at random. Whatever the virus had done to her brain- before finally killing her in the two months that followed – the woman managed to write thousands of letters to all kinds of people.  She would write and write, ceaselessly, day and night.  In her letters she would reveal the secrets of the Universe; only it was very hard for the common person to comprehend her messages.  She wrote in convoluted verses and used riddles, proverbs and quotes from philosophers and poets no-one had ever heard about.  The vast majority of her recipients threw the letters away without ever bothering to read on after the first two lines.  The rest returned her letters unopened to the Post Office where, without a known sender,  they were stocked away for several years.

One day, the Post Office decided to make room for a new computer so they cleared their warehouse of old and unwanted items, including the letters of that virus-infected woman.  As they cleared the room to send the letters to the incinerator, one of them fell and landed on the floor.  It was found by a young employee whose interest in old stamps made him pick it up and keep it.  When he went back to his house he opened it and started reading it. He was the only person who ever took to reading the letter seriously.  He followed the advice written on it and became a millionaire by inventing a number of very useful household appliances.  His company grew so big that it soon became a multinational.  And thus it reached the country where Eliah lived.

The man’s company was filming a new commercial at the Shopping Mall, next to Eliah’s office.  On that day Eliah happened to be in the area where the camera crew was shooting, taking a stroll after his lunch-break. The commercial’s idea was to ask ordinary people to use the product and then exclaim their amazement at its extraordinary effectiveness, in the most natural way possible. Eliah though it would be a fun thing to do, so he let them film him too.  It was easy for Eliah. Having spent so much time in front of the television, words came naturally to him. Soon enough he was on national television for the first time.  The product – a vegetable peeler – sold like crazy.  The advertising company sought Eliah and signed him up for a number of follow-up commercials.  He had a natural gift.  He could sell anything over the TV.  That was the beginning of Eliah’s career.  Not long after that, Eliah became a host in one of the most successful reality shows in the history of television.  Eliah became a star, a household name, everybody’s fella.

Famous or not, however,  Eliah did not become a happier man. He remained a loner, a secluded child as ever, that spent his life now not only on one but also on both sides of the television.  As his wealth and fame increased so did his loneliness. At the peak of his career, with several shows running at the same time on satellite and cable, with interviews with Larry King, TIME and Newsweek, Eliah projected a radiant, extrovert, snappy image that had absolutely nothing to do with the inner workings of his soul and the vast ponderings of his mind.  No one ever perceived the enormous gap between the real Eliah and his fake television image.  No one except “the Khan”.  

II

The Khan was an unknown then. He was the child of a poor office clerk in equatorial Africa, one of six children.  He grew up in hardship and when his father died, his family came to the brink of starvation.  The Khan, being the eldest son, took to supporting himself as well as the rest of his family from a very tender age, doing all kinds of petty jobs, selling fruit on the streets, working at the canning factories of the white folks, anything to make a buck. And so with time he became a very willful person.  He felt that life owed him much more that it had given him and so he set off to achieve the highest goals.  He realised that, in order to achieve his ambitions, he ought to acquire an intimate understanding of the world and its peoples.  So he joined a pen pal club that the United Nations had set up for poor children like himself.  Soon the Khan had organised a vast network of friends in all the continents of the world.  He wrote to all of them asking about their lives, their countries, their hopes, their fears. With time he grew wiser and wiser.

One day, he received a letter from one of his pen friends.  Enclosed in that letter there was another letter which his pen friend had received from an unknown sender.  Although he understood very little of it, he had thought it funny so he was sending it to the Khan, to entertain him too.  The Khan read the strange enclosed letter with great interest.  Between the riddles and the abstract verses he read the mysteries of the Cosmos unfolding before his eyes. His life was changed forevermore.  He understood everything at once.  He became a cult leader.

By the time Eliah had grown into a worldwide TV star, the Khan had managed to organise his first cult centre.  There he grouped his followers, mostly old pen pals, and talked to them about the glory and the infinite power of the Cosmic Mind. In his spare time, when his students were busy meditating according to his instructions, the Khan watched satellite television.  Faithful to his foremost maxim, the deep comprehension of the world and its peoples was the key to true power.  Satellite TV was a window to the world, an eye in the mighty sky watching over the globe, the Khan’s eye.  Thus he came to encounter Eliah.  Through the eye in the sky.  The Khan saw through Eliah’s loneliness when everyone else simply enjoyed his shows.  He send his faithful to meet him and present him with the cult’s doctrines.  And then he went to meet him in person.

No-one knows what the two men said to each other during the long hours that they spend together.  One may speculate, by benefit of hindsight, that Khan presented Eliah with the inner teachings of his cult.  He must have told him about the great invention that could change the fate of the World and the enormous power that it could unleash.  The energy problem could have been solved forever.  So could starvation, the greenhouse effect, the ozone hole, viral diseases, idiocy and all the rest of the terrible ailments that tormented mankind and our poor planet for millennia. The invention, a “gift of the Cosmic Mind” – as the Khan described his enlightenment experience he had with the strange letter that changed his life –  could affect the climate on a global scale.  It could re-program the earth’s biosphere at will, control the environment, the harvests, the migration of birds and whales, in fact it could control the whole of our planet’s Life.  The Khan named his invention the “Cloudbuster”.  He must have then told Eliah of the complexity and cost of his invention and how he could use his help.  When their discussion was over, Eliah was a changed person.  For the first time in his life he understood what he was missing until then: a purpose.  But now had one he: to help the Khan built the “Cloudbuster” and save the World.  Eliah became a cult member, the most prominent and loyal one of all. The Khan’s fortune, quite predictably, also changed for the better.

III

 Eliah trusted all his possessions to the Khan in order to begin the construction of the Cloudbuster. But Eliah’s money was not enough.  More, very much more, was needed to pay for the scientists, the engineers, the labs, the raw materials and the rest of the infrastructure that could realise the invention.  So Eliah used his power over the television networks to come up with the resources.  He made the Khan’s cult known to millions around the world who came and paid their fees for the Teacher’s teachings.  Throughout that period, the “Cloudbuster” project was kept secret.  But the Khan did not need to reveal it to everyone in order to obtain followers.  His promise of telepathic powers, and happiness for ever after were enough to do the trick.  Money poured in from every corner of the globe.  Soon enough a prototype Cloudbuster was put together and was ready for the test.

During that time, a deadly little war was taking place on a rocky peninsula, somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere.  People of the same blood, torn apart by religious differences, had made it their purpose to exterminate each other. So they took up arms and the fratricide was on. Television had a ball.  Every night, all across the world there would be vivid pictures of original mayhem, of mutilated bodies, of burned cities, of maimed children.  Dinner tables in every household were showered daily with scenes of horror.  Until many “powerful nations” decided that that little but deadly war had started to really disturb their peoples’ digestion. So they came together and resolved to put an end to it.  They went and tried, in vain, to reason with the opponents who, unfortunately had already too much blood in their hands to end the slaughter. So the “powerful nations” decided to bomb them all and thus put an end to that hideous television show of a war.

Eliah was one of the TV personalities that covered most of the happenings in that war.  This was not by chance but under direct orders from the Khan.  The war offered a first class opportunity for the testing of the prototype Cloudbuster.  Cult faithful, disguised as camera crews, managed to infiltrate the teams of international journalists, sneaking along the prototype Cloudbuster, right to the warzone.  As the allied airforce was warming its jet engines to begin the bombing, Eliah turned on the Cloudbuster. The results were stunning.  The weather changed rapidly.  Thick clouds appeared from nowhere and amassed themselves over the warzone.  The sun disappeared and so did the bombing targets. The thick clouds stayed over the war-torn peninsula for days, preventing the allied airforce from executing their air raids.  The weather satellites of the world had gone crazy, and so did all the weather-forecast people.  No-one was able to explain that phenomenon.  No-one except Eliah and the Khan who saw their vision taking shape.

Several years passed since then.  Eliah became more and more involved in the Khan’s cult. Until the inevitable end beckoned.  This happened when, several members of the cult were arrested by the police for trying to put a bomb in one of the major world banking organisations.  It was all part of the Khan’s master plan.  The established financial system of exploitation had to be destroyed so that a new order of things under the protection of the Cloudbuster could take form. The police did not agree with the plan.  Neither did the Courts.  The Khan’s cult was outlawed and government investigators from around the world begun hunting down its members.  The Khan was arrested and imprisoned and so did most of the principal cult members.  Eliah’s stardom came to an abrupt end. His shows were canceled. But this was something that Eliah had been preparing for. As soon as the bomb case became known he packed his bags and quickly disappeared to the secret base of the cult, somewhere deep in the Australian desert.  There, the Khan and his followers were keeping the full version of the Cloudbuster, ready for Doomsday.

Eliah arrived at the base too late to save the day.  The Police were already there, waiting for him.  The Army had sealed the area and experts for various secret agencies were gathering around the sect’s base to study the mysterious device.  Several days after his arrest, Eliah was being driven by a police van to the Court Prison.  It was late in the evening.  The court case was nearing its end.  There was little hope for Eliah.  The jury had more or less decided the case. Witnesses were describing the terrible methods by which the Khan indoctrinated his followers and controlled their private lives.  It was only a matter of hours before they would send Eliah to jail for the rest of his life.

Meanwhile, at the desert outpost, scientists had started taking the Cloudbuster apart eager to reveal its secrets, when a fireball came crashing from the sky.  All area around the Khan’s secret base was hit and set alight. It was like an explosion of a nuclear bomb and the seismic waves were felt as far as Perth, Sydney and Melbourne.  The cult’s base was completely destroyed and everybody who was there at the time perished.  A crater was left gaping at the very place where the Khan had installed his mighty invention. A huge cloud of dust rose from the crater of the crash.  The wind blew the cloud hundreds of miles away, over a city during a thunderstorm, the same city where the police van was now carrying Eliah to the Court Prison.  The rain poured down onto the streets carrying with it the extraterrestrial dust from the fallen meteorite.   The streets became slippery.  A passing car driver, losing control, fell onto the van.  Eliah died in the crash.  A woman who happened to walk by saw what happened and went into a shock.  When she recovered a few hours later in the hospital she was feeling a strange impulse to pick up the telephone directory and write letters, thousand of letters to everybody, to people she never knew before, using convoluted verses, riddles, proverbs and quotes from philosophers and poets no-one had ever heard about..

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