Book Bugs

The first serious blow in the power struggle between hundreds of religious and political factions was not struck with a fist or a word or a bullet. It was not even a strike, it was a tiny thing that crawled on its belly and had a taste for literature.

 

Yes, surely for many years there had been autonomous viruses and guardian programs set to eradicate any bit of literature that differed from the viewpoint of the complex subroutine’s predetermined parameters.

 

Ah, see now, this little fellow sent out by the Mormons, from their moon base via microwave transmission. The megabyte bug has latched onto a mainline and is turning clear and replicating like a simple fungus. His only mission it seems, is to desiccate any anti Mormon writing it comes across, or at least offer startlingly stringent counter arguments to any such article. Simple bugs such as this are child’s play, and easily foiled by simple logic gateways. See now as the bug tries to enter a discussion area in the Undernet region. Just as it accesses, the intelligent logic grid drops in its way and reroutes all dogma the bug uploads into a bunko server in the south pacific.

 

For the most part these digital destruction and protection constructs have canceled each other out to the point that no logical conversation or exchange of ideas is any longer legible unless gigabytes of chopped Markov chains are run through an expensive logarithm.

 

The internet, the Darknets, Usenets and Undernets have become nothing but a gigantic virtual pile of non-sequitur and ancient Gif filled photo albums of cats. The only use it serves now is to provide puzzles and clues to the past, hundreds of blog-years ago. A loamy mountainside for the burgeoning ranks of archeosystemists to sift through with pixel grids and data picks. The internet has been dead for fifty years now. Printed information rose from the ashes to take its place and has thrived.

 

But now, watch! There is still conflict, religious, political, social. There are parties that still wish opposing viewpoints dead and forgotten. We see now the laboratory of Leslie Standish, accredited bio-engineer and, puzzlingly, aggressive creationist. He has made a new kind of bug. This one is different from the little electronic fellow we watched before, because this bug is very real. It is in a tank on the doctor’s desk.

 

It is a fairly ordinary looking insect. An over sized mite, big as a New York cockroach, but it’s call lacks any kind of accent. Bland and midwestern are it’s chirps. See now, the culmination of the last twenty years of this doctor’s work! He produces a paperback copy of “On the Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin. He holds it by a corner as though it burns his skin. In his other hand is the Holy Bible, Prince Edward edition. He places both of these books into the tank an equal distance from the bug. He closes the lid and waits, hands together and held to his lips as though he is praying.

 

It’s antennae wobble up and down and it tilts its body to examine the new additions to its home. Suddenly it stops moving, as though frozen, and dashes to “The Origin of Species” and begins to devour the pages, burrowing deep into the center of the book. The doctor claps his hands giddily. This was the third trial, all of them successful. He was ready to market his product.

 

He sold hundreds of the Book Mites, and they propagated at an alarming rate, spreading throughout the world in a matter of months. All known works on evolution and ninety percent of all science textbooks were soon no more than piles of white feces. The few copies that were saved in steel vaults stayed there, the owners petrified to remove them after having seen the video of a librarian in Cambridge doing just that being overcome by a horde of the hungry bugs, mistaking her pale flesh for vellum.

Now, years later, we know we still have books. That makes us happy. The bugs have taken to eating the raw pulp of trees. We will wait until the trees are gone, we will wait until the bugs are gone. Until then we have our history in song. Amen. Amen. Amen.

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