Friday, June 16, 2017

Fiction Friday - "The Culling" Campaign Setting

Today is June 14, 2035. Or, Year 7 of The Culling, depending on how you mark time.

To this day, still no one knows the identity of The Reaper, The Bitch with the Book, The Mind Grinder, or as she seems to prefer, simply The Cullen (a bastardization of “The Culling”).

You’d think in a world of superheroes and villains, where figures of myth and legend walk the Earth, we’d at least know the identity of this creature who causes lives to end. Hell, we have the damn "Sorcerer Supreme" and even she can't figure out the identity - let alone how to stop - The Cullen.

But, let me scroll back.

May 10, 2018, 7:01 AM GMT is the moment of “The Vision,” or properly “The Memory of the Vision” - in an instant, every human on Earth over the age of nine had a perfectly clear memory of the contents of a spiritual event - a mystical vision - with no memory of actually having experienced the vision.

The great winged and blindfolded woman was clad in scintillant white. Everyone knows the color of her skin - but the color depends on the bias of whom you're asking, so no one knows shit.  In one hand, she held scales like Justice, and chained to her waist was a great book.

“Five thousand years, and still you idiots won't grow up. Cycle after cycle of self-destruction ends now.”

She touched the book at her waist. It’s size seemed to change, as if it was simultaneously every book, and not a book at all.

“New rules have been written. You have ten years to clean house, and then the culling becomes law.”

She raised the scales. On one side was a heart, and the other a feather.

“Five years from today, the deep-to-the-core, remorseless narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths will change. Their bodies will become as diseased as their minds. Some of them can be saved - if people are willing to help them. Some will be too sick, and cannot be saved. Others will be discarded by the callous around them. The choice is your’s.”

Her head turned, and she stared at us, as if her hidden eyes tore through the soul of every human.

“Ten years from today, those mentally broken whom you do not save, will die.”

The scales tipped, raising the feather above the heart.

“New rules. Extreme lack of empathy is a crime. Narcissism, sociopathy, and psychosis - the inability to acknowledge living beings as having value - is an illness today, dangerous and fatal to those around the sick bastard. Now the tables are turned, and the mental illness is fatal. Change your values, save each other. There is no appeal. The choice is your’s.”

Five years later, to the day - May 10, 2013 - world leaders, business leaders, religious leaders and millions of normal people started to develop palsies and skin diseases. It started slowly, but accelerated quickly.

An estimated 11% of the world population got sick. Some people had thought ahead, and realized those who were physically ill also had deep mental problems - narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths. No chemical or drug - not even the super drugs created by the Mega-Intelligent - treated the physical ailments, but mental health treatments worked - normalize the mind, save the body.

Then May 10, 2028 - “The Culling” - “Weeping Saturday”- an estimated 3% of the world population - human, robot and alien - fell over dead.   It's called "Weeping Saturday," because the cries of terror and anguish for those left-behind lasted months.

There were no surprises - they were all sick in the soul - they were the mentally broken who could not - or would not - repent or change.

Since that day, the “New Rules” continue. Mental health has become a priority - lack of empathy is a fatal disease.

The world has changed for the better. Oh, it's still a mess. There are many layers of “lack of empathy” before getting anywhere near the fatal thresholds of narcissism or psychosis. People still get stabbed and shot, people still let others starve, we still have hate and stupidity, but world leaders are again public servants and not extreme madmen bent on personal power.

No one - mortal, superman, nor godling - has been able to stop The Culling, nor to even touch The Bitch with the Book, herself. She literally seems invincible.

She walks the land from time to time, giving succor and aid. A few times a year, somewhere on Earth, she is spotted in soup kitchens to serve food and wash dishes. She appears in flood zones to help rescue people and distribute supplies. She never does anything superhuman, or magical. It's very mundane and very humble - she leads by example.

When asked for advice, the answer is always how a human institution can help. Directions to a shelter, or crisis counseling services, things like that. She once pulled financial assistance application forms from her book for someone who couldn't otherwise get them in time to meet a deadline. And she helped the person fill out the forms, and gave her a postage stamp to mail them.

When the righteous confront The Cullen, she responds only “What have you done today to help?”  She never raises her voice, but she does have a cutting tongue. The self-righteous always lose those arguments.

No one misses the Dr Armageddons or New Conquerors, or the City-Leveling Madmen. Those were Class E threats to health and sanity the world over. Absolute lunatics who killed and conquered without remorse.

But, 3% is a huge number - families were devastated, governments destabilized and large corporations cast into chaos.  It wasn't particularly bloody, but it was definitely a massacre.

This is Year Seven, but it will be many decades more before we really - as The Mind Grinder said - “grow up.” The only - sick - hope is that we can finally do that now, without the most evil among us.