Her name was Gloria. There had never been a need to train or coerce her. She was a born natural.
At 23, the Agency began to assign her to sophisticated targets, men who possessed knowledge that put them at odds with the established Order.
On January 3, 2059, she was tasked with hunting down John Q Jones and attaching herself to him.
Jones’ mother, a ward of the State, had given birth to him in a surrogate facility in Los Angeles.
The boy was quickly removed to a foster home located in three miles of tunnels under Dodger Stadium, where, for the next 16 years, he was trained to work as a prop clerk for the federal government.
A prop clerk sat in a chair in an office for eight hours a day, pretending to sift through computer files. In actuality, a software program performed those tasks.
When he was eighteen, Jones walked out of his job in a national insurance records cottage in Boise, Idaho, and hitchhiked to New York.
He lived in the basement of the Bloomberg Koch Public Library and, for the next 19 years, read voraciously.
He then moved to Brooklyn, where his legend took shape:
It was said he levitated several times in the Church of Democracy, a small chapel in Williamsburg. He’d stolen gold from a local bank and used it to feed the poor. He was able to surf the Dinkins Bay on a door, all the way to Hoboken.
He did, in fact, organize several thousand residents of the Bush Hospital for the Mentally Disabled, and they declared, en masse, their secession from the Holy Government of North America.
Gloria eventually found him in a Basque cafeteria in Coney Island, where he was giving well-attended informal lectures on Art and Anarchy.
She offered to help him with his work. A stunning six-foot blonde with a very straight nose, the stride of a runway model, and a PhD from Yale in Anthropomorphism Studies, she gained admittance to Jones’ inner circle.
She moved in with him. He lived in a large garage in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge.
He switched to a new routine. He spent his days painting scenes from ancient Egyptian towns on tall metal panels, and his nights with those pleasures Gloria generously doled out with ardor and enthusiasm.
She reported back to her CIA handler: “He is solidly addicted to me. An easy mark. Where would you like me to take him?”
The message came back: “To paradise, until he can barely remember his own name and no longer poses a threat.”
But one night after a strenuous bout in his four-poster bed, Jones looked at her lying next to him and laughed. “I want you to read something,” he said.
Out of thin air, he produced a page of text and handed it to her.
It was titled, “To All Those Hermetic Artists Who Never Die.”
She felt a bolt of fear run through her.
“It’s all right,” he said. “I know who you are. I don’t begrudge you your profession. We all have to survive.”
He pointed at the page. She began to read out loud:
“You invent reality. You never accept any final word.
“You swim in the unknown out beyond frozen ideas. You see the shore and head toward it and climb out among the weeds and walk to the hills and clouds, and you dismantle the lackeys and the dupes and the idols and the gods and the androids as a matter of course, as a side effect.
“You stand in your own answer to your own question, and you keep moving until the questions and answers turn into raw fuel for your fire.
“You’re alchemy on your own terms. You explode ceilings. All roofs, all ceilings disintegrate.
“Your ‘government’ is: the decisions you make, an uncountable number of them as you move forward, up, down, sideways, and when you vibrate, all categories shatter.
“Your self-chosen work confounds the billions who accept What Is. Behind you trails the detritus of worlds you made yesterday and days past.
“For you there is no set piece called Mind. You create new minds for yourself by will, by whim, by immersion in waters of deathless proliferation.
“You write a thousand, a million new religions of experience that evaporate and disperse like stanzas of wind.
“You kill all vain pronouncements. You impale secret vacuums in the heart-chambers of the priest-class.
“You release the blood from prison cells of official bodies and watch the phantasms flee down boulevards of fear.
“You build new floating libraries of forgotten and impossible languages.
“On the riverboat of the ferryman who takes you across the Styx, you shove in all your chips on a bet for endless time, and as soon as you make that move, you know you’ve won, you’ve always won, and you let Charon take you back to Earth as he plays out his riff on the theme of immortality. It’s theater, it’s the marketplace of the snake and the lion, and you’re geared up to explode holes in space-time.
“You’re the artist, and you invent reality. You melt the code of Machine Life, and it falls apart.”
She put down the page and trembled.
Her whole body shook in a wild paroxysm. The walls and the ceiling of the garage burned in cold mist and disappeared. The streets outside turned to movie blood and television blood and radio blood and propaganda blood.
The CIA never saw her again. They tried to find her, make contact, but she was gone.
Jones continued to live in the neighborhood. One day, while he was at the local deli having a salami sandwich and a beer, an agent slipped into his garage and searched it.
For a second, looking at one of Jones’ paintings from a certain angle, the agent thought he caught a glimpse of Gloria. But of course that was an insane notion.
A few hours later, after sitting in the park watching the pigeons, Jones returned home. He knew immediately that someone had been there.
He walked over to the painting near the stove, gazed at it for a minute, and then entered it.
Gloria was inside, sitting on a rock, smoking a cigarette and reading a book.
“How are you today?” he said.
She looked up and smiled. “Fine,” she said. “It rained a little while ago.”
“Are you ready to come out yet?” he said.
She shook her head. “I feel safe here.”
“Okay. Take your time. No rush.”
He sat next to her on the rock. She took his hand.
A silver snake slithered up next to them.
“I represent the apple growers association,” it said. “Right around the bend over there, we have a fine tree. Would you like an apple?”
Gloria and Jones laughed.
“No sale today,” Jones said. “I think we already have enough knowledge of good and evil. Try finding work with another outfit.”
The snake stared at him.
“Did you make this place?” it said. “Did you create it? Can I have your autograph?”
“No autographs,” Jones said.
But he took out a pen and wrote on the snake’s back: “Art lives.”
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at www.nomorefakenews.com