by Jack Kirne
To: ALLSTAFF, Gaia Man, Malcolm Turnbull, Real Donald Trump
CC: RichardWalkerMP@ausgov.au, GaiaMan@supervillan.org
Subject: A Gaia Man Survival Guide: Your Post-Plan Spider Plan
To those who survived Plan Spider,
Congratulations! We’re glad you’re still with us—to endure what we’ve been through requires considerable fortitude. Morale in HQ has taken a beating, to put it lightly. The press says that times sure are tough for Gaia Man, and the truth is, they’re right. The first day of the month here at HQ is usually a day of high spirits: Jeff whites-out and re-dates our 1987 Panda calendar, and Lucy sings ballads to the office’s orchids. But as you can all probably well imagine, the office isn’t looking its best right now. Still, it’s our duty to stay strong, despite the wake of Plan Spider. Some of you might have seen my son, Richard, on the news last night calling us terrorists, tree-hugging loonies, etc. To this I say two things: First off, you’ve all got family, you know what they’re like. Secondly—Richard’s a twat. He’s the kind of guy who espouses market-based solutions while sipping Chablis. He’ll say, Dad, how do you suffer the ontological paradox of supporting a man who claims to embody the self-regulating, entwined systems that keep this rock of ours habitable while also calling himself a Man? Of course, we here at HQ know that Gaia Man is participating in a form of linguistic play, a parody of the fundamental anthropocentrism at the core of all deep-ecological supervillains. It’s as Gaia Man says: anticipate your critics.
Anyway, fact of the matter is that after Plan Spider, things have gotten a little hairy (ha ha), so here in HQ, we’ve knocked together a survival guide to working for our savior.
First off: Expect Everything. Yes, I know this seems stressful, but the truth is when working for Gaia Man, expecting everything is essential to getting by and (possibly) surviving. An Everything-Expecter does not let the petty feelings of despair or hope control them. They’re emotionally prepared for crisis, is what I’m saying. For instance, there were many guys and gals in marketing who were expecting that Plan Spider would—broadly speaking—be well received, at least amongst our base. Their focus tests had polled well. But as we all well know, come Plan Spider’s launch day, the public wasn’t so fond of the idea. CNN called it “Apocalyptic,” which I thought was a bit much. A “Change of Order” or a “Biological Shakeup” was more truthful in my opinion—but hey, since when has news been truthful? Point is, we learnt some valuable lessons that day. Firstly, PR should not poll Gaia Man’s plans internally. But more importantly, we should be prepared for the negative press.
We can apply this to our personal lives too. When my son started working for Goldman Sachs, I wasn’t surprised. Upset, maybe. But as a long-term devotee of the art of expecting, I had drawn up a plan. Richard had hardly said the words—Dad, I’m sick of your deep ecology nonsense—before I was burning his books and releasing a finely catalogued folio of damning misdemeanours from ages two through to present to his affiliates. And let me tell you—he’s yet to find a job where the nickname Puppy-Pash doesn’t follow.
And look, to be honest, if you’re working for a supervillain and you’re low-level? Expect to die. You’ve seen the stats. For all their talk of the sanctity of human life, heroes have few qualms with swatting the little guys. Don’t beg for mercy. It’s unbecoming.
Don’t Trust Your Loved Ones
Now this point—I can’t stress it enough. By now, you’ve probably gathered that my son’s a jerk. But the fact of the matter is, when you’re working for Gaia Man, it’s best not to trust your family, your lovers, and your friends. Let me tell you the story of Gary Willow. He was one of our big guys in R&D in the lead-up to Plan Spider. Gary thought the plan was a beautiful thing (which it was!). He’d go misty-eyed as he explained the finer details to me. Gary loved his work. He loved Gaia Man; they’d go drinking on hump day and play darts together. But he also loved his wife—no worse, he trusted her. Despite our strict policy, what does he do? He tells her about the plan. And what does Mazy Willow do when her husband goes to sleep that night? She stabs him forty-seven times. Nasty stuff. I’ll never forget Gaia Man’s eulogy. Let me tell you. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. There’s something he said that haunts me. A truth that’s kept my wife, Gail, from twisting my nuts off at three a.m. It’s the reason I tell her I’m a sneaker salesman. You know what he said—it’s on the letterhead of every correspondence: Expect Everything.
As I said, not a dry eye in the house after that one.
An Aside on Supervillainy
It’s possible that some of you have noted that we are working for a supervillain. I’ve got a few things to say about that. Does that mean we consider ourselves evil? No. Do we regard ourselves, here at HQ, to be villainous? No. Are we exceptional, or super? Absolutely not. But here’s the thing. We’re not heroes. Not for the human animal anyway. It’s like Gaia Man says: If you’re planning to exterminate an entire species, you’re not that species’ hero. So here at HQ, we accept the title the press gives us. We’re not like those folks at Orange or The SPADE Organisation.
On the Matter of Getting Paid
Here’s the thing. There are those who say the field of supervillainy is the place to be if you want to make a buck. And yes, by the markets you’d assume so. Supervillain conglomerates like The SPADE Organisation posted a two hundred percent growth rate last year. Two hundred! Could you imagine? Thing is, we’re not like those extractivist, career politician, genocidal, imperialist supervillains. We’re ecologists. We like bacteria, fungi, the light on our lovers’ faces, flowers, rain, earthquakes, giant spiders, topsoil, the atmosphere—I could go on. We fight the crisis humans have imposed, the disaster of mass deregulated consumption. We acknowledge the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, high levels of chemical pollution at the deepest parts of the ocean, Bangalore verging on inhabitability as its lakes burst into fire and the mysterious and ongoing mass depletion of bee colonies. Gaia Man is right: The Anthropocene is now. This new period is characterised by the scope of our environmental intervention, and how the modernist project has defied the gradual drift of geology by radically and fundamentally altering our habitat. We here at HQ have to fight the capitalist crisis. Hence, our sustainable humans program. One per thousand hectares—that’s the goal. It’s a noble cause, yes. But unlike our supervillain competitors, our ventures are rarely profitable. Occasionally, yes, R&D comes up with something that trades well enough on the open market, while also helping this dear Earth, and together we share in the profits. The waste-sorting bin made many of us rich. But that was ten years ago, and now the purse strings tighten. For those folk in Tier IV and up, we’ll maintain at least minimum wage. Everybody else should speak to Susan in HR (email@example.com). I am aware of the rumours, in light of the recent deaths, that management positions will soon become available. I’d like to take this opportunity to say this is simply not true. Those jobs died with those fine eco-people.
A Quick Word on Plan Spider
I suppose it is time to talk about the elephant in the room. Or should I say Spider? Despite the plan’s failure, I stand by it. More than that, I’d say it was a beautiful thing. We all know that given the possibility to kill and consume us, spiders hold the potential to eat the world’s population in twenty days. Twenty days, people! So, raising a team of giant, genetically engendered, flesh-eating super-spiders that could only survive in areas of moderate to high levels toxicity? A plan that would wipe out the worst of the world’s consumers, while sparing the world’s disenfranchised indigenous populations was a noble cause. It’s important to remember we weren’t entirely unsuccessful. Sydney, New York, Boston, Beijing, Delhi, Berlin, Stuttgart, and Jakarta. They’re gone. The spiders fared well there. Sixteen more days—that’s all it would have taken. Already, the atmosphere is sighing in relief. It thanks us every day, in its quiet way. So, we shouldn’t despair. Yes, our losses were indeed considerable. Four hundred of our people gave their lives to the cause. A few to the spiders, but hundreds more to the Western militaries, whose political puppets, we must not forget, have used the “Spider Crisis”—their words, not ours—to push for increased deregulation to promote population growth in these purified environments. They are the enemy. Not us.
A Big Challenge for Me That You Can Learn From
I hate to harp on and all, but I want to tell you a story about my jerk son, Richard. My wife still loves him. Adores him even. Often, when we brush our teeth before bed, she will turn to me and say, “Morris, you have to forgive him. He’s a good boy. Misguided perhaps, but the young always are.” She says, “You’re a salesman—surely you understand the entrepreneurial spirit? He likes oil; you love shoes!” It makes my heart ache. I pat her on the shoulder, kiss her on the cheek, and tell her, “I can’t do that Gail—his heart is sour.” Sometimes, Richard is on the TV. He’s up for re-election, as some of you may know. I loved—no, love. I still love my boy. But we all love what is bad for us. Junk food. Dirty energy. Plastic collectibles. I. Get. It. But we need to stay strong. So when my son is on TV, I stand and I yell, “TRAITOR!” before flicking off the switch. I know that later on those nights when I am woken by my fears at three a.m., I will find my wife in the kitchen, crying over a jerk’s baby photos.
The Pain You’re Living Through Is Only Temporary
And here’s the thing. The point of the matter. We are all hurting: my wife, myself, those people who worked on the spiders, only to watch Navy SEALs break into our facility at Port Lonely and release our Emergency Cure. The way those spiders’ legs shrivelled into balls of perverted string has put those fine scientists on the drink. But remember. So long as Gaia Man is around to lead us, to envision new causes, we will win. It’s like he says: You plant your feet and yell at the clouds, knowing they’re ambivalent. You’re not hopeless or deluded, or at least, you’re trying your best not to be. You will stand against capitalism, knowing you’re in it. You have to “get your feet wet,” after all. The water will rise—you know this—try to take you, reduce you to a liquid asset, but not before you’re traded and speculated upon, your futures purchased at a projected outcome. The tide of Capitalism will take you while you’re dreaming, leave you hanging on the gallery wall, market your identity as a global brand, greenwash you, invite you to join the eco-chic revolution. Standing with Gaia Man is a way of standing in the water. It is a way of saying no.
Plan Earthworm is well underway. We will win. We must win. It’s either us or the Earth. I promise you. We. Will. Win.
Jack Kirne is a Melbourne-based writer and PhD candidate at Deakin University. His work has been featured in Verandah and Voiceworks, and in 2016, he was featured in The Wheeler Centre’s The Next Big Thing. He won the Judith Rodriguez Prize in 2015. Recently, he published a graphic narrative with his partner, Aaron Billings, called Discount Fabric: The Campaign.