Ricardo Acevedo Esplugas
Axxón 158: January 2006
(Translation: Daniel W. Koon)

To Carmen R. Signes

        "Major Tom to Ground Control. Can you hear me, Ground Control?"
        Ground... Earth... I don't think they use those words anymore. Or taxi, or pyramid or Ghandi. It all began with The Contact. Yes, the long-awaited contact with an extraterrestrial culture superior in every way to our own. Big brother who had come to fix all our mistakes.
        The day arrived and the voice was heard. (I'll never forget it...) Leaders and baritones committed mass suicide. The former for being unable to conceive of how to reply; the latter for lacking the suitable organs to do so.
        ....And we saw their image, and they were in a class by themselves: Playboy bunnies went on strike. The military surrendered, just on the suspicion, merely the suspicion, of the fantastic weapons lurking behind the suggestive figure of their mothership.
        The most pragmatic artists began to imitate them: Salvation! Hallelujah! The Dead Sea Scrolls and Picasso were replaced by the new esthetic canons: Brasilia and the Taj Mahal quickly followed.
        I made my escape as the final astronaut. ("Why conquer the cosmos if our brilliant brothers have already done it?" So went the thinking in those days.)
        I bought brushes and permanent ink before these were deemed obsolete, and I holed myself up inside the Major Tom. For two years I filled its walls with words intended to preserve the memory of the entire Earth. (How the hell do you say "hello" in Swahili?)
        ...the most stubborn sought refuge in the culture of the Mass Media. But in the end McDonald's, Warhol, Barbie and Elvis were undercut by the hallucinogenic display put on by the aliens, beings whose pop culture resided in their genes. The red circle on a white background fell as well. Sayonara to origami, manga, bushido, tea ceremony,...
        Clouds of spray paint fall like frost over the shell of this tiny orbital station, tagged inch by inch, down to the generator: samovar, Pinochet, Nineveh; even the tiniest servos which revolve haltingly through the passageways: napalm, Ho Chi Minh, Guanabacoa... Millions of symbols were devoured in fractions of nanoseconds in the bloody bonfire of civilizations. Good-bye, Auschwitz, tribal tattoos, milongas, Bradbury, Chanel No. 5, Bela Lugosi, Mount Athos...
        I stand before the final sliver of white, not knowing what to write...

Ricardo Acevedo Esplugas was born in Havana in 1969. He is a civil construction technician and has completed studies in English and in marketing and public relations. His texts have been published in the virtual magazine i+Real, he is a founding member of the science fiction literary workshop "Oscar Hurtado" and he is a member of the Literary Workshop "Juan del Casal". He has won prizes for stories and poetry in the event CubaFicción 1996 and obtained the second prize in narrative in the Municipal Meeting of Literary Workshop of Old Havana (1997). He was one of the organizers of the events 24 Hours of the Fantastic 2003 and VillaFicción 2002. He directs the literary fanzine miNatura.

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