Blacktop clouds the colour of new asphalt. Many hours from the nearest city. A deserted stretch of country road. A 20 year old diesel Mercedes. Crusing at 100 km/h. Steering wheel sticky from heat and sweat. Fan on full, windows down, no A/C. One passenger. One driver.
The driver is called Shelly Fallbright, an engineer and amateur naturalist.
The passenger is Sean Oakley, a cultural anthropologist and practicing existentialist.
They are both fans of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.,.
Their conversation would make it into a novel.
But not a short story.
They are driving across a country which didn't exist a few years ago, a country which still does not have a name.
They have elected to take this trip because they have certain special mental skills.
Together, Shelly and Sean are social reality engineers, they've been hired to establish an elite intelligensia in this newly born republic they're driving through.
They will begin by laying a mental framework among the new ruling party which will dissolve internal hypocrisy and unify collective opinion on the subject of universal equal rights of opportunity, the value of life, the value of intellegence and a liberal morality.
They will continue by creating a sense of exclusivity by promoting adoption of these values as a prerequisite for access to power and information.
They will even nurture a small conservative counter movement so that the elite can easily define themselves after Shelly and Sean have left by pointing to those who are excluded, namely the small conservative movement.
As a special part of their service package, they will introduce the existentialist notion of the fundamental ridiculousness of life, the inevitability of death regardless of choices and the ethical obligation of causing no unnecessary harm in the pursuit of goals.
They will frame a world in which no one makes excuses. They will frame a world in which tasks take no more time, nor less time, than they require.
They will build a frame and everyone in power will step into the picture.
All that is in the future, Shelly and Sean are calmly expectant, their composure in the Mercedes is one of relaxed knowingness.
"Hi ho," says Shelly.
"Hi ho," says Sean.
They drive on.