All Stories, Science Fiction

The ASKii Of Aikido On The Planet Sellinger-Shapiro by Rabbi Steven Lebow



On the planet Sellinger-Shapiro, in the country of Marr and Etta, near the banks of the River Hoochee, Haud Nomen- the handsome long-haired boy- grew up with his best friend, the common citizen, Sisellia.

There were two suns that shone on Sellinger-Shapiro and while Haud Nomen played by the river with Sisellia one of the suns turned his skin nut-brown and the other turned the irises of his eyes light violet.

In the grove where the Rocket-Fish swam in the middle of the air the mother of Haud Nomen played the ancient songs upon a video instrument that only had a single string. Small children sat around her, gathering her hair into convoluted braids and from time to time the children would steal one of her hairs and then weave it into his own, hoping that it would make them as beautiful as she was.

Haud Nomen and Sisellia spent the summer of their fifteenth year beneath the trees called “Wood of Dog”. It is a name whose origin no one remembers.

Nomen delighted in philosophical games.

“What will happen if we are dreaming and when we awake we are not really here?” Nomen asked Sisellia one day as they sat beneath the Dog Tree.

Sisellia knew that the long haired boy was teasing him.

“It’s not possible to wake up and then discover that you’re not there,” he said to Nomen.

“Perhaps,” said Nomen to the common citizen. “But then again, how do we know that the dream is not dreaming us?”

For a moment Sisellia stopped listening to Nomen because his attention was drawn to staring at the Comfort Girls, who came and went, visiting Haud Nomen’s father. Haud Nomen’s mother sat in her garden and composed song after song on infinitesimal video screens, suspended from her eye lids.

Like his father, Haud Nomen’s appetites were promiscuous and the boy ate and drank at any hour that he wanted.

He had never been outside his parent’s large estate and so, one day Nomen took a smaller rocket and he jetted several kilometers out to the edge of his family’s holdings.

His family’s farm ended near a broken Cyclone Rail station and across from the station there was a small road and down the smaller road there were citizens begging for a little food, bowls balanced on their head’s and trembling.

“I see your shadows there,” Nomen said to the mendicants.

Haud Nomen had a thousand credits in his pocket and when he approached the rail side beggars Nomen took the thumb drive credits out of his pockets and loaded them on to the communal computer that stood in the center of the beggar’s village.

“Give to us and we will take,” the beggars said to Nomen. The citizens pushed each other aside until their own computers, embedded in their hands, had uploaded an even dozen and a half credits from the Father Screen.

The credits were given in multiples of eighteen, a lucky number which means “life” in Hebrew, the ancient biblical language. When Nomen finished dispensing the credits, beggars who were left empty handed went back to the street begging with their bowls, while the ones who had been fed by Nomen sat by the crippled station of the Cyclone Rail.

When the twin suns set Haud Nomen returned to his family’s compound, where the Comfort Girls served the evening meal and where the citizen Sisellia washed off all of the computer screens with anti-septic radiation.

“In two months I will turn sixteen,” Nomen said to Sisellia when they crept away to eat their own dinners.

“It is the age at which a man must leave his father’s house, his homeland, to go to a land where he has dreamed of in his dreams.”

“I have decided I want to travel to the outer villages,” said Nomen. “And I will learn not only the antiquated tongues of COBOL and Basic, but the new languages of Ra and Krishna and the somnolent open source the citizens call ‘Linux’.”

Later that same night Haud Nomen stood before his father, who was admiring himself in front of a dimensional mirror, seeing himself as he might have been, were he a younger man.

“I plan to go on a journey” Haud Nomen told his father. “To live amongst the poor, to be with those who beg for thumb drive credits.”

“You will stay with your baby sister, Vesper,” the father said to his son.

“When I was your age,” the father said “I studied with my father to learn how to impose the ancient grammar of ASKii on the screens of all the common citizens.

“No, I will not stay,” the boy told his father.

Haud Nomen stood silently, shuffling his golden feet, as he waited for what would have been an improbable acceptance.

His father turned away again, to stare into a watery mirror, gazing at a pixel manipulated reflection, refusing to see what his son had grown into.

In the morning, after standing still for thirteen hours, Haud Nomen left his family and their estate. He left without saying goodbye to his mother who was practicing her singing, but as he left he looked in on his little sister, Vesper, still sleeping in her lucent crib.

His mother did not notice that he was gone, until a full day had passed.

As Haud Nomen approached his small transport rocket again, the citizen Sisellia ran out from the family compound.

“Take me with you,” Sisellia pleaded to his boyhood friend.

“I can’t,” Nomen said to Sisellia. “You are a common citizen and I am to the rocket born. Some day, I pray to the double suns above, I will return to the homeland of my mothers. Perhaps in some sacred future I will yet see you at the solar farm of my fathers.”

Haud Nomen entered the smaller rocket and set its destination to just a few kilometers outside his family’s farm. When he exited the rocket he saw the beggars who had clamored by his father’s gate. He gazed upon the professional Hellarus, the holy men, and he saw one man curled up, as if in sleep.

As he drew closer he saw that the man was dead and that his flesh was mummified. The eyes of the dead man were wide open and metal insects crawled in and out of his open mouth.

Nomen looked down at the dead man and he recognized him as one of the beggars he had turned away, refusing to grant a few more credits.

When Nomen stared into the dead man’s eyes he did not notice that his own eyes were leaking neuro-hormones. He then remembered something that Sisellia had taught him months before.

“Life is a series of leave takings, a complement of letting go,” Sisellia had said. “Absence is the only thing that remains at the end of the day,” he had told Nomen one day when they had fished by the river.

Haud Nomen took off his expensive dermal-skins and bought the garb of a Hellarus with the last of his credits. As one final departing gesture he gave his familial dermal-skins to a beggar by the road.

That first morning, now self-exiled from his family’s land, he was finally light enough to travel through the Thousand Poorer Villages; without credits, without formal clothing, without family or home.

Nomen spent several years apprenticed to a Poor Man, the one the citizens called “Reidus of Hellarus”.

“I desire to study your type of meditation,” Nomen said to Reidus.

“To meditate as we do, to lose the senescent ego, one must desire to conquer all desire,” the beggar said.

With that, the Poor Man, Reidus Hellarus, became silent, his counsel turned within and not without.

Nomen learned to imitate that meditation, sitting for long periods of time beneath the twin suns of Sellinger-Shapiro, until one day he realized the impossibility of desiring to cancel out one’s desires.

“It is done,” he said to the Hellarus monks who had been sitting close by, in the Ashram of the Poor Men and Common Citizens.

Nomen walked for many days until he found another Cyclone Rail transport station.

The Cyclone Rail travelled several kilometers, over land and crossing water, and then up into the mountains of Sellinger-Shapiro, far from the country of Marr and Etta.

As Nomen had ridden the Cyclone he discovered that every rail car contained its own computer work station, a sop thrown out to the common citizens.

Nomen, perverse at learning, spent weeks studying what the older men jokingly called “Happy Hacking”. While riding the train Nomen spent hours learning the ancient computer languages until he dreamed in ones and zeroes.

One day when Nomen was visiting a new village he met a poor citizen named Luis Telzarus. Telzarus lived in a hut made from dried feces. During the weeks that Nomen stayed with Telzarus he acquired a new friend, a dog named Fannie Kleg- an ancient term which means “luck of money.”

The dog slept in Nomen’s bed, in place of any woman, platonic or Realistic.
During that time Nomen toiled away at a common father screen, perfecting all the slavishness of any ordinary hacker.

One day Nomen stopped work out of frustration.

“How goes the programming?” Telzarus asked Nomen.

“I’ve been frozen out. The ASKii goes up to a certain command, and then it stops. It won’t accept any furthers zeroes.” said Nomen to Telzarus.

“There is an ancient art,” said the beggar. “It’s a type of fighting that refuses to be fought. It’s called Aikido.”

“Quit struggling so much,” Hellarus said to Nomen. “Push the programming in the way that it wants to go, not in the way that you desire.”

The older man left and Nomen taught himself to type zeroes when he wanted to type ones and ones when he thought he should be typing zeroes. After many long months the programming went smoothly. Nomen had learned whatever it was that he was supposed to learn.

Nomen turned the new programming to solving problems of irrigation and the lack of food in the thousand Poorer Villages.

The computer’s conclusions taught Nomen many things, not the least is that the poor will always be with us. Nonetheless, an open source code would better enable the beggars to find villages where there was greater rain fall and hence, more food.

On the day that Nomen felt he had finally mastered the ASKii of Aikido he returned to his hut of mud and discovered his dog lying dead by the road side. The dog, Fanny Kleg, had been poisoned by eating the roots saved for the citizens, but deadly for a dog.

Nomen almost cried but then he remembered the aphorism that Sisellia had taught him years before.

“Everything is passing,” Nomen said to no one there.

Haud Nomen cut the dog into pieces and roasted all of the entrails, eating the meat of his only friend.

Nomen took the death of his dog as a friendly auger and decided that it might be time to return to his family’s farm. By this time almost ten years had passed.

A decade and a half now long gone Nomen stepped down from the car of the Cyclone Rail. He walked up to the family farm, scaled its walls, fell over to the other side.

The climb and then the fall wrenched Nomen’s hip. Nomen now walked with a distinct limp. Nomen continued to walk until he drew near the familiar dwellings.

He recognized the older Sisellia, but Sisellia did not recognize him at first.

“I am Haud Nomen, your brother,” he said to Sisellia. “Where are my mother and father?” he said.

Sisellia only stared, unable to speak.

“They are long gone,” he finally said. “You passed their graves when you walked over to the farm.”

“And what has become of Vesper, my sister?”  Nomen asked his old friend.

“She married a wealthy man and moved to his estate several months ago,” said Sisellia.

“Has my family left nothing behind?” said Nomen.

The old friend turned his head and with his eyes he indicated a young Comfort Woman, standing by the microwave well.

“She was your sister’s servant,” said Sisellia. “Your sister set her free when she left to celebrate her marriage.

Nomen excused himself and went over to speak to the young woman. He drew close to the former servant, and spoke in low tones that Sisllia could hear, but not really understand.

That night Nomen came to know the girl.  He laid down with the girl and immediately fell asleep. While the former beggar slept the young woman cut off a lock of Nomen’s hair and then wove it into her own.

Now the weight of Nomen’s years was lightened as Nomen slept beside the now pregnant woman. The moon of Selinger-Shapiro rose high that night.

And Haud Nomen slept the sleep that seems to last a thousand years.


By: Rabbi Steven Lebow

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6 thoughts on “The ASKii Of Aikido On The Planet Sellinger-Shapiro by Rabbi Steven Lebow”

  1. ‘The computer’s conclusions taught Nomen many things, not the least is that the poor will always be with us.’ This is a perfect example of a flawless and simple sentence conveying a depth of meanings. The whole piece is like that. No matter where a story takes place, such fine, clean writing makes the necessary expansion of the imagination easy.
    Oh, by the way, Rabbi. someone at work called me “messhuggah” (sp); I’m sure that means brilliant, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Rabbi,
    This was a very expressive and inventive piece of writing. Even with the Science-Fiction aspect to it, it felt like reading an old fable.
    A very interesting short story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading the story, Hugh. It may have felt like a fable because it is based on the Herman Hesse book “Siddhartha”. I have always liked the style and had thought to recast the story of the Holy Buddha as if it were in some distant future. In any case, were you ever to read the original book, you would see parallel (or at least the artful theft!) Thanks for reading! Rabbi Steve Lebow

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Ochanda Wasonga!

    As I noted about the story obtains its “legend” like form because it is a direct relative to the opening lines of the Hermann Hesse’ story “Siddhartha”.

    Thank you for reading and commenting!

    Steve Lebow


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