Chapter Sixty-Three: The Plague of Planning

Editor’s Note: as Vine approaches the 21st century, it’s not hard to feel as though the town is beset by challenges on all sides. Nowhere can stay completely cut off from the world forever. Christine thinks the turn of the century will see Vine fully merging with the outside world, modernizing completely, but gradually, like a frog boiling in a pot. How much say will the people of Vine have in the matter? How much say do they want? Consider this Council meeting, which I was present for, following up on the implementation of Andre Sherman Pilt’s economic plans. Here’s what I wrote after that meeting:

Now it was in those days that the Elders were in possession of the knowledge of which way the wind was blowing. Certain treaties had been signed. Certain technological developments could not be ignored. The world was getting smaller and as those responsible stewards shepherded the consecrated land of Vine and its chosen people towards the 21st century there was a sense of the need to avoid being left behind. Financially speaking. 

Now it was in the days of Vine that there existed the holy Elders: those who worshiped the Lord (Ed. note: though they did not live humbly) and upheld Vine as a dwelling place for God’s chosen people in the Americas. Now it was in the days of Vine that there existed the pragmatic Elders: those who had eyes to see the world clearly for what it is, those who had ears to hear Vine’s place in the world clearly for what it is. 

Behind your ear is an itch. Scratch and it migrates to your scalp. Hair sheds when you scratch and the itch migrates to your back. Rub your shoulder blades on a fencepost and the itch migrates to your legs. On and on the itch. O my brothers the Rapture that comes from scratching.

So it was that the Elders convened a Council meeting to discuss further opening Vine to trade. Andre Sherman Pilt’s Wal-Mart deal had brought increased value to Vine, as there had been savings in labor costs and improved efficiency in the supply chain. A few businesses and people of Vine were slow to adjust—that was to be expected. On every frontier there are casualties. The Elders, being wise and learned men of God as well as responsible stewards of Vine dating back generations, had long been in tune with the coming trends of the world, and had made sure to increase the value of Vine.

At night you are too hot under your bedcovers. Kick them off and you are too cold. Try to sleep with a sheet and no comforter and you are too vulnerable. 

Now it was in those days that the outside world knew very little of Vine. The Elders had their contacts with various local governments, the Seminarians had their contacts with various universities, the Captains of Industry had their contacts in shipping and logistics, but here is what Vine was to those outsiders: a spot of ink on a map. A place in the mountains not near any hiking trail. A township lying in a valley bordered by mountains a lake a river a bald with no one coming and no one going. A community of people living humbly and serving God (and therefore deserving to be left alone). 

Yet it was undeniable that the Lord our God had blessed and consecrated Vine: abundance of resources in the form of fertile soil and rich waterways and dense forest. It was undeniable that Vine and its consecrated land had something to offer.

Whomst among you would leave an offer on the table. Who are you to turn away from the offerings of the Lord? Where were you when the Heavens and the Earth were created, and man made in God’s image? Who are you to turn down opportunity? 

The Lord told Moses I AM WHO I AM because revealing your name gives a stranger power over you. 

The Elders spoke, saying: 

“Should we be concerned with Vine’s future ability at self-determination?” 

“Partnerships with corporations and governments do not erode the power of this Council. We are strengthened by the financial stability these deals will ensure.”

“Vine has been consecrated by God and its people chosen to have dominion over its lands and animals. That is immutable.”

“Make no mistake my brothers, these partnerships chain us not only to corporations and governments, but to a complex web of shareholders and treaties and interests. Whatever nominal determination and power this Council will retain will be purely force of habit from the people of Vine. We are, my brothers, opening the door to the entire rotten world.”

“Do you doubt the holiness of the people of Vine?”

“Beg pardon?”

“The people of Vine were chosen by God for a reason, my brother.”

“The people of Vine are righteous and upstanding.”

“The people of Vine will endure.”

You are itching again.

So it was that the Council was moved by God, and the Lord stirred in their hearts feelings of great optimism and anticipation of wealth, that it was in that chamber voted to begin a process of a series of transactions and contract signings and partnership announcements, and thus would in short order bring Vine into the 21st century.

Editor’s Note: just to be clear, I was able to recover a partially destroyed copy of the minutes of the Council meeting. The measures voted on—measures that amounted to the Sale Of Vine—are like light from far-off stars traveled over eons to reach us. The measures—ones that amounted to the Sale Of Vine—were in the inscrutable language of the Council, a mix of King James English and borrowed language from the Bible, the Magna Carta, and various angelic revelations no one outside the Council has ever been taught, not even Seminarians. Thus the minutes of the meeting are unreadable and untranslatable as though attempting to teach the corpse of a Swallow the intricacies of migration. But like flying for warmth in winter, we can understand the meeting’s essence: votes for the Sale Of Vine are 10 ayes, two nays. 

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