Achilles Anophtheis (Achilles revisited)

Unknown

The director walked onto the stage, gingerly adjusting his radiation mask in order to fit the microphone beneath it. His nervous cough boomed through the hall. After shuffling the papers on the podium before him, he began.

"Welcome ladies and gentlemen of the Pre-Apocalypse Archaeological Society. We have called this session to impart to you a matter of the utmost importance, a discovery of the highest order. As you are aware, our teams have only recently been able to sift through the debris of the razed cities of our belligerent predecessors, thanks to the efforts of our colleagues at the Physical Research Society who, with the aid of Allah, have made our task infinitely easier with the invention of a radiation suit which allows our field workers to work even in areas of the highest radiation concentration: the cities of what was formerly the United States of America. The discoveries are literally pouring in, and we have our hands full simply cataloguing the numerous finds. Our first find was a small rectangular object, containing a spool of thin ribbon, which one of our historians identified as what was known as a cassette. Simply put, it was a device on which sounds could be recorded. From its small size, our historian conjectured that it was of a type designed for recording the human voice rather than music. Armed with this belief, we managed to convince the Censor Society to allow us to reconstruct the primitive machine to play back the message we hoped it would contain. They agreed; on the condition that we did not do so until they had a chance to screen it for the negative influences that caused the downfall of the last corrupt civilization. They duly approved it and we are now ready for its first public presentation.

"Before we begin, I would like to explain some of the terms used in the recording, for those of you who lack the benefit of an historical training. The tape is evidently the recording of a psychologist. You are all aware that the sacrilege which led to the destruction of the Nuclear Age was primarily caused by the decline in religious belief and values. A psychologist was the person who supplanted the role of the confessor in this blasphemous time. He labored under the delusion that the immortal soul was accessible on a scientific, human level; and, like most of the scientists of the day, impiously discounted Allah as an unnecessary complication. We found an infamous saying which pervaded much of the Pre-Apocalypse literature: 'Religion is the opiate of the people'. Well, psychology became the new 'opiate of the people.'

The patient with whom the doctor is dealing with in the recording, has been identified as a prominent businessman of the day. He is what was called an arbitrageur. A man who specialized in dealings on their stock market, a term I am sure all of you are familiar with. In any case, an arbitrageur bought and sold companies for a profit. In the few pieces of literature we have been able to recover, it seems that such men were regarded as the heroes of their age. I refer of course to the numerous copies we have of the autobiographies of Donald Trump, Robert Campeau and the like. Evidently the culture considered these books to be of great importance, for we found huge amounts of them in large buildings. This was apparently for safekeeping since the storage facilities were located well away from the centres of attack in the event of a nuclear war. The periodicals of the day also reflect the reverence in which these men were held, as they are frequently mentioned. It is another mark of the degradation of the society that the primary estimate of a man's worth became the amount of money he earned. It is difficult in this holy age to conceive of such blasphemy, but it is necessary that we do so in order to avoid the same traps into which they fell. We have managed to reconstruct the scenario as far as was possible, but we endeavored to retain all of the original conversation in addition to our own narration. I don't think that there is anything further that you need to know about the recording, except perhaps that it appears to be incomplete.