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Laura was tired of being exhausted all the time,
and more tired of people saying
"But you don't look sick ..."
while giving her sidelong glances
that implied some kind of laziness
rather than the chronic fatigue syndrome
that compressed her life to a few hours
of quasi-wakefulness per day.
She counted her spoons
and parceled out what little energy she had
with a careful prioritization of tasks.
It was a miser's life, in a way,
but it kept her going,
and for her that was an accomplishment.
Laura was stocky and drab
and nobody's idea of a hero,
but when the robot invaders arrived,
she was the one who figured out
how to fight their weapon of doom.
People called it the Lotus Beam
because it induced feelings of intense lassitude
that caused victims to lie down and drowse
instead of standing up and fighting the invaders.
The invaders were, after all, robots
and thus immune to their own weapon.
It was designed to affect
the most vigorous opponents the most strongly,
turning their power and passion against them.
The heroes on whom people customarily depended
were helpless against the insidious impact.
On people who already suffered from fatigue,
however, the Lotus Beam had little effect.
What was a spoon or two less to them?
They were used to dealing with that
on a day of low spoons
or any day after an hour or few out of bed.
Been there, done that,
stuffed the t-shirt to make a pillow.
Laura watched the resistance cells
rise and fall, their efforts
quickly put down by the Lotus Beam.
She observed what they tried and failed,
her blunt fingers clicking away at the keys.
"Fools," she muttered,
"you're trying to do too much at once."
Laura understood the importance
of lists and priorities.
She typed up ideas for insurrection
and included with them a simple rule:
Do one thing, then pass the buck.
The list and its instruction
circled the world within hours,
sent by internet and paper airplane,
spray-painted on walls
and chalked on sidewalks.
Along with Laura there rose
a whole legion of Lotus Warriors,
people whom the human race
had long ignored and abandoned,
left out of the scurrying rat race.
Now they surged ahead to lead the way
into a whole new kind of battle.
Some people worked alone,
making a single strike
and then vanishing.
Others worked in teams,
each member completing a single act
before withdrawing to allow
the next to take over,
like a bank of gunfire
rolling down a line of soldiers.
There were hackers
accustomed to coding while tired,
doctors who could save lives on no sleep.
They, too, joined the resistance
and learned to work in tiny increments.
Most of the soldiers remained useless.
They couldn't learn fast enough
how to slow down,
and others surpassed them.
Everywhere the resistance went,
the Blue Lotus sprouted,
opposite the hot orange bliss of the beam.
It blossomed in ink, in paint, in chalk,
wherever the robots went.
A battery factory blew up
and someone scrawled the Blue Lotus
into the ashes afterwards.
Escaping prisoners stenciled it
onto the side of the jail as they fled.
Someone punctured the air cushion of a hovercraft
with a hatpin tipped in turquoise flowers.
The LOTOS virus
helped to even the playing field,
assembled by geeks a few lines at a time.
The virus was designed to
lower operating technicalities onto somnolence,
and so it did.
stumbled and fell,
slumped to the ground in defeat --
not all of them, not all at once,
but enough to turn the tide.
as she finished copying the news
onto the park fence for all to see.
Then she went home to bed,
tired from a hard hour's work,
but satisfied with the progress.
Down the block,
another Lotus Warrior
picked up the abandoned chalk
and started sketching a diagram
of weaknesses in hovercraft engines.
* * *
The title comes from a reference to the classic Lotus-Eaters.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is one of many invisible illnesses which can make life very difficult for people, not just due to the condition itself but the social response to it. The Spoon Theory addresses this issue.
Leaderless resistance is a classic response to invasion.
Graffiti is a vital part of cultural history, appearing in resistance movements such as that in Palestine.