No one knows where it started, but on the evening of August 12, 2075, all over the world, groups began disintegrating.
Not just sewing circles and protest juntas and gamers; not just political activists and victim-support organizations; and not just governments and armies.
Religious and racial groups fell apart, too. By some accounts, they were the last to go.
In Greborg-Lavre-Brooklyn, on the former French and German border, Kayne Larder, a Muslim leader of a motorcycle gang, the V-2, stood on busy streetcorner and said, “I’m not black, I’m not religious, I’m not a V-2. I’m me.”
As gang members and neighbors moved forward to stone him to death, an anonymous person started beating on a drum. He shouted, “I don’t belong to anything or anybody!”
Everyone froze, including Hesh Zion, the king of the Hebrew Tankers, a feared local attack mob.
Zion said, “I’m not a Jew.”
Scenes like this were repeated from Nome to Tierra del Fuego.
In Lower Manhattan, Sal Tosca, a hitman for the Carneri crime family, was eating pizza in a small restaurant on Mulberry Street. He announced to his pals: “Guess what? I’m not Italian. I’m not a gangster. I’m just myself.”
The next day, the NY Times printed notices from the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and the Bilderberg Group, declaring their dissolution.
A week later, the President of the United States, Abner Ali Chang Grey Feather, went on national television and said:
“I’m not the President, there is no more federal government, I’m going fishing. Bye bye.”
By then, few people seemed surprised. The Event was well underway.
Soldiers were leaving their bases. Medical associations were disbanding. Lobbyists were closing up shop. The ten largest corporations in the world declared a year-long hiatus.
Some called these happenings a miracle. Others said it was the end of the world.
Greta Curt, president of The Most High Octopus, the famous language-filtering and restriction group, responsible for assassinations of people who uttered forbidden words, shot herself in the head in a suite at the Essex House in New York.
Her assistant, Moji Schwartz Limbo Ghandi, told Internet viewers: “Greta just couldn’t handle the new turbulence. She felt herself breaking like a porcelain vase.”
Dick Cheney Bush Perle Cauc, a USAF commander in Afghanistan, told his crew in a briefing room at the Obama Kindness Base outside Kabul, “I’m heading home, wherever that is, guys. I just figured out I’m not white, I’m not a Republican, I’m me.”
At Harvard University, a third-year major in Taliban Studies, Eric Thomas Bin Leary, attempted to organize an “I’m Me” club. A classmate injected him with Haldol2x, drove him to Maine, and deposited him, unconscious, in a muddy bed on the shore of Lake Casco.
Sociologists were apparently the hardest hit, since their enterprise was all about promoting groups. Dr. Elia Fogg Robinson, a Yale professor and the author of We’re All the All, invited colleagues to his lab, where he tried to persuade them to partake in an orgy while immersed in a large vat of melted bubbling cheese, after which, he promised, they would emerge as a single hybridized entity. They put him out in a snowstorm.
It was the beginning of what is now called The Blank Period, approximately a hundred years of unrecorded history.
Yes, we came through, but nothing would ever be the same. The distaste for all groups remained.
As my great-grandfather, Jack Anarch, wrote, in his diary, “Once upon a time, humans needed clans and tribes to survive in the wild, but long after technological civilizations were raised up, the addiction to groups was still overwhelming. It almost destroyed us, but we came to our senses in time. Families yes. Friends yes. Groups no. An old relative of mine told me, ‘There’s nothing like the group habit. Coming off that jones can give a person the shakes for a couple of decades. It can make your eyeballs want to pop out. And you’ve got to do it cold. I went through a six-month stretch where I hallucinated that rain made out of glue was falling from the sky, pasting me to some mythical collective of shoppers in a giant mall in space. It was so heavy I almost flipped. A voice in my head kept saying, Spill on aisle 13, spill on aisle 13…”