Stand By


The flannel-shirt-soft surface of the biosphere of a deep-frozen pizza...but organic, obviously

In the broken glass splinters from a pair of spectacle frames left lying on the wet asphalt, multiple blue lights rotating on their own axes create a kaleidoscopic effect as they reflect. Sirens surround the foggy atmosphere of Georg-Schwarz-Strasse in Leipzig. The time is early 2014. People cry for help, thrown up and hurled in all directions, as if from a ball of arms and legs, a knot of men and women brought together by their own desire to gawk at the scene. A young bearded man in skinny jeans and a leather jacket is the reason for this panic.

White foam at his mouth, he drags himself to the flabbergasted police, and then, before their very eyes, bursts like a bubble in front of them. A white-tinged pool of blood is all that’s left of him, on top of which a wool cap and intact black, horn-rimmed spectacles float, lolling slightly back and forth. The splinters of the other spectacle frames slowly turn red as the cap and the horn-rimmed spectacles mingle with them and are then still. This fragment of a moving picture ends here.

That was the prelude to one of the greatest human catastrophes of the inter-inter-war years. In a time when the inhabitants of Leipzig had bestowed upon it the term “Hypezig,” and from then on dreamed of seeing the claim, long circulated within the city, of “we are the new Berlin” finally made reality.

Decades before the big Continental War, this catastrophe would come to ensure that the expression “Schwarz-Strass”—a synonym for Georg-Schwarz-Strasse in Leipzig—would come to be an internationally-renowned—nay, infamous—term, which had the ability to incite fear and awe when used in the daily speech of those as far away as
Indiengland and Chinasia.

Everything bad in the world that could not have been expressed in words and gestures instead was simply labeled with the catchphrase “Schwarz-Strass.”seconds, it finally leaves behind only litres of white-saturated blood. infected with the deadly virus almost immediately.

Mutated forms of previously non-existent viruses joined together to produce the super-virus LV, which earned its full name, “Leipzig Virus-GSS-013” from the place where it first emerged.

Similar to the Marburg-Virus, the LV is an RNA-virus of the filamentous family Filoviridae, a highly-contagious pathogen which, after an incubation time of mere hours, causes a hemorrhaging fever to break out, over the course of which a white foam builds up inside the infected person. Capable of dissolving his or her organs, tissues and bones within seconds, it finally leaves behind only litres of white-saturated blood.

By chance, two years after the outbreak, virologists in Heidelberg were able to create a simulated 4D-model of the LV in order to give shape to this horrible epidemic. They are still in the dark as to the root cause and the origin of the LV. “At some point, something will come up,” one of the biochemists was quoted as saying.

“We assume that the LV was an airborne virus that first spread after being stored in the carrier cells of the metabolism of a Swabian, who, like many others, had moved from Berlin to study in Leipzig. This would explain why the virus first infected the residents of Georg-Schwarz-Strasse. The eclipse of the lysogenic cycle together with its replication must therefore have begun here.”

Hundreds of the street’s residents were Just as on old maps, where not yet discovered swathes of land and islands were mere black spots, first given colour during the colonial expeditions over decades, nature reclaimed its original darkness, at least on the street level, through the “Schwarz-Strass-Disaster” of 2014.

Due to the social concerns of their policymakers, word of the catastrophe was kept entirely secret from the inhabitants of many countries. So, just as it was on many Internet sites in those days, not only the street itself, but all of Leipzig, appeared as a black spot on the maps—cartographically eliminated, exactly as if the city had never existed.

Above all, it was intended to spare schoolchildren from the awareness of this human tragedy: all the infected, who at first did not try to overcome the barricades erected by the military, as each that made the attempt was shot without question, were fated to end piteously as white-red pools on the dark asphalt, reflecting the leaden clouds above.

Since those trying to breach the barriers were beginning to multiply, an architectural contest was begun for the “containment of the Georg-Schwarz-Strasse-area,” the winner of which was the design firm RLF.

The winning entry was designed with the greatest consideration of saving time – the construction had top priority – and modeled on a geodesic 3-simplex dome construction of Buckminster Fuller.

After its production in the abandoned airport complex of Leipzig-Schkeuditz, multiple helidronecopters over Georg-Schwarz-Strasse—closed in along with parts of the neighboring streets Holtei- Uhland- and Wielandstrasse hovered over the construction, anchored under the earth. The sewers were closed off with a newly designed concrete-carbon mixture and integrated with motion-activated mines.

The infected were now closed in, effectively shut away from the rest of the world. A press release euphorically extolling this German architectonic masterstroke added regretfully that now, however, the “wrong would live in rightness.” Outside of the region, however, the project was forgotten mere months after its completion, since no more shootings were necessary. Smaller, rallying groups of survivors still struggled on hopelessly against their fate.

Still, decades later, scenes from the multiple 4D-thermal-imaging cameras installed to allow scientists to watch over this enclosed world were still leaving them astounded.

Various mutations were still arising among the infected inside the cupola—mutations that the scientists found highly fascinating, although they all proved un-survivable mere weeks after appearing. The sewer rats that were forced to the surface during the sluicing process became infected as well, and mutated vigorously along with the human race.

After a few years, through recurrent acts of bestiality, a new mutation form—called the SB-genome-008—arose and seemed to survive. This mutated phenotype spread surprisingly fast among the remaining forms of life in the cupola and at last won the upper hand.

To those scientists watching over this new “rat race” of men, it was like a blast from the past: the retro-style of 2014 consisted of “Leather jackets, skinny jeans, Chuck Taylors, wool caps and horn-rimmed spectacles” according to the images on the hypernet.

They therefore diagnosed the 2062 appearance of these new animal humanoids, their entire bodies covered in hair, as “leather jacket, skinny jeans, Chuck Taylors, wool caps, and horn-rimmed spectacles.” Several of these new mutated “ratmen” grew the hair on their faces even longer to resemble beards, in addition to which they also had degenerated eyebrows.

The cupola itself could only be trespassed from the outside via a series of locks, which, in homage to El Lissitzky, were given the name, “Proun.” In all the years since the completion of the cupola, the protected gate, heavily armed and accessible through coded doors connecting to one another, had never once been opened.

Encouraged by the muggy environment of the biosphere, these new ratmen arose, in their modern form resembling rats the size of humans. Playful, teasing members of the guard force took black coal from the firepits ringing the cupola and, most likely out of boredom, wrote the word “SCHWEISSWUNDER“ (Sweatwonder) above the locks on the outer surface of the cupola, finishing the letters with a special fixative to make them permanent.

Just above their writing—in fact, exactly where the letters “E” “I” and “S” were—a cross could be seen, put together from two beams and poorly filled out with black coal, mostly likely from the burnt wood of the nearby Leipziger Auenwald forest. Only members of the military were allowed to set foot in the area, or indeed anywhere within a circumference of 1000 meters. And even they were quickly filled with fear and anxiety at the thought.

Each new appearance of the retrovirus grew even more resistant than the last, and new variations sprang up among each other particularly quickly. Meanwhile, the now mongoloid-born rat men developed a rudimentary, intelligent awareness and quite clearly realized that they were being kept in captivity.

Rogue attempts at destroying the cupola – in which these rat men would actually try to break through the cupola with their own hairy heads – were met with mild sneers by the guards. Soon the cupola residents formed mutinous mobs, however, organising themselves into an active resistance. As battle uniforms, they used Lederhosen made from human skin, earning this new mutant movement the name “Leipziger Neo-Mob (LNM)”.

Next they tried to dig through the sluiced sewage canals, although this was a failure, as they ran into the inlaid motion-sensor mines after only several meters. Since the mutants were powered by reproduction – the guards temporarily called the cupola a “Reproduction Supermarket” – a military incursion into the cupola sector became unavoidable in order to be able to further guarantee the safety of the exterior.

Special task forces of the Euro-German military, who were trained using Google Street View images of Georg-Schwarz- Strasse from the year 2008 found in the “Leipzig Museum of Human Accomplishment” (LMHA), opened the locks for the first time in over 60 years and entered the cupola. They were met with strange, irritating lighting conditions, almost as if filtered through a series of colourful layers.

Just like a monotonous permanent musical tone from electronic drum machines, they seemed to ring out from the street lanterns. Along the moss- and grass-overgrown streets, they worked swiftly, like assassins. More than half the rat men, who were nearly defenseless before the intruders, lost their lives that day.

The stormed houses and apartments of the new life forms displayed artistic potential, however, cobbled together as they were in the shapes of wall paintings and sculptures from found materials. These novel-retro art products were given the term “Popopop- East-Modernism.” In this instagram-coloured light mode, which reigned under the cupola, they were even more fascinating to behold than in the normal-contaminated daylight outside the cupola.

Soon, a worldwide resistance formed against the attempts at eliminating the mutant race. The CATO Security Council Triple-Track Decision gave in to the pressure of the protest movements, ordering the Leipzig assassins out of the cupola, having the locks closed once again, and setting up worldwide virtual-reality museums for artwork from the cupola world, which spoke to the human masses in spite of the kitschy appearance of their coats of paint in the artificial light.

“Nostalgic,” “emotional” and “good-looking” were the adjectives art critics used to describe them. Blood samples removed from the corpses of the shot “Hypesters”, as the rat men were now popularly called, were able to help the descendants of the original Heidelberg virologists correct the virus models created decades earlier.

Thanks to these adjustments, a sensational thing happened: As research showed, it was actually illustrations first published in this newspaper in the year 2013 that, decades later, would go on to provide the key to the viral mutations. These illustrations, by the artist Martin Wühler, showed computer-generated, detailed models of non-existent viruses that would cross over into the repertoire of reality mere months after their creation.

So it happened that, after their rediscovery in the year 2063, these works of art could be seen not only in the white cubes of galleries, but also hanging on the white walls of various scientific laboratories. The artist Wühler, by that time senile, was the recipient of multiple honours – of which the highest was the 2064 Universal Nobel prize for chemo-physic-culture. Wühler himself, however, was at that point unable to respond to requests to speak to the public.

Rumours made the rounds that, in spite of his age, he was at a high risk of suicide...although this was nothing new. According to a recent statistic from the Curatorial Bureau of the Arts of the Future (CBAF), more than half of artists express a wish to kill themselves. In addition, the number of residents of nursing homes for artists run by the CBAF have more than doubled in the last twenty years.

Not only in the fields of natural scientific research were the prophetic works of Martin Wühler oft discussed and strongly debated. In an essay about the artworks of the Leipzig artist, an arts scientist writing under a
pseudonym hinted at their proximity to the supremacist concept, which labeled them as a search for new forms and the perception of creation.

“Nobody,” it is to be gathered from the essay, “could have realized that Wühler’s conceptions would become reality. His black soul brought about an all-encompassing transformation, which melded movement, space and order together with each other, alone evoking this transmutation of reality. Yes, in a sense they all changed directly through associative impact.

”Some days after the publication of the article, old Wühler lay awake in his bed with the windows closed. He had tried more than once to close his eyes in order to sleep, but each time they closed, he would be seized with a frantic twitching. At last he fell asleep with his eyes open and awoke no more.

Written by Hendrik Bündge