Red

As Og sat he pulled up the holographic bulletin board, and pulled his favorite laser pointer from his shirt pocket.  It was made to resemble a light saber from the movie “Star Wars” and was one of the few culturally relevant objects he treasured from Earth.

“Red.” Og voiced, and the word materialized on the screen.

Everyone at the table sat silently, waiting for Og to continue.

“What do you think of when you hear the word “Red?”

The Regents shifted in their seats a bit before Thunderbird, a towering figure with silver streaked black flowing hair, and the oldest of all the Regents, spoke first (something he rarely does):

“Is this a trick question?”

It broke the ice. The Regents chuckled a little before Og continued.

“No, it is not a trick question, it is a leading question. What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Red?’”

“Red hair,” added Vesta. Whose reasoning was obvious, as she ran her fingers through her own garnet tresses.

Og added ‘Red hair’ to the board, “Good!” he began, with excitement in his voice, “What else? …as though you were a Resident.”

“Communism,” Link added matter-of-factly, like “Red China or Red Russia.”

“The Red Dragon,” shouted Seres.

“Excellent! Great symbology.” Og stood as the Regents continued to shout out their own meanings.

“Apple…no…MARRRSSS.” Eros whispered excitedly.

“Taylor Swift’s ‘Red’ Album,” someone added.

Seres yelled out her own word associations next, “Spaghetti….tomato sauce….no…Italy….Italians…the Mafia!”

“Okay.” Og added it to the board.

“Red skins!” Og interjected, surprising himself. “Thanks AO.  No problem, Og.”

(It was always odd to see the Regents talking to themselves when AO jumped into their conversations.)

Thunderbird looked up and pointed, “Well, if you’re going to add Redskins – which is one of the most offensive meanings on this list, in my opinion, you might as well add the other redskins – the South American kind.”

“Ohhhkayyy.” Og paused, “So what you’re saying is not just Native Americans, but The America’s First Peoples in general?”

“Yes.” Thunderbird nodded gravely.

“The Red Ribbon,” Eros of Africa said quietly. Everyone nodded solemnly, understanding that he meant the symbolic meaning of finding a cure for AIDS.

After that the room fell silent.

“Got it. Okay. I think that’s a good start,” Og walked around to the other side of the holograph.

“These are all good answers. These are all correct answers. Do you know why?  Because they’re all culturally significant to whomever is answering the question.  And from the looks of it, there are A LOT of people that can claim “Red” as culturally significant to them, yes?  I mean, a HUGE percentage of the world’s population.”

The Regents nodded silently, wondering when Og was going to get to the point.

“My point is, that if there’s someone or some group out there that understands this, and has enough power and money behind them, they could pretty much manage a good portion, nay the major portion of the world’s population. Yes?”

The Regents looked up at Og, confused.

“Think about it,” Og pressed, “if someone came along and claimed they were “The Red King.” Campaigning to win the hearts and minds – or chains - of each of these “red” groups, they could rule the world, or worse, pit them against each other culturally….or physically – then reap the rewards.”

“The quiet spoils of war,” voiced Thunderbird.

The Regents suddenly understood, you could almost envision the light bulbs popping on atop their heads.

“So…who do we think is vying for world domination…you know, besides EVERYBODY,” Vesta shook her head as she spoke, “or maybe….is it…the Illuminati?”

Everyone at the table shouted and gasped and laughed at the Rookie’s suggestion. Og picked up his pyramid paperweight and threw it at her.

“That was not me,” Og chuckled as he placed the offending hand in his pocket.

“Oh,” she quipped, and shrank back into her chair, cheeks gleaming as bright as her hair.

“It has to be someone that knows we’re here…or maybe, it’s one of us,” Eros began, in a surprising glimpse of his intelligence, “but there are plenty of Residents that know we’re here.”

“What made you think of this, Og?” Seres was so obviously impressed, her eyes shone as she asked him.

“The Timeline Audit I did last week. I watched a woman manipulate the lives of a group of men, and possibly an entire city’s population – with just a single, solitary action, and thought:  what if our Residents’ problems are simply…that they’re being manipulated?”

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