Saturday, December 31, 2011

A toast.

I, Jared Domenico, propose a toast. A toast to the end of this century's prelude. 

A toast to oil reserves tapped. A toast to oil reserves tapped out.

A toast with alcohol, because it is now priced higher than water. A toast to all the future toasts with clean water, for when those are more expensive than alcohol. A toast to all the future toasts of dirty water, for when that is the only water available.

A toast to all the blood spilled in the 'liberation' of countries. A toast to all the resources liberated from those countries.

A toast to soldiers sent to wars waged on behalf of a few moneyed people. A toast to soldiers sent to wars against all other people.

A toast to poisoned food, wrought from poisoned soils. A toast to poisoned bodies, from food and to help numb their toils.

Above all, I propose a toast to the rest of the twenty first century. An era but with blood will be written its history.

Maybe a small toast to the possibility of me being scared and angry and wrong.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Second Prime Greivance

Grievance 2

In writing this, I now recognize the slight folly in separating Grievance 2 and Grievance 3, as in truth Grievance 3 – that of the freezing, if not decay, of wages for those in the middle and low classes – is but a component of Grievance 2, which I will now elaborate upon in its full infamy.

The second Grievance, that of the crippling of the middle socio-economic class and the threatened return to a labor and capitol relation not seen since the darkest days of the Industrial Age, is the result of a systematic market glitch which (as demonstrated by its repeated manifestation) seems to be one inherent in in the economic system of the United States of America.

Of course, if one seeks to understand this glitch, one must understand the system within which it arises. To put it simply, the economic system is a cycle. Banks lend to corporations or their analogues, allowing them to thus expand their productive capacity and number of employees. Those employees purchase goods, from which corporations derive a profit, with which they repay their loans to their banks, and the cycle begins again with (ideally) all involved garnering more wealth than they previously possessed.

The accessory entities in this cycle are investors, which exist either as private individuals or as commercial entities, which in essence serve as small-scale banks. They give organizations funds in return for future profits. These transactions, itemized as 'stocks' or otherwise, are just one more means by which corporate entities can have their immediate funds bolstered to expand their operations.

As previously stated and should be repeated, this is only the most basic description that can be made about our labyrinthine economic system.

Glitches arise in this system when the transfer of money through the cycle is lessened by market forces. These constrictions, no matter where they occur, ultimately result in corporations receiving less money than is necessary to support them at their present size, thus necessitating either a reduction in productive capacity, amount of supported assets, and personnel wage, or finding other ways to maximize their productivity while reducing costs.

Which has and is now happening at a troubling scale in major economic sectors, to the exclusive detriment of labor. Positions held by the so-called '99%', those which are staffed by individuals in the low- and middle socio-economic classes, are perceived to be the factors targeted first when an organizational budget needs to be reinforced.

Needless to say, growth – in terms of organization size and productivity – halts. The employment of new staff likewise ceases. Significant portions of existing personnel are then terminated, and the remaining staff are thus coerced into performing not only their own labor, but also that of their contemporaries, for longer hours. Wages are frozen, which in the face of rising inflation, results in a gradual and continuous decrease in purchasing potential. Existing employee benefits - such as vacation time, health insurance, and retirement programs – receive less support by the organization.

This is, of course, provided that the economic organization does not outright completely outsource their operations to a different country.

In the face of an economic recession this is to be expected. These actions are oft made in dire necessity in order to maintain the greater entity's existence until the recession ends, at which time it can resume its normal growth.

The grievance lies in the fact that, in the face of crisis for the organization and its present and former employees, the employers are reaping unprecedented rewards. The rise in the leadership's boons in the face of the underpaid and overworked labor's toil is thought of as nothing short of obscene. This is compounded by the 'bail-out' stimulus funds given to failing banks in an effort to keep them functional and maintain the economy, the program's perceived ineffectiveness in restoring the economy, and the bonuses seemingly self-awarded by and to the major officers of those firms.

In essence, the Movement's outrage is sourced not exclusively from corporate greed, but rather from corporate prosperity in the face of the labor's destitution.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The End Is Here 4: "The rest on gas. Pump five"

The sun was well swallowed by the ground, but a continuous burp of light emanated out of the uneven skyscraper buckteeth of [a big city in the middle of the American southwest]. The old killer stared longingly at flat, wide signs proselytizing the salvation offered to weary roadway travelers in the way of serviceable hotels, but knew that he did not have the time to close his eyes and count to tomorrow in a soft pillow embrace.

The traffic was becoming less sparse, and mortal terror started to force him to pay attention to the tons of ferric doom that clustered on the highway. His mouth was dry, his bowels were predictably belligerent, and he needed to use a telephone. He spotted the most modern of ports-of-call maneuvered to the exit. People driving trucks that could tow aircraft carriers made their displeasure most loudly known as he displayed the gall of following traffic regulations to leave one of the great American veins.

Pulling up to the gas station was slightly less eventful. He pulled in front of a pump scanned the front of the convenience store, finding exactly what he was looking for. With the ignition off, seat belt unbuckled, and stolen suit-case nestled behind him in the dark abyss between the driver's seat the upholstery-maiden of a back seat, he stepped out and walked to the door.

He opened it to see the rotund, pastel-yellow-dress donning matron of, he guessed, a prodigious clan, with one such member staring at the floor in condemnation for a trespass he didn't comprehend. She shrieked at the blemish-riddled teenage girl in a blue pseudo-uniform behind the counter. “And you sold this to a child?!” She held up a half-opened condom. “It's.. not like you need an ID to get those you s- ma'am.” He was thankful that there was a possibility that his dealings in this station would be significantly more legal. “Do you even know what this is young man?” The woman's spawn kept his head low as he responded. “It's a slimy balloon.” “And how did you learn about these?” The old killer was already at the bathroom door as he answered. “They're at the park. After music parties.”


The old killer put a pack of gum, an case of energy drinks, and a fifty dollar bill on the counter. “The rest on gas. Pump five,” he said. The young woman sighed and smiled the smile one knows when they know they can't win but they just don't care. “So you sold a kid a condom?” He said as the register beeped. “Yeah. I did.” He shrugged. “I'm not judging you. I just find it weird. Not that you sold it, just that his old lady got into such a piss fit.” The receipt was printing as she looked up at him. “It was hard not laughing. Especially when he said he made animals with the 'slimy balloons.' It's gross, but still.” He grabbed the minority of his purchase. “Yeah. Listen, do you have any paper towels? I need to use the phone there and-”

“Yeah, I get you. Hold on.” She ducked behind the counter and wasn't subject to assault. She stood back up, giving him the sheets. “Thanks, kid. Remember to use the slimy balloons, or you might end up like her.” She forced a shudder. “Ugh. I know, right?” He stepped out, ignored the bell, and stepped over to the sun-bleached and rusted payphone. He grabbed the receiver gently and wrapped both halves in the paper towel. He slipped in the exact change and dialed the number he was told to call when he acquired the suitcase that was not like the others.

He tapped his foot and clenched his jaw as ring after ring sounded through his ear. He started to count them just before he heard the 'it's time to talk to a person' click. He made sure he was alone. “To men of fortitude is fortune granted.” A gravely voice with an indeterminable accent replied. “Is that so? You must be very fortunate then.” The old killer's lips curved as the voice continued. “No matter. Do you have it?” “That depends entirely on what you mean by it. If you were after blow, you're S.O.L. If you're after a floating metal book with holographic pages – that floats – then yes, I have 'it.” There was a pause that lasted just long enough to make the old killer wonder if an ape bit through the phone line. “A what?” He sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “A book. Made out of metal. With holographic pages. That does not have weight and thinks that Sir Isaac Newton is a chump, and floats because it can. I am not bullshitting you.”

“And you got this from the truck with the license plate number we gave you?” asked the other end. “Yes. And the face of the mook that wasn't blown through matched the photo you gave me. It's them, it's the case. So how do I give this to you so you can fulfill your end of the deal?” The other end spoke, but in a conversation that the old killer was only an accessory to. Nothing was intelligible. “If that's what you have, that is what you have. Call this number when you reach Los Angeles,” it said. “I'm going to get the operation, right?”

“Follow our commands, and you will.”

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The First Prime Grievance

Grievance 1

The observation the representatives of a republican government listen more keenly to those possessing great amounts of wealth than those without is one at least two thousand and eighty one years old. Marcus Tullius Cicero, a Roman statesman who was alive and writing seventy years before the supposed birth of Christ, noted this openly. While this can be a flaw in every type of government, it is most prevalent and arguably most malevolent in representative ones.

The 'Movement' (as I will henceforth identify the disparate groups demanding social reform) is strongly fixated on this fact, and views it as an evil that must be mitigated if not excised completely. However, in order to understand their grievance in this matter, it is first necessary to explain the current relationship between the common citizenry and the government, and corporations and the government.

Officially, the current system is thus: private citizens as an aggregate vote for an official who has either nominated themselves or has been nominated by their respective political party. It thus follows that a candidate would need to advertise his political platform (what laws, values, and ideals one seeks to uphold while in office), and since the most effective means of communication require funding to access, these candidates are allowed to be funded by their supporters. Ideally, this would ensure that candidates of a specific platform supported by their community would garner the most votes, and subsequent funding to better broadcast their platform and further receive more votes, creating a positive feedback loop that supports the candidate to election.

What the movement views as the de facto scenario is that private interests with wealth well beyond that possessed by individual citizens are able to, through the channel of campaign contributions, use their funds to either significantly benefit candidates with a platform beneficial to their agendas or influence a candidate with a non-conducive platform to benefit their agendas in office while operating contrary during the election. It is by this means that private interests with massive financial resources can wield political influence greater than the sum of their composite citizenry.

The influence exhibited by these wealthy private entities waxes greater when additional terms are taken into consideration. The former candidate, now representative, is further incensed to legislatively support their agendas in return for further 'campaign funding' for when they are the incumbents in a re-election.

Of course the question of “to what harm?” arises, which while I believe to be immediately salient, may require a brief summary.

In short, the influence these organizations exert over congress bends it towards favoring the high-level, managerial, and leadership positions more often than the labor comprising them and the public existing around them, often to the labor's and public's expense.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Prime Grievances: Preface

At present time, the 99%, Occupy Wall Street, and other social movements are an aggregate of individuals who believe, to put this as broadly as possible, that they have been or will be subject to an injustice and that the origin of this injustice is not from a misdeed, inadequacy, or failure on their part, but rather result from the cultural, political, economic, social systems that are components of the civilization known as the United States of America. These words deliberately focus on the USA as the observations they are based on are limited solely to that country, the individuals living within it, and the policies and norms (legal and by-legal) which prevail in its sovereignty. I believe that I would be supremely disingenuous if I attempted to pontificate about the plights of those fellow humans in separate sovereign states.

Nearly every person who identifies themselves as part of the 99% possesses difficulties, either past, present, or (they believe) future, which imperil their current standard of living and socio-economic standing, or if their standard and position are already precarious at best, threaten to reduce their current situation to destitution. Even if there are people within the movement who are not imperiled by such difficulties, those exempt individuals are nonetheless sympathetic to the plights of the former category and operate in solidarity with them.

The specific and proximal reasons behind each individual's plight would be, while not impossible, supremely impractical to properly enumerate. Just so, the beliefs concerning the systemic origin of their plights and possible means of correction are likewise as numerous as those claiming to be a component of the movement. However, after observing the movement as an aggregate of various complaints, philosophies, and solutions, there has so emerged a collection of issues which have ascended above all others by being shared by a majority of the movement, in some fashion or another.

While by no means definitive in either number, content, or presentation, at least five issues transcend all others by being not only the most broadly observed topics of discussion, but also by being the sources of so many people's plights.

These I have so dubbed: the Prime Grievances.

Grievance 1: The grossly disproportionate influence corporate entities posses over the political system of the United States of America, specifically that of the Representative and Executive branches, which results in..

Grievance 2: The prevailing economic trends resulting in the collapse of the American 'middle' socio-economic class, resulting in the swelling of the 'low' socio-economic class and the prevalence of poverty if not outright destitution, which is exacerbated by...

Grievance 3: The ongoing and systematic decrease in wages, either directly by deliberate and apparent wage cuts or indirectly by wage stagnation in the face of magnifying monetary inflation;

Grievance 4: The binding of universities, colleges, and other institutions of higher learning directly to the market system as opposed to having them be a public service. Having these organizations, which are vital to the training and improvement of American citizenry subject to market forces ensures that they will likewise be subject to the turbulence inherent in market systems, most tellingly in their real and imminent danger of economic collapse;

Grievance 5: Likewise, Healthcare and the acquisition of which being subject to market forces.

These are the Prime Grievances as I have identified them and understand them. In the coming days, I will not only elaborate in depth upon each of these, but will according to reader input add to and/or revise these listed points in addition to adding new grievances entirely. After each of these have been sufficiently elaborated upon, they will be organized and collated into a final draft to be accessed as needed.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Just Leg It" - Flash Fiction Challenge: Five Words Plus One Vampire

Chuck Wendig from wanted a story containing at least three of the following words: COCKROACH, FOUNTAIN, TAX, BOTTLE, BOX; and the incorporation of vampires.

Well, here you go. I brought enough to share with the rest of the class.


A gloved thumb spun a wheel flint, firing off a cascade of sparks to ignite the fuel-soaked wick of a lighter. The flame burst in the frosty night air, it occupied only by down-drifting snow and a man in dark winter clothes with a cigarette eager for immolation. With it lit, he took a not-in-any-way-modest drag as his eyes panned the street ahead of him, and the wall of buildings just past it.

A black truck turned onto the street between apartment blocks and storefronts. He squinted, trying to see and if so recognize the driver, a task complicated by distance and precipitation. He returned the lighter to his coat as the truck just kept driving, snowflakes chasing after it as if they were hoping for a ride.

The headlights of a dark green town car seized his attention, increasingly due to its decreasing speed. It stopped next to him, and the passenger-side window rolled down. The driver, leaning over the empty seat, said in a scarf muffled voice, “What the hell are you doing out in this cold, Angel?”

Angel left the cigarette in his mouth. “Freezing to death, just to prove a point about how slow you are. Get in the back; we'll load up and skidoo.” The car drove forward, then turned into the alleyway and the loading area inside. Angel followed behind after giving the area one last visual sweep.

As he turned into the alley, one of his hands searched his jacket for the pistol that was not his. He walked into the loading area with the pistol in hand, stepping up to the driver's side door as the driver opened it. Angel pulled out the pistol as the driver approached him, hand open for a shake.

It got the grip of an m1911 instead. “What the hell is this?” the driver asked. “Your present. Happy birthday Teddy.” He stepped back and examined the gun as Angel moved to a workbench supporting a large wooden box. “Wow. Just, wow, man. This really makes up for needing to make a run on my fucking birthday. Was this yours in the war?” Angel grabbed the box and carried it to the back of the car. “No, it's new. Pop open the trunk, would ya?”

Teddy ducked back inside and set the pistol on his seat as he opened the hatch. “Where are we off to, anyway?” he said, fiddling with the pistol more as he crawled inside. Angel set the box down with a huff and the clinking of glass bottles before shutting the trunk. “I dunno. I have the address, but never heard of the place. Must be a really ritzy operation though, paying so much to transport a single crate.” Teddy shut his door and opened the passenger side. Angel climbed in as quickly as his bulk allowed.

“Imports? Not just Canadian bootleg, I mean actual champagne or something?” Teddy's new pistol was absent, likely on his person. They crept on to the street as Angel replied. “Head north here. I have no clue, I just heard the boss tell me to get this crate to the address, and that I would get a lead enema for any sort of 'product testing.” Teddy pulled into the street, due north, and gradually accelerated. He found a modest speed – neither too slow or too fast – and held it. “Right in four lights,” Angel instructed.

“Thanks Angelo. For the pistol. I've been itching for a new piece for a while now,” Teddy said as he reached the turn. “You've been itching? That old piece of shit was a liability. I'm surprised it didn't blow off your hand. Follow this until we hit 27th.”

Teddy did so with concentration to spare. “How's Doris?” he asked. “Getting crankier every day now, god damn. The fact that she's cranky is making her cranky.” Teddy grinned under his scarf. “Compound crankiness? Yikes man, are all women like that when a kid is on the way?” Angel sighed, breath and smoke billowed in the car. “I am fine with that remaining a mystery.”

Angel looked out the widow at the apartments and storefronts passing them by. “What happens when we hit 27th?” Teddy pulled into the center lane. “You're going to want to take a left for a block. There will be a department store with a fountain in front of it. I'm pretty sure I know which alley to turn into.”

They drove past the green light at the 23rd Street intersection and a few cars waiting to cross. Angel eyes traced the blunt curves of the dashboard when the view outside started to become monotonous. A large brown blur moved in his periphery. His eyes darted to a thick cockroach creeping up Teddy's slim shoulder. He started to reach for it. 'Teddy, keep driving.” He glanced at him, but followed the order and the road. “What? What is it?” “Keep fucking driving,” he said as his hand nearly grasped the glossy carapace. Teddy's eyes darted back to him, then his head twisted as he felt the antenna on his ear.

Teddy screamed shrill, incomprehensible almost-words as the steering wheel became enslaved to his panic. The car swerved hard left, pushing Angel against the door. The cockroach joined him by landing on his face.

Teddy forced a corrective turn which only served to swerve the car into a slide and spin. Inertia proved to be the harshest mistress of them all – more so than Doris – as the car crashed into the glass, brick, and timepieces of a clock store.

Angel kicked open the door and danced chaotically, trying to shake the roach off. He stopped when the full weight of the situation froze solid in his mind. “Jesus. Fucking Christ.” Teddy crawled out after him through the passenger side, rolling on the ground in an effort to remove what and how many crawling things he feared were on him. “Teddy? Teddy get the fuck up! We need to go!” “What was it? Is it on me? Get it off!” Angel grabbed his arm and pulled him to his feet.

“Teddy! It's gone! It was a fucking roach!” Angel looked around to see lights blink on in windows all around the area. “Jesus, open the trunk, we need to carry this out before the cops get here!”
“Is it in the car?!” he scream asked. “Open the god damn trunk!” Angel rushed to the back of the car as Teddy mustered enough courage to open it with the tip of his shoe. Angel prepared for the worst as he lifted up.

The case was broken open, and the glass bottles inside shattered. Luckily for them, there was no alcohol in those bottles. Unluckily, the trunk looked like a killing floor - with killing walls and a killing ceiling, all splattered with ferric crimson. Teddy jumped beside him, panic in his eyes. “Angel? What the fuck? I thought we needed to g- oh.”

Angel placed a gloved finger in the puddle of red and then brought it to his nose. He smelled the rust. Teddy's head darted down the street as police sirens started to run through the urban corridor. “Hey, Angelo? When did we start doing runs for Draculas?”

“It's 'vampires', and this isn't going to be the first time,” Angelo said as he stepped back, his body shaking from more than cold. “Just leg it.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011


This is my first major piece of fiction, based in Privateer Press' fantastic Iron Kingdoms setting.

From the deafness and the torrent of flying dirt that broke around my face, I assumed an artillery shell had just landed not a grave's length in front of my trench. My eyes shut themselves reflexively, trapping enough dirt to subject them to no small amount of all-consuming irritation. I coughed out of my nose, trying to hack out the dust while forcing my mouth closed to prevent more from spilling in. The force of my lungs decided to say no, so my lips opened and saliva-wettened dirt spattered out into the temporarily unknown. The dirtfall had stopped, but I hadn't noticed as all of my efforts were consumed in deaf retching. I tried to open my eyes again, inviting only more scratching pain and brown blurs. I let my rifle fall out of my hand and dropped to the ground, slumping to the back of the trench as I pulled out my canteen to flush my eyes.

I forced both of them open as I unscrewed the cool metal cap and started to thrust upwards with it, splashing the water into my face. The blurring intensified, then waned, and my eyes were slightly less irritated. One more upward jerk with the canteen, and another splash of water. I blinked rapidly and forcefully to finish clearing them. Now that I could see vague shapes of hands where my hands should be, I thought it done and grabbed my rifle, getting up in a low crouch. I let the barrel brace against the lip of the trench as I looked up and over, an thoughtless glance into the blackening sky. The numb ringing in my ears had resolved itself into vague shouts and concussive booms, all the while my feet felt the earth beneath and around them tremble with the gun-powder laden fists of an artillery battery.

I looked up in my haze to see a vaguely man-ish shape running towards me, not even a foot away. If I had time to pray to Morrow I would have, but at that moment the only supplication I offered was a thrust upwards with my bayonet-affixed rifle, followed by a brief stop as the tip hit whatever that sod had for armor, and then a clean punch through the girding into his significantly softer body. For good measure, I pulled the trigger. The report was a little clearer than all the other cushioned noise. The body started to slump over me, but I shifted to the side and pushed it in the other direction with the embedded rifle. Head first it tumbled into the ground, prompting me to pull out. I stood there for a second, giving my head a chance to think before clicking open the action and chambering another round when it didn't have any better ideas. I realized things were going slightly better when I clicked the rifle back closed and I actually heard it, before a series of rifle shots erupted from the second line trench, the one just behind .

In the process of turning back to the enemy lines, I was afforded a quick and blurry glance at the rest of my trench. Members of my squad, who I thought were my squad, were knife deep and dueling those lucky few of the first wave who managed to break in. One, maybe two of my squad was on fire, slowly doing the burning dance with the lack of better options. Around again, the belly of the rifle against the ground as I lined up another shot to whoever didn't like me that day.

Apparently, Menoth himself didn't like me that day, as one of his Exemplar was in spitting distance by the time I looked up. I pulled the rifle up and squeezed off a shot before ducking myself into the front wall of the trench. There was a whisper  behind my ears, the sword saying "damn, missed your head" as it swept through the air where said head used to be. I decided to move before the Knight decided to swing again. I hadn't crawled two steps when he jumped into the trench, and in a twitch of instinct I spun around with my rifle held out to block his sword. The blade slammed into the barrel with enough force to knock me onto my back, and my rifle out of my hands. I saw him, all armored and terrifying, take another step as he gripped his blade. I picked my back up enough off of the ground to allow clearance for my hand, enough to hopefully grab my entrenching tool for use as a last ditch weapon. Instead, as my hand spasmed under while his sword was hefted over ready to deliver a killing blow, I pulled out a pin.

My smoke grenade pin.

I didn't have time to mutter an obscenity as I rolled myself over to the side with all the force I could have mustered, and saw out of the corner of my eye his blade slicing down into the earth next to me. The sword was yanked out of the ground, and just as I was pushing up, the smoke grenade exploded off of my backpack. With a bang, the only thing I saw was gray haze as the smoke filled the trench faster than a blink. Assuming he saw the same, I darted forward and stood up, unclasping the strap and throwing my backpack down into the earth. I held my breath as I fought against those terrible straps to free my shovel. The last strap broke free when I felt an armored boot slam into the ground behind me. With one uncharacteristically fluid motion, I grabbed the shaft with my right hand and threw it and my arm behind me, praying to that glorious shovel so that it would deliver me from being stabbed.

What answered my prayers was the resounding clang of metal against metal. The follow through allowed me to see the Knight stepping out of the smoke like some terror from beyond the realm of death come to haunt me, with the flat end of the spade smacked against his helmet. The motion finished with him staggering to the side, and my shovel slapping against the trench wall. I exhaled in a roaring scream as I reversed the motion and lunged forward, bringing the spade to hit the front of his faceplate with all of the strength I had left in me. I stumbled forward as he stumbled backward, both of us returning to the waning cloud.

In that moment, I thought I was done. I just lied there on top of him, waiting for his gauntled hands to wrap around my skinny neck and send me to Urcaen with a want for some throat-soothing tea. The fact that a minute seemed to pass with him not moving an inch prompted me to believe that he was either unconscious or, praise thy name entrenching tool, sent to Urcaen with a killer headache. And so, warily and weakly, I moved my arms to the side and pushed myself up. The smoke had dissipated enough for me to see, half standing, his body along the ground. He didn't even twitch.

I slowly raised my arms up, breathing in deeply as only one thought resided in my mind. It wasn't the best of thoughts, but everything pointed to me needing to have it at that moment. Standing tall, arms lifted up in triumph, my mind contrasting the terror of those too-long seconds and my current status, I yelled out in a triumphant voice, "yes!"

Then I heard roughly a ton of metal crash into the trench behind me. My mind, body, and soul was screaming at me not to look back. Just stand still, maybe it will go away. Maybe it will ignore the crazy man screaming at a dead body while the fortress he was supposed to be defending was being overrun. He will be just fine with his screaming and his dead body. No need to bother him, and no need for him to look back. But he did. I did. I turned my head slowly to the side, scrutinizing every detail of the increasingly destroyed trench wall knowing full well that it would be the last comforting thing I would ever see.

The last horrifying thing I would ever see, however, stood about seven feet tall and wore enough armor to make some warjacks jealous. Decorated lovingly in iron Menofixes, scriptures in dead languages, and what I hope was not blood painted crimson robes, was an Exemplar Bastion. A Bastion is member of the Knights Exemplar trained and outfitted to survive the worst ordnance a modern military force could deliver, and most certainly able to withstand an assault with a shovel. With my grin turned upside down, I uttered a squeaky "no."

I looked straight into the shrouded visor of the Exemplar's faceplate, looking for any sign that there is indeed a squishy human being in there. That a person - a man, born from a man and a woman, who grew up from a baby, to a child, to a teenager, and to an absurdly strong and impossibly tough but still human adult clad in the most ludicrously oversized armor in all of Caen was actually in there, with all of his squishy bits. I needed to see at least the miniscule glints of light reflecting off of his squishy little eyes. Please, entrenching tool, please let there be those slimy soft ocular orbs nesting under a heavy brow. Even one glint would do, just one eye so I can be sure that there is a human being in there, and not the vengeful wrath of the creator of all mankind bound up in steel.

Nope. Nothing but a step forward and the heavy clanking of blessed iron, followed by another. Nothing but the readying of a pole-arm nearly twice my height into a position that clearly screams 'if you are within nine feet of me you will be bisected in twain, divided into two roughly equal halves.' Redundancy of thoughts of doom aside, I only looked down at my hands as who seemed to be my personal harbinger of death took another step forward. I carefully weighed my options.

In, or rather covering, my left hand was a worn leather glove. Standard issue trencher hand wear. Lo, in my right was the metal short-poled spade. Standard issue trencher namesake. Neither of these were suitable weapons for annoying, much less harming, the personified wrath of Menoth. I, however, did not get this thought through my head. Or perhaps I did, but quickly forgot it.

Instead I screamed. With my head down I screamed in anger at the entrenching tool. This was not a fearful shriek, but a very angry shriek. It even had words riding the horrid noise. I'm still not sure how they hitchhiked onto the screaming. "Why couldn't you have been a rifle? Or a cannon? A cannon would have been amazing!" I hoisted the shovel into the air, my face contorting into a mien of disappointment and impotent rage. "Or a warjack! Why couldn't you have been One-Eye, or Big Shot, or any of the other fine products of Cygnaran Armory you stupid," I yelled at the poor, undeserving shovel as I readied to toss it. "Blasted piece of scrap," I continued to holler as I threw it. I wasn't aiming for anywhere in particular, but rather nowhere in general. It just so happened that the Bastion was between me and nowhere in general. It clacked harmlessly against the armor, and fell into the even more blasted earth.

We both took a second to look down at the former projectile, before my eyes returned to regard its faceplate. I took in a deep breath through my oddly clear nostrils. "Are you finished?" it asked heavily and flatly, a manner most befitting an executioner. "Have you made peace with your false god?" Seconds, projectiles, soldiers, zealots, and lives passed. There was nothing going on in my head. The hate and fear was gone. That was a lie, but I'll get back to that shortly.

I only opened up my lips and spoke through my teeth for some odd reason. I had a habit of doing that when I was caught doing something childish or stupid. Often both. It was a damning tell, I never got away with anything. "I just threw it at you," I replied, which elicited the Bastion's head to cock to the side. "Oh, you mean Morrow? Screw him. He's off doing fuck all wherever," I continued, this time a bit more normally.

As to the lie: I still felt fear. Or rather some weird version of fear. A pure, distilled form of fear that was an incredibly potent means of locomoting one's limbs. The man-wrath readied to swing his halberd as he said, "then may Menoth have mercy, for I will not." At that, I ran. I turned around and kicked my legs as fast as my head could tell them to. I didn't stay long enough to hear the Exemplar's curses for my cowardice, though I was sure they were brimming with gravitas and eloquence. I hit the trench wall and scrambled up it as if I were possessed by a thousand horrified spiders. Upon scaling the edge, I burst into a sprint that would have saved me plenty of penalty laps if I ran that fast during training.

As I ran, I figured out exactly where I was running to: away. Even more exactly: very far away. Obviously, this was easier said than done, as I was charging lengthwise through secondary advancing lines of the Menite army. The lingering smoke of our grenades and Menite explosives afforded me some concealment, but I was bound to be spotted by someone who would make it their business to kill me. Even so, It must have seemed very strange to any who did, seeing one lone living Trencher running over and around the corpses of so many of his fellows. To be honest, it was strange even to me. There was just that pure sense of 'run run run run run run run' and so on.

When I did glance down at my killed compatriots and even recognized a few of the faces of those who still had faces, nothing registered. Just that twitch of recognition. The spasm in the brain that precedes one thinking, "Oh, you're that fellow." Even still, it was like looking at a putrefying field of flowers. Though they could be distinguished from each other, recognized, and cataloged, the uniqueness of each bleeding blossom did not matter. Who they were was irrelevant: they were now all equally scenery. However, there was something else lurking in the back of my skull, manifested by something I viewed but did not see. Some proto-thought lilting around through the cavernous space of my mind, not yet drifting into being a fully formed concept. Since I did not get the feeling that it, whatever it was, was going to make me run faster, I decided that the fluff-thought did not matter.

I came to see something that did matter, however. The lip of the front-line trench. A quick glance around as I continued to run told me that a majority of the Menite forces at this salient had already passed over and beyond this front. Anything remaining was likely their artillery and other fire support. While I was slightly thankful that my chance of dying by being stabbed, chopped, or sliced was somewhat reduced, there was still the likelihood that I would be detonated, immolated, or otherwise blasted to Urcaen and back.

A chance that was greatly increased when some of their rocket infantry managed to spot me. One of the Deliverers, as they called themselves for delivering the wrath of their god from afar and in a very explosive manner, was busy grabbing another one of their crude rockets from his pack when he noticed this exceptionally quick-footed Trencher make a bee-line for his most favorite of fortifications. I saw his distance-blurred gestures for only a moment before a wafting cloud of gray smoke passed between us. As only a hundred or so feet of distance remained between me and a nice place to retire, I heard the rocket's launch charge go off from where I saw the Deliverer squad. Again, time seemed to slow to a crawling pace. I was acutely aware of my heart repeatedly exploding in my chest, the burning in my lungs, and the broad sting of my muscles as I fought to reduce the distance between me and my only hope of worldly salvation.

The unique whistling noise of the Deliverer's rocket grew louder and louder as it reached its apogee and began its downward trajectory. I ran even harder towards the wall of the trench as the rocket fell closer. I shut my wearied eyes as Menoth's merry little tune grew louder in my ears, and just as it was about to stab a pair of daggers through my ear drums, my feet fell through into nothing and my body followed suit. I hit the ground on my breastplate, but still had the wind squashed out of me just before everything around me exploded.

For a while I thought I was dead. This was because I wasn't thinking at all. There was only a wonderful, numb, blind silence around and within me. Then I felt that my lungs needed to breath, so unless I was some sort of breathing zombie, I was unfortunately still among the living. I cracked open what I thought were my lips and took a deep, fast breath in. I realized that was a mistake when my mouth, throat, and lungs filled with half-damp dirt. While I remembered that blasted desert sand was not for breathing, the rest of my torso was once again coughing and heaving the pulverized earth our of my airway.

I put my arms to my side and started to push up while I was still forcibly evicting the migrant iron-tinged dust, and spent much too long forcing the muscles in my chest to do all sorts of neat and painful tricks. I stopped my violent coughing and pushed myself up into a crouch in the ditch. As the breaths of relatively clear air started to be pulled through my lungs, I took a moment to clear my eyes of dirt. After being relatively sure they weren't caked with mud, and were in fact still there, I opened them.

I saw them. More bodies. From the patches seen, they were all from the same unit as I. Same uniform. Same equipment. Same victories and defeats. I stared for a moment as that unidentified thought bubbled closer to the surface, flirting with breaking through the barrier into my consciousness. It was so close and this moment of silence was so conducive, so ready for that idea to make its entrance.

I twitched as I remembered that I was still trying to survive a hostile invasion. As I was unable to rely on my ears at the moment, despite them hearing an incessant ringing, I used my eyes to scan the trench. More bodies, allies and enemies alike, and another dalliance at the threshold of realization by the phantom cognition. The corpses lined against the wall in front of me were burning, either from hand-thrown firebombs or the rocket I narrowly survived, I did not know. It was likely both. There were a more on the floor of the ditch, bleeding out into the ground from stab-wounds, shrapnel, or having their faces beaten in with a mace.

I noted the metallic taste in my mouth that was mixed with the remaining dirt, and tried to spit it out. I was not successful, as there was next to no spit left to make it so. As the most unpleasant reality of what was loitering in my mouth was sinking into my brain, I decided to spend the time I had being disgusted with myself wisely and shifted over to the back wall of the trench. As I stood up to get a decent view, I moved my hand to my mouth to try and scoop out the blood-slicked mud. Considering that my hands were already covered in it, this did not help either.

I did not see much through the field of rising and twisting smoke, but it looked like the end.  The Menite forces had pushed through all the fieldwork fortifications and trench lines and now seemed to be at the bulwark of the fort's gates. The only things I could actually identify as a part of the offensive were their field artillery pieces and a small few bombardment warjacks, both of which were taking positions to begin firing at and into the fortress.

The ringing in my ears continued to attenuate, which would have been good news had I not seen something that drained all of my want and ability to move. I saw one of the Deliverers running towards my position.

As stated I froze. I stood there paralyzed with the fact that he was running at a good pace and had a very nasty beating stick gripped in his hand. After remembering that I had a body that I could use and that it was a good idea to use it, I ducked back into the trench and took a good long look at what could save me from him and his uglinium-alloyed mace. There were crispy bodies, crisping bodies, bleeding bodies, and another push from that incessant emergent idea that was struggling to crash into my mind.

I looked down at one of the bleeding bodies on the floor of the trench, and some mechanism in my mind clicked into place. I knelt down and grabbed the arms of the corpse as I said something along the lines of "sorry mate, but I need your blood more than you do." I lifted it up and pushed it over another corpse. At this point I was still in the dark about what I intended to do. I had heard stories of sea witches that could use the power of blood to perform magic, but as much as I wanted to use magic right now, I was not one of those witches. I took a moment to stand still, wondering what that reflex was planning on as my body whispered to me "trust me, this will work."

So I did trust that systematic instinctual spasm, and fell onto the ground over that pool of blood. The impact splashed the pooled crimson viscera over the front of my body, and all of the strength ebbed from my limbs. I was confused at first, as I was expecting something more noteworthy than falling into someone's once-vital liquids. I started to think that I had made a terrible decision as I felt dirt fall against my arm, and actually heard it tumbling down the wall and onto my coat. Where once I was limp, I was now frozen in place with my face locked in an expression of terrible realization.

The Deliverer stood at the trench wall and breathed heavily as he was doubtlessly looking into the trench, also doubtlessly looking for the trencher that may or may not have survived that rocket. I heard the rustle of his packs and the clinking of chain as he was shifting his body around. Seconds seemed to turn into hours as I did not so much as blink. Where just previously all of my will to survive was bent on moving as fast and as far as I could, I found myself in the exact opposite scenario. I dared not even move my chest to breathe, but the ache of asphyxiation was wonderfully lax in manifesting.

I didn't even move my eyes to look in his direction, knowing that if he was looking at my body he would immediately know that this trencher was still amongst the living. A state he would quickly rectify, given the chance. Instead, I stared directly where my eyes aimed and for the first time actually saw what I had tried to see.

The thought that had been so persistently fighting its way into cognizance was small, fast, and like a  bullet it pierced the fugue of my mind and punctured my very soul. However, it was not some profound axiom that transcended the bounds of Caen and would see me elevated to the same strata of so many warrior philosophers. Nor was it some kind dark revelation of the true horror of the cosmos and our place in it.

It was a question. Tiny, humble, and one asked many times before and answered just as frequently, but one that suddenly had more weight and significance than anything I had asked before. The very fact that I was able to ask it magnified it's importance within my mind.

Why was I still alive?

That was the question I was trying to ask myself when I ran through the corpses of every other man in my regiment. My perception of time and the flow of memory arranged itself into single frame. In one moment I remembered my duel with the Knight, how he should have brought the sword down on my head and cleaved through my helmet. The Deliverer's rocket should have hit me, leaving me to see a red-white flash, pain, and the nothing as I was blown into chunks of meat and bone. The Bastion should have stepped forward and brought the halberd's blade cleanly through my torso, giving me a few terrible moments to be able to play with my intestines before dying of shock. The grenade tossed by that charging zealot at the very beginning. How the shrapnel and flame should have blasted through and engulfed me.

I returned to the present, aware of the Deliverer pining to conclude his task. As I lain just feet away from his feet, the question still monopolized my thoughts.

Why was I still alive?

Why was I still alive when so, so many others died? Why did they fight to the bitter end and still make their step into Urcaen while I remained behind? There were four times where I could have – no, should have been killed. They only had one. Why did I remain?

That burning question swelled and coursed through my body like ice water flowing through my hollows of my bones. Though I was alive enough to ask that question, my inability to formulate any answer left me in a strange state of shock. I tried so hard to come up with an answer. I tried to attribute it to divine providence, but considering that I had blasphemed most of man's gods today made that an impossible answer. I tried to attribute it to fortune, but that was also invalid. By every right I should have died with the first incendiary grenade.

But I didn't. I still lived. Against everything I acknowledged as the ways of the world, I was still breathing. Well, not at that exact instance, but I think the point is made. Because that question could not be answered, because the answer was impossible, my continuing life was impossible.

I had become an impossible thing.

Everything was still for a while. I wasn't even sure the Deliverer was still above me. There was only the corpses, the smell of burning flesh, the taste of blood and dirt in my mouth, and the low thumps and keening wails of artillery. My first moments of being an impossible thing were... Oddly comforting. There was no discomfort or distaste. I started to breath in my first breaths as an impossible thing.
I had no thoughts anymore, or rather, thoughts that I could not articulate in language. There really were thoughts, but they were simultaneously lesser and greater than the ones we make with our soul's voice. I didn't, and still don't, know if I had found myself in the grip of some sort of inspiration, intuition, or instinct. Possibly none of those, possibly all of them. But as breath returned to my lungs, I knew it was time to move. I pushed myself up from the ground, and looked through and out of the trench.

The battle seemed to be just where I left it. The trench itself, the same. I knelt down by one of the piles of bodies and started rooting around for a functional rifle. It was found, faster than I could have guessed. I also turned over one of the bodies as I saw the handle of a shovel sticking out of his pack. With unreal ease I turned him over and started to undo the buckles securing the shovel as I took a moment to look at the spade. It had words written on it, in scratched and stained white paint.

They read quite legibly, "you dropped this."

I blinked and accepted this fact. I had certainly dropped something. Whether or not it was the entrenching tool, I wasn't at all sure. I'm still not.

After becoming re-equipped, and having the last fetter I had to a sane reality dissolved in a spattering of scratched white paint, I kept looking around the ditch. I found what I was looking for very quickly. I walked over to one of the spear-impaled trenchers and reached into his pack, pulling out his fragmentation grenades. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them, aside from the obvious application of killing multiple hostile targets with one shot. Other than that, I had no clue. I had an acute deficit of clues during that time.

I stowed the grenades and checked the breech of my rifle, snapping the action open and seeing an unfired and undamaged round still in the chamber. I clicked it back closed as I walked back to the lip of the trench to try and find something that I did not know I was looking for.

I found it though. 'It' was one of the Menite artillery light warjacks. It was called a Redeemer if memory served. It also had an attendant operator of some kind doing something to it. At the range they were at, I couldn't be entirely certain as to what he was doing. I assumed he was vital to its functioning. He took a step back and covered his ears as a barrage of rockets flew out of it's arm-mounted gun and went arcing through the sky towards the fort. I took a moment to look over the maze of trenches spanning the distance between the 'jack, its handler, and I.

In a moment I knew where I was, and the best route to take to get close to them with minimal chance of being seen. I started marching quickly through the trenches along that path. I kept my attention focused on staying low and stepping over and around the bodies and puddles of blood. With every barrage the warjack unleashed, I traced the arcing lines of smoke through the sky. I knew, in the odd-thoughts that twisted and clicked through my mind, that the targets were progressively getting further and further away from the fort and back towards the trenches.

I noted this, but did not come to any greater conclusion. At the rapid pace I found myself in, it was only a small amount of time that had passed before I moved to within roughly forty feet of the Redeemer and it's attendant. I didn't know what I was going to do there, and even if I did I had no intention to doubt my next course of action. It seemed that Impossible things did not get to second guess their actions.

I took a moment to perceive the area as I stood in the ditch behind them. Most of the grenade smoke had ebbed and dissipated a while ago, and there was nowhere near enough lingering haze to effectively mask the entirety of my approach.

I still knew what to do. I stood the rifle up stock-down on the ground and busied myself with releasing the bayonet. After doing to and placing the knife in the scabbard on my thigh, I latched the grenade onto the barrel as I reached back to pull out a smoke grenade. I was still unable to put my plan into a coherent sequence of events, but I had neither the want or need to. I just simply did.

All that time I was measuring the Redeemer's rate of fire. Seconds and counting did not need to be heard by my mind's ear, and I had simply memorized the duration between firings. I assumed there was a good reason to do so, and that I was going to find out that reason very soon.

I held the grenade-armed rifle in one hand, and the smoke bomb in the other. I waited until just before the 'jack fired another cacophonous fusillade to climb up the wall of the trench and make my way close to them. The attendant was just watching the trajectory now, and I finally  saw what he was doing with the warjack. There was an ammo cart with spare rockets five feet away from him. He was acting as an ammo porter, at least. They had obviously prepared for a prolonged assault.

My footsteps were almost inaudible over the concussive ambient noise, but I still took my time. I kept the rifle pointed at the porter as I slowly advanced to the position. Each step was carefully placed in empty, soft earth. My movements were measured to minimize all noise from rustling equipment. Even my breathing became whisper quiet as I stepped forward.

I stopped stepping two bodies' lengths away from them, and cautiously raised my rifle to the optimum angle for firing. Hip-shooting was not advised during training or on the field in most circumstances, but considering the nature of grenades I thought I could have been forgiven for not following the standard Trencher Corps. decorum for killing people.

The Redeemer fired it's cluster of rockets once more, and I pulled the trigger on the rifle. I did not wait to see it fly through the air and hit where it would hit, but pulled the smoke-grenade's pin out with my thumb and chucked it towards the two of them. The fragmentation grenade hit first with an expected explosion. There was a yellow flash that was quickly engulfed by a burst of gray smoke, and I started running.

A sane man would have ran away. At that point, with the ammo porter likely dead and the rockets detonated, the warjack would run out of ammunition in a short time and be rendered ineffective as an artillery piece. It would have been perfectly acceptable to have ran away.

I was not a sane man. I was an impossible thing, and impossible things grab their entrenching tool and keep the rifle in their hands as they run towards the warjack. Once more time seemed to slow to a crawl. The span of time between each running footstep, between each heartbeat, grew comfortably long. I ran into the smoke and squinted my eyes just enough to keep most of the haze out as I made my way through the cloud. For a moment, there was only gray and dark gray shadow before the back of the warjack became visible through the gas. With a jump and a step, I stopped directly behind it's boiler, and with a wide sweep I hooked the handle on the coal box with the flared end of the rifle. With an angled pull back and upwards, the handle twisted loose and the door flew open, the brilliant orange glow illuminating the smoke and bearing it's hearth fire to the world.

With the entrenching tool angled vertically, I thrust my arm and the tip of the spade into the coalbox. Instantly, the heat began to become unbearable. My glove and the arm of the coat burst into flame, and before I recoiled from the terrible pain, I angled the shovel just perfectly. My arm snapped back in agony and out came all of the embers.

As the coal and my immolated arm came flying back, I kicked my leg backwards and turned to the side, leaving me at an angle to allow the flaming stones to pass by my armored chest relatively harmlessly. This did not solve the problem of my burning arm, but that dropped to a low point on the list of things to be concerned over as a gigantic armored fist swung back to slam into me. The blow connected, and the concussive force threw me back an unknown distance. I landed on my back and had the remainder of the air in my lungs knocked out. I forced my eyes open to see a blurred world, filled with smoke and flame. It looked as if the sky itself was on fire as I shifted my eyes down to see the Redeemer lumber towards me. Out of the smoke. As I saw it's armored face and red, malicious eyes focus on me it raised its awfully oversized mace to deliver a killing blow.

I saw the darkening sky behind it. The shift from the darkest blue to the hottest orange in gradual bands became the sole focus of my attention. As I raised my non-burning arm up, rifle still held and pointed at the death machine in insane defiance, I realized that it was the end of the day.

It was then that I had my first verbal thought as an impossible thing.


The mace fell towards me, hitting the tip of the rifle's barrel and forcing the gun back into the dirt. For a moment, the merest fraction of a second, the rifle held. Then the barrel bent and the stock shattered, and the flanged steel came crashing down on the rest of my arm.

There was only pain, and then there was only black.


"Could I have another sip?" I asked as I became uncomfortably aware of the lack of moisture in my mouth. The yellow light of the evening sun filled the room in long bars at odd angles as the rays filtered through the blinds. Large sections of the room had darkened as the light became more directed and angular. The young man in front of me set his parchment and pen on the impressive stack of similar notes beside him and reached for the glass, tilting it up to my mouth as gently as he could. The whole process of drinking from someone else's cup was still clumsy, but I was finding out the little tricks needed to not spill anything. Though I had no idea such skills were necessary, they became so when I had to make due without usable hands.

After gulping down the mouthful and closing my lips for a few seconds, he got the message and pulled the glass away. I took a moment to get another look at him. He had changed in these last few hours. Where first his eyes were filled with a sort of subdued idealism, they were now wide open and brimming with something else entirely. I had never seen the look before, but I knew how it felt. His nostrils widened with the intake of breath, and he began to speak.

"And then the other survivors opened fire on the Redeemer. Apparently, the grenade set off the ammunition, which damaged it's cannon so that it couldn't shoot back. They were able to blast it down at range with concentrated fire before they recovered you."

"Recovered me just a bit too late to keep this usable," I said as I playfully flapped my burned and bandaged arm in his direction. It was nothing but a stick and two appendages that were fingers at one point, which was a disturbing contrast to the complete lack of arm on the other side of my body. He made a sick face, and that made laugh because of how strangely it distorted his features.

"Don't worry, I know what happened. That 'jack was suppressing the counter attack. Once that was rendered inoperable, the core battlegroup charged through and turned the tide. The Menites were routed, and the fortress was held, or so the papers say. In truth, the fortress was in shambles, and two months later they were still refortifying that entire region. Still, Cygnar is a wealthy and ingenious nation. It'll be back up to full capacity before it's really tested."

He was quiet again. He looked at me expectantly, and I sighed before continuing.

"While High Command was allocating resources to improve the defenses of that section of the border, they got word of my exploits from the unit that found me. I received priority surgical care and was shipped off to Caspia to have some medals pinned to my chest by King Leto himself. That was the shortest part of the ceremony, and the rest was him making an inspired but all too familiar speech about heroism and sacrifice."

I took a moment to remember what I felt when our king said those words. That greatness can be found in everyone, from the most potent of sorcerer generals to the lowliest of us poor bloody infantry. I remember them sliding off of me and into a puddle of disjointed attribution on the ground beneath where I sat.

He came here to ask me the usual questions the the ones High Command pick to be the publicity mooks. Why I loved my country. Why I enlisted. What it felt like to be a hero to the nation.

"I hope you can understand why I can't answer your last question. Not now, or ever. What I did was not heroism. Patriotism and the love of my country, as lovable as it is, did not drive me to such feats of.." I trailed off and smiled defeatedly. "That was something else altogether. That was a freak occurrence. That was impossible. By all rights, that never should have happened. I went somewhere altogether strange and unthinkable. I went to the threshold. The very brink. I still don't know if I came back or went over the edge. I'm sorry I can't tell you any more."

"That's alright Mr. Malthus, I've, uh, got plenty here to work with now," he said as he began straightening out his stack of notes.

I looked straight out in front of me at the door to my room. My mind was empty, with only a few bubbles of thought still bubbling about.

"I'll tell you one day if I can tell you what it was. If it's even possible to sum it all up in a single word or concept."

He stood up out of his chair and made his way to the door. One of the nurses here came to meet him, nodding and stepping to the side. He turned back to get one last disbelieving look at me, as if he had to double check to see if the image burned in his mind was consistent with the fragile thing still sitting in the chair. His words were significantly more cordial.

"Thank you for your time Mr. Malthus."

Friday, September 2, 2011

100 Words on Revenge - Laws of Motion.

Chuck Wendig ( ) issued a flash fiction challenge; those entering have to write a complete revenge story in 100 words or less. Here is my submission.


The Laws of Motion.

LAW I: An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force.

So humanity crept out into the stars. Ambition drove us to new suns. We were not alone. Those Others didn’t tolerate us.

LAW II: The change in momentum is proportional to the force applied.

Earth died. The surviving colonies hid in the void. They rebuilt, redeveloped, and discovered the others' speed.

LAW III: To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.

Then the Others' worlds died, cracked apart by missiles traveling faster than light.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Apex, 2

Step out from white, steel, warm air into spears of water escaping the sky. Drops steal light from street and city, then return to world as glitter and glow. Second skin and second skull clean, white, then both turn black as I move on to step road. Traffic – of prey, of prey that think themselves predators, and of steel and plastic just beyond stream of meat.

Dozen noses of second skull open, smell dread and desperation. Sick poison slipping into nose, onto tongue.



Fear not of I, but of other nameless things. Countless things.

Dozen noses close. Second eyes and second ears open to the world, see and hear but not taste or smell. Hear toxic red coursing through shriveled flesh.

One hundred red rhythms is discordant orchestra. No common rate. Each product of separate doom.

Eyes focus on one hundred paradoxes. Worlds self contained but interconnected. Fates ricochet off fates. Origin, ray of meat producing more meat. End, corrupted red or of corrupted inside drinking meat of red.

Recursive lines impacting and redirecting themselves and each other. Forming fractal pattern, ultimate mass expression of fear and hate and rage.

Rage and hate and fear of self propel selves down countless individual vectors.

Fear and hate and rage of others angling those into countless more.

Memory of her drips through zero skull, through mind, through self. Fluid voice filling spaces in brain with cold inferno.

“The Kreuz building. Level ten, a restaurant known as Horizon.”

I am on knees, second skull brushing her thigh.

“Do what you will, so long as his head is brought here and you are not followed back.”

Her command brings face into second eyes.

Face of ultimate prey. Thin lips in smirk, brown eyes, tanned but not burned caucasian flesh, black hair, approximate age early forties. Muscles seen under skin. Image hammered into mind with target hunger. Gut twists, starving for his limbs to crack and red to flow free for world to see.

For I to see.

For her to see.

Her hands on second skull, nerves screaming for her true touch.

Bring it back to me,”

yes, please, please say it mistress,

and I will touch you, and you will touch me.”

Muscles roar and second skin shifts into blur. I run towards building, four miles twisting route through city. Starving gut and starving skin pull me through current of meat as they make meat noises and feel meat shock. Air shunted into second skull, through first skull and into lungs.

Muscles first burn.

Muscles then cool.

Cool with frozen target hunger.

Ran four miles through twisting phantom path. Left no trail in machine eyes of law and dying nation, only shadows without whispers.

Kreuz building entrance, double sliding composite doors into foyer ten meters cubed. Slate facade floor, siding, with lit water sheets flowing down along walls. Cameras evenly spaced on ceiling. Holographic directory inches off of walls.

Armed prey on both side of entrance, concealed body armor submachine gun and pistol each, see white second skull and second skin, watch motions but stupid and blind.

Want to use claws, kill one and see red flow as other draws weapon. Jump, flip, land and slice hands into useless bone and shreds, open second noses and smell crimson horror and adrenaline slip through fingers and chase after gun to floor. Fold back second skull and bite out throat.

But move towards stairs as meat in center makes noise at me.

“Would you like some assistance finding your destination, sir?”

Mind twitches, annoyed.

Second skin says in letters “NO.”

Reach stairs, climb swiftly as cold target hunger beats in muscle and vein. Spine alive and popping with promise of touching her.

Gums and teeth and hands shake. Body pulses with red flooding throughout, laced with aching, ecstatic power.

Second noses open, first nose smells stairs used by none. Dust and acrid mold leeching out of corners.
Reach twelfth level, open steel doors two point one by one point one meters into carpeted hall four meters squared by twenty long. Holographic panel displays word HORIZON over blue arc in front of doors.

Smell of prey's food. Bird, fish, beef, hundred plus additives. Sounds of clanking metal, glass, sizzling fat and dull words burning with desperation, spite.

Steps forced even. Cold target hunger turns into torture ripping through bones. Red thunders through body, demanding spill and jets and flow of other red.

Red filled with terror. Chemical screams for the nose, aural screams for ears.

Step through folded into wall double doors, eyes hunting as first mouth opens. Tongue licks lips as meat steps forward.

Welcome to horizon. How many should we seat for your party?

Words ignored, eyes and nose piercing metal and glass grids, meat drinking and eating meat without red.

Mind clicks as threats are found and attack pattern embedded into muscle. So many guns. Cold, limp, clumsy. Imprecise here. Red pulsing and flowing, full of hunger sated and un. Arms and faces relaxed, backs and legs ready to jump into stupid clumsy meat massacre.

Bitterness. Dull senses. Tongues touching meat without tasting, smell in clouds of spice without smelling.

So blind. So limited.


Heart and limbs ignite, surge with red as target is seen. Cold hunger releases, tongue and mouth wet, as it drinks out of cylinder and stares at me with blind eyes set in slack skull.

Red freezes, then shatters into motion as claws form.

Arm swipes at meat making words at me. He can no longer make words as throat rips open, strips of cartilage and bands of red flowing onto second skin and floor.

Follow through with twist, kneel to ground with legs coiled. Spring into jump over tables at target prey.

Land with spin, rise and grab target's guard's arm, tearing it off of torso through power of leg and arm and momentum. Table, target, self painted with burst of red.

It was beautiful.

Tears form in eyes.

Snap torso opposite direction, take meat and bone to slam into target's face. Falls over in chair onto floor.

Bitter surprise begins to fill room. Screams.

Beautiful screams. Fifty seven voices, each with a different scream.

I wish I could hear each one.

Too late now.

Red surges in the room, the smell, the sound, the sight of flushed meat plump near bursting.

Front flip onto target guard at other side of table, claws ripping into the cheeks, through bone, into eyes.

Land, neck snap. Fingers covered in red flow. Second skin, second skull splattered with red.

Red filled with terror.

Transcendent lightning storms through mind.

Chorus of screams. Running, fleeing, red flowing through meat and into open air.

Release skull, jump to side back next to target. Hunger pulls at my insides.

My eyes see its eyes.



All the strength it thought it had ripped away from it in seconds.

Amassed over eternal labors and endless time.

Torn away.


Fingers slice meat in arms and legs before it had a chance to stand. Powerless, sputtering on floor.

It makes words at me. I do not listen.

Its red seeps into shredded clothes and pools on floor.

Second skull folds away.

It sees my smile, my teeth, and my first eyes.

Its face loses its red.

Claws soaked in four flavors of red tear into its meat. It screams delicious screams that drive themselves into my mind. Limbs flap with the screams as I begin to feast.

The meat is lean, organs slick but soaked in chemicals. Bitter taste. Screams much better.

Red soaks us both. Gurgling now.

Ribs snap open.

One last scream.

I tear out its heart, so alive and shaking and pumping red.

Still pumps. Once, twice. Bite taken.

I eat the target's heart as I rip off its skull.

Screams gone. Doors shut, security inbound.

Room filled with the spray and smell of red. Red filled with terror and death. Throat and lungs crawl with pleasure, hunger for target gone, filled with red and meat.

Walk to standing table at entrance, take plastic bag, put head inside.

Second skull folds back closed as I walk to rear window.

Kneel, remove spike attached to cable from back of second skin. Embed spike into ground, kick out glass.

Shatter. Shards mix with rain and drop below, onto heads of meet.

Water splatters. Red splatters and sprays out of wounds.

Stare out at light and steel and glass. Stare at stolen light in water falling to earth. Stare at where dread and loathing and fury writhe and course through countless paradox fates.

Slide down on cable.

Water washes delicious red off of second skin and second skull.

Both blur.

Run home.

Run to her.

Run to her touch.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Apex, 1

(The End Is Here will be resumed after this 2-part short)

Light. Motion. Falling.

Falling to the ground, vision blurred.

Fell on the ground. Vision focusing, smell and taste nothing.

Hear words.

Hear her words.

Feel pain, of hunger and impact. Hunger pulls me tight, into ball. Muscles pulling myself inward, closer to starving pain.

Limbs strong as if after feast. Mouth dry, but not thirsty.

Wake up Apex.”

Hear her say my name, hear her words drift through my second skull, tease second hunger. Breathe deep, quickly, gasping. No scent.

I can't smell her.

I can hear her but I can't smell her.

Her words again, through second skull and into first, filling first skin with fluid pleasure. Every note of her song wrapping around my muscles, pulling, releasing.

Wake up my dear, dear Apex. Mistress needs you.”

Eyes focus from blur, morph into her. Eyes filled with tears and pain, like staring into sun. She is my Sun. I can't only look at her.

Eyes shut, head turns, I make low sounds of pain. Pain of too few senses to sense her.

Click open of second skull's dozen mouths, her scent, her true scent, under false smell she wears. Eyes open, refocus, see her, smell her, hear her.

See her, brown, rich, living, like Earth before and beyond concrete deserts and steel and glass canyons.

Smell her, salt and water of oceans too distant.

Hear her, force and ecstasy melted in melody.

Body tenses as she washes into my body, through my eyes and ears and nose. Electric liquid in every inch of body, replacing the red, beating through chest and gut and limbs.

Stand up Apex. I know you are hungry and you will eat soon. You will hunt soon.”

Roll over to front and push up. Ascend into promises of feast, of meat and red.
Smell her red, under her flesh. Her forbidden red.

I stand as strong deserve to, as weak aspire to. Hunger remains but does not pull in. Only charges, winds up. Limbs ready to snap and release the red of others as muscles flex and tighten.

She turns and I want to taste every inch of her.

Except her red.

White fabric fails to hide her from me. Covers her flesh only to the weak and blind. I want to touch her and pleasure her and protect her and be her strength.

I am pulled to her, through second skin and second skull, as she walks out of silent and sleeping room. Lights white but dim, only walls and floor five meters cube, my bed set into wall we move away from. Cold Machine that deafens and numbs and blinds and repairs clicks and fold away.

Follow her through ten meters long by four meters square of hallway, only doors behind to room and Cold Machine, only doors ahead to her domain. She is the mind of ten thousand arms and legs that scurry and work and make empire within dying nation.

Source of so much noise. So long does empire keep her away from me. Hunger for her becomes pain, wracks and twists body until she touches me or I return to Cold Machine.

Pass through doors, measure two point five meters by one point three by fifty centimeters. Decorative plastic made like wood, curves and flower shapes in yellow-brown, titanium core and locks. Fall closer to her into room eight meters square by four meters high, one other entrance same composition as last. High traction thin fabric floor, dim amber illumination to beige walls with false decorated wood siding. Furniture is soft, we sink into chairs whenever I pleasure her. Eight concealed laser turrets in each corner, hidden in floor and ceiling. Large real wood desk in center of room, with rotating chair.

I move beside her, eyes tracing her movements, focus licking at curves and lines of body. She sits in chair and sings to me.

“Open the door for our guest, Apex.”

Limbs move but still coiled, each motion pleasing me as I obey her. Door opens, in steps single male caucasian, one point seven meters tall, approximately ninety five kilograms, white previously blonde hair, blue eyes, estimated age forty seven years, diabetic, casually aggressive stature, concealed pistol attached to arm slide, ate actual cow thirty four minutes ago, broken humerus before onset of puberty.

Would take one second for him to draw pistol and aim at her. Would also take point five seconds for me to dislocate arm.

He looks at me and sees second skin, spotless white composite flexible smart armor, and second skull, likewise but rigid. He sees me but feels fear. I smell it oozing out of his pores and see it dilate his pupils.



She gifts him with her attention as I begin to salivate. “Mr. Callaway, welcome. I do apologize for the measures I insisted.”

He turns to her. “It's no problem, not at all ma'am. I understand the need to minimize the chance of certain droppers of eaves.”

Chuckles nervously. American English, midwest accent with traces of south/southwestern.

On that subject,” and I can not stand to hear him anymore. Words are ignored, tone is conciliatory.

I assure you, he is my most trusted help. His silence is assured”

Her praise is ecstasy.

Conversation. Negotiation.. His words first amicable, then grow steadily more assertive. She humors him, but I feel in bones that meeting will be short. He comes to grate on her nerves.

Sweat polluted with stimulants drips down his neck. His red begins to flow faster. Her brow lowers as she gleans from him all she needed to know. Her slender, firm fingers rub her chin before she snaps other fingers.

Desire for flesh and her attention spring me into attack. His arm twisted out of socket, nerves pinched, thrown to floor, fist into throat. Microblade out of top of hand into carotid. His red spills free. His red paints his flesh and worthless cloth and my second skin and second skull, filled with fear and shock.

It is the red of prey.

Muscles surge with strength, claws emerge from fingertips.

Feast,” she releases, words and self and mouth, dry and hungry. His eyes die, becomes it. Becomes meat.

Red flows and sprays, onto carpet to stain and onto my thirsty first flesh. Fingers rend and rip, flesh shredding and bones snapping as I remove meat from bone and consume. Meat laced with fat. Best meat on legs and chest, red spilling and spraying everywhere.

Hunger for meat ends it pile of broken bones and looping entrails. Heart most filling, very tough. Filled with delicious red.

Hunger for her present. Always.

Very messy, my darling Apex. Also, very very good.”

Her words fill me with soft fire, I turn and smile with lips and teeth covered in red. Own heart beats faster, first skin alive and sparking. Blinding white pulsing through sensitive flesh, fills edge of vision.

And I have one more for you to hunt down. One more to feast on, so long as you bring his head to me.”

I will be going outside.

I will hunt. For her.

Always for her.