by Michael C. Thompson
|Chapter 1 : Vessel|
In a post-apocalypse North America, a small band of young nihilists fight a continent-wide theocracy by systematically exterminating religious colonies. At first they use nuclear weapons. Then their leader decides to try drugs...
Reality transforms in an extravagant display of color, sound, vibration. Purple and orange flames spew into the sky alongside a wall of extraordinary smoke and particles, the ground shakes as the atomic warhead detonates, erasing everything in its path for miles. I see it from a great distance — far enough away to escape the radiation that will waste this landscape for many human lifetimes.
Radioactive heat bakes my face as the atomic blow-back razes the desert landscape. A gnarled leather trench coat blows out behind me, poisoned atoms clinging to its tails, I feel the electrostatic tug of my soot black hair crinkling in the microwaves. Beneath the trench-coat I am wearing military fatigues, although they’re faded, ancient — from before America fell.
It is Las Vegas we’re seeing perish — and good riddance.
This event is but a reaction; a negative to a positive. For every action, there must be a consequence. This is the purpose I have assigned to my existence; to create chaos where order thrives. Build up a tower, and I will knock it down. Create a God, and I will make his devil. Nothing can exist without resistance — such is what few throughout history have realized. But I’ve realized it. I have met others who have also, though our number is low. We call ourselves “the Negatives.”
Behind me are my two companions, Pixel and Morgan. I turn to face them, gazing with deep brown, serpentine eyes. I can feel the explosions still going on, and I imagine what the mushroom cloud must look like towering high over our heads as I look turn to face them, knowing it hangs above like an ominous sentinel, our dark God, Obliteration.
Pixel is crying, as ever when we set off a nuke. Although I am not quite positive about Pixel’s gender, her face is distinctly feminine and quite beautiful, and I think of her as female for the sake of simplicity. She can’t be any older than 21 or 22, very young to be involved in the type of work that we do — but good at it. She is dressed in much the same way as I, and so is Morgan, who stands beside Pixel, gripping her hand tightly. Morgan and I are a few years older, both of us 29. I recruited her before any of the others, before I even thought of the Negatives in my strangest dreams. There was something in her that I knew would reflect the eccentricity in me. I could tell by her irises, which although typically a deep blue, can sometimes appear almost purple when we successfully create moments of passionate, harmonic destruction. Such as now.
Those eyes... I think of them as demon’s eyes. They glare at me, I can see twin mushroom clouds in the black pupils, reflected, surrounded by the violet halo I’ve become familiar with only in our darkest seconds. Her hair is short, black, almost masculine. Her face is hardened with painful wisdom, and like a wounded animal, she always appears on edge and ready to lash out.
Morgan and I discovered Pixel in Tijuana three years ago, while I was running an operation to depose the Mormon dictators that had taken over the region during the last twenty years. The operation was successful, of course, and Pixel became a vicarious child for us.
I stare at the two of them, my makeshift family, but say nothing. No words need to be said. This is the third mushroom cloud Pixel has witnessed in our three years together, the third successful operation resulting in a massive blow against that which we consider our enemy: order — of any kind. Order is the fuel for tyranny, for fascism, and chaos is its only antithesis. I am a vessel for that destruction, the cure for suffering — and these two my strange reflections.
Successful operations — resulting in utter obliteration, as we are witnessing presently — are rare. We have been running through a stockade of atomic weapons discovered by one of my subsidiaries in the Southern California area, which is presently headed by a small city of Seventh-Day Adventists. Using subterfuge — not hard to do amongst such gullible fools — we were able to secure the materials to build three dirty nukes, the last of which we have successfully detonated as of about three minutes ago.
It was not easy to infiltrate our target and plant the weapon. Las Vegas, since 2082, has been heavily guarded by the city’s Mujahideen — the brutal secret police of the Islamic Republic of Nevada. For thirty years these religious fascists have reigned viciously, and I laugh at what it has gotten them. They’re so much non-sense now, vapors, not even particles will remain once the explosion climaxes. So much for power. The only true power is in death, and I am its willing, anxious vessel. Even Allah could not save them from the chaos they so feared.
What most call order, I call entertainment. That’s what the people of this world live amongst, in their societies, their civilizations — elegant wastes of time. Illusions, grand ones at that, but nothing more than colors on a canvas, and just as meaningless. Their buildings mean nothing, their legends mean nothing, their lives, my life, all lives — mean nothing. These are the words of the devil, some might suggest. I nod respectfully. I will be the vessel of Satan, or Xenu, or Abaddon, Apollo, Hades, or whoever displeases them most. All roles must be filled, and I will play the devil’s advocate, the joker.
I thought I was one of them, for a while. But I woke up, slowly, the voices of devils — angels — chiding me in my dreams, that I was sleeping even while awake. The illusion had taken hold of me, gripping my soul, tricking me, trapping me — the victim, without even realizing it. Just like they still are. But no longer I, for I broke the spell. I realized the lunacy of existence, the madness of “nature” and order — how arbitrary it all truly seems, how impossible, and even idiotic.
Pixel’s sobs increase, the make-up blurring more rapidly. Morgan squeezes her hand, the flesh on her knuckles going white. I won’t turn around again, I won’t face the destruction again, the angel Obliterate, the knocked-over sand castle. There is more ahead of us to break, to contradict. Our work has just begun.
The world is begging to die. Death is the only thing that can validate its tragic existence.
We come to this realm as destroyers, harbingers... savages. This world of light needs darkness, and a hole pokes through the luminescence. It is this that I crawled out of.
Copyright © 2011 by Michael C. Thompson