by Michael C. Thompson
|Chapter 2 : Liquid|
Of nuclear weapons, we have run out — at least for the present moment. But there are other weapons, in some ways more potent. The war on the world is equally as fascinating to me as the war on the mind of the world. Or more specifically, on the minds of those who live in the world.
It can be said of human history that insanity en masse is a rather normal trait, one that any reasonable observer might expect all human societies to manifest in the due course of time. I can forgive humanity its weaknesses. I have weaknesses of my own. For all my love of chaos, some degree of order must be achieved for its fruition to take place. Structure is necessary in order for me to formulate the various ways in which I inflict torment upon this sadomasochistic terra.
At a Negatives Cleveland outpost, I have been told, a recipe for an insanity-inducing chemical known as “lysergic acid diethylamide” — LSD — has been discovered, and successfully used to synthesize the compound itself. Experiments upon the beastly villagers living in the nearby Christian Scientist settlement have proven, according to my informants, to actually induce insanity. In sufficient doses, permanent insanity.
This new weapon, so striking in its poetic sentiment, has been on my mind since even before Las Vegas became so much cinder. I am anxious to test it on a large population of my chosen enemies.
Argus, who didn’t accompany Pixel, Morgan and me to the viewing of our artwork, is staring at me, while I gaze at nothing, contemplating.
“What’s wrong with you?” he asks, sounding agitated. “Don’t you ever pay attention?”
He stands about five-foot nine, a few inches shorter than my six-foot height. He’s slightly younger than I — around twenty-five — and looks severely malnourished. He hasn’t eaten in days, not because we lack food, but because he doesn’t like to digest it.
Everyone has quirks, especially these days. His hair is bleached blond and stands on end, not really a good look for him in my opinion, but his face makes up for the sole vanity that is his haircut. He’s from Asia, but like me, he was raised out in the Middle-East Neo-Baptist citadels which line the Great Lakes.
He wears, like Morgan, Pixel and I, faded military fatigues. I assume they are from what used to be known as the United States Army, before the cataclysmic two-week nuclear exchange between nearly every “civilized” country in the world over one-hundred and fifty years ago, referred to almost ironically as “World War III.” We found them in a deserted bomb shelter, the only thing left after the food and water supplies had been picked clean by wasteland grifters.
“Sorry,” I tell him. “I’m just thinking.”
“You’re always thinking,” he says. “It’s a little disquieting.”
“I’m deciding what to do next,” I reply.
“We have a few options,” Argus responds, taking control without even realizing it, and gazing over my shoulder at both Pixel and Morgan, who stand behind me. We are presently inside of another bomb shelter, one we have been using for a few weeks while planning the Vegas operation. I don’t typically think beyond a present target, and make decisions as to what do to next only after the successful achievement of the operation goals — namely, mind-numbing destruction.
Pixel walks past me to a chair beside a broken table. Half of it we used as firewood while doing an overnight stakeout around the city’s eastern Mujahideen surveyors. The surviving half leans against the wall, held up by a folded steel chair and stabilized by the smooth, cold concrete surface of the vault interior. She seems entirely uninterested in the conversation, as usual. She will do what I ask of her while we are carrying out our — my — plans, but typically she is apathetic about their conception.
Morgan, on the other hand, likes to play a prominent role. She steps up beside me. “I think we should go with the acid idea, targeting New Mecca,” she says, trying to steal some of my attention away from the energetic Argus. “It’s time. What have we got to lose?”
“Our lives!” Argus snaps at her. “We’ve been pushing it lately! Maybe too far.”
“I like to live my life on the edge,” I reply. “It’s how I’ve made it this far. How we’ve accomplished so much.”
“Are you losing faith in Erik?” Morgan asks the Argus, somewhat condescendingly. He scowls at her. For a moment, my heart winces — although I’ve never displayed any sort of interest in him whatsoever, I’ve always fancied him a bit... romantically. I’m not proud of it. Harmony of that kind is quite repugnant to my senses, if not to my emotions.
“It’s not about him or his ego,” Argus says. “It never was.” He looks at me. “You know that, don’t you, Silas?” he questions, sneering my last name.
“I don’t believe in egos,” I respond. “Just sensible, practical ways to break things.”
“It’s deeper than that,” he chides. “This is not just about breaking things for the sake of chaos. That’s childish. If we continue to take risks—”
“Stop,” I say. “Enough with your logic, I don’t care about your rationality. You’re missing the point. If you are interested in breaking these tyrannies only to start some more of your own, then I suggest you find another organization to join. And you know how I feel about organizations.”
“We are an organization!” shouts the boy, as I often think of him when I find him as argumentative as he is being now. I want to lash out at him, to tell him to simply leave, not even give him the option of staying. But as much as I despise my hypocrisy, it is a necessary evil to consume a greater one. So I must try my hardest to keep him from departing. I tell myself there is no sentimentality involved in my compromise. It could be a lie.
“You’re being hypocritical,” he adds, pointing out the obvious. “You say this is for anarchy and chaos, but you’ve built an organization, whether you want to admit it or not. And you do have a goal. A specific goal.”
“What is that goal?” I rudely interrupt, speaking almost as soon as his sentence finishes, showing my weakness and my humanity, and a mere second later blushing at the inadvertent revelation.
“I’m here because I thought we’re supposed to be taking out these fascist cult-run states one by one... Isn’t that how you feel about it?”
“That’s part of the picture,” I respond. “But go on, clearly you have more to say.”
“Well, why are we taking them out if we’re just going to kamikaze ourselves right into their hands for the sake of your stupid ‘chaos’ insanity?”
“I never said I had even made a decision in regard to our next maneuver,” I reply. “But I think I have you all figured out. What’s really the issue here is your desire for justice. Well, I hate to tell you, but I don’t believe in justice. And if you think I blew up Las Vegas, and Phoenix, and Santa Fe, and killed all of those people simply because I wanted to bring justice to the world, then you are sorely mistaken.”
“Because,” I tell him directly, “someone has to do it.”
“What does that even mean?”
“That’s just the way things go. Morgan understands.” I turn to her. “Don’t you?”
“Why not?” she says. “It’s no worse than what they do us. In fact, it’s more a form of justice than what you’re suggesting.”
“I haven’t even made a suggestion,” Argus snaps at her.
“I think you have,” I interject. “It’s clear you think that fascism and tyranny are wrong. They are, it is true. But that’s because everything is wrong. It’s all irrelevant. Things have gone too far. There is a greater Nature at work here than this earth and the filth that grows upon it. And we are agents of that Nature.”
“What are you talking about?” he repeats, irritating me beyond measure. “Are you telling me that there is no purpose behind this? Behind any of it?”
“Purpose is a meaningless word, just as everything is meaningless. Do you think there is a meaning behind any of the death and suffering inflicted upon this world? Do you think that the horrors we commit are somehow more acceptable than those done by the ones we’re committing them against?”
“Yes!” Argus shouts. “They have to be!”
“And if they are not, if they are just as ‘evil’ as you might think of it, then what does that make you?”
“A murderer...” he says, almost whispering it.
“That’s right,” I tell him. “And that would be awful, if that word actually meant something. If you don’t like doing what I say, then you are free to leave. What happens to you after you leave, however, is none of my concern.”
I’ve gone and said it, without intending to. I stare at him, waiting for him to speak back to me, and he returns the stare, icy, hot, defiant. He doesn’t say a word. He also doesn’t leave. After about thirty seconds, he drops his eyes.
I look over to Morgan, who has been viewing this exchange with great interest, and then to Pixel, who seems to have nodded off. When I look back at Argus, he has turned away from me and is working on one of the scavenged laptop computers we found in an abandoned warehouse. There is a silence, and it’s quite awkward. Morgan breaks it.
“So...” she starts, hesitant. “The LSD?”
“I think it’s time,” I tell her. “We can drop all the nukes in the world. That won’t change anyone’s mind. But if we can get into New Mecca and drive all of those uptight reality-fascists insane... well, it should be an interesting experiment.”
“They’ll kill you, and then they’ll kill us all,” Argus says, still not facing me.
“I’m not afraid of death,” I tell him. “I love it.”
“We need to get to the Cleveland outpost to pick up the LSD, then we can head to New Mecca from there. We should probably be getting out of this area before any survivors or allies come looking for us...” He sounds disheartened, but obedient. My heart warms.
“Then I suggest we leave now,” I tell him. I walk over to Pixel and snap my fingers in front of her face. She flinches, then looks up at me with her soft green eyes. They shine like emeralds under the single fluorescent light of the bomb shelter. “We’re going now,” I tell her. She looks disappointed, as though she was hoping to rest for a while, but stands, as obedient as Argus. He closes the computer, which fits under his arm, and puts it in a back-pack which he firmly affixes to himself.
I take a look around the bomb shelter one last time. We’ve spent a month here. Most of the operation was planned outside of New Mexico, near the only Mormon state left on the North American continent, just beyond what used to be called Santa Fe. It had been renamed the “City of Soldiers” before nuke number two detonated, zapping all of the lunatics that lived there and relegating them to the ‘Outer Darkness’ that they like to go on about. I wonder how many of them thought the end was the Rapture.
“Cleveland,” I say, savoring the name, trying in vain to imagine what it must have been like before the eighty-year long nuclear winter that devastated the world up until these last few decades. I’ve never been to Cleveland. Pondering the odds, I suppose it might be the only time I ever get to see it. Death awaits me in New Mecca, and I shall embrace Her with open arms, relishing all that I encounter along the way. And when I arrive in the capital, I will send Her message to all who live there, and to the states of this continent, and to the world.
I am the end. And they should all see me coming.
Copyright © 2011 by Michael C. Thompson