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DAVE! (A Novel from the Future) Part : The Invaders

Contents

Dedication

Copyright

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

other books

  

To all my devoted readers.

Especially Jill.

And to my cousin, the fabulous author Julie Cohen. Thanks for all your help and advice.

Much love to all of you.

Copyright © 2016 Marc Richard

All rights reserved.

 

CHAPTER ONE

[* *]

To: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]

CC:

Subject: Chain

[* *]

December 23, 2030

Hey everyone,

To those reading this email, I want to say thank you. I’m trying this little social experiment before it’s no longer possible for anyone to do social experiments. Plus, my wife left me and I’m bored. I don’t understand it. I came home, and there she was, sitting on the couch, sobbing. The mascara making really unattractive streaks down her face, giving her a bawling Tammy Faye look. Reluctantly, I asked her what’s wrong. Her answer to my very legitimate question was a very uncalled-for slap across the face. It wasn’t the first time I had been slapped by her, but this one had some real meat to it. In fact, I can still feel it, if I think hard enough about it. Apparently she had some sort of idea in her head that I was cheating on her. I could care less about chasing strange. I don’t even like the familiar, never mind the strange. Sucks to say, but I’ve never had much of a sex drive, even as a teenager. Could be low testosterone. Maybe it’s the fact I’ve always felt like an old man trapped in a young man’s body. In either case, I had always been that way, and she knew it when she married me. Anyway, there was no convincing her that I wasn’t sleeping around The lipstick on the collar was just the design of my shirt. She bought it for me for Christmas, for fuck sake. I tried explaining all this to her, but she didn’t buy it. She didn’t buy any of it. So much for trust. Anyway, here I am in an empty house. She’s gone, and all she left me with of hers was her Terence Trent D’Arby CD collection. She said she could only listen to “Wishing Well” so many times. Whatever. I don’t have a CD player, anyway (I don’t think anybody does), so they’re of no use to me. I suppose I could find an old ripping program and upload them, but what would be the point? I can only listen to “Wishing Well” so many times, too. I would trade every one of those CDs to have her back, but it’s pointless in even thinking about it; her mind’s made up.

So here I am, writing this chain letter. All of you on my email list know who I am, but I’m hoping you will forward it to all of your friends, and add some stories of your own. Tell about your lives, tell about how you feel about the state of the world. Send the email to all friends on your list, and hopefully they’ll do the same. Keep this thing going. At least until email ceases to exist. Before the earth breathes its last breath, which may be sooner than we all think.

My name is Glenn Richter. I live at 125 Westboro Baptist Church Lane, Missouri. Once upon a time, not so long ago, I was a fairly successful real estate salesman. My claim to fame, and also my biggest sale, was selling an Oprah Winfrey impersonator an impersonation of Oprah Winfrey’s mansion. I made a pretty good living. I wasn’t rich, by any means, but I did all right, if I do say so myself. I was sitting on top of the world. Or at least, I was sitting somewhere around Finland. Recently, though, I had to quit my job as my wife was spreading rumors around town that I was a philanderer. I couldn’t really disagree, the main reason being I had no understanding of that word. But when I learned what it meant, which happened to be right before I caught her crying in the living room, and was able to call bullshit, it was too late. My reputation was ruined, and sales plummeted. No one trusts a philanderer.

I was a millennium baby, born on May 5, 2000, and grew up in a really small town in Kentucky. My father was a pipe fitter, or at least that’s what he called it. Some call it “porn fluffer”. Not a very prestigious job, and he’d often come home smelling of stale chlorine and coconut oil, but it paid fairly decent, and he was able to purchase a house in the suburbs, right outside of Loserville. We lived there with my two brothers. My brother Dennis, after he turned sixteen, decided he wanted to be my sister instead. My brother Cody was, and still is, a good-for-nothing drug addict. I say good for nothing, but he’s actually pretty good at scoring me drugs, when the mood hits me.

My mom was absent. She went insane shortly after my birth, and the last anyone had heard of her, she was living under a bridge by the Cumberland River, acting like a troll and demanding bridge crossers answer three questions before they pass. Since traffic went by at a rather quick pace, no one really understood what she was asking, so most just threw change out their windows.

So, this country. Dammit. It all started, I think, when Mel Gibson won the election of 2026. We thought we knew what we were getting. He seemed like an honest, down-to-earth type of guy. All of his racism and fascism and drunken ramblings were out in the open, so we thought he had nothing to hide. We thought. But everyone has something to hide. Everyone has an agenda. You, me, the mailman, the guy selling chicken wings from the front stoop of his apartment building, everyone. Every right winger’s dream, to build a wall across the Mexican border, came to fruition. But he didn’t stop there. He put a border wall around the entire United States, which included the borders of Mexico and Canada, as well as both coasts. Even republicans found that a little excessive. A lot of tax dollars were spent on that. That, and military. We decided to give up Alaska and Hawaii. For one reason, it didn’t make sense to build walls around them if none of us citizens could get in. We would have to build two very expensive highly-reinforced tunnels or bridges. The second reason, and what I feel to be the most important, is all of those offers that companies gave away, like McDonald’s two for one deal as well as their Monopoly game, were not valid in Alaska and Hawaii. Maybe there were other reasons, too, but I don’t work for the government, so I don’t know.

I, for one, miss being able to go to Hawaii for vacation. We used to do it all the time when we were children. Dad set aside a lot of his fluffer money for us to be able to take vacations as a family. While I spent most of my time hang-gliding, beach-lounging, and para-sailing with Dad, my brother Cody spent most of his time stoned as hell on Maui Wowie, and trying to score heroin; whereas my brother Denise, who was once Dennis, spent most of his time taking in the very large vagabond transgender scene that Hawaii had to offer. Selfish.

Now back in the day we never would have thought that Mel Gibson would have been elected president in 2026. Not because he’s a prick, not because of his time being spent making Apocalypto II (I thought the first one was awesome. The sequel, were it to ever be finished, would probably do as well as most sequels do), but because it was 2026. A number that is not divisible by four, and therefore, not an election year. But toward the end of Donald Trump’s reign, he decided he wanted “a couple more years”. This became somewhat of a slogan for his campaign, which was kind of lame and too vague to be much of a slogan, I thought. But he was so revered at that time, that people walked around carrying signs and wearing shirts that had that slogan on it: A COUPLE MORE YEARS! (My guess is he wasn’t that revered, and he paid to have his support teams seem larger than they actually were. And why not? He could afford it. The same way he paid to have protesters protest his own rallies.)

And so it happened. Trump was in for another couple years, which threw off the schedule of any future elections. Furthermore, to keep things consistent, they also changed the schedule of the Summer Olympics and Leap Year so that they could still fall on the same year as election years, as they always had been. This would apparently make things less confusing. Now, those are two international events, so you would think the rest of the world would put up a stink. But we’re America, so fuck you. (Of course, you know, that became America’s slogan.)

So yeah, Mel and that crazy wall. I realize that after 9/11, things changed for the worse. We suffered more frequent terrorist attacks. America’s distrust of Muslims grew. But we could have done something other than get every card-carrying Muslim out of the country, and send them to the Middle East. Most of them didn’t even hail from the Middle East. There were Muslims from Africa, China, the UK, and even ones born right here on American soil. Not only was shipping out all the Muslims wrong, the plan itself was expensive and poorly thought out. They were sent away with a small amount of “gate money”, much like prisoners get upon release, which helped ease their burdens a little. Maybe. But this gate money was funded on the taxpayer’s dime. Also, even though we got rid of the majority of them, some were left, and those, more often than not, happened to be the actual terrorists. Only the law-abiding ones left on their own recognizance. Also, we had no great plan to keep them from sneaking back in.

Donald figured he could get the wall built in those couple more years he had. That was a long shot. Masons were no longer allowed to exist, as they were thought of to be part of some cult, which was no longer allowed here. So there were really no skilled brick layers. But he gave it a try, and actually got a fair amount done, at least across the Mexican border, before his term was up and Uncle Mel finally got his turn in office to complete it.

He made us call him “Uncle Mel”. He thought that “Mr. President” sounded “too stuffy”. Now, I had my share of crazy uncles. One even insisted that he hailed from a meteorite that crash landed on earth back in 1806. Now, that would make him not only very old, but also very dead, as he would have burned up when the meteorite hit the atmosphere. Yeah, I had my share of crazy uncles, and I didn’t need one more. And I never had an uncle as crazy as old Uncle Mel. He had his share of stupid agendas, but priority number one was getting those walls up. We soon ran out of brick and concrete, and what was erected was a combination of brick, steel beams, chicken wire, wood, and “old-fashioned American ingenuity”. Whatever that was. Not very effective, but it was something, I guess. There were parts of the wall that were nice, that even had some decorations and some potted plants hung up, and those were the parts they tended to show on television. But we all knew how the rest of it looked. A lot of us lived by the ugly parts.

If the wall was the end of it, I could probably live with it. I mean, I don’t really know any Muslims or Jews, so it doesn’t really affect me personally. It sucks, however, I could deal. But there’s far more to this regime than some stupid barricade. Right at this moment, there are more poor people living in America than there have ever been in history. There are more legislations preventing any sort of anarchistic movements. Nowadays, you can’t say anything bad about the government. Trump passed laws preventing what he called “libel and slander” against his administration, making it a civil violation to even comment on something so innocuous as Trump’s hair. You could get the shit sued out of you. Nowadays, it’s a criminal violation, not a civil one, and you could end up in federal prison for badmouthing the government. Of course, you’ll note here that I really don’t give a rat’s sweet fuck about the law. I’m not going to continue living under this dictatorship and smile the whole time. Stalin’s dead. Hitler’s dead. Hussein’s dead. Bin Laden’s dead. This type of autocracy should have died along with them. Alas, here we are. The end of the world is coming, friends.

Maybe my mom’s craziness is genetic, and I’m being paranoid. But what tells me otherwise is I’m not the only one who thinks this way. We can’t all be crazy.

Something is going on. Society as we know it is in for some major changes. I don’t know what, or how long it will take, but we are on a downward slope to hell.

Anyway, Merry Christmas. Hope all is well with you guys. Ciao.

Glenn Richter.

 

 

To: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]

CC:

Subject: Re: Chain

[* *]

December 27, 2030

My name is Adrock Abbott. I was named after some rock star from the 1980’s I think. Or a hip hop guy. I don’t know. Nobody listens to that crap anymore. I’m 12 years old and I don’t want to be writing this, but my mawm is making me. My mawm makes me do all kinds of things I don’t like. Sometimes she makes me make my bed and clean my room. Sometimes she makes me rake the lawn. Sometimes she makes me go to the wall and yell at protesters with her. I don’t want to do any of those things. My da makes me do all this crap too, but I like him better because he’s my da. Anyways, my mawm says if I write this letter than we can go out for ice cream. Which is, like, a big deal, because they can never afford to go out for ice cream. They usually just buy some crappy Hood ice cream at the grocery store, and it’s not even a flavor I like. It’s usually chocolate or something, and it tastes like feet. They want me to write about my life experiences. But they also tell me I don’t have any life experiences yet because I’m only 12. I’ll be 13 next month, so I don’t know what they’re complaining about. They say this letter is important, because I am the future generation. I don’t really know why this letter is so important tho. They said hobbies so I will tell you that I really like going on hikes by myself. It’s the only way I can get away from the Rents. They let me go in the woods, and they probably hope I get eaten by a bear. That would be a cool way to die tho. Bears are pretty awesome. I like to go out there and look for cool shit I can’t see in my house like pincones and birds and stuff. It’s fun to get the little acorn hats and blow them like whistles. I can blow them really loud and make the whole neighborhood ANGRY! I do it sometimes till mawm tells me to stop. I have a skateboard I like to ride, but I don’t have a helmet anymore since someone stole it. The Rents don’t want me riding it without protective gear so I do it only when they’re not home. Which is a lot of the time actually. My most fun thing to do with the skateboard is I like to get those bang snaps that explode when you throw them on the ground, and I put them at the bottom of my hill, and I start to ride down the hill and try to hit them with my skateboard wheels. I do ok most times. Mawm and da say the protesters are hurting our country, and they’re dirty people, so sometimes I throw the bang snaps at them. Hahaha. But then one time someone threw a rock at me so I don’t do that anymore. Who throws rocks at kids? Jeez. I also have a playstation that is like 1000 years old but I play it anyway because we have like 1000 games for it. It’s stupid and the grafix are lame but it’s fun to. I was in third grade when the Rents pulled me out and now they home school me. Which is so easy because and also I am learning a lot. As you can see I am a pretty good speller but I suck at math. I think da has given up trying to teach me that. Who cares about math? One time I found a stray dog and asked the Rents if I could keep it. They said ya but then when I got it home it had the mange, and they made me get rid of it. I thought it wasn’t very nice to just let it go out into the wild so I bashed in it’s head with a rock. There aren’t a lot of kids my age to play with so mostly I just hang out by myself. I do have one friend who’s name is Pickles. We get together sometimes and throw rocks and crabapples at passing cars. Pickles has his own apartment. He has a playstation XX but he doesn’t let me play the really good games because he says it’s too violent for kids. He’s 24 years old. He’s ok. When I grow up I want to be like Pickles. He never got married and he runs a website, which he says I can’t look at because I’m too young. Anyway I think maybe this is enough for a letter. Now let’s go get some fucking ice cream! Mawm will make me take out the swear word. Whatevz

Sincerely,

Adrock

 

 

 

 

 

To: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected];

[email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]

CC:

Subject: Re: Chain

[* *]

December 27, 2030

Glenn, you’re a good friend of mine, so I won’t rag on ya too bad. I’m not religious, and I think that saying the end of the world is coming is a little much. While I will agree that the wall is a piece of shit, it’s not the idea of the wall that’s bad. It’s the fuckin wall itself. I mean, wood? Seriously? Have we learned nothing from the three little pigs? Wood is good, but if you want to build a wall that old Habib wolf can’t blow down, you need to find something better than wood. Did you know that over ¾ of the goddamned wall is wood? That leaves 75% of the wall that can be broken through with a chainsaw, or even a chisel. Next thing you know, some do-good left wing nut jobs are gonna get it in their heads to send chainsaws to Iraq, just like how we sent guns to Iran a bunch of years ago. Then they’ll be coming over here to rip the wall down. Has history taught us nothing? Fuckin chainsaws, man.

My name is Dale “Irongut” Malloy. I come from Blackburn, Oklahoma, I’m a self-made businessman, my business being none of your business. I earned the nickname Irongut when I ate the 93-pound steak at Jimmy’s Taco House. Being famous for their tacos only, which I think are pretty mediocer, they couldn’t cook a steak for shit. And the steak was tough and burnt to shit and took me eight hours to chew my way through, but I was promised a T-shirt, and my friends also promised that they would all call me Irongut from that point on. I didn’t have a nickname yet, and Irongut sounded pretty badass. So I ate the damn thing. I am not to be confused with Linda “Irongunt” Fallon, who only ate their 84-pounder. Please don’t call me Irongunt.

I joined the Outlaws and was with them for a few years, but then one day when I was out riding my bike, my pantleg got caught in the spokes. This was the bicycle Outlaws, not to be confused with the other Outlaws. We may not have been as fast, but we were just as tough. Anyway, my leg got caught and I took a tumble and it knocked out my front tooth and now I whistle any time I say my S’s. That was enough for me. I only had 30 or so more teeth, and I wasn’t going to give them up for nothing. Bicycles are dangerous. Kids, if you’re reading this, think twice before you pedal.

We were a poor family growing up, and I blame it mostly on the fact that no one in my family voted Republican. Also, my daddy liked to play them slot machines. And the slot machines liked to eat his take home pay. Our house was falling apart. Literally. Some nights, when the winds got bad, ma would make my brother and I sit up in the attic and hold onto the rafters as tight as we could so we didn’t lose our roof. Sounds cruel and abusive, but my brother and I didn’t want to lose our roof either, so it was something we felt we had to do.

For extra cash, we would put on shows in our backyard and charge people 30 bucks to see em. My mother would get out her washboard and my dad would get out his Jew harp, and my brother and I sang. Mostly folk songs about the Lord or some shit, and we were way out of tune. Soon people got bored of the singing and wanted to see something else. So we started finding a way to steal animals from the zoo and put on a show with those animals. Everybody loved the monkeys and shit. And everybody would be covered in shit cause, you know, monkeys. We even had some raccoons that would eat right out of peoples hands. We had a dolphin in a tank, and a couple pythons in some glass cages. When a tiger ate someone in the audience, we then figured it was time to start stripping instead. We set the animals free, and they probably ate a few more people, but then we started taking off our clothes, and people cheered and cheered.

So we did that for a while. Anyways, we weren’t really ever able to get our way out of the poorhouse, despite the additional revenue the shows were bringing in, cause Daddy would just go run out to Reno and be gone for days, coming back totally broke. I made a vow right then and there that when I grew up I was gonna be rich.

I made it halfway to rich. I’m comfortable. Some say there’s no middle class, but I am proof otherwise. I pay my share of taxes, and I feel like I own a piece of that damn wall. So you can see why it makes me sick when I see people outside protesting about it. All over the place, in every town, they got people out there with signs, blasting Pink Floyd, screaming about tearing it down. Christ, we just built the fucking thing! How would you like it if you just built this giant house of cards, or Legos thousands and thousands of miles across, and someone came and just tore it down? No, I say the wall’s there, just leave it there. But it’s happening. They’ve already started chiseling away at the weaker parts. If only we invested some more of our tax dollars into getting more guards for the wall itself, then nobody could tear it down in some sneaky way. Things are turning to shit real fast.

Anyway I hope y’all got everything you wanted from Santa Claus this year. I got me a sailboat. Which was dumb in hindsight because I got nowhere to sail it. But I figured I had money to burn, and you know what they say, you can’t take it with you. Come to think of it, I can’t take the sailboat with me either. Oh well. It makes a nice lawn piece.

See ya,

Irongut

 

 

To: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]

CC:

Subject: Re: Chain

December 27, 2030

Glenn, I love you, but I have to say I’m more than a little offended that you would trivialize my gender issues the way you did. When will you grow the hell up? Calling me “Denise”. Saying that I didn’t ever hang out with Dad because I was too busy partying with the homeless transgender folks in Hawaii. Remember all the times Dad wanted you to go have a catch with him, but you were too busy to toss the ball around? I had to go do it, despite my tendencies to “throw like a girl”. Remind me why I love you again? You were never really there for me. To this day, you’re, ah fuck it. I’m not here to air our dirty laundry. If you don’t get it by now you never will.

Anyway, my name is Starlet, contrary to what my brother says, and yes, I was technically born a dude, but I don’t really like to talk about it. I know it interests people, but I’m not interested in discussing it. I don’t feel any different than anyone else. Some people are born with a cleft palate, some are born with a third nipple, some are born with six fingers, I was born with a dick. Whatever. It’s a birth defect. It bothers me that we all cry about the cleft palates of the world, and are all, “Oh, this poor child needs surgery,” but when a girl wants to get her dick removed, a feature that shouldn’t be there in the first place, people get all up in arms. Bah, I could go on and on. I suppose I’m fortunate living in a time where people are at least a little more understanding. I’m also fortunate to have had my surgery when insurance still covered it. Some folks nowadays are forced to live with the defect. Forced to live in the wrong body. I can’t even imagine.

Look at me, here I am talking about it when I said I wouldn’t. Moving right along…

I was, and still am, part of the protests that are going on around the country. I live in Frenchville, Maine, so I have easy access to the border wall. Frenchville sucks. All of Northern Maine sucks, actually. For those of you who live in this state, you know this already. For the others, I guess the best way to describe it is, it’s like a remote Alaskan village, with all the alcoholism and none of the charm. There are very few work opportunities here. You can get a job as a forester easy enough, if you enjoy breaking your back all day. Or you can go work at one of hundreds of meth labs, if you want to get all exploded and shit. I got a job at a convenience store. I feel quite fortunate that I am a gorgeous woman with no manly features, except for maybe my big hands, which a lot of the women up here have anyway. There are more than a few rednecks up here who wouldn’t understand if they found out that I “used to be a dude”. I live here because of its proximity to the border. I don’t know why I chose here to live, as there are thousands and thousands of border towns to choose from. I guess part of it is because Maine is a beautiful state. Part of it is because there is a lot less violence against citizens here than in most border towns. The government is much too busy worrying about our coastline and our border with Mexico than to worry much about Canada. I’m not one for violence. All I want to do is carry my little sign on my days off, listen to Pink Floyd (yes, we do listen to The Wall way too much. I do wish there were more albums about walls.), and hope for change. Sure, we all line up along the borders to protest, but it’s about more than the wall. Don’t get me wrong though, that is a big part of it. But it’s what the wall symbolizes more than anything. Intolerance. Hatred. Mistrust. Bigotry. Not only for others, but for our own people. These were mostly Americans that were forced to flee, to cash in the freedoms we had once granted them for a life in the desert. I for one understand what it’s like to be the target of discrimination.

Being that the Canadian border was the least of our concerns, and that lumber is plentiful and cheap up here, this is the stretch that was mostly made out of wood. Regarding what Irongut said, I have not seen any foul play as far as chipping away at the border. I can’t speak for everywhere, but I really don’t see it as being much of an issue. There really is no point in destroying little pieces of the wall. Even if people could sneak in, it’s highly unlikely they’d last long, without getting caught. They’d be the only ones without the requisite American Citizen tags implanted in their forearms.

Heh, back when I was a child, if I would have stumbled across this letter, I would think this was written by an insane person. Or some science fiction author with a wild imagination. But it’s all true, as you all know.

It didn’t take long for these changes to happen. The Republicans are fucked. For a group whose sole mission in life is to get the government out of their affairs, they sure as hell like imposing their beliefs on every citizen, and weaseling their way into our private lives. They have this country so fucked up. They love to preach about the Constitution, but when it comes right down to it, they are absolutely ripping it to shreds. Let me break it down.

First Amendment: Freedom of speech, religion, press, all gone. Those in power may point to the fact that we are able to protest without consequences. That will absolutely be the next thing to vanish. I’m scared to death every time I go out to the wall that there will be riots, and I will be assaulted. Or killed. Yet I do it anyway, because it’s the right thing to do.

Second Amendment: This is the only one they left alone. My God, if they fucked with the peoples’ rights to own guns, they’d have a mutiny on their hands.

The Third Amendment nobody cares about, as usual.

The Fourth Amendment: Gone. The police don’t need a search warrant for anything anymore. They can search your home, your car, your body cavities if it came to that. The seats in my car are all ripped up from the last time I was pulled over by a cop. Yes, I was speeding. Give me a ticket. I was totally cooperative with the officer, had my license, registration, insurance card. Everything was in order. But I think that cops nowadays must get some sort of incentive for finding anything even remotely incriminating on a person’s person. It’s the only reason I can think of. Up here, the chances of getting pulled over are slim to none, since most of the towns lack a police force. Hell, most of the towns up here lack a name. So everyone speeds. And drives drunk. But if you happen to get pulled over, you will be pulled over by the sheriff or deputy or someone with much larger authority than any everyday police officer. And I assume they have more to gain by finding shit on people. So the sheriff asked me to get out of my car, and proceeded to rip the thing apart. He did find a bit of a joint, which no one really cares about, since weed was made legal here fifteen years ago or so. There were no empty beer cans or anything like that. No secret conspiratorial files tucked away under my seat. No empty lipstick cases filled with cocaine. Nothing. He seemed pretty defeated, and let me go with a nice chunky ticket. I was told to have a nice day.

Amendments 5 through 8: There is no such thing as a fair trial anymore, as everyone in power is corrupt as fuck. There are more people in prison today than there ever have been, about half of them there for crimes they didn’t commit, and the other half there for crimes that deserve no more than a slap on the wrist or a fine or some small amount of jail time. You can “plead the fifth” all you want, but if the police want you to confess to something, prepare to sit in that dimly lit room with your little cup of water or ginger ale for a long long time. They will get a confession out of you. If not, you’ll end up in prison anyway for obstructing an investigation.

The Ninth Amendment: Most of our other rights not included in the Constitution have been infringed upon. As you all know, we have very little rights left.

The Tenth Amendment states that the federal government possesses only those powers delegated to it by the states or the people through the Constitution. Hahahahaha. This has been a farce for a long long time.

The Fourteenth Amendment is obviously gone. We all know that. The only ones who are true American citizens are the white ones who were born here. There is no more “becoming” an American Citizen. We outlawed that while Trump was still in the White House.

The government interprets the Constitution as they see fit. Words get twisted, contexts get changed, depending on who you are. It’s like Christians with the Bible. Since there is no Ultimate Truth, what truth there is is skewed depending on your situation. This has been an issue from day one, when it was written, but the majority of our rights have disappeared within the last few years or so.

The corruption runs deep. From Uncle Mel, to congress, to the judges, to the cops, to a lot of American Citizens. There is no escape, really. Everyone is a rat, everyone gets an incentive to be a rat, and no one can be trusted. This email will get reported, I’m sure. But nobody really cares about anyone bitching and moaning about the government. We’ve always had the right to do that, and there’s really no harm. You can’t write an editorial defaming the president or anything, but I can say whatever I want in an email to my friends. It’s harmless, really.

The middle class has been all but eliminated. A non-biased survey run by CNN estimated that only one percent of the population is middle class. Five percent are rich, and ninety-four percent are in the poverty zone. One would think all we would have to do is redefine what “poverty” is to skew the numbers back to normal, but most people can barely afford to eat, and to me that means they’re poor. Millions upon millions are in debt so far there is no possible way for them to ever dig themselves out in their own lifetimes. The banks know this, yet they grant loans anyway. Government bailouts are an awesome thing.

Glenn, you may be a lot of things (A liar, a thief, a man with a stupid haircut, and an asshole) but you are not a cheat. You loved Jessica with all your heart. She was your everything. I don’t think you would ever do anything to jeopardize that. My guess is that a rumor got started from high up. It spread first to your wife, then all around town, that you were a womanizer. This caused you to lose your job in real estate. A successful real estate agent is about as middle-class as it gets. I think it was the government that caused your unemployment, throwing one more below the poverty line. Of course, it can never be proven. Nobody ever knows where rumors begin, but they usually end in devastation.

The government runs everything now. And I mean EVERYTHING. Television networks used to be privatized. Now they are government-run. The gov’t funds movies, tv, internet sites like Youtube, and some of the more popular journals. They even got to some of the novelists. American literature is absolutely chock full of propaganda. It started out as just another way to fish for dollars. Put some money into projects that you know are going to bring back revenue a thousandfold. They saw other countries doing it, and figured it was high time to get into that game. I almost applaud their efforts. Capitol Hill is now Capital Hill. They are bringing in trillions of dollars from the entertainment industry. Job well done.

But they didn’t stop there. Oh no. I don’t think I’m too far off base when I say they have begun to censor everything. I’m not talking about sex and violence; in fact, there is more sex and violence on tv and the Internet and in movies than there ever has been. They know enough to give the people what they want, and that’s more garbage for their eyes. There are a few things that I am talking about, however.

First, the commercials. Interspersed among the normal ads for mops and laundry detergent, are the pro-government ads. “Do your part. Sign up for IRON” Iron being the Immigrant Removal Operations Network. Bullshit tattling scheme that encourages people to call into a hotline to turn their neighbors in if they suspect them of any involvement with any “Occupy” movements, or anything anti-government related, outside of carrying signs. Also on the tattle list would be those who are practicing Muslims, illegal aliens, it goes on and on. Jews have recently been added to the list, thanks to Uncle Mel. There are other ads as well, special messages from Uncle Mel, horse shit that they think people want to hear. They have rigged Tivo and Instaplay so that you can still skip the commercials about dog food and hairspray, but not the ones the government produces. Those you have to watch. Or at the very least keep on in the background while you put together your favorite jigsaw puzzle.

It won’t be long before they start censoring actual content. I notice there are a lot more pro-government, rah rah for the United States movies out now. They have to be very careful and do this a little at a time, creep into America’s subconscious, or else people will tune out. And there aren’t enough like-minded people who actually enjoy those films and shows yet. They have to be careful not to alienate their audience. Brainwashing is a slow process.

And it’s not just entertainment. The government has their hands in almost everything now. The food industry, the fashion industry, soon the housing market, etc. etc. It used to be Republicans were scared of communism. That was the number one fear in the 1980’s, and during the 2010’s it was all about spreading fear of any sort of Socialist movement. The Republicans wanted Washington to stay the hell out of people’s business. I don’t know what happened. I think the fear of terrorism and the fear of uprisings got bigger than their fear of communism. They learned that free thinkers can be dangerous. The thinking spreads quickly, sometimes too quickly for the powers-that-be to contain effectively. So little by little, they are trying to weasel into everything, brainwashing the masses and making money at the same time. It’s a no-brainer, really. Why can’t they see that they’re becoming everything that hate?

I could go on, but my chicken’s boiling. No, that is not a euphemism. TTFN.

Starlet Richter

 

 

To: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]

CC:

Subject: Re: Re: Chain

 

December 28, 2030

HI there.

My name is Marc Richard. Starlet has been a good friend of mine for a few years now. She used to live in Portland, which is the biggest city Maine has, and is far more accepting of the LGGBTQDMTF lifestyle than the towns up north. I understand, though, that she had a mission. And I can’t blame her. I would be there too, but I’m not much of a protester. I’m a very big creature of habit; I like my routine. I get up, have some coffee, write a bit, take the dog for a walk, write a bit more, and watch the tube. I don’t see where protesting could fit into my daily routine. I prefer to be lazy, leaving the protests to others, and hopefully reap the benefits later on when some change is actually made. Plus, I like Portland way too much. We have our fair share of protesters here, too, but the ones along the wall seem to be making the most noise and drawing the most attention.

I agree with Starlet when she says the middle class is being eliminated. I try to make a meager living writing books, and I’m marginally successful at it. By “marginally successful”, I mean that I keep below the poverty line; being a successful author is not what it used to be, with so many self-published and wonderfully talented writers clogging up the market. I wouldn’t want to make much more money, because I’m certain that someone would see to it that my books were not only banned from Amazon, but eliminated from bookstores as well. This is another way they are censoring entertainment. They haven’t taken control of all the industry yet, as Starlet has said. But they sure make it difficult for the little guy. The independent authors, movie directors and producers, are slowly being squeezed out of the market. We can’t have people being too successful on their own, and making too much money. There is no way to really “get rich” anymore. You pretty much have to be born into it.

Anyway, I’m not going to get into my own personal history, because you can read it in my book It’ll End in Tears. While we’re on the subject, I have other books as well. , Harm’s Way, Those Eyes, and Sorry, which can all be downloaded by clicking on the titles. If the links aren’t working, you may go to www.amazon.com/author/marcrichard and get them there. Shameless plugging? You bet! I’ll take it anywhere I can get it. The only way for me to keep putting food on my plate and affording this shithole of an apartment is to keep promoting. Also, if you could please leave a review, those are just as important as sales.

Glenn suggested I turn this email chain into a book, but I’m kind of hesitant for a couple reasons. One being I’ve done the email chain thing before, in my book It’ll End in Tears (which, by the way, you can also most likely find in your local bookstore, if you can find a local bookstore). I really prefer coming up with new material, rather than copying and pasting emails and journals and calling it a novel. It’s lazy and unimaginative. The biggest reason, though, is this email chain will hopefully far outlive me. I think change is coming, it’s inevitable, but not for a long while. I’ll probably be long in the ground before we see any real progress. No, I’ll leave the publishing duties to someone else, if they’re so inclined.

With that thought, I’m outty. I have nothing constructive to say; just figured I’d say hi.

 

Marc Richard

Visit www.marcrichardauthor.com for more information.

 

 

To: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]

CC:

Subject: Re: Chain

 

February 2, 2031

Hey, it’s me again. Miss Starlet. So here we are, a month later and so much has happened. After all this picketing, all this shouting, all the standing around with our thumbs up our collective asses, we are finally doing something more productive. We’re bringing down the wall!!! Finally!!! And I am so happy to say that I am in the front line. We are the Topplers! We will not be deterred!

Let me preface this a little. Those along the wall have a tendency to spread word very quickly about things. Most of these words are, more often than not, rumors. I think people got bored doing nothing but holding signs, listening to Pink Floyd, and shouting chants, so fanciful stories started to surface, I guess to keep things interesting. Some of the more fantastic ones were that old Uncle Mel was, in fact, an alien from another planet outside of our solar system. And I can see why this rumor would be easily believed. Humans aren’t supposed to act this way. The power in the White House was becoming more and more…I don’t know. Is weird the word? Corrupt? Both. Weirdly corrupt. It seemed that nothing productive was being done. All that false camaraderie, all that us vs. them mentality that appeared to some to be bringing the American people closer together, was actually dividing our planet. The theory was that his species had been watching our planet for a long time from his eye in the sky, and it didn’t take long for him to come to the conclusion that ours was the most fucked-up country on the planet. Once Trump took office, it was easy as butter falling off an egg for an alien race to infiltrate our government and continue to segment the human race, building a snowball of hate and mistrust among the people. I can see how this claim could appear to have some validity, but I don’t buy it. I think it was nothing more than projecting. Is it that impossible to believe that we, as a country, really are that awful, that we have to blame our twisted government on some extraterrestrial shit?

Another rumor is that our commander-in-chief is Jewish, and he’s filled with such self-loathing that he felt it necessary to rid the country of all the aspects of himself that he couldn’t stand. Also, that he had a micropenis. I think I remember people saying the same thing about Hitler. I don’t buy it.

Another rumor was that the center of the earth was made out of cream cheese, and we were all living on a really delicious bagel.

So you can see what I mean about boredom spawning rumors. And I thought the thing about the Topplers was just a rumor. But it’s not. It’s all over the Internet. The video is up on Youtube. In just a few short months this fucking wall is coming down.

Shit, gotta go. Chicken’s burning. And that is a euphemism.

Starlet

 

CHAPTER TWO

[[
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[* *]

My name is Eric Tisdale, and I am what some may call a hustler, but I prefer to think of myself as a pool shark. I shoot a mean game of pool. I used to have my own pool table, till I sold it. What a bitch it is to move a pool table. Now I spend most of my time at the bars hustling strangers for pocket change. I had a real job once, then shit happened. I am not putting this in an email for reasons which I think will be abundantly clear. There’s nothing else to say, anyway, without getting too deep into things certain people shouldn’t catch wind of. The rest of this is, at least for now, for my eyes only. Sorry to break your little chain, Glenn, but you never really liked me anyway, nor I you, and the email chain is a stupid idea to begin with. Nobody will ever publish it, even as a history text. It’s dumb. I’ve known Starlet from way back when we were teenagers. We met in Hawaii, on the beach. She was drinking her virgin daiquiri and I was drinking my glass of hot milk. I was down in the dumps, feeling like such a loser. My girlfriend of three years had just run off and joined a cult, and left no forwarding address. The second I met Starlet I thought, now, here’s a kindred spirit if ever there was one. We started talking; I told her all about my tale of woe, she told me of her troubles, with her mom being a troll and everything. We hit it off, and we have been friends ever since. If only Starlet would have moved out to California when I asked her to, things would be a whole lot different. Not only could she have been one of the Invaders, she could also have been a lot better understood. It seems like every third person I run into around here is gender-fluid. Although, you have to be careful using that term. Some folks, if they don’t identify as such, find that term highly offensive. Some prefer to use the term “gender-liquid”, and some like the term “gender-viscous”. Some even like to be called “sir” or “ma’am”, whatever that’s about. To each their own, I guess. It gets very confusing for me, as I’m sure it does for a lot of people. Anyway, she would have been much happier in Cali, is what I’m getting at.

I was there the day the Invaders came to be.

I was sitting there in my living room, watching Mr. Bean (I love that guy), when an Uncle Mel ad/ PSA comes on. I was about to do my crossword during it as usual, but I noticed it was a new one, so I figured I’d listen to see what bullshit he was spouting this time. It opened with an aerial shot of the wall, his crowning achievement. Mexicans were running up to it from their side, splatting against it like flies on a windshield. This was obviously a CGI effect. It had been a long time since I’d seen a Mexican, but I didn’t think they splattered like that. Plus, I don’t remember any of them having horns and a tail. Some had pitchforks, though.

Then it pans in on the prez’s smiling mug. “Hey America, it’s me again. Uncle Mel. I’ll tell ya, I’ll never tire of looking at that wall. What a fine job our craftsmen and craftswomen did constructing that beauty.” Never once thanking the tax payers for funding the thing against their will. He then looked directly at the camera. “And what a fine job we did getting out those that don’t belong here, and back to where they need to be. Their homelands. And they’re much, much happier. They were not true citizens. Have you ever felt like you don’t belong somewhere? Like at school, maybe you get picked on for being fat. Or at work, maybe they pick on you for having mustard on your shirt. You know, because you’re fat. Well, these folks didn’t belong here. Sure, they were chasing the American dream, but it wasn’t really theirs to chase. Chase all you want, but in the long run, if deep down you know that you’re never going to reach your goal, it’s depressing. And it’s a selfish person who allows someone to go off chasing rainbows. But now they’re back where they belong. Just look at these smiling Jew faces.” A photo flashed across the screen of a Bar Mitzvah or wedding that appeared to have been shot sometime around 1986, everyone all smiles. Someone crowd surfing in a chair or some such. “Well, it’s about that time again for me to remind you fine people that I need your help. Uncle Mel can’t do this alone. He’s far too busy doing other, more presidential stuff. Like, um… like… well, it’s top secret. Yeah, real top secret stuff. Being president is no picnic, but if it were a picnic, let’s just say I wouldn’t be able to tell you what was in the sandwiches. There is something you can do, however. Something that is your responsibility as American citizens. Everyone must play their part. If you, or someone you know, know of anyone who you even remotely suspect of being one who doesn’t belong here, please, do your civil duty and pick up the phone. Do not take matters into your own hands. Just call the number on the screen. Or you can email us, strictly anonymously, at [email protected] Or if you’re watching, and happen to be one of those that don’t belong here, you know who you are, you may call the same number and turn yourself in. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did. Don’t you wanna go home? Just look at these happy Muslims.” A photo flashed across the screen of a group of people that were clearly Isis. Who edited this thing? “Please, remember 9/11, and do your part. As the late, great Woodsy Owl said, ‘In the city, or in the woods. Please keep America lookin’ good. And safe.’ And please, America, pick up your trash. This place is starting to look like a shithole.”

 

 

The phone rang. I muted the TV and picked it up. It was Ray. Talking a thousand miles an hour. Hitting the Adderall again. We’re all on Adderall, but some of us clearly don’t need it. Like Ray.

“Doooood, can you believe this guy? Did you just see that? On TV? Hoooolyshit, man.”

“Yeah, I know, but he’s always full of it.”

“Nonono not that. Imean, that’s fucked up too b-b-but man did you see his face man?”

“Yeah,” I replied. “He’s a smug asshole.”

“Nononono not that either. It slipped. His face slipped manjesus.”

“His face slipped? What the hell are you talking about?”

“It slipped,” he clarified. “His fucking faceman.” He further clarified.

“I really don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Ray, slow down, man. Breathe.”

“Dude I can’t believe you didn’t see that.” He wasn’t slowing down. “Plus what the fuck is he talking about? He is literally making no sense right now. In fact, he’s making less than that. Can you make negative sense? Because that’s what he is making. Negative sense. Whoo. Is it hot in here? Who is this?”

“It’s Eric.”

“Oh hey, Eric. What do you want?”

“You called me, asshole.”

“Ohyeahthatsright. Dudelistentomeigottabebrief. Shitsgoingdown. Soyoubettergetyourassto…” big breath, “Ourusualspotattheborder. ASAP.”

“Where are you?” I asked.

“I’M THERE NOW! COME ON, WE NEED YOU! LATERS.”

Click.

I had no clue what the hell he was talking about. But I packed my stuff and went off to our protest spot anyway. I’ll be anywhere that shit’s going down.

 

I stepped out of my gray Ford Libido, a stupid smile on my face. I waved to the crew over at the wall, still smiling like some sort of leprotic clown. My brown Bean boots tied up in knots only I knew how to tie. These were the type of knots that didn’t loosen and untie by themselves (hint: the rabbit goes around the tree backwards. Try it, it works.), so I wouldn’t trip and fall.

How ironic, I thought, as my face was speeding toward the dirt after tripping over a rock. The gang stopped what they were doing, any sort of moroseness dropping off their faces, and they all busted out laughing. Laughing and pointing. Pointing and laughing. I pointed at them, too. With my finger straight up in the air. “Fuck you guys,” I shouted, but I couldn’t help but chuckle at myself as I got up and brushed the dirt off my jeans.

Ray, the only one who wasn’t laughing, walked over to me like a zombie somnambulist. “Ok, what’s so important I had to leave Mr. Bean to come all the way out here?” I asked him.

Ray looked like he was crashing off a six-day coke binge, his eyes rolled slowly up to regard my visage. “Huuhh?” he replied, drooling.

“Adderall wearing off, Ray?” I asked.

“I’mm ouutt,” he said.

“Here,” I said, reaching into my pocket. “Have a few of…”

His eyes lit up like a fucking slot machine. He snatched the pills out of my hand before I could say “mine”. He scarfed them down with no delay.

A few minutes later, after me trying to understand what he was mumbling on about, he was back to normal. The words started to form, and I decided it may be time to listen; that whatever it is he had to say was probably important, since he felt the need to have me drag my ass down here.

“Start over,” I said.

“Dude, remember what I said about Uncle Mel’s face? About the slippage? It really happened! I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO SAW IT HOLY SHIT!”

“Jesus Christ, this again? Who cares? Maybe it was a facial tic. Big deal. Lots of people have those. Your dad has a major one.”

He slapped me across my face like a bitchy little girl. His dad had muscle spasms in his eye that he was quite sensitive about, brought on by extreme Adderall intake as well as a severe case of enjoying bourbon way too much.

“How dare you,” I said, which actually came across as sounding way more girly than the slap in the face was.

“Dude, you gotta listen to me. Just, would you come over here?” He all but carried me to the group standing over by the wall. A few of them were talking about Mel’s face. The others were talking about something more important. I tried to decipher through the cross-talk what the important group was saying, but somehow I got roped into the face conversation.

“I know, right?” Ray answered somebody. “Nick, Nick, Nicknicknick, show Eric the video.”

“Hey Nick,” I greeted the Resident Idiot.. I liked Nick and all, but every group had to have a Resident Idiot, and Nick volunteered one day. And lo and behold, he fit the suit. I thought for sure Ray was going to get nominated. Or at the very least get an Honorable Mention or an Also-ran.

“Hey Eric,”Nick said. So ok, so I’m sitting home reading, right?” See what I mean? I don’t even think Ray could read. Which, in my opinion, made him way more of an idiot. But I digress.

“Are you done?” Nick asked me, as though he could read my thought processes.

“Continue,” I said.

“Ok, so I’m sitting home reading. And I get this text from Mary. She and Drew had been watching TV, and Uncle Mel comes on, spouting his shit. So they started filming. I guess Drew has it in his mind that he’s going to make some sort of documentary about the end of the world or some shit. So anyway, they’re filming the PSA with their phone when they see this.”

He shows me the video on his phone. And I watch Uncle Mel give his dumb spiel again. Or was it a rigmarole? Only this time, it was a lot grainier, being shot with a cheap-ass Walmart Tracfone. The sound was all right, but I could barely make out what was going on on the screen. Drew seemed to be shaking the camera a lot, either to lend the film some authenticity, or maybe he had the D.T.’s. Mary and Drew were going to film their documentary like this? Cloverfield had better picture quality and camera work.

Nick had been staring at me the entire time, with a dumb fucking expression, mouth agape, apparently waiting for some sort of reaction.

The video ended. “Didja see it? Didja see it?”

“Did I see what?” I asked.

“Uncle Mel’s face. It slipped.”

“Oh come on, not this again. I couldn’t see shit from that video.”

“Hold on, let me rewind it.”

“I don’t think it’s gonna make any difference, Nick.” I could barely make out the animated French Canadians with their little cartoon berets splattering themselves on the wall. How was I going to make out Mel’s supposed face slip?

But Nick didn’t listen to a word I said. He shoved the phone in my face, and played the second half of the video. “Ok, right….there.” He paused it at the point when Uncle Mel was going on about Woodsy Owl. “You see it? You see it?”

“Guy, I can barely see anything in this video. What is it I’m supposed to be looking at?

He zoomed in, which made the picture even worse, and pointed at the lower corner of Mel’s face. Or I guess it was Mel’s face.

“You see that shit, yo? His chin just about hit his chest. That face be slippin’. It ain’t real, homie. That’s some straight alien shit. Uncle Mel ain’t from this world, dude.”

I wasn’t sure why the 1990’s Ebonics suddenly, and frankly I didn’t care.

“Seriously?” I said. “An alien? How could an alien make such cool movies as Mad Max, or Braveheart? BRAVEHEART, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!”

“That ain’t Mel Gibson yo, is what I’m sayin’. That’s an impostor. Trump was an impostor, too. They ain’t the real ones. The real Gibsons and Trumps of this world got abducted. These dudes cut off their faces and is wearing them. They’s aliens.”

“Bye Nick. Nice talking to you,”

I excused myself and headed over to the other group, who I’d hoped were talking about more productive things.

“Hey, Eric,” Carlton said. I like Carlton.

“Hey. Sorry for laughing at you. But that was some funny shit.”

“I tripped, Carlton. People trip.”

“It was the expression on your face. You were all like Whaaaahhaa,” he said, and made a dumb face, which I don’t think I was even capable of making. I was starting to not like Carlton.

“Okay, yep, well I hope you took a picture,” I responded. “So, what are you guys talking about?”

“Here goes. I have one word for you. Topple,” he said

“Topple?” I asked.

“Topple.” He clarified

“Topple,” I said.

“Topple,” he echoed back.

“What do you mean topple?”

“We’re going to topple the wall.”

“We’re going to topple the wall?”

“What did I just say?”

“We’re going to topple the wall.”

“That’s right.”

“I don’t understand. How can we topple the wall? I mean, it has some engineering flaws, being that some of it is made of wood and all, but I don’t think we can actually topple it.”

“Eric, do you know how many protesters there actually are?”

“Millions, I think.”

“Yes, Eric. Millions. Many many millions. We can all topple this wall if we put our backs into it.” He pounded on the wall in front of him, for emphasis. It didn’t budge one bit, and even seemed to have hurt his hand a little. The emphasis was lost in this pitiful display. “We have chainsaws, hydrochloric acid, and little inflatable pigs. We even have heavy equipment like bulldozers that are being towed there as we speak.”

“No shit,” I said.

“Shit,” he answered.

“Seems like a huge project. Like, wow. I can’t believe we’re going to finally topple the wall.”

“We’re not gonna topple the wall,” Carlton looked at me like I was a fifth grader trying to comprehend calculus. Which was actually pretty spot on.

“Wha…?” I articulated.

“I think this will explain it all,” he said, and handed me a flier.

 

Greetings, fellow Topplers!

Are you tired of the government’s tyranny? Are you tired of protesting and getting nowhere fast? Well, the time has come to DO SOMETHING! Grab your baseball bats, brooms, chisels, get back to the wall and start BANGING! Let’s DESTROY THIS WALL and bring to end the TYRANNIC RULE that we have lived with for many years now! GATHER AT THE WALL! FUCK SHIT UP! Toppling will commence on June 3rd at 12:00 p.m. E.S.T. (That’s noon, dummies.) Bring your BRUTE STRENGTH and put on your best worst clothes, because shit is going to get MESSY! This WALL IS COMING DOWN NOW!

Details will be given to you when you get to the border.

A light lunch will be served.

***

“So, we are gonna topple the wall,” I said to Carlton.

“No,” he answered. “We are not gonna topple the wall.”

I sighed. “Explain this to me like I’m Ray.”

“I’ve made so many of these, dude. This flier has gone out nationwide.”

The flier itself seemed familiar and unprofessional. I wish he’d have given it to me or someone else to proofread before sending the thing out nationwide.

“I even sent a copy to the Huffington Post, so that they would post it online. Plenty of people will be in attendance.”

“Fliers?” I asked. “Huffington Post? Don’t you think the government’s going to get wind of this right quick?”

He grinned like the Cheshire Cat who had just smoked way too much Afghani opium with the caterpillar. A shame that we cold no longer get Afghani anything, since there is presently a wall between us and Afghanistan. We are forced to grow and farm all of our opiates and cocaine on our own turf. And its obviously not as good. Some really good Afghani or even Mexican shit would be fun. “That’s the point,” he said.

I forgot what we were talking about.

What’s the point?” I asked. Then I remembered. We were talking about the government getting wind of this whole Toppling thing. But still: “I don’t get it.”

“It would have been so much easier if Ray would have explained this to you earlier.”

“No,” I answered. “No, it wouldn’t”

Carlton giggled. “Yeah, I guess you’re right about that. I guess you’re right.”

He looked over at Ray, and shook his head. “Boy, that Ray, huh?” I tried my best to look as annoyed as I felt. “Soooo…”

“The whole point is for the government to get wind of this. When they hear about it, they’ll send their troops and most, if not all, of their resources to the border. The one thing Uncle Mel is scared of the most is something happening to his precious wall. It’s a big wall. He’ll need all the military aid he has at his disposal at the border. Which leaves a huge hole in the coverage in D.C. It’s a cover, man. It’s a straw man for what the true plan is.”

“Which is…”

“We’re taking over the Capitol.”

“Nothing like aiming for the moon,” I said. “How are we going to take over the Capitol?”

“This is bigger than you think, my friend. Much bigger. We’ve been planning this for years. We’re a covert operation. We call ourselves the Invaders.”

“The Invaders?”

“We think it has an ominous sound,” Carlton answered. “Would you like to be an Invader, Eric?”

“Woah, woah, woah. Hold up. Slow down. This is all too much. So let me get this straight.”

“Shoot.”

“So you put out word nationwide that there is going to be some sort of secret operation, which is not so secret after all, to topple the wall. You call the group the “Topplers”, a group which doesn’t even exist, so that the Invaders, a group that does exist, can infiltrate D.C.”

“You didn’t really put it any differently than I did, but yeah.”

“And you think this little group can pull this off?” I asked.

“We have just shy of a million members. We are all heavily armed. Yeah, I think we can pull this off.”

“And this has been going on for years? How come I’m just now getting wind of it?”

“Well, Eric, despite the size of our organization, we’re a tight-knit network. It’s very hard to get in. There’s a circle of trust. Ray vouched for you, though, so I just assumed he would tell you when the time was right. But, well, Ray’s an idiot. Not the Resident Idiot, but a trustworthy idiot, and an idiot of Honorable Mention.” I knew it. He was an idiot of Honorable Mention.

“Back to the Topplers, though, let me see the ad in HuffPo.

He showed me the post on his phone. There it was, in black and white, or whatever color you call an internet page. It was the same as the flier.

“How does the government even let sites like this exist? They’re so anti-Republican.”

“They won’t for long,” Carlton said. “But right now, they would cause more of a stir by taking it down than the Post is causing with their rhetoric. They hate making a stir. Gives the American people a rash. It’s a setback for them. And you have to stop thinking of things in terms of Democrats, Republicans, right wing, left wing. They’re all on the same side. The dichotomy of government is an illusion. It’s the Government vs. the people now. It’s been that way for a long time, but most of us are too dumb to see it. And they like it that way.”

“Carl,” I said.

“Carlton,” he corrected.

“Carlton. Aren’t our people going to read this in the Post, or get the flier, and believe this is real? The ones who don’t know about the Invaders?”

“Most definitely.”

“So they’re going to head to the wall and start hacking away, with all these axes and heavy equipment and little inflatable pigs, and, Jesus.” The realization hit me of just what the hell was going to happen. “They’re going to die, aren’t they? The second someone gets caught with so much as a hatchet in their hands, they’ll be shot on sight. No questions asked. You’re sending people to their death.”

He looked despondent. For just a second. Then he regained his composure. “Okay, first, I’m not sending people anywhere. I’m not the head of this operation. And yes, there will be casualties. But no great wars are won without them. It’s the cost of battle. We’ll lose a lot more once we get to D.C.”

“But the people in D.C. know the risk.”

Carlton sighed. “The people at the wall know the risk, too, Eric. Don’t fool yourself into thinking any different.”

“Shit, we’re just as bad as them,” I said. “We are knowingly killing our own people. We’re murderers. There has to be another way.”

“Don’t you think they’ve thought of every other possibility? This is the most effective plan. The alternative is much, much worse. Look at where we are as a country. You, me, Ray, Nick, we’re all poor. The only rich ones are in the government, or are in cahoots with the government.”

“So that’s it, then. This all comes down to money, as always,” I said.

“No, man. This is about control. He who has the money has the control. Everyone knows that; it’s pretty basic. When you keep people poor, you keep them in a cage so you can poke and prod them with sticks and make them dance around like little monkeys.”

I thought of the visual and laughed. Monkeys are funny.

He continued: “This place is rapidly going to hell. We don’t have much time left. We need to act now before shit gets worse.”

He saw the look I was giving him.

“You know I’m right,” he said.

Truth was, I did know he was right. I didn’t like it, but putting all the future casualties aside for a minute, it was a good plan. I didn’t know if it was going to work or not, but it was the best shot we had at making some real change.

“I’m just shocked Ray didn’t tell you about any of this. I was beginning to think that maybe you were someone I couldn’t trust after all, and you’d end up as a Toppler instead.”

“What made you change your mind?” I asked.

“I don’t know. Something in my gut. It’s hardly ever wrong. You seem like real people. Like good people. Maybe I’m wrong. But I doubt it. Friggin Ray, though, he’s a dumbass. I’m wondering why he didn’t let you know. Is he that thick? Did he just forget?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Lately he’s been worried about stupid shit. Like tonight, for instance. All he’s thinking about is the president’s face.”

He froze. “Oh, that.”

“What?” I prodded.

“Well, I’m beginning to think there may be some truth to that after all.”

“Jesus, not you too,” I said.

“I watched the announcement tonight, and I knew something about Uncle Mel wasn’t quite right. It never has been. Not since The Passion of the Christ. I’m thinking now that maybe I did see his face slip, a little.”

“So you think he’s from outer space or some shit.”

He shrugged. “Outer space, inner space, Mars, Pluto, Uranus, my anus. It’s not that far-fetched. This shit happens all the time.”

I looked at him. If my face were an emoticon, it would be the one with the squiggly mouth.

“What, you don’t believe in extraterrestrial life?”

“Not really,” I answered.

“Dude, that’s like saying you don’t believe in gravity, or you think the moon landing was a hoax. What, next you’re probably gonna tell me you’re a member of the Flat Earth Society, too. Just because you can’t see it from where you stand, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”

If I were an emoji at that moment, I would probably be the little snowman dude. That’s just how I was feeling today. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you, but this whole conversation wasn’t making sense to me.

“Haha, you look like a snowman, dude,” he said. “Look, I’m freaked out about this whole alien bullshit, too. But we have some serious ass kicking to do regardless.”

“So assuming this coup is successful, what then?”

“I’m glad you asked, my boy. Come on, I got someone I want you to meet.”

 

 

I got into my car and followed him. We pulled onto the Pacific Coast Highway and headed north for a few miles. It was about eight or nine at night at this point, and the highway seemed oddly dead for this time of day. Something seemed unsettling, but it may have just been the Chipotle I’d had for lunch. We turned off the highway and onto a fairly well-lit side road, through a gorgeous suburban development, which was mostly vacant at this point, since no one could afford to live there. All the rich people lived in places much nicer than this, and most of the people that had been living here had defaulted on their mortgage payments and evacuated the area. There were a few lights on in some windows, I assumed those belonged to families whose houses were already bought and paid for when the economy collapsed. Ironic. Or maybe tragic. Living in these nice million-dollar homes and barely able to put food on their expensive china. Their lawns, which were probably once nicely manicured, all grown over like a Rastafarian hairdo because they couldn’t afford the gas for their riding lawn mowers. The more I looked at these houses, the more I understood. The Invaders were important. We were going to try and put a stop to it. Whether we were successful or not was sort of not the point for me. I was starting to get excited about being an important part of history. Hopefully it was a major turning point for the world, but I was just excited that I was chosen. Here we were. Driving down this road felt akin to George Washington crossing the Delaware. If that makes any sense. I used that analogy, and I don’t really even know if that was a major event in history. But someone painted it, so it must have been. Yes, folks, he stood up in that boat and didn’t fall over. Much like I will stand against the tyranny of this regime without falling over, sailing through the choppy waters of

Fuck. I lost it. Anyway, we pulled into a driveway of a house with the porch light on. Carlton got out of his vehicle and I got out of mine.

“Whose house is this?” I asked him.

“Mine,” he said with very little enthusiasm.

“You don’t sound thrilled,” I said.

“What’s the point in living in a house like this when I can’t afford to live? I’d sell it for extra cash, but since the taxes are so high on real estate sales, I would only be left with about a quarter of what this house is actually worth. And I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to let those cocksuckers take any more of my money.”

We entered the house, and the very first thing that struck me when he flicked the light on was the emptiness of it. Such a big, nice house with nothing in it. We were standing in his living room, and there was no furniture. save for one recliner. And one tiny flat screen on the wall.

“Here it is,” Carlton said. “Come on, I’ll give you the grand tour.” I could hear the sarcasm in his words.

“We are now in the living room. This is my recliner. Only I sit here. This over here is my TV. And over here,” he scooched down and pointed at a moving spot on the rug, “this is my spider. Yeah, I got pets.”

I was unimpressed. Most people had cockroaches.

“Come on, let’s go upstairs.”

He led me up the stairs. The landing went in two directions. There was a bathroom straight ahead, which was incredibly clean, and off to either side were what I assumed were rooms. Two of them were completely barren. I assumed they were bedrooms at one point. One of the rooms did have a bed in it, so it could be safely called as such. There was not much else in there. A meager book collection, no TV, no dresser; his clothes stacked in neat little piles on the floor. There was an en suite attached to the room, which glistened like the previous bathroom. Another room housed a desk with a laptop on it, and nothing else. Wait! Hold on a minute! There was a pencil.

“What happened to all your shit?” I asked.

“Liquidated. I pawned most of it for extra cash. Also donated a lot of it to the Salvation Army.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Eric, there are people out there a lot worse off than you and me,” he said. “There always will be. They need the stuff more than I do. Besides, I won’t be here long, if all goes according to plan.”

“So, where is this person you wanted me to meet?” I inquired.

“Oh, we’re not there yet. I just wanted to stop by here to pick up some beer. I’m parched.”

I felt something crawling on my shoulder, and reached up and squashed that fucker.

“Eric Junior!” Carlton screamed.

“Oh, sorry man. You named your spider Eric Junior?”

“Yeah, I thought it would be a nice tribute. I never thought you would kill him. Come on, let’s get a beer.”

He held one out and I shook my head no. I had no idea where we were going or if I had to drive there.

“Suit yourself.” I followed him into the kitchen, which was furnished with nothing more than a card table and a couple folding chairs.

He opened the fridge, and I noticed that there was nothing in there either, save for an over-sized bottle of ketchup and lots and lots of beer. Typical bachelor. Typical poor bachelor.

He grabbed a beer out of the fridge. “One for me…” he said, poked a hole in the side, and shotgunned the first one. I hadn’t seen anyone do that since college. The refrigerator door didn’t even have time to swing fully shut before he slammed his empty can down on the counter. “And some for the road,” he said, and took a thirty-rack out.

“Come on,” he said. “Let’s go.”

 

 

We left the house and got in our respective cars. He got out of his, and knocked on my window. I rolled it down.

“Your little Libido isn’t going to make it where we’re going.”

I laughed. “Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I heard that.”

“I mean your car, dammit.” Carlton laughed too.

“And your Honda Elephant will?”

“It hasn’t not made it yet.” Eric headed back to his car.

I got out of my Libido and into his Elephant. I have a real issue with getting in a vehicle where the driver has been drinking. But he assured me we weren’t going too far.

This was the first time I’d ridden in a Honda Elephant. The seats were quite comfortable. After being made fun of for years regarding the status of the Element as an off-road vehicle, not to mention its sheer pathetic look, Honda beefed it up with better tires and gave it more of an SUV-style body. They called it the Elephant. The seats had the texture of wrinkled elephant skin, hence why they were so comfy. Everything, the radio, the seats, the mirrors, the internal temperature settings, had a memory like an elephant for each driver, and it was big and slow as fuck. Much like an elephant. I think Honda took the word a little too literally, but whatever. I wasn’t driving it. My Ford Libido did nothing to attract anyone’s attention sexually, in fact it was an ugly pile of shit. There were certainly never any excited people ever riding in my passenger seat. So perhaps Ford needed to be a little more literal with their branding.

We exited Carlton’s development and he quickly pulled into a small turnout about a quarter of a mile down. “Lend a hand,” he said as he got out.

We headed to the front of the Elephant and I saw that there was a dirt road there, as overgrown as Carlton’s lawn, so it wasn’t visible at all from the road. Also, there was a giant felled tree blocking its entrance. He looked at it and shook his head.

“Fucking Drew,” he said. “He never puts it back the right way. Here,” he said. “Get the other end.”

“What the hell are we gonna do with this tree?” I asked.

“We’re gonna move it.”

“How the fuck…?”

“Just grab an end,” he said. “You’ll see.”

I went to the opposite end of the tree, and realized as soon as I touched it that it was not a tree. It appeared to be made of papier mâché, covered with a weatherproof epoxy. We lifted it quite easily, and tossed it aside. Carlton got back in his vehicle and once he cleared the tree, we moved it back. We both got back in, my body sinking into the faux-elephant skin like a newborn baby sinking into a river.

“Well, it looks like Mary and Drew are here.” He sounded disgusted. “Oh well, I guess you’ll meet them eventually anyway.”

“I know Mary and Drew,” I said. “Nick’s friends. Always throwing poop at each other. Making weird movies. Had that story written about them crashing into a moose in a plane.”

“Yeah, that’s them,” Carlton said. “Can’t fucking stand them.”

A couple minutes went by, then he clarified. “I mean, they’re good people.”

A few more seconds went by, then he further clarified, “But I can’t stand them.”

He drove down the twisty road until he came to a fork. He took the left fork and drove into even thicker woods. A couple miles down and he turned again, down an even narrower road. It was all very spooky. I couldn’t help but think of the horror novel Harm’s Way, by Marc Richard, which you can pick up here. Some sick shit happens in that book, if you’re into horror. You’re welcome, Marc.

We stopped at what seemed to me to be a random spot in the road, as it seemed to end nowhere in particular. Carlton got out. “Come on,” he said.

“Come where?”I asked. What the fuck were we doing?

“This way,” he said, and he led me further into the woods, down some shitty footpath that was shittier than the shitty footpaths I’d been used to shitting on.

“How long do we have to walk down this shitty, shitty footpath?” I asked him.

“About a mile and half,” he said.

“A mile and a half???” I asked, incredulously.

“About,” he reiterated. Like that made me feel any better.

We walked for goddammit about an hour or three, tripping over bramble and brumble, and finally I said, “About?”

A stick had the nerve to poke my arm. I think it ripped a big gash in it, and I was bleeding all the fuck over the place.

“Doooood, how much farther,” I had the nerve to ask.

“We’re about halfway there,” he answered. Trailblazing like he knew what the fuck.

“About?” I asked again.

“What is your issue, man? We’re saving the world here.”

For a second, it put everything in perspective. For a second. But then, a second later, it didn’t.

“Can we…” I started, then he said “Hey look, there’s Mary and Drew.”

He pointed up at the sky, which was well-lit from the moon, and there I saw Mary and Drew hanging up in the trees like a couple of orangutans, throwing what looked and smelled like poo at each other.

“Oh, for fuck sake,” Carlton said, cracking one of the beers he was carrying.

“Want one?” he asked.

“No thanks,” I said. “But I will have a few hits off my weed vape, if you don’t mind.”

“Mind?” he said. “Of course not. Have at it.”

I took a couple hits, thinking it would prepare me for the shit show that was Mary and Drew.

Alas, it didn’t, and we waved them a fond goodbye as we kept on our trek.

“Bye, guys,” I shouted over my shoulder.

They waved with poo-filled hands. “Bye, guys!” Drew shouted. And we left.

“Have fun!” Mary added, which I thought was too many words.

I realized through this whole ordeal, that Carlton had nothing to say to them.

“Wow, you really don’t like them, do you?” I inquired.

“Can’t fucking stand them.”

A couple minutes went by, then he clarified. “I mean, they’re good people.”

A few more seconds went by, then he further clarified, “But I can’t stand them.”

“Right.”

Finally, Carlton announced, “Well, here we are.”

Nothing about this spot alluded to the fact that we were, in fact, anywhere.I saw nothing different in this particular location than I’d seen during the whole walk here.

He walked a couple feet into the woods, kicked aside some brush, and there it was: A wooden frame, which looked an awful lot like a child’s sandbox.

Where we are?” I asked.

He moved a rock, and revealed a pull-ring, much like you would see on the underside of an attic staircase. He pulled on the ring, and a 4×4 plywood panel swung up on hinges.

“Come on,” he said, and climbed down a ladder anchored into the dirt. I followed suit.

 

He led me down this long dark hallway. Dark, yet somehow illuminated. By what, I don’t know. I felt like my head was spinning. This was all too much. Suddenly, I felt weird. I felt like my soul was leaving my body. Or something. I’m not sure. I felt faded somehow.

The feeling passed very quickly as he opened the door to the main room.

He turned the light on, and it lit up a room, approximately twenty by thirty feet, bigger than I was expecting for an underground hideout to be. There were shelves lining the walls with very little on them.

“This was actually built as a fallout shelter originally,” Carlton explained. “It was a stroke of luck how we found it, really. If we hadn’t let our old buddy Nick into our little secret group, not only would be missing a Resident Idiot, but we would never have heard about this shelter. It seems Nick was a Doomsday Prepper a few years back, and built this here shelter with the help of a few friends. It must have taken a lot of time and effort to build such a massive structure. Being the decent person he is, he gave his shelter up for the cause. There are hundreds of these secret spots all over the country where the Invaders meet up. Most not as nice as this, but they’re secret, and that’s all that really matters. Here, let me give you the grand tour.”

He escorted me around the room. Oddly, it seemed less sparse than his house.

“Over here are the shelves. This is where there is sometimes food, but nobody keeps it stocked but me. Over here is a box of crackers, here’s a jar of peanut butter, hope you don’t have allergies. And here’s a knife for spreading the peanut butter on the crackers.”

I was intrigued. I wanted to know more about the crackers, but he was off to something else.

“There’s a sofa for sitting and/or napping.” He pointed to a thing that didn’t look so much like a sofa as it did a giant mass of foam and stains. But it did have a nice looking chenille throw on it.

“Through the door there is the bathroom. The ventilation in here is awesome, so you can shit all you want in there. Go ahead. Shit away.”

“I don’t have to at the moment,” I replied.

“Suit yourself. Anyway, over here’s a table and a chair. Here’s another chair. We’re standing on a floor right now. Above us is the ceiling, of course. We take great pride in our overhead lighting. And over here is a desk with a laptop.”

He opened the fridge, which was loaded with mostly cheap beer, and a few bottles of water. “Ready for a beer now?” he asked. I was beginning to think he had a drinking problem. But whatever; so did I.

“Yeah, I’ll have one,” I replied.

We each cracked a beer, and he sat down on the chair at the desk and fired up the laptop.

“Come on over, grab a chair,” he said.

He entered the password, which seemed to me to be an incredibly long series of random characters, but Carlton typed it all in, every once in a while hitting the shift key.

“Eric, you’re about to meet the man who started it all. The Grand Poobah of the Invaders.”

“Me?”

“Yeah I usually don’t do this. There are just too many of us for him to meet personally. He usually only talks to the leaders, and he never talks to Nick, Mary, or Drew. Or Ray. But there’s something about you I think he’d really like. I think you’d get a kick out of him. If he’s available.”

He clicked on Skype and logged on, with a password that was even more ridiculously long and complicated.

“How do you remember these strings of letters, numbers, and symbols that comprise your password?” I asked him, shortly realizing it was the first time I’d ever used the word “comprise” in conversation. I should use it more often. It’s a fine word.

“Well, Eric, in the words of my late mother, ‘In the end, son, they’ll come and they’ll take everything you own. Your shoes, your hat, and your pet roller skate. Your health will fail and your back will ache and all your insides will slowly rot away from cancer. Your hair will fall out, and your teeth, and you’ll get wrinkled and old and you won’t believe the person you see in the mirror. Where did my youth go? You’ll ask. You’ll have bad breath and just an overall stink that you can’t pinpoint, and people will forget all about you and you’ll be lonely and miserable. Water will start to taste funny. You’ll find yourself talking out loud but it will sound like it’s coming from somebody else. You’ll lose control of your bodily functions, and you’ll just start excreting stuff all over the place. Your neighbors will prank call you in the middle of the night, asking if your refrigerator is running. Then, when you tell them you know that joke, they’ll call you “Cunt” and hang up rudely. You won’t be able to find the right size pan to cook your eggs in. Then you’ll realize that your eggs expired months ago and you’ll wonder where all the time went. All your friends will die, and your relatives won’t give a shit. They’ll toss you in a nursing home and forget about you. Maybe they’ll come around during Christmastime, but then they’ll stop coming and they’ll send cards instead. Then those will stop. You’ll run out of money. And time. But one thing you’ll be left with is your memories.’ The sad thing is, none of those other things happened to her, and her memory was the first thing to go.”

“Christ, Carlton. She seemed like an optimist. Sorry to hear about your mom dying and all, though.”

“She’s not dead,” he answered.

“Oh? I thought you said she was dead,” I said.

“No. I said she was late. On account of her memory being so poor, she can never remember to show up to her appointments. Now,” Carlton said, “let’s see if he’s on.”

He looked over at me with a smirk. “He’s on,” he said. He clicked on a name.

Within the darkened archway of a bridge an even darker figure stood, facing away from us. The archway was massive, but somehow this figure was more massive. And looming. The figure turned slowly toward the screen. I could tell he was wearing some cold weather gear, like a jacket and hat, and maybe gloves. It must have been cold where he was. I couldn’t make out his face, though.

Carlton turned to me, smiling. “This is his intro. This plays every time he answers his Skype. I think it’s kind of portentous and over the top, but it does well to enhance his image, doesn’t it?”

“This is whose intro?” I asked.

He looked at me again and gave a creepy smirk, trying to add to the foreboding tone of the video clip. “You’ll see.”

The figure got closer and closer. This whole intro was running a little too long, and it was also really freaking me out, man. He got right up on the screen and slowly crouched down, but before we could see his face, the screen faded.

When the screen came back into focus, there appeared one of the most handsome men I’d ever seen in my life. Dark hair, blue eyes, a face of a god. Somewhere in between Ryan Gosling and Adam Levine. Please let him be gay, I silently prayed, then added, and single. Right. Like I actually stood a chance with this guy even if he was. This was the leader of a revolution. Like Che Guevara, but with less Del Toro. If this adventure we were on was a movie, he would be exactly the man they would have picked for his role.

“Carlton!” he said when he saw my companion’s face. “Did you fucking see it? Did you see Uncle Mel’s face tonight? Holy shit. What did I tell you? What did I fucking tell you?”

Carlton shook his head. “No, I didn’t see it. But some of the others did. They said his face slipped?”

“Yes, it slipped. Yes it fucking slipped. Like he was wearing a mask. I knew it. Haha! I knew it!”

“Um,”Carlton changed the subject. “I just wanted you to meet a friend of mine, and the newest member of the Invaders. This is Eric.” I never actually told Carlton that I was going to be one of the Invaders. But when the man on the screen turned to me and smiled, I thought, Fuck it. I’m one of the Invaders.

“Hi,” that gorgeous piece of mankind looked at me, a twinkle in his eye shining brighter than the North Star. “I’m Dave.”

CHAPTER THREE

[* *]

 

“Um.” My mouth was dry. I took a swig of beer so that I could actually move my mouth around enough to make sounds. “Hello sir,” I uttered sheepishly

“Sir? He laughed. “No need for formalities here. Any friend of Carlton’s is a friend of… well, Carlton’s. Haha. Just kidding. You can call me Dave. Nice to meet you Erix.”

“It’s Eric, sir,” I corrected.

“Eric?” He looked at me, his beautiful eyebrow raised slightly. “What a weird name. Eric. I’ll have to remember that one. Did you see the president’s face slip tonight, Eric?” He put air quotes around the word “president”.

“Uh, no. No, I didn’t. But a lot of people did, from what I gather.”

“Yes, Eric. Yes. A lot of people did,” Dave said.

“So the president wears a mask.”Carlton looked away, scared perhaps that he was talking out of turn. “To play the devil’s advocate here, that could mean anything.”

“No,” the leader said. “Not just a mask, Carlton. He’s wearing Mel Gibson’s face. Mel fucking Gibson. I had an inkling. I had an inkling he wasn’t really Mel Gibson. Remember, Carlton? Remember when there were talks of there being another Apocalypto? And another Mad Max movie? He was going to be in it this time? And then poof, suddenly all those projects get dropped and Mel runs for president? The projects weren’t dropped because it suddenly occurred to him he should be running for president. The projects were dropped because Mel fucking disappeared. They got him. They got him, and they are wearing his face now. Just like they wore Trump’s face.”

“So you’re saying Trump wasn’t Trump either?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying. Who in their right mind would say some of the stupid shit he said, and think they could get into office? ‘The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day’? ‘Rosie O’Donnell is a slob who talks like a truck driver’?”

Carlton nodded. “But Rosie O’Donnell is a slob who talks like a truck driver.”

Dave threw up his hands. “That’s not the point. People, especially those running for office, aren’t supposed to say what they mean. Yes, political correctness has gone too far, but there has to be some. If we all walked around saying what we meant all the time, there would be a lot more shootings and missing limbs and whatnot.”

I interjected. “So, let me get this straight, Dave.” I was already talking to him like I’d known him for years. “You’re saying the White House has been infiltrated by an alien race?”

“At the very least, the president has. But I find it hard to believe that there aren’t others who share work space with it and not know something is a little off about him. So yeah, I think there are more of them.” Dave sighed, and thought for a moment. “But none of this really matters in the long run.”

Carlton stood up, his chair rolling back. “Doesn’t matter? Doesn’t matter? What do you mean it doesn’t matter? This changes everything.”

“How?” Dave asked.

“If they are from another world, we don’t know anything about them. We don’t know what kind of weapons they have access to, we don’t know how their minds work. Maybe they operate in another dimension, by another set of cosmic principles. We have no clue what they’re capable of or how dangerous this is going to be.”

“Did we before?” Dave asked. “Have we ever really known what the government was capable of? We know they can listen in to our conversations anytime they want, and check our browsing histories and so on. They somehow can know everything we’re up to. Even before the age of the Internet, they have been spying on people. Sure, it’s more prevalent now, because everything we say and do is out there if you want to find it badly enough. But throughout history there has never really been complete privacy. They listen in. And people have just ended up missing from time to time, victims of one conspiracy or another. This is no different.”

“This freaks me out,” Carlton said. “The human race is evil, sure. But we know what people can do. We know our limitations. Maybe these aliens could just wipe us off the face of the earth just by thinking about it.”

“If they could have just wiped us off the face of the earth, they would have by now,” Dave said. “No, I think their plans are a little more devious than that. They take over government, amass huge amounts of wealth, which they know we humans value above most other things, divide us up by building walls, increasing tension, and get us to kill each other. That’s what I think.”

“Wouldn’t there be more tension leaving us together, rather than putting up walls and separating us?” I asked. “I remember when my brother and I would get in fights, my mom used to separate us till we promised to behave.”

“And also keeping you from communicating, from working out your differences.” Dave looked at me. “No, separating increases tension.”

“But why us?” I asked. Why America?”

“Think about that for a moment,” Dave said. “Do you really need to ask?”

I guess I didn’t. Our country was so naive. So easy to infiltrate by spewing rhetoric. So easy to build wealth very quickly. There were lots of reasons. Still, it sounded like bullshit to me.

“Sounds like bullshit to me,” I said.

“Doesn’t matter,” Dave answered. “Maybe I’m wrong. Doesn’t change anything. We still need to do something about our situation. I’ve been thinking for a while now that something was weird about Uncle Mel, but I also came to the conclusion that we have to get things back the way they were, regardless. Our country, and our world, has been going to shit for a long time now. We should have done this years ago.”

“I agree,” I said. “Really I do. But holy fuck. This is a lot to take in.”

“I know,” Dave said. “Take your time. If you think this is too much for you, you don’t have to do this. But I would really like you to be a part of it. Carlton vouches for you, and that’s enough of a recommendation for me. The more the merrier, and all that. Of course,” he added, “either way, you can’t say anything about this. Ever.”

I looked over at Carlton, and he dragged his thumb across his neck. I think if I refused to be an Invader, things would not go so well for me. Either you’re in, or you’re ignorant of the plan. And since I knew the plan, I guess I was in. All of this gesturing was unnecessary, though, because I’d already decided. I was in. What else was I going to do? Sit around the house and watch the world fall apart? No, there were far too many of us doing that as it was. We needed more people to actually get off their asses and do something; Topplers, Invaders, whatever.

“No, I’m in.What’s the plan?”

“Carlton will fill you in on all the details. I gotta get going. Cake’s in the oven. Take care, guys. See you around.”

“WAIT!” I screamed. “DON’T GO! WHAT KIND OF CAKE????”

But it was too late; the connection was already broken.

“What kind of cake do you think he’s having?” I asked Carlton.

“I don’t really know,” he answered. “I think maybe cheese.”

I was thinking a flour-less chocolate torte.

 

“Well,that was a lot to take in,” I said. Dave himself was a lot to take in. Goosebumps.

“If you need time to process this, I totally understand. It is a lot to take in.” He turned to me, and looked me directly in the eye. “Of course, if you say no, I’ll have to kill you. No offense.”

“None taken. But regardless of your pitiful threats, I’m down. I want to be a part of this. Don’t you find it dangerous to chat on Skype, by the way?” I gave Carlton the stinky eyeball.

“Not really,” he said. “The risk is very minimal. We have the best hackers in the nation working for us, and not only is everything so encrypted and protected that it is damn near impossible to hack into, but everything also runs through its own server. We’re not even on the web.”

“You’re not?” I asked.

“No. We can get on the web if we need to, but even our web connection is very hard to hack into. Watch,” he said, and double-clicked on Chrome. It seemed like forever (like ten whole seconds) for it to load up the Google search engine.

“Notice how it took so long?”

I nodded.

“That’s because the connection goes one place, relays to another place, relays to yet another place, then to our server. It’s slow, but that extra time it took to load a page is the price we have to pay for having a virtually untraceable IP address. I thinks that’s how it works, anyway. I’m not a techie. I’m the type of guy who Googles everything to figure out how to get my computer to do what I want it to do, but when I lose my connection, then I can’t Google how to fix my connection, and I’m caught in a weird vortex. And anyway, we don’t really go on any sites that raise any red flags. We mostly sit in here and watch Youtube videos like the Weird Arby’s Guy or Die Antwoord music videos. And Skype? That’s a whole other thing altogether. Ever hear of the Dark Web?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“Well, our version of Skype is kind of like that. Except harder for the government to hack. Think of it as closed circuit T.V. Plus,” he added, “they’re much too busy watching shit like this.”

He went to Youtube and typed in “Toppler video”, and clicked on “Toppler Video #1”. This particular video had over three million hits.

After an excruciating fifteen seconds of buffering, the video played.

 

 

A beautiful, familiar face showed up on the screen. And he began speaking.

“Hello America. Most of you don’t know me yet, but you will soon enough. My name is Dave. I’ve had years of experience working both for and against the government, as well as heavy training in the United States Marine Corps. I’ve come to you today, because I want to tell you about this cool new group. We call ourselves the Topplers. And this is a call for all of my fellow Americans to come and join me in the fight against our cruel and oppressive rulers. In the words of the late, great Ronald Reagan to Mr. Gorbachev, ‘Tear down this wall’.

“It’s time to put down our picket signs and Pink Floyd memorabilia, and actually do something rather than shouting for a change. I ask you to simply go through your garages and basements, grab any sharp implements you can, and on the third of June, 2031, we shall all gather at the wall, and tear this sonofabitch down.”

An image of the wall flashed across the screen. The picture was of one of the less reinforced sections, held together by planks and bubblegum. As if to show that it would be quite an easy job.

“Now, I know what you’re thinking,” Dave continued. “This will not be an easy job. And you’re right. It won’t be. We’ve been trying for years to hack away at this monstrosity to no avail. But never have we all gathered at the wall at once. Never have we had access to such heavy equipment. This may take weeks, or months, or I don’t know, maybe even a year, but gathered together we will stand up and fight. We will show Capitol Hill that we will not take this separatism. We will no longer keep our Muslim friends, our Jewish friends, our friends of any race, creed, or color trapped out in the cold. We will no longer keep ourselves trapped in. It has been years since America has seen the ocean, for godsake. I mean, look at this lovely ocean.”

An image of the ocean filled the screen.

“Isn’t she beautiful, guys? Show the government we want this back. We want our freedom back. We want to be able to go swimming in the ocean, or set sail on the seas. We want to take a cruise. We want to see our Canadian and Mexican friends again. We are tired of living under this regime. It’s time for a change. Please stay tuned for more installments in this series of videos for further details. Thank you.”

I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed.

“How does this even exist? Why doesn’t the government just pull this video down? It would be easy enough to do. They fund the site, for the love of Pete.”

“Come on, man. You’re not stupid. Think.”

I did. I knew the answer even before I asked the question. They wanted the video up. They wanted the Topplers to gather at the wall. It never occurred before, having them all gather in one location. They would be easy targets. Yes, the wall was big, but the military was bigger. We killed as many in Vietnam, and they were all hiding in the jungle. This would be lining them up execution-style.

“Jesus Christ, What was that, Carlton? What the fuck was that?”

“What was what?”

“All that bullshit. How can Dave keep a straight face, knowing that this is all a ruse? He’s setting millions of Americans up, and sending them to their deaths. It’s unconscionable. It’s morally reprehensible. It’s…”

“It’s something that has to be done in order for us to do what we need to do,” Carlton finished my sentence for me. That was not what I was going to say.

“These people, these innocent people, are going to get killed. And they don’t even know it.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, dude. They do know the danger. They do know the risk. If they don’t want to be a part of it, they don’t have to be. They can just stay the hell home.”

“But Dave, with all his charm and stunningly good looks, is going to make people feel riddled with guilt if they don’t do something,” I said.

“Yep. You should see the rest of the videos, when you have time. He certainly does a good job at shaming without shaming.”

“It’s wrong,” I said for the umpteenth time.

“I don’t know why you’re so concerned about the Topplers. The Invaders, us, we’ll be in just as much danger doing what we’re doing. If not more danger. I don’t see what the big deal is.”

“You’re right, I guess.” I couldn’t argue with that. Except to add, “I just wish they didn’t have to be kept in the dark. I mean, why can’t they just know about the Invaders? Why can’t there be two camps? The Invaders and the Topplers, the Topplers go to work on the wall and the Invaders take over D.C.?”

“They can’t know about it because we don’t know who we can trust. If word gets back to the capitol our plan is fucked.”

Just then I thought about Starlet. She was going to be one of the Topplers. Jesus. I started to cry.

“What’s wrong?” Carlton said, as he cracked another beer.

“I’m just thinking about my friend. In a few months she’ll be heading to the wall, not knowing what she’s getting herself into.”

“For fuck sake, she knows what she’s getting herself into.”

“I don’t think she does. She lives in this kind of fantasy world. I don’t know if she understands the danger she’s putting herself in.”

“Then that’s her problem, Eric. You can’t change that.”

“I can call her and see if maybe she wants to join our team.”

“No,” Carlton said. “I don’t know her, and if she hasn’t been chosen by now, chances are she won’t be. And if that’s the case, if she knows anything about the real plan, she will have to be executed. And so will you, for telling her. Because then you can’t be trusted. Did I make the wrong decision, having you here?”

“No!” I said. “No, you didn’t. I want to go kick some ass just as badly as you do. I just wish things were different.”

“Don’t you think I do, too? I have friends that are going to be at the wall on June third. I’m just as scared for them as you are for your friend. I’m also scared for us. But I’m more scared of what will happen to this country if we don’t do something now. It sucks, the whole Toppler thing, but when history is written about this, they will be seen as some of the biggest heroes ever.”

“Or biggest chumps,” I retorted.

“Tomato, tomahto.”

Oh, Starlet, if you make it through and somehow find this letter, please know that I didn’t want this for you. I had no choice. I had to keep you in the dark to keep you the safest I could. I hope you realize that, and if you hate me for this, I totally understand.

I fidgeted in my seat. “So, what’s the plan?”

Carlton grinned. “I thought you’d never ask.”

 

Carlton went to the fridge and got two beers. “You want one?” he asked. When I nodded, he reached back in the fridge and got a third one.

He pulled out a neatly folded DeLorme map. I had always been secretly envious of anyone who could fold a map back up properly. All of mine were crumpled in little balls in my glove compartment. When he unfolded it, I saw that it depicted the Washington, D.C. area.

So, we start out on June fourth, the day after the toppling begins. We head across country, and land in D.C. on June eleventh.”

“You think it will take a week to get across?”

“No, but we are all scheduled to meet around D.C. on the eighth. That will give the military plenty of time to evacuate the area and head to the wall to deal with the Topplers. We’ll make our way slowly across country in my Elephant.”

“Who’s riding with us?” I asked.

“I figured we’d take Ray and Nick.”

“Those idiots? Why them?”

“Because I’m the only one that can deal with them. Plus, you know Ray, so I figured you’d be okay riding with them. And,” he continued, “I think it would make for a great adventure, and we’d have some really fun scenes to add to the next book.”

Next book? What the hell was he talking about?

“Shit, man. Okay, so then what? What are all these little pen marks all around the capitol?”

“Those are where we have our caches of weapons stored. Wait till you see. Man, we have all kinds of shit. Guns, explosives, everything we need. Everyone has their own place to go.” He pointed to one of the dots. “Ours is right here, in Annapolis.”

“How do you keep all of this a secret?”

“They’re hidden very well, and are guarded very nonchalantly by some very inconspicuous guards. We need to have these caches. We can’t very well travel with these weapons. Even if I drive like a grandma, which I fully intend on doing, I’m sure to get pulled over a couple times. It’s just the way things are now. If we’re caught with so much as a pocket knife, we could be detained, which would cause a delay, and fuck up the whole plan. Now, I’m not saying I’m the most important piece of the puzzle, but every piece counts. The combination to the vault is very long and very hard to remember, and as you can see, I have a good memory for that kind of shit. So I’m the only one who knows the pass code. If I’m not there on the eighth, they lose not only me, but all the weapons we have stored will just sit there. And, like I said, we have some very cool shit. There are about a thousand of us, and although it’s impossible to get an exact head count of all of those in the White House on any given day, a thousand employees is not an unreasonable estimate. So as you can see, we need every person and every weapon we have available.”

“So we get the weapons, and then what?”

“Okay, here’s where it gets interesting. The Invaders will split into two teams. First, there are the Distractors. Their job: High jinks and tomfoolery. They’ll be running around the District, creating chaos. Sawing the head off Lincoln at the Memorial, skinny dipping in the reflecting pool, posing for pictures with the Washington Monument as though it were a big cock, et cetera. That will keep most of the police and whatever military is left busy trying to keep order. The rest of us, folks like you and me, are called the Inserters. Our job is to insert ourselves into the White House, and shoot to kill. We will take no prisoners, and we won’t stop until Uncle Mel and every last soul in the building is dead.”

“You’re kidding me? The Distractors and the Inserters? Who came up with these titles?” I asked, purposely ignoring the part where Carlton told me I would have to kill a bunch of people.

“Probably the same guy who came up with the Topplers.”

“Dave,” I said.

“Yup.”

He went on to tell me that once we had the White House empty, we would take it over and form a new government. Just like that?? I don’t know the specifics of how the hell that was going to happen. When I asked Carlton, he said Dave had it all worked out. Ours was not to question how. I was beginning to think we were blindly putting an awful lot of faith in Dave, with no proof of his effectiveness. But there really wasn’t an alternative. I just hoped this wasn’t going to be another Jonestown, and that he really did have the world’s best interests at heart.

Our first mission was to break down the wall, for real this time.

“What then?” I asked.

“Toppling the wall is the easy part. Our dreams are much, much bigger than that. The first thing we do is we form a new government. We can’t have anarchy. Even something as simple as breaking down the wall needs to be done in an orderly fashion, and we need it done quickly. We want to be a government of peace and love, and most of all equality.”

“Great! Wow, I can’t believe nobody has ever thought of this before! A government of peace, love, and equality! Gosh.”

“Oh, shut the fuck up,” Carlton said.

“Okay, and then what?”

“Then we get the United Nations together. And we discuss. And we all agree to one world government. Just think of it: No more borders. No more countries. Just one planet. One mind. One love.”

“And anarchy.”

“Not at all. We’ll have a leader. We’ll have rules and laws that we have to abide by, and consequences if we don’t.”

“And who’s going to be the leader of all this?” I asked. “Let me guess. Dave?”

“Maybe. Maybe they’ll come up with an even better one.”

“And then everything will be ducky. Of course. I’ll gladly trade all of my Adderall for whatever the fuck it is you’re on.”

“I have high expectations and even higher hopes,” he said, matter-of-factly.

“Cool.”

“I have to have high hopes. What, do you want me to go in there with a shitty attitude? We’re gonna win this thing, Dave will take over; it’s gonna be great, really.

“What makes you think it won’t be a case of meet the new boss, same as the old?”

“Who knows? I don’t know everything, Eric. It may very well get to that point again, hundreds or thousands of years down the road. But we need a shakeup. We’re heading down a very bad road, you don’t need me to tell you this. You can’t just sit at home while our country, and even the rest of the world, goes to shit.”

“Why not?”

“Because then you’d be an asshole.” He looked very serious suddenly. “Also, I’d have to kill you.”

“Heh, I know, I know. I’m just kidding. I’m with ya, of course.” Wow. We were really going to do this. It just hit me. This was it. No turning back now. Starlet popped in my head again. I wish she would stop doing that, so that I could keep focus on the task at hand.

Carlton noticed the somber look I must have had on my face.

“You’re still thinking about that chick, aren’t ya? What’s the deal with her, anyway? You fuck her? Is she your girrrrlfrieeend?”

“No, no. Well, not anymore. She was once, when we were teenagers. For like five minutes. We’re still pretty close though. Are you sure there’s nothing I can do for her? I really can’t let her know what’s going on?”

He made another cutting gesture across his throat. I guess not.

“The fuck kind of a name is Starlet, anyway?”

“She chose it.”

“No shit,” he said. “She work in porn or something?”

“No.”

“Stripper?”

“No.”

“Chick with a dick?”

I paused.

“Hahaha I knew it! She’s a chick with a dick! Oh, man. Priceless.”

“Correction: Used to be. And fuck you, dude. It’s 2031. You’d think people would be a little more understanding nowadays. What are you, a transphobe or something? You know what? You’re really starting to get under my skin. I have very little tolerance for bigotry. Get me a beer.”

“Yeah, all right. I’ll get you a beer. Then we gotta have a talk. I’ll show you who’s a fucking bigot.”

He went to the fridge and got out three more beers. One for me and two for him once again, I assumed.

He opened all three beers and placed two of them in front of me.

“Jesus, man. One at a time.”

“Just drink up.”

I took a couple sips and placed the beer down on the table. He picked it back up and raised it to my lips. “Come on, down the hatch. That’s a good boy.”

I guzzled the rest of the beer, to appease him.

“You better drink the other one. Fucking bigot, I’ll show you.”

I took a couple sips off the fresh beer as Carlton rose. “What, are you gonna fight me or something? I’m really not in the mood.”

But he didn’t fight me. Instead he dropped his pants. And I could see now why he thought it was funny that I called him a transphobe. He had a vagina.

“No fucking way,” I said.

“Who’s a bigot now?” he asked.

“Wow, dude. I had no idea.”

“You wanna fuck me now, don’t you?” He asked, his lady parts a little too close to my face.

“No, not really. I’ve been into dick lately. No offense.”

“Yeah, see? This is the problem. Every time I drop my pants, I scare people away. This is why I’ve been celibate for years now.”

“No, it’s not that. I’m sure you’ll find someone who enjoys what you have. You just gotta trim a little, is all.”

“I hate this stupid thing.”

“It’s not stupid. But why don’t you get yourself a dick if you’re that upset about what you have now?”

“Who do you think I am? Trump or something? I don’t have that kind of cash. There are a lot of things I would change about myself, if I had the money. My nose, my cheeks, my vagina. But I’m broke. Like everyone. I should have gotten the sex change when insurance actually covered the procedure. But now that it’s considered cosmetic, I’ll have to wait until the policies change. If they ever do. If not, I’m stuck with this.”

He was right. Insurance used to cover it, as it was considered a birth defect. But then people started abusing the system. Getting a sex change became all the rage. It was almost as cool as getting a tattoo or piercing. Then, when people got bored with their new parts, sometimes they’d switch back. It became a real money loser for insurance companies. Soon, there was no telling who actually needed one and who just wanted one, so they had to shut that shit down.

“So, what was your birth name?” I asked.

“Carlton. I’ve always been Carlton. My parents really wanted a boy, and when I was born with an inny, it didn’t change their minds any. I grew up a boy. I don’t know if I was a product of my environment, or if I really am a dude trapped in someone else’s body, but I suppose it doesn’t really make any bit of difference. I am what I am.”

“Sure, sure,” I said, and added, “Now, could you put that away?” I downed the last of my can.

He pulled his pants back up and grabbed us both another brew.

“Hey, wanna wrestle?” he slurred. Why is it when dudes get drunk, they want to wrestle? “Come on, try to pin me.”

“I’m all set. You can put that beer away. This has been a very enlightening evening, but I’m beat. I’m gonna go collapse on that thing you call a couch.”

“Suit yourself,” he said.

And so I reclined on the couch while Carlton surfed the web, my thoughts drifting to Starlet and Hawaii once more.

 

As I said, there I was, walking down the beach with my mug of delicious hot milk. I never started out as a hot milk drinker; back when I was eight or so I developed a pretty nasty coffee habit. My parents weren’t like other cool parents, letting their kids sneak a beer here and there at family functions. They never allowed me to even be around alcohol. Maybe that’s why I’m such a heavy drinker today, I don’t know. They did, however, encourage me to drink plenty of coffee. They thought it a healthier alternative to Adderall or Ritalin. It started out with just one cup in the morning, before I went off to school. Soon, however, that one cup wasn’t enough, and before I knew it I was up to five cups a day. As I got older, I drank more and more coffee till at the age of fourteen I had a pretty serious anxiety attack, which led to a full-on nervous breakdown, followed by a week stay in the hospital. When I was released, I still felt that I needed hot beverages in my life, and there was no way in hell I was going to drink tea. Ever. So I started drinking hot milk. All I had to do was pretend that I was drinking a very weak latte. If any of you have ever tried warm or hot milk before, it tastes like expired horse cum, but soon I got used to it.

Lost in my thoughts, I was startled by a beautiful sight. A girl of my age, sunbathing on the sand. I’m a leg guy, and hers were quite possibly the best set I had ever seen on a dame. Like they were sculpted out of whatever substance they would use to sculpt something really nice. Her hair, long and brown, with highlights of gold. She had that exotic look to her, almost like she came from a family that was Asian a few generations back. She was absolutely stunning in her one-piece bathing suit, although she didn’t fill out the top part very well, and down below she had a bulge that looked suspiciously like a dick. Neither of these aspects really bothered me all that much, but I did find myself silently thinking, please let her be into dudes. By her side was a frozen daiquiri , which I’m sure was virgin, since she didn’t look to be much older than sixteen. Her eyes were closed; she must have been asleep. I got even closer, and slowly I reached out my foot and tipped her drink over, spilling a little on her arm. Which also looked like it was sculpted out of that stuff I just mentioned.

“Oops, I’m so sorry,” I grabbed the towel that was laying by her side, and blotted her arm off.

She looked at me and cocked her arm back, about to throw a punch, but then her look softened a bit. Her eyes were the coolest shade of blue, almost gray, and they saw right through me into my soul, and knew that I meant no harm, and that look felt good. I thought then, this is the girl I want to spend the rest of my life with.

“It’s okay,” she said, her voice that of a young Thai ladyboy. “Come. Sit.”

I laid out the towel I had been blotting her with and plopped down next to her. I thought there was no way in hell I was going to have a chance with this vixen.

“Let me get you another drink,” I said, and signaled the waiter over. All-inclusive resorts were awesome back when they still existed. You could just sit all day and have everything brought to you, like you were rich or something.

“Waiter, another daiquiri for my lady friend, and I’ll have a glass of hot milk, please.”

The waiter looked at me like he wanted to kick my teeth in for ordering such a preposterous drink. Especially on a beach in Hawaii, but he said, “Very good, sir,” and turned to walk away.

“Actually,” the girl said, “I’ll have a glass of hot milk too.”

My jaw gaped. This was the moment of a lifetime. A hot girl who liked hot milk? What were the odds? I don’t know if I believe in fate, especially with the way the world is now, but I believed in it right then.

I introduced myself. “I’m Eric.”

“Starlet,” she said, and held out a hand for me to shake.

“A beautiful name for a beautiful girl,” I said, sounding cliché as all hell.

“Thank you,” she said.

“I can’t believe you like hot milk too!” I exclaimed.

“I most certainly do. See, I used to have a very bad caffeine habit, but then I went to rehab. Someone in there turned me onto the beverage. It’s my favorite. Even though it tastes a little like hyena cum.”

“I think it tastes like horse cum!” I said. We started laughing.

“So, what’s your story?” I asked. I knew with the bulge she had between her legs, she had to have had a pretty good story.

“Well, my name’s Starlet. I’m from Blackburn, Ohio. I like hot milk and stale chocolate chip cookies. Um, I like reading, fashion, reality shows, and I was born a dude.”

“Wow. A dude? I hadn’t noticed.”

“Thanks, but I know I have a pretty decent package. You don’t have to pretend you don’t see it. I can’t hide it. Especially in this bathing suit. Anyway, what about you?”

“Um, I’m Eric,” I said.

“Well, now that that’s out in the open, you being Eric and everything, wanna go shoot a game of pool or something?”

“Sure thing,” I said. “But I have to warn you, I’m pretty good.”

We grabbed our hot milks and headed to the activity center. Starlet got a pretty good chuckle out of the activities director when she asked for some balls, but other than that, the date went off without a hitch. Sure it was just pool, but it felt like a date to me.

“Come on,” she said. “I want you to meet my dad. He’s a fluffer.”

“A what now?” I asked.

“ A fluffer, you know.” She made a jerkoff motion with her hand.

“Ohhh.” The realization hit my face, as did seagull shit. Goddammit! Just a minute,” I said, and ran to the ocean to rinse it off. Them dirty fucking seagulls. That’s why I don’t feel the least bit bad eating them.

Introducing me to her father? So soon? Were we a thing already and I didn’t know it?

We entered a cabana, and there were two gentlemen sitting in lounge chairs, each nursing a cocktail.

“Dad, I would like you to meet my new boyfriend, Eric.”

Boyfriend?

Her father held out his hand. I shook it. “Nice to meet you, Eric. Boy, Starlet has told me nothing about you.” He glared at her.

“And this is my brother, Glenn,” she said dismissively.

“Nice to meet you Glenn,” I said, and held out my hand.

“Yuh,” he said, and looked away. I put my hand in my pocket.

“Sweetie,” her father said, “we were just thinking about going to grab something to eat. Would you care to join us?”

“Nope,” Starlet said, and led me away.

“It was nice meeting you,” I called over my shoulder.

“You too, Eric!” her dad shouted. “Stay well, my friend!”

Then I says to Starlet, I says, “Your family seems nice.”

“Yuh,” she says.

We spent the entire day together, enjoying each other’s company. Before we knew it, night had fallen.

There we were, Starlet and I, in Hawaii; she chomping on her cheeseburger and me nervously picking at my roasted seagull leg that we had gotten from the all-night snack bar on the beach at the resort. You see seagulls all the time in the wild, and they’re all the size you think seagulls should be. But these legs they sell are enormous. They must keep them in captivity and pump them full of steroids and protein supplements to get legs as big as that. I’d hate to see what the rest of the bird looked like. It would be funny if the top of the bird was normal-sized, though, wouldn’t it? This little ugly bird walking around with the legs of a bodybuilder? We were sitting under the clear starlit sky, she with mustard smears all over her hot little face. I kissed her, right then and there, getting the yellow mustard and maybe even a little ketchup on my face, bits of ground beef mixing with seagull in my mouth. Skyrockets shot off like they did when Bobby Brady kissed Millicent. That had been our first kiss, and it would not be our last.

Later on, we found ourselves making love under a palm tree, every star in the night sky calling our names. Or some shit. I had only had one other partner in my life, which was my culty ex-girlfriend. I said “culty”, dammit. This was nothing like anything I had ever experienced before. It was wild, it was insane. The dick thing didn’t even bother me. In fact, later in life, I’d grown to develop a fondness for them. It wasn’t her anatomy that did it. Something about how it felt emotionally. I had never felt such a deep connection while making love before. This was something new. So this is how it’s supposed to feel, I thought. This is love.

Just then, our session got interrupted when Starlet got hit in the face with something that seemed to have fallen from the sky. I wondered if it was more seagull shit. I tasted it. Cream pie.

“Hoo-hoo-hoo,” a laugh followed the pie. I looked up, staring into the heavily made-up eyes of a clown.

Jesus Christ, I thought. Fucking clowns are everywhere. Why don’t they go back to where they came from? Now they’re on our beaches. Throwing pies.

“You’ll never catch me!” he shouted, and started to run. Starlet and I both got up and, without bothering to put our clothes back on, started chasing the clown down the beach. What a sight that must have been to passersby! Despite his floppy shoes, we couldn’t catch up to him. We kept up the chase, however. Sometimes you just have to humor them, or they’ll never go away. We chased him through a fancy restaurant, disgusting the patrons, through the kitchen, and out the back door. “I can’t swim!” he yelled, which I didn’t understand, since he was nowhere near the water. He changed direction suddenly and headed back up toward the hotels. One hotel after another we ran through, disturbing the guests. The pursuit attracted more clowns, and we attracted more naked people. Soon there were hundreds of nudists chasing hundreds of clowns down the garden paths, as if in some bizarro foot race.

When we finally called it quits, we collapsed, still naked, on the beach, too tired to make love again, but not too tired to do a little more stargazing. That was one of the best nights of my life.

Starlet and her family flew back to Kentucky the next day, and we never hooked up again. We still keep in touch, and I will never forget the time I had with her in Hawaii.

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR

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May 30, 2031

 

I Walked into the flower shop, my sunglasses still inexplicably perched on my face.

“Hai,” I said.

I no sooner could get the word out of my mouth, when I was cut off by a very impatient, “Can I help you?”

“Yeah, can I have a dozen red roses please?” I asked the florist, while simultaneously moving my sunglasses up so that they instead rested comfortably on my forehead.

“Oh hi, Eric, I didn’t know it was you,” the florist said. She was obviously a lesbian.

She reached over to her left, and pulled out what appeared to be twelve long-stem roses, already packaged up for me, like they just knew I was coming for them.

“Here you go,” she said, as she pulled the roses out from whatever was holding them.

“That’s me,” I said, not quite sure if I meant It is I who have come to pick up the roses that must have already been waiting with my name on them, or if I meant, The roses are me.

“How much is it?” I asked, to which her ever-quick response was:

“It’ll be eighteen dollars.”

Was there some contest going on that I was unaware of? See who was the quickest draw with words? Well, I’ll show her who’s boss.

“Here you go, keep the change,” I said, slamming a twenty down on the counter. I didn’t care how much the roses cost, I came in there to spend exactly twenty dollars, and that was all I was going to spend. Try to best me with your quick words. I’ll spit out words so fast they’ll make your head spin. And I’ll throw money down on top of it.

“Hi Doggy,” I said, and pet the ugly dog on the counter on its head. I don’t know how I didn’t realize it was there before, with all the whining it was doing.

“You’re my favorite customer,” she said, as my words that were directed at the canine were still leaving my mouth.

I quickly turned. I’d had enough of this fiasco.

“Thanks a lot baii,” I said, hoping to God she wasn’t going to utter any more language. I was going to get the last word this time.

“Buh-bye,” she shouted to me as I exited. Whore.

What a whirlwind that was, and yet, the whole exchange seemed somehow familiar to me.

I got in my car and left. I very badly needed a drink.

 

I sat at the bar, peeling off the label from my bottle. “Another one,Charlie,” I said to the bartender.

“Sure thing, Mac,” he called over. “But could you not peel the labels off the bottles? We recycle here, and you can’t get the fifteen cents back if there ain’t no labels on the bottles.”

“Okkayy,.” I slurred. I was starting to feel good. I have a tendency to drink too much once I start; I don’t know if that makes me an alcoholic or what, but it is what it is. Ordinarily I don’t really drink too often, perhaps once a week or so, but I do come to this bar quite a bit, normally to shoot pool.

Andy’s Pub is the oldest bar in Sunny Springs. Owned by none other than Todd, the bartender that stood in front of me. His name was Todd, but I’d always hated that name, plus it didn’t suit a bartender of his caliber. I always thought that “Charlie” seemed a more appropriate name for a barkeep. Plus, he just looked like a Charlie. You know the look I’m talking about. In return, he called me “Mac”. He called everyone “Mac”, actually, which not only made things confusing, it also made me feel not very special. Nobody knew who the hell Andy was. Nobody but Charlie. I’m assuming he was the original owner, but every time I ask Charlie, “Please tell me who Andy was again,” he always tells a different story. One time he was a Federal agent who had this little bar set up as a way to catch lowlifes and criminals. The next time he was a mafia don, who had this little bar set up as a way to clean his cash.

This time, though, he told a doozy. “Long time ago, just after the prohibition era, when speakeasies once again became shouteasies, or speakfreelys, or some such, there was this alien race that infiltrated our town. Came from a little planet called Remulak, that inhabited a galaxy not too far from our own.”

“Watching Coneheads a little too much, Charlie?” I asked.

“Yessir. A fine documentary, if I do say so myself.” Seriously with this guy? “Anyways, they all came over to earth and decided to settle in this very town. Nice people, them. Anyways the leader, or I guess he was the leader, looked just like one of us. I guess they worshiped him because he was the handsomest of the bunch. Called himself “Andy”. Had this little bar set up as a way to study our customs. He left town sometime in the fifties, and I guess he left the planet, and took the rest of them with him, ‘cause I ain’t seen no aliens since.”

“Did you happen to catch the latest message from Uncle Mel?” I asked, fearful of what the answer may be.

“Nope. Hate politics,” he said. Good. Let’s leave it at that, then. If he was one to so quickly believe in aliens, I think the rumor that our president may be one would give him a nervous breakdown. Or make him very excited. Either way, I didn’t feel like getting into it.

“Hit me up with another, Charlie,” I said.

“Sure thing. You’re not driving tonight, are you, Mac?” He placed a fresh, cold beer in front of me.

“You know I don’t drink and drive. I live just two blocks from here. I always walk here. Are you okay? Are you becoming forgetful in your old age? Do you even know who I am?”

“Sure do,” he beamed. “You’re Mac.”

That didn’t clarify shit. I liked Charlie, and I didn’t want to see him losing his mind. Maybe he was just tired. As long as I’d been going to Andy’s, Charlie was always behind the bar. I wonder if he had a home to go to? Wife? Grandkids? Sofa? Bag of potato chips? I wonder if he even slept. Maybe it was time for him to take a vacation. I thought of suggesting it to him, but then I realized I didn’t really care much about Charlie.

Aa series of BLOOPs and BLEEPs and PINGs and CHUGGACHUGGACHUUGGACHAROOOBINGBIGBINGBINGDINGs came from over in the corner. Two young men were standing at the W.A.S.P. pinball machine, their eyes lighting up brighter than the machine itself every time the ball hit Blackie Lawless’ codpiece. Time to go make some money. Usually I would hustle by getting in on a game that was already being played, one that I observed out of the corner of my eye to gauge the players’ skill levels. It was getting late, however, and I didn’t think that anyone would be showing up to play any pool tonight. I could only judge by the way the blond-haired one was leaning up against the table, disrespecting the felt, that these guys didn’t know the first thing about the game. It would be easy to win against them, but it’s difficult to make anyone throw money down when they have no confidence in their own game. Whatever, maybe I could squeeze a few bucks out of them.

“Toss me the pool balls, Charlie. It’s time to make some cash.”

“Sure thing, Mac.” He got the balls out from behind the bar. Some places make you pay by the hour, some have those stupid coin-op tables that encourage people to bet quarters instead of dollars, but one thing about Andy’s Pub, billiards were always free. As long as you were drinking.

“Here ya go, pal. Say, do you know that I have never once had a vacation from this place? I guess that don’t mean shit since I have no home to go to. No wife, no grandkids, no sofa or bag of potato chips.”

“Yeah, that sucks,” I said dismissively as I headed over to the table. “Thanks, Charlie,” I called over my shoulder.

I stood at the table with my balls in my hand, waiting for the two tourists to finish their pinball game. It didn’t take long, because the one guy was kind of sucking. All he wanted to do was hit Blackie’s codpiece, as if that was the whole object of the game. The codpiece was the largest object on the table, and therefore very difficult to miss. The real points were getting it in the “Fudge Tunnel” between Johnny Rod’s legs.

Their last ball went down the chute, and I waited for the little “MATCH” thing at the end to disappoint them, but then I heard the familiar “CRACK!” which meant that they had miraculously scored a free game.

Sigh. “Another cold one, Charlie,” I said. Fuckin’ tourists. Whatever, it gave me time to slug down one more beer at least.

I could drink beers fast, but they could lose balls faster, apparently, because before I knew it, their game was over. The towhead was about to pop a couple more quarters in the machine when I ran up to him, yet another full, cold beer sloshing around in my hand and all over the floor. Whatever. I don’t think Charlie had mopped the floor, ever. That’s what gave it its bowling-alley-like gleam. Who needs floor polish when you have malt beverages?

“Waitwaitwait,” I shouted at the two guys. “Hold up.”

The blond moved away from the machine, and put his hands up like he was under arrest.

He turned to me, and when he saw I wasn’t a cop, held his fifty cents out to me. “Cacamaa?” He questioned, which apparently meant, “Do you want to play this W.A.S.P. game with my quarters?”

“Nono,” I answered, and motioned toward the table. “Billiards.”

The dark-haired gent turned to his friend. “Billiard?” he asked him. The blond swept his hand in the direction of the table in a “be-my-guest” gesture. A be-my-guesture.

I pulled the rack out from under the table as the two tourists stood there, fascinated. Like they’d never in their lives seen a triangle. I arranged the balls in the rack, and removed it. The two dudes began clapping. Jesus, if they were that impressed by my racking skills, they would soon be very impressed with my money-making skills.

I handed the cue ball to the dark-haired one, and asked, “Break?”

He took the ball and threw it onto the floor as hard as he could, chips of resin flying through the air. “Break!” he shouted. “I win?”

I went to the bar and asked Charlie for another cue ball. “No, you don’t win.” I said, and put the ball down on the table. “Now, quit being a smartass and try again.”

He bent down toward the table, grabbed the white ball and slid it toward the other balls, like he was pool-ball bowling. It was a fairly nice break, but I’m pretty sure it went against all league rules.

“Oh, for fuck sake,” I said, and re-racked them. “If you’re not going to play nice, then you’re not gonna play.” I handed him a pool cue. “I’ll break.”

I debated making a shitty break, but I wanted to score some cash as quickly as possible. Plus, I hated it when the balls stayed all bunched-up. It screwed up the flow of the game. So I broke, trying to get nothing in with my first hit. I got one in, however. I guess I was high ball.

“I’m stripes,” I said, and aimed half-ass at a stripy one, deliberately missing the pocket. “Your turn.”

He aimed for the same ball I just did. I couldn’t believe that there was anyone on this planet who didn’t at least get the very basics of pool. Either this guy was trying to out-shark me, or he came from a place where they had never played pool before. “No, dammit,” I said, and pointed to a few solid balls. “You’re solids. Aim for the solid ones.”

“Blorg?” he asked.

“Yes! Yes! Blorg!” I agreed.

He aimed for the three ball and missed.

It was my turn. I missed my ball, once again on purpose. Then he missed his.

After about five minutes of this horse shit, I “accidentally” pocketed the eight ball, losing the game.

“Awww, I guess I suck,” I said. “I lost.” I chuckled a little, acting like this was all in fun, and seeing me laugh got my opponent to laugh even harder, “HAHAHAHA!” he said, and looked at his companion. “HAHAHA!” he continued.

Following his buddy’s lead, the towhead starting laughing, too. It wasn’t really that funny. “HAHAHAHA HEEHEEHEE BLEEEPBLOOP!”

Did he just say Bleeepbloop?

The Bleeepbloop was soon followed by the strangest sound I’d ever heard come out of a human mouth. A chuga-chuga, like a freight train, but somehow electronic sounding. These guys must be Albanian.

“Your turn to rack,” I said. The dark-haired one gazed at the table, and one by one, the balls jumped out of their little holes and all congregated in the middle, in a perfect triangle. Something wasn’t quite right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

“How about we make it interesting,” I said, and put a few dollars down on the table.

My opponent followed suit, and threw a handful of hundred dollar bills on top of it.

“No!” I shouted. “Too much. I don’t have enough to cover it.” I doubted I would lose, but the way he got the balls to jump out of the holes by themselves, I had an idea that maybe he wasn’t going to play fair this time. That maybe he was trying to out-shark the shark.

“You may as well break, too.” I handed him the stick.

He took his direction from the way I broke last time, aiming the stick very carefully.

I had never seen anyone do this before, and I don’t think I ever will again. I swear to God that fucker hit the one ball in front, and every ball scattered, like the table was a town with a very strict curfew, and they tucked themselves neatly in their little homes. Every ball found a pocket. Every one. Which means even the eight ball. Which means I won! League rules may be different, but I didn’t think these guys knew any better.

I scooped the money off the table and put it in my pocket. “Well, guys, it’s been fun. Hope you enjoy your stay here in our little town.” Then I thought about Uncle Mel and his rules against tourism. “And don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone you’re here.”

I reached out my hand for them to shake it, and they just stared at it like it was a dead cat laying on the side of the road.

“Good-bye!” the blond dude said, and quickly whisked down my trousers and stuck his finger in my bum.

“Good-bye!” said the brunette, and did the same before I could pull my pants back up. If I didn’t know any better, I would say that I was being anally probed.

They both pulled their pants down and bent over, waiting for me to return the favor. This might be the way they shook hands in Albania, but I’d be damned if I was going to go home with stink finger.

Although, I thought as I left the bar, the two tourists waiting there with bare bottoms, if that’s what it takes to get a thousand dollars nowadays, I’ll gladly take a finger in the ass anytime.

 

 

 

I half-stumbled those few blocks home in the pitch dark. Aside from the moon shining, there were no street lamps. Well, let me clarify. There were street lamps, but in this section of town, they couldn’t be bothered putting them on. Despite the town switching to very energy efficient bulbs, the taxpayers still decided against leaving them on past midnight. They were cutting corners left and right, and the way I felt tonight, I thought that that was a very bad move indeed. Although, walking home drunk at such a late hour was also a bad move, but really, who’s keeping score?

The town was eerily quiet. No sound of car tires on the dewy pavement. No shuffle of the random homeless person’s feet. No skittering of little squirrel paws, or other such animal noises. This wasn’t normally a very busy street, even in broad daylight, but the total lack of sound made things feel not quite right. Like I was in a dream or something. There wasn’t any wind; even the weather was dead.

I took the thousand dollars from my pocket and put it in the waistband of my underwear instead. I had a bad feeling about tonight, and I felt it safer if any potential muggers thought I didn’t have anything to steal. Although the government was cracking down on crimes of all types, the rate of theft across the country was at an all time high. People are poor, people get desperate. And I’m not saying what I do for a living is a hundred percent honest, but to steal money right out of someone’s wallet by force? I couldn’t ever, and wouldn’t ever stoop to that level.

Passing the closed-down shops, I caught a whiff of something. The scent of homemade bread permeated from somewhere unspecific. I remembered back to a day when those little shops used to be open. Wal-Mart had completely taken over the country. Although, the Wal-Mart that we all used to know a few years back isn’t the Wal-Mart it is today. It used to be a one-stop shop for all your clothing, cereal, and beer needs. Now that it’s government-run, it is the one-stop shop for all your clothing, cereal, beer, porn, marriage license, hot-air balloon rides, and party planning needs, and so much more. Some of them even have churches in the back, so that you could spend your entire Sunday there if you so chose. There were a few small shops still hanging on, such as the little flower shop I visited earlier, as Wal-Mart flowers tended to die the second you left the store, but the little shops that used to make pastries, little mom and pop music stores, neighborhood pharmacies, all of that was gone in the matter of a couple years. People no longer had the means to pay a little extra for quality; everything they needed was plentiful and cheap, all in one place.

I was staring into the window of an old bread store, the sign on the door still said OPEN. It didn’t matter anymore; everyone knew the store wasn’t OPEN, and it would never be OPEN again. The equipment, dusted in a light coating of flour, all stood at attention, ready to make some delicious pastries. But there would be no more delicious pastries. There would be no more work at all for them. They had become obsolete, and soon they would rust like everything else. I felt bad for them. They looked sad. Their one mission in life, stripped from them. I felt a kinship with them. Like so many Americans, these things had lost their jobs, too. My eyes started to well up. I probably had too much to drink.

This little touching moment didn’t last long, however. From the reflection in the shop window, I noticed two men slowly creeping up on me. I didn’t dare turn around. An arm reached around from behind and I felt something pressed against my throat. A knife. These guys had knives.

“Hey, vato. Hey, homes. Gimme your money and stuff. And turn around slowleee.”

I did. I turned around slowleee. And I noticed something right away. These guys weren’t Mexican at all. Especially not the Macklemore-looking asshole who had the knife against my throat, and was the one doing all the talking. Ever since Mexicans were banned from the country, it became all the rage to talk like them. I don’t know if it was a mockery, or a tribute.

“All right, all right.” I reached in my back pocket for my wallet. “Just don’t hurt me.”

“We’ll churt you if we wanna churt you,” the talking one said.

I opened my wallet, more for show than anything. I knew what was going to be in there. Not a fucking thing.

“Sorry, guys. I spent my last dollar on beers. Is there anything else you want? Hand job or something?”

“No, man, I don’t want no steenking handjob.” He looked at his compadre. “Carlos here just blew me an hour ago.”

I turned toward “Carlos”. He looked no more like a “Carlos” than I did an Ahmed.

I reached into my front pocket and came up with seventy-nine cents.

“H-h-here you go,” I said. “Here’s seventy-nine cents. Go buy yourselves something nice.”

Macklemore shook his head. “Dat’s not gonna cut it, homes. We can’t even divide that chit eeequalee.”

He was right. As dumb as the white dude with the Mexican accent sounded, he sure knew math. This was an odd number. It occurred to me that these guys weren’t messing around, and I was going to be shot if I didn’t think of something quickly.

Just then, a light bulb went off in my head, which did little to illuminate the dark street. I took a penny and threw it down the street. It skipped off the tarmac like a flat stone on water. “There. Now it’s seventy-eight cents. That’s thirty-nine cents each. You can now divide it equally.”

Carlos’ eyes widened, and he spoke for the first time that evening. His breath reeked of Macklemore’s spunk. “He’s right, homes. We can divide that chit eeequalee.”

Macklemore smiled. “Chit, man. Tanks a lot, honky.”

Honky? Really?

“Glad to help a fella out.” I turned to leave. “You gents have a nice evening. Don’t spend it all in one place, now.”

The knife once more appeared against my neck. “You didn’t tink we was gonna letchoo off dat easy, didjoo?”

Fuck.

“What else you got, homes?”

Double fuck. They knew. Somehow, they knew about the thousand dollars in my underwear. Did they see me tuck it in there earlier? I weighed my options. I could run, and risk getting stabbed, or I could play dumb and risk getting stabbed, or I could fork over the cash. The win tonight was a fluke. It would take me months of hustling to win that much cash again. This was a tough call.

“Ummm,” I said. It was as good a response as any.

But Macklemore didn’t like it. His non-knife hand reached around my waist and grabbed my cock and balls, squeezing just hard enough for me to scream, but not hard enough for me to lose consciousness.

“Ummm,” I said again.

“You know what we want, motherfucker. Fork it over, bitch.”

Apparently I moved too quickly for him, because he pushed the blade even harder into my neck. I felt a slight pain, and a trickle of blood flowed down, staining my shirt. He grabbed my nuts even tighter. “Slowleee.”

I slowed down my speed, and started to reach into my underwear. He let go of my balls.

“Woah, woah, wait. I already toldjoo I don’t want none of your sex stuff. Leave dat in your pants. I’m talking about joor wallet.”

“My wallet?” I asked. “It’s empty. You saw that.”

“No, it’s not. Take it out. Slowleee.”

This guy really liked using that word. I did as I was told, and handed the wallet over to Macklemore.

“Here. Take it. It’s a piece of shit wallet, you know that, right? It’s not even real leather.”

“I don’t want joor wallet. All I want is dis.”

He took a picture out of its sleeve. My ex-girlfriend, Janet. I don’t know why I still carried it around with me. Nostalgia or something. She is the only female I have slept with, Starlet aside, and I still sometimes looked at this picture to jerk off to.

“You want that picture?” I asked, incredulous.

“Fuck yeah, cheeze hot. I’m gonna go home and jerk off to her.”

Really? I’d offered him a handy, and he’d rather go home and jerk off? Whatever floats, man.

“Shit, take it. Take all my pictures. My mom’s in there somewhere.”

He shook his head, “Nah, dis’ll do.” He handed me back my wallet. “Now get the fuck out of here before I change my mind and stab you.”

He didn’t need to tell me twice. “Sure thing, man.” I walked away, and shouted over my shoulder, “You know, she’s in a cult, right?”

“Ooh, dat’s illegal,” Macklemore said. “Dat’s even hotter.”

I walked quickly the rest of the way home, thanking Janet for saving my life.

 

June 4, 2031

I sat on my futon staring blankly at the whizzing images on the screen. The whizzing images happened to be a group of young Mexican boys, peeing on the wall. All was status quo in Mexico. Just a few feet away, on the other side of the border, utter chaos.

Bullets were flying, some skillfully aimed from the men and women in uniform, some stray shots obviously fired by people in street camo. Obviously amateurs. The military had a job to do, and they were doing it, regardless of the cost of innocent human lives. They could not betray their government lest they get executed themselves. I’m sure more than a few had tears in their eyes, and years down the road would all be treated for some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. I get it. Those who serve their country are doing it under the guise of fighting for freedom. It has been this way since the beginning of time. But I knew a lot of those brave people knew they were doing something wrong and wanted to just throw down their guns and go the fuck home.

It was the civilian warriors I had the problem with. I can’t believe there were that many, and that not only did our government put their trust in these people, but these people put their trust in the government. They actually did believe in their cause, and they seemed to enjoy eliminating innocent lives. They didn’t see these people as innocent protesters; they saw them as terrorists. They saw them as people who would stop at nothing to tear down the wall, letting the real terrorists on the other side in to ruin the country. Never mind the fact that this was the Mexican border, and the only terrorists over that way were those destined to steal our shitty jobs that we don’t want, and send a little money back home to their families. The twenty dollars a day they made here would go a long way toward little tacos. (I’m talking actual tacos here, I’m not calling the children little tacos.) They were working for their own “greater good”. Some actually were pretty good marksmen, no doubt republicans who had spent their entire lives advocating the deliciousness of guns. Others were firing their errant bullets into the dirt, sky, and the wall itself. Surprisingly, not much harm was being done to the wall; a little dust, perhaps, and a few random flying flakes, but no real structural damage. The military probably provided the firearms, and without a doubt they also provided the ammunition, something that would rip its way through flesh but do very little damage to concrete.

Come on, you idiots, I was thinking. Aim! I had never in my life shot a rifle, except maybe at a duck or an old piano player. On the midway in the carnival, of course. In the real world, I had never shot an old piano player. Or a duck. And those guns sucked. These people were using professional grade shit, and missing.

Then I realized what I was doing. I was rooting for them to hit their targets. What a dumb shit. This is what happens when you watch that much violence on T.V. The American people love that shit. They want people to get all fired up and join their cause. It seems like shooting fish in a barrel, and it is, but there are millions of citizens lined up against the wall, chipping away, minding their own business. This would take a couple years to kill them all. The more people the government gets to fight with them, the quicker it will all go. Showing this all day every day on T.V. was serving another purpose, too. It was keeping any of the other prospective Topplers away. Not all of them, mind you; they still came rushing to the wall in droves. But it most likely slowed the onrush of people down a little.

 

The cameras are perched at the Mexican border, the Canadian border, and all along the coastline. I’ve been sitting here watching this shit for two days straight. I mean, I’m doing other things, like eating, going to the bathroom and getting drunk as fuck, because my eyeballs can only take so much. I can only look so long at the growing pile of bodies, lying there, some of them with dumbass hopeful looks on their faces, like they thought they were making a fucking difference. I suppose they are, in a way, if you want to believe what Carlton and Dave said. They are clearing out D.C. for us to move in. But not one of them dumb, stupid fucks knows anything about what’s really going on. It’s making me sick. I can’t help but think about Starlet again. Is she going to be the next to go? Is she dead already?

I just threw up. The mixture of beer and thinking about Starlet’s lifeless body sent me over the edge. I’m going to call Starlet’s phone again. I tried calling her before earlier. I had to tell her about the Invaders. I didn’t care about the consequences; she needed to know. She needed to get the fuck out of there and come join me in California. We could be a fighting machine. We could have our own weapons and actually be making a difference, and she wouldn’t be just standing there, waiting to get shot like some piano player at the Midway shooting gallery. But I got no answer. I’m going to try her again. Come on, Starlet. Pick up!

No answer again. Voice mail. I’m starting to think the worst.

It’s three a.m. Today’s the day. In just three hours Carlton and Ray are going to pick me up and we’re making the long journey to D.C. I should probably eat something, but I can’t. Maybe we’ll stop somewhere and get some breakfast. My stomach is in knots right now. I’m no fighter, and I know I may be going to my death, too. This is some scary shit. What the fuck am I thinking? But what’s the alternative? Sit home and do nothing? At least folks like Starlet are doing something. No, sitting at home is not an option. Things are only going to get worse, and I’ll be damned if I’m to blame for it by my inaction.

I’m crying. Jesus. These may be the very last words I write, ever.

It’s six o’clock. They’re here. I gotta run. It’s go time.

 

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DAVE! (A Novel from the Future) Part : The Invaders

  • Author: Marc Richard
  • Published: 2016-04-16 16:20:10
  • Words: 28583
DAVE! (A Novel from the Future) Part : The Invaders DAVE! (A Novel from the Future) Part : The Invaders