Sunday, September 28, 2014

Futures End: Teen Titans #1

Five years ago, the world as we know it ceased to be. Luckily, the world as we know it from The Road Warrior came into being. Many people were prepared for this turn of events. Too bad those people were geeks and nerds without any real survival skills. Tragically, they were all rape-murdered by corporate CEOs who, it turned out, were the biggest sociopaths on the planet. Some nerds and geeks survived longer than others due to their proficiency at oral sex. But even these desperate, shameless nerds could not last for long. Eee! Tess Ate Chai Tea gave and gave and gave but eventually, as he knew deep down would happen, he used a little too much teeth. He was thrown into Lightning Dome, a more terrifying version of Thunder Dome, where twenty combatants entered and nineteen left. Mostly because the nineteen were working together to fightfuck the lone other. Eee! Tess Ate Chai Tea lasted thirteen minutes, a good showing but not good enough to be remembered for more than the long weekend.

As it turned out, some of the most depraved and richest CEOs were the biggest fans of Eee! Tess Ate Chai Tea. When the updates stopped (for, you see, DC Comics continued to publish during these post-apocalyptic times although their market share was now worse than Dynamite. In their defense, Gail Simone was being forced to write all of the titles deep within Dynamite headquarters, and all of the titles featured naked lesbians as every character), the CEOs grew desperate for the only written entertainment they could stomach. A new Tess was needed. And who better to take over the job than the monster that delivered the death thrust to Tess, Goggles McDeathhurt.

And now, five years later, Goggles McDeathhurt and Xanadux Rat Wine (Mit Jellied Pinkies) Present: HOLY FUCK! Don’t Put That There Chai Tea! Of course, not everybody in The Dusty Stretches is a fan of the broadcast. One example: Weasel, formerly of The Long Boxes.

"Yer probably wondering why I'm limping, right?"

A woman layered in several different varieties of dust and grime, hair matted against her scalp from grease and sweat, tattered robes of various earth tones trailing from her body, acknowledges the speaker in no way at all.

"That bitch up there. That islander bitch, Goggles, fucking shot me. Fucking cunt. Who does she think she is?"

The woman angles her trajectory slightly so that she slowly, and barely noticeably, begins to drift away from the limping man. She puts one hand on the machete tucked into the fraying rope she wears as a belt. She wants to spit in his direction but decides he isn't worth the moisture.

"Who the fuck does she think she is, anyway?" The limping man glances around and catches the stare of a crazy eyed Asian man just a few feet away. The man's limp gets noticeably worse and he shakes his head and shrugs his shoulders at the staring man, a gesture meant to italicize his earlier complaints and, hopefully, bring the other man into some kind of shared confidence. Instead, the staring man points at Weasel's oozing leg, cackles madly, claps his hands, raises them to the air, and never looks in Weasel's direction again.

"What's wrong with you assholes? You think that whore has some kind of solution to this bullshit life? You think she's gonna save us all?"

"Shut the fuck up," comes a hoarse grumble from a direction Weasel isn't looking. He glances back toward the sound of the voice and tries to match it to a dirty, miserable, dusty face. But he has to admit it could have come from any one of these poor wretches.

"Oh! Who would have guessed? Flyshit bravery from you pathetic fools! Classic! Fucking cowards, the lot of you!" Weasel feels better getting in the last word but he is too disheartened to continue his lament. If they're going to treat me like the last dog on earth, they don't deserve to hear the truth, he thinks to himself in consolation. He can't understand why these people followed a person that convinced them to not only leave their homes but to burn them to the ground as well. The only reason he followed was because being alone outside of a city, especially at night, was suicide, plain and simple. This group offers, at the very least, protection from creatures and people that prey on lone travelers and easy marks. So Weasel shuts the fuck up because he isn't willing to be left behind, and he isn't ready to die terrified and alone.

Weasel shuts the fuck up and he trudges along toward an unknown destination with everybody else. He decides he's said enough. Everybody knows where he stands by now, so now it's time for him to keep his ears open. Others must exist within this group who are as disgruntled as he is. And the longer they march, the hungrier they get, the longer it takes to find out any information about what the fuck they're going to do, the more likely people will begin to turn to his side. In a desperate situation like this, all Weasel needs do is wait.

That night, he searches amidst the small clusters of strangers around separate, blazing fires for faces he does not recognize. When he finds one, he gestures at his leg, and at the ground, and a place is quickly made for him. A woman with two small children loans him an extra pillow where he can rest his leg, and a tall blond man leans over and offers him a flask. Before Weaseal can take it, the man gasps slightly and reaches out with his other hand to pull back Weasel's bandage. The bullet wound is red, and raw, and oozing. The man bites his lower lip and, without asking for Weasal's consent, pours a little alcohol directly into the wound. Weasel emits a sharp, quick scream before looking shocked and wide eyed at the man with the flask. The man fixes the bandage, gives Weasel's thigh a hearty squeeze, and he proffers the flask once more. Weasel smiles uneasily, accepts the gift, and takes three long swallows of some low grade moonshine. He coughs, wheezes a bit, and hands the flask back to the beaming man, happy to share his concoction with a new face. Nobody offers him any food because nobody seems to have any. If they've eaten, they do not say. They remain quiet until a sallow skinned teenaged girl brings out a battery operated radio. The others smile. Some sit up straighter, eager for the broadcast about to begin. Others lie back on scruffy, flea-covered blankets. Weasel just stares into the fire, praying they won't be listening to HOLY FUCK! Don't Put That There Chai Tea but knowing, before the static on the radio clears and Goggle's voice can begin to speak, that no gods are left to hear his prayer.

Goggles discusses the comic book "Futures End: Teen Titans #1" but Weasel only half-listens. He watches the faces of the seven strangers around the fire. They laugh at her jokes, a few of them cry when she discusses her old friend Skates and how he promised he and the others would give her the time she needed to get to some creep named Shortystuff. He and several others apparently died giving her that time, and that chance to get at Shortystuff. But though they gave her plenty of time, she never got the chance. It was all for naught and she never found Shortystuff. Most around the fire seem to agree with her future plans as she points out how Teen Titans speaks to her goals. It tells a story of rebellion and the end of corruption, about fighting back against those who think money can buy the lives and futures of the non-wealthy. Some grunt affirmations or dig their hands in the dirt as they're caught up in her decrying the richies and their way of life. But one, the man with the flask, looks sad through most of it, and he shakes his head often as he scratches a long stick in the dirt.

"A better way? Harumph," he mutters at one point. He does not argue, or condemn, or say one word of his feelings to the others. But Weasel senses in him a kindred hurt, and a deep, overwhelming sense of loss and sorrow. The world is shit and this man with the flask sees what Weasel sees...sees what Goggles cannot see...that any way to make the world better for some will only make the world worse for others. Weasel doesn't want Goggles' world, whatever the fuck it might be. And Weasel sees that this man, this stranger, this soon-to-be confidant and friend, does not trust her vision either. Weasel lies back without reaching out to this man. Not tonight. There will be time and tonight, the pain in his leg seems to have sent tendrils up through his stomach, and down near to the bottom of each foot. Too much walking, he thinks. If I could just rest, let it heal properly, everything will be okay. I could maybe even leave this group, or fight back. He smiles weakly at the thought of doing to Goggles what she did to him and his friends. He rolls over, putting his weight on his good leg, and, breathing shallowly, he falls asleep.

Weasel dies three hours later.

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