Friday, November 7, 2014

Futures End: Red Lanterns #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, as Goggles McDeathhurt and her lost tribe continue to wander the Dusty Stretches (We'll get back to Goggles soon!), a sinister, calm voice fills the airwaves. Tuning and scanning can't seem to get rid of it, only turning the radio off spares one from the slow, methodical toneless drone. Many ears hear the broadcast even though it meant for just a single pair.
I know you're out there, Girly. I've got some things to say to you. Maybe they won't seem to make sense. Maybe they won't seem appropriate to this...situation that's cropped up between us. But you listen well. You fuckin' listen.

I've been having this recurring dream. In it, I'm an old man. I'm bent over and white haired. I'm in the backyard of some suburban house in the years before what you have labeled The Dusty Stretches. I'm searching for something, desperately. I can feel the panic building as I push bushes out of the way and knock over cans of yard debris. I'm heading deeper into this backyard which is now full of old, decaying wood furniture and rusty tin sheds. I see a flash out of the corner of my fur? The fear lifts as I realize he's okay. Samson is okay. He's just lost and hungry and alone. I call out to him.

"Samson! Samson! Come here, kitty. Come here!" He responds. A short, loud cry. But he doesn't appear. He stays hidden. Something has him frightened and he's not going to come out. I glance over my shoulder, suddenly fearful myself. But it's only me reacting to Samson's fear. Right? My old eyes are blurry and I see only dim shapes and darkness behind me. A cloud passes over and everything in my field of vision dims even more. That's when I see it. A large, tall shape fifteen feet behind me, mostly hidden in the darkness of a large oak. I think I hear it snort. My knees buckle slightly.

" Samson. Come on out, Samson," I say, my voice shaking, cracking, barely audible. The clouds move on and the yard brightens. I now cannot see anything in the shadows by the tree and I convince myself I never did anyway. These old eyes see more blur than reality anyway, I think.

Something rubs against my leg and my chest seizes up. Pain flares across my chest from my left arm up through my sternum, settling tightly around everything. My legs fail to let me jump but I hear Samson's curious meow before I can even glance down at him rubbing up on my shin. His tail shakes at a frenetic pace as he curls around and between my legs. He yowls once more and I reach down to stroke him. My good kitty. Good, good kitty. But my hand never touches his fur. He's gone like a shot and I hear another snort, directly above the back of my head. I feel a blast of hot breath, causing condensation and goose pimples to spring up all along my neck and back.

I fall to my knees and hear one of them crack. I don't feel the pain. I'm only thinking of Samson and how he'll never see me again. He'll never feel secure in my lap. He'll never rub his head urgently up against my hand, or grab greedily at it as I stop petting him. Will he wonder where I've gone? Will he think his best friend deserted him? Will he be hurt, confused, heartbroken?

I think I feel a rough, hairy hand grasp my neck but, at this point, I cannot tell reality from fantasy. I have gone as far through the labyrinth as I was able, lucky enough to have as much time as I did, and now the monster has finally caught me. What it is, I do not know. Does it matter? When this life ebbs from what was once a brimming, biological community to transform us into a decaying bag of bones...does it matter how or why? I fall forward and hear more bones crack...ribs, an arm, maybe my spine. I'm staring out ahead and think I see...I don't know for sure...I can't tell anything for sure...Samson's eyes. Two golden eyes shining out from a dark window under one of the rusting sheds. The vision quickly disappears in a swirl of joyful tears and I wake.

That's the first thing I wanted to share with you, Goggles. Maybe you'll understand why. I can't fucking tell with you, you know. Are you as smart as I think you are? Just lucky? Charismatic? What the fuck are you, hunh?

Times...times like these, a man doesn't need this kind of shit, you know? I've got shit upon shit upon shit to deal with and I do not need your shit as well. You might think you've been successful when you hear me say that but I assure you, you have done nothing but harm yourself. You don't go poking sticks into a nest of hornets, Girl. You don't fucking poke me or mine. You know what you should do? And I'm giving you this advice for when you meet my men on the road's what you do: you fucking get down on your knees and you grovel and you fucking say "sir" as many fucking times as you can think to say it. You know what you don't do to someone like me, or them that are my own? You don't fucking spit on us, Goggles. You just fucking don't do that.

So. Anyway. You've got me all riled up and I swore I wasn't going to get all riled up over a fucking corpse but, well, here we fucking are. Now I'm probably going to fuck up this second thing I wanted to tell you because I've lost my fucking calm and I'm losing my fucking shit and it's because of you and your stupid pull over these stupid fucking drug-addled peasants. But I'm going to try to say this nicely. I'm going to calm down here...take a few breaths...and I'm going to say this second thing I've been wanting to say to you.

Okay. Deep breaths. Calming breaths. A few sips of warm tea. And, here we go. I truly hope you'll listen.

It's not too late, Goggles. Walk away. Sneak away from your life under the cover of darkness and go find a fucking hole to crawl into and never stick your head out of it again. I don't fucking care about you, see? You're a fucking gnat and I don't care if you wind up smashed against a rolled up newspaper or somehow find your way out of an open window. I just want you fucking gone. And I know you know this third thing I'm going to tell you. You've lived your entire Dusty Streches Life living by this bit of philosophy: living is better than dying. The people who surround you now will fall back into the day to day monotony of life at the bottom of the food chain. Archivist Melville will go back to collecting books and magazines and video games. And you...well, I've already told you, I don't fucking care what you go back to. Just fucking go.

Goddamn. My stomach is just doing cartwheels here. You might not think it...not after what happened between us in St. Louis...but I truly, truly despise conflict. It's unseemly. It upsets digestion. It causes...palpitations. So please. When my men meet your little group on the road, do not be there. If you are not there, everybody goes free. Everybody goes back to the city. Everybody forgets this little revolution ever fucking happened. If they find you, well...I have a lot of bullets, Goggles. So think on it. You've probably got a day or two to make your decision.

Before I go, I have one final thing for you, Goggles. It's a gift. A courier will bring it to soon. After you get the gift, realize you have very little time left to make your choice. But please, stick around for the gift. I went to a lot of trouble getting it for you. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

I truly hope you like the gift, but iff you don't like it, well, at least don't be angry.

Good night, Goggles. Good night.

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