I’ve been kicking around possible titles for this story, which will hopefully be made into a graphic novel some day and render me wildly rich, and the best I could come up with was Polar, as in the polarized nature of our country and the potential for civil war. I’ll welcome any suggestions. Anyway, the story continues (for the one person genuinely reading this). As always, positive and negative feedback, so long as they are constructive, is totally helpful:
Miles beneath the Earth’s surface, in a bunker of his own design, shivered Edward T. Rossignol. He quaked with fear. He shook with excitement. He quivered at the raw power before him. The Red Button. “All dreaded it, all sought to avert it,” he said out loud. “All dreaded it… and all sought to avert it.” His finger crept closer to the button, backed away, darted forward and retracted back to his side with lightning speed, an insecure cobra, a predator unaware of what it should naturally choose to hunt.
Edward was twitchy. His nerves were frayed and shot from near-overdose on caffeine, bloodshot eyes darting around the dark, ill-equipped computer console that lay before him. He hadn’t slept in 82 hours and wasn’t sure if it was the darkness of this place, his thoughts about the world crumbling all around him, the caffeine, the voices he couldn’t silence.
His Inner Sanctum, as he called it, was nothing more than a poorly built bomb shelter (albeit, built literally miles beneath the Earth), equipped with black and green computer screens that dimly illuminated the command console beneath them; gobs of wires wadded together with black electrical tape, duct tape with little bathtub-friendly rubber duckies on them; used office chairs around the 10′ x 10′ room; all manner of junk food wrappers, soda bottles, cones of coffee grounds towering over the rims of mesh garbage cans, and a corpse lay on the ground. Edward wasn’t quite sure who the corpse belonged to, what their name was.
It had to be done in the name of saving. Saving humanity. In the afterlife, they would be made to understand. The first necessary sacrifice… one of many to come.
Edward’s mission in life had been to obtain a career in computer science, or at least acquire a moderate position in the field known as “IT.” As a boy, Edward’s parents had told him he could grow up to be anything he wanted, so long as it earned a respectable wage. It was his father he nudged him toward technology, the only way he knew to thwart Big Government’s attempts to infiltrate his cell phone, his privacy, his thoughts.
Automatons and even software, apps, coding were replacing what had typically been human functions. Assembly lines no longer saw flesh and blood driving production; instead, the only humans to be found were supervisors and glorified mechanics, greasers of the wheels, placaters of the techno-army.
Edward saw the writing on the wall, invested his very soul into becoming a technomancer, one who could manipulate the coding, the robots, the zeroes and ones as a magician might make flowers appear from their sleeve. Sure, he had megalomaniacal visions as a young man, but nothing compared to the beauteous vision laid out before him. Utter manipulation of technospace and cyberspace, the wires and volts and viruses and all of it at his command, leaping up for him at a finger snap.
During his time spent acquiring knowledge of all things technological, software-related, as he bought lunches day after day for programmers and builders, masters of keyboards and soldering irons, he began to read writing not yet on the wall. The robots, as he still called them (fully aware that this was a gross oversimplification), even the unseen ones, the apps, the software, would slowly replace mankind. His education was for naught. He would go nowhere as a technomancer. The wheels would eventually grease themselves, think for themselves, act for themselves.
“Skynet. Judgement Day. Mechanical revelation, software-based rapture.”
He would have to rise above even this ambition, his dream of waving his arms and creating and destroying at-will.
However, all of his knowledge still provided him with weapons more powerful than he could have initially imagined. As reports of Russian and North Korean meddling in elections and American infrastructure continued to mount, Rossignol saw the value of cyber terrorism. The power of information. Secrets. He knew he had to stop all of the bad in this country, perhaps the world (some day), with his magician-like powers, his magical manipulations of waves and codes and zeroes and ones.
Edward T. Rossignol hacked the White House, the Office of the National Security Adviser, the Pentagon, and on and on. Edward found power unlimited and knew that he would have one chance to use it.
“All dreaded it, all sought to avert it.” The thought of Civil War drove Edward mad. He knew the true enemy was technology, the very institution that gave him his own power. Edward knew he had to level the field. Hit the reset button. Start over again.
This war was just another reason for The Button. They needed to be shown the error of their ways. Party bickering would not fix the broken nation and it certainly would not stop the unseen threat that lay before every man woman and child across the globe.
Edward knew, one day, he would have to push The Button.
Now, he sat amidst Styrofoam coffee cups and cellophane bags of Twinkies, watching news of four different screens, his finger almost continually on The Button.
His time would come.
“All dreaded it, all sought to avert it.”
“Come Piercer, come Puncher, ’tis time to sing thy battle song!” bellowed McClintock, Walrus-like, fleshy corpus animated to a terrifying degree, hysterical glee in her voice and a horrifying gleam in her eye. “Not time to stop until we’ve filled young Prumpt, dreamerfool, full of lovely holes, until we can wash ourself in his gloriously filthy blood. This will show the fucksticks and darkie-lovers the true way; there is NO stopping McClintock, no pass beyond my Constituents, no future in Americaland for shit-eating ragheads and their foolish ilk.”
Prumpt trudged onward, breath ragged from exertion and the pain in his shoulder. For the moment, Protester had become a makeshift walking stick. He reserved his strength for the battle to come, McClintock wheeling into view and occupying his vision. He felt as if his sight should have gone red, but it did not; he was too level-headed for that, too calm, and saved his energy, his focus, his subdued rage.
“Dismount your steed, McClintock, or are you afraid to face me on the feet god gave you, should they withstand your weight?”
“Dreamer and ass, I shall stand before thee and deliver thee to thy sleeping place, feasting mound for maggots and Mexicans alike.”
“What?” he muttered to himself, vaguely glimpsing the insanity he had once guessed at, now knew to be true. This McClintock… her blind supporters… it was a type of madness none had seen before. For Centrists (now long since gone into hiding, publicly executed, or enslaved by one side or the other), this type of thought inspired madness long ago. Prumpt was only just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg in McClintock’s self-absorbed mania, power-hungry lifestyle and demeanor… gauging the mass of what lay beneath the surface thusly, Prumpt felt a little madness creep into the edges of his own psyche, the first numbings of intoxication, vision blurring in the peripheral, a surreal, waking drunkenness setting in. He grinned, albeit slightly.
McClintock dismounted her steed, leaned it on a nearby Constituent in an ashen suit with a long, serious expression and a baseball bat wrapped with razor wire.
“Face thy fucking doom, dreamerfool, and know for finality that your endeavors, your plights were over before they began. Prepare to embrace deadengone, and join the Heebs and Beans and Watermelon-lovers I’ve already sent to the cold, Centrist pit of hell.”
Prumpt finally grasped it well: there was no rationalizing, there was no moralizing, there was no logic. She was a monster from hell, a monster of greed and consumption and blind hate, blind rage, blind power-addiction; she may not have even hated those she claimed to hate, for she simply sought power for powers’ sake. The outright hatred simply put her on the pedestal, gained her an army of blind, hating cacodeamons.
He leaped at her; she surged toward him.
Prumpt feinted upward, as if to raise Protester and bring it down on her skull; then quickly ducked down and began to swing Protestor in an upward motion, preparing a home run for the ages. The blow would be strong enough, and positioned just right, to eviscerate the mad queen, spilling her black bowels out across the Earth, presumably opening a fresh gateway to hell.
McClintock visibly raised Puncher over her head in her left hand, presumably aiming to poke a pretty hole in the skull of that dreamerfool, that idealist, that Jew-loving Communist. In her right hand, hidden from sight, Piercer lay coiled and ready to dive into Prumpt’s very vulnerable heart, the folds in her forearm and bicep reflecting the crests and troughs in the crowd, the mad energy, the frantic glee, the deep sorrows past and prsent. Soon, victory would be hers.
Time slowed down.
Lefters and Constituents, it was noticed, had stopped; most of them held cell phones aloft, snapping pictures and filming the now slow-motion scene. Nay, many of them had not raised a finger to fight and had been observed snapping selfies, taking videos, posting on their Timeline pages and Chumster apps, of all things.
The fray dropped dead, went silent, waited with bated breath. Prumpt’s eviscerating blow had nearly reached the bulging edge of McClintock’s belly; Puncher neared Prumpt’s skull while Piercer began it’s forward progress into Prumpt’s rapidly beating heart.
Edward T. Rossignol pushed The Button.
Bystanders weren’t sure if it was the blows themselves, or the force of the swing, or even the hand of God. Judgement was meted out. First, it was the sound, and then the sight, of the blast and the mushroom cloud. It wasn’t the first; it wouldn’t be the last.
Then, all-consuming flame swept through the crowd, claimed Prumpt and Mcclintock as they stood wrapped around each other in an eternal death embrace.
The crowd, the bits of trash blowing in the street, the Lefters and Constituents all were blasted to ash, then blown far into the distance.
Edward T. Rossignol had pushed The Button.