The New American Apocalypse, Pt. 8

(Have you been enjoying The New American Apocalypse?  Feel like helping a poor author?  For only ten cents a day–paid for a couple months in advance–you can feed a starving artist.  All you have to do is purchase the paperback or eBook copy of either No Reflection or No Grave!  And, if you’ve already read them, why not review them?  Isn’t it worth it to know you’ve saved a young adult from starvation?

And, if you’re interested, you can also check out Issue #38 of Sanitarium Magazine, featuring one of my short stories, “A Man Wakes Up Any Morning.”)

(In the meantime, please enjoy The New American Apocalypse, a semi-improvisational foray into the genre of Political Horror.

Table of Contents: Part One; Part Two; Part Three; Part Four; Part Five; Part Six; Part SevenPart Nine; Part Ten; Part Eleven; Part Twelve; Part Thirteen; Part Fourteen; Part Fifteen; Part Sixteen;

Part Eight:…)


Of course, we all always knew that reality television was a sedative, didn’t we?  But the concept that it functions on this magnitude, that Mutant Super Police could prowl the streets while M’Ra Cultists chop up journalists and the Church of the New American Jesus conquers DC and…and people are still sitting there, asses glued to seats, watching celebrities pretend to cry on camera?  Watching clever editors cut the world together into trite sound effects and misleading dialogue?

“How did this happen?” I ask, on my second glass of scotch on the rocks.  “How the hell did this happen?”  (I wish I could say I say it half-exclamatorily, but at this point my energy is deflating, my hope shriveling up like a man’s balls after a dip in ice cold water.)

“It was always happening,” the Voice, Mr. Ballard, tells me.  “The People have been hypnotized by daytime television for so long it’s hardly worth noting.  Come.  We’ll talk in the Liberty Den.”

Generally, we refer to this room as merely The Den, because it is just that: a den.  But every team of heroes, however motley, needs to have a fancy name for their headquarters, especially in times of strain and conflict.  So, ‘the den’ becomes ‘the Liberty Den,’ though its inherent function doesn’t change.  Some couches, a couple chairs, a large, beautifully sculpted coffee table topped in crystal, etc… the decor and purpose of the room isn’t changed with its title.  It’s just a den.  Don’t get too excited.

In the Liberty Den, we find the Sleeper Agent (Mr. Conrad and, once more, there’s no relation insofar as I’m aware) staring at the television, mouth agape in consternation.  He is slender and lean, wearing a tailored suit and a silk scarf.  Don’t let his appearance fool you!–he’s just as much at war with the Dark Powers That Be as any of the rest of us, he’s just approaching from a different angle.  Espionage.  Infiltration.  Et cetera.

“What’s on the Feed?” Ballard asks.

“I can’t…I just…” Conrad shakes his head, buries his face in his hands.  I turn my attention to the screen and see what has him so wearied: in DC, the Church of the New American Jesus has built crosses out of old CRT television sets and the M’Ra cultists are showing a constant stream of veiny cocks being jerked off.  Cannibals and zeds stand in the glow of the screens, praying.  I sputter on my drink, only managing to choke it down by reminding myself how much a single sip would cost, had I not stolen them.

The horror, indeed.

“One must imagine,” Ballard says, “that these are curated cocks.  Surely not every member of the M’Ra cult can have such massive equipment.”

“I’ve seen enough curated cock to last the rest of my natural life,” Ms. Bradbury plucks the open bottle of scotch from my hand.  “Turn that shit off,”

The shit is turned off.  There will be no cumshots tonight, ladies and gentlemen.  Not if we can help it.

Conrad, Sleeper Agent and Man in Havana Supreme, turns his eyes toward me.  “You blacked out?”

“That I did.”

“So you…you have no idea what you did?” he continues.

“That I don’t.”

“We thought it better to consult you before we dumped it on him,” Ms. Bradbury pours herself a couple fingers of scotch and takes a sip.  “Considering his state…sorry, honey, but it’s true, you’re a mess…it might be a little much for him.”

“I was just going to leave him to the Scanners,” Mr. Swift shrugs.

“Stop,” Anna huffs.  “Really.”

I drain the rest of my glass and clear my throat.  “So,” I say, “I propose, then, lady and gentlemen, that I very quickly have another swig of very nice scotch, and you tell me what I did that was so…was so…”

I can’t find a word to describe the magnitude of the situation.

The Poems of the Apocalypse,” Anna replies.

“The what?” having never heard of this bit of work, myself.

“You wrote a shitty book.”

Another shitty book,” Mr. Swift contends.

“Hey now!” I start, but then…I’m not exactly cranking out masterpieces, am I?

“Anyway, it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back or whatever,” Anna goes in on her drink, apparently quite thirsty (or trying to avoid a hangover after her earlier drunkenness…hair of the dog or the dog entire or just the parts of the dog most useful to her).

“So you’re mad at me because…because I wrote a shitty book of poems?”

The shitty book of poems,” Mr. Swift picks up, “a book of such awful poetry and prose and utter nihilism, a work of such searing cynicism and senseless rage, of such hopelessness and helplessness, lacking all substance, in such fragmented, nonsense verse that it just…well…” he gestures at the dead-black television screen.  “Now we’ve got that.  Nobody fighting back, nobody voting, nobody bothering to stand up for their neighbors, their community, their basic civil rights… while these new monsters trample all over them, while these dark forces tear us apart.”

I sit down next to Anna.  On the one hand, yes, this seems like a relatively small change, a minor footnote in America’s acceleration toward The End, and yet…I was supposed to be the scribe of the group!  I was meant to play the Bard to those Paladins who Fought The Good Fight…and instead I’d betrayed them, thrown them under the bus in one of my moods, turned away from them to offer supplication to Dark Forces and Evil Entities…to support the Heart of Darkness pulsing in the center of our nation.  The camel was huffing and puffing over the dunes, to begin with, and I, for one reason or another, felt it necessary to shower it with blackened, poorly-edited poems of the nihilistic apocalypse?  What had possessed me during those two blackout weeks?  What awful things had I turned to?…

The answers will all have to wait.

Now isn’t the time for self-pity or self-loathing or the myopic pursuit of my blackout memories.  Now is the time to rally.  To set right what I wronged.  To finish this glass of scotch and pour myself another and top off Anna’s glass and slump back down on the couch and shake my head and figure the rest of it out maybe tomorrow morning after we shake off our various hangovers, yes, I think tomorrow is the best place to start, sometime after the sun rises and all the ghastly creatures running amok in the streets have gone in to work…

“Shit,” I mutter.  “I really fucked up.”

Ballard turns a sarcastic eye toward me, “Really?  You think so?”

“Um.  Yes?”

Well, at least I can still make them laugh.

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I'm a writer of horror, dark sci-fi, and dark fantasy.