Thursday, December 1, 2011

A World Without God - Strike Me Down

[Originally posted at Slacktivist (page 8).]
[Note that "fearless leader" is a codename (because if you can't find humor in your codenames, where can you?), the narrator is so used to using it that even though there is no reason for it anymore, that's still what he says.]

Hello darkness, my old friend.

The Antichrist is dead, and it brings me no joy. I slept through the whole ordeal. I know that it was one of the most important moments in human history. I know that we saw it coming years ago so I can't say I wasn't given advanced warning. But there's this whole time difference thing and I was tired.

I saw what happened anyway. Had a vision. The'd set up the stage for the event in a closed box of bullet proof glass. That's what they called it anyway, but to my eyes it seemed more like bullet resistant multilayered plastic of some kind. Locks on the doors that were electronic and supposedly unpickable, which is impossible but they've never been known for their humility or honesty.

So there was Declan, largely undisputed ruler of the world, cut off from all of humanity. Even his security forces were left outside of the enclosure. The perfect time for an assassination. Sure enough, this was the time Fearless Leader chose to strike.

He was trusted enough to get close, involved enough in the preparations to move his weapon in ahead of time, and apparently knew how to bork an electronic lock. For three and a half years he'd been within an arm's reach of Declan and been forced to do nothing, knowing that Declan was protected. Occasionally having to step around the charred remains of those who tried to kill Declan too soon, reminded, he once told me, by the smell of burned flesh of why he had to stay his hand.

He never said anything about it, but I know that sometimes he wanted to try anyway. We've all had times we didn't want to face another day, and if you're going to die who wouldn't want their last act to be trying to kill the Antichrist? I assume that what stopped him was the knowledge that one day it could be done, one day Declan's protection would lapse.

He'd been waiting for this day, you could hear it in his voice every time he talked about a failed assassination attempt or people wanting to take more direct action. It's a shame it didn't go down the way he wanted.

Fearless got inside the safe space, Declan turned off the microphones. He didn't want anyone but his killer to hear what he had to say. Some of us have visions you dumb fuck. And what he had to say was unexpected for someone facing death by katana.

He said, "I was starting to think you'd never come." It wasn't false bravado, it wasn't a lack of understanding of what was happening. It was calm with a hint of annoyed impatience. Fearless Leader faltered.

Declan was still facing the controls for the sound system. "Come now, I'm ready."

My contact, my boss, my friend, was confused. He clearly didn't know what to think. He tried to regain his resolve, he said, "You're not going to talk your way out of this," but it was less a statement of fact than a desire. Like shouting, 'You can't trick me,' when you're not convinced the other person is lying. His tone revealed his uncertainty.

Declan explained, in that condescending way that he does. "Did you think it was an accident I kept you around these last years? Did you think it was divine providence that the only interpretation of your religion that made it passed my censors was the one that said I would die now? Did you think it was God who arranged for you to be in a position to steal that sword from a museum? Did you think I left the security outside this one time out of pure coincidence? I want this.

"A year ago, a month ago, even ten days ago I would have fought this tooth and nail. I wasn't ready then. There were preparations yet to be made. But now... oh but now I'm ready. The world is ready." Can a vast network of disgusting fleshy tendrils stretching throughout the globe like a web of ick and nerve fiber be said to purr? I think it can. I think it can and I think it did. I think that the network of cancerous material that's made its way thorough our sewers and storm drains, that lies hidden in our walls, that grows in our infrastructure and makes it's way through our cords and electronics and toasters heard what Declan said and responded.

I think it knew that this was the reason it had been set to grow, this day was its purpose. And I think it knew something akin to joy and expectation.

Declan faced my friend, opened his arms wide, and said, "Strike me down and I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." No. Just, no. The most evil thing to crawl out of the depths of nightmares in the whole of human history should not be allowed to quote Obi Wan Kenobi.

Fearless said, "I hate you," and put away his sword.

"You're going to do it."

"If you want to die, kill your own damn self." He walked toward the door and started trying to break the covering off the lock's electronics by bashing it with the hilt. Probably not the best solution, but given time it was clear that either he or the security team outside, desperately trying to get in all this time, would open the door.

"You will kill me."

"If you'd wanted me to do it, you shouldn't have told me it would be helping you."

"Now where would the fun in that be? You're going to do it, and you're going to do it knowing that it's what I want, that it's part of my plan. Power is the ability to make people will what they do not wish."

And my friend turned back to the Antichrist. "Only you would quote Atreus."

"But Atreus realized too late that it would have been all the sweeter if his brother knew what he had been doing as he did it. I'm not that shortsighted. When this is over I will have no regrets. You will do it knowing what you do. You will execute my plan."

And Fearless Leader turned away. "No, I won't."

"The Hebron Reeducation center."

And suddenly Fearless was in a state of noticeable terror. His voice remained calm, his body did not. The absolute stillness of the rest of him contrasted the racing of his heart, and the look in his eyes was one of purest dread. His voice remained emotionless as he asked, "What about it?"

"It's nothing much, just a facility for holding the children of dissidents. Only a few hundred children, ages ranging from 15 and a half to 21 and two months."

"I know that," Fearless snapped, "What about it?"

"You're planning a rescue. You're planning to use the distraction that comes from killing me to get them all out without a single casualty. It's a good plan. It will work. If you follow the plan. Or you could let me live, the high explosives I've wired throughout the reeducation center will go off, and your worthless little children will die.

"Then I'll find someone else to kill me and ascend to godhood later."

Fearless turned back to Declan, One hand on the hilt, the other on the scabbard, still unsure of what to do.

Declan continued, "I don't care what happens to those pathetic creatures, you can take them. They'll be killed along with the rest of you anyway. But it doesn't matter what I care about. You care. That's why you're going to do what I want now, and that's why your side will lose in the end.

"The explosives are wired to a heart monitor, they will go off if my heart is sti-"

The blade didn't quite cut through Declan's skull, and it didn't quite break through it. It did something between the two. A mess of brain and bone.

Not long afterward, the security team finally overrode the supposedly unbeatable electronic lock. Fearless killed three of them before he died. I don't think that's bad for someone who brought a sword to a gun fight.

The raid on the reeducation center went off without a hitch. One could claim that Declan decided to keep his word for any number of reasons, I think it was because of what he said to Fearless Leader, now departed, he wanted my friend to know exactly what he was doing as he did it. He wanted him to know that he had been manipulated, know exactly the extent to which he had been manipulated, and do what the manipulator wanted him to do all the same.

And the unholy network of the earth is humming. I think Declan's plan, whatever it actually is, is working.



  1. The Antichrist quoting Obi-wan Kenobi there was truly awesome.

  2. This series is my favorite of all your writings. I think it's far enough from the LB source that it's even publishable. Every time I finish one installment, I'm left wanting more.

    1. I think it's far enough from the LB source that it's even publishable.

      I actually think so too. I think this, Where Antichrists Come from, and Not Even the Angels in Heaven all are probably far enough from being Left Behind based fiction that they're publishable.

      The problem is actually writing it.

  3. I kind of wish the anthology idea at Ramblings had started off with apocalypse stuff, since several people have great head starts.