The worm turns and turns

Oh my God, Sean Spicer. Between the bizarrely one-sided fight against Dippin’ Dots, the fact that nearly all of his daily sugar intake occurs before noon and comes from chewing gum and the public Venmo account which he uses primarily to pay people back for M&M’s, he’s pretty America’s awkward little brother. And he speaks for the President of the United States. Honestly, if there was a single ounce of him that wasn’t complete dick we’d all be in love with the guy. There’d be Tumblrs devoted to pictures of him and a popular meme would circulate about how great it would be to take his virginity.


Talmadge Burnham, a man whose name made as much sense as the short, declarative pronouncements he was fond of uttering, peeked out from over the edge of his desk, which he was half-crouching under after hearing a bomb go off somewhere inside the High Palisades. Bureaucrats and administrators were running frantically, occasionally brushed brusquely out of the way by slower, more purposefully moving security forces. In the rushing pell mell, Burnham spotted a familiar, if unfriendly face. “General Onrel, General Onrel! What is going on?” The air around Burnham’s mouth turned momentarily shimmered with color and the edges and corners of the tapestries that hung on his wall fluttered. His powers were blunt and obvious under the best of circumstances. Now that he was panicking they were virtually pouring out of him uncontrolled.

Onrel stopped on a dime, pivoted on his heels and looked into confusionmancer’s office. Talmadge saw the man had a look on his face of pure, premeditated intent which, once the general’s eyes landed on him, changed to one of angry surprise. Without saying a word, General Onrel pointed his sidearm into the chaos-shaper’s office and fired two bullets, both well over Burnham’s head but still sent him completely under his desk none the less.

When he emerged again the General was long gone but the sense of ruinous calamity that pervaded the building had only increased. Burnham turned and, looking out one of his windows, saw angry mobs storming over the High Palisades’ protective walls and swarming up it’s defensive trenches. “No, no, no.” At his words the window fogged up and bowed slightly outward from its frame as though it were cellophane with a bit of slack.

He turned again, out another window he saw guards shooting wildly into crowds of people, halting a few, but never enough of them to avoid being wrestled down to the ground by the mass of bodies propelling towards the High Palisades’ doors, which would hold but not forever.

“This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening.” Abruptly the battle outside Talmadge’s office ended, the rioters and the soldiers danced with each other and flowers bloomed from the churned earth where they pirouetted. Without warning the window exploded, shards of glass nicking at Burnham’s soft skin and a rock the sized of a grown man’s fist impacting against his shin. Through the shattered pane he could see someone with a bandana over their face, their eyes boring into his. The intruder ran off, pushed on by the mob.

Burnham spun to the other window again. “This can’t be. No.” A sickly mixture of blood and mucous spilled in rivulets from the twin bullet holes notched in the wall between the windows.

He spun to his open office door. “No, please. No. No.”

He spun to the intact window. “No.”

He spun to the broken window. “Oh, God.” He spun again to the door. “Help me, please.”

He spun and spun and spun and when the spinning stopped the man was gone.

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Stuck in this hole, forever

Another classic-style Basket of Deplorable Writing Prompts entry because, I don’t know. Why not?

This one is inspired by a comment written by a certain MrFish in response to an article in the Independent about how Jared Kushner is not the most garbage-person in President Trump’s orbit.

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Arthur and Trent had been stuck in that complex system of caves and caverns for nearly a week, supplies in dangerously short supply now and stupid, irrational, rage-prone fear clawing its way through the brave facade then men had worn for each other’s sake.

“You’re leading us in circles.” Arthur’s voice was flat and dull, any hint of vibrancy had long been stripped like old varnish.

“I’m not, damn it. I’m not.” By comparison, Trent was full up on emotion, so much so that it poured itself out of every syllable he spoke now, no matter how mundane the sentiment.

“I want to say that I can’t believe I’m going to die down here with you, but I kind of can. Of course I would die under a mountain with you.”

“Shut up now. Just shut up.” The dry, cracked skin on Trent’s hand sheared open as he stumbled trying to find a handhold up a nearly shear rock wall that, truthfully, he was pretty certain they had climbed a few days ago. “Aw, shit, man. God damn it!” Trent showed his hand, sticky and black in the thin light from their dying flashlight, to Arthur.

“I’ll take the lead. You stay there, I’ll try and find a way up.” Arthur brushed limply past Trent, who collapsed to the cold ground, cradling his bad left hand in his less-bad right hand. “For real though, you were being crushed under a mountain of debt, crushed under two divorces, crushed under unemployment and I thought, hey, let’s go bury ourselves underground, for fun. It’ll take Trent’s mind off things for a while.”

Arthur found purchase on the wall and was cautiously scaling it, but zigging up it to the left where previously Trent was fairly certain he himself had zagged to the right. Trent  stared intently at his hand, the blood voluminous enough now that he couldn’t cup all of it in his palm and it dribbled through his fingers.

“Hey, Trent!” Suddenly their was life and energy in Arthur’s previously laconic, defeated voice. “No shit, Trent, there’s light up here.” Arthur’s voice was getting softer and softer in Trent’s ears as he climbed higher, still talking but not looking down. “There’s light, good God, there’s light!”

Trent pulled himself up, gently, gingerly, cringing in pain and felt along the wall. “Trent, Trent come on!” He found the spot where Arthur had first started and pulled himself up with his unbloodied hand. “There’s a way out, hurry!” He then reached with his free, torn hand and after a minute, “Trent, I can smell the air, I can smell grass!”, found another handhold. But he couldn’t grasp it firmly. When he tried the first time the pain was excruciating and he had to let go. When he tried each subsequent time the tiny ledge was too slick with blood to provide any purchase.

Arthur’s voice was completely gone now and the light from the small flashlight began to sputter under the mountain.

A lever long enough and fulcrum on which to place it

Kellyanne Conway. Ooof. If there’s any justice (and there probably isn’t), 20 years from now we’ll all use her name to signify anything or anyone that’s terrible just for the sake of being terrible.


Dr. Sheila Sherman took a deep breath, opened the patient’s door and crossed the threshold into Lanella Banes’ world.

The world itself was, measurably, small; about the same size and laid out similarly to a good-sized efficiency. Its two rooms, a bathroom and a bed/living room, occupied just a small part of the High Palisades, about midway up the third tower.

Psychically though, Lanella Banes’ world was vast. By the Regent’s own order no one was allowed to restrain, or even disagree with the patient. Sheila Sherman was a good soldier, 20 years in the corp before being discharged, and wasn’t about to disobey an order, even if she felt like the Regent was treating his former advisor like a pet now more than a person.

“How are we doing today, Ms. Banes?

“I can’t hear the crowd. The throng is still there, yes? The Regent is still loved?”

Sherman walked towards the large and only window, blocking her body so that she could look outside and still keep Banes in her sight. The idea that Lanella Banes, one leg lost just above the knee, one arm withered and useless, three large, glaring dents in her skull only half-hidden by the few wisps of hair that would still sprout from her scalp, was dangerous was, Sherman admitted, far-fetched. But she got those injuries in a four-on-one fight and came out of it alive. Which is more than two of her assailants could say. Sure, she was fighting against soft, doughy members of the not-accurately-titled Loyalist party in an attempted insurrection. But still. Damn. Sherman had done a tour in Sinel, that hellhole where the whole of the corp learned never to underestimate anyone.

Outside the window was a smaller than normal crowd of protestors, signs and effigies and bandanas present. “Oh, Ms. Banes, his admirers are still there. And they’re still calling his name and for his blessings. You must not be able to hear them because the wind is blowing their words away from us.”

“Good, as it should. Open the windows, even if we won’t hear them, some fresh air would be nice.”

Dr. Sherman paused and pursed her lips. The window must not be opened and, in fact, could not be opened. The Regent had also given orders that not even the barest hint of Lanella Banes’ continued existence was to even be given the chance of escape. The public must believe that she died as a result of the cowardly Loyalist attack. Sherman had only been given the job as Banes’ personal physician after extensive, intrusive, vetting. Although it had never been confirmed, she believed what cinched the job for her was the fact that, unlike so many other women in the armed forces, she never once publicly complained when the Regent bared females from serving.

Sherman could feel Banes eyes, one cloudy, dead and white, the other still the piercing, frosted blue that it always had been, fix on her, impatient for her will to be done. Even after almost a year Sherman was uncertain of how aware Banes really was, but she definitely intuited the rules of her two room world. Sherman noisily drew air in through her nose to buy time, but a sharp, ammonia odor forced her to stop. “Ms Banes, did you not make it to the bathroom in time this morning?”

“I did,” the broken doll of a woman said, with no evident shame or hesitation. “But there are secrets in my bathing chamber. Secrets that must not be allowed out. Secrets that can topple the nation.”

Lanella Banes was a lot of things, but outright delusional was not one of them. Careful of the rules, Dr. Sherman said nothing but crossed over to the bathroom and opened the door.

Banes was right, after a sort. There was a large secret behind the door. A bomb. A big, big bomb. It had been a while since Dr. Sherman had seen anything like it, but she had had enough experience with bombs before to know this one was not some slap-dash, built in someone’s basement affair. No one from the outside could have snuck something like this in. It was an inside job. Her stomach flipped over.

A good soldier knew the chain of command. A good soldier knew who to alert in high-pressure, emergency situations like this. Dr. Sherman pulled out her phone, an old, relic style phone with no camera, and dialed quickly as she walked back to the window.

“Hi, Mom? What’s going on?”

“Nothing, Kyle. I just wanted to tell you that I love you very much.”

Outside the crowd, Dr. Sherman realized too late, was not smaller than usual. It was just pulled backed further away from the perimeter than usual, almost as if it were waiting, just waiting for a chance to swarm forward.

HN(no, not that N-word)IC

I’m interrupting my current fictionalized-versions-of-terrible-people-meeting-terribly-fictional-endings series to indulge in some of that old Basket of Deplorable Writing Prompts style.

President Trump doesn’t know who Frederick Douglass is. More importantly, he’s unclear as to why Black History Month doesn’t focus more on the plight of the autocratic rich white guy who’s in way over his head.

Don’t worry, as always anytime President Trump’s inability to give two damns about anything outside of himself, there are hoards of people like Anon willing to stand up and say, “The black guy was bad too” ABOUT BLACK HISTORY MONTH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.

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Well, being inside the tent was no picnic. No, siree Bob. It  smelled of hay and horses and cotton candy and sweat and perfume. And all of it, including the excessive number of deep-fried fueled bodies packed in to it so tight you couldn’t breath in if the person directly in front of you wasn’t breathing out, were baking under the fat July sun. Near about everyone in town was under that tent. No one wanted to miss the 11th annual Parsham County Fair Narcissism Contest, I reckon.

It was all in good fun. A chance for the town elders and movers and shakers to have a little fun at themselves and let the rest of the town join in. Life isn’t always easy going and kind to the people of Parsham County and it does the farmers and laborers and hardscrabblers good to listen to Banker Francis talk about how the lobby at Parsham Savings & Loan was renovated just so his new boots wouldn’t have to get dirtied on decades old carpet. And it does everyone good to share a laugh while Mayor Capputo gamely admits to having issued official proclamations of gratitude the 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, ROTC, JROTC, Rotary Club, The Parsham Beautification Committee, and the Parsham County Small Businessman’s Club just so she could get her picture in the Parsham Republican-Gazette more often.

Yep, everyone, every year, enjoyed the Parsham County Fair Narcissism Contest. But no one more than me. Sure, it’s a pain to organize and put on each time, but it’s always worth it for the thrill of being able to make winners and losers out of the most powerful people in town. That they don’t realize how seriously I take that authority makes it even sweeter than tea after a long afternoon of bailing hay.

No court in the wild

So, the Supreme Court seat that, if shame were still a thing, should have already been claimed, will (almost certainly) instead go to Judge Neil Gorsuch, a man I don’t know much about other than he’s pretty much that “this is fine” dog except in a courthouse rather than a cafe.


Marsellus Stricker tugged the hood of his oversized parka down almost past his brows. He thought maybe he had caught a stranger side-eyeing him. It wasn’t inconceivable. Ilba was a foreign land, the city of  Ityl within it was remote and its climate generally unforgiving. Distance and foul weather often discouraged the pursuing Rectifiers. Most of the time. Generally.

Stricker lengthened his stride against the chill, blowing wind and tried, as best he could through muffled ears, to listen for footsteps which might be approaching him from behind. Even through the thick down of the parka’s hood, his ears were sharp. They had had a lot of practice these past seven years. He turned his head swiftly to look behind him and beheld what appeared to be a figure ducking suddenly into an alley way.

He and his wife had been surviving in Ityl for nearly a year now. It was probably best to move on.

She had asked him years ago, early on in the great and overwhelming upheaving of the world, to say ‘no’ to the Regent; to decline the honor of becoming his Judex Summa. But Marsellus has turned her concerns away. Even at that early date, before he had truly and terrifyingly consolidated power, one didn’t simply say ‘no’ to the Regent. Besides, Marsellus Stricker had been for 35 years the consummate legal professional: diligent; ethical, often if not always going above and beyond what the Bar required of its practitioners; gracious in loss and magnanimous in victory; principled and just. He had represented the high and low with equal aplomb. He had heard cases both highly theoretical in their legal underpinnings and crushingly mundane and treated both sorts with equal solemnity. He had written article and article exploring the nuances and tangles of the legal world, seeking to provide light and elucidation with every word. If any of his contemporaries were more qualified than him to serve as Judex Summa, he could look himself in the mirror each night and faithfully attest that he could not think of any.

That the Regent’s manner was unseemly and his methods perhaps a shade less than legitimate were no matter. Stricker was certain he could help moderate the immoderate man.

But that was before the ceremony. Not the public one, the one that was unnecessarily filled with drama and pomp. Stricker had well anticipated that. But the private ceremony afterwards. When the Regent came to him in his room and displayed himself fully and utterly giving Marsellus Stricker the opportunity to view, in toto, the man, nearly more than a man really, that he was forever linked to and forever bound to serve.

From that moment, which had reordered Stricker’s world, he was forever marked, stained over by the Regent. He knew it, and so in some subtle, ineffable way, did everyone else. It was only the Regent’s power which kept the people, to say nothing of the unseen populaces, reigned in and contained. When the Regent’s power evaporated over that long six-week period close to a decade ago like so much morning dew, the Rectifiers began their chase, following like bloodhounds every person who carried a whiff of the now-gone Regent’s touch.

Stricker came to the door of the small duplex he and his wife occupied. Although it was a lonely building with the other half of the house was unoccupied and located on a tired, quiet street, Stricker had the distinct notion that just moments before his arrival there had been a great deal of activity. Yes, assuming he was not even now opening the door to a trap set for him, it was certainly time for him and his wife (surely, if this was a trap, they would leave her be. Use her as bait, perhaps but not harm her, surely, God please) to seek an even less conspicuous hole.

Loose lips

Well, it didn’t take long for the fig leaf to get plucked off that lie.

It’s rare that you get someone willing to admit they’ve found a way of saying ‘nigger‘ without having to use the word.

Once again, times are scary and there are monsters.


Ovid Karr sat in his office, behind his desk, absolutely fuming. He tapped a button on his keyboard and the wrinkled face, luminous smile and twinkling eyes of aged August Buckner filled the screen, his high nasal voice recounting very, very clearly into a news microphone how he had made the Regent’s latest proclamation more palatable. “Sure, sure we want them out of the country. Of course. But you can’t just do that. So I said, ‘let’s make it about security. They’re dangerous. We can get rid of them like that.’ And what do you know? It worked!”

Karr jumped, very slightly, when the head of his security detail, a beefy man with a transmitter in his ear, stepped out of the corner and said quietly, “They’re here, Mr. Karr.”

“Good.”

A second member of the detail, materializing from a different corner of the room, opened his office door to admit August Buckner while Ovid paused the recording.

August Buckner was short, so short, but lavishly dressed and much older than he looked. The Regent’s money had been good to him, the comforts and conveniences of lackyhood suited the man well.

Karr stood up and walked in front of his desk. “August, thank you for coming. I assume you know why you’re here.”

“For talking, sure. But hey, we won and we’ve got the ban, so who cares?” Buckner looked around the room with his eyes, keeping his neck still. “These are… this is a pretty crowded room. Worried about something, Ovie?”

Ovid pursed his lips tightly and glared at the old man. “Mostly, I’m worried that you aren’t fitting in anymore. Look, I’m not too proud to say that we need you. People eat you up, they just do. It’s a fact.” Ovid Karr took a heavy, pewter paperweight that depicted a squatting Atlas holding up a cold, dull, metallic world, and idly passed it back and forth between his hands. “It’s been nice to have you to drag in front of the cameras. To wave and smile and go through the routine where we say, ‘the most popular governor ever, the war hero, the Uniter himself, he likes us so why don’t you?'” Karr stopped fidgeting with the paperweight, grasping it firmly in one hand, his knuckles white. “But lately you’ve become less a figure of inspiration and more like a gregarious, drunken uncle. And, to be blunt, we’re done with that.”

“Is this what I think it is?” His voice was pinched with anxiety and several of his syllables were more squeaks than language.

“No, it’s worse.” Karr smiled, not for the first time in his life, but close to it. “You’ll live, but in a dark, deep hole. And the only time you’ll get any sunlight is when I tell you to flash that sunny, toothy smile of yours. And the second you make me regret parading you in front of the people, that’s the minute that dark, deep hole becomes your tomb.” Buckner’s bright eyes became slick with sick fear and Karr’s whole body trembled pleasantly.

“The Regent won’t allow this. He won’t!” Buckner’s voice hit a particularly unpleasant pitch. Karr suddenly lifted up the pewter paperweight and brought it crashing down with full force on Buckner’s flapping jaws, silencing the man and knocking him to his knees.

“There will be no appeals to the Regent. This is final and if you ever want a different, better arrangement you should pray that I die before you.” Karr stood up erect, his whole body trembling pleasantly. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and stuffed it roughly into Buckner’s mouth.

Karr nodded to the security detail, savoring how deep and throaty his own voice sounded in comparison to Buckner’s, “take him out through a service entrance. Get him home and work him over.” The agents grabbed August’s arms,pinned them behind him, lifeted him to his feet and forced him out the door.

Karr pulled out his phone, pressed a button and held the device to his ear. “Dear Sir, we’re keeping it out of the news for now, but Buckner’s taken a fall. Dear Sir, it’s a bad fall. The doctors are doing tests now, brain tests. Who knows what they’ll find,” Karr fell silent for a moment and watched headlights pull out from the High Palisades’ west gate and then turn north. “Yes, a real tragedy. Oh, I suspect he’ll be alright. But he’ll need care. Lots of care and, not to be crass, but this might be a perfect time to roll out that healthcare plan we were talking about. You remember the one. Yes, that plan. Let’s really let Buckner put a human face on it.”

Alone and in the dark

We don’t need prompts.

For anyone coming late to the party, President Trump has, well, gone ahead and instituted a ban on Muslim and refugee travel into the US. The picture that heads this post is everything you need to know.

The chief architect of this has been his advisor, and Breitbart news head, Steve Bannon, who has also effectively replaced the head of the CIA, the Chariman of the Joint Chiefs and the NSA in all presidential meetings.

Times are scary now and there are monsters. The stories of who they are and what they do needs to be told a million times over in a million different voices.

Ovid Karr was not the Regent’s top advisor, but it was that rare photo of the Regent indeed that did not feature Karr hovering behind his left shoulder. In fact, Karr had been positioning himself thusly when the explosion ripped through the High Palissade. The tremendous booming, the terrible light and the attendant chaos and confusion separated Karr from the Regent and from their protective security detail. The sharp sound of gun fire had been enough to cause Karr to run as far and as fast as he could without delay. Which was how, hours later, he found himself in the immense woods to the northeast of the Regent’s largest, most-used sanctum.

Karr couldn’t begin to guess who was behind the attack. Dissidents, a foreign power, the army, maybe it wasn’t even a full attack. Maybe it was the Regent’s attempt to displace Karr. Ovid Karr wasn’t the sort of man to pretend, or care, that he had made no friends, even among his closest affiliates. He didn’t trust, wasn’t to be trusted, and was more proud of those two facts than he was of anything else. Karr didn’t really believe that the Regent had moved against him, fully convinced as he was that the Regent was fully convinced that he was indispensable. And this seemed like a big move. But anything was possible. Whoever was behind the attack, it didn’t matter. Ovid would figure it out and move against the aggressors. He had tools left at his disposal. Agents and resources left to tap. Plans and contingencies to execute. A sick arousal rose in him, originating in and spurred on by fantasies both of wielding power for power’s sake and wielding power to persecute.

First though, he had to get out of the woods. The sun was going down and winter was no time to be left unguarded from the elements. Breaking the flow of his stride he felt in his jacket pocket for the old silver lighter that had once been his father’s. Karr wasn’t a sentimental man and hadn’t much cared for his father while he was living, but from a young age he had always, if unaccountably, cherished and valued that lighter. He pulled it out from his pocket flicked it twice, saw a small flame bloom and the snapped it shut and put it back. It wasn’t dark enough yet to need it, but it soon would be.

Ovid walked and stumbled and ran when he could, which wasn’t often, through the branches and brambles of the woods. Here and there he thought maybe he caught a flash of bright, golden light at the corners of his eyes, but every time he whipped his head around he saw only deepening shadows.

But even though he didn’t seem them directly, the flashes grew in frequency and numbers and soon each one was bright enough to obscure his vision and leave the phantom images of war orphans he abandoned, families he broke up, students unrooted and workers he upended. They were a blazing sea of golden faces and bodies that washed and merged into each with. Except one little boy who persisted, right in front of Karr. The boy offered his hand up to the adult and the adult shied away as though afraid of being bitten. The golden faces disappeared in an instant, the boy included.

Karr felt in his pocket. His lighter was gone. He was alone. Without distractions or company or power to ensconce himself in. He was alone with only himself to contend with and the falling darkness swallowed him.

Catalog

A story from the Independent goes into a bit of detail about President Trump’s latest whim: a list of crimes committed by immigrants. A lot of people, because they have read history books, think that this sort of thing is, well, a bit fascist. Pallaquin, who has probably read some history books but absorbed all the wrong lessons, is less concerned.

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The wall was flat and visible to the public so of course the Regent’s face was on it. It’s likeness was nearly uncanny, right down to the slightly off skin color.

Standing on the top rung of a ladder, with arms reaching up and a paintbrush with goopy white paint clinging to its bristles, an old woman wrote a name over the forehead of Regent’s portrait.

And another name under the first. Then a third and a fourth and a fifth. She could hear below her the whirl of small wheels and the slap-slap on shoe leather on concrete.

A young man, one in a pack of young men passing by called up to her. “Hey! Woman, what are you doing up there?

She looked down at him and he up at her and their eyes searched each other for a brief moment. She caught the way his brow crinkled at her dark skin and knobbly, gnarled knuckles and joints. “I’m making a list of people lost. My list. Everyone I knew who’s gone away.” She turned from the youths and painted another name, this one over the Regent’s left eye. A sixth name went across the bridge of his nose and a seventh over the right eye.

“Okay. Careful now.” The kids moved on. They were young and fair and fairly apathetic because of those two traits.

An eighth name went up. The woman worked all day, breaking only when it became to dark to see. She was back at it the next day. She was painting names across the broad plain of the Regent’s upper lip when the same group of young men passed by, again with the whirring wheels and sneakers smacking the asphalt. The outspoken boy from the previous day called up again. “You’re going to get in trouble, you know?”

“No,” she called down without stopping her list making even though her shoulder ached and her hand was cramping and she really could have killed for a rest. “Or maybe. Maybe they’ll jail me.”

“They’ll do more than that. And then I’ll have to paint your name up there and that’s just going to get me in trouble to.”

“Bullshit,” she laughed. “You won’t do nothing, and neither will they.”

“You do have papers, right? I mean, you aren’t from here. Originally at least, yeah?”

“Fuck you, white boy.”

“‘White boy’? I’m Alex. Come on, what’s your name?”

She paused for a moment from what she was doing then looked down. “I’m Priyam”

She turned back and began cataloging more names and a minute later she heard them leave, heard their wheels and footwear grow soft, faint and disappear.

She painted names throughout the day. So many, many names. Friends and family and shop girls and clerks and students and neighbors and any number of people she knew once and had forgotten about until now as though being on a list could erase or bring them back. She was south of the Regent’s mouth, working in the margins of his jowels when she heard a new sound, a heavier, low rumble thunder-clap kind of stomp. Priyam painted with a renewed, rushed energy that bordered on hasty and pointedly did not allow her eyes to drift down to the street.

She did not come back the next day, but the boys did.

Alex borrowed a thick, black marker from a friend who asked, “you sure?”

“Yeah, no problem. I looked up how to spell it last night.”

“That’s not what I mean.”

“So?” With a steady hand reached up above his head, he wrote “PRIYAM” on over the last hanging flesh of the Regent’s chin.

Heart Murmur

A recently released felon in Michigan was killed this week in an extra-judicial execution (the only kind possible in that state, really).

As is always the case when something like this happens, the Deplorables are out in force, thrilled that they can cover up their racism with the fig leaf of “he deserved it because he was a criminal”.

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“I know you won’t believe me, I know you’re going to think I’m crazy. That it’s guilt or remorse or, I don’t know, something. But I swear to you, my heart isn’t beating as much as it used to.” Alton was shaking, sweating little beads of water that dribbled down his cheeks and the back of his neck before freezing solid in the cold, cold room. He was on his knees, as the Adjudicatrix always demanded. “Each time my heart, and I promise you this is true, it beats less frequently and with less pulse.”

There was a deep, all enveloping silence as Alton waited for a reply. He searched for the Adjudicatrix’s eyes but failed. He was only a couple feet from where she sat but could barely make out her features. The room was dark, illuminated by weak bulbs whose wan light was absorbed by the dark red and black fabrics of the room’s carpets and furniture. Finally he heard the sound of papers being rifled through.

“Here’s a new release. Murder, drugs, oh look here, kidnapping too. A real piece of work. A real monster.” Her words were clipped and almost breathless, as though she were offering Alton the deal of a lifetime. “This guy’ll buy you a whole month.”

“But, my heart. I think this is all doing something to me. Something not good. It can’t be okay, can it?” Alton’s teeth chattered together, although the permanent chill of the room had little to do with it.

When the Adjudicatrix chose to speak again her tone was softer – almost affectionate. “Alton. Alton. It will be fine. I’m sure of it. You need to focus, Alton. Your heartbeat? It’s nothing to worry about. But this man: extortion; robbery; jury intimidation; arson, this man is what you need to focus on.”

“How can I not worry about this? Something needs to be done. My heartbeat, maybe my whole heart, is disappearing!”

“Alton, you need to focus. What needs to be done is you need to do your job. You’re dangerously low on time. You’ll get a month’s reprieve for this guy. You only have a few days until your current reprieve expires. And then I’ll be forced to send someone after you. So please, please stop worrying about your heart, okay?”

Alton was silent and bowed his head. He tried to control his breathing, tried to keep the tears that welled at the corners of his eyes from dropping. Everything was cool and quiet and finally in that quiet he could hear, just barely and not often, the frighteningly soft thu-thumb of his heart.

“I don’t think I can. My fading, failing heartbeat is all I think of now.”

With a whispery rustle of tattered silk on worn damask upholstery, the Adjudicatrix stood up, took two steps towards Alton and then knelt before him, putting them on the same level. She took his hand in hers and pushed his palm firmly and solidly against her chest. He felt nothing.

“You get used to it, Alton.”

I won’t take a knee

Over at WorldNetDaily, the comment section to an article about a Secret Service agent who announced recently that she will never take a bullet for President Trump pretty quickly went further downhill than you’d think it could.

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Jerariah knelt on the inexpertly poured concrete floor, the grit and cracks gouged into his raw knees through the threadbare slacks he wore as he wobbled slightly left and right. He found he hard a hard time balancing with his hands tied behind his back at the wrists. An oscillating, dopplering sound, almost like waves, almost like flapping wings, filled and fled from his ears in rough rhythm with the four swinging  bare bulbs that illuminated both the dark hole of a trial chamber and the three magistrars at their splintery wood desk. The sound made it hard to hear them discussing his crime and his fate and he heard their conversation only in quick, muffled bursts.

“He didn’t kneel. He never knelt until we made him…

“What good can come of him? What good can come from him? Nothing, I tell you. Nothing at all…

“The stain will only spread further. We waited long enough in letting him stand for so long in front of the Regent. It’s time to blot this. The family as well. They’re all polluted.”

At that, Jeraiah, his throat raw and tongue swollen, his teeth loose from malnutrition and his head pounding from lack of sleep, uncertain if he had really heard what he thought he had, shouted as best he could, “You are not the heroes you want to be. You never will be. You can’t be. The spark, the warmth, the goodness inherent in people is either extinguished in you or was never present. You’re beasts who’ve learned to mimic human movement without ever learning anything of humanity.” He tried to spit on the floor but only succeeded in toppling himself over on his side. His skull cracked and bled and his vision swam in waves like a broken cathode ray tube television and though it was not unexpected, he neither saw nor heard the magistrars get up from their table, circle him and crush his ribs with their boots until the bones snapped and pierced his fragile lungs.