More fiction. Purge is the creation of @Reldin .Warning: Some not nice language. A stream of consciousness experiment. Inspired by some art I commissioned recently. (Art by Vincentius Matthew).
I’d walk into fire for you, Vancouver. And today, I’m doing just that.
And the fire strikes me, red as an angry sun. Holes burn in my uniform. Holes burn in my skin. The smell of human flesh, charred and toasting, wafts into my nostrils.
Who are these people?
The Men in black, armed with red lasers. Slipstreams of sunheat, marveling at my advance. Gritted teeth through dusky helmets. Red tinted lenses, reflecting my light. The light of mighty Mars burns my cloth, my flesh, and, as angry as Mars, I burn back. It doesn’t matter who they are, criminal dilettantes, dancers of misery. Only their crime matters. My eyes are wrath. My hands are ancient gods, the lords of the mountaintop, coiled into fists. And I shine. Beacon of my town. I am Vancouver’s fist. I am the retribution of the north.,My thunder sings.
A question burns in me. No, not why, that doesn’t matter anymore. Not who. I’ll leave the identity of the men in black for after the battle, for when the authorities piece together the jigsaw of their crime.(Or maybe they’ll broadcast it, as they do so very often.) No, here’s the question. It’s the simplest thing, asked by anyone who dons the wardrobe. How did I get here? How did our lives become apocalypse?
Our roles are wardrobe, and we gird ourselves in them. We are the shield of the innocent. We are the sword of their wrath. We are the singers, and I’ve sung thirty-five years of warsongs. My anthem is thirty-five years of burning blood. Thirty-five years of barely checked rage.
Today my song asks: whatever possessed you to do this to my city? Leveled for six blocks, bodies everywhere. Glass mansions of the overclass, now shards, tinkling in ruin. Shops of the poor, broken signs in Cantonese and Punjabi, their brokenness screaming. Did you really believe there would be no consequence? You’ve hurt my people, you bastards. I am their steward, their shepherd. The greater their pain, the greater my wrath.
The thunderbolt feels like an orgasm as it issues from my body. Two men fall. Their screams are sick things, as is their twitch amid the rubble. Good.
Ultimatums stick in their throats, these black-clad nothings, whose weapons are powerful enough to burn through the mesh of my costume, embroidering my skin with their calligraphy. Ultimatums waft from them like crow calls. And I do not answer. The god within does not like to chat. His conversations are screams, and booms, and the roll of the tumultuous airs, akin to the screaming sky when the world was young.
I could fly. I do not. A juggernaut walks in the thunderbird’s place. Talons bared, wings spread. Is he screaming in the ruins?
You’ve hurt my people, those squawking, awkward, glorious things. The people of the sea, watching the dark waters in the shadow of the mountains. My thunder is the promise of their retribution.
And another two agents fall. The remaining agents continue to bellow, and burn me with their gifted suns, these guns, these pathetic little murdersticks. Plowshares gone bad. That’s a Biblical reference, folks.
I’m glad Billy can’t see me now. Or David. Or Alex. Or any of my friends. Well, maybe Avenger. He’d enjoy seeing me like this, the jerk.
But I don’t exist to entertain men like him. I never did. The world is a chorus, and I keep it in tune. I nudge the progression of the world’s symphony. But when I’m like this, a vessel of wrath, it’s hard to carry a tune.
I guess my life’s pain is fueling my wrath, as if it needed any assistance. I mow down another of these moral weaklings, and I crush a gun for fun, for the pleasure of removing one less instrument of suffering from the world. In doing so, I make a pasture out of a battlefield.
One of them is talking on a communicator. I can see him screaming, the little darling. Like words will make a difference now
And, to my dismay, that’s when the sky falls.
It’s a modern dragon, coiled hate of technology. The roar of its rotors rattles my body. I hear its delirium, smell its burning fuel. An attack copter, to be prosaic. Technical specs rattle in my brain. Its machine guns rattle. It shares its metal gifts with me. It pounds me with rounds that could pulverize a city. It was built for carnage, and its pilots are reveling in it. I can see the joy in their faces. The craft is as noisy as war fully raging.
And I scream as loudly in my response, my body burns and sings, and I twist its rotors into origami. It’s not even a challenge. I burn, and I twist, and the rotor flies from its sheath. They’re only a titanium-aluminum alloy, lined with a little kendrium. I’ve dismantled better. Like a stricken butterfly, the chopper falls from the sky. No more wop, wop, wop, thanks to my rotorectomy, it’s wopless. I put a hand on the undercarriage to slow its fall. This is how you don’t kill people. You can thank me by never pulling this shit again.
“Get him! Kill the bastard!”
And that’s when they shoot me in the back.
I don’t care if you’re Vanguard or Grond, 155mm caliber rounds hurt. A succession of them hurt like a son of a bitch. The smell of gunpowder is everywhere. It’s the smell of Hell -- I know because I’ve been there. Hell is gunpowder, pigshit, and cigarettes, dialed up to eleven.
I turn to face my attacker. Twenty feel tall, black angled metals, a robot based on the design of Darth Vader’s helmet. It’s silent as it walks - sound suppressors - the silence is unnerving, especially for its size. It ought to have a grander entrance. The robot’s an old design, styled for the modern age, an offshoot of the old Minuteman robots from the 80s. Its emblem grins at me. Finally, I recognize who these people are, and I scowl. Dragons of hate, a mutant hunting robot, the ultimate weapon against genetic progress. It belongs, as do the agents, to an outfit called Purge. The genetically pious, worshiping a false ideal, a false idol, of stable genetics. As if that were even possible, in a world flooded with mutagens and radiation zones.
I really don’t like these guys, these vandals of a phony virtue that inspires them to terror. Genetic purity, my ass, they don’t have any clue what they’re fucking talking about. They’re flat-earthers gone villain. The first time I met them was when they attacked Toronto in force several years ago. Man, that had been a mess.They’ve surfaced periodically, spreading misery in the name of their righteous chromosomes.
Killing children. Like the Children’s Crusade of history, but even lower.
With a cry of pain and rage, my body becomes electric, a blue white-smear of shock. I materialize next to it, within punching distance. Hurriedly, I see the reloader whirring, spinning, getting ready to unleash its cargo. I shouldn’t be able to do this trick, but I tear at the kendium-laced cables to rip away the firing mechanism. It jerks, almost comically. It raises its clawed appendage to bear, glinting as though it was having an anime moment. Ding!
And I grab the claw in mid -swing, and with a grunt and a scream, I snap it into two pieces. The robot should be dismayed. It isn’t. Not in its personality matrix, I guess.
This is only the start of my robot surgery. An arm is ripped off next, then the other arm, then a leg. It tumbles to the ground like a helpless spider. I rip off its head, then tear at the circuits like an angry muppet. Like Animal. I’ll deform the head! The electrical discharge should fry me, but instead it feels as warm as a happy puppy. A murder machine dies today. Purge loses again.
In the end, I turn to the men in the fallen helicopter, one of whom is trying to limp away. He’s the commander. He gave the orders. He spread fire and death over six city blocks. All just to kill one mutant kid.
You want mercy after you’ve murdered children? I drink in his fear like wine. It’s intoxicating, almost literally. I want to kill him. It would be a better world without the little hate-mongering shithead. Hundreds have died today; had they struck in prime time, it would have been thousands. In my city. My home.
Fucking hatemonger. The species should be lifting each other up; we should be supporting each other In our pain in this frenzied madness called life. Not burning city blocks, Not giving our souls to fear and hate. Not giving into the dragon within, not relying on weapons to be a man. Not electing dragons to high office. They just don’t get it! How often have I spilled my blood for these people? How many third degree burns, how many comas, how many nightmares? And they turn around and do this! They exalt the cruel to lofty heights, they hand them power, they surrender the lives of the poor and needy into their barbed fingers? I’m trying to fix things! Make the world a better place! I must be the biggest damn masochist alive.
Deep breaths Craig. Don’t lose it.
“P-please, Thundrax!” the man pleads again. “Please...”
Please let me make you a killer? he seems to ask. It’s as sobering a question as I’ve ever been asked, spoken or unspoken.
Deep breaths, Craig. Slow your heartbeat. Calm that Carson temper before all hell breaks loose. You are a WMD.
Don’t detonate today. Before you add to the ruin of this city.
Of course, I don’t kill him. Instead, I turn his head to inspect the carnage. Then there’s a look of sick satisfaction on his face once more, and I want to kill him all over again. He’s proud of his handiwork. His grin is pure, unadulterated, evil.
How dare he! Again, it takes a physical effort to resist the call to wrath. How dare you! What the hell is wrong with you? What the Hell is remotely satisfying about today?
More deep breaths, Craig. More deep breaths.
Again, I barely win the battle against myself, against the storm god within. That petty, primal, vicious thing. The worst part is that no one would blame me if I lost it. Vengeance is vicious, especially when it’s justified.
I hear their voices all the damn time. When you’re so powerful, why do you show so much restraint?
As the police arrive and the commander’s led away, to say good-bye to the gene pool, amid the grief I feel in the sheer realization of the scale of death and ruin, I fight the urge to laugh. It’s sick, but I do. I want to laugh.
I’m still human. Once again, I’ve resisted the call to place the god first. The god is wrath, the human is mercy. And mercy won, even on a day of smoke and blood.
Is this justice, or justification, a voice asks me. Do you place your morality ahead of the dead?
No, I answer. I’m alive, and I didn’t lose myself. I did not lose control, I did not violate Craig Carson in my wrath.
No enemies died. No flowers were crushed beneath my feet.
It’s so important to me that I don’t kill. When I was young and stupid and a sweet kid, it was the most important thing in the world. And now that I’m older and wiser and harder, it still heads my list. I didn’t age out of my compassion, I just understand the price we pay for it a little better.
I’m Craig Carson. The shoe salesman’s baby boy. Never a judge, jury, or executioner. Always striving to hold the lamp. Always lighting the way to a better future, lifting the fallen. Making cruel people decent, making decent people better, making good people great, and partnering with the great to ascend the heavens. You mustn’t fall. Too many people fall. They make themselves citizens of fear, and in accepting that dual citizenship, they diminish their homelands. I’m not one of them. I’m Canadian: pure Canadian. As the anthem says, we stand on guard for thee. Not me, thee. For the other. For each other.
It’s so hard not to give into the vengeful god within all of us, when we want to get our hands bloody. So damn hard. But the path of rage leads to people building charnalhouses. That’s what we need to prevent. Killing only lays the brickwork of that terrible holocaust. The fearful build walls and furnaces, but the great build towers. To see and appreciate the world, and to watch.
But what about that other Canadian icon? “If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep, though poppies blow...”
America matters to me, as a close friend. But Canada is family. They hurt my family. These foreigners, these invaders.
Dammit, we are wardens. Not juries, not executioners: wardens. We stand on guard. But isn’t that the mission statement of this profession, to protect, to guard? Because, above all else... I am a protector. It’s the most important thing in the world, at least to me.
The fires ebb, and the crews arrive, the dead are counted, the media asks hard, necessary questions, and then it’s time for a tired, weary god to venture skyward, seven hundred leagues east back to Millennium. I’m wounded, but I’m intact, my mission is intact, my passions tempered, my soul bloodied and unbowed. No. not “and unbowed”, it’s “but unbowed”. Stupid Craig stupid. Get it right, Craig, you made too many mistakes today. You made the biggest one possible. You were late getting to the scene of a massacre, and people died...
The ambulances, the sirens,they scream at me. You failed, Craig Carson. Failed, failed, failed.
After an hour or so, the crying stops. You can only weep for so long. All tears ebb after a time. My eyes are calm, finally calm, and, flying above the great blue snake of the Saskatchewan River, I slow to sub-Mach speed, and drink in the scenery below: lakes and fields and faces full of wonder. Wonder, even for a schmuck like me. Damn, I love their faces. Damn, they’re worth dying for.
Well, one of these days...