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View Full Version : "The Negatives" Chapter 1 - Warning: Language



michaelcthompson
January 2nd, 2011, 09:17 PM
COPYRIGHT 2011 MICHAEL C. THOMPSON. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
“The Negatives.”


I
Vessel.


The world explodes in an extravagant display of colors, sounds, and vibrations. Purple and orange flames spew into the sky alongside a thick wall of extraordinary smoke and particles, the ground shakes as the nuclear warhead detonates, erasing everything in it’s path for miles. I see it from far away, through binoculars - just far enough away to escape the irradiation that will waste this landscape for decades, perhaps even centuries.

What you are witnessing presently is a reaction, rather than an action. The difference might seem trivial to you, but to me it is the most important aspect of the event. For every positive, there must be a negative. For every action, there must be a consequence. That’s why I exist. It is my sole purpose, to create Chaos where Order exists. Build up a tower, and I will knock it down. Create a God, and I will make his devil. Nothing can exist without resistance - such is what few throughout history have realized. But I realized it. I’ve met others who have as well, although our number is low (our influence, however, enormous). We call ourselves “the Negatives.”

The world is begging to die. Death is the only thing that can validate it’s tragic existence. This world, however, I do not consider my own. It belongs to you, and your ilk. We are made from the same clay, you and I, molded from the same stardust in the beginning, stranded on the same rock with the same Mother Nature nourishing us. But people like me are not really citizens of this planet, or like the others who populate it at all. We are alien, if not in body, then in mind. We come to this world as destroyers, harbingers… savages.

I stare on, the heat baking at my face. A gnarled, tattered trench coat blows out behind me from the nuclear wind, the binoculars pressed tight to my eyes, my soot black hair crinkling in the microwaves. I grip the binoculars with my right hand, covered in a black-leather, fingerless glove. My left hand, gloveless, covers my mouth and nose, keeping the dirt blowing through the blasting wind out of my visage. Beneath the trench-coat I’m wearing military fatigues, although they’re faded, and very old.

It’s Las Vegas we’re seeing perish - and good riddance.

Behind me are my two companions, Pixel and Morgan. I turn to face them, removing the binoculars and staring at them with my deep brown, almost black looking eyes. I can feel the explosion behind me still going on, and I imagine what the mushroom cloud must look like towering high over our heads as I look turn to face them, knowing it hangs behind me like an ominous sentinel, or like our dark God, Obliteration.

Pixel is crying, she - he - whatever - always cries when we manage to set off a nuke. I imagine Pixel started life as a male - although sometimes I’m not sure. I’ve heard her - or him - referred to as various different genders on the rare occasion when we have social encounters with the Positives. Right before we blow them up. Most assume Pixel is a female - that’s what I did, when we first met. I was quickly corrected. What Pixel really is, I’ve come to find out, is neither male nor female, or perhaps both. A hermaphrodite, some might say, although I have some suspicion the truth might be even stranger. This subject we have not discussed much. We discuss nothing at all, actually, as Pixel is entirely mute.

She - as I try to refer to her most often - has very long blonde hair, which is tied back in a pony-tail. It still blows out behind her with the force of the ongoing explosion. Her face is heavily covered in make-up, and although appearing extremely feminine, there is something just slightly off about her that makes one question the nature of her beauty (which is without question). Mascara trails down her face, stark inky lines drawing through her porcelain foundation. She can’t be any older than 21 or 22, very young to be involved in the type of work that we do. But good at it. She is dressed in much the same way as I, and so is Morgan, who stands beside Pixel, gripping her hand tightly.

Morgan looks slightly older than both Pixel and I (I’m 29). I recruited her before any of the others, before I even thought of the Negatives in my strangest dreams. There was something in her that I knew would reflect the eccentricity in me. I could tell by her irises, which although typically a deep blue, can sometimes appear almost purple when we successfully create moments of passionate, harmonic destruction. Such as now. Those eyes… I think of them as demon’s eyes. They glare at me, I can see twin mushroom clouds in the black pupils, reflected, surrounded by the violet halo I’ve become familiar with only in our darkest seconds. Her hair is short, black, almost masculine. Her face is hardened with painful wisdom, and like a wounded animal, she always appears on edge and ready to lash out.

Morgan and I discovered Pixel in Argentina three years ago, while I was running an operation to depose the Mormon dictators that had taken over the region during the last twenty years. The operation was successful, of course, and Pixel became a vicarious child for us. I stare at the two of them, my makeshift family, but say nothing. No words need to be said. This is the third mushroom cloud Pixel has witnessed in our three years together, the third successful operation resulting in a massive blow against that which we consider our enemy: Order. Of any kind. Order is the fuel for tyranny, for fascism, and Chaos it’s only antecedent. I am a vessel for that destruction, the cure for suffering - and these two my strange reflections.

Successful operations - resulting in utter obliteration, as we are witnessing presently - are rare. We have been running through a stockade of atomic weapons discovered by one of my subsidiaries in the Southern California area, which is presently headed by a small city of Seventh-Day Adventists. Using subterfuge - not hard to do amongst such gullible fools - we were able to secure the materials to build three “dirty” nukes, the last of which we have successfully detonated as of about three minutes ago.

It was not easy to infiltrate our target and plant the weapon. Las Vegas, since 2082, has been heavily guarded by the city’s Mujahideen - the brutal secret police of the Islamic Republic of Nevada. For thirty years these religious fascists have reigned viciously, and I laugh at what it’s gotten them. They’re so much non-sense now, vapors, not even particles will remain once the explosion climaxes. So much for power. The only true power is in death, and I am it’s willing, anxious vessel. Even Allah could not save them from the Chaos they so feared.

In the beginning, there was only Chaos. Out of the centuries spanned a desire to Order that Chaos, to make something of it, like a child makes a castle out of sand. Is it a castle, truly, once formed? Or is it nothing more than sand? There are some who believe perception matters, that once something becomes an idea, it becomes permanent, real - that Order, once created, can not truly ever be destroyed again. They are wrong. The truth is, Order was never created in the first place. Only the illusion of it. Order, but a mask of Chaos. That sand castle is still nothing but sand. These words like lines in the sand, dividing us, arbitrarily, for my own amusement.

What you call Order, I call Entertainment. That’s what you live amongst, in your societies, your civilizations - elegant wastes of time. Illusions, grand ones at that, but nothing more than colors on a canvas, and just as meaningless. Your buildings mean nothing, your legends mean nothing, your lives, my life, all lives - mean nothing. These are the words of the devil, some might suggest. I nod respectfully. I will be the vessel of Satan, or Xenu, or Abaddon, Apollo, Hades, or whoever displeases you most. All roles must be filled, and I will play the devil’s advocate, the joker.

I thought I was one of you, for awhile. But I woke up, slowly, the voices of devils - angels - chiding me in my dreams, that I was sleeping even while awake. The illusion had taken hold of me, gripping my soul, tricking me, trapping me - the victim, without even realizing it. Just like you still are. But not I, for I broke the spell. I realized the lunacy of existence, the madness of “nature” and Order - how arbitrary it all truly seems, how impossible, and even idiotic.

Pixel’s sobs increase, the make-up blurring more rapidly. Morgan squeezes her hand, the flesh on her knuckles going white. I won’t turn around again, I won’t face the destruction, the angel Obliterate, the knocked over sand castle. There is more ahead of us to break, to contradict. Our work has just begun.

This world of light needs darkness, and a hole pokes through the luminescence.

michaelcthompson
January 4th, 2011, 05:54 AM
COPYRIGHT 2010 MICHAEL C. THOMPSON. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

II
Liquid chaos.


Lysergic acid diethyl amide. “LSD.” Liquid chaos.

Of nuclear weapons we have no more. At least for the present moment. But there are other weapons, in some ways more potent. The war on the world is equally as fascinating to me as the war on the mind of the world. Or more specifically, on the minds of those who live in the world.

It can be said of human history that insanity en masse is a rather normal trait, one that any reasonable observer might expect all human societies to manifest in the due course of time. I can forgive humanity it’s weaknesses. I have weaknesses of my own. For all my love of Chaos, some degree of Order must be achieved for it’s fruition to take place. Structure is necessary in order for me to formulate the various ways in which I inflict torment upon this sadomasochistic terra.

At a Negatives Cleveland outpost, I have been told, a recipe for an insanity-inducing chemical known as “lysergic acid diethyl amide” has been discovered, and replicated. Experiments upon the beastly villagers living in the nearby Christian Scientist settlement have proven, according to my informants, to actually induce insanity. In sufficient doses, permanent insanity. This new weapon, so striking in it’s poetic sentiment, has been on my mind since even before Las Vegas became so much cinder. I am anxious to test it on a large population of my chosen enemies.

Argus is staring at me, while I stare at nothing, contemplating.

“What’s wrong with you?” he asks, sounding agitated. “Don’t you ever pay attention?”

He stands about five-foot nine, a few inches shorter than my six foot height. He’s slightly younger than me - around twenty-five - and looks severely malnourished. He hasn’t eaten in days, not because we lack food, but because he doesn’t like to digest it. Everyone has their quirks, especially these days. His hair is bleached blonde and stands on end, not really a good look for him in my opinion, but his face makes up for the sole vanity that is his haircut. He’s Asian, but like me, he was raised out in the Middle-East Neo-Baptist citadels which line the Great Lakes.

He wears, like Morgan, Pixel and I, faded military fatigues. I assume they are from what used to be known as the United States Army, before the cataclysmic two-week nuclear exchange between nearly every “civilized” country in the world over one-hundred and fifty years ago, referred to almost ironically as “World War III.” We found them in a deserted bomb shelter, the only thing left after the food and water supplies had been picked clean by wasteland grifters.

“Sorry,” I tell him. “I’m just thinking.”

“You’re always thinking,” he says. “It’s a little disquieting.”

“I’m deciding what to do next,” I reply.

“We have a few options,” Argus responds, taking control without even realizing it, and gazing over my shoulder at both Pixel and Morgan, who stand behind me. We are presently inside of another bomb shelter, one we have been using for a few weeks while planning the Vegas operation. I don’t typically think beyond a present target, and make decisions as to what do to next only after the successful achievement of the operation goals - namely, mind-numbing destruction.

Pixel walks past me to a chair beside a broken table. Half we used as firewood while doing an overnight stakeout around the city’s eastern Mujahideen surveyors. This half leans against the wall, held up by a folded steel chair and stabilized by the smooth, cold concrete surface of the vault wall. She seems disinterested in the conversation entirely, as usual. She will do what I ask of her while we are carrying out our - my - plans, but typically she is uninterested in their conception. Morgan, on the other hand, likes to play a prominent role. She steps up beside me.

“I think we should go with the acid idea, targeting New Mecca,” she says, trying to steal some of my attention away from the energetic Argus. “It’s time. What have we got to lose?”

“Our lives!” Argus snaps at her. “We’ve been pushing it lately. Maybe too far.”

“I like to live my life on the edge,” I reply. “It’s how I’ve made it this far. How we’ve accomplished so much.”

“Are you losing faith in him?” Morgan asks the young man, somewhat condescendingly. Argus scowls at her. For a moment, my heart winces - although I’ve never displayed any sort of interest in him whatsoever, I’ve always fancied him a bit… romantically. I’m not proud of it. Harmony of that kind is quite repugnant to my senses, if not to my emotions.

“It’s not about him,” Argus says. “It never was.” He looks at me. “You know that, don’t you, Silas?”

“I don’t believe in egos,” I respond. “Just sensible, practical ways to break things.”

“It’s deeper than that,” he chides. “This is not just about breaking things for the sake of chaos. That’s childish. If we continue to take risks--”

“Stop,” I say. “Enough with your logic, I don’t care about your rationality. You’re missing the point. If you are interested in breaking these tyrannies only to start some more of your own, then I suggest you find another organization to join. And you know how I feel about organizations.”

“We are an organization!” shouts the boy, as I often think of him when I find him as argumentative as he is being now. I want to lash out at him, to tell him to simply leave, not even give him the option of staying. But, as much as I despise my hypocrisy, it is a necessary evil to consume a greater one. So I appease his ego, which I tell him (disingenuously) that I do not believe in.

“You’re being hypocritical,” he adds, pointing out the obvious. “You say this is for anarchy and chaos, but you’ve built an organization, whether you want to admit it or not. And you do have a goal. A specific goal.”

“What is that goal?” I rudely interrupt, speaking almost as soon as his sentence finishes, showing my weakness and my humanity and a mere second later blushing at the revelation.

“I’m here because I thought we’re supposed to taking out these fascist states one by one… Is that how you feel about it?”

“That’s part of the picture,” I respond. “But go on, clearly you have more to say.”

“Well, why are we taking them out if we’re just going to kamikaze ourselves right into their hands for the sake of your stupid chaos bullshit?”

“I never said I had even made a decision in regard to our next maneuver,” I reply. “But I think I have you all figured out. What’s really the issue here is your desire for justice. Well, I hate to tell you, but I don’t believe in justice. And if you think I blew up Las Vegas, and Phoenix, and all those other cities, and killed all of those people, simply because I wanted to bring justice to the world, then you are sorely mistaken.”

“Then why?”

“Because,” I tell him directly, “someone has to do it.”

“What does that even mean?”

“That’s just the way things go. Morgan understands.” I turn to her. “Don’t you?”

“Why not?” she says. “It’s no worse than what they do us. In fact, it’s more a form of justice than what you’re suggesting.”

“I haven’t even made a suggestion,” Argus snaps at her.

“I think you have,” I interject. “It’s clear you think that fascism and tyranny are wrong. They are, it’s true. But that’s because everything is wrong. It’s all bull-shit. Things have gone too far. There is a greater Nature at work here than this earth and the filth that grows upon it. And we are agents of that Nature.”

“What are you talking about?” he repeats, irritating me. “Are you telling me that there is no purpose behind this? Behind any of it?”

“Purpose is a meaningless word, just like everything is meaningless. Do you think there is a meaning behind any of the death and suffering inflicted upon this world? Do you think that the horrors we commit are somehow more acceptable than those committed by the ones we’re committing them against?”

“Yes!” Argus shouts. “They have to be!”

“If they are not, if they are just as ‘evil’ as you might think of it, then what does that make you?”

“A murderer…” he says, almost whispering it.

“That’s right,” I tell him. “And that would be awful, if that word actually meant something. If you don’t like doing what I say, then you are free to leave. What happens to you after you leave, however, is none of my concern.”

I stare at him, waiting for him to speak back to me, and he returns the stare, icy, hot, defiant. He doesn’t say a word. He also doesn’t leave. After about thirty seconds, he drops his eyes. I look over to Morgan, who has been viewing this exchange with great interest, and then to Pixel, who seems to have nodded off. When I look back at Argus, he has turned away from me and is working on one of the scavenged lap-top computers we found in an abandoned warehouse. There is a silence, and it’s quite awkward. Morgan breaks it.

“So…” she starts, hesitant. “The LSD?”

“I think it’s time,” I tell her. “We can drop all the nukes in the world. That won’t change anyone’s mind. But if we can get into New Mecca and drive all of those uptight shit-heads insane… well, it should be an interesting experiment.”

“They’ll kill you, and then they’ll us all,” Argus says, still not facing me.

“I’m not afraid of death,” I tell him. “I love it.”

“We need to get to the Cleveland outpost to pick up the LSD, then we can head to New Mecca from there. We should probably be getting out of this area before any survivors or allies come looking for us…” He sounds disheartened, but obedient. My heart warms.

“Then I suggest we leave now,” I tell him. I walk over to Pixel and snap my fingers in front of her face. She flinches, then looks up at me with her soft green eyes. They shine like emeralds under the single fluorescent light of the bomb shelter. “We’re going now,” I tell her. She looks disappointed, as though she was hoping to rest for a while, but stands, as obedient as Argus. He closes the computer, which fits under his arm, and puts it in a back-pack which he firmly affixes to himself.

I take a look around the bomb-shelter one last time. We’ve spent a month here. Most of the operation was planned outside of New Mexico, near the only Mormon state left on the North American continent, just outside of what used to be called Santa Fe. It had been renamed the “City of Soldiers” before nuke number two detonated, zapping all of the lunatics that lived there and relegating them to the Outer Darkness they like to go on about. I wonder how many of them thought the end was the rapture.

“Cleveland,” I say, savoring the name, trying to imagine (vainly) what it must have been like before the eighty-year long nuclear winter that devastated the world up until these last few decades.

I’ve never been to Cleveland. Pondering the odds, I suppose it might be the only time I ever get to see it. If Lady Death awaits me in New Mecca, then I shall embrace her with open arms, relishing all I encounter along the way. And when I arrive in the capital, I will send her message to all who live there, and to the states of this continent, and to the world.

I am the end. And they should all see me coming.

END CHAPTER II

RyeCatcher24
January 4th, 2011, 04:25 PM
I liked this a lot. You have created quite a character with Silas. I love that he has no aim other than destruction and chaos. Your character interactions were great as well. I love the tension you have set up between Silas and Argus. I also like the brief description of how, what used to be the US looks like after a nuclear war and Islamic occupation. After one read through, I didn't notice any big grammar issues.

You've definitely captured my attention and I'm dying to know what happens next. Good read Michael

michaelcthompson
January 5th, 2011, 03:27 AM
Thanks, I greatly appreciate the encouragement! I need to wrap this up in under 4,000 words, since I was planning on keeping it under 10,000 to get it published as a short story. So chapter 4 will involve Silas getting to New Mecca, and 5 will involve... the end! Chapter 3 is below.

michaelcthompson
January 5th, 2011, 05:10 AM
COPYRIGHT 2010 MICHAEL C. THOMPSON

III

Pilgrimage.

Our sojourn begins as thus: we encounter no resistance leaving the territory once officially known as Nevada. There are no Mujahideen marauders out for vengeance, sniping through the desert sands for the destroyers of their homeland. No brutal assassins, nor irradiated beasts (aside from the usual fare of large insects). A vicious wind is all that confronts us as we leave behind the desert, and once we make our way through it, we continue east along the cracked highway, past the skeletal remains of automobiles and other, more organic creatures.

Pixel is mute as always, and there is an awkward silence between Morgan and Argus. Morgan is so loyal, and useful, that she is the favored of the two. Argus, however, is more intelligent than she, and less expendable. I must maintain a balance between the two that I can see I am failing to keep properly adjusted. Morgan knows that I find Argus to be more strategically valuable, and for this reason works against him. I’m sure she doesn’t realize that all of her behaviors are heavily scrutinized, analyzed and reflected upon by me. She is an open book, and if what I know of her is correct, she doesn’t even realize it.

Argus, on the other hand, likes to appear aloof, and tends to keep his true thoughts to himself - a sure sign of his distrust in my greater goals. His voicing of opposition to the LSD operation I now plan on commencing in New Mecca was the first time that he had ever taken his argumentative stature to such a level, and I’m guessing, by the token of nature, that his defiance will only elevate.

The two of them bicker, I not bothering to intercede, merely listening and observing their pettiness, taking in every detail of their frequent debate scenarios. Argus thinks he hides more from me than he really does. But that’s alright. It makes him less guarded, his walls easier to climb and peer over… regardless of what he thinks, he is right in the palm of my hand.

Two weeks after leaving the Vegas outpost, we convene with our brothers and sisters in Colorado. Unbeknownst to the Islamic-American Empire, the Negatives have infiltrated a settlement of Islamo-Christians in the “City of Maximums” - traditionally, “Boulder.”

I created the Negatives fourteen years ago - I was only fifteen myself. Severe circumstances led to severe beliefs and behaviors. But we’ll discuss my ingredients at another time. I’ve formed many factions and alliances over the years with those who hate the reality fascists just as much as I do. And some who hate them slightly less. From Argentina to Newfoundland, there are Negatives, working independently to wreak havoc on the existential ecosystem of this poisoned world.

Heading the faction that has infiltrated the City of Maximums is a young woman named Shiloh. She grew up in New Mecca herself, a Neo-Muslim born and raised, until her rebellious instincts finally collapsed the walls of her dogmatic programming at the age of twenty-two. I met her two years later, and I’ve known her for five now.

We meet a mile outside the city, in the dead of night. A caravan approaches, and Pixel and Morgan stare at it, holding hands. Argus stands behind me, sneering over a recent ridiculous, and redundant, debate. A torch appears at first, heading toward us from the direction that I know the City of Maximums to lie in. We can’t see a thing in the darkness - quite fortunately, the Islamo-Christians don’t believe in electricity. To me, they seem like a combination of the Traditionalist Muslims and the Amish - which makes them seem twice as absurd to me as either of the two.

The torch comes at us by the speed of a horse, and as it approaches, I can hear the wheels of a small caravan approaching along with the beating of hoofs on the broken Colorado highway. Two wagons, led by two horses - one black and one white - pull up in front of us. In charge of the black horse is a woman in a long, thick black burqa, who stares out at us with beautiful sky blue eyes, almost silver. Her skin is dark, Arabian. This, I know immediately, is Shiloh.

There is a male in charge of the white horse, and he holds a gun, pointed directly at me. He wears black robes, but his face is not covered, and a battle-hardened old man’s visage peers out over the top of the robe he has drawn around him. His hair is silver, reflecting the moonlight like the surface of a mirror, and his eyes a deep brown, like mine almost black.

Shiloh motions at him, then removes the hood of her burqa. Her face is scarred with a flash of acid, the final madness that drove her out of the order of New Mecca and into the chaos of the disclaimed wasteland - into the Negatives. At her motion, the man puts down the gun.

“Brother,” she says to me. “Silas. I’ve missed you, dear.”

“And I you,” I reply. I motion to her friend. “Who is this?” I ask.

“Call him Oliver,” she replies. I nod to him, but make no other motion of social pleasantries. “I heard you were coming,” she adds after a moment. “Tonight.”

“Then your lookouts are doing their jobs well,” I tell her. “I’ve only come for the evening. We must rest, and I need you to do something for me.”

“For you?” she says, a smirk on her face. “Anything.”

“Can we go already?” Argus asks behind my back, rude and impatient. I grit my teeth, wishing that I was not frustrated by this young fool, but doing so in vain. I turn to face him, an evil glint in my eye. I can see he receives it, and tries to hold up against it - failing to do so, in the end, and quivering slightly before shamefacedly realizing he could not conceal the break.

“We’re going now,” I tell him, trying to sound as patient as possible - and in the process, I’m sure, sounding very impatient indeed. Argus and I climb alongside Shiloh, and Morgan and Pixel ride along with Oliver. We head back to the City of Maximums in silence, and upon reaching it, we are let in with no quarrel whatsoever. Outside of the major cities in the Islamic-American Empire’s territories, the small settlements that are spread throughout the wasteland are largely unattended to - lest they should fail to pay the proper taxes to their Muslim “benefactors.”

The city sleeps in silence, without electricity and without any interest in night-life whatsoever from most of it’s residents. It is this darkness that has made the city a perfect place for the Negatives to keep a static base. Shiloh, I am happy to say, is the perfect proxy programmer of my American Middle-East operations. In my absence, she creates such spectacular artwork for hundreds of miles in either direction. I am always pleased when the random probabilities coalesce, bringing us together in brief harmony.

Our base of operations in this city is a large sub-basement beneath a boarded up building which typically houses squatters (and not for very long, as Shiloh has little tolerance for charity cases). The City of Maximums, although in some places wired for electricity, never actually uses it. You wouldn’t know it stepping into this Negatives outpost, as computers line the walls, and there are various electronic devices propped up on tables throughout the room. It buzzes with conversation, and I suspect that it is likely never completely silent amidst this space.

“Do you have somewhere we can go in private?” I ask Shiloh, raising my voice over the chaos in order to be heard. “And somewhere that my friends could sleep for the evening?” She nods, not vocally replying, and then motions to Oliver. He says something to Argus, Morgan and Pixel, and they begin to follow him. As they walk away, Argus shoots a distrustful final glance at me, and then turns a corner into a corridor obstructed from my view. My hostess then begins to walk toward a closed door across the room, nodding at me to follow her. I do so, and we enter the room. She clicks the door shut behind me, completely muting the calamity outside of the chamber.

“I am glad to see you’re still alive,” she says to me. “I always wonder if they got you… do you ever wonder about me?”

“No,” I tell her honestly. “I don’t ever wonder about things like that.”

“I’m not surprised,” she responds, sounding disappointed. “You’ve got a lot on your mind… no room for non-sense like that.”

“You know me too well,” I tell her.

“You’re a great man,” she says, stepping away from the door. She snaps her fingers and suddenly materializing directly in front of us is a large desk - opaque, like glass, and appearing almost exactly as such. I run my hands across it, feeling it’s smooth surface. It vibrates with energy, and a faint heat emanates from it’s surface.

“Impressive,” I tell her.

“That’s nothing. A parlor trick. You should see what they’ve been getting up to in New Mecca… This is a convenient invention. An after-thought, really. The weapons they’ve been building are far more fascinating than a kinetic desk.”

“How did you acquire it?” I ask her.

“I stole it from an IAE outpost we wrecked a few months ago,” she says simply. “How do you think?”

She walks around this scientific sorcery, snapping her fingers again. A chair materializes - a kinetic chair, I’m guessing. She sits down, then suggests I snap my own fingers. I do, and another chair materializes for me to sit down in. I do so, noting immediately that the slight vibration and warmth are very relaxing. Almost disorienting.

“You wanted me to do something for you?” she asks.

“Yes,” I tell her. “It can only be you, Shiloh.” She looks somewhat disconcerted at the tone of my voice.

“What are you talking about?” she questions suspiciously.

“I believe I’m ready to die,” I tell her flatly.

“You can’t die,” she says. “We need you.”

“You’re wrong,” I answer. “If you believe that, then you still don’t understand me. This is all amusement… there is no purpose here.”

“Silas, you’re our leader.”

“I’m not a leader. I’m a figurehead. I don’t give orders, you don’t consult me. You take orders when I’m here, but that’s almost never. I put you in charge for a reason.”

“You created me,” she responds. “You told me the truth about this world.”

“There is no truth, that’s what I told you,” I say to her. “It wasn’t a riddle, it wasn’t a paradox. You’re just like Argus. You think this is all ultimately for a good cause. Or something like that. Don’t you?”

“Isn’t it?”

“No. But it doesn’t matter. If I really believe what I’m saying, then I don’t care what you believe. It doesn’t bother me that we philosophically disagree. You are the only person capable of carrying on these operations that I am willing to trust at the moment.”

“What about Morgan?”

“Too obedient,” I say. “Needs to take orders. Needs approval. Craves respect. Argus doesn’t trust me. I suspect he may end up on the other side. He’s not enough of an extremist - I sense an impending ricochet of character in him. Pixel… well…”

“I can’t replace you, I don’t even know what you do, precisely,” she replies, sounding somewhat anxious at this unexpected request.

“I do whatever it takes to break as many of them as possible,” says I. “Knock down their tower. You have all of my resources. Morgan will be as loyal to you as she was to me, and you know about the network. Do whatever it takes. I can’t tell you my strategy because I don’t have one. I let reaction take me where I want to go.”

“What are you going to do in New Mecca?” she asks, changing the subject. Seemingly on purpose, as her discomfort levels have visibly increased.

“I’m aware, as I’m sure you are, of the hypocrisy of my disposition. Argus has been pointing it out to me more frequently lately. I believe that the only validation for my philosophy would be my own death. To continue alive as such, while supporting the ideas that I support, would only further degrade my identity. It is time to be a martyr for that which I love most, the only thing I love. I will die ruining this world.”

“But-”

“Do not try to talk me out of it,” I say to her. “One thing our religious reflections have in common with us is a passion for martyrdom. I will make the rest of our conversation short. I am not going to kill anyone in New Mecca, once I arrive - at least not anyone more than is necessary to achieve my goal. In Cleveland I am picking up a large stockade of LSD, a chemical which is reported, according to our affiliates at the outpost, to drive those who ingest massively large doses of it permanently insane.”

“Why don’t you just kill them?” Shiloh asks.

“Because that is not a goal worthy of my death,” I reply. “Whether you take my advice or not is none of my concern - I trust that either way, you will continue to tear down the towers of ego this theocratic renaissance has inspired. But I believe I have been going about things the wrong way. By killing our enemies, we only give them further reason to be afraid, to shore up the defenses. Perhaps we strengthen them with each blow. But to drive them mad, and let them live… who knows what kind of effects that might have on the future history. Imagine permanent chaos… one that spirals outward, infecting all those who see it. If the operation is successful, as I’m sure you will be waiting for news of it, then I suggest you try similar operations in other cities in the IAE. And I also suggest that you use higher and higher doses. Scar the mind of this world forever, Shiloh. Our contacts in Cleveland have assured me they can synthesize this chemical repeatedly, ad infinitum.”

She only stares at me, saying nothing, letting my words sink in. I stare back, memorizing her face, knowing it will be the last time I see it.

“I’m leaving Morgan, Pixel and Argus here,” I tell her. “Watch Argus, he is a ticking time bomb. Tell Morgan and Pixel of my plans. They will be very valuable assets to you. I do not wish for them to die with me, and to be honest, I believe it will be easier for me to pull this off without their help. The chemistry as of late has been… toxic.”

“So this is it?” she says. “This is the end of you?”

“Just the beginning of the end,” I say, and with that I turn and exit, hesitating for not even a moment.

My pilgrimage to New Mecca resumes, now solo.

michaelcthompson
January 5th, 2011, 08:30 AM
COPYRIGHT 2011 MICHAEL C. THOMPSON

IV

Jihad.

New Mecca is unlike anything I could have ever imagined. Hanging high in the sky is a crescent moon, perfect for the occasion. It rises horizontally across a large, circular opening in the center of the city, around which are symmetrical towers which line four enormous triangular city blocks, compromising the entirety of the "center of the world." Roads circle around and through this design, but none intersect the circle above which the brilliant moon rises, reflecting the light of the sun onto the darkened city.

I’ve seen photographs of New York. That’s what this place used to be called. It looks nothing like it now. Unlike most of the cities scattered amongst the wasteland, even unlike Las Vegas - the third largest city in the IAE fold - all of the buildings here are new. What once existed was razed to the ground, and this brilliant homage to Allah was erected by the Neo-Muslim conquerors who annexed this continent shortly after the “World War III” nuclear cataclysm.

The many towers stand tall, scraping the sky, their walls made of large panels of reflective glass, absorbing solar energy to power the city cleanly and infinitely, free of charge. The difference between the Neo-Muslims and their predecessors - the key component that allowed them to take over most of the world - was their willingness to embrace futurism, technology, and to do away with the archaism that had held back their predecessors. Combined with the arduous Islamic sense of empiricism, it was inevitable that they would conquer. The pathetic Christian West, weak in it’s beliefs and lax in it’s discipline, stood no chance. Neither did the few atheists that bothered to resist. The Catholic Church had collapsed years beforehand. The timing was perfect - divine, the invaders claimed.

The Neo-Muslims took over the large chaotic North American continent first, then expanded into South America. Smarter than their elders, these new children of Allah knew that by forcing all to convert to Islam, or slavery, only further war would be enacted, and resistance eventually costs a hefty price to those resisted. A simple tax was enacted, allowing each religion or religious community to form it’s own Islamic-American Empire protected state. Many of the “mainstream” Christians, fractured and traumatized by the Muslim takeover, but too terrified to resist (for the most part), took to Central America. All those who did not proclaim to believe in one universal God were executed, on the spot.

The IAE eventually annexed Central America territory by territory before expanding into South America, conquering them as well. Technology of the kind Shiloh presented to me in the City of Maximums can usually only be found in major cities, like New Mecca, or IAE military installations. The factional states are not granted access, but the official IAE states - all of the major cities on the North American continent - enjoy the benefits of modernity in extremis.

Getting here was not easy. The weather on the path to Cleveland was awful, and I came down with a flu a week before I made it to the Negatives outpost. Once I made it there, on the verge of death, I was nursed back to health only over the course of two weeks. During these two weeks, I had strange dreams, and would often wake up shrieking. At least that’s what my Negatives comrade Elronde told me, as he watched over me. He is the head of the Cleveland outpost in my absence (and this is the first time I’ve attended).

Morgan and Pixel arrived as well, although Argus did not come with them. Once I regained lucidity and finally began to overcome my illness, Morgan informed me that both she and Pixel would be honored to die at my side. Now that Argus was no longer amongst us, undermining my authority, the toxic tension that had been building before had departed. I told them that they could come to New Mecca, if they so desired.

As I regained my health, we formulated the specifics of our plan. It was suggested that we might escape, and not have to die once the initial chaos had begun. I told both Morgan and Pixel that they were free to do as they wished, but I had no intention of ever leaving New Mecca alive. Without further disagreement, Morgan dropped the subject.

The plan was thus: Elronde, in the weeks prior to my arrival in Cleveland, had planted various LSD supplies inside of the different water facilities in the city. Each of the four large blocks of New Mecca have two water purifying facilities. In these factories, humidity is pulled from the air, as well as ground water from beneath the earth, purified in large vats and then re-routed to the city’s water lines. It is these vats we will need to infiltrate.

Elronde has informed me that we will need to dump vast amounts of LSD into these purifiers - a few simple cylinders will not suffice. He believes that around sixty gallons of pure, liquid LSD, synthesized to maximum potency by his genius hand, should do the trick. Sixty per facility. That’s four hundred and eighty gallons of liquid LSD that needs to be dumped today. Then the chaos begins. Then I can die.

Pixel, Morgan and I have split up. Elronde has come along also, as well as four volunteers from the Cleveland outpost. We’re each taking one facility, then checking back on each other’s work ad infinitum. The purpose for this is because we expect some casualties along the way. Elronde has secured various routes for us through the city’s unguarded sewer systems, but once we infiltrate the plants, there is no telling what to expect.

The others are gone. I am not.

I’m waiting. I don’t know why. Is it because I am afraid to die? I don’t think that’s it. The thought, however, fills me with some strange sensation. The hairs on my arms stand on end, my heart beats erratically, imbalanced. The world around me is vivid. I’ve never seen any photographs of New Mecca, and although I’ve heard stories of it, this if the first time I’ve ever seen anything quite like it. There is no stench of corruption here, it looks pristine, respected, honored.

I turn away from the circle and begin to walk back down the West side of New Mecca. The facility I am to poison is in the closer half of this block - Morgan heading to the farther one. I suspect I won’t see her again. Pixel either, for that matter. She has headed to the far end of the East block of the city. There is a sewer entry way in an unguarded alley a few blocks away that I am supposed to enter through, and then I am to follow directions displayed for me on a GPS data map programmed by Elronde for the mission.

I pass the people on the city, wondering what they’re thinking. Are they thinking of Allah? Or Jesus? New Mecca houses many Christians as well as Muslims - citizens of various different sects of each. Mormonism was long ago outlawed in the IAE (although it persists in Mexican territories), but nearly every other denomination has some presence here in the capital city. What will happen to these people, once they are thus poisoned? This city is so arrogant in it’s belief that God has chosen it, so lax in it’s security. I was expecting far more. Elronde suggested that the facilities are guarded, based on his surveillance, but almost passively so. Some resistance is expected, but according to Elronde, these facilities up to the very purifiers - unguarded - have been infiltrated multiple times by his own agents in the process of stocking the LSD supplies for the operation inside - and they have yet to be detected! If divine providence does exist, then Allah must want New Mecca broken and he must want me to do it.

A young woman looks at me, her eyes heavily made-up. She seems to find me strange as she walks past, but not strange enough to stare. My military fatigues are gone. I have been outfitted and groomed to the latest fashion, as all of us have, in order to fit in more appropriately amongst the citizens, so as not to arouse unnecessary suspicion. I pass a family, who regards me not at all, then a young man who glances only momentarily. I pick up the pace, heading to the facility. I don’t know what I’ll do once I dump the water. I don’t suspect I’ll actually go around, checking on everyone’s work… I have a feeling that after I’ve poisoned that purifier, I’ll have very little will left in me to do anything else at all.

I reach the alley, head around into a dark curve at the end, another alley, this one unobservable by the street parallel. At the end, a sewer lid, just as Elronde said. I reach in my pocket, grab the GPS, and head down. As I descend the ladder, I ponder the oblivious family, the curious female - all soon to be insane. Permanently changed, and radically so.

Is it remorse that I feel? Guilt? Those emotions are so alien to me, I cannot believe that they are mine. But something strange, and inexplicable, is occurring. That I might fear my impending ending occurs to me once more, and the thought is, as typically, brushed aside.

The GPS takes me to my destination, a vent, unscrewed, leading into a storage room inside of this purification facility - named, officially, Hydro B1. I push it aside, it clatters to the floor out of my grasp, dropping down into the room with a loud, metallic crash. I freeze for a moment, expecting footsteps to come running or shouts to erupt. There are none. Slowly, I climb down into the room, and then turn to face my bounty - what Elronde’s selected couriers have been slowly bringing in here night after night, for months on end.

Sixty gallons of liquid chaos.

I’m grinning like a fascist. My eyes gaze around the room, lit by a small fluorescent light in the center of the ceiling, which occasionally flickers. The containers are ovular, although flat on bottom, and unscrew about two-thirds of the way up. There are twenty of them total. It should take me no more than fifteen minutes to dump them all. With the end so close to realization, my heart beats impossibly faster.

I praise the arrogance of these religious idiots to believe themselves safe from my Shaitanic jihad against them. Las Vegas taught them nothing. The other cities I have dusted contained no lessons for these cretins. I had expected so much more, but Allah has opened the path up for me directly, disgusted by his own offspring and wanting them exterminated.

Still grinning, I remove the cap from one of the three gallon containers. Inside floats what looks to me something very similar to water, although slightly off in color, this seeming vaguely more yellowed. For a moment I think I see a rainbow in it, dispersing over my own reflection. The impulse seizes me to feel the consistency of the liquid, not caring for what it does to me, feeling my desire making the risk of such a thing irrelevant.

My finger enters first. It feels cold. Like ice water. My hand is next, up to the wrist. And then, without warning, I’m drowning in it.

(end chapter 4)

michaelcthompson
January 5th, 2011, 08:31 AM
The final chapter of "The Negatives."

COPYRIGHT 2011 MICHAEL C. THOMPSON. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

V
Black.


A demon stares at me, with purple eyes, violet halos spinning like galaxies around a black hole at the center of the universe, trapped in it’s gravity. Sucking me in

“SILAS!”

the creature screams

Still grinning like a fascist

Lips. I see lips. Rubber, pink, soft. Female.

Morgan.

Skin fades from red to pink. A vision, watercolor. Blurring around the edges. The violet eyes trailing.

I try to speak. No sound. Only vibration. Falling, once more, into the pit. Magnetic pull. My skin tingles, yanking from the viscera, splitting my atoms

My hand yanked, warm fingers around it, I’m running. Footsteps. Wait. No. I’m staring at a wall. It’s moving. I can see the particles accelerating. I put my fingers to it, feel the cold energy entering me. It moves from the inside to my eye, like a spike piercing through. I gaze in wonder as the blue paint blood splats the wall

I’m running again

“NO!” the demon screams, the halos spinning faster

She’s gone now. I’m on the street, lying on my back. A cloud passes overhead, a smiling face. People are jumping over me, shrieking. A voice, I hear it

“ALLAH! HAVE MERCY!”

I sit up, look around. A man is cutting himself with a knife, blood flowing freely. He sees me, our eyes lock like magnets. He is rushing toward me, the knife held high.

The scene changes. Beside me is Pixel, an angel, her aura - his aura - making me think of the fluorescent light in the room with the…

What happened?

Something… can’t remember…

“What…” I tell her.

“LSD,” says Pixel, speaking with the voice of a man.

It’s black now.

It’s black forever.

Then a light. Dim, at first. Slowly, shapes begin to come into focus. A face, I recognize it, although I can’t say how.

He stares at me with beautiful eyes, not like the halos of that female demon, but still sucking me into his vacuum. His hair stands on end, spiky, yellow.

“Silas,” he says.

“Who…” is all I say.

“Do you remember me?” he asks, speaking to me as though I’m a child.

“Who…” I repeat, drooling, unable to get a grip on reality.

“Argus,” he says. “I can’t believe you did it.”

“Who…”

“I was told you planned on dying. I guess you failed at that half of your mission.”

His eyes drift apart, their colors changing, blurring together with the inky pupils. I say nothing, watching it all re-arrange itself. A smile appears on his forehead, parallel to the one hanging in mid-air below his chin.

“I had to turn you in. Shouldn’t have left me behind.”

“Who…”

“Is this what you wanted?” he questions. “To be an idiot? You made a city full of them… I hope it was worth it.”

Can’t comprehend. Headache.

Black.

White.

A face. My father. His teeth all missing, blood foaming from his mouth. One eye exploded in red.

“Run. Don’t ever look back.”

Black.

“Is this the terrorist?”

White.

A woman standing over me. Black skin, black hair. Brown eyes. Large, unpleasant looking.

“What are you planning to do with him?”

“Allah has special plans for this one.”

The voice. Do I recognize it?

Black. Eternity.

Feeling… something.

My eyes open. I’m behind my face again. Strapped down.

I struggle, looking around. “HELLO?!” I shout. Vanity. There is no one in sight. My name…

“Silas,” says a voice from across the room, in shadows, hidden from my view.

“Where am I?!” I shout. “Who am I!?”

“Silas, you don’t want to know where you are. But you’re about to find out.”

I begin to vibrate. The sounds of crunching gears feel the room. Struggling uselessly, it comes to me that I’m strapped to some kind of table. A moving table, facing me upright.

“Do you prefer pain?” asks the man in the shadows. He steps out. He wears a lab-coat, and in his hand carries a black poker. He looks Arabian, and middle-aged - a Muslim Inquisitor. He wears a pair of circular glasses with thin gold wire rims, and khaki pants beneath the lab coat. He can’t be any taller than five-nine, and weighs no more than one-hundred and fifty pounds.

“Your friends explained your philosophy to me,” he says. “It’s so… juvenile. It seems that you prefer to be evil for the sake of it. Like a spoiled little child. Who lacks discipline. Would you say that describes you?”

I don’t know what to say. I don’t even know if I remember how to talk. I open my mouth, but it’s so dry that only useless air escapes it.

“Don’t bother trying to speak,” he says. “We both know you’re not a reasonable man. Or a rational one.” He takes a slight, ironic bow to me, grinning as he does so. “My name is Dr. Khalid. Do you have any guesses as to why I may be here?”

I shake my head no.

“Well… it’s not to interrogate you. You have no information of value to me. As far as the Empire is concerned, you’re nothing more than a common, run of the mill anarchist. Your delusions of grandeur may suit your ego, but Allah has brought you to justice. Just as he brings all infidels to justice.”

I say nothing. I plan on saying nothing.

“Do you know how many civilians we had to put down as the result of your little terrorist act in New Mecca?”

No.

“We executed over two million people because of you. Your poison was not allowed to spread.”

“Kill me now,” I say, surprising even myself at the involuntary command.

“We have quite some time to spend before you die,” he says. “First I’ve been ordered to make you suffer, heinously.”

I only grin. Unexpectedly, he grins back. Then we begin to play.

My fingernails are ripped off first. With each flash of pain, more of my identity returns, more of the LSD’s slippery grasp on my perception fades. A part of it, on some level, effecting me increasingly less. With each succession of torturous undertaking, the LSD peaks and crescendos until snapping me slowly back into sobriety and sanity. Gasping, I speak to Dr. Khalid as he selects an instrument of pain from a table across the room.

“You’re just as pathetic as I am,” I tell him. He turns, eyeing me through the blood on his face - my blood.

“Am I?” he asks.

“Maybe worse,” I tell him. “So stupid you have to believe in a God that doesn’t exist, that you can’t possibly comprehend life in a universe where you aren’t special or chosen or forgiven for all of the evil shit you do.”

“A terrorist like you is reprimanding me? Is this truly happening?” he questions sarcastically.

“No matter what you do to me - no matter how many pounds of flesh you carve, how many of my followers you kill, there will always be more. Do you know why? Because your Order is a lie. And it’s plainly obvious. And no matter how hard you try to hide it, how strongly you manage to repress it, it’s right out in the open. Your power isn’t real. That’s why you crave it so badly.”

He smiles, turns and picks up a scalpel. “An old-fashioned but extremely useful tool,” he says, nearing me. He leans down, staring into my eyes with his own, almost as black as his pupils.

“This power?” he asks, drawing the knife against my cheek, cutting through. Blood flows out freely, I flinch, but then smile.

“Meaningless,” I tell him.

“What does this mean?” he asks, slashing my other cheek. I react in much the same way, spitting up blood into his face. He steps back, wiping it off in disgust.

“Why did you kill them?” I ask him.

“Why do you care?”

“Just curious.”

“Because although you vastly overestimated the long-term effects of your poison, there were many negative side-effects which contributed to the undermining of Allah’s plan. You have been overdosed for well over two-weeks now. You got a more potent dose than anyone in New Mecca. Although the citizens were driven insane, the most serious effects of the attack only persisted for around 72 hours for most citizens.”

“How do you know I overestimated anything?”

“Morgan talked, Elronde talked. Pixel didn’t talk. Didn’t say a word, even when I killed it.”

“Pixel is dead?”

“Oh, they’re all dead,” says Dr. Khalid. “Shiloh, Argus - yes, even him, although he betrayed you and came to us.”

“Then kill me,” I tell him.

He jams the scalpel into my thigh, cold steel jammed between my atoms. It’s quite unpleasant. I exhale, hissing in pain. He slowly pulls the knife out, savoring the exquisite discomfort on my face.

“That’s Allah’s finger nail,” he says. We’re not even at the first pound of flesh…”

“Pain doesn’t bother me…” I reply.

“I wish I could say you’re lying, but sadly, I think you’re telling the truth.” He drops the bloody scalpel, and it clinks to the concrete floor beside him.

“I tried to imagine what would cause you to suffer the most. I couldn’t really picture it… I wasn’t thinking like you. You see, I learned a lot about you from your comrades, and from others I’ve taken in during our continental sting over the last two weeks. You like to believe all existence is reprehensible, that all men and women are egos that need to be squashed. You hate reality.

“But I have been studying the effects of this ‘LSD’ your newly-defunct terrorist cell has synthesized. And reality overload seems to be the most common side effect. You crave death… obviously. Maybe the most poetic end for you would be to never let you have it, at least insofar as I am capable, while at the same time overdosing you with your own poison for the rest of your existence.”

I remember the LSD in my brain, reality slipping, unable to hold onto anything. My heart races again. The end, stolen from me, for so long I’ve expected it. Hoped for it. Needed it. Without death, I am…

“A failure,” Dr. Khalid says. “That’s what people like you have always been. Unruly children smashing sand castles. Truly, you should all be put down.”

And with that, he steps behind the table, out of my view. When he returns, there is an IV, a needle attached to the end. The liquid inside I recognize immediately. My heart dreads it, my soul cries back in disgust. No more. No more, I want to be done with it, I want to be back to normal.

He plunges the needle into my arm, as I am unable to do more than tense it up beneath the restraints.

Liquid chaos.

Hallucinations inject into my veins

Quickly the room lights

Khalid smiles, with black eyes

Black

Black

(The end.)