The three walked arm in arm down the now-deserted street. Sure, it was unusual for three homophobes to walk lock-step, arm in arm, down the street — any street. Luckily, their fully loaded assault weapons hung loosely down their sides so no-one would question their manhood. After all, what says, “I am a manly man; I am courageous!” more than having a weapon of indiscriminate destruction hanging by your side? Bigly manly.
The heat was stifling on this hot, humid, hazy day. Brain Krimp kept swatting vaguely at his face. But it wasn’t helping. Where were these damned flies coming from? he wondered. He couldn’t see them. Maybe they aren’t flies, he thought. Brain turned to his companions and asked, “Hey, Henry? Bill Bee? You guys hearing some kind of buzzing insect? I don’t see them.”
“Nah,” offered Henry. “But — you know — sometimes those antibody shots make me … they screw up my hearing.”
Brain glanced over at Billy Bee. “You?”
“Yeah, they are a pain. But better than dying with a tube stuck down your throat, right? Anyway, just ignore it.”
Brain nodded. He was trying to ignore it, he thought to himself. But instead of lessening, the sound grew louder. It wasn’t so much a buzz as a whisper. But what the hell was it saying?
“Thank you.” This time Brain heard it distinctly. He looked at his companions furtively. They didn’t seem to have noticed. Maybe it was just the shots.
“Thank you!” It was more distinct this time. And louder. Surely, they had heard that. “Seriously, didn’t you guys hear that?”
“I think one of the survivors was leaning out the window thanking us,” said Henry. “Good for him. At least somebody knows reopening was for the best.”
“Yeah,” added Billy BeeBop. “There were way too many people. Still are. And way too uppity. Those that are left will know their place. Mark my words. And almost all the wealth will be controlled by the likes of us.”
Brain scanned the apartment buildings on both sides of the street. He didn’t see anyone hanging out, but the sound was growing louder. Only…only, it wasn’t sound so much as sense — a kind of impression or even mind reading. Someone — or something — was out there and it was signaling or saying “Thank you.” It seemed to grow louder and more distinct. And, yet, Brain still had the odd feeling that it was not sound so much as thought. Best not to bring it up again. It wouldn’t do to have his co-conspirators think him soft in the head.
At last, they arrived at their goal: The Cache. It had been decided to gather all the best loot in one place and “Der Fooler” had agreed to amass the portion from their states right here at Mercedes-Benz — well, Brain corrected himself quickly, it used to be called that. Of course, now, it was called “T-RUMP Stadium, Peachtree.” All the Stadiums were called T-RUMP something or other now. It made it easy for the T-Rump to remember their names. He just referred to them all as T-Rump stadium, T-Rump river, T-Rump highway, and so on. Of course, everyone else was confused about what he was really referring to. That caused inefficiency, delay, mistakes and rework. But that only made the lives of the proles more miserable (which was half the fun anyway). It didn’t impact the nabobs — so who gave a damn really.
But, thought Brain, that damned buzzing does bother me. Not enough to spoil my take of the spoils though. Come on! He pep-talked himself and attempted to put on his game face.
The armed squadron that accompanied the three governors came up to the Cache guards and showed their credentials. They entered together through the runway, just as the Falcons had once done not so long ago. A dumbed-down version of Pomp and Circumstance was being played full blast. TASS photographers snapped pictures as they went out with the governors like a second skin. Once the trio arrived on the staging area for the nabobs. “The Govs” as they were collectively known, waved to the crowd. Each one stepped forward in turn as their various accomplishments were touted over the loudspeakers.
Bill BeeBop grinned from ear to ear. The other two had seen the vast mountain of stuff on TV, but apparently Bill had missed it. He was astounded how much stuff was here! Of course, it had been collected and transported here from three states, though much of it was from right here in Atlanta. It was surprising how much wealth had been collected all told.
First, they had confiscated everything from people who died intestate. Of course, normally, one would expect the family to divide such things in the absence of a formal will. But the T-Rump had declared that such wealth would be needed to pay for all the social services required by the proles. Of course, there were exceptions for the nabobs.
The second wave of stuff had been stolen from people who were alive, but too sick to fight back. Of course, there had been the occasional necessity to put someone down who objected, despite being deathly ill, to having ICE steal whatever family heirlooms they had been wanting to bequeath to their son or daughter or special friend. But they had only numbered in the hundreds. It was nothing compared to the untold thousands who had died from the virus itself. In many ways, the shootings had probably been a kind of mercy killing for the very ill, Brain consoled himself.
The third wave of re-assignments had been the most fun of all. While it had been fun to steal stuff from poor people, the third wave had taken things from various “Enemies of the State” and since it had included engineers, scientists, politicians, reporters, newscasters, top government officials and so on, it tended to be much better stuff.
And, now, there it was. All the stuff from all three states. Each of the governors got one hour to collect their favorites and put it in their wheelbarrow. At the far side of the stadium, their three “opponents” milled about nervously. They too each had a wheelbarrow. Of sorts. There was no wheel. Instead, a triangle of metal went down to a bare hub which scraped along the ground. Everyone could see this would make moving the wheelbarrow much more difficult.
Their “weaponry” differed as well. While each of the governors had a fully loaded assault weapon with four extra clips, the proles were each outfitted with a nail file. True, it was a metal nail file. And, it did have a sharp point on one side.
Henry was so excited and eager to start the games that he damned near forgot to put his hand over his heart when the Russian anthem started. He felt a sharp elbow in the ribs; turned quickly and was about to smack Brain when he realized what was happening. He put his hand over his heart and looked up with what he hoped looked like a beatific and radiant smile. He wondered whether T-Rump was watching live, or even in person. Of course, the real whereabouts of the T-Rump were always a carefully guarded state secret since so many still openly despised him even though everyone in America was so much better off. At least if you believe the T-Rump.
The gigantic bull horn sounded and they got moving. Henry noticed that one of those damned cowardly proles had ignored his wheelbarrow and simply run and grabbed a single large trophy of some kind and began running for the exit.
That really rankled Henry’s sense of fair play. “What the hell?” he said aloud. “We’re supposed to be giving people a frigging show, for God’s sake. You can’t just go sneak off with one item. For a split second, Henry half-wished he had a high powered rifle instead of the AK-47, but what the hell. He sprayed a long burst over in the general direction of the running figure of the prole who had damned near made it to the exit. “Oh, man! That is sick! I shoulda got me one of these a long time ago.” He laughed as the torn figure of the running prole crumpled and the trophy spilled out of his nearly severed hand.
Henry felt good. He glanced quickly in the vicinity of the fallen prole and realized the had also hit an usher, a guard, and at least two spectators. “Damned, I’m good!” he yelled and turned back toward garnering more wealth for himself.
It took nothing like an hour to complete the “contest.” Each of the three governors smiled for the cameras and stood waving at the crowd, sweat pouring down off their brows and down the backs of their necks.
But who had won? At last, the stadium scoreboard lit up. They estimated the total wealth as — too close to call. Each of the governors had collected approximately one million dollars worth of stuff. Eventually, a more careful and detailed appraisal of the goods would undoubtedly reveal which one was the real winner. But for now, it was a tie. A three-way tie.
The scoreboard presented more details. Prole contestants had successfully acquired nothing! The crowd — who were 99% proles, by the way, cheered and waved their hands wildly. Total number of prole competitors dead: three! Again, a wild cheer went up from the crowd. Total number killed, competitors and audience and staff — 34. Now a half-hearted half-cheer went up. Not that decent a total really. Especially, when you considered that COVID19 was still killing about 3K per day and rising.
Now, the scoreboard switched to video mode and there he was!! The enhanced image of the T-Rump appeared. His hands appeared almost normal and even his skin looked vaguely humanoid. A great cheer went up from the crowd. Vast clouds of oxytocin laced with oxycontin were released into the crowd. After some minutes of cheering, the T-Rump gestured for silence.
“Not terrible. Not great. I gotta say. A tie? Come on guys! Who wants a tie? Should I let this stay a TIE? “
The crowd roared back “NO!”
“No. See? I’m a genius. I know what people want. Hey, guys! We’re on to round two. Round two rules are this. One of you has to die and the others will fight for their share of the dead guy’s loot? Got it? GO!”
Brain and Henry immediately crouched down and began firing first and aiming later. Billy BeeBop just stood still with a surprised look on his face. He said, “I thought we were all on the same…” The hole through his throat made the last word difficult to decipher. It might have been “side” or “team” or “cabal” or “conspiracy” though the last two were likely not in that man’s vocabulary, even before his head was torn apart.
Brain wasn’t sure whether or not the T-Rump would decide there would only be one winner or not, but he wasn’t taking any chances. Nor was Henry. As it dawned on each of them that they had been mortally wounded, each felt an overwhelming feeling of outrage at having been betrayed.
Just before his head hit the astroturf, Brain had a strange thought: we could have cooperated. The blood kept draining from his body and that meant draining from his thinking apparatus as well. Before he lost consciousness forever, Brain sudden realized in a flashbulb of insight who had been thanking him: COVID19! He had been one of the Meta-carriers and they thanked him profusely. It was nice to be needed, he thought. They assured him that he had achieved the Christian equivalent of a saint. Then, he died.
T-Rump got on the video feed and held his fists up in triumph. “Now, that’s more like it! Am I right?”
He pointed to the scoreboard, which was now framed by fireworks that were shaped like a golden hammer and sickle framed on a large red background.
Total Number Killed: 255! Much better!
Total Wealth estimate: Three Billion dollars for the T-Rump and 0 for anyone else!
T-Rump smiled beatifically and said, “OK folks! There are 255 bodies out there! You know what to do!” He began to lead the chant.
“Eat them raw! Eat them raw! EAT THEM RAW!” Some of the proles were still surprisingly nimble and sprang over other proles and railings and seat backs alike.
Soon, the chant was replaced by the soothing sound of thousands of teeth crunching on fresh kill.
After all, the proles were hungry. Very hungry.
T-Rump smiled beatifically as he looked on the cannibalistic carnage. He had one last announcement.
“You guys have been great! Enjoy your dinner! I want to account — right today — today. I am announcing the results of next year’s World Series! Which will be played right here in Trump Stadium! And — you ready for this — the winners of the World Series will be The Trump Falcons.”
The proles paused for a moment and clapped, each suspiciously eyeing their neighbor to see who would break back for the human flesh first.
If Only — A fictional crime story about two very real historical characters.
Nauseatingly realistic, Peter 😦
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