3 for the Price of 1
“Let me see if I have this right. You came up with the idea where you wanted to blow up the whole city. Have I got that part right so far? Good. You tell me you started five days ago, right? Okay. And then the air pump broke. So, you blew up half the city! That really bites. And no, I don’t have an air-pump, dude.”
“You what! You blew up half the city! Are you crazy! Now, I’m unemployed thanks to you!”
“In another time, 3,000 years ago, let us call it a dimension of space, a learned man created a massive weapon to blow up the world, but it failed badly. He only blew up half the city we live in now. But you, me, and everyone who lives in what is left, cannot leave, nor can anyone come in, because we carry the remanants of that sweltering heat explosion in our bodies, and anyone who comes into contact with us will also be infected. The infection of continual life.
“In this city, we are the only people on the planet that will never die, and for that we are hated and shunned by society, all because of one man’s personal hate against our world. Because of him, we suffer a fate far worse than any death you could imagine. To know the world evolves, while we remain the same. To know that friends we once had, are no longer here and we cannot grieve for and with those families. To know the riches of the world can never been seen again.
“Death is a welcomed thing here, but death will bypass us, even when that day may come when the rest of those on this planet have all gone away.
“And when that happens, the lonliness will be even greater.”
“I can't believe you blew up half the city! You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”
Gasping For Air
I blew up half the city. I panted out of breath as I focused on the plans. The jumble of wires was causing focus to evade my mind. There were papers and scraps everywhere blowing in the wind. I tried to catch some of them to no avail. I needed to succeed before time was up. If I didn’t complete this task I wouldn’t get paid. If I didn’t get paid, I’d have to leave my beautiful home that I had spent so long preparing.
I hate this, I hate it all. The colors, The burning lungs, The stinging in my eyes.
I turned to the last page of my instruction. The last page that says:
USE HELIUM TO INFLATE THE BALLOON CITY
I sat down hard, head in my hands. I blew up half the city under my own lungpower. If only I had read the instructions.
This is the first challenge I'm entering for @famewriter 's challenge. I am unsure if I'm tagging correctly.
A Life of Its Own
“I didn’t mean to. I only wanted a little attention. Just a side story on the news. It started small. Reading articles on bomb building. Then scaring up the materials. Covering my tracks. Using fake names. I’d go out to the desert at night and set them off. Lots of duds before I got the hang of it. I’ve never been much good at anything before. A rush to hear them pop. Added projectiles that would fly sending spikes into unarmed cactus. Once hit a jack rabbit. Took it home and nursed its bleeding leg. Never healed. Boiled and ate the poor thing. Funny, I never meant for this to get so big.”
“You blew up half the city!”
“Something sooooo satisfying about the power of black powder packed just right. Timed to do the most damage. Sent them out randomly. The coverage made my heart race. In fear. In pride. I kept it hidden. Did that real good. I sent them out to all those politicians. Knew that would bring the heat. Right to me. Couldn’t live with that...so I got out the big one I’d worked a year on. Drove to the closest big city. and set it on the strip...timed for midnight. Didn’t think it’d work so well...take out thousands. Didn’t think I could drive away so fast to watch it pop off and than blaze. Really, I didn’t mean to take out Vegas...I didn’t mean to do it. It just took on a life of its own.”
Night of Dancing Fires
I hope it was pure agony. I hope you went insane in those moments. I hope your lips whispered my name again and again, aching that I would come save you.
You were always delusional. But the first night we met, three years ago, I fell in love with your smile underneath those lights. God, you were beautiful. Despite the cigarette between your fingers, despite the smell of alcohol radiating off your body, you were beautiful. You had a glowing smile, the one that brought light to even the darkest forests in the world. And it became easy to believe you were simply a kind heart who was forced to adjust to unfortunate situations.
But I soon found out that there was no kindness in your soul. Your smile was a calculated move, a feat you practiced every night in front of your dusty mirror. And after that, you would go out with your friends. Rob a few small stores, create trouble with a few other gangs. Death was welcomed, encouraged even. During the nights I stayed at your house, you never even slept next to me. I always closed my eyes when you asked me if I was awake. I always heard your car groan as it carried you and the others to do another illegal activity.
Sometimes, if trouble came with you back to your house, I would hear the gunshots right outside these thin walls.
When I tried to leave you, your hands forced me into staying. They traveled inside my body without permission. They left deep bruises that will never fade. The nearby gunshots and bruises became a daily occurance. I could only wish you were sober enough that night to hear me screaming at you to stop.
Enough came to be enough. And then one day, you were especially drunk. Staggering around, you were swinging your fists at my head and yelling at me how much you loved me. I coaxed you to sleep, placing every angry nerve in my body to sleep as well. I had to smile to get you to do what I wanted. You were right about a smile’s deception.
I grabbed the gasoline you stored in your messy garage. I don’t think a single finger shook as I poured it all over the floor and walls. I let it seep into your disgusting body. But for some reason, something felt off. Like it wasn’t enough. To burn just you.
And then I realized. I could do more, go bigger. Make a disaster.
At midnight, I left your house and bought much more gas. Driving home, I let it trickle out of the container, dripping onto the roads that mark the city. I didn’t think about what would happen the next day. I just needed the city to burn. To die.
I reached your house at around one in the morning. I didn’t go inside. My stuff was still in there - my phone, my clothes - but I didn’t care. I flicked the lighter on, and watched the little flame burn for a while. It danced around, aching to grow larger, to consume everything it touched. And soon it would. I dropped to my knees, right outside your front door.
The fire began to play.
Growing faster than I expected, it licked all the walls of your house. I heard your screams this time. They never seemed to fade, even after the flames engulfed the entire house. The fire spread, continuing its dance throughout the streets. As I drove away, people cried out in desperation. And yet, no one called the hospitals. Death was welcomed, after all.
I arrived home. I took a shower. I slept. I did not think of what happened that night. But I did let myself revel in the fact that you and your whole damn city burned alive.
Yesterday I lit a fire for the hearth. I couldn’t even recall your name.
“This dark world we live in now, eh?” I asked Emily. She shrugs.
“I dunno, Alex. I mean, this is the only world I’ve ever known.”
“Well, my father told me, he said ‘did you know that people used to punish people who blew up buildings?’ I never knew that.” Emily looked thoughtful.
“Yeah, that’s pretty far out. You say America used to have people who blew themselves up?”
“Well, I think it’s better this way. Less suicide.” I felt a sick feeling roll around in my stomach, but said nothing. These days in America, we’re supposed to talk about our feelings. I, for one, don’t.
I hate the way that, half the time, people look at me with these pitying glances. But I’ve never voiced that. Those people out there born with two arms, they love pity. They bathe in pity. But I was only born with one. And pity is my nemesis, rather than my lover.
And in this world, the only way to earn a place is to blow up a city, somewhere in the world.
So that’s what I’m going to do.
I’m going to blow a fucking city into the sky. The only question is, the question that’s been tormenting me for two years, is which one? I’ve already decided to blow up a city in America. It’s perfectly legal, it’s just frowned upon. And I’m already frowned upon.
I don’t say any of this. I stay silent, silent within my head.
“So, Alex, what’re your plans for the weekend?”
“Uh... I’m busy. You know my parents, all over the, uh, chores and stuff.” She squints.
“Okay then.” I can tell she doesn’t believe my pathetic lie. At least I never told her that my parents were blown up five years ago. I’m fifteen. I’ve been living without my parents for five years. Never told anyone, because again, I hate pity.
An idea hits me like a bomb to the face. I knew which city to blow up, now.
Sure, it was halfway across the country from California where I am now. But I could get there. I already had the bomb built. All I needed was a plane...
No one flies commercial aircraft anymore, even just flying from one place to another. We fly in bomber planes. So I get on my father’s old bomber and I get in the pilot seat. I’ve gotten good enough that I don’t need a copilot. I take off, and I take a small amount of pride in it. I’ve won several plane races, and every time, it gives me immense satisfaction to say “I beat you singlehandedly.” Because not only is it true, it pisses them off like hornets whose nest has just been whacked. Yet they never try anything. Out of pity, that awful, awful word, that awful, awful feeling. Have I mentioned that I hate pity? Yes, I have.
I arrive at Washington, D.C. in just under 30 minutes. Direct flights are fast, these days. I park my plane on a nearby runway, although with my level of skill, I could have parked it in a parking lot. The White House was in sight, and I grinned. I planted my massive bomb in the lawn, then ran around like a maniac trying to plant all off the others around the city. I made it safely back to the plane before I hit the detonate button, and I flew off without looking back. It was time for a new ruler.
I am home safe now, watching the news of the event.
“A terrible tragedy has befallen this nation. Washington D.C., home to the president of the United States, has suffered a devastating attack. It is presumed to be foreign. The president was unharmed, but half the city has been leveled.” I smashed a fist into the television.
You only blew up half the city? I demanded to myself angrily. Damn it. I had tried so hard, only to fail. Now I fucking pitied myself.
A knock at the door.
“Yes, Emily?” I ask, opening it. She looks at me.
“It was you, wasn’t it?” I don’t answer, but that in itself is answer enough. “My God, Alex. You didn’t even manage to kill the president!”
I had to slam the door so she didn’t hear me scream.
You blew up half the city.
"Yessssss" said Dr. Heinous , "actually just34.6 percent, but the down town area. Now, I'm trying to work on this extortion letter. Could you check if it sounds bad. I'm worried about about the choice of words."
"Yes, master" i reply.
"It's my right to bear arms, i was going to use it for hunting . "
You never liked them , anyway, he says to me and project mayham continues...
A Greater Good
“You blew up half the city!” Malcolm turns, his voice the low, hollow chamber of deep rage. Jasper stands away from him, his eyes gaze upon the destruction he had wrought. Malcolm wishes he’d turn around. Jasper’s eyes could always betray his emotions. Malcolm longed to see a deep regret, a passing horror in his brother’s face. When Jasper finally turns, he is the statue of resolute belief.
“A necessary evil, for a greater good.” his voice is calm. He is at peace with his decision. It is this fact that truly breaks his brother’s heart.
”Necessary? Three hundred people are dead. Maybe more. Nothing about this was necessary.” Jasper laughs, as if he is faced with an ignorant child. “You don’t understand.” is his only reply.
And in truth, Malcolm could not. It’s true that both brothers had fallen in with a group of radicals known as the Freedom Project. It was a rush at first. Like minded people who truly sought to change the world. It’s true at one time they both believed the words, the cause. But somewhere along the way, Malcolm began to question. The Freedom Project began to attack as viciciously and as mercilessly as the opressive government it rose against. He could not reconcile the loss of innocent life.
It was not until some time later that Malcolm realized that severing his path from the Freedom Project also meant walking away from his brother. Jasper was too far in, they had him. They knew exactly who he was, how he fit into their plans. For years, he sat, a prisoner of the Bronze Order--the harsh military group that would call itself a government. He was tortured. His family was killed. He had nothing more to lose and they knew that. Alvaro, the leader of the Freedom Project saw through Malcolm. He knew he was not a true believer. But Alvaro whispered in Jasper’s ear. He knew he could make him do anything. And here they both stood, a harsh testament to that fact.
It was Jasper’s brain that built the bombs, and Jasper’s hand that detonated them. Alvaro and the Freedom Project would take credit, but they would not carry blame. This is how they worked. They provoked madness and then disappeared once more into the misty darkness from whence they came.
This most recent attack was meant to spark a revolution. It was a ruse, set up to look as if the Bronze Order had ordered the attack themselves. But the people did not rise. And Alvaro and the Freedom Project stepped away and left it in Jasper’s hands. Malcolm knew this, and yet still Jasper could not see.
“You’re the one who doesn’t understand, brother.” Malcolm cries grasping Jasper’s shoulders and forcing him to face him. “They’re gone. They’ve left you. This was for nothing. Those deaths. For nothing. Just like Marianne. Just like Andy.”
“Don’t say their names!”
“How many more, Jasper? How many more like you have lost a wife, a child to what you’ve done?”
This is enough to turn Jasper’s head. A shadow of doubt passes across his face.
“It can’t go on like this. Someone has to stop them.” his words are less careful, his asuredness fading. Malcolm approaches him again, sadly grasping both sides of his head.
“Someone will. But not like this. This is not the way.” Jasper looks over the bridge once more, at what he’s done. He begins to sob.
“It’s too late. It’s all too late for me.”
Malcolm begins to cry as well, at the sight of his younger brother. He’d once made a vow to protect him forever. How can he protect him from this? The desperation is too much to bear. Jasper turns to him, resolution once again in his features.
Malcolm rushes forward, because he knows his brother all too well, and what actions soon will follow. But his feet cannot catch up to his mind. He watches in horror as his brother throws himself into the ash filled wind. He looks away at the sickening crack of bones on the pavement below.
The only hope that remained to Malcolm was that his brother had found peace. Reunited with his Marianne and with his child Andy.
It was a cold comfort.
In the end, Jasper had been right about one thing. What he’d done was the spark to a revolution. Not in his action, but in his death he spurred a fire in his brother. If no one would fight, then he would fight for them. And when they saw how their hero defended, they stood in line behind him.
Battles were fought--bloody, ghastly battles. And sometimes, Malcolm wondered if it was even worth it. If too much had been lost already. And then the Bronze Order finally fell. Malcolm faced the dawn for the first time in fifteen years, a sunrise of a new world. And in that moment he only thought of his brother, Jasper.
In time the world returned to a new sort of normal. Democracy found its voice again. People lost their memories of the darkness that came before.
But Malcolm would never forget that fateful night, all those years ago.
Or the 301 lives therin that were lost.
The Only Way
"Hey, John! Come check this out!" yelled Frank from the living room.
"What is it?" asked John asked walking in.
"Look! On the television!"
"Is that some sort airplane?"
"No you idiot! It's a UFO, you know: an Unidentified Flying Object," said Frank.
"Wait, but it says it's directly over our city..." stammered John.
"Hehe, what's wrong you scared? Scared of a little alien invasion?" chuckled Frank.
"Nah, nothing like that. I just hope whatever it is it goes away soon."
"Ah, things like this happen all the time, it'll probably be gone within the hour."
"Yah I sure ---," before John could finish his sentence there was a large earthquake completely shaking the house. The paintings of family portraits, priceless vases, and even their windows all shattering instantaneously.
"What the hell was that?" stuttered Frank.
"Hey, help me pick up the TV," yelled John already holding one side, "It's still working." Frank jogged over to help place the TV back on the counter it was resting.
"Holy..." was all either of them could say.
"What are those things?" asked Frank.
"You idiot! You jinxed us! Those are aliens!" yelled John frustrated. The TV showed the UFO flying over a large company building with thousands of small red beings tearing the building to shreds.
"We've got to get out of here!" Frank said already heading for the door.
"No man, we've got to get our parents! They live probably 3 miles from that building, they got it worse than us," John yelled back.
"Dammit, you're right! Grab the keys, I'll go grab some water and the first aid kit and meet you in the car," said Frank back. Both the brothers dashed to complete their tasks. John made it in the car first with the keys and silently began to pray. Frank, who was not far behind him, hopped in the car and yelled, "What the hell you doing?"
"Just tryna to get some extra help is all," replied John.
"Well if that God of yours wanted to help at all he would've blasted those aliens in orbit," stated Frank.
"Whatever, just be prepared cause we have no idea what the hell we're gonna be dealing with." The two brothers were silent for a short time until they saw hordes of people blocking the streets running towards them. "They must be running from those red demons," John pointed out.
"Yeah, and they're blocking the whole damn street. C'mon we gotta run from here," Frank said kicking his side door open. John did the same, and they both fought against the crowd of screaming people trying to go towards their parents' house.
"Hey bro watch out!" yelled John at Frank. He finally saw one of those red freaks of nature in person. They were small, thin enough to see their ribs, and eyes as wide as baseballs. They had the raw strength to rip humans in half, as Frank and John both saw right in front of them. "Frank come over here!" John screamed running into an alleyway. Frank was right behind him. They opened the dumpster and hopped in, both closing their eyes hoping the relentless creatures would pass them without a problem. They waited in there for what felt like hours, but John, who peridoically checked his smartphone, knew that only 5 minutes had passed.
"We should be good. I haven't heard anything in a little bit," said Frank pushing up the lid, "Let's go." They both hopped out and saw the destruction of all the cars, buildings, and even the street that the creatures had caused. "We need to hurry," stated Frank. Carefully they kept traveling towards their parents' house. Luckily they were undetected their entire way there. However, upon arriving at the house they once grew up in, they saw the door wide open. They both rushed to the door in fear for what may have happened.
"Mom! Dad!" both the brothers kept yelling. Everything seemed silent. This went on for a minute until the loud familiar sound of their mother's voice was heard from upstairs.
"Help! There is one right outside my closet!" yelled their mother. But both brothers could here her sobbing in fear.
"Be careful! There is a bat in your old room!" yelled their father also from within the closet. Frank dashed for the bat while John ran into the room with the merciless creature. He could see it ripping at the door tearing it to shreds.
"Hey you ugly freak!" John yelled. "Come at me instead!" John quickly grabbed a flower vase resting on a table beside the door and flung it at the creature. With a quick swipe of its claws, the creature shattered the vase without even trying. However, John succeeded in attracting its attention, the creature chose John as its new target. Charging at him, John quickly ran to his old room. The creature was not letting him get away. John quickly dived into the room he once grew up in and just as the creature entered Frank was waiting with the bat which he slammed into the face the demon. It was out cold.
"Good, you remembered what to do," Frank laughed helping John up.
"Good, you still have that legendary home run hit," also laughed John. They ran into the room of their parents where they hepled them out of the closet and ran outside the house. "We've got nowhere to go," said John out loud.
"It's alright, we just have to keep heading in the opposite direction of those freaks," Frank pointed towards the UFO in the sky. The four of them continued down the road for a couple hours before a helicopter landed in front of them.
"Are you guys from Blue Rock, Mississippi?" questioned the pilot.
"Yes we are, and we could use a lift if you have space," John answered.
"Get in," the pilot replied. They took off with the pilot circling over the city they tried to escape from. All of it, destroyed. Not a single building was standing. In the distance loud noises could be heard from every direction. The helicopter they were in began to fly away from the city. Both Frank and John could see from above all the innocents who were hiding. The loud noises soon materialized as bomber planes. At least 6 of them all dropping high powered bombs onto both survivors and aliens. Frank and John both looked on with horror as their once beloved city became a blur in the ashes.
Three months later the survivors of Blue Block were invited to Washington D.C. to meet the President, the one who ordered the bombing, to be recognized. When Frank and John came face to face with the President they asked, "Why'd you do it? There were still innocent people in that city! You could've saved them! Instead you blew up half the city!" The President laughed a little before he responded.
"Correction, I blew up the entire city. And nobody is gonna remember me as the President who killed innocents, as far as anyone knows, everyone in that city was already dead or on the brink of death. People will remember me as the man who took out the alien threat and I'll go down in history." A sinister smile began to form on the President's lips. "If you ask anyone, believe me they'll tell you, this was the only way."
A DIFFERENT KIND of WMD
General B.S Master stepped to the podium, the medals on his uniform glittering in the auditorium lights like the sequins on a stripper’s g-string. The old soldier was certain that his announcement and accompanying demonstration would leave the audience in awe. What the old war horse was about to present promised to change how war was fought for the next century. More importantly to the old jar head, it assured that the United States would remain the world's preeminent military super power.
Using the pretense of adjusting the microphone attached to the podium, General Master scanned the crowd patiently waiting to hear what had brought them to the Pentagon. The who's who of the United States military were all in attendance. Admirals, Generals from one to five stars, and no shortage of spy masters were there to witness history.
"Ladies and gentlemen. My esteemed colleagues," Master started solemnly. "You all have been invited here to the heart of our nation's military operations to witness what we believe to be the end of destructive warfare." The general paused to take in his audience's reactions. What he saw was a mixture amusement and total disbelief.
Not wanting to invite a chaotic rush of questions, Master dove further into his explanation. "For centuries war has been fought using weapons of stick, stone, metal, and chemistry. The results were almost always catastrophic mass destruction and loss of human life. No longer." Master paused for effect, gauging whether or not his audience was willing to hear him out. Those in attendance continued to listen, using the patience borne of their military training, but the general realized that he would not be able to piss around for much longer. His audience was used to results, not pretty words. So, like a tank breaking through the enemy's defenses, Master pressed forward, determined to win over the skeptics.
"Our brilliant and dedicated scientists have been able to create a weapon made not of destructive physical substance, but one comprised of the human character. Thanks to the wonders of military technology we have successfully been able to weaponize human stupidity and arrogance." As the top brass predicted, Master's shocking announcement resounded in the room like a deafening thunder clap.
The audience's response to Master's announcement was a disgusted gasp. Shouts of, "This is absurd," and "You're out of your mind" greeted Master. Unfazed, the general smiled and raised his hands to stave off the words of disbelief.
"Now I understand your reticence." Master offered apologetically. "But didn't the military brass feel the same when the existence of the A bomb was revealed at the end of the Second World War?" The general argued.
Before the audience could offer up a counter argument, the general looked offstage and nodded. At his signal, the huge video screen that dominated the wall behind him filled the auditorium with its artificial light. On the screen, a well-known FOX news pundit was seen standing in front of an old five story hotel. The slick three piece suit clad cable news personality smiled confidently at the camera, totally unaware of what was about to happen.
Master’s glanced at the screen behind him and launched into the description of the weapon’s demonstration, “Ladies and gentlemen, using our classified laser technology, we can extract the essence of stupidity and arrogance from the douche bag you see on the screen behind me. Once extracted, the lasers then compress and condense the characteristics until it creates a vacuum similar to a miniature black hole. This vacuum is capable of destroying the building you see behind him.” Greeted by disbelieving silence, the general then whispered something into a small microphone attached to the lapel of his uniform. The demonstration was about to begin.
As the audience turned their gaze to the huge screen, they heard a loud electrical sizzle followed by a huge flare of red light. The huge screen went black as suddenly as it had come to life. General Master watched the now dead screen with a rising feeling of dread. Before he was able to formulate a response to the stunned audience, a visibly shaken corporal rushed and whispered in his ear. The news was bad. The demonstration had worked a little too well.
Before the general could bark an order, the screen behind him came back to life. The scene that was revealed was far different. Where the FOX personality had stood in front of the dilapidated hotel, there was nothing. Suddenly, the drone borne camera climbed high enough to show that the entire area for miles around the demonstration site was a black, smoking crater. Only a few buildings on the northern edge of the crater still stood.
From the audience a horrified voice screamed, “You blew up half of the city!”
Before the general could respond, the corporal at his side took charge of the microphone, “Technically, we imploded half the city and it was only Fresno.”
Still stunned, the general seized the microphone from his assistant, “Something must have went wrong,” the general stammered.
An admiral in the audience strode towards the stage, a furious look on her face, “Do you realize just what you have unleashed? Why, if we tried to access the stupidity and arrogance that is currently in the White house…”
A four star general completed the Admiral’s thought, “If the White House’s stupidity and arrogance were used, it would make our entire nuclear arsenal look like a handful of fire crackers!”
General Master smiled in response to the wisdom of his colleagues, “Exactly, and so long as our politicians remain arrogant and stupid, we have the entire world outgunned. World peace and the greatness of the United States are secure. As to Fresno, that shit hole will hardly be missed.”