A Tale Of Wrath : Stand Your Ground

“Take your gun with you. And a couple of spare clips.” I’d never forget Mom’s words, just like I’d never forget that day, when I changed forever.

I wanted to listen to a public speech by Diane Harris, the feminist. Mom tried to talk me out of it. “Son. There are nasty people in the world who try to stamp out what they don’t understand, what they are afraid of. They will be there, and they will try to stop her from talking.”

“I know, Mom. But I need to go. I need to show I support the free expression of thought. Besides, I like the things she says. She makes sense. I want to help her change the world.”

When she knew she couldn’t talk me out of it, she changed to Mother Hen mode, and started trying to protect me. “Take your gun with you.” She insisted on walking me to the front door, and watched me get in my car. “Be careful. Be safe.”

Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if she said, “Come home tonight.” I wouldn’t be surprised if she prayed, “God, bring my baby home safely.”

Everybody knew about the gun threats. “If Diane Harris gets to speak, there will be a massacre. We’ll kill everyone there.” It was one of those men’s groups. You know the type. “Men are superior. Women are subservient to men.” That kind of shit. Another group declared, “All you women, show up! We’ll take your picture, and hunt you down, and show you what women are for!”

Tommy, my best friend said he had to go. His girlfriend was going, and he had to try to keep her safe. Frank and Jimmy said the same thing. And my Dad told me, “You need to stand for something. Pick a side. Pick a cause. Pick something to believe in. And stand up for it.”

Yeah. I pretty much had to show up.

I patted my gun, under my jacket. Concealed, of course. Everyone had a concealed carry permit anymore. I’d never needed it. Never had to use it. But it made me feel safer knowing it was there, and I could defend myself if I needed to.

“Only an idiot would come here to shoot people,” I chuckled. With the Stand Your Ground law, everyone would probably be armed. If someone drew a gun, a dozen other guns would show up ready to shoot him.

And that’s exactly what happened.

First, one guy drew a gun. He shot the girl next to him. Of course, people pulled out their guns, to shoot him, and save themselves. He shot one of them, then another, They started shooting back. Yeah, they got him, and three or four people near him.

Then, a second guy drew his gun. And a third guy. I figure there were a dozen of them in the crowd, pulling guns, shooting at everyone. A guy in the row in front of me pulled out a friggin’ cannon. He pulled the trigger, and started mowing down everyone he saw, shooting merrily away.

So, I drew my gun. And the guy behind me shot me. In the back. “He’s got a gun too!”

It was hell on Earth. Bullets flew everywhere. People panicked. People ran. People died. Everybody screamed. It sounded like something out of a bad movie.

I don’t know how I’m still alive.

They tell me I was in the ICU for a week, no one knew if I’d wake up. They told me what happened. 56 people died. Yeah. 56. 109 wounded. I was one of the 109. Tommy and his girl were part of the 56. Jimmy was another part of the 109. He was recovering, but he’d lost his left arm. Got shot, fell down, got trampled. They couldn’t save it.

They tell me, with a little more technological advancement, I might learn to walk in a few years. Got shot in the back, remember. Spinal cord damage. My legs don’t work anymore. Oh, they’re alive. Blood flows through them just fine. But they don’t feel a damn thing, and I can’t wiggle my toes.

Mom cries every time she visits.

Dad tells me how proud he is, “You stood up for something you believed in! You’re a real man!”

Thanks Dad. Did I mention, I can’t feel my toes?

I keep hearing the numbers. 56 dead. 109 wounded.

The neighbors all sent get well cards. I hate them. Every card. I hate them. “Thank you for standing up for free speech!” “Get well soon!”

I keep thinking I should have gone to the beach instead of the speech. I’d have watched almost naked women in their tiny bikinis, and soaked up the sun. And maybe one of almost naked women would have asked me to spend the night with her. In her place. In her bed. With no clothes on. And I could have banged her.

Instead, I went to that damn speech.

A couple of police officers stopped by after I woke up. They asked me what happened. I told them. I asked them what happened. “It’s under investigation.” That’s all they said.

The nurses explained. No one got charged with anything. Except the first guy with a gun. He was dead, of course, but they’d charged him with instigating a riot. Everything that happened after he started firing was normal self-defense. No one got charged with anything. Even the guy that shot me in the back. “No hard feelings,” the nurses said, “He was only defending himself, standing his ground. It was just bad luck.”

Bad luck. He shot me in the back. I wasn’t looking at him. He drew his gun, and shot me. Crippled me. And he didn’t do anything wrong in the eyes of the law. Stand Your Ground, they call it. Defend yourself, and the people around you. Good, sensible law, ain’t it?

Did I mention I can’t wiggle my toes? I wonder sometimes. Do they itch?

The truth? Everyone went nuts. Everyone went crazy. And just started shooting. And they didn’t stop until they ran out of bullets. Yes, we defended ourselves. And we shot a lot of people defending ourselves. Most of them weren’t the bad guys. Most of them didn’t deserve to get shot.

I sure as hell didn’t.

Did I mention I can’t wiggle my toes? Hell, I can’t even reach the bottoms of my feet. For all I know, the nurses could have painted the blue.

56 dead. 109 wounded.

But we protected our right to free speech. And our right to bear arms. We defended ourselves. Yeah. We sure did that.

I wonder. If my toes itch, but I can’t feel them, do they still need to be scratched?

#MWBB 27 : Stack O Lee

Now, they done told me, “White people don’t congregate with them. They’s the wrong damn color.” But I knew they was wrong. They was people. Just like us. Just had different colored skin, that’s all. And I’ll stand by ‘em. What they done was right. And they had the guts to do what was right when all you white people pretended everythin’ was alright.

I tried to stop Billy. I did. Stupid son-of-a-bitch never listened to no one anyway. I told him, “You don’t treat people that way, Billy! You don’t!” Billy never listened. He got with his boys, and they went out on Friday nights, and found some kid to beat up. Always a black kid too. He used to say he was preserving the future of the country, keeping them in their place, subservient to white people, like they was meant to be.

Hell, he’d pick fights with ‘em just to get ‘em arrested, so he could take ‘em to court, and get everything they ever made, or owned. Courts work like that, you know. Hang the one that ain’t white, ‘cause hell, we know the white one’s innocent, and a victim.

Billy got a lot of people’s lives fucked up, that’s what he did. And I told him not to. I warned him.

But then, he married my sister. My little sister. Katie. Momma and Daddy loved her. And I wouldn’t let no one hurt her. Ever. Billy knew that. “Damn, boy, you sure protect your sister, don’t ya.” He used to say that all the time.

I watched my sis walk down the aisle of the church in her weddin’ dress. Momma and the church ladies worked for a month on that thing. Katie looked beautiful. Better than any bunch of roses ever can. I listened as Billy and Katie said their vows. All that “to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, ‘till death do us part.”

We buried Katie last week. She was only twenty-three. Everybody turned a blind eye. Talked about how sad is was that Katie died when she was so young. Billy didn’t even cry. Just stood there. “Real men don’t cry, you know.” That’s all he said. Everybody pretended like this was just some horrible accident. That God took Katie away. “It was her time.”

But me and the people Billy destroyed. We knew. We knew what happened. We knew Katie didn’t die by accident. God never came and took my sister away.

That mother fucker Billy beat her to death. He beat her every night. I used to see the bruises on her face. She’d lie to me. “I tripped and fell,” and “I bumped my head on the cabinet.” She’d tell me it was OK. But I’d sit with my sister on her and Billy’s front porch on Sunday afternoons, and we wouldn’t say a word. We’d just sit. And she knew I knew. Billy was beating on her.

So, hell yeah. I went and I got my Daddy’s rifle. And I got plenty of help from them people y’all keep saying are the wrong color. They knew what Billy was. What he did. They knew he’d beat Katie to death. And they knew it was the last straw.

Yeah, I got Daddy’s rifle. And we went and got Billy. And drug him out in the woods. And beat the hell of him. And when we all beat on him for a while, then I did to Billy what he done to my sis.

I shot him with that rifle. And if I hadn’t run out of bullets, I’d still be shooting him.

It’s what that bastard deserved. May he rot in hell.

617 Words
@LurchMunster


My entry, in all its unedited glory, for week 27 of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.

#CAFSC – The Bank Hiest

Mark Ethridge
732 Words
Anthology – Yes
Charity – Spark Summit

Name of female superhero: Crystal

Name of human alter ego, if different: Cynthia Gardner

Superhero Appearance (hair, eyes, body type, etc.): Crystalline surface, no figure (cylindrical, but changeable)

Human alter ego appearance (if she has an alter ego): Brunette, shoulder length hair with bangs, 5’8” tall. Something like a 34, 28, 36 figure.

Costume: None. She looks like a big cylinder, or whatever.

Personality: Very observant. Very adaptable.

Brief description of how the superheroine gets her powers (i.e. born with them, radioactive accident, mad scientist experiments on her, etc.): Made of nano-machines by genius scientist working for some corporation, as part of his way of protecting the world from the exploitation of his work.

Powers: Automatic repair of any physical damage. Networked (can leave parts here or there for “spying/information collection”. Far quicker than any human. Staggeringly intelligent. Far stronger than expected (she is, after all, a machine). Able to change appearance at will.

The Story:

Cynthia Gardner stood in front of the teller at the bank, “I have to deposit this,” she smiled, handing the teller her paycheck. The teller smiled back, then she looked surprised, then terrified. “Oh, God.”

There were four people with guns drawn, two by the entrance, one next to the security guard, and one at the teller next to Cynthia. A single gunshot echoed in the ears of everyone in the bank, sounding far louder in the enclosed space than it would have on the street. The security guard collapsed, a large red spot appearing on his chest, and thick red pool  forming beneath him.

The man at the teller next to Cynthia belted out, “Do exactly what we say, and no one else gets hurt!”

The two men at the door waved their guns, menacingly. The man who had shot the guard screamed, “Down! On the Ground! Everyone!”

Cynthia thought, “Dang-it,” as she got to the ground. “First thing’s first.” She ordered a string of nanobots to cross the room to the security guard, to render any assistance they could to him. The bots formed an invisible line on the floor, as they crossed the bank, and disappeared into the guard’s wounds. Cynthia received their reports on blood pressure, pulse rate, and physical damage incurred.

The guard was dead. The gunman had known exactly where to shoot. “So much for being nice,” she thought, reprogramming the detached nanobots, and programming another three groups. Each group targeted one of the gunmen.  Cynthia made sure the nanobot detachments were from hidden spaces, so no one would notice peices of her were missing. Toes from inside her shoes, parts of her self she was sitting on, her tongue and teeth, which she didn’t exactly need at the moment.

The nanobot detachments moved to the gunmens weapons, attacking the metal and fiber composite structure of the guns, pulling the molecular structure of the firing mechanisms apart, rendering the guns useless. They searched each gunman for additional weapons, removing sharp edges and points from any knives they found, reporting back to Cynthia what they’d found, and done.

The gunmen kept moving, not knowing anything was happening. They pulled watches, cell phones, laptop computers, cash, credit cards, and other valuables from the people in the bank, quickly filling up the bags they’d brought with them.

As they did, the nanobot detachments informed Cynthia the gunmen were fully disarmed. Cynthia sent them commands to disable the gunmen by disrupting their central nervous systems, blocking the flow of information from their brains to their muscles. Within a minute, the gunmen collapsed, one by one, falling to the floor, unable to move, quickly falling into unconscious states.

With the gunmen disabled, Cynthia knew everyone was safe, and the immediate crisis of the robbery was over. She issued return orders to the nanobot detachments. When they’d returned, she got to her feet, and walked up to each gunman. They would all live. “It’s OK, everyone. I don’t know what happened, but they’re all unconscious.”

The bank tellers set off the silent alarms indicating a robbery in progress, and a few minutes later, the police arrived. They found Cynthia kneeling next to the dead security guard. She wondered if he’d had any family. Any children. She wondered how humans could be so heartless, shooting someone for no reason other than a few trinkets, and some money.

“Miss? Are you OK.” One of the officers asked.

“Yes,” she pointed at the dead guard. “But he’s not.”

The officer nodded. “Do you know what happened here today?”

Cynthia shook her head. “They all just fell over. It was like magic.”

The officer offered her a hand, helped her get to her feet. “I just glad they didn’t get away with it.”

The officers asked questions of everyone in the bank, what they’d seen, what the gunmen had done, what had happened to cause the gunmen to collapse. No one knew anything. “It was like God struck them down.” “It was like some invisible gas or something hit them all.” No one could explain what happened.

Cynthia knew. She’d stopped the men. She’d tried to help the security guard, but had failed. She knew what the police would find when they examined the weapons of the gunmen. She knew no one would ever understand what had happened.

But she knew. And she could never tell.


I hope you have enjoyed my entry into the “Creating a Female Super Hero Challenge (#CASFC). There are lots of excellent entries, and amazing proposals for female super heroes in the challenge. Please go read them all.

http://www.linkytools.com/wordpress_list.aspx?id=198770&type=thumbnail

Mark.

Stories : Cowboys and Indians

The  old man had another story to share with us so we gathered in a circle around the campfire while he took his place on the best of the logs. The children all sat on the ground while we sat on family logs. The stories around the fire were an honored tradition, started by our elders centuries ago, passed down from one generation to the next. It was how we learned from our elders, how we gained the benefits of their knowledge, and their experiences. We all eagerly waited for the old man to start.

Many years ago, there was a man, his name was Timothy, and he was very proud of his family. They meant the world to him. He worked hard each day to provide everything he could for them. He kept his family well fed. He kept them clean. He provided for them, a house, a yard, clothing, even books, and a bed. His family always had candles to light up their home at night.

Timothy was a good man, all his family knew, and all his village too.

One day, three strangers came to town, riding on their horses, armed with guns, and knives. They took what they wanted, did what they wanted. They got to Timothy’s home, broke down the door of his home, and they shot him. Thinking he was dead, they raped his wife and his daughter. Timothy saw it all, heard it all. He heard their screams of pain, heard their cries for help, heard the tearing of their clothes. He heard the single gunshot fired, and saw the lifeless body of his son as it struck the floor.

All he could do was watch, lying on the floor, his own blood pooling around him. He tried to move, to speak, to scream, to do anything at all. He found he could not. He’d been shot, and he knew he would die.

It was on that floor Timothy made an oath to the gods. He swore, if he lived, if they spared his life, he’d learn to protect his family, his daughter, and he beloved  wife.

When the three strangers had their fill of his daughter and his wife, they left Timothy’s house, moving elsewhere in the village. He heard the sounds of their guns, the screams they caused, the wails of anguish, and of tears, at another soul lost. He could only close his eyes, and beg the gods above to grant him time, to grant him life, to learn to protect his family, his daughter, and his wife.

With the coming of the dawn, those first rays of light, others in the village found him, his daughter, and his wife. They took him straight away to the medicine man, praying as they carried him along for the gods to spare his life.

It took time, more than a few weeks, even more than months, before Timothy grew well enough to walk. The medicine man used his magic, his potions and his spells, and his prays to the gods above, to save Timothy’s life. All the villagers helped him bury his dead son, repair the damage to his home, and take care of his daughter, and his wife.

But Timothy had changed, he was not the same as he’d once been. After that violent night, he bought several guns of his own, keeping them around his house, so they would be there if he ever need them to help him protect his home. To protect his family, his daughter and his wife.

He learned to use them all. The rifle first, then the shotgun. Last of all he learned to use the pistol he’d purchased. He even learned to carry it with him, every day of his life.

In time, his daughter found a man to call her own, and she became his wife. Timothy built a house for them, right across the village square. And every Sunday, his daughter and his son-in-law visited, spending time with him, and his wife.

Young married people being as they are, it wasn’t long at all before Timothy became a grandfather, and his wife a proud grandma. They love their twin grandsons with all their hearts, and took care of them all the time as they watched them growing up.

Those two boys loved their Ma and Pa with all their hearts. They did everything their parents asked of them. They helped with the chores around the house, and out in the fields they helped their Daddy with his work. By the time they were just six years old, both of them could ride a horse, and both could man a plow, and till a field. They went out in the fields almost ever day, working with their Pa.

Timothy was proud of his grandsons. They were going to grow up to be good men. Everything he’d someday hoped his own son could have been.

It was one day not long after when tragedy entered once again into the lives of Timothy, his family, his wife, daughter, son, and grandsons. Tragedy has a way of doing that, of just walking in like rain, on a sunny day. For just like rain, it happens, for no reason, just like rain, tragedy falls where it may.

And on that day, his two grandsons were over at his home, being seven-year old boys, playing seven-year old games. Cowboys and Indians, as it was. When Timothy’s wife asked him, please, to run to the village store and get a bag of flower, two eggs, and two cups of sugar, so she could bake a cake for the two young boys. And off Timothy went, through the village, to the store.

But Timothy made one mistake that day. He forgot the pistol he’d worn almost every day, since that day so long ago, when three strangers came to town and shot his son, and raped his daughter, and his wife. As he got to the front door of the village store, he realized what he’d done, and straight away, he turned back toward his house.

When a single gunshot rang out, shattering the peace and quiet of the village, bringing everyone outside.

Timothy raced to his house, as fast as he could run, for he knew, he knew, where that gunshot had come from. He slammed open his front door, only to see his wife, kneeling on the ground, cradling the head of one of her grandsons, looking up to heaving as she wailed, and streams of tears fell from her eyes.

Timothy’s other grandson was still alive. A smoking pistol resting at his feet. He’d been the Cowboy in the game, his brother the Indian. And like any Cowboy would have done, he saw that gun, and he picked it up, and drew a bead on the Indian.

He didn’t know a single thing about real guns. He didn’t know at all that never point a gun at anyone, that you never pull the trigger if you do. And that’s just what he’d done. And on that day, Timothy lost a grandson.

I’d like to tell you it’s because Timothy had the gun in the first place. But I can’t do that at all, because we all know by now Timothy bought his guns to keep his family safe. A lesson he’d learned on the day those three strangers came to town, and destroyed his family’s life.

I’d like to tell you it’s because of boys being boys, and playing violent games, the way boys have always done. But I can’t, and I won’t. I played that same Cowboys and Indians game when I was just a boy myself, so very long ago.

The simple truth is, a gun’s a gun. And like any tool made by human hands, they have no purpose on their own. But humans made them for self-defense, and in the hands of a brave, good man, they give him a powerful tool to help defend his family, his daughter, and his wife. But in careless hands, uneducated hands, mean, hateful, or angry hands, guns can become a powerful tool of another kind. A tool that makes it much easier for such careless, ruthless hands, to take the life of another living being.

That’s the real reason I have tonight for sharing this story with you.

And with those words, the old man bowed his head, and pushed his hands against the log as he slowly gained his feet. He bowed his head to all of us, and smiled a sad, broken smile, before he shuffled off, on his way to his lonely home, and we all said good night.

#BCF : Month 2, Prompt 1 – It Was All A Lie

BCF_Month_2_Prompt_1_PictureBCF_Month_2_Prompt_1

I wrote this for Business Card Fiction, Month 2, Prompt 1. Please go read all the other entries in this round of Business Card Fiction. They are all well written, well crafted little pieces of art. You can links to them all here:

Business Card Fiction, Month 2, Prompt 1, Judged by J. M. Blackman

#TimonySouler #DiabolicalDeeds, Day 5 – Zagan

War is a special kind of hell when you die endlessly. I’ve died after being shot in the head, blown apart by a land mine, breathing in nerve gas or roasting in the firestorm of a fuel-air bomb. And always, I wake up. And always, Zagan sends me into battle.

My wounds never heal. I always smell of zymosis from the infections living in them, slowly eating my flesh. I am not zoic. Far from it. I pray my next death will be my last.

But this is Zagan’s Hell. And I always wake up to die.


This is what leaked out of my mind for my fifth and final entry in ‘Timony Souler’s #DiabolicalDeeds flash fiction challenge. I do apologize for not finishing this on Friday the 25th, as the challenge planned. I simply did not have time to write on the 26th. Please go read all the other entries in ‘Timony’s challenge. They are all good. And, have a happy Halloween.

36th #Motivation Mondays Challenge Entry

Wakefield Mahon hosts #MotivationMondays each Monday. This week, Alissa Leonard was the judge. Alissa was gracious enough to grant my work of fiction an Honorable Mention. Please go visit the Motivation Mondays site, and read the wonderful entries from all the other writers. This week, the prompt was “I never thought I’d see you again.” Here’s what I wrote.

———-

“I never thought I’d see you again.” She held a 9mm Glock. Pointed right at me. “Why didn’t you die?”

I remembered the flash of light, so brilliant it blinded me. It was followed by intense heat. My clothing had simply caught fire in that heat. My hair. Then my skin. Then, the shock wave struck. Blew out the fire. Hell, blew me clean out of the car. Through the steering wheel, then the windshield. Across the hood, onto the pavement. Parts of the interior flew out with me. Landing on the pavement.

One of the most painful experiences of my very, very long life.

I’d loved her once. She’d been there when I needed someone to love. Like each of the others. My marriages and relationships usually ended in mutually beneficial separation of some kind. In the worst case, I’d had to pay support for a couple of decades. That had ended soon enough. She’d grown old. Died. End of support requirements.

But this time? A bomb? In my car?

“What did you use?”

“C4. Why aren’t you dead?”

C4. Well. That explained how the car had been destroyed. With me in it, of course. It had been a bitch to stand up and walk away from that one. But then, I couldn’t exactly lie there on the pavement, and wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Have you ever had to explain to someone why you’re alive when you should be dead? Why your body was healing right before their eyes? So, yeah. I got up and walked away.

I laughed. Looked at her gun. “You blew the hell out of my car with C4. While I was in it. And I’m not dead. You really think you can kill me if you shoot me?”

The gun wavered. Then steadied once more. “No one’s bullet proof.”

I sighed. “Yeah. That C4 hurt. Stung like a bitch.”

“Why aren’t you dead?” There was that question again. “No one could have survived that!”

I laughed again. “No one human could have survived that.” The gun lowered a bit. She was confused. Understandable. But the gun returned to pointing right at me. She was tough. I’ll grant her that.

“Why aren’t you dead?” she asked again.

I shook my head. “I’m not human, dear” I knew she’d never leave the room alive. I wondered how many humans I’d had to kill over the centuries to keep my secret. One more wouldn’t matter. Quickly, my body shape shifted. Clothing, hair, shoes, arms, legs. And I separated into my constituent parts. Several million parts.

I imagine my disembodied voice was quite disturbing to her. “I am Legion, dear. Legion the machine.” My body parts spread. Like a cloud. Filling the air of the room. Enveloping her. Then consuming her, as I used her as raw material to repair myself.