VIN 12- Women Are Killers (A Small Bit of Advice for Idiots)

A small bit of advice to idiots; Women are killers.

Think of the Lioness: a sleek, silent, and lethal predator that has evolved and adapted, honing itself into a perfect machine of hunting and rearing through the duality of huntress and mother, murderer and lover.

That result, compared to a male, whose role is largely to intimidate and maintain order, shows where real power lies.

Real power. The mental-kind– imagination-power.

Though this is not to say the males of the species are not also accomplished hunters, and thinkers, they lack the duality of the role nature has charged their females with. It is the Male’s mate, whom once he has frightened you into flight, closes for the kill. His mate who is lighter, stronger, faster, sleeker, and just as lethal– if not more, by virtue of motherhood. Her face is the last thing you see before your throat is gored.

Brutal. Visceral.

Now recognize she’s done infinitely more and worse to survive, to feed her cubs, Pride, and wards to ensure their total survival. She has likely seen death on equally as many faces.

Remember that fact.

Then recall this is ubiquitous to most females– mammals especially– and that predators most often prey upon the elderly, juvenile, weak, and wounded. Remember, most of all, this has been going on for millennia and has desensitized enough females to death to ensure their species’ survival.

Remember all of that next time you fuck with women or their rights; mated or not, you’re fucked.

Short Story: One Last Job

Tropical sun met azure blue and granulated beige along the island coast. It was one of the Caribbean islands, but he was no longer sure which. All that mattered was his presence there, beach-bumming beneath a frosty glass of something more fruity and liquored than an uptown gay bar on pride-day.

He’d been lost a week now, and figured civilization was due to rear its ugly head again. That was how vacations had always been, no matter where they were taken. Why would retirement be any different? A few days in a paradise, or a shit hole, depending on his mood at booking, then back to the grindstone of life, love, and the pursuit of flabbiness… or however that old adage went.

Americans, he’d never understood them. Being born one should’ve helped, but he was more a man of the world these days, without country, than anything specific really. Government work had a way of doing that. All the while, missing the irony.

He raised the drink to his lips and basked in the warm, tropical sun that gleamed across tanned limbs. He’d been sunburned the first few days he’d been on the island. It had since faded into the milieu of a tan, like so many bygone memories. Like them, he was glad to see it go. To take on the near-bronze of the islanders was to shed the moniker of main-lander and obscure himself all the more.

He’d never be an islander himself, but so few were these days. He didn’t mind. Didn’t have enough of the flexibility to his spine anymore anyhow. He’d just take on one of the million other adjectives expats like him got. What his would be, he wasn’t sure yet. It would come in time. That was just fine by him.

He settled back against the chaise lounge-chair, fruity drink resting on its arm. Left hand wrapped around it and cooled from slick condensation, it felt real, tangible. Not like the twenty years of government work, nor the bulk spent at a desk writing, re-writing, or redacting information in reports.

Sure, he’d taken in the sights, but mostly state-side and never long– and always during work hours. On those rare excursions, he’d do the job, do it well, then return for the paper-work. He’d only ever seen the world on his own time and dime. The other agents were on Uncle Sam’s. Not him. “The drag of a quiet life,” he’d always joked.

Now he had all the time in the world and all the dimes he’d ever need.

A shadow fell over his closed eyes. Some pompous bastard hoped to steal his sunlight. A near-silent rustle of polyester depressed his lungs in a sigh. There was only one type of creature around that had the gall to steal a man’s sun and don polyester rags on paradise’s beach; a US government worker. As far as he knew, he was the only one around. They’d found him for another, damned-fool reason.

“I’m retired. Go away.”

The shadow over his eyes remained in place, but he sensed its squirming. Great, a twitchy suit. They couldn’t even send a vet to bug me. He cleared his throat with an audible sternness, but the creature before him began to speak anyhow.

“Agent Frank Marshall?” A man’s voice asked.

“I said “go away.”

“Sir, I’m here to inform you your expertise is required state-side.”

Go. A. Way.

“Sir, I’ve been authorized to take you in, with force if necessary,” the kid said.

Marshall chewed on the corner of his mouth, pulled away his sunglasses and sat upright to view the kid in all his passive aggressive, be-ragged glory. “Listen when I say, boy, that you couldn’t if you tried. That being said, I’m comfortable where I am, and I’m not moving from this seat unless I have to piss. The resort staff will even bring me another drink if I wish.”

“Sir, I’m authorized to inform you that you have one more chance to comply before you are forced along.”

“Good luck, kid,” Marshall said, sinking back and slipping on his sunglasses to sip his drink.

The kid’s wrist flicked. Something bit Marshall’s neck. A moment later he was squinting against blurry eyes at a pink-feathered dart. The capsule in its center was an auto-injector, tip red from a lone drop of blood.

Probably one of Monty’s. Bastard.

He cast an upward look at the kid, “Damn.”

He went limp against the chair, fruity drink spilled off the arm of it. He woke to the obvious sounds of a dual-engine plane infecting his foggy head. He shook off the last of the drug, and blinked through semi-darkness to grasp his surroundings. The private jet took shape. It dissolved into bright light flooding his vision.

He blinked away water, rubbing a throbbing temple, “Could’a warned me first.”

The kid moved to sit before him. “Agent Marshall, I’m here to brief you.”

He rubbed his eyes “No shit.” He held a file-folder toward Marshall. “Just give me the cliff-notes, kid. I don’t care about your book report.”

The kid cleared his throat, clearly unhappy with his diminutive title. “You’re to enter the Royal Oakton Arms Hotel in Oakton, Ohio. There, you will retrieve a key for a fifth-floor room. Inside, you will find your equipment. You will then proceed to the roof to await the arrival of a certain, political figure, who will be taking residence in a hotel across the street. You must be ready to complete your mission as soon as your target arrives or–”

He rolled his eyes, “The agency will disavow, blah, blah, blah. Just give me the name, kid. This isn’t my first rodeo.”

Instead of speaking it, the kid opened the file-folder to the first page. Paper-clipped to a dossier and itinerary was a photo of a political figure. A big one. One with few rivals, in fact. The guy had made a name for himself in the media as a windbag. He had a big head and less bright ideas than a dead-light bulb. The former was good for Marshall, easier target. The latter was bad for everyone, making the former more important.

Still, Marshall winced at the image, surveyed the kid for any deception mistake. He found none. The kid was more stone-faced than he’d have thought him possible. Something in the kid’s face said this outcome was obvious to all involved. Straight up through the chain of command the little pissant clung to, decisions and agreements had been made: this one needed to be dealt with.

Marshall cleared his throat, resigned to his do his duty. “Alright. Fine.”

“One last job until retirement, sir. The agency has agreed never to contact you again provided you complete this mission,” he stated officially, unblinking.

My ass.

“Why would they want to?” Marshall said. The kid looked as if about to speak. He put his hand out, “That was rhetorical, kid. No-one’s gonna’ wanna’ touch this with a thirty foot cattle-prod. But I expect compensation, and a one way ticket back to my island.”

The kid nodded. The briefing ended; Marshall’s last, if Uncle Sam kept his promise. Of course, that was never a certainty in this day and age. Come to think of it, that was the reason the problem existed at all. The reason he was ever needed. Uncle Sam and promises were never quite what they seemed.

When the plane finally landed, the taxi took him to Oakton. Evidently, boredom remained a constant despite most believing it had been eradicated. When he found himself standing in his room, bag of gear on the bed, he remembered his first time offing someone for good ol’ Uncle Sam. That guy’d been a windbag too. But all of ‘em were. Difference was, the agency didn’t like the anti-war and peace talk he was spewing. This one was just a pain in the ass for all involved.

Marshall sneaked his way to the roof. Although the more he thought of it, the less he felt he had to. Hell, he’d probably be a national hero this time tomorrow. He arrived top-side, unpacked his gear, checked the wind, the time, and adjusted his scope to wait.

A few, short hours later, he found himself once more on a beach with a fruity drink. This one was even more colorful than the last, and sweeter. He liked it. The rest of the world was still reeling, or perhaps rejoicing was the better word. But Marshall didn’t think about it once, he merely deflated into his chair, doing his best to become as liquid as his drink. Maybe he’d get up, sooner or later, take a piss in the ocean. Or maybe he’d drift off, dreaming about the few melon-popping sessions between ungodly bouts of paper-work. So long as he remained island-bound, he couldn’t have cared less.

Short Story: Never Ends There

It’s funny the way things turn out. Not always in the laughing matter, obviously. Funny in that way people are afraid to call irony for fear of starting a “thing.” That happens a lot. Especially in this society. It probably started around the time this did too, come to think of it. Probably coincidence. Then again, I don’t believe in coincidence– or do I? I don’t know. Ask me next time the news is over.

Where was I? Oh. Irony. It’s ironic. Not because “ironic” is fun to say, but because it actually is ironic. How? It all began about the time people got hyper-sensitive. First it was people’s fuck-partners and tastes. The gays started it, or rather, the “L,” “G,” “B,” and “T” started it. They argued they’d been discriminated against. They weren’t wrong.

A few years back a young man was grabbed off the road inAlabama. He’d been walking home when his existence offended some would-be purity-crusader. A couple guys grabbed him, beat him to death, and lynched him in a tree. No, I’m not confusing it with the Civil Rights movement. It just seems that way.

It’s hate. People whom no longer realize what human means. They know we’re animals, but believe that’s excuse enough. “Nature’s way” and such, are the lines. Except there’s no species that murders, rapes, pillages, and tortures apart from Homosapiens.

The point is, it started with the “Gays,” “those folk.” They were rightfully pissed. Technically, they weren’t even allowed to die for their country. A soldier known to be a homosexual could be discharged and jailed. Draconian rules in a modern society. Makes sense, right?

They got angry. And motivated. And did their thing hoping to make things better. All good things, right? Right. No arguments there. Not there. Elsewhere’s a different story. Elsewhere, there’s nothing but arguments.

‘Cause it didn’t end there. It never ends there! It doesn’t end until after the horse is bludgeoned to death. After its flesh is a mushy pulp and dust for the day’s bread. Such is human existence– so far as we’ve seen anyhow.

It’s always expected once one person starts complaining, someone else’ll follow. Usually it’s a pattern that goes like this; a group or person has a legitimate grievance. They air said grievance. Another group jumps to support their side or the other. Someone on the opposing side then jumps up to match them. The four groups, screaming, arguing, or generally causing a sonic discordance easily confused for noise.

Meanwhile, one other group abstains entirely, flying to mars to hide under a rock there. One last group tries to listen calmly, hoping to pick through the madness for the grievance to evaluate it for an amiable solution. The madness goes on long enough for that group to suss it out. They shut everyone up and negotiate– which may or may not involve repeating the aforementioned.

In the end, everyone’s happy. In the end, everyone sits down again. The first, aggrieved group is satisfied. The second is too. The third and fourth still hate each other and are ready to be at one another’s throats, but sit down to support their sides. The fifth returns from beneath the Mars-rock. And the sixth implements the proposed and ratified solutions. Simple, human nature.

But it never ends there! As soon as the first group’s happy again, another isn’t. They weren’t before, but their grievance felt too personal. They feared airing it. Seeing the last aired grievance was just as personal, they air theirs.

In our narrative, that was “women.” Women were pissed that they’d been mistreated, underpaid, and over-sexualized. They wanted equality, an end to mistreatment. They weren’t alone, nor were they wrong. The shouting began again. All the groups jumped up, fled, and listened as usual. Their grievance was heard, and eventually, a solution was reached. Same as before, right? Right. All good. Nothing bad.

But Remember: it never ends there!

The next thing that happened? You guessed it, someone else got upset. That time, it was “blacks.” Their grievance was aired; they’d won their Civil Rights but whites weren’t holding up their end. They weren’t wrong either. Solutions were reached.

But itnever ends there! Other races started piling on. Everyone began screaming or fleeing or listening… You might see where this is going.

One thing invariably led to another until only some grievances were legitimate. Others were just ignorantanger. Everyone accepted that. But now it was okay to air that, add it to the discordance. The breakdown came when people stopped reacting and listening– and thus working to fix problems.

With everyone too busy presenting the latest incarnation of “woe is me,” the biggest blowhards stole the show. Just trying to listen cost more energy than people had left, including the calm listeners.

And because it never ends there, that mentality of everyone deserves everything and nobody should ever stuggle trickled into every facet of society. Aired grievances, combined with a helicopter-parent society, forced society into accommodating everyone. Then, no-one could say anything without it pissing someone off.

That was the end of it. Civility ended there. Political correctness ended there. Manners ended there. Everything ended there. But it never ends there!

This started then. Now I’m here. There’s little more to do than than drool down my chin in hopes of making sense of it all. The white coat’s binding, and not very warm, and you’d think all that padding would insulate the room. But nope.

I’m forced to write with my toes. I’ve gotten good at doing things with my toes. I figure we’ll need that when we all return to the jungle. They won’t let me have my hands free anyway. I’m always scratching at myself and tearing my hair out. When I got here I looked like a cartoon cat run over by a lawnmower.

Funny thing. I saw a dead cat on the way in. Or maybe it was a possum. You can’t tell for sure from a moving car. All this insanity just makes me tired. It just never ends! Just like all that madness beyond the padding. Sometimes I really wish I was that possum…

Short Story: The Best in Us

The horizon was a war-zone post-loss. That the war had never touched it mattered less with each day it crumbled further into ruin. Despite that, it had a sort of serene beauty, as if a post-card to the ages warning of man’s follies. Charles Murray could almost see the block-lettered words of caution hanging mid-air. Murray’d been there when it all went to shit. He was a kid then. In some ways, still was. Such a designation didn’t feel particularly apt given all he’d seen and done. It was even less appropriate when considering all he might yet see or do. Even at only twenty, he’d seen war waged on such grand a scale it left the world in literal tatters.

Like the skyline, the land had been subjected to more bombs and bullets than man had a right to construct. Scenery was reformed into post-apocalyptic wasteland. Location made no difference: big cities, small towns, rural homesteads, anywhere one enemy could’ve pushed another to, struck from, or trained at, became as decimated as the next or last.

They’d called World War I the “Great War,” but even the mustard-gassed trenches hadn’t seen such depravity. Murray’d half-expected the world to implode, swallow what few remained. It hadn’t yet, and as Murray knew, the war had never even be waged here. Not the war that had been waged everywhere else, anyhow.

This one was a civil war, a conflict of internal forces that had taken up arms for one reason or another. When one side failed to compromise, the other took aim and fired. Who cared which one did what? This was the end result. Now, day in and day out, Murray was forced to comb the wreckage for scraps of living.

Presently, he was forced to dig through a mound of rubble. His sharpened stick scratched at the rubble and gravel as he fondly recalled a one-time discovery: a bunker of fallout-supplies. It was one of those things constructed at the height of the cold war, then re-purposed when bombs fell again. The people living there had died from a bad air filter before realizing their peril. He remembered breaking the main-seals, still untouched from the bombs, and his chem sniffer going mad from C-O toxicity.

The main room had been an old-style parlor of countless bookshelves and a television inlaid in one wall. They even had an old computer hooked up with multiple hard-drives and an isolated data-server routed in from a separate room. They’d been well-off before things went to hell. Too bad it didn’t keep them from being asphyxiated in their sleep.

Murray still saw them sometimes when he closed his eyes: in a room just off the main one. Two men in bed. Peaceful child mere paces away. Sometimes he wished he could’ve been that child– gone as peacefully as anyone could hope to in the piss-hole of a place the world had become. After raiding the food stores, and before leaving, he’d marked the family’s room with a white X; a new-world symbol of no entry. The X was used to warn of contamination in some way, to be avoided at all costs. Sometimes though, it was used only to keep the dead undisturbed.

Sweat dripped off his brow and face. He scraped out the last of the piled gravel. The doorway was another old place– not a bomb-shelter, but an old church cellar. The kind of place people ran to during tornadoes before basements were common-place. Judging from the collapsed building above it, Murray guessed there was no access from the inside. The place had been untouched since the National Guard laid down the sand and gravel to fortify it. With any luck, there’d still be canned goods inside. Otherwise, just more bodies… it was always more bodies.

The door’s reveal all but confirmed his suspicions of the separation above and below. A few, concrete steps led down into a short, right-angle pit, a full-size, steel door at its terminus. Murray caught his breath on the rocky steps, then heaved himself to his feet. He grasped the door knob, shouldered the door. It failed to open– wasn’t the first time, wouldn’t be the last. He gathered up his remaining strength, took a step back, then hurled himself at the door.

It failed to give.

Too much had been done, too much energy expended, not to complete the task. He repeated the act. The door burst in off its hinges. He landed atop it in a plume of dust. It glinted in the beam of external light now shining in. A shotgun cocked. His reflexes engaged. He flipped, swept his legs, toppled the armed figure. Before he could stop himself, he laid his weight laterally against the shotgun on the throat of a white-haired, bearded man.

“No! Stop!” A young woman shouted.

Murray’s eyes widened. The room sharpened. He’d expected bodies. It was always bodies. Men. Women. Children. It didn’t matter. It was only ever bodies.

“You’re killing him!”

Murray was up. He cast the shotgun aside, stepped back in a hunched, defensive stance. His eyes flitted between the man, now propped on an elbow, and a young blonde with sapphire eyes. Murray took a step back, staggered by reality rushing in on him. The woman didn’t hesitate. She was instantly at the old man’s side, helping him up.

“Thank you,” she said backward at Murray. “Dad, are you alright?”

He grunted something Murray didn’t hear as she helped him to his feet. Murray took another half-step back. The old man approached, hand extended. “You look like hell, son. How long you been out there?”

Murray eased from his stance, his eyes on the man’s hand, “Since the beginning.”

The old man’s squinted, “That’d be, what, four years now?” Murray gave a small nod. “Well, that’s as long as we’ve been trapped here. If it weren’t for the hydroponics we rigged up from the well, we’d’ve been dead years ago. Guess we’re free now, with you to thank.”

Murray was hesitant, on-guard, “You have food?”

“As much as we can eat and more. All fresh vegetables,” the woman said.

“And shelter, here? Safety?”

“Mhmm,” the old man nodded.

“You can stay if you want,” the young woman added confidently.

They noticed Murray’s eyes begin to tear up.

The old man smiled, “C’mon, son, we’ll get ‘ya cleaned up, treat ‘ya to a meal. Hailey, show our guest to his room?”

She brightened with a nod, took a careful steps toward him before linking her arm in his. Moments later, they were standing before an open bedroom: a bed, dresser, night stand and filled bookcase were inside. Everything was pristine, a time-capsule of pre-war life only now unearthed. In a way, he guessed, it was– save the inexplicable women’s clothing peeking from a dresser drawer.

Hailey led him to the bed, sat him down, “We haven’t seen anyone in years.” She swept the room with a glance, “It’s not much, but you’re more than welcome to it.”

There was a momentary silence Murray had to break, “Wh-why?” Her brow furrowed. “Why do this for me?”

She shrugged, “I guess the world ending’s brought out the best in us.” He squinted at her; a sort of innocent naivete to her tone said she knew nothing of the world he’d come from. Paradoxically, her look said she knew its horrors all too well. She smiled, “Go ahead. Clean up. Lunch’ll be ready soon.”

Murray’s head swam: whatever he’d done to earn this, he must have forgotten. Then again, maybe the end of the world brought out the best in some people. Whatever the explanation, the fresh meat in his lunch was his biggest surprise.