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by Phantomimic All rights reserved © RAGG
The air inside the ramshackle house was unbearably hot and humid creating an atmosphere so thick that it could have been sliced with a knife. The only light was that of a naked light bulb shining through the haze of cigarette smoke in a space that in its heyday could have been called a living room. But today its four walls of faded wall paper and crumbling chunks of plaster betrayed years of neglect. A man was lounging in an old sofa that occupied one corner of the room. He was wearing shorts and a discolored Tshirt that proclaimed "Sic Semper Tyrannis". A swarm of crushed beer cans and cigarette butts littered the space in front of him. He finished his last cigarette, snuffed it out, and threw it, hitting a television monitor that lay on its side with its screen shattered into a thousand pieces scattered on the floor. The only sound in the room was the one of the radio. The voice of a notorious talking head boomed away warning the listeners about how their rights were being taken away from them, how THEY were encroaching on our liberties, our independence, and our way of life taxing us and spreading socialism. The man listened intensely, alternating between enthusiastic expressions of agreement and curses. He screamed out loud, "The Goddamned fools that voted for him don't know shit about what they are doing. They are being used and they don't know it. And the others are no better, no sir, people voted for them and they don't have the balls to stand up to him and bring him down. Idiots and wimps, fuck them, fuck all of them!" Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world
The man lit another cigarette, shook his head and thought about the last few days. He had been proud of his group and he had had confidence in their leader. He had always thought of his group and many others like them as the last line of defense. But what happened when THEY had come for the members of a fellow group? His group leader had refused to get involved. The man scoffed. If he had known, if he had received the other's calls for help he and his buddies could have made a difference but by the time he found out it was too late. Most of the people in the other group had been arrested, and the stupid media had had a field day reporting all the stuff. Some people had called them "fanatics" and "nutters" and accused them of plotting to "overthrow the government". The man laughed, "Well, duh! What else are the people to do if they are betrayed?" His eyes glanced in the direction of a small coffee table on top of which lay two worn books with titles that read The Turner Diaries and Unintended Consequences. He thought to himself, "Indeed, what else." The phone rang. The man turned off the radio and answered. A voice on the other end said, "Hi John, ready for our game?" The man replied, "Yeah, got the cards and everything ready, just come on over." and hung the phone. He smirked, this was their code, in these damn times of cowards and traitors you never know who may be listening. The man sat again on the sofa to finish his cigarette while with his other hand he patted his rifle lying next to him. The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
After a minute he got up, closed the living room shades, and walked over to a large cedar chest. Above it a faded dusty plaque proclaimed: "The tree of liberty must be watered from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." He opened the chest and removed his fatigues. For a while he felt them in his hands as if absorbing their energy. So many times he had trained preparing himself for the moment he would be called to fulfill his duty and now, the day had come. He donned them, picked up his rifle, and waited by the living room window. Outside it was a clear summer night with a full moon. After a short while three vehicles wound their way down the gravel road and stopped next to his house. The man headed for the hallway that led to the main door. He paused before opening the door to rummage through the pockets of his vest and make sure he had all he needed. It was then he was startled by movement in the shadows to his right. He instinctively turned and pointed his gun in the direction of the movement. There in the twilight of the corridor he could discern a hazy shape opposite from him that now lay very still. With comprehension the man reached for the switch and turned on the light. As the light flooded the hallway he found himself starring at his reflection in the hallway mirror. Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi Troubles my sight:
He did not laugh, he did not even smile. His eyes became fixed on his image. When was the last time he had observed his reflection in a mirror? Yes, observed, not merely "looked at" but observed. He approached the mirror and focused his attention on the reflection of his face. It was like looking at a stranger. When was the last time he had shaved? He had grey hairs, and creases and spots in his skin he did not remember seeing before, as though he had aged too much too soon. But most of all he centered his attention on the eyes. Bloodshot and with their whites stained yellow he found they still had the power to take him back, back to happier times when he had a family and a steady job. As he looked into those eyes the memories started to play as though he were sitting in a theater watching a movie. Emotions he had not felt in a long time filled his being and he shed a tear. For a brief moment he connected to his former self, for a brief moment he reconsidered. Suddenly the man looked away from his reflection his facial features hardened in a grimace. The brief connection to the soul had been severed by something stronger than himself, something that now reasserted itself. "NO!" he screamed, "It's THEM! It's THEY who did it. THEY have taken away what I had and now THEY are coming for the rest, NO!" He took a step back and shot the rifle. The center of the mirror exploded in shards and the upper and lower pieces collapsed to the ground. somewhere in sands of the desert A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
As he stood there gasping for air, the man regained control. Something wrapped its coils tightly around his consciousness, blunting the few centers in his brain still willing to sound alarms. His reason was rocked back into slumber and he was again filled with a fierce sense of determination. He opened the door and was met by men in fatigues pointing their guns at him. One of the men asked, "John, what the hell happened?" "It's nothing" he said, "Just an accident, let's go to the trucks, we have work to do." All of them entered the vehicles and were soon on their way. The man asked another, "What do we know?" The other answered, "Our contact says THEY are staying at the hotel and will be gathering in the meeting room soon, he also says there is almost no security. He will meet us in the dirt road in the woods and lead us to them." The man smiled, said "Good" and thought to himself, "Today we will strike back; today we will set the example for others who will come after us." As the three vehicles approached the outskirts of the city the silvery orb of the moon was hidden by a foreboding mass of dark clouds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
A homeless man who had fallen asleep by the hotel garbage bins suddenly woke up for no apparent reason. In the dim light of a couple of lamp posts he saw a dozen gun-wielding figures in military style fatigues crossing the hotel parking lot. But as he watched them enter by the back door something else caught his attention. He looked up and through a break in the clouds he saw the disk of the moon stained blood red. He also noticed the light around him was dimming. The lampposts appeared to be in working order, still shining, but it seemed that their light was being devoured by the darkness around them. The man then felt an unseasonable icy-cold wind that began to blow harder and harder rocking the nearby trees; the kind of wind that blows ahead of something massive that is rapidly coming in your direction. All around him an ominous noise of rustling leaves, mixed with what appeared to be hisses and growls, filled the landscape. Stricken with terror the homeless man started running, but not because of the gunshots or the screams coming from the hotel. He was running because he had sensed in the cold encroaching windy darkness that now surrounded him a presence. Something had come. Something had come to stay... ...and spread.
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
The image of "Saturn Devouring his Children" by Francisco Goya from Museo del Prado and the poem "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats are both in the public domain.
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