Ward of the State

Pundits of the radio airwaves, junkies, pimps, whores of The American Dream, put away your lost slush piles of love notes from a world of lies. In this grand land there are only believers and the sane.

Little Brother believed, could see. Unlike me.

—§—

It came to pass in the almost-last-days of our dominion, that a malady struck all of America, which we knew was never a land of sanity. No, this is a land of faith, so sit down and shut up as Old Glory and I mount up onto the pulpit and preach the Word.

Belief, was real. At least to believers.

The Father filled the sky with His wrathful visage. Demons scuttled across the Great Plains, tornadoes itching for a rumble. Whole cities turned in unison and marked the passage of fallen angels. But sometimes they did not pass, and after they barreled through our cities lay the wreckage and bodies.

That’s how I got my job.

I see the truth. Sanity precludes belief, Brothers and Sisters.

When I arrive I ask the believers how the demon on hand can be destroyed and I waltz through whatever silliness required and the Believers believe their demon gone per my efforts; sometimes a mere shutting of a door, flick of a light switch, or scriptures read from Torah, Bible, or Koran.

On that high bright day of red dust blowing in from East Texas came our Demon along with the radio and television voices.

The smiling specter of Azazel himself bears down on the Metroplex, heading toward downtown Dallas, with a clip of I-30 as nothing overtook cars that jerked and braked and sped ahead in fear, only to ram those before them, until our copter fife view of the scene showed a mass of wreckage slithering toward old Dallas.

I slumped in Plano eating a burger, bun melting in my fingers as if it dreamed of digestion, sitting there in hopes of work, something, until my special propensities were needed, when I saw the news report. I stood and others present mistook this for excitement, work to be done.

But no. Little Brother worked in downtown, in the building covered in X’s. Ren Tower. And he was a junkie of the highest degree: hooked on the Dream, the Love, and the Promise.

I abandoned the grease-burger and high-tailed it toward downtown. Believers jammed the other side of the tollway while my boxy car made its happy lonesome.

I parked in a lot near Ren Tower and gazed up.

The believers in the building with the green bulb outline snagged the hot potato, and held on.

It started at ground level, with a mad rush out the building. Women, those pretty Lexus Ladies, trampled men too slow or chivalrous. Blood flowed, no demon in sight. That’s the way blood works, a bequest of belief.

The madness rose all the way up, the believers on each floor battering the glass and each other, until it cracked, broke, and flew loose in great wind-blown sheets. The strongest, most determined believers tumbled out the windows on each level, like candies from a pinata.

The panic ascended the green-bulbed building and the prizes popped out. Little Brother, I imagined, stood at his window in Ren Tower, transfixed. In awe, belief, and glory.

I ran into the building and struggled past a tide of suits to find the elevators.

Believers screamed, struggling out. I could smell armpits leaking fear and obesity.

The elevator opened. I stepped past another rush of suits and facilities workers, and into a flush of nightmare-music calm. It rose, fast like everything in this city.

The doors opened with a ping and I snagged the badge of a help-desk goon who shoved past me, buzzed into the hall, and looked both ways. He’d talked about the view and I mentally oriented myself. I charged up the hall to see a line of believers swaying against the bright windows, looking out at the building of green bulbs as the people over there threw themselves out in synchronized waves like some strange meta-ejaculation.

Brother! I shouted. One of the Believers turned.

Azazel, big bro, is coming...

Look at me, Little Brother, I said. Someone had to tell me how to make it go away, or I was powerless against their delusion.

It’s in our building, above us... the whisper went through them and then a rain of believers plummeted past the windows. We were only a few stories from the top.

Anyone... I’m a Ward... how do I make it go away? How do I stop it?

Brother turned to me.

Someone must face the demon. Stare into its eyes. Only that can vanquish it. believers know such things.

Ok, I said with a smile. I can do that.

Brother turned his tears my way. Shook his head. No, you can’t. You don’t believe. You can’t see the demon’s eyes. My brother gasped, and at that moment they all believed the demon’s arrival.

I knew because they fell quiet and stared, then violence bloomed.

Chairs, desks, secretaries, hole punchers, mop buckets flew and battered the windows until cracks spread and glass sheets crumpled and fell with a shriek of frigid wind.

You can, Little Brother. You can, I screamed.

He eyed me a last time, smiled and nodded. Then he looked behind me.

Into eyes that were not there.

He faced his belief, and the believers stilled. Brother stood silent. His eyes filled with a final, defiant anger.

He fell dead seconds later.

—§—

Refugees of no-spin zones and family-focused fiascos. Put away your idolatrous ideas about the pages you hold so dear. I am a Ward of the State, a speaker for Truth, the town crier sent to tell you that our birthright is Sanity.

Ω

Brandon H. Bell  Brandon H. Bell's website has fiction appearing in Hadley Rille’s Return to Luna Anthology, M-Brane SF (#1 & #5), Byzarium.com, as well as some honorable mentions in the SpaceWesterns.com 2008 Senryu contest. Links to his fiction and other genre goodies may be found at his blog. He is working on his second novel.