Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 1, Part 3

***Author's Note: This was written in 1996. If it seems prescient, well, maybe truth is stranger than fiction after all.***

Neither of them were wearing anything that would identify them. No one knew who they were. No one could know who they were.

There were two of them. Hunched over the open foot locker was the younger of the two men. His face was scarred, his body was toughly muscled. He rolled up his sleeves to continue his work on the object concealed in the foot locker. His arm was tattooed with a lizard which looped around his bicep several times. The younger man was tough, a streetfighter. He had worked as an electrician for sixteen years to fuel his drinking habit. Nights he went out to bars, got drunk, and got into fights.

"Are you sure it's all connected properly?" the older man asked.

The younger man pulled his face out of his work, and took the opportunity to light a cigarette.

"If you want to come down here and do it yourself, you're welcome to," he said, his cigarette waggling in his mouth with every syllable.

"I had enough trouble getting ahold of it," the older man said.

The older man didn't smoke, or he might have lit up at that moment. Truth be told, the richly scented, slightly suffocating aroma of the younger man's cigarette was making the older man long for the lost days of his youth when smoke-filled discos gave way to open air beer gardens. He had smoked in those days, but not anymore, not in years. Now he drank, almost non-stop, trying to numb his brain.

The older man looked like, if nothing else, a vampire. His jet black hair formed a V-shaped crest on his forehead. He had a single eyebrow running across his face. He had eyes that were very deep, and the reddest crimson, like blood. Those eyes seemed to pierce through a man's soul, leaving him feeling naked and powerless. His face was free of any hair, scars, or other blemishes, just a perfect face. The man’s lips were blood-red, and his nose was smashed and apish.

"Finished," said the younger man, stepping back from his work, and wiping his greasy hands on his pants, "The remote control, sir."

The younger man pressed a small remote device into the older man's palm. The older man gripped it tightly.

"History will mark this moment," the older man said.

He was Lars Metzger, the supreme marshal of The Claw rebels. He had thousands of people camping in the outskirts of the city. Others were waiting in a flotilla of watercraft all up and down the Potomac. Taken in dribs and drabs they were innocuous and wouldn’t draw any untoward notice. They would wait for Metzger’s signal and then all converge on the city at once to occupy what remained.

The group was known as The Claw. It was a melting pot of various militia groups, neo-Nazis, anarchists, and rebels from all over America that had united under a common goal: the downfall of the American government.

Basilisk, the electrician, had been the leader of the Claw before Metzger. But while Basilisk had been an efficient and brutish gang leader, Metzger had brought real vision to the group. Basilisk had a tattoo of a lizard which stretched over the entirety of his arm, and he had cold, yellow eyes, which had earned him his name. Metzger had made him a colonel and his most trusted deputy.

Metzger and Basilisk left the foot locker behind, unguarded, and beat feet as far out of the city as they could. Even so, they were the two closest members of the Claw to the city. They couldn’t leave the precious box unguarded for long or it would be discovered, but they certainly couldn’t stay behind waiting for it to go off. It was a delicate balancing act. As soon as Basilisk nodded to his new boss that they were safely out of range, Metzger took the remote control detonator out of his pocket.

“The revolution has come,” Metzger said breathlessly, and pressed the button.

There was no conventional mushroom cloud. A pillar of fire leapt into the sky, like a finger trying to pierce the clouds. Beyond the site of the detonation the neutron bomb did no damage, except to wipe out every living thing down to the last microbe. Except for a few square blocks, Washington D.C. remained structurally intact. And the government had effectively disappeared in one fell stroke.

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