Thunder In Your Words by Mark McConville

Flash Fiction, Mark McConville, Punk Noir Magazine

PhotoFunia-1590832754Thunder In Your Words.

I look for sincerity in your words as you speak softly, assuring me I failed myself. In this old café which sells the best coffee, I don’t feel the best, and wish to reset my life and go back to the days when worries were on someone else’s mind. They’re on my mind, settling there like a pool of blood. I can’t forget them, scorch them with fires, or dislodge them. You sit, but you’d suit a pedestal, one colossal, touching the sky. Arrogance suits you too, as your obnoxious personality forces me to face the ground. In this café, in front of many faces, I weep into the menu, and then look up at you.

You stir the coffee relentlessly; the swirl looks like a whirlpool where I could end my days on earth. It could consume me, and take me on a ride before I hit my demise, a rollercoaster ride through snapshots of misery. This misery has been created by my failed 20s. In your eyes, I should have been someone of power, a catalyst breaking boundaries, storming through cities spreading my optimism. But I’m here, sitting on tattered material, in a booth where many conservations have taken place, good and bad.

My coffee is cold, frozen to its core. My cluttered mind tries to assemble a cohesive story to tell you. Every word I try to meld crashes in my mouth before I can blurt them out. Words should be my weapon, but they’re succumbing to blank expressions. I look at my watch; the time seems to be slow today, and this engagement seems to be in slow motion. Your eyelids take time to open and shut, the bangle on your wrist clatters onto the table.

I’m awake to the clatter, looking straight into your disappointed eyes. You feel betrayed, beaten down, and I can’t mend these broken ties. I’ll collapse, I’ll grovel, tinker with your emotions, but I feel we’re lost in the static noise played out by the radio. You stand like a titan, struck by emptiness, misguided like me but a success story in your bubble. The expensive outfit you’re wearing costs more than my world, those shoes you wear shine more than diamonds, your composure is professional, and the lipstick strengthens your lips so when you kiss your husband at night, he feels them heavy on his cheek.

The café empties, and we’re the only ones left. No more prying eyes, no more ears to hear a dispute that is gaining volume. You’re now in your element, speaking above me, hurling words that sting me, offering nothing but a hazardous diction. Seeking calm isn’t practical, as the monster in you appears, feeding on my anxiety.

‘’You should have listened to me, but no, you went your own way, chose the wrong direction’’

The coffee has changed color, the milk has curdled, the ambience has altered, and this brightly lit café becomes a space damaged by your demanding vocal performance. Over behind the counter, the staff cringe and look on, bemused by the anger shown.

‘’Look at me’’

I don’t look, I can’t look. I feel humiliated by your abrupt behavior. The café nears closing time, and the lightning strikes the pavements outside, with thunder in the background, the thunder in your words louder. You then throw money at me and tell me to pay the bill. I stand up and move away from you, like everyone else has done over the years, and I don’t blame them, as they were right to disband from your ignorance. Years and years of strain, time and time again, you utter words, you mutter under the breath that god gave you. My childhood had no highlights, no structure, or significance.

So I pay the bill, brush off your existence, and leave.

This Howling Wind by Eoghan Lyng

Eoghan Lyng, Flash Fiction, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

PhotoFunia-1591000525This Howling Wind

A stirring sound of thunder whistles through the heady days of wreckless sleeping, hearts beating and others speaking their nonsense. The wind is crying through those heady hours, cold showers, killing flowers, for Spring to grow them back in place. These grinding sounds and piling pounds will take more than earth to put right in place, but this heavy wind is calling through the stormy skies and will carry throughout the night. And it rains, it pours, the old man snores, until he cannot wake again from that comatose, and pitter patter, more dreams are shattered, from a never ending rain. Let it breeze and flee through the crowds that seek shelter from a sitting place, let it soak and roast  those who most often oppose supposing those who’ll never speak again of happiness. This howling wind has dragged the sun down to its very knees, and asks it please, to never forget the stronger force, to force this flogged horse for a century more of weathered battles. This wind is strong. This wind is strong.

Three Poems from Robert Ragan

Flash Fiction, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine, Robert Ragan

received_693844004723804 (2)

Initiation

 

I never had a father figure

My old man was always locked up

now he’s in the grave.

So, here I am among my brothers

To be down, I must face them all for one minute

To these tattooed trailer park savages I look like raw meat.

They have me surrounded

Rushing in, they all swing on me

Punches connect with my face, back and ribs.

I fight back, but quickly run out of breath

A punch in the sternum doesn’t help.

I fell down and one of them started to stomp me

Before the others stopped him and said to let me up.

Back on my feet, I feel blood running down my cheek

“Jesus Christ,” I say.

It feels like it’s been a good 15 minutes

A member keeping time on his phone says,

“There’s 15 more seconds.”

Backing away from them

I put my hands up.

 

That Things In The Car

 

Nancy had all intentions of being a good mother,

She made everyone believe her life was pointed in the positive direction.

Then she left her two-month-old baby in a hot car while she went inside a dope spot and bought smack.

On another blistering hot day, she left the baby boy so she could go in the grocery store and pick up a few items.

High she roamed around the store in a daze.

Until the manger came over the loud speaker asking who owned the red 4 door Ford Focus in the parking lot.

She was terrified seeing the cops outside

Waiting for her…

 

Actors/Scripts

 

“How much pain are you in on a scale from one to ten?”

 

Grabbing his lower back John howls in pain.

 

Trying his best to produce tears,

 

He says, “It’s about a billion, Doc!”

 

Every time he visits the E.R, his name is brought up on a list of potential addicts.

 

Once he went into a rage when prescribed 800 mg Ibuprofen.

 

Hospital security had to call the police to come and remove him from the premises.

 

Guess the poor guy will have to buy his opiates off the street.

 

The prices are steadily rising…

 

Robert Ragan, from Lillington North Carolina, has had short fiction published online at Vext Magazine, Punk Noir Magazine, Yellow Mama Webzine, Synchronized Chaos, and Terror  House Magazine. In January 2020, he had his second short story collection, It’s Only Art, published by Alien Buddha Press.

Jack Nicholson’s Face By Alex Z. Salinas

Alex z Salinas, Flash Fiction, Jack Nicholson, Punk Noir Magazine

alex salinas

Jack Nicholson’s Face

By Alex Z. Salinas

 

The Shining. Jack Nicholson chatting with Lloyd the bartender. A ghost. Two ghosts, really. Spectral negotiations. Plastered on the screen: Jack Nicholson’s wolfish grin. Arched eyebrows—fiendish, psychotic. Face of a future killer. Face of an imminent ax wielder. Face of a favorite son. Rugged, riveting, renowned—America’s face. Bargaining with no chips. Inventing rules. Commiserating ghouls. There’s a story here, its pagan energy so authoritative it sends, for a few seconds, shivers up Larry Rios’ spinal column. He will never write it. It’s not for anybody else to write, either. This unprinted story of Jack Nicholson’s face dies with Larry.

Bio:
Alex Z. Salinas lives in San Antonio, Texas. He is the author of two full-length poetry collections, WARBLES (2019) and DREAMT, or The Lingering Phantoms of Equinox (2020), both published by Hekate Publishing. His poems, short fiction and op-eds have appeared in various print and electronic publications. He holds an M.A. in English Literature and Language from St. Mary’s University.

Bandages By Alex Z. Salinas

Alex z Salinas, Flash Fiction, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

alex salinas

Bandages

By Alex Z. Salinas

 

Food for thought: if you disappear Harry Houdini, you earn Loki’s adoration for eternity. If you reinvent the wheel of passion, you twist romance poems into horror memoirs. If you cast the laws of brotherhood into fires of deconstruction, you marinate your conscience in ponds of resurrection. If you read every book in the world but don’t publish one, you are the Eyes of Big Brother, a creaking shelf in the Library of Babel. If you’re a poet without a pen or phone, scratch your verse into your palms. Larry Rios has four boxes of bandages stored in his medicine cabinet.

Bio:
Alex Z. Salinas lives in San Antonio, Texas. He is the author of two full-length poetry collections, WARBLES (2019) and DREAMT, or The Lingering Phantoms of Equinox (2020), both published by Hekate Publishing. His poems, short fiction and op-eds have appeared in various print and electronic publications. He holds an M.A. in English Literature and Language from St. Mary’s University

Annihilation by Mark McConville

Flash Fiction, Mark McConville, Punk Noir Magazine

PhotoFunia-1590832754Annihilation

I run, I run away from the shackles of an empire built by you, a dictator of my dreams and my future. By escaping the clutches, I feel free in an instance, like a bird speeding through volatile winds, coming out the other end, unscathed. The feeling of trepidation dies, those echoes of your voice still embedded, but they will be stifled by my newly strong mind. Yes, these streets are frightening, on the cusp of bleeding, hemorrhaging out as the classless and free throw Molotov cocktails at the malevolent army who pride themselves on committing cardinal sins.

I amble amidst the bloodshed, checking my vital signs, my heart beats rapidly as it did back when I was running the marathon of my life, through forests, ravaged by fire. Those years have given me a thick skin. They empowered me to live in desolation and impoverishment. We skinned deer to stay alive, cooked it and ate without a uttering a word. You created a storm in me, a tornado of hate for myself, and on those nights when you ridiculed me, damaged me, cut me off from a world of possibilities, I despised you and your nicotine breath.

I’m kneel behind a beaten car, my hands blue, cold and dry. The threadbare jacket I’m wearing blows in the wind, it’s weightless, but covers my aching skin and scrawny body. I wait for a chance to move onward through a town weighed down by heavy storms, lackluster monuments which have been vandalized by hopeless children, years and years of mass corruption.

Moving forward takes intricacy and strategic planning. I shuffle over, jeopardizing my life, taking a stab into the tired light. This has to happen though, I have to make it, moments of clarity must prevail, or my optimism may shatter into fragments which may reform into a shard of negativity. They’ve now unleashed tanks onto the roads, they’ve roared into the next stage, readying their wrath of kill the remaining rebels who are only armed with weak weapons and undying desire.

What can I do now? Mop up the parts that have fallen, the blood that has spilled, the bones of courageous human beings. Or can I map out directions, a common plan? These mechanical enforcers will pull me apart, they’ll grind me down into dust which will spray into the relentless wind.

There’s not many of them left, they’re all dying horrendous deaths. I move again, this time into a house with no doors or windows. Everything is broken here, dolls with torn out eyes lay on the bedroom floor, pink wallpaper frayed, it seems to be a room where a little girl dreamt that her life would have been more straightforward than this. But, time has been ungodly, love has been wrapped up in blood soaked sheets and thrown into the fire.

As the chaos unravels, I sit hiding in the attic. I’m drawn to books and art. They’re all in bundles, these academic and fictional books. Books of power, books which contain truth, children books which alter worlds and stir imagination. And this attic consumes me as the guns and grenades pound through the streets, and into flesh and into hearts. Rather than listen, I put my hands over my ears, reading the same page repeatedly.

I hear thuds, bottle rockets and bombs. I hear whimpers, cries and lost souls teetering on the line of death, then eventually meeting their demise. It’s a crushing blow to the world, this war, this bloodshed. I’m in hiding, but I don’t feel safe, I feel feeble, defenseless, on the brink, losing my internal strength. All over the floor cracks show, cracks like my resolve.

Over on the wall there’s a mural of a girl chasing a red balloon. Her dress beautiful, her smile even infectious to me, as I smile. I smile at the times when the world wasn’t stuck in a game of chess. Beyond all of this, there are countries which don’t apprehend the greater good, they give and give, layering their landscapes with vitality and give their people hope.

Bright lights shine up through the cracks. My heart belts out for subtle touches. My innocence is in jeopardy. The whole world around me feels heavy on my head. I hear spoken words; I hear laughter.

‘’Nothing here, but these dolls’’

‘’They’re freaky aren’t they’’

‘’Demonic really’’

Through the speaker, a man tells the enemy to search the rest of the house. I drift into the closet and shut the door. Inside here, there are old knitted garments for young lives. I stand, not assured or even ready to defend myself. Behind me, there are wire coat hangers. I take one and twist it to make a weak weapon. It won’t stand up against their guns, but I must try.

Time elapses, and the voice becomes clearer. Through the little peep hole, I see a man wearing a patch on his jacket. It reads ‘’Annihilation’’. They just want to kill their way to victory.

I ready myself. I will be found, my restlessness will get me caught.

Slowly he moves forward, slowly he talks to himself in rituals.

And as he opens, I attack with all my strength, pushing the wire into his right eye. Blood splatters the florescent paper. As he falls, I grab his gun and shoot. He cascades into the depths of hell where he belongs.

The other man runs through and stands still. He goes to his knees and grovels.

I shoot him, he falls, and hell now has two.

Covered in blood, I hear a raucous sound from outside, voices of concern, dogs barking. Blood seeps through the cracks and onto the carpet below. Voices near close, voices grainy but alert, lights flash, red lasers pinpointed at the walls. This is anarchy, mayhem, war. It’s only a matter of time before I’m shot to pieces.

Cries deafen me. Flash grenades ring in my ears as they explode. People scream out for god to carry them through, they scream for this all to be a dream, a figment of their imaginations. Real life has been altered by lasting effects, minds have been inundated with snapshots portraying war at its most terrifying.

Sitting in a corner, I’m awaiting what will come my way. In this attic, books bind its cultural significance, books offer an escape route, and I wish to be transported into these worlds written by novelists who saw the world as a beacon of hope. Thinking like that may offer me a lifeline, a small sinew of solace.

The lights go out, the damage halts, the sound of inconsistent thunder stops. Quietness offers a subtle embrace until a crash, a reverberation, pounds all walls and broken palaces. I hear myriads of gunshots, piercing through skin, and then.

The quiet….

The solace….

An ally speaks,

‘’Take my arm, and I’ll carry you through’’

 

Excess Baggage by John Patrick Robbins

Blue Collar Noir, Flash Fiction, John Patrick Robbins, Punk Noir Magazine

JPR Nov

Excess Baggage

 

Sandy sat there in the living room with Vincent and Reggie, the two men were usually all jokes and relaxed when Sara was around.

But this morning was not normal.

 

Henry had been missing for a few days and being his, wasn’t a normal kind of job this wasn’t totally out of the norm.

 

“This just doesn’t feel right guys, Henry should have turned up by now.”

 

“Hey, I’m telling you he will be fine Sandy you know the kind of guy Henry is. I bet he will turn up this evening, you’ll see.”

 

Vincent said as he sipped his coffee and vaguely tried to sound reassuring.

As Reggie remained unusually silent through their entire conversation.

 

“I need to report him missing, I can’t take this anymore! He is just going to have to get pissed at me. I have to know he is okay.”

 

Sandy said as she got up and made her way towards the kitchen, to use the phone.

 

”Hey sweetheart.”

She heard Vincent call after her as she entered the kitchen.

 

She didn’t care about the so called rules and edicate that people in her husband’s world had to supposedly follow. It was his world not Sandys after all; she was his wife not his employee.

 

Sandy already had taken the phone off the hook, when Reggie removed it from her hand.

 

Sandy looked at Reggie befuddled, unsure as to why he was even standing beside her in the kitchen instead of Vincent.

 

“What are you doing?”

 

“Look Sandra.”

 

Reggie said as he placed the phone back on the wall.

 

 

“We need to talk before you make that call, let’s not play any games here. You know Henry wasn’t simply just a nightclub owner.”

 

“Look Reggie, I know Henry was no angel but he was my husband okay and if something is wrong the cops need to be out looking for him!”

 

Reggie just stared into Sandys eyes, giving her a look that told her she needed to listen.

 

“Hey Vin, why don’t you warm the car and don’t forget that other thing I asked you to do.”

 

“No problem.”

 

Sandy heard Vincent reply without the slightest bit of hesitation.

 

Reggie waited to hear the front door close.

 

“Look I’m going to be frank right now, you’re not going to make that call. Instead what you are going to do is relax, clean whatever you want. Hell just go about your day, pick your kid up from school but you’re not going to the cops. Are we clear?”

 

“Go to hell you son of a bitch!”

 

Reggie grabbed Sandy by the throat with a vice like grip.

 

“I’m already there bitch! And you truly don’t want to test me so shut the fuck up and listen!”

 

Reggies grip tightened around her throat.

 

“Your Henry, got himself in some deep water and started stepping out of line okay, we looked the other way with the whores and the drugs, but he had a real big mouth and never knew when to shut the fuck up!”

 

“Seems he ran his mouth off around a fucking narc and your beloved husband, was going to squeal to the feds about some shit he shouldn’t have been talking about. Now his fuck up wasn’t my problem but he damn sure didn’t mind selling us up the river to save his spoiled ass.”

 

 

 

 

Sandy struggled to breathe as the man who had turned into something she could not recognize but damn sure feared maintained his grip.

 

As all of a sudden he released her, spinning her around to look out the kitchen window.

 

“Please stop.”

 

She managed to blurt out as she gasped for air.

 

Reggie wrapped his arm around her waist as he pulled her hair.

 

“Look.”

 

He said as she viewed Vincent lugging what appeared to be a heavy garbage bag. To the trash cans that stood at the front of the driveway.

 

Vincent wasn’t a small man but he struggled to put the bags in the cans.

And Sandy without a doubt knew what was in them.

 

Reggie whispered in her ear.

 

“Now what you are going to do is wait till the garbage is taken and report that piece of shit husband of yours missing! And if I were you I wouldn’t know a damn thing as to where he might have gone. You fucking understand me?”

 

A tear rolled down Sandy’s cheek as she just nodded her head.

 

Reggie let her go and stood staring at her and suddenly the monster was gone as he spoke as nothing had just happened.

 

He smiled at her.

 

“I’m glad we have an understanding.”

 

He said as he pulled an envelope from his jacket pocket, as he placed it upon the counter.

 

“This will take care of things for awhile and as long as you play by the rules these will continue to come in, as I will be managing the club from now on. All you gotta do is sign some paperwork I send over and I will promise you, you will be taken care of.”

 

“You do that and you will provide a good life for yourself and your son. Because trust me Sandra, you take another route and your husband won’t be the only thing that gets taken out with the trash, I promise you that sweetheart!”

 

 

With that said, Reggie was gone and as Sandy shook uncontrollably as she burst out in tears. She viewed Vincent pause as he got in the car as both men waved goodbye.

 

Yes this wasn’t supposed to be her world. But from here out, she was plagued in the knowledge that one false move.

Could easily bring the devil back to her door.

 

And she would ensure no matter what, if that day ever came to reality.

She damn sure wouldn’t be here to answer.

 

 

 

John Patrick Robbins,  is the editor in chief of the Rye Whiskey Review.
His work has been published here at Punk Noir Magazine, Red Fez, 1870 Magazine,  Romingos Blog,  Piker Press, Sacred Chickens,  San Pedro River Review,  San Antonio Review. Schlock Magazine .
His work is always unfiltered.

Jeopardy On Easter by JUDGE SANTIAGO BURDON

Flash Fiction, Judge Santiago Burdon, Non-fiction, Punk Noir Magazine

PhotoFunia-1591088957Jeopardy On Easter 

My oldest son Nigel and I went to an Easter Worship Service at a Christian Church with my cousin’s family. We were visiting for the holiday and I thought it polite to accept his invitation to attend the service. I believe it was a Methodist Church. “There’s a Methodist to the madness.” My son was  maybe nineteen years old at the time and had never attended a  Christian Church Service.  Unlike my daughter McKenzie who at age 11 became fascinated with all types of religions. She became obsessed with Buddhism but was confused by why it was defined by some as a religion and considered by others as a way of life.

” How can there be a religion without there being a God to worship?” She questioned.

” I’m not sure what the rules are according to the Religious Practices Counsel?” I answered.

” There’s no such organization. You just made that up. Didn’t you?”

” Yes I did McKenzie. I was without a logical explanation to your question, so I made it up.”

She was correct, however Buddhism is not a religion but a “Way of Life”. And there is no Central Deity or God. Someone had definitely been doing her homework. My children certainly kept me on my toes when it came to answers to questions on  a wide variety of subject matter. Sometimes it seems as if I was a contestant on a  Game Show,  constantly having questions fired at me.

“I’ll take Potpourri for Five Hundred Dollars Alex.”

McKenzie being the inquisitive skeptic she was, a trait inherited from none other than myself, decided we would attend a different Church every Sunday until she was satisfied she had enough information to make an educated decision on God and religion. I was excited to accompany her on the Odyssey. We did the Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Jehovah’s Witness, LDS, Jewish,(which she enjoyed most) Christian Reformed, Baptist, you get the idea. Luckily her interest diminished right before Football Season started. Evidently the whole business of religion and the worship of a sadistic, mystical entity became unappealing. She focused on Beads, Bead Stringing and Semi-precious Stones. This  pleased her mother being she owned a Bead Shop and is a talented jewelry designer also teaching classes. I was becoming exhausted and uninspired being dragged around Tucson every Sunday.  I looked forward to being able to enjoy my hangovers.

The sermon was lengthy and uninspiring delivered by a monotoned Minister to a yawning congregation.

The stage was filled with scenery representing the miraculous event which was assembled for a play to be performed by the Sunday School class . There was an imitation cave structure with a large boulder set off to the side. For some reason Nigel was fascinated and puzzled by the cave with the large rock.

” Hey Santi, I understand about the cross and Roman Soldiers and all but what does the cave have to do with it?”

” Well son understand that after the Jesus guy was crucified on what they refer to as Good Friday.”

” If they killed him why is it called Good Friday?”

” Great observation. Let me finish and I’ll address that issue.”

I went on with my explanation.

“The body of Jesus was given to his followers and they placed his corpse in the cave.  Then they rolled the large rock in front of the entrance so no one could desecrate the grave. After three days a miracle occurred some say witnessed only by Bartholomew a disciple of the once Jew now Christian, Jesus.”

” Just tell me, don’t go making stuff up.”

” The rock had been rolled away and Jesus came back to life then arose into Heaven to sit at the right hand of God.”

” No way. Tell me the truth!”

I told my children any information I revealed would always be the truth.  I never wanted them to be armed with incorrect information. If they repeated my statement it would be factual. It would be the truth.

” Nigel that is exactly what happened the best I’m able to describe. Well, as told in the Bible the book of a thousand fantastic fairy tales and unsubstantiated stories.”

“So you’re saying all these people believe that story? All Christians in the world believe it?”

” Yes son I swear to you it is what they believe. That’s just one instance of an unbelievable event. There are many more..”

” No way. What’s wrong with them? How can they believe such a fable?”

” They call it faith. I call it gullibility.”

” The Easter Bunny is more believable than the  Jesus Christ story.” He continued. ” Now what’s with the Easter Bunny delivering colored eggs? Can you please make sense of how this all fits together? Why isn’t there an Easter Chicken?”

“I’ll take Paganism for one thousand Alex. Oh boy a Daily Double!”

Beget By Alex Z. Salinas

Alex z Salinas, Flash Fiction, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

alex salinas

Beget

By Alex Z. Salinas

This is an almost true story. This is an almost untrue story. Money makes miracles. Miracles make money, ocean, the stars. Larvae and straight white teeth. Larry Rios takes off work, works from home. One foot in front of the other. One word after another, description of a face—The Snake-Haired Lady’s: forehead long as the desert. Skin pale like wolf-trodden snow. Tongue black as rot in the forest. He sometimes thinks he’ll escape the nightmare. Sometimes thinks he’ll avoid hell’s lash. I forgot to mention something earlier, dear reader: miracles beget miracles, but they don’t resolve the consequence of time.

Bio:
Alex Z. Salinas lives in San Antonio, Texas. He is the author of two full-length poetry collections, WARBLES (2019) and DREAMT, or The Lingering Phantoms of Equinox (2020), both published by Hekate Publishing. His poems, short fiction and op-eds have appeared in various print and electronic publications. He holds an M.A. in English Literature and Language from St. Mary’s University.

 

MAKING THE WORLD LIVABLE AGAIN BY BEAU JOHNSON

Beau Johnson, Flash Fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Short Stories

beau johnson

MAKING THE WORLD LIVABLE AGAIN

“Look, I’ll be honest. It was only after my third ability manifested that I knew I’d be changing the world. That I’d be attempting to, anyway.”

Their eyes follow me, but as instructed, their mouths remain closed. A near insurmountable feat with this particular bunch, junior especially, but seeing as they’d been privy to my opening salvo, completely understandable.

“And I know some of you have come around to my way of thinking, but people, too little too late became popular for a reason.” I turn to the live feed and address the world. It’s not first time I have done this. I’m sure it will not be my last. Behind me, I hear a few of them readjust their positions. Twelve is their total today. Today, I hope it’s enough.

“Here we are again, yes, but instead of the White House, today I have chosen Capital Hill. Might not mean much to some, but to others I believe the nuance is not lost.”

I hold my look. I stare into the camera. Does it work? I truly don’t know. But as I’ve always been, I’m a man who has clung to hope.

“Many of you see me as a murderer. You are not wrong in this assessment. I am the villain here. Make no mistake. But I have chosen to become a monster in order to contain a monster—because of people like the ones behind me.”

“Two wrongs don’t make a right, correct, but you know what else? The equation failed the human race long ago, we just weren’t aware it had occurred. Children in cages put an end to that. Add a black man out for a jog and an entire race placed beneath the knee of oppression for four hundred years and you’d have to be a goddamn idiot not to see why the center couldn’t hold.”

I stop there. I’m getting heated. It’s nothing new, of course, but as I said, I’m attempting something new. The thought takes me back to that photo-op.  Not only to how that bible had been held, but how those protesters were tear gassed by a man who felt he’d been made to look small.

Looking back, this was the moment I knew.

Wasn’t until he decides to address the nation from the Oval Office two days later that I reveal myself, however. And I know it appeared as though I came out of thin air beside the man, but that’s not how it works. I move differently now is all.

It’s when the secret service attempt to draw weapons upon me that the entire room becomes a vacuum, though. I wouldn’t allow them to move. Each muscle fibre within them held at bay by my second ability, the one I woke up to last fall.

I look to the camera then—the camera focused on the President of the United States in his chair that day. My promises made, I reiterate how it began for me, from his mocking of a disabled man and then back to the aforementioned children he’d chosen to keep in cages. Only when I bring up how he failed to condemn nazis, saying there were good people on both sides, do I reach into his mouth and pull out the bottom part of his jaw until it separates from his chest.

As I hoped it would, it gets my point across, but not before actions are taken and in through the window behind me, they attempt to shoot me in the back of the head. I am not phased, of course, and the world sees as much, the sniper’s bullet and my first ability combining to create an image you only find in comic books.

But I am not done.

Which brings us back to here, with the men and women I have brought together today.

“And to be fair, I did warn you I’d be back.” True. I just didn’t tell them who I’d be choosing. Makes me sympathetic to why some of them were weeping openly now. All told, caught out as they were, I’d be crying too.

“But there’s been a development,” I say, and inform them of last Wednesday, when my latest ability manifests itself and how I now had one new trait for every year of this particular Presidency.

Correction: what was this particular Presidency.

“Now I want you all to listen,” I continue, turning to address the larger audience tuning in. “For some of you, what is about to occur, it might very well happen within your personal space. Brace yourself is all I can say.” They would never be ready, though. Not as they should. I am something that has never been. Some would suggest I’m a god now. I’ve decided to go with evolution, or a different type of evolution, and one where the evil that people do can now be fought on level ground.

I raise my hand. I clench my fist.

And around the world implode the heads of more than eight hundred and sixty million rapists and pedophiles at the same time. One step better is Melania’s scream, there as she’s drenched by what remained of Lyndsey Graham.

“Hmm,” I say and hook a thumb back behind me as I do. “Always thought that Lady G business was the reason he chose to throw McCain under the bus. Looks like I was wrong.” It’s enough, and it ensures the majority can no longer abide by my one rule. But it’s not just screaming that begins. Others start to grovel. More beg. Pence, Barr, and Kelly-Anne most of all.

I snap my fingers and in an instant, they implode like Graham. The aisles of Congress now flowing with actual blood. I move on to Ivanka and Jared, pushing them through Melania and creating something that would make John Carpenter proud. I take Nunes next, his buddy Gaetz, then Eric and Don Jr.  It’s swift, compact, and Eric’s head rolls furthest of them all. McConnell I save for last, and I let him bleed out only after the last of his skin had been removed.

I turn back to my audience. I repeat that I’m not the good guy; that I know my trespasses and what they represent. I will change things regardless, I say, and then to those still listening, I go on about Russia, about China, and every other country I plan to visit.

I speak of returns as well; that I was not yet done with America and its sins. I mention Karla Homolka, Casey Anthony, Jim Jordan, Brett Kavanaugh, George Zimmerman, O.J. Simpson, Sarah Sanders, Stephen Millar, and advise every other enabler/facilitator who continued to stare at their screens and believed this all to be a dream to expect a visit from me as well.

I say I will get them all, but that I once I had, I held no plans to rule. That when I was done, I’d be done, and the only thing to ever pull me back would be if human decency chose to waver once more.

What I state last is the root of it all; the thing I would take care of next.

“All right,” I say. “Now that I have your attention, who’s up for redistributing some wealth? Who’s ready to dismantle some billionaires?”

Through the concrete, I hear the world respond.

BEAU JOHNSON IS HERE