The smoke hung in the air above the crematorium like a whisked blastocyst. The rich and heartening smell of burning clones stung my nostrils and brought tears to my eyes. It was like cutting an onion made of joy.
"Good harvest today," James-32874 commented. "Batch Gamma has finally reached maturity."
"There was some good stock in that batch," I agreed. "Lance Armstrongs I think. Survivors."
"The heart takes longest to burn," James-32874 nodded and then shielded his eyes from the sun.
A seething flock of scrubber microbes, like a red magic carpet, thrummed past us and swirled around the crematorium stacks gobbling and absorbing the carbon. They kept the skies clear and pollution free. It was always a beautiful day in the blue zone.
The smoke was full of everything but the kidneys, bound for the 7th Fusiliers Regiment "Thomas Jefferson" and their Squidape cavalry teams. I was about to ask James how his husband and their biological children were doing when a bulk loader glided to a halt next to us. Its fusion bottle powered down and the lifter field cut out. It settled to the ground with a soft susurration like stirring leaves. Jane-186223 climbed out of the cab, her bronze colored hair tied back in a ponytail and her eyes hidden by dark sunglasses. The padded work coverall somehow managed to accentuate her shapely body. Hugo Boss designed them, after all.
James-32874 and I both set our tools aside and put down our baskets of gasoline-heavy tomatoes. We eagerly pulled our penises out of our coveralls for the usual friendly greeting when a bright light flickered into the sky behind us. I was dimly aware of Jane-186223 looking away from the light, but we couldn't help but turn to see what it was. It was the end of the 7th Jefferson Fusiliers. An atomic fireball rising high into the sky. The Christ Apes had figured out how to work the bomb.
Temporarily blinded, we turned away and stroked our penises mournfully.
"I came to warn you not to look," Jane-186223 said, placing a comforting hand on our flaccid dicks, "and to tell you that we're being called up. Your RFIDs are broadcasting healthy so we're being sent to the front. We've got to prevent a breakout from the Kansas badlands."
"I'll get the equipment." I said with resignation.
"I'll get the gay pornography." James-32874 trudged off in the opposite direction towards the American Civil Liberties Union Pornography Relaxation Center.
I watched him bow his head beneath the statue of Larry Flint as he disappeared inside.
"This is bad." I said.
Jane-186223 just nodded and reached into her pocket for a marijuana cigarette.
The bible was banned in 2009 by an act of congress, but subversive groups continued to practice their superstitious rites. Sensing trouble, the One Party tried to take their guns away, but they didn't understand that it was for their own good. These acts were considered the opening shots of the Secular Jihad by the Christian Coalition. They returned fire when the family food act was passed in 2011, mandating federal abortion clinics that would harvest fetuses for research and protein purposes. That made the assassination attempts start.
In retrospect it was probably a mistake to ban religion. The more you told them not to be religious the more extreme their religion became. Once the shooting started it was hard to stop. The government appealed to the United Nations to intervene and prevent an all out war, France even sent troops to occupy Washington DC, but in the end a war could not be avoided.
Violence, bloodshed, terrorism, and atrocities mounted. They had to be exterminated because they could not be reasoned with. Our drone bombers leveled their churches and synagogues, our troops occupied their chapels and faith-based charities, and their clerics were hung from lampposts to remind them that their god would not save them if they persisted. They did persist and so the war consumed the whole nation.
We were maxed on super cocaine, wigged out of our head on Benzedrine shots, and red-lining on adrenaline thanks to the spidery shocks of our cortical stimulator implants. I was primed to smash a cat or throw a baby against a wall. I have never been a particularly violent man: I'm more into reading books or oiling up and diving into a good old family sex pit. Just then I would have crushed the larynx of Gloria Steinem.
"God is great, God is good. God is great, God is good." The chant was a faint drone beneath the bass drumbeat of my heart.
"Sinners repent!" One of their clerics called over a loudspeaker. "The End Times are at hand! Seek salvation in Christ!"
That routine never worked. James-99943 popped off a round from his shoulder fired launcher and one of the sonic-homers dropped right in on the loudspeaker boom. With a percussive thump the sermon was reduced to squealing feedback and wounded screams.
"Bring up the propaganda minotaurs!" Commander Jane-21284 shouted.
They came, shackled and grunting, banded about the necks with aggression dampeners. They were eight feet tall, half man, half genetic soup. Their rippling muscles were covered with thick red hide and their enlarged goat eyes were wide with sinister intelligence. Bat wings flexed with anticipation and forked prehensile tails of slick amphibian flesh twitched behind them. The number "666" was branded into their forehead and their chest was covered with a bright pink scar in the shape of a pentagram. The Christians hated them.
"Hail Satan!" We all shouted, and the beasts were set free.
We laughed and bit into our ration bars as we watched the minotaurs vault over our trench line and storm across the no man's land between our position and the Christian Coalition's. Machinegun fire and RPG rounds lanced out from the enemy lines to meet our propaganda shock troops. The bullets seemed only to further enrage them, but the occasional rocket grenade found a place in the meaty torso of one of the minotaurs and burst it apart in a gory welter of blood and gristle. Then the charge reached the Christian lines and with animal fury the minotaurs wielded their axes and halberds against the shrieking zealots. The force was not big enough to annihilate them, but if we were fortunate it would cause a rout.
You would think after 6,000 years of world history they might have learned not to break and run in front of a collection of automatic rifles. They broke and ran when their leader was split in half by one of the minotaurs. The grease-haired preacher fell apart and his guts sloshed out into their trench. With a fearful cry the survivors turned and jumped from their trench in an effort to flee. As soon as they appeared in our sights we put our billions of years of world history to use and gunned them down. It was over in seconds and we had the added bonus of a small bag of prisoners to send back to our Al Qaeda allies for interrogation.
"God is great," they murmured as they shuffled past with their eyes downcast.
"He wasn't great enough!" James-98442 hooted and was smacked good-naturedly by Commander Jane-21284.
I gazed back at the battlefield. Smoke snaked from the guttering corpse-fires of dead minotaurs and the white robes were like bloodied shrouds on the dead Christians. Already the reclamation flowers were beginning to grow on their remains. Soon the blossoms would be fruit, warm and delicious, nourished by the dead.
The Christian host was crumbling beneath our incessant assaults. Only their final redoubt in Southern Promised Land (formerly Texas) remained and Field Marshall James-002345 had amassed a huge tank army to destroy it. Word would reach us the following morning that the last of them had committed mass suicide in a final act of defiance, driving trucks laden with fertilizer towards the approaching army. A few succeeded in their suicide attacks, but most died beneath the accurate blasts of the autoguns.
That night we celebrated with lustful abandon. Everyone fucked everyone else and then we molested some children. We burned pocket Bibles we had confiscated and used their pages as toilet paper. We forced pregnant prisoners to have abortions and then we ate their babies, their blood like intoxicating fire in our bellies. We fucked apes with human genitals we had specially grown and frozen cryogenically because we are descended from them. We lubricated religious statuary and icons and inserted them into the vaginas of elephants, then we chiseled holes into them and fucked those too.
It was the greatest day of my life. It was the day we won the Secular Jihad.
Praise Jehovah, it's more words from my fingers to your eyes. It's like an eye massage or an eye brushing. Or maybe it's like a beautiful dove taking flight between a Japanese man with two Colt .45s. And not the Billy Dee kind. Whatever it is, whatever strange dimension has spawned it, I think you should go read it!
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.