Anarcho-Capitalism: A political philosophy which advocates the elimination of the state in favor of individual sovereignty, private property, and open markets. Anarcho capitalists believe that in the absence of statute society would improve itself through the discipline of the free market. In an anarcho-capitalist society, law enforcement, courts, and all other security services would be operated by privately funded competitors rather than centrally through compulsory taxation.
a Brief History of Planet Coca-Cola
Year 1: Avro 2 lands on Kepler 442b carrying 1,000 Commonwealth and American pioneers. New Washington City is founded and Kepler is renamed the Republic of New Earth. The democratic Republic collects taxes to provide services, placing an emphasis on education, health, sciences, and strict government control of new resources.
Year 12: Spacehipster lands on New Earth carrying 1,000 Cascadian pioneers. New Van City founded.
Year 18: Casimir crashes outside New Washington, 1,000 Polish, Russian, and Chinese pioneers die. Crash site is preserved as a cultural heritage site, national day of mourning is observed.
Year 100: First Centennial celebrated on New Earth. Population roughly 150,000.
Year 122: Whopper lands on New Earth carrying 100 private entrepreneurs and 350 mechanized construction units. Robots begin building Burger King restaurants in New Washington.
Year 123: McVoyager lands on New Earth carrying 50 private entrepreneurs, 120 mechanized construction units. Private entrepreneurs begin buying and claiming free land. Spacebucks lands on New Earth carrying 20 private entrepreneurs, coffee beans, farming equipment, McDonald’s rejects lease offers for farmland from Cascadian neo-nazi farmers.
Year 124: After much lobbying, government of New Earth announces subsidies and tax breaks to help foster growth of new and developing markets.
Year 148: Tiffany’s, Apple, British Petroleum, Google, Disney, KFC, Coca-Cola, have arrived on New Earth.
Year 230: New Van land is bought out by Starbucks, renamed Starbucks City, buildings are torn down and converted to farmland. Family-operated working community quickly grows to over 9,000 and declares independence from New Earth. New Washington introduces tax to cover cost of building and maintaining a military force. Disneyland opens outside New Washington.
Year 232: New Washington forces invade Starbucks City and are defeated. Starbucks City citizens democratically agree to a system of centralized power with an armed population, and are denounced by New Earth.
Year 240: New Washington forces attack Starbucks City in an unprovoked shock and awe campaign. Starbucks City is annexed by New Washington. Four day war claims 2,800 Starbucks City citizens, 996 New Washington soldiers, thousands more are injured.
Year 250: Bicentennial celebrated. Mass protests and demonstrations are held in Starbucks City against New Earth rule and government corruption. Burger King operates 28 restaurants, KFC operates 6 restaurants, McDonald’s operates 13 restaurants and owns roughly 20% of New Earth land, Coca-Cola is sold in every restaurant and private business on New Earth and is the exclusive beverage of Disneyland. Population roughly 1,000,000.
Year 300: Third Centennial celebrated. New Earth faces a budget crisis, partly due to abuse of government subsidies and assistance programs by large companies, and maintenance of a largely purposeless military force. Coca-Cola President of Intergalactic Affairs Peabody runs for President on a platform of austerity, further tax breaks for businesses and the wealthy, and wins. President Peabody dismantles New Earth military, cuts government funding for education programs, assistance programs, health services, and sciences. Taxation of wealthiest citizens dropped from 45% to 20%, middle-class bracket taxation raised from 10% to 20%. Radical new laws are passed, including the Government Reclamation through Voting Act, which restricts voting to citizens 25 years of age and older who have lived on New Earth 10 years or more and earn at least the median bracket with no prior convictions or judgments against them, and the Safe Streets Act which, though vague, makes it illegal for more than ten people to organize for any reason on government property. Demonstrations and protests are organized throughout New Earth and are followed by substantial arrests. Population roughly 1,500,000.
Year 308: Sponsored media reports landslide victory for Peabody’s reelection campaign (although more than 80% of eligible voters left ballots empty, and more than half the total population could not vote due to Government Reclamation through Voting Act), Peabody strengthens policy of austerity with further cuts to government services, extends subsidies for growing businesses to large businesses, and introduces new subsidies for private military forces and defense. McArmor Private Security company is founded by ex-McDonald’s executives, offers private security services and solutions to government officials and businesses. Disneyland is abandoned by Disney, citing declining business and poor prospects, vagrants take over and form a cooperative state with aid from Starbucks City.
Year 346: New Earth government declares bankruptcy. Coca-Cola offers to pay debts in exchange for exclusive beverage selling rights to New Earth schools, hospitals, and all government buildings and public spaces, and guaranteed access to resources and land for future expansion. Movement within Starbucks City nicknames New Earth ‘Planet Coca-Cola’. New Washington accepts sponsorship offer from Tiffany’s, nicknamed Tiffany’s City.
Year of the Playstation Q (Year 413): Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Apple, and others, employ more than half the population of Coca-Cola and control most of it’s economy, collude, threaten to leave Planet Coca-Cola if demands for lower taxation policies, further subsidies, more austerity aren’t met, government protests but agrees to changes, and many (including Burger King, Pepsi, Martian Motors) leave anyway. New Earth Standard Calendar is dropped in favor of Sponsored Quarterly Business Calendar, beginning with the Year of the Playstation Q. Population roughly 2,750,000.
Year of Kikkoman Soy Sauce (Year 426): Government collapses, riots in Starbucks City and Tiffany’s City, mass panic ensues. Government buildings stormed by McArmor, McDonald’s President Croc declares himself King of Planet Coca-Cola. Dismantles remaining government, declares Coca-Cola a free libertarian capitalist state with no government interference or influence.
Year of the Sony Telestream Viewer (Year 476): The gap between the rich and poor has been rapidly growing, inequality is at its highest recorded levels. Revolts are fought back with extreme violence, public property no longer exists, wages have steadily declined every year, worker’s rights advocates and unionization attempts are met with aggression and threats, education is privately owned and operated and largely only accessible by the super rich. McDonald’s owns an estimated 40% of the land, Coca-Cola owns an estimated 45%, the rest is owned by private citizens and businesses (most of which are subsidiaries of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola). Disneyland has grown to roughly 20,000, the cooperative state, though poor, appeals to many.
Year of the Big Mac (Year 880): Coca-Cola is a de facto an-cap state. Dangerous and deadly products are common on the free market, unsafe work conditions are a harsh reality usually ignored by employers, indentured servitude is a common practice, and many have turned to vegetarianism due to the rising price of meat products and fears over constant outbreaks of E. coli, botulism, listeria, and salmonella, mostly due to a completely unregulated beef and pork industry. McDonald’s principal source of income is now earned by selling McArmor security solutions.
the Golden Age of the Golden Arches
McHeist (Part 1)
“Hey Bird, check this out,” Blanka reaches into his army surplus jacket and holds out an antique glock pistol.
“The fuck you need that cannon for?”
“Found it at the Trader’s Emporium, jealous?” Bird rolls his eyes. “If the gun doesn’t impress you, I found this, too,” Blanka holds out a grenade.
“Fuck, have you had that in your pocket this whole time?”
“Yeah,” chuckles Blanka. “It’s just a smokey though, old one, from Earth, so says the alien, anyway.”
High above a rusty plasma engine roars in the empty space, bright stars fade to dark blue for the driver of the cargo ship as he steers it into Coca-Cola’s atmosphere, a long tail of exhaust trailing behind. A familiar blue sun rises behind Tiffany’s City and reaches beyond the shipping yard, light seeps over great steel and glass skyscrapers that light up and reflect so bright it can be seen even during the day from the moon, Vanilla Coke, flooding the city, swallowing all but the ads atop the tallest buildings by design. Bird counts two McArmor guards on speeders escorting the ship onto the yard, two more following close behind, all slow down and descend together. He hands Blanka the digital binoculars, “look, they’re here.” Under artificial white light, a cloud of steam rises around the ship, accompanied by a mechanical sigh as the ship branded McDonald’s touches down on the bleached concrete pad.
Blanka holsters his gun and tosses the binoculars back up and says “last one down gets breakfast!” as he lets go of the metal pole high above the radio tower, and begins hopping down the metal skeleton. Bird, the older of the two by almost thirty years, calmly swings over to the ladder and slides down to the ground.
Blanka stumbles as he lands on the ground and looks around for Bird, who brusquely passes and asks him “try not to kill any of these idiots this time.”
The McArmor guards, or Knights as they often call themselves, park their speeders by the warehouse building and walk away lighting cigarettes and talking about Budweiser Beach, the driver in the cab shuffles some papers in his hands while Blanka follows Bird closely across the yard. Blanka approaches the speeders and mumbles “Benzies, damn,” to no one, and pulls a large magnet out of his back pocket, continues “it’s time for your date with Mr. Magnet, bitches,” as he drags the magnet over the on-board computer, screen, and motor for good measure.
Bird meanwhile had snuck up the passenger side of the ship, laser gun drawn he gently taps the window, motions the driver to roll it down, who in his surprise and confusion reaches for the shotgun under his seat. An energy shot beams out of his gun, chewing a perfect hole through the glass window and the roof of the ship, the driver keeps one hand up and starts rolling the window down slowly. “There’s a good boy, now. Have you ever been in this situation before?” He shakes his head, Bird makes a popping sound with his mouth. “Lucky you, well, here’s how it goes, first you slowly take the company gun out of your ankle holster and leave it on the seat there, like that, good. Next you step out of the ship, and if you’re smart, you hit your head hard enough on your way out that they just might believe you completely forgot what happened here.”
“And what if I don’t?” asks the driver, thinning hair becoming wet with perspiration.
“Really? Well, you’re a pretty heavy guy, so I can’t be carrying your corpse around very far, then there’s the smell, have you ever smelled a corpse? A big, fat, nasty-ass corpse like your’s? Even in pieces you’d be a pain in the ass to bury.”
Blanka sees Bird still negotiating with the driver and drags the magnet over the next speeder, “oh no, please, stop, I can’t take that much – oh yeah baby, Mr. Magnet is gonna wreck your-”
“Hey you!” a man’s voice echoes through the narrow pass between the warehouses. “What the fuck are you doing?”
Blanka looks up and sees two McArmor guards closing in, warns “Bird! Time to go!” and tosses the smoke grenade as he turns and runs for the ship.
Fed up, Bird shoots the lock on the metal door and lets himself into the cab, ordering the driver “fuck out my ship!” He struggles to open the door, Bird kicks at his stomach, angry “fuck’s sake, hurry up you fat bastard,” as the door swings open and the driver falls out, his face smashes the concrete hard, a wave ripples through his body. Bird starts the transport back up, a current feeds the machine and it slowly begins to lift, Blanka appears in the passenger side just in time. The McArmor guards find their speeders non-responsive and instead draw their guns, they hear a boom and see the ship rise above the white smoke and begin speeding away, holding their fire they run forward and stumble upon the driver, blood pouring from his head. Blanka, the teenager, plays with the loose door inside the ship, when the lock doesn’t connect he throws it open and shoots the hinges with his laser gun, the door falls onto a warehouse roof below, a loud, chill air whips through the cab and Bird turns to Blanka, gives him the quintessential paternal look, and sighs. Only moments later the ship lands on the other side of the docking yard, an Intergalactic Parcel Service courier was waiting with a tablet in his hands and a salesman’s grin painted on his face.
“Bird, Bird, Bird – always good to see you. What have you got for us here then?”
“Needs to get to Disneyland, today would be nice.”
“We’ll get it wherever you want. Say,” he shoehorns it in with a smile, “any chance you can pay up front?”
“Yeah,” Bird hands the courier an envelope. “It’s all there.”
He stuffs it into his pocket, walks around the ship, examining, “what happened here?” Blanka shrugs at the missing door. “Don’t worry guys, it’ll get there before you do.”
“Thanks, brother, stay positive.”
The courier punches some information into his tablet and walks toward the IPS building, Bird and Blanka calmly leave the docks, headed for Tiffany’s City. “It’s barely 7,” says Bird, “you feel like McDonald’s breakfast?”
“Good, you’re buying.”
a Glutton for Punishment and a Punishment for Gluttony
Dr. Asshole sips a glass of water and quietly studies his office, atrocious shaggy carpet, wine stained wainscoting – is that blood, too? the ugly beige wallpaper peeling and dust collecting in the pocket, plants browning at their tips, and his patient Khryss on the couch looking up. He slumps into his chair and crosses his legs, he’s working on a sketch and tapping his pencil between defining the lines, after a moment he adds large breasts to the woman and looks out the window again, somewhere beyond that fucking lawyer’s neon sign is Tiffany’s City, baptised in blue and off to work for the day.
Khryss sits up on the sofa, turns, and asks the doctor “so what do you think I should do?”
“Well Khryss, as you’re well aware, humans and sereans can’t engage in romantic relationships, it’s not a question of perseverance or winning her over as you’d like to believe, she may very well want this as much as you do, but you must keep in mind she’s designed to kill you. Now while it’s true we don’t know much about the sereans, we do know they evolved to hunt and kill apes.”
“I,” he lays back down. “I think that’s sexy.”
“She’s literally toxic.”
“So what should I do?”
“As a therapist I can’t answer that question for you. As a friend, I think you need to forget about her for a while, try to go out, do something fun, have a good time. If you’re looking for,” he pauses, clears his throat. “Companionship, try a strip club, if alien girls are what you like there’s plenty here in Tiffany’s that don’t pose any serious threat to you.” He closes the notepad and walks over to a cabinet, grabs a handful of joints and hands them to Khryss. “I recommend you smoke one of these tonight and save the rest for New Year’s, but keep away from your serean Juliet, there’s never a happy ending there for anybody.”
Khryss pockets the joints and heads for the door, “thanks Doc, as always. I’ll let you know how everything goes.”
“Don’t worry about that, just try to enjoy yourself, loosen up. And Khryss, try to give some consideration to leaving this planet for good, I feel like you could really benefit from a fresh start, just give it a bit of thought.”
“I will, doctor, thank you.”
Ms. Miracle smiles at Khryss as he departs the office, “see you next month.” Dr. Asshole follows and finds the waiting room empty. “Your next appointment called while you were with Khryss, he’s gonna be running late.”
She shrugs “what can you do?”
“So how’s life?”
“You know how life in Disneyland is.”
“Oh, how are those talking posies I got you on your last Sponsorship Day doing?”
“Oh I just adore them, doctor! Did I tell you they’re forming complete sentences now? It’s so cute! And I haven’t seen any bugs in my shack since I moved them inside.”
The doctor smiles “I’m glad you like them.”
“They’re a botanist’s dream! That reminds me, too, since we have some free time,” she grins and digs through her purse and tosses the doctor a bag of weed. “Care to step outside?”
Dr. Asshole opens the bag, a rich aroma fills the air. “Mmm, let’s go.” He grabs a bottle of water out of the mini-fridge and a pipe and leads Ms. Miracle upstairs to the roof. Taller buildings reach up around them, the sound of IPS couriers zipping by echoes up the alley, the grey concrete glows blue, feels warm. Ms. Miracle’s glasses darken, she kicks off her old, thin flip-flops and hops on the ledge, lights the bowl with a match, the doctor leans over and looks past the Lionel Hutz-esque lawyer’s sign, As seen on telestream! Berkowitz Law Firm & Lemonade, Klondike5-LEMN, orphan earth cats who adjusted well to Coca-Cola’s lower gravity stalk alien bugs the size of rats below.
“You remember that Martian kush I grew a few summers back?” asks the secretary, passing the pipe to her left. “I tried it again last summer, but I got a few male plants, so I figured what the hell, let them be, they ended up cross-breeding with some Coca-Cola kush clones I bought a while back, and this here,” she exhales. “Is the intergalactic love child.”
“You’re an artist, truly, this is delicious. How long have you been growing now?”
“Five years, maybe six.”
“So a little after high school?”
“Well, after basic school, as you know, I accepted a sponsorship from Miracle-Gro, back when I lived in Starbucks City. I did some secondary school, found it was really expensive, and tried to make up the difference by selling from my personal stash.”
“Except you got busted.”
“Bingo. You make better money selling weed anyway.”
“You ever think about what life would be like if you had become a botanist?”
“Don’t we all? I mean think about how things might be. I’m happy with how everything is right now, things are good, you know? Disneyland might not be Tiffany’s City, but I’m free to do whatever I want there, I have a good job here, things are good, you know?”
Ms. Miracle laughs, her glasses slip and the doctor catches them, he takes her hand and helps her back onto the roof. They descend the steel ladder back to the waiting room and talk for a while longer until the clock picks up again. The phone rings and Ms. Miracle answers, “that was your next appointment, he’ll be here in a few minutes.”
“Alright, I’ll be in my office then, show him in when he gets here, would you?”
“Of course, doctor.”
Dr. Asshole steps back into his office and slumps into his chair again, he picks up the notepad and adds glasses to the woman in the drawing before scratching it out and crumpling up the page. Outside an iCar 8 with all the bells and whistles, the sort of frivolous purchase that stiffens the cocks of salesmen and car dealers, lands on the driveway and a man in an expensive, but fake, notices the doctor’s keen eyes, Gucci suit steps out. The doctor shuts the notepad, hears Ms. Miracle greet the man and invites him to the La-Z-Boy when he steps into the office a moment later.
“Sorry I ran late today doctor, I had a situation to deal with this morning at the docks.”
“Please, it’s no trouble. I hope everything is alright.”
“Far from it, fucking pirates, same shit as always.”
“You’ve lost another cargo transport.”
“They crippled two of our speeders, too – I hate these fucking computer-enhanced, smart machines, all it takes is one asshole with a magnet. And the worst part is, we know where the cargo is, there’s cameras all over the yard, the bastards ship it Intergalactic right under our noses, it’s not like they’re going to ask any questions.”
“Most of us are familiar with life in an an-cap state though we had no choice in the matter, you, however, chose to come here.”
“Oh I know, fuck, believe me, I know.”
“I’m sorry Bhraiyghdhenne, I didn’t mean to upset you. How is life outside of work?”
“It’s not great, I can tell you that much. All this shit seeps into my life, keeps me up at night, it’s all I can think about. I got word from Earth the other day that these losses are starting to affect the company’s bottom line, guess who gets the chop if stockholders find out we’re bleeding money on Coca-Cola? They collectively shit their pants whenever a new KFC or Starbucks opens, do you know what that stress is like?”
“I can only imagine. Are you still self-medicating?”
“Listen, Asshole, my wife is cheating on me with some jerk-off actor and you know what? I don’t even care, it’s probably my fault anyway. I’m never around, and I’m always pissed off when I am. My kids don’t know me, hell, even the hookers act like they’re doing me some kind of favor lately. I work my dick off to provide and what do I get? Pirates and lawyers, thieves, a thankless family, a company that won’t hesitate to fire me – you’re asking if I’m still self-medicating? Yeah doc, I’m still self-medicating.”
“Bhraiyghdhenne, can you remember the last time you were happy? I’d like you to tell me about that.”
“I,” he sighs, pauses. “I don’t know. How pathetic is that? I remember I was happy all the time growing up on Mars, my sister Ashghleighy-Lynnegh and my brother K-Lb, we were so close then… Jesus, how long ago was that? I’m almost sixty, I can’t remember the last time I was truly happy – that’s not normal, is it?”
“For what it’s worth, in my experience there’s no such thing as normal, especially on this planet. Besides self-medicating, what are your plans? How are you going to deal with everything, your family, the pirates, yourself.”
“Well we hired a mercenary a few days ago, supposed to be the best at what he does, we’re going over a few ideas. We worked out that it’s too expensive to hire professional mercs for every shipment, but the stockholders won’t let us pay the McArmor guys enough for them to give a shit either, it’s hard to find that perfect balance, I mean, fuck, a few shipments gone and that’s it, we lose some money, stock value drops and you can kiss my ass goodbye. Maybe I shouldn’t be too optimistic, but I like this guy, he worked with Starbucks for a while, they seem to be doing well, anyway, he’s got a plan, a good plan.”
“You seem confident.”
“Like I said, I should probably put the kibosh on that enthusiasm until we have some results, but this guy, he’s got this arrogance to him, and that’s important in this business. He wants to ambush them, thinks we can lure them in with a light escort and surround them. If we can take them out quickly and quietly, it’ll be back to business in no time.”
“That’s a clever plan, suppose they anticipate a trap though? What if they escape?”
“We don’t anticipate that happening, doctor.”
Nurse Benadryl Goes to Disneyland
The pearly white walls of the Apple iCare Hospital are spotless, meticulously cleaned twice a day, they emit a white glow more energy-efficient than light bulbs and fluorescents. The former industrial building, a Nike Li’l Athletics sweatshop turned care center now employs a unique team of doctors, researchers, insurance brokers, lawyers, and pharmacists among many others. Apple had hired China’s most reputable feng-shui consultant to redesign much of the building’s interior but not the reception, which had been designed not to evoke a feeling of harmony, but to quickly admit customers who were able to pay for care and remove those who couldn’t, a window by the exit and another by the entrance to emergency care offered what Apple called iNsurance. iNsurance sales had afforded Apple the means to buy out a Martian bioengineering firm and relocate the employees to the 12th floor of the iCare Hospital where they produced perfect organs, studied alien diseases, and most importantly, patented medicines.
Dr. Pfizer is on the 4th floor, maternity wing, beads of sweat pouring from his forehead soaked his dark hair as he reassured the woman delivering the baby “you’re doing great, the head is through and she is beautiful! Just a little further now. Nurse, how are we?”
“All good, doctor.”
A few moments later the newborn girl’s cries fill the room, the mother, exasperated, lays back and draws a slow breath of relief. Dr. Pfizer tosses his latex gloves aside and examines the order form, “nurse, this customer ordered the Baby Max, is the shot prepared?”
“Got it right here, doctor.”
Nurse Benadryl calms the crying baby and injects the Baby Max growth hormone, a recent Apple patent which claims to aid in quicker development of stronger and smarter babies, though most customers realize that claim doesn’t need to be supported by any science on Coca-Cola’s laissez faire market. The baby girl’s cries become whimpers, then silence, as Nurse Benadryl wraps her in a blanket branded with pink toymaker logos, Barbie, Disney, Fisher-Price, and others, the blue blankets marked Ban-Dai, Tonka, Hot-Wheels, sat neatly folded in another pile. She hands the baby to her mother and asks “have you decided on a sponsorship yet?”
She cradles her newborn, the father stands over them, proud and watching protectively, “we have a contract with Lego until she turns twelve.”
“Well she is going to be a very happy little girl,” smiles the nurse. “I was a Lego girl before I went to medical school.”
“We’ve heard a lot of good things.”
“Well congratulations on your healthy baby and best of luck to all of you,” she pokes the baby’s nose and laughs, then, exhausted, follows Dr. Pfizer out of the delivery room. She heads straight for the staff room, puts on her thrift store leather jacket and heads out. Outside, she turns on her iPodXC-S2-3 and thumbs over to her classics playlist, 36 Chambers comes on, she turns up the volume. A baby blue Vanilla Coke drifts listlessly in the sky, alien constellations barely visible past brightly lit skyscrapers demanding her attention guide hitchhikers and robots and lovers of poetry, create an uncomfortably lost feeling for Earth expats only partially offset by the unnatural white light of the street lamps.
She heads down cracked tile steps to the hospital subway access, her passcard immediately activates the personalized ads on the hallway telestream viewers and ads for genuine Food by Monsanto, Martian silk summer-wear, and the latest best-selling mystery novels fill the empty space of the long tunnel, drown out her already quiet footsteps. Her iPod starts playing a commercial and she pulls out her headphones without much enmity, the iPod, sensing a difference in the pressure around the earbuds, automatically pauses the commercial. An old, outdated subway car waits as she descends the final escalator, bought at a steal after New York City upgraded to a Japanese style bullet train system, they even managed to ship that old-world charm via worn out seats and graffiti tags, though nobody knew who or what a Banksy might be.
Nurse Benadryl stuffs the iPod back into her bag and pulls out her iReader, she flips through four pages of ads before the reader turns to the bookmarked page and reads for all of the half-hour trip to the outskirts of Tiffany’s City, the end of the line, naturally tuning out the commercials that precede the announcements, “Disneyland, last stop folks. Why not try the new whale-size Beluga Burger at McDonald’s with a cool, refreshing Coke? McDonald’s is Happiness and Love.”
A barbed-wire fence on the surface separates Disneyland from Tiffany’s City, the guards allow free passage into the former amusement park, but access to Tiffany’s City is restricted to those few who can produce company approved work vouchers. The park had originally been built as a tourist destination for the families of visiting businessmen, as the years wore on and the harsh reality of Coca-Cola’s future, a lawless free market became clear, ransom kidnappings, violence, robberies became common occurrences, customers no longer wanted to ride the dangerously under maintained attractions, security became an expensive burden, and near slave-wages for employees ensured an environment that fostered the development of drug dealing between workers and customers, poor hygiene in the food stands, sex trafficking in the dark alleys of Main Street USA, and a general feeling of malaise throughout the park that, unchecked, develops into apathy, anger, and hatred. Once Disneyland became unprofitable, the park was abandoned and the squatters built a city of tents, in spite of their poor living conditions, they thrived, and eventually created an autonomous cooperative mini-region within Coca-Cola.
The turnstile clicks as Nurse Benadryl passes through, Vanilla Coke is sinking nearer the horizon, dimly burning out a dull blue, the stars becoming clearer as she strolls the cobblestone road. Homeless humans and aliens drink together in empty buildings on either side of the road, the smell of marijuana is always drifting in the air, the chatter of drunken conversations, escalating to arguments and the mews of begging street cats bring Disneyland to life. Far from the clean white walls of the hospital, the empty streets of Tiffany’s City, the constant harassment of advertisements, she feels at home, happy and safe.
She finally arrives to her tin shack home under the Star Wars ride. She tosses her bag onto the bed and starts a hot shower, a relief coming over her as she undresses and steps into the rusted iron tub and stands quietly under the water. Completely alone, naked and free, she watches the water flow down her breasts and trickle off, a warm mist rises around her, fogs the mirror. After her shower and still in the nude, she eats a dinner of crackers and cheese product in front of a telestream viewer, watching early morning programming until the daylight starts reaching through the curtains. Tired and yawning, she pulls a bottle of sleeping pills she stole from the hospital out of her nightstand drawer, takes two and knocks herself out for a night of well-deserved rest.
You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine
On a rainy night, Vanilla Coke’s faint blue spills onto the neon signs littered throughout the Tiffany’s City red light district that point the way to clubs and bars, showcasing each one’s respective sponsorship, the Viagra Gentlemen’s Club, Hustler’s Hos, Budweiser Beach, and Absolut Nudes are the brightest on the unimaginatively named Sex Street. Fenced in and beyond seedy, the porn theaters screen different films every quarter-hour, and afterwards auction the actresses to the highest bidders, homeless and drug addicted vagrants gather and beg for spare credit outside and often turn up dead, littered on the sidewalks next to high-end escorts, battered and bruised at the hands of third-rate lawyers and impotent salesmen living out power fantasies. The blue and red neon sign outside Absolut Nudes slowly revolves, beckoning passersby inside with a sexy silhouette of a woman on each side, one human, one alien. Dr. Asshole hums a tune to himself as he walks ahead of the line and stops to speak with the doorman, an old Russian military man, and a former client.
“Doctor,” says the doorman with a crude accent.
“Vadym, how are you? You crazy bastard! Busy night, eh?”
“Yes doctor, very busy.”
“Have you seen Blanka tonight?”
“No Blanka, doctor. Lexus inside,” winks Vadym.
“Thanks Vadym,” the doctor holds out a credit bill as he steps into the club, Vadym stuffs it into his import Levis and turns his attention back to the line.
A loud, hellish music echoes in the tall ceiling of the club, a brilliant mixed-color light bounces off a diamond chandelier, bathes the naked women on stage in all colors, credit bills float around the stage, topless waitresses walk around delivering drinks and vices to the back room where wealthy men play cards and smoke clouds linger over poker tables. On many nights Absolut Nudes also hosts entertainment, intergalactic touring bands, porn stars, comedians even, most other nights the usual girls take the stage and work the bar. The doctor slips through a crowd of rowdy humans and aliens, sifts through the glowing hairstyles of bright blue, green, and red, until finally he spots Lexus’ golden strands and approaches her with a cautious hand on her hip. Lexus turns, hand conditioned to slap reaching out but suddenly realizing it wasn’t another drunk asshole, but her Dr. Asshole, and lets him in closer instead, although carefully discreet with public displays of romantic love, especially at work where it was commodity, not to be handed out to freeloaders. She takes his hand in her’s and leads him to an empty back room, sits him down on a sofa and mixes two drinks before cutting through the silence between them with an honest “I’ve missed you,” as she sits on his lap and they drink.
“I’ve missed you too,” admits the doctor.
The alcohol on Coca-Cola is different, tampered with by so-called men of science who pushed the boundaries of boner pills, perfected the taste of hamburgers, cured baldness, and solved the ‘dead-eye dilemma’ of sex robots, it’s engineered to be stronger, work faster, be less severe the morning after, and as such, demands a steep price. Dr. Asshole and Lexus become intoxicated almost immediately, she reaches out and holds his head with her thin, bony fingers, leans in for a kiss and takes off her top, her naturally large breasts drop and the doctor dives right in, blood flowing now to his throbbing cock. The look she gives him as she kneels in front of him and takes him in her mouth, emphasized through dark mascara, does more for him than the feeling of her tongue, her teeth, or her lips wrapped tightly around him.
They match the rhythm of the music blaring in the club, imported Martian techno and classic Earth house. Somewhere over the years of secret liaisons, the feeling they substituted for love evolved, and nurtured, flourished between the two in spite of the cash flow between them, the other people they each fucked, and the uncomfortable, always present knowledge that there was nowhere else for them to go, no house with a white picket fence in the suburbs of Coca-Cola to run away to, no golden retriever named Rover, or Iams more likely, waiting for them, no conversations over coffee before heading off to work in the morning to be had, nothing they could do but capture that feeling in the back room of the club Absolut Nudes, if only for a few short moments, and clutch it tightly.
Lexus’ hand runs slowly up and down the doctor’s chest, her other holds her flat stomach, a part of him still inside her. They always embraced after they made love, the music faded, their hearts beat louder, they saw things differently, the reflected glint on an empty martini glass like her grey eyes, the ochre of rusty door hinges like his orange hair. Then, as it always does, gravity starts to pull harder, a knock on the door as the volume cranks up again, “there’s two people here for Dr. Asshole,” says the voice on the other end and he reaches for his pants somewhere on the dark carpet.
The doctor, looking decent now, sits down at the bar, Lexus hands him a drink and mixes two more before kissing him on the cheek and leaving the room, Bird and Blanka walk in. They sit down together and help themselves to the full glasses at the bar, Bird hands the doctor an envelope marked 16/32/Big Mac in surprisingly exquisite handwriting, he doesn’t bother to count it, leaving the bills folded in whatever careless manner they end up stuffed in his jacket pocket.
“I know something you don’t,” starts the doctor.
Bird leans in, “what’s that you know, doctor?”
“It’ll cost you more than our usual arrangement.”
“If it’s worth it, we’ll pay.”
The doctor empties his glass, “they’re planning an ambush, next delivery.”
“Why didn’t I think to ask him that?” ponders the doctor sarcastically.
“What are we gonna do?” asks Blanka.
Bird finishes his drink, thinks out loud “bring more guns, maybe another guy. They’ll have IPS blocked off no doubt, we’ll have to ship it ourselves.”
“There’s the underground network, it’s risky though.”
“You mean the subway tunnels?” asks the doctor.
“There’s a much bigger network than just subway tunnels down there. Disney built most of them once upon a time when they wanted all roads to lead to Disneyland, some actually say building those tunnels is what bankrupted them on Coca-Cola.”
“You’re pretty well informed.”
“Used to know ‘em like the back of my hand when I was a teenager. Used to steal jet-bikes and race ‘em down those tunnels – shit, it’s been a long time.”
“You’re not that old,” says the doctor, standing up. “But if you’ll excuse me, I’ll leave you two to it. Oh, and Blanka,” the doctor’s fingers probe past the envelope and find a bag of weed. “I almost forgot, enjoy.”
McHeist (Part 2)
A chill breeze high above the radio tower bites at their fingers as they pass a joint back and forth, perched like vultures in their usual spots. A heavy haze rises, kisses the sky, Blanka flicks the roach, off on the horizon the first embers of daylight are burning up the sky. He fingers the metal rings around the grenades at his hip, they were better prepared this time, had called in favors, created new debts, and watched now for signs of life. Bird glasses two speeders through his binoculars first, the cargo ship follows a moment later escorted by four more, white light floods the dock in scheduled anticipation. Blanka, eager, holds the electromagnetic grenade, Bird lifts a hand and says “wait, take another look.” He looks again, sees a dozen or so speeders hanging back, waiting.
“Blanka – party of ten.”
“Hey, don’t fuck around on this one. We’ve got one minute to kill between the EMP and the on-board computer resetting itself, if we’re not gone by then, we won’t be going anywhere.”
Blah, blah, blah, Blanka nods and hops down the metal rungs, friction pulls on his palms, cold air whips at his face and picks up his hair. Steam hisses, rises around the cargo ship as it descends, Blanka squeezes the grenade in hand, tosses it and looks up, reaching for his laser pistols, the cargo ship scrapes the concrete as it suddenly drops the last few feet, speeders start to fall to new earth. Bird dodges the falling hover-bikes as he charges behind two smoke grenades, an antique kalashnikov pointed forward, more hissing, more smoke, the golden arches becoming clearer as he approaches the ship and fires into the cab without hesitation, then climbs up and lets himself in, a body slumps out. His fingers twitch over the start button, the timer on his watch counts 42, 43, 44… “hurry up, Blanka.”
He stops the timer after 60, the seat beside him still empty, he can hear shots ring out from the McArmor standard issue mini-uzis, but there was no way of telling how many times Blanka’s laser pistols had been fired, if at all. He punches the start button and hears a thrashing at the door, points the long barrel out the window and sees Blanka hanging desperately on to it, blood pouring from his chest. He hops down and empties the clip into the fading smoke, gives his friend a push into the cab, the ship’s computer is waiting, McArmor closes in.
The ship whirs awake and starts to rise, Bird steers it away from the docks in a hurry, crashing through the radio tower and speeding over Lake Vitamin Water into the old industrial district, “guess we won’t be waiting in our usual spots next time, will we?” Blanka coughs up a mouthful of blood and in spite of his lethargy, leans out the window and tosses the last of his smoke grenades behind them, another cloud of smoke starts to rise. The ship veers away from the water, skillfully maneuvers through chemical plant smoke stacks, for a moment the cab is filled with the aromas of cheeseburgers, french fries, pizza, fried chicken. “This might hurt,” warns Bird, the ship smashes through a brick wall into an abandoned factory, he follows a rail track into a dark tunnel.
“Just hang on buddy,” Bird looks over, Blanka’s eyes are receding, he reaches across the seat and slaps him. “You gotta stay awake, we’re going to a hospital, I’m gonna find you a doctor with a good sponsorship, nothing less than Israel.” Blanka manages a nod, clutches his chest. “Look, there’s Earle, we’re almost there, don’t you die just yet.” The ship slows and touches down, Earle waits by an iCar 4 under the intersection that might have been Union if the Coca-Cola business giants didn’t hate that word so much, somewhere in a pile of rusty metal beams, abandoned equipment, and out of date computers, an old, dusty sign in the long deserted station read Pepsi Presents Junction Station.
“What happened?” asks Earle as Bird jumps out of the cab.
“The fuck’s it look like? Are the explosives set up?”
Earle tosses Bird a remote trigger, “right where you asked.”
Bird thumbs the button, a loud explosion roars through the concrete tube, shakes the foundation, a section of the tunnel caves in behind them, claiming street and sidewalk, a passing olfactory scientist, and a Starbucks. He helps Blanka out of the cab and into the iCar, Earle drives off in the cargo ship towards Disneyland, the iCar moves towards the iCare Hospital, Bird begs Blanka “just hang on,” blood starts to stain the white rhinoceros leather seat.
the Year of the MoneyMart Payday Loan
the New Year’s Eve Massacre
The queen of spades is usually a bitch, but he doesn’t mind seeing her face in the river, he peeks at his cards again, a queen and a three, unsuited, and looks at the men at the table around him, the one who had dared him with a large bet hid behind dark sunglasses, tapped his fingers impatiently on the green felt, the other had folded and watched now with the gathering crowd. Lexus starts offering drinks at the crucial moment, Lexus who knows them all and has seen them all play. The doctor lights a cigarette and goes all in, the other man hesitates a moment and tosses his chips into the pile, they flip their cards together – a pair of aces against the doctor’s triplets, dealer calls it while Lexus bends low offering cheap strip-club champagne and glances down her loose corset to the losers.
“Good game, boy-o’s,” says the doctor, plugging his credit chip into the table, the winnings transfer instantly and the dealer soon finds himself alone with the loser, collects the chips and offers him a private dance on the house. Lexus follows the doctor to the bar, her corset and g-string decorated with credit bills, the tip cup empty. She dodges wandering hands and mixes the doctor’s favorite drink, he toasts “the Year of the MoneyMart Payday Loan!”
Her eyes distant, she holds up her glass and says “I have a bad feeling about this year, like it’s going to be a bad year.”
“They’re all bad years,” muses the doctor.
“I mean, like, I dunno,” she tries but her honest valley girl heart is caught somewhere between playing stupid for space bucks and being kind enough not to seem condescending to the disgraced doctor.
Down the street from Absolut Nudes, the large crowd gathered outside the Big Mac City Center to run out the last moments of the Year of the Big Mac is all smiles and laughs. A giant telestream viewer plays McDonald’s sponsored media, news of recent terrorist activities in Tiffany’s City and was McDonald’s the next target, and if so what could the average person do? weather predictions, a panel discussing the dangers of worker’s unions, then finally, much to the crowd’s content the anchorman and his cocksucker’s smile fades and the countdown begins, 90, 89, 88… The crowd, drunk on elation, good cheer, and engineered alcohol start calling out the numbers as one, the music dies down at Absolut Nudes nearby, dancers among the crowd now except the few still handing out champagne glasses. The commotion outside picks up, grows louder until screaming becomes uncomfortably clear.
Bullets chew through a panicked crowd at the Big Mac City Center, drunks who don’t understand try to keep the pace behind designated drivers running for their lives, McArmor frantically calls for help while immediately around the lone gunman, dreams of a good Year of the MoneyMart Payday Loan are silenced, blood spills onto the plaza, bodies start to hit the floor. His face betrays no emotion, he wields two stolen mini-uzis and fires into the crowd, moving forward at a slow pace, the fallen beneath him suffer thrice, eating his bullets, a stampede of expensive designer shoes, then eating it again when McArmor swoops in behind a storm of bullets. Nobody remains standing once the speeders land, bodies are strewn about the plaza, the air is smoky and smells like iron and gunpowder, the gunman drops the uzis as he collapses riddled with who-cares-to-count-how-many bullets, and looks up at the sky, fireworks shoot upwards and light up the sky with colorful displays of McDonald’s value meals, with the last of his strength he pulls a trigger in his jacket, a bright flash erupts outwards.
Absolut Nudes becomes chaotic, Lexus hears only a deafening ringing as she pushes and shoves through gaping mouths, scared looks, a falling chandelier, then the ringing fades, she starts to hear screaming, finds the doctor’s orange hair in the crowd, takes his hand and leads him through a back room to an alley behind the club. “Get in,” she says in front of a white pill-shaped, featureless vehicle, “we’re going to my condo.” The iCar 8 starts itself, rises high above the building and she starts towards the downtown core, the doctor sees bodies now littered all over the plaza, a small building was missing, the monumental telestream viewer of the Big Mac City Center had crashed and lay ruined in pieces. McArmor speeders continued arriving at the scene, unable to control or comprehend the true face of anarchy.
Soon the iCare Hospital is overwhelmed. Nurse Benadryl can’t bear to see the bodies, listen to the shrill wails of the dying, or watch when Apple Security begins throwing out customers without iNsurance plans and pointing guns, “you don’t have iNsurance – go die somewhere else!” Following procedure, the hospital calls for more security first, then the cleaners, then Dr. Pfizer, Nurse Benadryl sees him rushing into the hospital while grabbing a bottle of heavy sedative, they both know they’ll be playing the role of executioner tonight.
the Disneyland Quarantine
Morning’s light floods Lexus’ posh, downtown condo through frosted windows lighting up the white plastic cabinets with chrome handles, imported faux-fur throws on top of decorative pillows with the names and silhouettes of cities she’d never been to, a library of Woolf and Kafka and the doctor’s product review magazines, a closet door opened to skimpy outfits and smart suits, a telestream viewer tuned in to news of the attack. She wears a sheer tank and nothing else when she walks into the bedroom and finds the doctor still asleep, “breakfast is ready, wake up there’s going to be a big announcement.” Groggy, hungover, he limps slowly out of bed, stories below he sees McArmor in full force, a city on lockdown, then he smells the bacon, the butter biscuits, the coffee in the next room. Lexus pours him a cup, stirs it for him, prepares another for herself while he sits opposite her at the counter, they don’t speak as the telestream viewer displays amateur photographs and videos of bodies, the Big Mac City Center in ruin, chaos at the iCare Hospital. The anchorman announces the King of Coca-Cola who approaches a podium before the official flag, based on an old design of stars and stripes, but covered in company logos.
“My fellow citizens, my friends, my brothers and sisters… I was in Starbucks City last night, enjoying an iced caramel maciato when I heard the news of this despicable attack. I almost dropped the sweet, tasty drink, then I told my McArmor boys to get Air Coke One ready, we were going to Tiffany’s City. I spoke with first responders, the brave men and women of McArmor private security, the best money can buy, all heroes in their own right, and found that, like many of you – we were devastated, confused, angry. I visited the iCare Hospital next and spoke with the doctors and nurses, victims and their families, all the while one question kept coming up in my head – who could do such a thing to innocent people? Why? I realized, like most of us, that this was not a random attack, this was no sick, lone gunman, but a deliberate attack on our libertarian dream, our an-cap ideology, our very freedom – this was an attack on you! In coming to terms with this, we must ask ourselves, how do we, a people with no army, no government, no code of laws but our morality – how do we respond to terrorism? Well, I would like to ask that we voluntarily observe a national Day of Mourning today. Let us reflect not just on yesterday’s attack, but remember the ineffectiveness of every attack before it, let us remember Coca-Cola has always risen stronger, and let us also set aside a thought for those lost to us.
“I want you to know I called a meeting this morning and I have spoken with leaders representing our most prosperous businesses and industries, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Tiffany’s City Transit, and others, and we have reached a general consensus – we need more security in Tiffany’s City! My fellow citizens, we have let you down, we believed ourselves to be safer than we truly were, we strived to improve our city when we should have strived to protect it, we cannot make amends for our failures, we can promise you swift and decisive action beginning with more private security protecting your interests and new citizens watch groups. In cooperation with McDonald’s investigation, Tiffany’s City Transit will be voluntarily restricting access to streets and subways and shuttles leaving Coca-Cola will be grounded until further notice.
“Though we cannot say much with total clarity yet, we do know beyond the shadow of doubt that the attacker originated in Disneyland. As King of Coca-Cola, I would like to make you all aware that Tiffany’s City will quarantine Disneyland until further notice, entry into Tiffany’s City will henceforth be restricted and a volunteer security force is currently being organized to enforce the quarantine as we speak, I urge you all to do your part! These are trying times, I know, but we have seen worse, we have warred with the ugly faces of communism, socialism, and democracy, we have fought back takeovers of our industries and businesses and even then, like now I assure you, we were victorious! Our resolve unbroken, our artists unafraid, our economy stronger! As we reflect on our loss today, let us also be optimistic that our free state, our free market, our free hard-working laborers, scientists and citizens be they human, alien, alive or dead, are what make us strong! Let us also spare a sympathetic thought for those who would seek to take that away from us, those underprivileged who hold you responsible for their failures, for their laziness, for their poverty, for their hunger, let us not forsake them but take pity on them-”
Dr. Asshole stands up and turns off the viewscreen as the King reaches for a sip from the Coca-Cola bottle on the podium. He sighs, staring at the blank screen for a moment, Lexus asks “are you alright?”
“I think I need to take a walk,” says the doctor. He dresses himself in the clean clothes Lexus always keeps spares of, picks out a book on World War 3 from her library, grabs a UV umbrella and tells her “I’ll be back soon.” Outside the sunlight is warm, the streets uncomfortably empty and silent, loners in suits gather in Starbucks and McDonald’s restaurants and talk about how ‘those damned slummers are at it again!’ in between bites of Big Macs and sips of cappuccinos, feeling like their purchase might really make a difference. Silhouettes on balconies high above watch the lone body walking against McArmor, an umbrella held up, a thick book at his side, a mind without a thought.
Barely a mile away from the condo, the doctor arrives at the Nature Valley Nature Valley, a Tiffany’s City park that offers the shade and comfort of fake plastic trees, the refreshing mist of tea-scented Nestea Cool-Air at the touch of a button, and complementary Nature Valley trail mix bars. He feels weighed down by something as he leans back against the polystyrene tree trunk, the grass feels real to his fingertips, it’s illusion enough for most and can easily fool those who have never known the true feel of limp blades, seen them give in to the wind, or picked apart the dirt sanctuary of worms and ants and other unwelcome pests. He opens the book, blue light warms the paper in spots that shine through the leaves, and perhaps reflecting a passive numbness, a physical wearing out, that unnamed, uneasy feeling everyone who came to Tiffany’s City eventually knew and killed with entertainment, food, sex, and drugs, opened the book and started reading without giving it any further thought.
Nurse Benadryl shuts off the telestream viewer with mixed feelings, Blanka lays beside her under fresh linen, more certain of his anger towards the accusations on his friends and family. His wounds are better, though he had been given little attention on the night that came to be known as the New Year’s Eve Massacre much to the disappointment of Starbucks who had lobbied the King to publicly call it the New Year’s Eve Massacre of the Year of the Big Mac. She spares him as much time as she can, changes his bandages, brings food and drink, sees to his needs without worrying about cost, Bird had seen to the hospital bills. “This isn’t good,” she says, opening the curtains, brightening up the room.
“If you think about it,” starts Blanka, sitting up. “All of this was to be expected, you know? The attack, the response, it’s like a really fucking bad movie.”
“Don’t strain yourself Blanka,” says the nurse, easing him back down, blue light like a halo behind her ears, juxtaposed against the dim hallway outside, quiet, dead except for the cleaners. Security at the hospital had relaxed that morning though there were still bodies to be removed from hospital premises, there was no volunteer group organized to move them, there was no private charity to help the helpless. She runs a hand through his dark hair and kisses his forehead, “I need to go home, I don’t know when I’ll be back.”
“I know,” sighs Blanka, holding her hand.
“Take care of yourself, ok? Eat what the doctors give you, keep drinking lots of water, and try to keep the telestream viewer off, it’s only going to upset you.” She lets go of his hand, “I hope we see each other again, I really do.”
“Be careful out there.”
“Always am,” smiles the nurse, leaves the room and signs herself out for the day, unsure when or if she’d return. She bids a sad farewell to her coworkers and starts walking home, the miles-long walk is quiet, the air feels heavy, poisoned with ash and dust, a contempt for the have-nots, she joins the exodus that began after the attack, Disneylanders returning home and bitter Tiffany’s City natives who want to support the cooperative they had heard about. A crowd of Coca-Cola loyalists taunt the slummers, shout accusations of terrorism, ill-will towards free society, hopes of death and destruction on their perceived enemy, the very worst of society called upon by its elite to do its bidding, protect its interests, fight for it and die for it, then be discarded like trash and yet somehow live entire lives as the only ones oblivious to it.
As she nears the Happiest Place on Coca-Cola she notices security is tighter than she’s ever seen it, a faceless militia hides behind tinted helmet visors in front of giant steel statues of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, while the volunteer quarantine enforcement group keeps guns pointed at the crowd, some who tried to fight their way out lay still where they had died. Aside the entrance a second barbed-wire fence was being erected by another group of volunteers who had bought in to the belief that their best interests were truly at stake, that those same elite who had refused them higher wages, brutally enforced company law with no regard for life or ethics, ignored pleas to create safer workplaces, met suggestions of worker’s unions with violence and threats, were somehow allied with them, that those abject poor beyond the metal links of the electric fence were a threat to them, their families, their beliefs, to be stopped by any means necessary.
Nurse Benadryl turns and takes a final look at Tiffany’s City, the blue glow of the glass buildings seemed duller, the ads that had annexed every open space felt less welcoming, then a gun shoved in her face urges her to “get moving, scum.” The turnstile clicks, she has become part of the injection into Disneyland, a heavy dose of discontent and sympathizers of terrorists, an infection that unchecked will turn to anger, hatred, action. Deep within dark alleys and underground passageways, arms were being distributed, revolutionary literature was being handed out, someone was preparing an army for war, an army that unfortunately couldn’t afford the luxury of time to consider the fact that Disneyland didn’t have the means to produce the arms or print the literature, that some other, unknown force had been silently preparing for this moment, an invisible power that had just now begun to tug at Disneyland’s strings.
Blood Turns Wine When it Leaks for Police
The Day of Mourning had passed, the transportation lockdown was still in effect, Dr. Asshole finds the streets outside his office largely abandoned as McDonald’s continues its investigation. Subways gather dust below him, high above a blue light shoots unimpeded through empty skyscrapers, even the beggar cats have seemingly left the city in search of a better life. Lexus’ book still in hand, bookmarked barely a few pages in, he heads to his office hoping just to get some hash out of the medicine cabinet and then head back to the condo. As he turns a corner, Ms. Miracle sees him and jogs toward him, her arms waving “doctor! You need to leave, now!”
“What’s going on?”
“The showed up this morning,” she steps ahead of him, he sees two McArmor speeders in the parking lot. “They forced their way into your office, said they were conducting an investigation of suspected terrorist activity. They’ve been going through every folder in the cabinets and file on your laptop, everything.”
He creeps to the window, indeed faceless McArmor men inside his office were throwing papers about, emptying drawers, killing plants. Ms. Miracle meanwhile looks to the rooftop with longing, wondering if those days are behind her and if it’s time for a long vacation in Disneyland, time to go away for a while and ‘ride this thing out’ as she’s seen the doctor do before under different circumstances. He takes her by the wrist and pulls her out of view, “give me your cellular.” She unrolls the cellular screen and hands it to him. “I’m transferring some credit to your account, we’re both overdue for a vacation, wouldn’t you agree?”
“What are you involved in, doctor?” asks the secretary, a genuine misgiving cracks through her voice and triggers some dormant primal feeling within the doctor, the sort of feeling that appears when there’s no time for love or relationships or family, he kisses Ms. Miracle who holds him tight, both quickly realizing this is a kiss goodbye.
“I have to disappear for a while. I’m going to miss you, I hope you know that.”
“I know doctor,” her cheeks flush, her eyes start to water. “What should I do?”
“I wish I could tell you.”
He keeps hold of her hand, feels heavy as if he was drowning in the deep blue of her eyes, as if something was sinking, becoming bereft of him, someone he had shared a mutual love with, someone who could read the silences between the words that no one else on Coca-Cola could. His thoughts flashed quick in blurred pictures and he struggled to find the words, he was still lost in her, didn’t hear the footsteps as one of those McArmor assholes turned the corner, saw him and drew a handgun. Without a word or another thought, the doctor bolts, leaving Ms. Miracle empty-handed, but she had read it in his eyes, everything he couldn’t say and watched him run away from her, watched a bullet tear through his calf and the book fall out of his hands as he dropped. She dives after the book, stalling McArmor for just the moment the doctor needs to pick himself up and awkwardly stumble away. “You stupid bitch,” curses the military reject before calling for backup and following the trail of blood around the corner.
Dr. Asshole stops for a moment, leans against a brick wall, his right leg in searing pain and losing blood, unable to keep on keepin’ on. He leaps ahead to the sewer entrance in the alley, just barely lifts the manhole cover and gets his good leg on the ladder as McArmor appears and gains quickly. He loses his balance in a moment of panic and falls backwards into the sewer, a splash of piss, shit, and Tiffany’s City’s purged excess cover him, he thinks he heard a bone crack in the fall, too, but it’s the thought of infection that really worries him. He lifts himself against the dusty walls and creeps along slowly, hiding in the shadows, he hears one of guards say “he’s as good as dead down there,” then the scraping of iron on concrete, and the last bit of light turns dark.
There are scarier things in Tiffany’s City than an egomaniacal private security force with unchecked power, like the thugs, drug addicts, diseased whores, and gutter-rats that live in the all-too-often-conveniently-ignored sewer system. The doctor pushes himself forward, hopping along on one leg in spite of the pain, he loses track of time quickly in the dark tunnels, starts to wonder if he’s hearing things or imagining them and what’s that he just stepped in? He follows the smell of something burning, something different than the sludge he’s wading through until he sees a faint light. An old man smokes a metal pipe by himself under a sewer grate, it doesn’t smell like marijuana or even tobacco, it just smells like burning.
“Help me,” begs the doctor.
The old man pulls his pipe away and leans in to examine the doctor’s leg, “what’s the matter with you, iNsurance run out?” He laughs, the doctor sighs and falls back against the wall, the old man offers his pipe, “here, this won’t cure ye, but it might help a bit.” The doctor takes a deep hit of the pipe, a harsh smoke that tastes like plastic, toxic, burns in his lungs, a numbness follows shortly after.
“Where,” a coughing fit seizes him, “doctor?”
“Welp, whores ‘round here go to Disneyland when their cunts need to be looked at, but you don’t look like no whore to me,” the old man pokes the doctor’s leg. “Hooo, that’s a nasty hole, almost sort of looks like a bleedin’ cunt, maybe you can get help in Disneyland after all.
“Don’t ye know nothin’? Where do you think all this city’s piss and shit flows?” he laughs again, the doctor looks up at his dirty face in the faint light and wonders where the line between crazy and high might be drawn, or if indeed there even was such a line. “Just follow the yellow shit road.”
Miles from the sewers, deep within the fortress walls of white plastic under warm blue, Blanka picks at a vitamin meal that tastes suspiciously like cornmeal and little else, “it’ll help your cells replenish themselves,” the doctors had told him, or was it “it’ll help your muscles recover”? He hadn’t been listening, he didn’t trust them, he had been thinking about Nurse Benadryl, her black hair, dark eyes and skin, the quarantine that had claimed her, that had condemned Disneylanders without mention of things like like the contracts with them McDonald’s had never honored, the people outright murdered through unsafe work environments, the mysteriously vanishing union leaders – was it really so easy to convince the buffer-class that poor people were the enemies of society? Well obviously, he reminds himself.
He flips through the channels on the viewscreen, worthless anti-intellectual media brought to you by Apple, McDonald’s, Starbucks, the line between entertainment and advertising grotesquely fused as one, those two different forms, it might almost be a work of art in its own right, as repulsive as a Schiele painting, and yet on the surface seeming as innocent as Hitler’s Courtyard of the Old Residency in Munich, and likewise preoccupied with things, completely disinterested in people.
The door swings open, Bird cautiously steps in and closes it behind him, stalks to the window and peers out, shuts the curtains and asks “you feel well enough to walk out of here or do I gotta carry you?”
“I think so, what’s going on?”
“Asshole called, McArmor apparently ransacked his office, good chance they’re onto us, too.”
“Guess we might owe them some credit,” says Blanka, straining to get out of bed, the gauze and bandages on his chest coming loose, tearing at cracked skin that starts to bleed again. “Maybe they’re not so stupid as we thought.”
“No credit due for following orders,” answers Bird. “Come on, keep quiet.” Blanka follows Bird down the glowing halls of the casualty ward, they make their way downstairs, bypass the discharge lounge and the Apple thugs in white armor patrolling for those poor bastards without iNsurance. They pass through the maintenance wing, Bird helps Blanka down the tunnel that connects the hospital to the sewers and warns him “there are bodies down here, just so you know.” The stench of rotting corpses, piss and shit swarm on them like locusts, Blanka’s vitamin meal stages its own escape into the low-flowing yellow shit road. “Just a little further,” Bird walks ahead, a few dead bodies later they come upon two speeders and fly quickly away from the hospital.
“Can you tell me what’s going on?” asks Blanka. “What’s happening in Disneyland? What about the quarantine?”
“It’s scary, to tell you the truth. Lots of new people and they’re all angry, I don’t like it, they’re not interested in the cooperative, they didn’t come to farm or work, bunch of useless fucking Tiffany’s City kids who don’t even know why they’re angry.”
“Not the first time this has happened, but that doesn’t sound too scary to me, if they don’t fit in, they’ll figure it out sooner or later.”
“It’s not just that, someone’s arming them, they’re being recruited. It’s Bob, back from the dead, handing out guns he’s getting from who-knows-where like its fucking Winter Coca-Cola Holiday, telling them to prepare for the revolution.”
“Revolution sounds nice, actually, but I bet most of them don’t even know what that’ll mean for them.”
“Not like that’s ever mattered. There are pamphlets and booklets and posters on every street and building, calls to action and all that other shit, even the bums are getting in on it, but if you ask me, Bob’s just a puppet. Tiffany’s City must’ve seen this coming for a while now – I’m even starting to think the New Year’s Massacre was a set up, an excuse to try to contain it, come out looking like the good guys no matter what.”
“So, someone’s betting hopelessness against commercialism then, hate to say it Bird, but I might put some chips down on that one.”
“We,” stresses Bird, “might just keep our gorgeous heads down and our chips in our pockets for the foreseeable future if we hope to hold onto them.”
The Main Street USA Market is busier than usual, evokes thoughts of a lively bazaar more than the purported golden age, excepting of course the armed hordes of rowdy middle-class teenagers and middle-aged Tiffany’s City rejects who never did manage to find their way in the big city, and lately had been getting out of hand. She strolls up and down the aisles as she often had, picking through offerings of locally grown Captain’s Bananas and produce, stolen Food by Monsanto and frozen McDonald’s patties and fries, all freely available to her for paying into the cooperative almost all her iCare income. She drops a loaf of bread in the basket along with some fruits and vegetables, watching the new influx and wondering how many of those refugees have worked a day in their life, gone without food, watched a friend die? Food stocks are running low, the signs are there in higher prices, understocked displays, lineups, she notices a fat teenaged girl ahead of her holding a stack of McDonald’s patties and decides to take less than she needs, no one else seems to have noticed the children begging around the stand, nobody but Nurse Benadryl.
She packs the food into her bag and leaves the market, she notices the distinct smell of marijuana has returned to Main Street USA and sees dried alcohol-vomit in the blue light, but it’s not just the usual bums and Tiffany’s City burnouts, it’s these greedy assholes stuffing their fat faces walking past them, carefully wary not to notice them, but she does notice them and offers what she can, apples and bananas none of the refugees wanted, and then notices a new face among the congregation, someone who isn’t hitting the pipe being passed around, his orange stubble stands out, a haggard, disheveled look on his face, his stench rises above the usual smells of the vagrants, then she sees his leg, crusted blood around a black, festering hole. She approaches the man and asks with legitimate concern “can you walk?” He barely looks up, but there’s nothing unusual about that to her. “Listen to me, I’m a nurse, I can help you. My shack is just a few minutes that way, if you can’t walk, just wait for me here a few minutes, I’ll be right back.”
All of a sudden he grunts, he’s clearly in pain as he staggers up, Nurse Benadryl offers herself as a crutch and helps him hop along back to her shack, in spite of his rancid stench and the possibility of inviting some unimaginably horrible infection in with him. Her petite body struggles with his weight pushed against her with every forward thrust he leaps, a bag of food heavy in her free hand, conversations go on around them, there are no offers for help, there’s hardly a batted eye.
She helps him through the makeshift door, no more than a screen, into her tin shack and offers her bed to him as she makes haste to gather clean water from her rain water distiller and sharp metal instruments, and gets to work. She gives him a heavy dose of sedative first, heroin freely bought and sold in Disneyland, from Russia with love, the doctor feels the pin prick, then his arms and legs start to feel heavy, a few minutes later he can barely lift them, his heart starts to slow, he can see Nurse Benadryl but he can’t feel it when she digs into his leg and starts scooping out maggots and dead flies, he doesn’t react when she pours the best antiseptic she can get her hands on, dirty bathtub moonshine, over the wound. He’s somewhere between a dream and reality when she steps back to finger through a cabinet of stolen medicines, gauzes the leg and tells him, unsure if he can even hear her to be thankful, “it only grazed the bone, it’ll hurt, but it’ll heal.”
The days are longer after Nurse Benadryl sees to him, he drifts in and out of consciousness for a week, a month? he lost track of time before he even arrived in Disneyland. She brings him tea and tries to get him to eat, walks around the shack naked in the late evening, during the day he sees her with children treating scrapes, burns, cuts, and who-knows-what-else those kids have got themselves into, then finally one day he feels able to try the crutches she left by the bed. He hasn’t bled through the gauze in days, the pain is duller, he can manage a smile through the anguish. She watches him hop around the shack on the crutches, takes a good look at the leg and says “I don’t think there’s any more I can do for you, but you’re welcome to stay for a while if you don’t have anywhere else to go.”
“Thank you, I owe you my life, my leg at the very least. I was sure I’d lose it.”
“It’s what I do,” smiles the nurse.
“I hate to ask, but do you by any chance have a cellular?”
She hands the doctor her company issued iCell 3 and makes herself scarce as he steps out, lights a cigarette and dials a friendly face. She washes her hands in the kitchen sink while he talks, not feeling any sort of pride or honor, but a sincere happiness for her patient, former patient, she happily thinks to herself, former patient who’s out there walking again. The doctor steps back inside and hands her the cellular, “I’ll be back in a little while?”
“Of course,” says the nurse.
The doctor lights another cigarette, they all smell like shit but it’s barely noticeable once he starts hopping down Main Street USA, his pockets empty, his name isn’t on the cooperative ledger either, but at least the bums won’t recognize him with a clean, fresh shave, that must be worth something. He flicks the cigarette onto the street and sits on a bench, leg sore, Bird appears a few moments later down the paved brick road, Blanka by his side.
“It’s good to see you two,” says the doctor.
“Likewise,” answers Bird, sitting down. “What happened to your leg?”
“Some McArmor cocksucker shot me.”
“Hey, welcome to the club,” says Blanka, pulling up his shirt and showing off two patches of blotchy skin where bullets had passed through him. “Hope you got him as good as he got you.”
The doctor shakes his head, “wish I could say I did.”
Bird pulls an envelope out of his jacket and hands it to the doctor, “this is your’s.”
He’s genuinely surprised, “thanks, I, uh, had completely forgot.”
“What’d you call us for then?”
“Wanted to ask what was going on in Disneyland, I’ve heard some stories and seen some things I’m not sure I’m comfortable with.”
“Well it sounds like you heard right,” says Bird. “Bob’s army is growing every day, he seems to have an infinite supply of guns, every one of these idiots around us here is packing one.”
“They have legitimate grievances,” interrupts Blanka. “There’s more than enough to be pissed off about.”
“I don’t disagree,” returns Bird. “I’d just like to know where all these guns are coming from is all.”
“Who cares? The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right?”
“Alright, alright, cool it guys, we’re all friends here. I brought some smoke, let’s light up and figure out where to go from here.”
“Where to go? We can join Bob or get left behind, we’re like animals in a cage here just waiting for something to happen, our food won’t last forever.”
“Sounds like one of you is already decided.”
“So what if I am?”
“So nothing, Blanka, I’m on your side, remember? I’m your friend. I just don’t share your optimism in Bob is all, I see someone feeding a bunch of pissed off kids guns, I question it, I don’t trust these kids either,” the doctor points at a fight breaking out in front of the market, “is that who you want next to you in a war?”
“They’re doing more than we are.”
Bird takes offense at that particular comment, the doctor can read it plainly on his face. He sighs, “I’m sorry you feel that way. Hey listen doctor, I need to be going, it was really good to see you alive, and Blanka, come talk to me before you do anything rash, will ya?”
“Don’t worry about me, Bird.”
Dr. Asshole watches Bird disappear into the crowd, stuffing the roach into his pocket. “So, which way you headed?” Blanka points towards Nurse Benadryl’s shack and the doctor picks up his crutches.
“Were you at the iCare too?”
The doctor shakes his head, “local woman found me, drugged me up, cleaned my leg and bandaged me.”
“You catch her name?”
“I caught her sponsorship, I don’t know her name, why do you ask?”
“A Nurse Benadryl patched me up at the iCare, dark hair, pretty eyes, voice soft like an angel. Haven’t been able to get her out of my head.”
Dr. Asshole insists Blanka “come by the shack with me, I’ve got something for you.”
Blanka agrees to go along, expecting a bag of weed, certainly hoping for one. He follows the doctor past the screen door and finds the nurse inside, legs crossed on the bed flipping through channels on the telestream viewer. She sees Blanka and jumps out of bed, ecstatic, and hugs him, considerate however, of his wounds, the doctor says nothing, feels strange, good for a moment. Nurse Benadryl pulls out plastic lawn chairs and asks the two to sit down at the small plastic table while she grabs dirty plastic cups and the best food she has, apples, crackers, and warm Coca-Cola, “none for me, thanks,” says the doctor.
“Are you feeling alright?” asks the nurse.
“I’m feeling great,” says the doctor with the confidence of a man who’s just made an important decision. “I need to be on my way though.”
“Where you going?”
“I need to get back to Tiffany’s City.”
“In case you hadn’t noticed,” says Blanka dryly, “we’re under quarantine.”
“You wouldn’t know it in the sewers.”
“What’s so important in Tiffany’s City?” asks the nurse.
“Loose ends to tie up, I also don’t want to be here when Bob gives the order for those kids to start shooting.”
“Hold on,” says the nurse and offers him a glass of water, she prepares a doggy bag for him and packs food and painkillers, liquor and weed. She wishes him well and Blanka offers his hand as he leaves the shack, sewer bound once more, one awkward step at a time. Blanka and the nurse finish the crackers and coke talking long into the night, soon forgetting about Dr. Asshole, Bob, and revolutions.
Death, by Monsanto
The neon light outside Absolut Nudes is off, still, collecting dust, the vagrants found usually around the club are gone, dead, or stoned or drunk somewhere far from the McArmor patrol routes. Vadym watches over a red velvet rope and little more, the blue sun burns the sky as it descends and the familiar smell of rain is in the air, threatening clouds loom in the night. He hears an awkward stepping down the street and barely recognizes Dr. Asshole limping forward on crutches, an unusually dirty face and torn clothes. “Doctor!” says the Russian, “come, come, Lexus in club, very worried,” the doctor doesn’t have the time to despise his cadence.
Inside, the club is empty, aside from the missing chandelier there are no girls on the stage, or at the bar, no cards being dealt, the ashtrays are clean, the telestream viewers are off, he sees the girls divided in small human and alien sororities throughout the club, passing time without a hint of concern. Lexus notices the doctor in spite of his derelict new style and doesn’t hesitate to take his hand, kiss him, and lead him to the back room again, she doesn’t mix a drink or sit on his lap though, she sits him down and asks “do you know how worried I’ve been about you? And what happened to your leg? Do I even want to know?”
“I just got shot is all, don’t worry about it.”
“Were you in the hospital?”
“Why didn’t you call? I could’ve paid the iNsurance.”
“McArmor was looking for me.”
“Well don’t worry, I won’t ask,” she leans in, kisses him again and holds him. “We need to talk, something big is going to happen.”
“I was just about to tell you the same thing.”
“No, listen to me, two days ago some McArmor guys stopped by the club, they didn’t notice me taking my break in my car, I stayed low and watched them through the camera. One of them was talking about a rebel force in Disneyland and the other said they were going to wipe it off the map, then the other one said there was already a team organized inside Disneyland sabotaging them. They were worried about war.”
“I don’t think a war can be avoided now.”
“Wait doctor, it gets worse, I kept listening, after a few minutes another one showed up, he must’ve been the captain or something, and he was saying it would be stupid for McDonald’s to kill their workforce and customers, but that soon, thanks to Monsanto, the rebel problem would be taken care of once and for all.”
The doctor considers the information for a moment, “I have to warn my friends in Disneyland.”
“Doctor,” her eyes watering, “I’ve saved a lot of money and I know a pilot who can fly us to Vanilla Coke, we can get on a ship there and go somewhere else, just me and you. We can go tonight, I’m already packed, I’ve just been waiting for you, but once this war starts, I can’t stay.”
The doctor reads her worry like a book but doesn’t answer, instead he reaches out, clutches at her pale skin, pushes the hair out of her face, kisses her soft lips as she sits with him, mindful of the bandaged leg. She wonders if it’s the last time she’ll see him as he enters her, there’s no music in the club this time, no noise at all but her breathy whimpers and his mixed groans of pain and pleasure, there’s no time to let gravity gently slip away or find desire and love in every little object, there’s nothing at all but Lexus and the doctor, it’s no different than their other liaisons. His fingers run over her nipples reaching up to her neck, she can barely feel his heartbeat past her breasts as she leans into him, but it’s there, quick and steady, followed by a rush and she lets herself drop. He tells her he’ll be back before the war starts, but not to wait for him if he isn’t, he promises her everything she wants to hear before he hops out and leaves her still naked and alone, wondering if this is the last time she’ll feel him, but believing every word he said.
Nurse Benadryl, the benevolent, feels different today, happy to be back to work, but the white walls of the iCare seem less pearly, more clammy, even though most of the massacre victims are long gone, it still doesn’t quite feel like her usual shift. She reads the work order on her last customer of the day, serean burns, deep cuts, Cyrano should leave this one for Christian, she thinks as she finds him laying down, in pain, but smiling. “Let me guess,” begins the nurse, “you’re in love with a mermaid.”
“She’s beautiful, doc.”
“I’m not a doctor, and you’re certainly not the first human under a serean spell. Tell me, what is it about those mermaid girls?”
“She’s sweet as jam.”
Nurse Benadryl helps him to his side, pricks his ass with a needle, lays him back down. “Now I know I wouldn’t be the first to tell you to stay away from her, would I?” He shakes his head. “Well, just in case your paths should cross again,” she makes a few quick notes on his work order and hands him a few antidote vials.
“Oh I can’t afford this.”
“Don’t worry,” says the nurse, “Apple can.”
She leaves the room, the glowing halls are empty, hardly anything is happening in the hospital, so why does that feel like a bad thing? Dr. Pfizer calls to her from down the hall, “Benadryl, over here.” She follows after him. “Word came to Apple from McDonald’s, turns out, according to their investigation the actual purpose of the New Year’s Eve Massacre was to spread a disease, thankfully it doesn’t seem to have spread very far yet, but nobody wants to take any chances with this sort of thing, we’ve had some strange people in since the quarantine, there’s definitely something going around.”
“I don’t have a choice, do I?”
“Not if you want to keep your job, you don’t.”
The nurse follows the doctor to a staff room and gets in line with the rest of the hospital staff, after a few minutes she’s given a shot and sent on her way. She punches her timecard and heads for the subway tunnel, happy the painted, rusted cars are in service again, and soon arrives at Disneyland Station. The blockade outside the entrance has been lifted, there are still guards but she isn’t met with the barrel of a gun this time, she passes without hindrance and makes her way down the empty road, wondering where those revolutionaries might be, did they already give up and go back to the familiar comfort and perceived safety of Tiffany’s City?
She makes it home and finds Dr. Asshole inside slumped on the bed and lazily flipping through channels on the telestream viewer, Blanka paces around the shack, anxious, distraught, “you’re ok!” he says as she walks in.
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Maybe you better sit down,” warns the doctor. “I got some information in Tiffany’s City, some McArmor guards were talking a few days ago, saying McDonald’s was working with Monsanto on something to take care of the Disneyland rebels once and for all. Now that’s pretty much all I know now, but I think it can mean two things, a chemical attack, or a biological one.”
“It’s biological,” says the nurse with sudden clarity, feeling her heart skip a beat as her dark face blushes, forehead starts to glisten with sweat. “I was given a shot at work today.” She sits down feeling weak, beat harder by the revelation of a corporate sponsored final solution than the virus itself.
“I think we might be able to help you,” says Blanka. “If Bob’s revolt succeeds, we’ll have access to the antidote, right? They must’ve made an antidote!”
“It, it doesn’t matter,” says the nurse. “It’s probably too late, you two might already have been around me long enough, I need to quarantine myself.”
“Don’t,” begs Blanka. “Don’t do this, look you’re still fine, it’s not too late.”
“I can’t risk infecting more people, you two need to leave, like right now.”
“I’m afraid she’s right, Blanka, right now we need to find Bob and warn him about what he’s marching into.”
A tear rolls slowly down Blanka’s cheek, he tries to hold Nurse Benadryl but she fights him, starts to cry as she shows him out and hangs the screen behind him and the doctor leads him away. She pulls the bandage off her arm, studies the innocent looking red prick with emotions she usually bottles up, betrayal and anger, so this is how wars are fought, she thinks and looks to the screen again, but Blanka and the doctor have disappeared.
Further down an empty-looking Main Street USA, the doctor asks “so how do we find Bob?”
“I know where Bob is.”
“Do you now?”
“Yeah,” admits Blanka. “I know where he is, I guess now’s the time to tell you I’ve been working with the rebels for months.”
“Yeah, months, look, if you or Bird don’t want to be part of it, fine, but this it’s happening whether we want it or not. I have to pick a side.”
“I suppose you do.”
“You know, doctor, I wonder, have you picked a side? You seem to have a lot of friends in Tiffany’s City.”
“That’s true, I do, but tell me this Blanka, have you ever considered that there are never just two sides to a war?”
the Revolution (Sponsored by Starbucks)
Bob Does Tiffany
An uncomfortable silence hangs over Disneyland, there’s nobody buying the produce at the Market, no smell of grass in the deserted streets, doors are locked, windows are shut, Main Street USA looks less like a scene from Beaver, reminded Dr. Asshole more of an old Romero flick he had seen once years ago. He and Blanka come out through an underground tunnel, propaganda posters on either side of the tunnel urged them to rise up and recent immigrants to do their part to take control of Tiffany’s City. The rebel’s center of operations is under the old It’s a Small World, After All ride, there Bob had raised his army, renounced his sponsorship, his slave name, and taken up a name he felt better represented his old-Earth ancestry and culture, had fed guns to eager Disneylanders and Tiffany’s City refugees hungry for change, there he had won his first victory, the Battle for Disneyland.
A rebel grunt lets them pass upon recognizing Blanka and they continue through the skeleton of wooden old-world machinery. The air underground is humid and heavy, tastes like dust and smoke, the doctor has to wipe his forehead, Blanka is used to it. The tunnel opens up to a concrete chamber with a high ceiling, torches burn, lanterns sit starved of oil on scratched up wooden desks and Bob looks up from a map, New Earth printed at the top and places marked the doctor and Blanka don’t know, New Washington, and what are nazis? ponders Blanka noticing the word under New Van. Bob’s hard face is dim in the firelight as he salutes one of his promising recruits, but who’s this with the cane and pretentious swagger?
“Blanka, very good to see you, though I must admit I’m surprised you’re here.”
“Surprised, Bob? Why?”
“I gave the order to move out an hour ago.”
“Then it’s too late,” says the doctor. “Can you call them back? You need to call them back if you want them to come back alive.”
“I’m afraid it’s out of the question.”
“They know you’re coming, they won’t fight you. They’re releasing something into Disneyland, some sort of chemical or biological weapon, they want to decimate the population.”
“Of course they have some sort of horrible plan to deal with us in some atrocious way, I expect no less from them. Now while I appreciate your concern, this is a matter of timing, with the quarantine lifted I saw our best chance to throw everything we had at them, no better opportunities were going to come about. Our options were attack or sit around and wait to die slow deaths.”
“Even if they live, there’s a good chance they’re going to bring something very deadly back with them.”
“I suppose we should hope we find the antidote then.”
“I suppose you should hope not to fail.”
“I don’t think I like your tone very much, but rest assured I have nothing but the utmost confidence in our numbers, it’s not just us out there anyway, I’ve accepted a sponsorship from Starbucks on behalf of Disneyland as you may have already heard, they provide guns for our troops and added security as they fight their way into the downtown core, and in return we let them build a few cafes in the park.”
“They’re not fighting for us,” cuts Blanka. “We’re being used.”
“Perhaps I’m using them as much as they’re using me. Do you really think they care who the King is? Does it make a difference to you if it says McDonald’s or Starbucks or Trojan Condoms on that big telestream viewer downtown? This war isn’t even the beginning, the war will begin long after I’ve crowned myself King of Coca-Cola, our real enemies aren’t on that battlefield, they’re in boardrooms and mansions deciding our futures and getting fat from our labor. I merely saw an opportunity to start a fight for my people, my family, and I took it.”
“And what about disease, famine?” asks the doctor. “What if you lose?”
“What if we lose? Most of us are out there fighting because we’d rather die on our feet than beaten down in chains, hungry, thirsty, and dirty. If it takes a sponsorship from Starbucks or Apple or even Coca-Cola to improve our chances of survival until the day we’re not slaves anymore, then that’s my decision to make.”
“Are you going to at least look for the antidote? Are you going to storm Monsanto?”
“No, they’re not on our radar at the moment, though I promise I’ll look into the situation.”
“What is on your radar? Isn’t it important the people you’re fighting for live?”
“Right now McArmor is my first priority, winning them to our side and eliminating those who pose a threat to the new world. Now, you two must excuse me as you’ve caught me at what some might call a bad fucking moment, and I do apologize but I have a train to catch. Feel free to grab a rifle and join the fighting on your way out.”
Two guards approach Blanka and the doctor, their shiny gun metal out of place under torn, dirty shirts. “This way,” orders the taller of the two and they lead them back to the tunnel.
The doctor starts to laugh as they start through the darkness again. “What the fuck’s so funny?” asks Blanka.
“I can tell you right now how this is all going to end.”
“I’m starting to see where this is all headed.”
“You can’t see a damn thing, Blanka, and it’s not just because it’s dark in this tunnel. You know how this is going to end? McDonald’s isn’t going to fight a war, they’re not here for ideological reasons, they’re not about to help or support anything but their own bottom line, and let me tell you brother, wars are expensive, and unless you’re selling guns it’s not good for business. Think about that for a minute, you think there’s anything compelling them to stay?”
“You really think they’d just abandon everything they have here? Just like that?”
“I wonder if in another time, there was another idiot like me and some other disillusioned teenager like you walking through this same tunnel, having the same conversation, wondering if Disney would just abandon the planet, just like that.”
“There’s an interesting thought,” says Blanka, and doesn’t speak again until after they leave the tunnels and arrive again at Nurse Benadryl’s shack. Dark clouds are gathering above, the sound of raindrops is loud on the tin roof, picking up as they take shelter inside, then it’s quiet, Nurse Benadryl lays on the bed, still, mouth open, skin paling, Dr. Asshole steps outside and lights a cigarette, Blanka sits on the bed next to her, pulls the blanket over her head and sobs. He exits the shack a few minutes later, the doctor hands him a smoke.
“I need to get to Tiffany’s City, I’m leaving Coca-Cola.”
“What you got a flight booked or something?”
“Yeah, something like that, listen kid, why don’t you come with me?”
Blanka pulls on the cigarette, “and what?”
“And anything you want. To hell with your wannabe king and his Starbucks revolution, what’s left for you here?”
“What if he’s right though? What if he can do some good for Disneyland? For all these people here?”
“I’m gonna tell you some harsh truths about the world – these people don’t need a king, they don’t need Starbucks anymore than they need McDonald’s or Coca-Cola. Bob can revolt his ass off and it won’t ever make any difference, you know why? They don’t understand what they’re revolting against, they don’t understand how the system works, they don’t know a fucking thing about economics, or politics, or running a government, shit most of ‘em can barely read and do basic math. You know what upsets these people? When the store runs out of Coca-Cola, when the telestream feed lags, when the train is delayed – you wanna try explaining to thousands of people like the true cost of a $1 cheeseburger? You think they care? Democracy doesn’t work in mental institutions, Blanka. Look kid, I’m not saying they’re bad people, they’re good people, they’re such fucking good people, but that doesn’t change the current situation here.” The doctor sucks the last bit of life from his cigarette and tosses the butt. “These people need books and education, not guns, they need to understand what’s wrong with the system before they attack it, they…” he sighs, feeling defeated already.
The doctor leads Blanka, wondering to himself if he understood what he had said. Could he even? Did he just see him as another authority to follow? The park felt dead as they left, the second fence outside was abandoned and largely unfinished, there were no signs of life around them. They heard gunshots from inside Tiffany’s City, an explosion echoed through empty streets, but Blanka thought only of Nurse Benadryl, the way he had looked down at her, lifeless, as she had surely once looked down at him, and envied her gift for medicine, the compassion that was unique to her and her alone, the doctor meanwhile only hoped Lexus was still waiting. They pressed on.
Some miles into the city, Bird carries a heavy assault rifle like a club down the Rolex District, Bob had given him command of six teenagers after he had reluctantly agreed to join the effort, realizing he could benefit from a friend or two in high places once the dust had settled, but they had all gotten separated after a skirmish with some McArmor guards. The midday sun beats hard and unforgiving, the glass skyscrapers and steel skeletons drive the temperature still further up, soon he passes into a suburb district, the houses on either side look abandoned, he’s unsure if they fled afraid of the fighting or to aid Bob’s cause and decides to keep a low profile anyway.
He finds a house with the door open and hearing nothing inside, lets himself in. He’s surprised to see how the middle-class lives, the people he thought so different have the same bottles of Coca-Cola in the fridge, the same McDonald’s wrappers in the trash, the same telestream viewer, the same La-Z-Boy. It has its own smell, cleaner maybe? but he can’t find much else different, he starts to wonder what he harbors against the people that live here he had so long perceived as nothing but a buffer class, the golden child of the elite – did they really believe the news media without a further thought? Did they really have an undying faith in the system?
There’s a rustling sound upstairs, he turns and sees a teenage boy and girl who make no effort to hide themselves, they descend the stairs and beg him “please don’t rob us, the McArmor people already took everything.”
“No, no,” says Bird. “I’m not here to rob you, where are your parents?”
They shrug together, the boy says “we don’t have a dad, our mom said to wait until she came back.”
“Well why don’t I stay with you until then? Is that alright with you?” The boy and girl nod together, move closer to Bird, he notices their clothes are torn, ragged, shoes worn from overuse, not unlike his own, “how long have you had those shoes?”
“They used to be my brother’s before he left for Disneyland,” he looks down at Bird’s shoes, much the same as his. “What about you?”
“I’ve had these for a long time, too.”
He finds the kitchen cabinets mostly empty, the electricity cut, as night comes on he starts a fire in the fireplace, keeps fresh logs on it as humidity turns to chill. It starts to become apparent late into the night that the kids’ mother won’t be back, it’s too dangerous to travel the streets at night, so he decides to stay.
“So why did your brother go to Disneyland?”
“He hates how we live,” says the boy.
“Why not speak out about it? Try to climb the company ladder?
“You’re not from this planet, are you? People who speak out against the big companies disappear, and people like us don’t ever get promoted, promotions are for friends and family of the owners.”
Bird listens to the boy, plays with the rifle in his hand, starting to question what he’s doing in Tiffany’s City, what had he hoped to gain? What was the point of being here? He thought these kids weren’t very stupid, after all, they seemed to understand better than even Blanka that the machine that holds them down cannot be defeated, not with an army, politics, an olive branch or a bayonet. They ate the same crumbs he did from the same table, they kept their mouths shut and held tightly the crumbs they were given, they adapted. “I think I might stay tomorrow, too, maybe go look for some food for us,” he says, unloads the rifle and puts it down. “If you don’t mind that, of course.”
The kids have been wondering when their mother would return, if she would return, but are happy to hear Bird will be around a little longer. The girl says “we don’t mind, if you wanted to kill us, you would’ve done it by now.”
“Why do you think I’d want to kill you?”
“Isn’t that what armies do?”
“Some, yeah, but I’m not with McArmor, I’m…” who was he with? Bob? Starbucks? Bird didn’t know anymore.
“What difference does it make who you’re with? If they tell you to kill, you have to kill, right?”
Every rushed step Dr. Asshole takes sends a pain rushing through his leg, he and Blanka sprint down the airstrip, a small cargo ship is parked in a small hangar surrounded by barbed-wire fence, Lexus stands waiting outside, her summer dress dancing to the same tune as her hair. She sees the doctor gimping and runs to him, “doctor!” she says, arms wrapping around him holding him close, kisses him. “I was afraid you weren’t going to make it.”
“There was some fighting not far from here, everybody’s heading towards the McDonald’s headquarters. What about you? Is everything ready?”
“I’ve been ready all my life, doctor.”
“Well let’s go.”
A man in a grey suit emerges from the ship, “that’s him,” says Lexus. “Jawn, this is Dr. Asshole.”
“A pleasure,” says Jawn, holding out a hand. “I’ve heard a lot about you, there are a lot of jealous men whenever this one says your name.”
“Oh?” laughs the doctor, wrapping an arm around Lexus.
“Now, you won’t exactly be riding shotgun, I hope that wasn’t your understanding.”
“I’ll put on a dress and lipstick if that’s what it takes, let’s just get the hell out of here.”
Jawn laughs, “I’m glad you feel that way,” and two more men appear from the back of the ship, Jawn points at them. “The Vanilla Coke port authority boys have already been bribed and they’re expecting us, but you’ll have to hide in storage boxes until they clear us for entry, they have to at least pretend like they didn’t notice anything unusual.”
Blanka sighs, Lexus and the doctor hop inside without a word and try to find a comfortable position in the small, carbon boxes. Jawn and his crew snap the lids on the boxes, “it’s about a three hour trip to Vanilla Coke, so sit tight and think happy thoughts and we’ll be there before you know it.”
The back door shuts and it’s silent, dark, the ship starts to rumble and ascend and soon they’re weightless inside the boxes. The doctor hears Blanka’s muffled voice, “hey doctor?”
“I’ve always wanted to ask, I’ve never heard of the Asshole company, is that like a medicine company or something?”
“Actually, I don’t technically have a sponsorship, anymore.”
“So why is your name Asshole?”
“Well, if you have your practicing license revoked, a company will pass a judgment on you and give you a new name, mine was Asshole. I can still work without a sponsorship, but I have to use their name or else bad things start to happen.”
“Oh, so what’s your old name then?”
“Well before that I had a sponsorship with a company named Bayer.”
“I meant your real name.”
“Oh…” the ship quietly rockets through cold, empty space. “I don’t know.”
the King of Coca-Cola
His heavy boots echo in the long hallway at the top of the McDonald’s headquarters building, decorated with portraits of men with white hair and exotic plants he’d never seen from far away worlds, two Starbucks security guards follow close behind him, guns ready at their hips. Bob pushes through the president’s office and finds it empty, the two guards take positions by the tall, frosted glass doors. The sleek, cherry wood desk is empty, the shelves and filing cabinets just skeletons, a McDonald’s screensaver plays on the computer screen, McDonald’s is Happiness and Love. Bob steps to the window and looks below, he hears a loud mechanical whirring coming from somewhere above, his army has secured downtown, his men and Starbucks security are pouring into the building. The guards open the door behind him and a throng of men in dark tailored suits barge into the office offering sponsorship deals and assistance from all the businesses on Coca-Cola who’d like to hold on to their preferred status with the King.
Starbucks security guards keep pouring in and seize McArmor guns and speeders well into the night, lunchrooms start to fill with troops and smell like food again, shouts turn to laughs, more men in suits are waiting for him, making appointments, drawing up contracts, leaving business cards and complimenting each other ‘it even has a watermark!’ The men talk about fallen friends and rumors start to go around, ‘I heard Bob is already selling off all the McDonald’s land to different companies. Isn’t that great?’ and ‘Yeah? Well I heard Bob was actually working for Starbucks the whole time!’ That night, Bob stands in the board room wearing a really nifty new suit, a tailored grey Louis Vuitton, “and don’t you forget your new friends,” winked the old man who delivered it. He checked the time on his new Rolex, another gift, his revolutionary garbs had been incinerated, the guns of his revolution reclaimed by Starbucks, many of his own men had started filling up Tiffany’s City Transit trains and heading home in a parade, he was soon left with Starbucks men he had never met, and though he held more power and influence now than ever before, he had never felt so powerless.
The next morning, he watches the sun rising over Tiffany’s City from the board room, the city is still, so far below him. The tall doors are kicked in, Bird is escorted in by Starbucks guards, he doesn’t fight them. They leave him by the giant, round table and exit the room without a word. “I’m sorry about that,” says Bob, helping him up.
“It’s fine, you could’ve called.”
“Starbucks is insisting I get used to commanding their security.”
“Alright, well why did you bring me here? I’m not interested in politics or kissing anybody’s ass.”
“They didn’t leave much when they left, I thought you’d like to know I found a few important looking documents,” he drops a file on the table. “Did you know McDonald’s has been spying on you for almost a year?”
“A year?” Bird opens the file, he reads notes on himself, on Blanka, finds photographs of him stealing a McDonald’s cargo ship. “They must have cameras on the ships, in the docks, too.”
“That doesn’t explain everything that’s there, keep looking.”
Bird keeps flipping through the papers in the file, more photographs, aerial shots of Disneyland, his shack by the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, a copy of Blanka’s hospital bill, more notes on Dr. Asshole, Nurse Benadryl. “They could’ve taken me out any time they felt like it, but-”
“Why didn’t they? Yes, that’s a good question, you know I’ve been thinking about it all night. There’s a file on Blanka, too, if you’re interested, not much on that gimp doctor friend of your’s, though. The more I thought about it, the more it confused me, then it came to me all at once with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, I think I’ve realized the same thing they seem to have realized ages ago. You know what that is, Bird? You provide an invaluable service to the community, to the company and the city – did you know that? Because of you, McDonald’s gets to have it any way they like, they profit from having all the reason they need to sell more McArmor as you were always a constant threat to innocent cargo ships and independent businessmen, that kept the people of Tiffany’s City thinking Disneyland was the enemy, nothing but thieves and terrorists, they didn’t need any sort of marketing campaign to prove it, you did all the work for them. But there had to be more to it, I had to really think about it, it’s so much more than selling security services, it’s about keeping a system intact, protecting the status-quo of Coca-Cola. Think about it, they can’t just hand out charity to the poor and destitute and risk fostering a dependance or a jealous reaction from the middle class of Tiffany’s City, but if they let you get away with a cargo ship every once in a while, well Disneyland stays just above the breaking point, Tiffany’s City stays in constant fear of the Disneyland boogeyman, and everybody’s eating McDonald’s. It’s brilliant isn’t it? I stand here in awe with admiration.”
Bird slumps into the chair, it seems to make sense. “You brought me here to tell me you admire McDonald’s?”
“You know those old machines in Disneyland? How every once in a while someone seems to get one working for a bit, but it never really works for very long? They always break again, don’t they? Meanwhile the turnstiles, the pipes, the things we never touched, they never seem to have any issues. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Disneyland, it’s if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and what I’ve found here is a system that ain’t broke. It looks broken, it looks like it won’t last, but you just can’t argue with the last five hundred or so years of history. I want to make things better for Disneyland, don’t think I don’t, I just want you to understand that the revolution is only just the beginning, our contraband will be books, our disobedience will be ignoring the sponsored media. We have an obligation to our people to share with them the secrets of this system as I’m sharing it with you now, and that’s going to be a very slow and very painful process.”
“So what do you want from me?”
“So glad you asked, Bird, first I want you to take some time off, then I want you to find Blanka and get back to work. Right now what I need is for things to look as if it’s business as usual while I work out some ideas on how to proceed, there’s a lot to be done, a lot of unwilling people to bring along, probably kicking and screaming and fighting us, a very thick foundation to start slowly chipping away at.”
“You know Bob, I owe you an apology, I really had you figured all wrong. I tagged along with your revolution for selfish reasons believing you were doing the same, and I’m sorry. I didn’t take you for a revolutionary-”
“Please, I barely took myself for a revolutionary, I’ve been questioning my own arrangements with Starbucks all the way, but we’ve made it here, we’re standing on the edge of a new world, about to take the first steps into the unknown, those people down there won’t even realize, won’t be thankful or grateful. I had considered, briefly, after a conversation with some Sony guys, taking up their offer to put a telestream viewer in every home in Disneyland, I could be their saviour, but I have to keep giving them the same meager rations, schools that don’t teach them shit – they’re going to hate me, Bird, I’ve realized this. But there’s just no way to help these people without them fighting me.”
“Can you honestly tell me all of your reasons are honorable?”
“Bird, our future is more important than the selfish wants of a select few, happiness shouldn’t come down to owning a telestream viewer, or a Playstation, or a Rolex, or an iCar. Humanity is the laughing stock of the universe, don’t you think we’re better than that? Well, I should be asking, can you share my optimism that one day we might be better than that? Imagine a future where we pour our creativity, our knowledge and ingenuity into more than commercial jingles and destructive weapons. Just imagine us learning the secrets of the universe instead of plundering it. You know Bird, I look down at these people and I feel like a new man, like I’ve been given something really special by accident.”
Bird stood up and walked over to the window beside Bob, for the first time in his life he could see past the ads, road tolls, monument buildings and see Tiffany’s City clearly.
“It’s no so ugly as I once thought, we humans built this shithole of a planet after all, just imagine if we worked for the benefit of all of us.”