Steven Wynne is a very talented guy, and to have the honor of sharing another one of his shorts during my Halloween Extravaganza frivolities makes me happy. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. And make sure you check out the interview with him.
Man, you must have really fucked up to get yourself down here. Like, really fucked up, as in ‘I’ve been down here a long, long time, and I’ve never seen ’em bring anyone else down here’ kinda fucked up. You start a riot out in general, or something? Kill a couple guards? I mean, there are protocols and procedures for things like that, but those guys usually just go to solitary. I would love to hear what the hell you did to get yourself next to me.
Don’t worry, the guards are gone. Once they drop you off, they wait around about 15 minutes before they head back off to wherever. I like to think they stick around because they like my singing. I got this great little number for when they drop off my food. You wanna hear it? No? Ah, don’t worry. Chances are you’ll be here for a while. You’ll get to hear it soon enough. I’m a great singer. You gotta keep yourself occupied in here, you know that. You can lose your mind if you don’t have something to fill the time and keep you thinking. I’ve seen it happen. It ain’t pretty. Believe me, I’ve been here a long goddamn time, and I’ve seen my share of psychotic and schizophrenic breaks among you younger guys. You’d better start singing, or get a rock or paperclip and start etching the walls or something. Get your mind working, son, or it will unravel.
I know I don’t look old at all, fella. Shit, they ain’t talking about me up there anymore? Jesus, did all the lifers I knew back in the day die already? What year is it? 2015? God damn, that means I’m how old? Shit. . .
Well, sorry for whatever brought you down here. If you’re anything like me, it wasn’t entirely your fault. Sure, you might have fucked up, and fucked up pretty badly, but circumstances just happened to let the absolute worst people to see it saw it. Lo and behold, you find yourself in the Chokey.
No, that ain’t what this place is really called. Just a nickname, can’t remember where it came from. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t think this place has a real name. Maybe it did, at one point, when confinement like this didn’t fit the definition of ‘cruel and unusual punishment’. I guess it is really called the Chokey now, seeing as we’re the only people here who call it anything.
So, tell me. What’d you do? How’d you wind up down here with little old me? Hmm. Quiet type, I see. Well, no worries. I can do the talking until you’re ready. You’ll talk. Everyone talks. You may have lost your mind by that point, but you’ll start spilling some kinda beans. For both our sake, please try to find it in yourself to talk before then. You’ll be glad you did.
Shit man, you ain’t that old at all. Young, snotty, arrogant, all full of yourself, thinking you can throw yourself at the world and make it flinch. I got that right? Well, bang-up job so far, kid. And, if what brought me down here is any indicator, you’re down here because you’re never getting out of this fucking place, either. Lifer, right? At your age, too. Bad luck, man.
I can already tell, looking at you now, you’re gonna be an ugly one. You’re gonna keep them walls up, keep them emotions and feelings locked in. Hell, you might even be able to keep ’em up until the end, but they’ll crumble with you like a failed state. And man, it’s gonna hurt, knowing you could have just avoided some goddamn pain and opened up, told someone about who you were. You’ll die, and the last thing you’ll hear is me, sitting here, counting down your last breaths, and I’ll just tell you, ‘We could have had something, you and I’.
Oh, shit, where are my manners? This is no way to make an introduction. Please accept my humble apology, my dear young murdering neighbor. I hope I’m wrong about you, and you come to treasure my company as I’m already enjoying yours. My bed’s actually a lot nicer than the ones were out in general, when I was still out there. By the looks of it, yours is the same make. If it weren’t for this fucking light they’ve got on 24/7, you could actually get some decent sleep. C’est la vie.
You a praying man, newbie? Religious at all? I used to be. Don’t do a whole lot of good in here, I don’t mind saying. I don’t mind that my folks took me to church when I was kid, though I hated it. Every fucking Sunday, waking up to go to some goddamn stuffy building with shitty organ music and some dick in a robe telling me how I’d be going to hell for not giving him my money, and then Satan would buttfuck me for jerking off.
Oh, that reminds me: you can jerk off if you want. Just let me know when the urge hits. I can look away, if that makes it easier. No judgment. We all got our needs, and ain’t one of us higher than the other.
Don’t look at me like that. Just being honest, man. Look, all I’m saying is I wanna be as respectful as possible, but you’re gonna see me jerking off. I ain’t gonna stop that on account of you being here, but I just want you to know that it’s completely normal, and we’re both adults who can take care of ourselves. You ain’t gonna go to hell for it.
Where was I? Oh, the preacher, right. Well, he talked a good game. Getting people over to his side, scaring em all with that hell talk. Satan wants to torture you, God’s all love, and he loves you and wants your love too, he made you just the way you are and set everything in motion, yadda yadda, hell, thou, sin, torture, love, heaven, paradise, all that jazz. You’ve heard that all before, right?
Well, lemme learn you something, kid. It ain’t all bullshit. There is a God, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. He’s the whole reason I’m in this place. Well, I guess he’s the reason everyone’s in here, that whole ‘plan’ of his. Well, whatever good that whole ‘plan’ is worth, anymore.
See, they say God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. Shit, God himself says that, but I can tell you something right now; one of those is a lie, another is impossible, and I can’t figure on the last. I don’t know about him being in all places, but I think there’s something else going on with that one. However, I can tell you that God doesn’t know everything about everything and everyone all the time. He might have some ways of finding that shit out, but at best, he’s just good at sniffing out lies and looking around.
Now, as for being all-powerful, that’s a wrench in the spokes of an already shitty argument. See, you can’t be ‘all-powerful’; it ain’t possible. I heard some apologists and bible bangers stopped saying ‘all-powerful’, and started saying ‘maximally powerful’, because I guess someone called ’em on their shit, and they realized they had to move the goal posts. That ain’t right, though; God ain’t maximally powerful. They had it right the first time, when it was a contradiction.
Get this: If God is all-powerful, can he make a rock so big he can’t move it? If the answer is yes, he ain’t all powerful because, well, he can’t move it. If the answer is no, well, shit. You get the idea.
Now, get this: the answer to that question? Can God make a rock so big, even he can’t move it?
You go on, pacing like that, acting like you don’t hear me. As long as I keep talking, it’ll give your mind something to work on, and you’ll stay sane. If I stop talking, and if we just sit in silence like kids at a Pentecostal dinner, then you’ll lose your shit. So, keep listening.
See, the whole reason I’m here is I fucked up God’s plan. He’d been building that big-ass rock up for so long, and he was just so in love with the fucking thing, he didn’t even notice what he was building it on top of was totally unstable. So, when the ground got ripped out from under it, and he couldn’t do anything about it. And all because of little old. Just some eighteen year old kid taking his Dad’s Tucker out for a drive.
Oh, that get your attention, did it? And no, don’t look at me like that, I ain’t a spoiled little brat. This was years ago. You weren’t even born yet, I guarantee. Shit, your parents might not have been born. Tuckers were still rare then, but not entirely out of place with the time.
All this took place on May 16th, 1956. Eisenhower and Nixon were in office, and I destroyed a plan set in motion at the dawn of time by just being a stupid fucking kid.
Yeah, I told you I was older than I looked. No, I ain’t crazy.
I was out with some friends at a party. Just about to graduate high school, and we were letting loose and kicking back some drinks, having a good old time, thinking about where we’d go to college and plans for the future. We were good kids, for the most part. Wish I knew what happened to any of those guys, Brian and Mike, but they kinda steered clear of me after everything went down.
So, it’s well after midnight, and I’m trying to keep this bastard on the road. Tied one on pretty good with the guys, and the road’s crawling everywhere under the tires. I start drifting in and out, the coffee I had before I left isn’t helping one bit. Maybe I take a couple turns too sharp, maybe I run a stop sign or two. I don’t remember what happened or what I did, but suddenly everything explodes. The steering wheel tries to pull my spine through my chest, the windows turn into snow and fall all over me, and the world stops spinning so fast, vertigo rips everything from my stomach and throws it onto the dash.
For a few seconds, I’m frozen. Somewhere, metal is crumbling and crashing, then stops. Blood, bile, gasoline, steam, and smoke kick me in the nose and jerk me back into consciousness. In the blink of an eye, I’m sober as a judge. There’s a full moon, and it’s giving enough light to see the Tucker’s fucked like it spent the night with Fatty Arbuckle. I can’t open the door, so I knock out the rest of the glass that’s still hanging on and climb out the window. My chest and ribs hurt, my head’s bleeding, but that’s about all that’s wrong with me. I’m looking around, trying to see what the fuck I hit when all of a sudden, the Sun comes out.
It comes from behind the moon, some impostor satellite that gives no daylight, and it starts speeding down to Earth, and I swear, I can tell this thing is heading right for me. Lights start dancing ahead of me, a little off to the left. There’s a bridge just ahead, and as the lights intensify, they reveal skid marks that shoot off the road and become torn earth.
A sound, a wailing, screaming din I’ve never felt before rumbles through my entire body as the missile keeps falling from above. I’m walking, following the skid marks into the grass, even though I don’t want to see what’s there. The tracks stop at a harsh drop, about twenty feet down into a rocky creek bed where a car is upside down and torn completely to shreds. Something’s sizzling and hissing from the exposed undercarriage.
This voice comes from above, and it’s screaming at me, ‘What have you done? What have you done?’ I’m already asking myself, What the fuck did I do? So, me and the big man are in agreement on this one.
And then, I find myself in the presence of God, hisownself. He’s staring me down, and lemme tell you, he is fucking pissed. Funny thing, though, he looks like a regular person, apart from all the glowing and floating bullshit. Anthropomorphic. Guess we were made in his image, after all. He looks at me, and then he looks down at the car I just smashed up, and for a while, he doesn’t move or speak or anything, just leaves me to piss myself in silence and confusion. I mean, picture it. You just wrecked your dad’s car and killed some other fella in the process, and all of a sudden, you learn God is real and you’ve pissed him off enough to reveal himself to you.
. . . I think I pissed myself before he finally spoke to me, but I’m not sure, I can’t remember exactly when that happened. But, he’s looking down at the wreck when he finally says, ‘You killed them all. They’re all dead.’
He turns his head and snarls, ‘You have ruined everything! Two thousand years of planning, of waiting for the right moment! Everything you know, everything you’ve seen, all of it wasted! You have doomed the entire human race!’
So, after I add a considerable helping of shit to my already soggy pants, I say to God, ‘What?’
So then, God screams at me and, holy shit, you have no clue how painful it is to hear God scream, but he screams, ‘The Antichrist was in that car!’
So, you know much about the Antichrist, end times, all that bullshit? Yeah, I didn’t either around then, just that the Antichrist was supposed to be some bad guy who brings about Armageddon and the Rapture and all that. So, I keep staring at God, because I’m completely following everything that’s happening and am not standing mute in awestruck terrified confused in twice soiled britches.
God goes on. ‘The Antichrist is dead! Now, there is no one to bring about the end times! No one to unite the world for seven years, no one to lead following the Rapture! His coming was foretold, the world was ripe for his leadership, and you cut him down before he was old enough to walk!’
Hell of a way to learn you killed a baby, man. I mean, the baby was gonna grow up to be a pretty bad dude, but still. Now, I don’t know what it was that got my head and tongue free enough to start talking, but talk back, I did. I think maybe, it was just trauma after trauma, shock after shock until some verbal bat hit me upside the brain stem and got me back in the moment. So, I say to God, ‘Can’t you just make another one?’
God turns red, all burning bright and angry, and screams again. ‘It has been foretold! Prophesied! You dare question, you dare challenge the Lord, Your God?!’
Me, I look back at God, and I say, ‘You’re God! Can’t you do anything? You can’t bring them back to life?’ They say he did that, you know.
He grows to double the size, right in front of me, and screams again, ‘It was a divine plan! A perfect plan! It cannot be altered in any way! It must be fulfilled exactly as it was foretold when Man first fell!’
And suddenly, he gets right in my face, and man, God sure can be a scary motherfucker. He says to me, ‘And you have doomed mankind, until the prophecy can be fulfilled once more!’
I say to God, ‘What?’ I’m pistol quick, bud. Believe me.
God tells me that the end times were gonna come about in my lifetime. Some shit with the Cold War, Russians and Communists and what all, and he would finally be able to wage war on Satan and reclaim his kingdom, bring all his children home, all the shit in the Bible. He tells me it has to happen this one specific way, exactly as it was laid out, and now, he’s gotta do it all over again. I mean, everything from the New Testament on, can’t do any of that old time Leviticus shit, nobody could get away with that now, man. .
Anyway, he tells me that everything’s going to happen again, and it’s going to take time. It’s gonna be a couple thousand years before another Antichrist can be born, and maybe this time, the divine plan won’t get fucked up by some stupid kid who apparently has the power to fuck up the pillars of Western Monotheism.
And, get this: the kicker is, he says, I’m gonna be around to see it. God says to me, ‘In my creation you shall remain until the divine plan is seen through, and my children return to me. Not a day shall you age; you shall languish in the lowest places. I shall mark you as Cain; no man shall harm you as you serve my sentence. As I have said, so it shall come to pass.’
Then, poof: God disappears. And that’s how the cop out on patrol found me; alone in the road, reeking of booze right next to two wrecked cars and three dead people. I get booked. It’s an open and shut case, and boom. Granted immortality just in time to get life in prison. How do ya like that?
I’m 87 years old, and I still have zits. They threw me down here, what, in the nineties? Guess the state didn’t want to waste time figuring out my shit. Budget cuts, can’t afford scientists to come and do tests on me. Can’t erase the graffiti on the rock God made so goddamn big he couldn’t fucking move.
So, pal, that’s my story. Out of curiosity, on the outside, has the messiah come back yet? He should have been here by now. Is he American? Something else? Come on, man, you heard anything?
Oh, shit, where the hell did you go? God damn, did you. . . huh. Guards must have dragged him off while I was monologuing. How the hell did I miss that? Jesus. Ain’t right to have a man locked away with nobody to talk to, or introduce a guy and yank him away just 10 minutes later. Up and vanished, just like that. Hey, guard! Bring back my neighbor! Guard!
I need someone to talk to. You could lose your mind, not having anyone to talk to.
Steven Wynne writes dark fiction. His short fiction has appeared here and there, online and elsewhere. His metabolism is slowing down, and he looks bad. Like, have you seen him recently? Someone should call someone. He resides in Central Pennsylvania with his pain in the ass cat.
Reaper Black Book 1: Death’s Garden
The Lycan Valley Reaper has a new hobby — Gardening. He tends to each plant’s every need from seed to harvest. The black seeds bloom in the shadows, petals unfolding as the twisted vines take root in your mind. These 13 stories and 12 poems are planted, germinated and ready for the harvest. Souls collected from Edward Ahern * Shaun Avery * Ross Baxter * R Bratten Weiss * Jonah Buck * O.R. Dalby * JG Faherty * Dale W Glaser * Jill Hand * Michael H Hanson * Liam Hogan * Mathias Jansson * Jordan King-Lacroix * Chad Lutzke * A.M. Nestler * Kurt Newton * Gregory L Norris * Allan Rozinski * Susan A Sheppard * David F Shultz * Claire Smith * Max D Stanton * John McCallum Swain * Sara Tantlinger * Steven Wynne
I also have a short story, Escape Velocity, in the December 2016 edition of Sirens Call Ezine. (The link will redirect you to the .pdf that you can download.)
You can also find my short story, Fireflies, as part of a previous Halloween Extravaganza here, as well as my short Hallowen story, The Yellow Line, last year’s contribution, here.