It’s another Short Story Saturday! Local writer, Charles Wilson, gets political in his latest piece of fiction. Virtual thrill or chilling evil, your opinion will probably be shaped by your politics.
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“That’s it, gawdammit!”
I came out of the old rocker like someone had jabbed me in the ass with a pin. Crossing the room in three strides, I turned off the radio with a vicious punch at the off button with my index finger.
Why I was dumb enough to turn on the news first thing in the morning I couldn’t say. It was a habit I had given up years ago after throwing one radio out the window in disgust.
Unfortunately I was so disgusted I neglected to open the window first.
But here I was once again, first cup of coffee half drunk and I’m fuming before the sun came up. Maybe some people just never learn.
As usual the thing that brought me to a fury state was US politics. My dad had worked for “the agency” (the CIA) and my mom’s two favorite sports were politics and baseball in that order. Her father had been part of the Roosevelt administration during the depression through WWII and politics ran in her veins. As a result I was raised on it like some kids were raised on football.
National affairs had been deteriorating for a couple decades before George “Dubya” Bush was ushered into the White House by the Supreme Court. Things only got worse faster after that…
Now the news was dominated by a character that could have stepped out of a sitcom-or a nightmare. A man born on third base who thinks he hit a homer but the umpire cheated him. A man whose main attraction seemed to be acting outrageous and rude! Enough of my countrymen loved his act that I feared for the nation, the future of my daughter and her family.
Hearing his sneering voice on the radio was not how I wanted to start my morning. And something needed to be done.
So later that morning I called on an old friend who had lived in the mountains of Mexico a long time. She had gone there as a young woman and learned many useful things from asking wise brujas (femal shamans) questions about their magic and spirit world. It had been a few years before they opened their stores of knowledge to her and more years still before she felt that she had learned them well.
Then one night she was told in a dream she was to move to a place far away, a place with giant trees, and wait. She would somehow save the world someday. So she left the mountains and started north on a pilgrimage. One night the voice told her “You are here, remain and make your home. Fate will find you when it’s time.”
So she had stayed, found work and bought herself a little piece of logged over land which she had gradually turned into a small piece of Eden. Years had gone by, her middle years were
behind her, but she was content and never doubted she had an important role to play someday. So she lived the days of her life and waited.
After warm greetings and a hug she invited me into her small cabin for a mug of hot strong coffee laced with mescal. We sat at her little table, sipped our coffee and quietly enjoyed the sight of her meadow now filled with blooming lupine and California poppies. After a few minutes she stopped talking to gaze at my face intently. Then she touched me on my arm and spoke.
“You’re my messenger of fate today, aren’t you? Is it my time to act?”
So I turned my thoughts from the peaceful contemplation of her wildflowers and explained to her what was going on in the country beyond our narrow canyon. As I spoke she nodded her head and the many lines in her face rearranged themselves from her habitual smile to a frown.
“I will need a thing but if you can acquire it we will change the path of future history. You have explained what the voice had in mind for me when I was told to come here and wait. We must not fail…”
After I returned home I opened my laptop, accessed the Tor browser and started cruising the dark net. I went to the criminal equivalent of craigslist, a site where people bought and sold drugs, guns, sex and anything else you could think of. (Plus a lot you probably haven’t.) I went to the wanted section, posted my ad and exited the site.
Three days later I was checking my mail when I saw a message informing me I should return to the dark net to view a response to my request. Success! I paid the asking price, 500 bitcoin, and a day later I got a call that Fedex had left me an envelope at the local post office. I was in my ratty old truck heading for the post office in less than a minute.
We had a mission!
At the post office I chatted with the postmistress for a few minutes, exchanging gossip and bitching about current events. There was certainly a lot to bitch about these days! Finally I picked up my envelope and thanking her I left.
At home I carefully opened the FEDEX envelope and inside found another smaller envelope. Inside that was a folded sheet of paper enclosing five silver-blonde hairs about 4 inches long. Written on the paper was the following…
Removed from his hair brush. Good luck!
I carefully folded the paper back up with the hairs enclosed, replaced them in the smaller envelope and taking it with me I drove over to my friend’s little patch of paradise.
When she saw me step out of the pickup and hold up the envelope, her face lit up with a smile so radiant that it made the old woman look girlish again.
We walked together into her cabin, sat at her table and she took the envelope. Opening it gently she removed the paper, saw the contents and let out a chilling laugh that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I had only known for many years the gentle side of this woman, now I was seeing a side that she had acquired during her years in the mountains of Mexico. I was seeing a witch!
She stood, walked to her narrow bed, removed a cloth bag from beneath it, and returned to the table. From it she removed a handful of loose wool and humming to herself she started to shape it with her hands and an odd needle. She used the needle to poke the wool in upon itself. As she did so the wool became more densely packed. Once she had a very rough shape she took the hairs and carefully, using her odd needle, she worked them into the bulk of the form she was making.”
Candidate suffers pain attack during stump speech! Medics find no problem, declare him healthy,” read the
newspaper headline the next day. “
From here I must work more slowly, give me a month and this job will be complete. I know now that this is what the voice has brought me here for.”
So I left her with her half formed doll, her wool, and her needle. I went by often and the doll was always on her table. As the days went by it was slowly taking on more and more definition. She would take a small piece of wool and with a beatific smile she would work it into the doll with her needle.”
Front running candidate plagued by recurrent phantom pains. No reason yet found”
One evening there came a tap at my door and when I opened it there she stood with a grin on her face and holding her cloth bag. “It’s time,” she whispered as she stepped through the doorway. “Turn on your TV.”
I walked over to where my laptop sat and opened it. With a few mouse clicks I had us watching a live cybercast of the candidates’ debate. Almost instantly the sound of a crowded auditorium could be heard as a man’s voice intoned;
“Hello, America. Tonight is the last candidates’ debate before the final states vote in their primaries. Tonight our candidates will do their best to convince you that they and they alone are the best choice for the leader of our great nation. Going into these elections one candidate has a clear lead and this will be the last chance that the other candidates have to make their qualifications contrast and appeal to voters.”
The so-called debate degenerated into a shouting match within three minutes after the first question was asked. The moderator had absolutely no control over the verbal slugfest. It was more brawl than debate.
Suddenly the leading candidate walked around his podium, walked to the edge of the stage. He turned and faced the other candidates. While pointing his finger at one after another, he bellowed the words “He’s a loser, and he’s a loser, and so is he!” Red faced he turned to face the audience and shouted, “If I’m not the best man for this job, then God can strike me down.”
“OK, then, he asked for it,” my friend muttered as she produced her strange needle and ran it completely through the doll. It entered the left side of the chest and exited the back tearing out a large wad of wool as it did so.
The shouting was cut off as if someone had thrown a switch. The candidate clutched his chest, pitched forward, and fell off the stage into the orchestra pit. There were a few seconds of shocked silence before bedlam erupted, then the live feed was cut off, and an image remained static on the screen.
We turned to look at each other. She was grinning from ear to ear like a kid that just stolen the cookie jar. Her eyes glittered and strangely she looked younger, by 10 years at least.
“That’s a perfect start, now get me some from him”-her finger touched the computer screen, “and him”-she touched the screen again. “I clearly still have work to do.”