Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It Don't Mean Shit! [Chapter 31]

I'm posting the chapters of Resolution 786. I'll post each successive chapter roughly every 3 or 4 days. Here's Chapter 31:

Private Sanders was in the Recreation Room, still in uniform, slumped around the wooden armrests and worn cushions of everyone’s favorite chair. No one remembered where Platoon 110 had found the chair. Was it from one of the captured facilities? Or out of an Air Force resupply carrier? First Sergeant Blake, who had lived roughly twice as long as most of the teenagers in the platoon, once said that the chair looked like the one that his father kept in their wood-paneled club basement in Naperville, Illinois back in the 1970s. He once even swore that that was the chair. Wherever it came from, the chair was profoundly comfortable.

Sander’s lanky frame spilled over the chair’s boundaries sensuously and easily, like a tall lover’s limbs after lovemaking. What remained of his short, cropped hair was thin, blond. He had thick, bushy, yellow eyebrows that floated above his lazy brown eyes like broad parentheses, creating the most noticeable feature on his otherwise pale, plain face. Sanders was watching cartoons on the Recreation Room TV. He watched cartoons every chance he got.

Hueghlomm sat adjacent to Sanders on an out-of-place white plastic lawn chair, recording his day’s observations in his government journal. His lime-green notebook rested on a slightly tilted circular presswood table. The table finish was beaten and chipped in many places. A network of sticky spots ran all over it in a haphazard, careless pattern, sugary remnants of soldiers in the rear carelessly enjoying soft drinks and prepackaged pastries.

“You like those, huh?” Hueghlomm had stopped writing for a moment and looked up at Sanders, asking about the cartoons.

“Not really, Doc,” replied Sanders lazily, eyes fixed on the TV screen. His words lilted under a faint southern drawl.

Hueghlomm looked at Sanders expecting more. Nothing.

“Then why do you watch?” Hueghlomm couldn’t resist.

Sanders stared at the screen, slowly drawing out his reasons in stretched, lingering words. “Back in Georgia, my girl used to love movies. She’d come down the machine shop and say, ‘Take me to the movies,’ she’d always say. And I liked her pretty good, so I did.” He smacked his lips. “This here I learned from the movies — whenever someone watches a cartoon, what’s going on in the cartoon has something important to do with what’s going on with them. So I figure if I watch enough cartoons, I juuuust might learn something about what I’m doin’ in this here war.”

“What’s going on in the cartoon?” asked Hueghlomm, piqued.

“Well, Doc…let me seeeeee…” Sanders’ words lingered longer. He stopped ever so shortly and pulled his lips straight ear to ear. His thick, bushy eyebrows moved up a notch as he began. “This here cheetah fuck is spending all his time and money buying all kinds of crazy gadgets to trap and kill this crazy ostrich fuck who runs around the desert all day long making sounds that no one can understand. No matter how hard he tries, the cheetah’s shit always seems to backfire on his own ass and the crazy desert ostrich goes on doing what you’d figure he’d be doing anyway.” Sanders stopped a moment, keeping an unbroken, vacuous gaze on the TV screen. He scooted forward a nudge in his chair, finishing, his accent more deeply Southern than when he’d started speaking. “Craziest shit is this — if the cheetah ever did kill the ostrich, what the fuck would he even get?”

“Were the movies right?” asked Hueghlomm.

“How do you mean, Doc?”

“Did you learn something about your own situation from the cartoon?”

“Not one damn thing!” Sanders was suddenly tense, loud. “Movies don’t mean shit!” he screamed. “Cartoons don’t mean shit!” he screamed again.

Sanders hushed, nestling easily into the arms of everyone’s favorite chair. A bomb exploded on TV and he and Hueghlomm watched a growing cloud of white, animated smoke slowly engulf the full screen.

Sanders suddenly erupted. “And I still don’t know what the fuck I’m doing here!”

Monday, January 30, 2012

La ilaha illallah [Chapter 30]

I'm posting the chapters of Resolution 786. I'll post each successive chapter roughly every 3 or 4 days. Here's Chapter 30:

Adam Hueghlomm had one brand new U.S. Army boot on the Baghdad road and the other one up on an ancient, broken curb. He wore the comfortable blue jeans and the loose gray T-shirt that he had on during the long flight over. He basked in the early morning desert sun, eating a spicy samosa — cooked potato cubes mixed with green peas wrapped together inside a triangular shaped, deep fried dough crust. He washed down the local snack with a small bottle of soda pop that was at room temperature. Even in early childhood, he had found that the two tastes complimented each other impeccably — spicy, fried eastern treats mixing together on his eager tongue with gulps of fizzing, sugary western soda pop. The label on the soda bottle admonished “Do Not Sell Individually.” He had bought it individually.

He knew that he shouldn’t be out here, but he wanted to see the city and the people. And he was hungry for spicy food, something that he couldn’t get in the troop mess hall.

The streets were beginning to wake up with hawkers, pedestrians and cars. Hueghlomm finished his samosa, wiped his hand gently on the side of his pant leg and downed the remaining swig of soda. He looked about for a trashcan for the empty bottle, gazing around the concrete office buildings across the street, the mosque down the way, by the tall palm trees, through the alleys and curbs and all around the shops. No trash can.

Someone suddenly grasped his earlobe from behind. Hueghlomm turned sharply. It was a small, wiry old Arab man. The sun had turned his brown skin to leather and he had a wispy, gray beard under a prominent nose with flared nostrils. He was smiling ear to ear. His stained teeth looked like Stonehenge, large rectangles spaced far apart. He was wearing a black and white Palestinian headscarf. He held steady to Hueghlomm’s earlobe, pinching it painfully between his weathered thumb and index finger.

“Say ‘La ilaha illallah,’” the old man instructed forcefully. Hueghlomm stared at him dumbfounded, mum. The old man repeated, louder, “Say ‘La ilaha illallah!’” It was an Arabic phrase, a basic article of faith in Islam that translated into “There is no god but God.”

Hueghlomm muttered the words, gazing wide-eyed and stunned at the old man grasping his earlobe. The old man insisted in heavily accented English. “More loud!” Hueghlomm repeated himself, louder. The old man laughed a hissing “ha, ha, ha” full of mischief and dirty jokes. His breath rasped with tumbleweed dryness, his sharp, pinpointed eyes were twinkling desert stars. He let go of Hueghlomm’s ear and handed him a small loop of prayer beads. The white string was flimsy, but it held the plastic, neon-green beads well enough.

Recovering, Hueghlomm thanked the old man in Arabic. “Shukran.”

“Journalist?” the old man asked in splintered syllables.

Even though Hueghlomm had gone out of his way to dress unobtrusively, something about his carriage or demeanor must have betrayed his foreign upbringing. “No, not a journalist…just hungry,” replied Hueghlomm.

“My name Mohammed,” said the old man.

“Adam,” said Hueghlomm, touching his own chest, pronouncing his name with the characteristic long “ah” sound at the beginning, the sound that his mother had always used when saying his name.

“Baba Adam,” the old man said, nodding approvingly, making reference to Adam, the Father of Mankind in the Quranic Garden of Eden.

“Why?” asked Hueghlomm, one palm facing up in the rising desert sun. Although he wasn’t explicit, the old man knew that Hueghlomm was asking why he walked about the streets of Baghdad grasping strangers’ ears, insisting that they profess allegiance to God.

“One day I die,” explained the old man. “I sick. I die and I come back. My wife, she hold my hand while it happening. I paining very hard, but then no pain, no any pain.” He moved his palms in front of himself, like a baseball umpire calling a player safe. “I see garden. My pretty mother,” he reminisced lovingly. “She sitting there. She make her hand to tell me, ‘Come, Mohammed.’” He moved his hands in front of himself, making inviting gestures. “My father, he also there.” The old man’s voice suddenly grew stern, “He tell me hard, ‘Go back! Your work still left to do. Not yet,’ my father say.” The old man raised his wrinkled finger and waved it side to side underneath Hueghlomm’s nose. “Not yet. I say ‘Baba, please, I stay with you.’ But he say, ‘Not yet.’” The old man stopped and swallowed. “Then he come and lift me and put me back to my wife.”

“Your father?” asked Hueghlomm.

“No, no!” The old man spoke like Hueghlomm hadn’t paid attention, like he had missed the entire point.

“The Prophet,” said Mohammed. “Prophet Jesus.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Icarus Should Have Known Better [Chapter 29]

I've started posting the chapters of Resolution 786. I'll post each successive chapter roughly every 3 or 4 days. Here's Chapter 29:

World Court
Eastern District, World Capital
----------------------------------------------- x



------------------------------------------------ x

The Relevant Parties And Entities

1. At all times relevant to this indictment, a World Court Tribunal duly empanelled on or about July 4th, 2076, herein referred to as the “Tribunal,” was sitting in the Eastern District of World Capital.

2. At all times relevant to the development and issuance of this indictment, World Court, herein referred to as “the Court,” was the independent judicial branch of World Government. The Court was responsible for, among other things, the administration, enforcement, and adjudication of World Government’s regulations, laws and statutes.

3. At all times relevant to this indictment, the Lord (the Defendant) was the senior official of the Cosmos. In this position, the Lord oversaw the affairs of the Cosmos, including the making of all final decisions regarding rewards, punishments, circumstances and outcomes beset upon any and all life forms from Genesis to the Age of Aquarius.

Hear ye, the Tribunal hereby charges the Defendant, the Lord, as follows:


(Mass Infanticide)

On or about 1250 B.C., the Lord clearly stated intent to commit mass infanticide in or about the land of Egypt. Recorded conversations quote the Lord saying, in relevant part:

“For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt…” [Exodus, Chapter 12, Verse 12]

The Tribunal finds that, having stated a clear intent to commit mass infanticide, the Lord carried out his intent as stated. Written records indicate, in relevant part:

“And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon…” [Exodus, Chapter 12, Verse 29]

The Tribunal further finds that the extent of the infanticide warrants designation as “mass” infanticide. Written records indicate, in relevant part:

“…for there was not a house where there was not one dead.” [Exodus, Chapter 12, Verse 30]


(Homophobic Genocide)

On or about 1900 B.C., the Lord sent two angels to Lot to announce the Lord’s intention to commit genocide upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Written records indicate that said angels conveyed the Lord’s intent to Lot as, in relevant part:

“For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.” [Genesis, Chapter 19, Verse 13]

The Tribunal further finds that the Lord targeted Sodom and Gomorrah for genocide because of the large number of homosexual residents in said cities. Written records of the Lord’s conversations clearly corroborate the Court’s finding. These conversations include, in relevant part, the Lord stating his reason for destroying both cities as:

“…Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous,…” [Genesis, Chapter 18, Verse 20]

The Tribunal further finds that the Lord tangibly acted on his aforementioned intention to commit homophobic genocide. Written records indicate, in relevant part:

“Then the LORD rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.” [Genesis, Chapter 19, Verses 24 and 25]


(Felony Animal Cruelty)

On or about 2500 B.C., the Lord clearly stated his intent to perpetrate an indiscriminant mass extermination of all living creatures upon the Earth. The Tribunal considers the resulting extent of animal deaths sufficient evidence to support the charge of felony animal cruelty. Records of conversations quote the Lord stating, in relevant part:

“…I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” [Genesis, Chapter 6, Verse 7]

Further, the Tribunal finds that the Lord’s weapon of mass destruction was intentional flooding with the intent to induce mass drowning. Records of conversations quote the Lord stating, in relevant part:

“…I shall cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.” [Genesis, Chapter 7, Verse 4]

The Tribunal further finds that, having stated a clear intent to kill and having selected a weapon of mass destruction, the Lord acted on his intent. The act resulted in uncountable animal deaths. Written records indicate, in relevant part:

“All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth…” [Genesis, Chapter 7, Verses 21 and 22]


(Conspiracy to Violate Resolution 786 (** see note below for summary of Resolution 786))

The Tribunal finds that the Lord conspired to violate Resolution 786 in his interactions with Pharaoh Ramses. On multiple occasions, the Lord sent Moses and Aaron to the Pharaoh to make requests that, if denied, would result in negative consequences for the Pharaoh. On each of these occasions, the Lord himself caused the Pharaoh to deny the request. He then proceeded to punish the Pharaoh for the denial.
Records of conversations between the Lord, Moses and Aaron reveal the Lord’s conscious intent to conspire to violate Resolution 786. These records indicate, in relevant part, that the Lord said to Moses:

“Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiple my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.” [Exodus, Chapter 7, Verses 2 and 3]

Written records indicate that the Lord then executed his stated intent as he directed Aaron and Moses to, on multiple occasions, ask the Pharaoh to allow the Children of Israel to leave Egypt. Upon issuance of each request, the Lord himself caused the Pharaoh to be unable to grant the request. Records indicate, in relevant part:

“And he [the Lord] hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened them [Aaron and Moses] not; as the Lord had said.” [Exodus, Chapter 7, Verse 13]

“And the Lord hardened the heart of the Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had spoken unto Moses.” [Exodus, Chapter 9, Verse 12]

“But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go.” [Exodus, Chapter 10, Verse 27]

The Tribunal further finds that after the Lord ultimately allowed the Pharaoh to release the Children of Israel, he again violates Resolution 786 by causing the Pharaoh to follow after them, resulting in a measurable detriment to the Pharaoh’s personnel and material resources. Written records indicate, in relevant part:

“And I will harden the Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them…” [Exodus, Chapter 14, Verse 4]

** Resolution 786 was unanimously passed by the 7th World Congress on May 7th, 2063. The resolution strictly forbids unsolicited extramortal interference in human affairs, especially that interference which does or may produce negative outcomes for the affected human or humans.


(Multiple and Varied Violations of Resolution 786)

On multiple and varied occasions throughout human history, the Lord knowingly and deliberately violated Resolution 786. The Tribunal finds that on or about 6000 B.C., the Lord placed a snake in Eden and allowed that snake to entice Eve into violating an agreement that she and Adam had entered into with the Lord. Upon learning of said violation, the Lord immediately initiated strong and permanent punitive action against both Eve and her mate. Written records indicate, in relevant part:

“And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” [Genesis, Chapter 3, Verse 13]

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heal.
Unto the Woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
And unto Adam he said, Because thou has hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shall thou eat of it all the days of thy life;” [Genesis, Chapter 3, Verses 15, 16 and 17]

The Tribunal further finds that on or about 5980 B.C., the Lord’s disrespect toward Cain’s offering precipitated the first murder in human history. Written documents indicate, in relevant part:

“But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.” [Genesis, Chapter 4, Verse 5]

The Tribunal further finds that as a result of the Lord’s lack of respect toward Cain’s offering, Cain was moved to commit the first murder in human history. Written records indicate, in relevant part:

“And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” [Genesis, Chapter 4, Verse 8]

The Tribunal further finds that on or about 1800 B.C. the Lord did consciously sow division and discord amongst the peoples of the earth, and did consciously thwart their desire for human unity, and, further, did consciously make more difficult humankind’s technological progress by scattering humankind about the earth and by purposefully confounding their language in an effort to make intergroup communication and collaborative research more difficult. Written records indicate, in relevant part:

“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.” [Genesis, Chapter 11, Verse 1]

“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained them, which they have imagined to do.
Go to, let us go down, and there confound the language of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” [Genesis, Chapter 11, Verses 4 through 9]

The Tribunal further finds that on or about 990 B.C. the Lord did consciously and intentionally induce David to number Israel. Written records indicate, in relevant part:

“And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.” [II Samuel, Chapter 24, Verse 1]

Written records further indicate that when David completes the numbering of Israel, as he was moved to do by the Lord himself, the Lord then selects and imposes punitive action wholly non-commensurate with the alleged offense. Specifically, records indicate:

“So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people of Dan even to Beer-sheba seventy thousand men.” [II Samuel, Chapter 24, Verse 15]

Considering the totality and the gravity of the charges noted herein, the Tribunal provides the Lord a Period of Grace not to exceed ninety (90) days to answer said charges, after which time the Lord is to be summoned for a fair and speedy Inquisition.

Respectfully submitted:

Adam Hueghlomm
Special Prosecutor, World Court

Noted, Approved and Entered into Docket:

Thomas Torquemada
Inquisitor General, World Court

Saturday, January 21, 2012

If You Wanna Be Good, Make Someone Bad [Chapter 28]

I've started posting the chapters of Resolution 786. I'll post each successive chapter roughly every 3 or 4 days. Here's Chapter 28:

Platoon 110 had just returned from patrol. The teenagers sat around on the cement floor of a large, empty aluminum airplane hangar. The sun glared outside. The air inside was parched. Large pedestal fans stood at each corner of the open hangar, pushing dry air across the soldiers as they sat here and there in their T-shirts and combat pants, cleaning their weapons, open water canteens standing next to each of them.

“Hey, you hear the one ‘bout the two gerbils walking by the fag bar?” Lee made sure that he spoke loud enough for everyone to hear. Baker looked up at Lee with a smirk on his face, anticipating a crude punch line. “Yeah, the one gerbil said to the other, ‘Hey, you wanna go in there and get shit-faced?’” Harrrrrr, har, har! The young men laughed raucously, rocking back and forth, looking at each other through tearing, squinted eyed. Lee turned, laughing, to see Lamech’s reaction. Lamech was peacefully cleaning his weapon, ignoring the jokes and the ruckus. The laughter slowly subsided in a rolling chorus of sighs and “Oh, shits.”

Lee waited a minute or so, wiping the barrel of his weapon with an oil-stained rag. “Yeah, Lamech, my man….” He didn’t complete the sentence, sounding as if he couldn’t think of how it should end. He ran a bore cleaner through the open end of the long gun barrel, then held the hollowed cylinder up toward the ceiling light, peering through it with one eye closed, inspecting the inside for dirt. “What I wouldn’t give for a whiff ‘a pussy,” he finally said in exaggerated wistfulness. He paused, put down his weapon and faced Lamech, straight-faced. “But then you wouldn’t know much ‘bout that, huh?” Lee and most of the other teenagers burst into a second round of schoolhouse laughter. The loud barks bounced off the stiff aluminum walls and back onto the hard, waxed floor, drowning the fans’ electric hum.

Lamech continued to avoid sight of his tormentor and focused on cleaning his weapon. “You’ve got major issues, Lee,” he said.

“Yeah, but sucking cock isn’t one of them,” replied Lee, eyes squinted, clucking in laughter.

“Man, leave him alone,” Webster protested.

“Fuck you, Webster,” said Lee. “Don’t be protectin’ no rump ranger, man.”

Webster stood and tensed threateningly, his eyes as hard as nails, staring at Lee, pores simmering in rising anger.

“What?” said Lee, hunching his shoulders and looking around wonderingly.

“You been fucking with everyone steady, the whole time. Let people be.” Webster’s bright white teeth stood in sharp contrast to his dark face. He was the largest soldier in the platoon. His muscles, heavily packed and bulging through his T-shirt, hunched about his neck, turning him into a snorting bull.

“He’s just joking, man,” Baker told Webster, trying to break the tension.

“Fuckin’ with people ain’t jokin’,” said Webster.

“Let it go, guys,” said Lamech, softly.

“Shut up, faggot!” yelled Lee, darting a speared glance at Lamech.

“You shut up, redneck!” Webster barked at Lee.

Lee stood abruptly, his weapon dropping off his lap and onto the hard, waxed floor in a rattled crash. His eyes narrowed and his lips fumed, ready to form caustic words as the rest of the young men joined in bellowing their respective thoughts and stances on the current situation. The hard aluminum shell over them caught the cacophony of vicious bellows and roars and bounced them back into the floors and walls, turning the airplane hangar into a busy neighborhood bowling alley on Friday night.

“At ease! At ease!” First Sergeant Blake’s adult voice shouted from the adjacent Recreation Room, a tone of fatherly sternness soaked into his words. “This is clean-your-weapon time, not smoke-and-joke time.”

Mumbles and murmur.

“I can’t hear you!” First Sergeant called to them in an exaggerated, singsong tone.

“Yes, First Sergeant!” the soldiers answered in unison.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Look at That, Man! [Chapter 27]

I've started posting the chapters of Resolution 786. I'll post each successive chapter roughly every 3 or 4 days. Here's Chapter 27:

Platoon 110 had trudged through the ancient orchards, passing through the dark night, crunching fertile soil and fallen oranges under worn and able combat boots. The soldiers’ gloved palms moved before them, pushing aside thin branches of fruit trees. They grasped weapon handles with their other hands, index fingers held over solid, black triggers. Their equipment was the same as on day patrols except for the rigid night vision goggles clinging around their temples and in front of their eyes, bathing the darkness in a grainy, pond-green.

The night insects remained undisturbed by the trickling drops of faceless, anonymous male forms as they quietly dripped through to the outer edge of the orchard. The forms stopped in puddles of shadowed patches, staring out of the darkness like a pack of hiding wolves huddled along a snowy and black tree line at midnight. They gaped across a softly glowing white-dusted road, at the silent grouping of structures on the other side. A long, gray cinderblock warehouse stood before them in the hard, dark shadows of the starry desert night, two smaller huts adjacent. The soldiers quietly listened to a soft murmur of masculine voices under the black-tiled roof of the warehouse, unintelligible babble skipping along the surface of the resting, night air.

“Man, this would be easier if we all spoke the same language,” whispered First Sergeant Blake to no one in particular.

“I wouldn’t want to speak their shit, man,” hissed Lee. “Everything they say sounds so fucking dirty.”

“Shut up,” said Webster.

They became quiet, watching, stalking, silent underneath a canopy of moonlit night.
A thin man dressed in jeans and a short sleeve shirt walked out of the warehouse and casually sauntered to one of the huts. He vanished inside for a few minutes and then came back out, joined by another man, taller and stockier, also in jeans. One of them spoke in a youthful, clear voice. The other replied in deep-throated, single-syllable grunts. They spoke a while, the smaller man gesticulating with his hands, the larger one grunting short replies, his block-shaped head nudging back slightly each time he opened his mouth to talk. The smaller man lighted a cigarette and said something quickly. They both suddenly laughed wantonly, strolling together into the warehouse. The soldiers of Platoon 110 watched the lighted cigarette tip move across the inked shadows in jagged swirls that abruptly vanished into the warehouse’s waiting darkness.

“Weapon’s cache,” said the First Sergeant. “It’s in the warehouse.” He raised a small pair of black binoculars that were hanging at his sternum and brought them to his tight, intent face, rotating his gaze slightly to one side and then to the other. “Poorly defended,” he concluded, and continued to assess the tactical scenario. “Two men, lightly armed at best. Content of huts, unknown. Lamech and Webster, suppress both huts with small arms fire. Warehouse has one visible exit and entry point. Sanders, emplace your machine gun on that point. Kill any threats that come through it.” First Sergeant Blake turned and looked at Sanders to emphasize his next point. “I said threats, Sanders. Not a little girl or her mother.”

“Yes, First Sergeant,” said Sanders.

First Sergeant swallowed, gathering himself, then turned and peered back at the still warehouse, running tactical options and calculations through his disciplined mind. “Baker, Vonnegut, Mughal.” He pressed his top and bottom teeth hard against each other, the muscles in his temples bulging and resting in turns. “Put your grenade launchers on the warehouse. Baker – west end. Vonnegut – center. Mughal – east end. Take out the whole thing. Cache is in there somewhere.” He added in a slow, determined tone, almost to himself, “It will be neutralized.”

First Sergeant shifted to look at Lee. Lee looked back, asking what role he would play in the destruction, asking with eager, crazed eyes. “Lee, you stay with me,” said the First Sergeant. “And keep your fucking mouth shut until we’re done.”

The soldiers of Platoon 110 fanned out to their assigned positions and waited. And waited. A half hour passed, labored minutes during which nothing had moved between the warehouse and the two huts. The stage and all its players lay quietly immersed beneath a still sea of starry night.

First Sergeant finally motioned to Lamech and Webster, sweeping gray motions of hands and arms speaking across the darkened orchard. Lamech and Webster followed orders, both sending short, three-round bursts of small arms fire into each of the adjacent huts, whistling lead plunging through the cool, still air. The huts absorbed the bullets without a twitch. Seconds later the insides of the warehouse became alive with anxious, frenzied shouting. The two voices that they had listened to earlier were shouting over each other, each keeping its own characteristic identity, the one youthful and clear, the other grunting.

First Sergeant motioned to the rest of his soldiers, lying in wait. Sanders rattled a pulsing salvo of machine gun fire onto the warehouse doorway. Baker, Vonnegut and Mughal lobbed a burst of grenades onto the warehouse roof. Tiles leapt off the roof and vanished, swallowed down the throat of the shadowed night. Puffs of blue smoke formed above the warehouse, got caught in a snare of moonlight and floated away like a gang of retreating ghosts.

They stopped firing a moment. The shouting inside the warehouse had fallen to one desperate, high-pitched voice barking the same set of sounds over and over and over. The soldiers sent more bullets into the empty huts and put a second and a third volley of grenades onto the warehouse roof. The beaten, weary structure suddenly began to explode on its own in graduated increments. Its east end crackled with uncontrolled, unfocused small arms fire from inside. Singed moments later, the center of the warehouse erupted into a cascade of fireballs, the first and strongest sending the shattered remains of the roof tumbling up and into the night, raining down on the warehouse perimeter and into the adjoining orchards. The soldiers reflexively put their gloved hands on top of their combat helmets. Someone cheered like people do during the finale of a Fourth of July fireworks show. The warehouse belched two smaller fireballs from its bowels and then fell asleep under a blanket of soft, blue smoke.

The soldiers waited, watching for anything else that might need to be killed or destroyed. Nothing. Only the crisp night air, softly caressing and lifting the lilting blue smoke into the sky in gentle, swirling swaths of glowing gray cotton.

“We killed ‘em!” shouted Lee. “Let’s go get a beer.”

“You guys aren’t old enough for beer,” said First Sergeant Blake. “Grab your weapons and let’s go.”

They trudged back the way they came, through the orchards, fleeting through the swallowing desert shadows. Lee couldn’t help but look back. One small piece of vertical wall had survived the battering. It was taking a bath in long, undulating flames, throwing a lovely, peaceful campfire glow onto the adjacent huts. Lee followed the flames’ dancing fingers into the sky above. In between the stars and the earth, above the shattered corpse of the warehouse, the peaceful night winds had sculpted the glowing, blue-gray smoke into the shape of a large crucifix.

“Look at that, man!” Lee marveled. “Jesus would have loved this shit.”

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Better Than Truth? [Chapter 26]

I've started posting the chapters of Resolution 786. I'll post each successive chapter roughly every 3 or 4 days. Here's Chapter 26:

Adam Hueghlomm hopped briskly up the white marble stairs of World Court, moving quickly underneath a plain gray sky. The wide, sweeping steps and all the streets outside were empty, not a soul in sight. Hueghlomm wore a conservative black suit, a deep blue shirt and a tan tie. He carried a black leather briefcase as he strode through the high, regal halls of World Court, moving quickly to where the Tribunal was to be held, in the East Room. Hueghlomm approached the room’s stately wooden doors.

The East Room’s heavy, noble doors were made from a deep, reddish brown wood that had dark, black veins running through it. The two doors stood erect, stuffed, and as ceremonial and proper as the personal guards of a Queen Mother. Each door had three wooden rectangular panels on it, panels of equal size placed in vertical stacks that together filled the full length of both doors. Bas relief scenes had been gouged deep into the panels, formed from darkly scarred patterns, like a tribesman’s facial markings. The scenes depicted moments of thunderous historical and spiritual significance, perpetual and eternal moments that marked important beginnings, pivotal epiphanies, seminal sacrifices, and Promethean discoveries.

The doors fell open before Hueghlomm, a slow, choreographed opening, falling back and away in practiced, mirrored movement. As the heavy curtain pulled aside, it uncovered in waxing phases the patrician grandeur that was the East Room. The doors made their long arch across the imperial entry, moving over a hard marble floor of deep gray tiles punctuated with a subtle, disperse network of soft, white clouds. The marble had been shined immaculately, and it caught and packed small bursts of light here and there, tossing them back into the belly of the room in soft, graceful twinkles.

The room had an open vastness to it, the ceiling so high that it was almost not visible. A long, narrow marble path sliced a sharp, straight walkway from the entry towards the high and imposing tribunal bench, cutting the viewers’ gallery into two equal parts along the way, leaving long wooden benches on either side. A wooden rail stood guard in front of the forward most viewers’ bench, separating the plebian gallery from the prosecutor, the defendant and the tribunal. Beyond the wooden rail and before and below the towering tribunal bench sat two small worktables, a simple chair behind each. The witness stand sat alone, abandoned, to the right of the bench, its empty chair circled by a waist-high rail. The tribunal bench itself was cut in tight, squared angles and had three high-backed black leather chairs behind it, the largest and highest sitting in the middle. Each chair had a gavel at its place. A plain clock hung from the wood-paneled wall behind, centered above the tall, middle chair. A large door hid within the paneling behind the bench. Its perimeter cut a subtle, black outline that was noticeable only if someone knew it was there and looked for it. Every piece of furniture and paneling in the East Room looked as though it had been cut from the same tree as the heavy, wooden entry doors.

Adam Hueghlomm entered the East Room with a determined gait, pacing quickly down the marble center aisle. He pushed aside the rail gate, turned sharply and quietly placed his black briefcase onto the prosecutor’s table, sitting down.

Moments later, the majestic, hidden door at the head of the East Room slowly fell open. The bailiff ordered, “All rise!” Thomas Torquemada, the Inquisitor General, entered the courtroom flanked by his partners, Morilla and Martin. Torquemada’s portly body stretched his black judge’s robe wide at the waist, his expression serious, stone. His face was full, authoritative, unforgiving. His jowls hung like heavy sacks, pulling at his eyes, dragging them towards the ground.

Martin and Morilla both wore long, black monk’s robes, topped with sharp, bright, white collars strapped around their necks. Morilla was a miniature replica of Torquemada. Although Torquemada’s sternness came easily and naturally, Morilla seemed to be working hard at his. He was short, with a spherical head. His nostrils stood out like tiny dark spots below a pug nose that sat at almost the exact center of his circular face. His eyes were two buttons of dark chocolate pressed into cinnamon dough, his mouth held tight, giving an air of general dissatisfaction, a warning of an explosive temper. He had short, black hair that stood in menacing spikes over his rounded scalp. The sides of his face, his chin and the strip of skin over his stiff mouth were always cloaked in a heavy shadow of beard no matter how recently he’d shaved.

Martin, slight and small-boned, wore a hat of iron gray hair over his gaunt eyes and thin lips. His face had a grandmotherly gentleness to it. His hair, combed back in a softly waved pompadour, formed a subtle widow’s peak centered above restive, gray and slightly bushy eyebrows. Martin had an emotional lightness about him, something that separated him from his colleagues, and he managed to give Hueghlomm a small smile as he entered the East Room.

The Tribunal took the bench, grave, expressionless.

Hueghlomm stood before them, behind the prosecutor’s table, his hands folded across each other below his waist. A stack of brimming manila folders sat on the table in front of him. His unlocked black leather briefcase rested next to the stack of beige. Hueghlomm’s face was neutral, waiting.

The defendant’s table sat obtrusively empty. Silent moments later, the stately wood doors of the East Room fell open and a large, gruff guard led the Lord into the courtroom, handcuffed and sullen. The Lord wore the same white-stripped shirt, gray slacks and scuffed black shoes that he had on at his arrest. His shirt was worn, pilled at the elbows. His clean-shaven middle-aged face had deep vertical creases on either side of his thin-lipped mouth. His eyes were brown, beady, shifting. Although he had a full head of dark brown hair, portions around the top and back betrayed a subtle thinning, giving the impression that he would soon bald. He was two or three inches taller than Hueghlomm and had a medium build. He carried himself more like a middle-income department store manager than the Creator of the Cosmos. His guard and he shuffled across the floor, the Lord pensive, looking this way and that around the empty viewers’ gallery. When he and the guard reached the defendant’s table, the Lord moved to sit in the adjacent chair. His guard stopped him.

Torquemada spoke. “You may be seated.” A mild swoosh of fabric and air sounded as everyone recessed into their seats. “Dr. Hueghlomm.” The Inquisitor General’s voice was gravelly and matter of fact. “Has the defendant been afforded an adequate Edict of Grace?”

“He has, Your Honor,” said Hueghlomm.

“During said period, did the defendant confess?”

“He did not, Your Honor.”

Turning to the Lord, Torquemada said, “Please confirm for the Court: you were provided an Edict of Grace during which time you did not confess. Do you confirm that for the record?”

The Lord chuckled a few times, saying nothing.

Exhaling dramatically, Torquemada explained. “Sir, we must reconcile the charges against you. We must follow due process and procedure. I ask your participation to insure a fair and speedy inquisition.”

“And how does my forced participation validate the fairness of your said proceedings?” asked the Lord, a mocking, sarcastic voice.

“Sir, the court is not the object of this inquisition. You are. Please help us treat you in a fair and just manner. That is our most fervent desire. That is the bedrock of the philosophy by which we live.” He exhaled in a long, winding sigh and continued. “You were given an Edict of Grace during which time you may have confessed to the charges in your indictment. Did you?”

“I did not,” said the Lord.

“Very well. Let the record show that the defendant did not confess during the Edict of Grace.” Torquemada looked up from the bench with a slanted smile. “Do you see the fairness with which this inquisition is proceeding?” He raised his index finger and shifted his eyes towards the Lord. Martin and Morilla smiled, nodding affirmations.

“Now, then,” continued the Inquisitor General. “In our unending efforts at fairness, we must confirm the prosecution’s report that you have declined counsel. For the record, have you declined counsel?”

“That’s lie number one,” said the Lord. “I expressly asked for the Fallen One.”

Hueghlomm spoke for the prosecution. “Your Honor, the defendant has been informed that the Fallen One does not exist. We’ve pointed tachyon beams to the north, we’ve pointed them to the south, we’ve pointed them to the east, we’ve pointed them to the west. He hasn’t materialized. He doesn’t exist.” Hueghlomm stopped, resting in Torquemada’s gaze. The Inquisitor General tilted his head down and peered at Hueghlomm over black bifocals, his jowls heavy on either side of his face, pulling down at the corners of his mouth, creating his signature permanent frown.
Hueghlomm realized that he had failed to follow procedure. He corrected himself by making an appropriate statement for the record. “The Fallen One does not exist. Defendant refuses to appoint alternate counsel.”

“He exists!” shouted the Lord. “Go through the written records that you yourself used to indict me. Selective inclusion and exclusion, the opening move of all corrupters!” The Lord’s body shivered as he spoke each angry word. “That’s the farce of this whole exercise. That, and this self-righteous know-it-all!” He pointed accusingly at Hueghlomm, his gesture and stare moving easily across the chasm between the prosecutor and himself.

“Defendant will address the prosecution respectfully,” Torquemada reminded the Lord. The Inquisitor General turned to Hueghlomm. “Dr. Hueghlomm, has the prosecution exercised due diligence in attempting to locate the Fallen One?”

“It has.”

“Has it located said ‘Fallen One’?”

“It has not.”

Their exchange was mechanical, for the record.

Torquemada turned to the Lord. “Defendant is instructed to choose alternate counsel.”
The Lord stared at Torquemada in disgust. He huffed sarcasm. “Alternate counsel — I’d like to tell you to go to hell, but that’d put you right back in that same chair at this same moment.”

“Please answer for the record, sir,” pressed Torquemada. The Inquisitor General followed his narrow and straight path as well as he understood it, with persistence and rigor. He insisted that others do the same.

The Lord was obstinate. “I don’t want counsel. Why waste another being’s time with your silly exercise?”

“Let the record show, defendant has refused counsel,” answered Torquemada, and rapped his gavel. He turned again to Hueghlomm. “Dr. Hueghlomm, please review the charges against the defendant.”

Hueghlomm looked down and read from the indictment that he had written, flipping the pages as he recounted each allegation. “Your Honor, the defendant, the Lord, is accused of the following: Count One, Mass Infanticide. Count Two, Homophobic Genocide. Count Three, Felony Animal Cruelty.” Hueghlomm paused a moment and glanced at the Lord. The Lord was struggling to suppress laughter, looking as if he’d just thought of a dirty joke while sitting in church. Hueghlomm continued, his voice louder. “Count Four, Conspiracy to Violate Resolution 786. And Count Five, Multiple and Varied Violations of Resolution 786.” Hueghlomm stopped and looked at Torquemada.
Torquemada turned to the Lord. “Sir, how do you plead to these charges?”

The Lord sighed, realizing that he would have to play along. “So that’s what you nailed to my door,” he said to Hueghlomm, pointing limply at the indictment papers. “I guess, ‘Not guilty.’” The Lord raised his hands and made mocking quotation marks in the air to underscore his plea.

“Please provide the basis for your plea,” said Torquemada.

“Your Honor,” said the Lord. “The charges are grounded in contextual misunderstandings and lingual misinterpretations.”

“Sir, you will have to do better than that,” said the Inquisitor General.

“Better than Truth?” said the Lord, suddenly serious.