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Chapter 19 – How It Wends

May 9, 2012

Chapter 19 – “How It Wends”

Now – Liberty Island, New York

“You’re three minutes late. Don’t worry, I figured I’d give you ten. Always too late…”

Eli was sitting on a bench next to a garbage can. Neither had been there four decades previous. The path looked different as well. There were fewer trees, Braden thought.

Also, Maya’s grave was open. He couldn’t see its contents from this angle.

Rather than answer immediately, Braden first tossed the screecher to Schneider’s feet.

“If you’d wanted me to be on time, then maybe trying to crash the plane wasn’t the best idea.

“There were other people on that plane, Eli! If you’d wanted me… Well, did you think a planecrash would kill me anyway?”

Schneider looked down at the electronic disk. Was it Braden’s inagination, or did he seem just a bit surprised? Eli didn’t budge from his spot sitting atop on the back of a park bench.

“That’s a prototype. Expected use was as a theft deterrent. Make stealing a car not worth it if you can’t drive it from having to hold your ears. Still waiting for approval to be manufactured and sold.

“And no. Actually I didn’t think a planecrash would kill you.”

“I know you’ve blamed me all these years for what happened to Maya. But it wasn’t me. It wasn’t even that she went to Roarke’s. It was Roarke. And he’s dead. Doing this… It won’t bring her back.”

Eli’s eyes narrowed. Braden knew it looked subtle and slow but what was happening behind those eyes was running in at least four different directions at the same time. His opponent was extremely intelligent and it was best just to state the simple truth and not allow the advantages of complication that could lead to confusion or manipulation.

“You are a slow, dumb son of a bitch, Nelson. When confronted with an enemy who wishes you—or anyone you care about—harm, you should save your words and attack immediately.

“I have no sympathy, and will show no mercy. None at all. I won’t be reasoned with. I see talk as cheap, anyone can throw together words that sound pretty.

“Look at the jackasses in Washington. They give lip service to freedom while building a police/surveillance state based on paranoia so they can maintain control and bilk the public out of their paychecks through their alliance with the corporatocracy. They talk about family values while tearing them apart with their phony rhetoric and economic instability. They pretend to believe in your Magical Friend in the sky while torturing, murdering, and stealing at odds with the Fairy Tale Book’s teachings. They pretend they’re doing good while allowing the worst criminal activities to go uninvestigated, unpunished. They talk about stopping genocide overseas while people disappear off the streets of American cities every day without a trace. They throw up straw man arguments against ecological disaster, they point out that eliminating the polar ice caps means better trade routes!

“Really, if there is a god, human beings prove he made a mistake every day with their pettiness, stupidity, cowardice and viciousness. It’s no different now than when Roarke was alive: men like that run things. Get in their way, and they’ll destroy you. The biggest mistake in shooting him was there were five more cockroaches waiting to take his place! The law doesn’t apply to people with that kind of power.

“All I’m suggesting is the great equalizer: they may think they’ve got a place to hide, to escape to. They don’t. If anyone survives this, well that would be a miracle.

“And you. You! You sit back and do nothing. Worse than nothing, you don’t even speak out. You don’t lift a finger while your fellow man is drowning, you don’t even shout for a lifeguard. You do your thing in your little village—”

“That’s enough! I do what I can. People need hope, Eli! It’s may not be something you can add on a balance sheet, something you can drink or pop in your mouth twice a day, but people need it. I take the best care of my neighbors that I—”

“‘Your neighbors’?!? Godammit, you’re the most powerful man on earth and you don’t even realize it! Your humility before your invisible friend in the sky has reduced your ability to make a real difference on a scale that could help everyone. You’ve bought the lie that humility before a theoretical god means kissing the asses of those who have more money than you, those who enjoy position of power because you pay their f***ing salaries!

“What about injustice? What about starvation? Who the hell are you waiting for?!? It’s you! You were the one who could have saved the world and you wasted it! You who will die knowing you did nothing and everyone else died because of a lack of imagination and ambition!”

Braden said nothing. He had spied a rock near his foot. He dare not look at it or Schneider would know what he intended. It had to be fast.

The rock flew so fast it whistled. His hand movement was incredibly fast as well. No human could react that quickly to it.

The rock struck Eli’s forehead—precisely where Braden had aimed it for a one-shot knockout—bounced, and kept going to the water where he heard it plonk at a distance.

Eli dropped immediately, fell backwards off of the bench and crumpled to the ground. Braden paused for a second to see if there was movement. There wasn’t.

Braden approached cautiously. It all seemed too easy. Had he just prevented a holocaust, an extinction event…with a rock?

As he got closer, he could just see part of Eli’s face through the bench. He hopped over it quickly, ready to throw a punch if necessary.

Eli’s clothes were there. In place of his face though was a featureless plastic head-shaped chunk of plastic cracked in the middle of its forehead.

“Looks like a crash test dummy…”

Before he could look around to see where Schneider was hiding, the head exploded with a pop and a mist hit Braden in the face. He started choking and gasping for air. He tried to step away, to make it to the water to wash it off.

He got a mere five steps before he fell face first into the grass.

Eli emerged from his hiding place behind the restroom pavilion. He had a control box in his hand, which he pocketed on his way over to Braden.

Eli looked down at his old friend for a second before reaching down and touching his neck to check for a pulse.

“Dead…’dead for a ducat.'”

He had just murdered the only person capable of stopping what was to come. The first phase of his plan was complete.

—–

©2011 Christopher C. Knall

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