Chapter 12:

To Kill a God


Sam running away caused a memory to flash through Jack’s mind. Bookmark here

‘Why do you act dumb, Schretcher?’ said Colonel Ripper.Bookmark here

Jack and Colonel Ripper had been standing on one of a line of ten upturned Cadillacs half buried in the desert. It was a public art installation in Amarillo called the Cadillac Ranch. Colonel Ripper was using it as the arena for a combat training exercise where the Lonely Hearts would drive a Cadillac around and try to hit Puck, Mezu, and Sam with it. Bookmark here

‘What do you mean?’ said Jack. ‘I am dumb.’Bookmark here

Colonel Ripper shook his head. ‘No. You’re not. I thought you were initially, but the more I get to know you, the more I think you’re actually supressing your intelligence. The way you move when you fight; an unintelligent person couldn’t do that…. I think that you’ve gone down a dark path, and you’re choosing to limit your mind because you fear if you used your full cognitive ability, you might fully comprehend just how far you’ve fallen. The reason the Patriots and I have managed to stay as hypercompetent as we are, despite our ticks, is because we all have a common goal: the utter and total defeat of communism. Your goal, to become your own master, is laudable, but you’ve got to make it more concrete. What precisely does it mean for you to become your own master? What precisely do you need to do to attain that goal? Once you figure that out, you’ll be able to use your noggin to that end without succumbing to the tragedy of the self-made hell you’ve found yourself in.’ Bookmark here

Colonel Ripper put a cigar in his mouth and fired his revolver at it.Bookmark here

Jack looked over the vast emptiness of the desert. ‘“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how”. Friedrich Nietzche.’Bookmark here

Colonel Ripper slapped him on the back. ‘See! I knew you weren’t no dummy!’Bookmark here

‘A concrete goal, huh…? During my school and college years, I was praised for my intelligence by my teachers and professors, but I was badly bullied by the other students due to jealousy. I was too timid to fight back. Then later on, for reasons I won’t go into, I became strong, but I was actually being manipulated by someone I trusted…. I’d like to become smart and strong and independent; I’d like to become my own master, and the way to do that…is to kill the King in Yellow.’Bookmark here

Colonel Ripper choked on his cigar. ‘Say what?!’Bookmark here

Jack pulled on the straps of his overalls. ‘No one knows what the King in Yellow is exactly, a god or a demon or an alien, but whatever he is, he’s certainly the source of the slashers and all the other supernatural evil in the world. If I were to kill him, I would prove to myself that I was smart and strong and independent, my own master. It might even absolve me of all the sins I’ve committed…in the eyes of God….’ Jack flashed a grin. ‘Plus, I’m really trying to settle down with this feisty redhead, and killing the King in Yellow is nothing if not impressive.’Bookmark here

Colonel Ripper’s eyebrows were raised and his big yellow teeth were bared. ‘You’re crazy, Scretcher….’ He smiled and slapped Jack on the back twice as hard as before. ‘Just like a red, white, and blue-blooded American should be! Attaboy! Get ‘er done!’Bookmark here

‘Do you think I have a chance?!’Bookmark here

Colonel Ripper laughed. ‘No, of course not! You’re dead meat! Not even I’d try to frag Ol' Yella'! He scares the bejesus outta’ me! But so long as you die trying to become “your own master” as you say, you have my blessing!’Bookmark here

Colonel Ripper’s laughter continued as Mezu stopped running and started swinging at the Cadillac with his ridiculously long samurai sword. Jack laughed with him. Bookmark here

Jack’s mind returned to the present. ‘No.’Bookmark here

‘What?’ said Mezu.Bookmark here

‘We shouldn’t stand our ground and fight as one. We don’t know how to work together; we’d just get killed. We should split up and make a fighting retreat out of the forest. That will separate the Patriots and force them to fight us in smaller, more manageable groups. Only that way, when we’re fighting for our lives—but with a fighting chance—will we get enough adrenaline in our systems to enter the Zone.’Bookmark here

Silence.Bookmark here

‘That was actually inspired,’ said the Plague Doctor. ‘Who are you? What have you done with the Lumberjack?’Bookmark here

‘Shut up,’ said Jack.Bookmark here

Puck shrugged. ‘We did get our bums kicked the last time we tried to fight together.’Bookmark here

Mezu gripped the hilt of his zanbatō tighter. ‘Are you sure about this, gaijin?’Bookmark here

Jack nodded.Bookmark here

‘Fine. You have my assent. Better that a warrior die in shame alone anyway.’Bookmark here

Nurse Lovejoy shook her head. ‘Uh uh. No way. Me an’ the Plague Doctor are running away together. Ain’t that right, honey bunny?’Bookmark here

‘Naturally, my little aardvark,’ said the Plague Doctor. Bookmark here

They tried to kiss, but because of the Plague Doctor’s bird mask, they just ended up nuzzling.Bookmark here

‘Same here!’ said Jellyfish. ‘Dying single is, like, grody to the max. It’s giving me bad vibrations even thinking about it.’Bookmark here

‘I agree,’ said Mantis. ‘If worse comes to worse I can use this human female as a distraction while I escape to fight another day for Mother Earth.’Bookmark here

Jellyfish turned her face away from Mantis. Tears streamed from under her jellyfish mask.Bookmark here

Mantis looked around for help. ‘What? Something I said?’Bookmark here

Jellyfish turned her whole body away and crossed her arms. ‘If you cared, you’d know.’Bookmark here

The Aztec and the Hawaiian held hands. They didn’t want to go it alone either.Bookmark here

‘Okay,’ said Jack. ‘The Lonely Hearts will fight in couples. Let’s go!’Bookmark here

They all ran away in opposite directions.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.