Pull The Trigger – The 2020 Event |The Sideshows| (13/82)

Universe W-2020: The Sideshows 6
April 24th, 2020
Pull The Trigger

The Mission


The Prisoner’s eyelids struggle to detach from the dried sponges that replaced his peepers as he slept through the night. His body stings with every move he makes. His mind is dull, numb, a muffled presence only somewhat held within the confines of his skull. This is a better morning than most.

The mattress creaks as he rises. The floor seems to be in a less talkative mood, as The Prisoner paces around his entire holding area twice without a single verbal penny, let alone two cents, from the foundation. Some days it whines, as if the Zeroc needs the exercise, and some days the whole room shakes as if it were a trailer tased by a twister, but one thing always stays constant: the instructions.

They never come over the intercom. In fact, that old blowhorn fastened to the ceiling by screws and countless years of dust evolved into grime is probably the only thing in here used less than the land line telephone hanging off the wall, its spiral cable a’dangle so low the floor could sue it for sexual harassment. It won’t, because the floor’s more than guilty of sniffing The Prisoner’s feet when he’s not paying attention, and though it may be into feet, the floor is not a hypocrite. The phone is actually the innocent one here; it’s never once tried to slide its cord into The Prisoner’s ear canal so it can plug directly into his brain, overrule his nervous system, and take over his body, forcing his otherworldly consciousness to fall back into the place that only exists when someone takes control of your mind and you’re forced to watch your life from the backdrop. This is more because of The Prisoner’s lack of beings to make phone calls to than the telephone’s upstanding morals, but what can you do? Plus, it’s just a floor, an inanimate floor, a floor laid in a world where the US government and all forms of American legal action were paralyzed, gently sat in a wheelchair, and pushed into a vat of caustic jelly years ago, a problem The Prisoner will never have to worry about overcoming because he walks laps on the daily. What he does need to worry about, although perhaps need isn’t the bestest word because emotions are subjective and illusionary and if you’re not sociopathic enough to control them at this stage of the game you might as well press the hard reset, is which of Apex’s MERCs will be debriefing him today.

Normally the instructions come after three laps are taken. When The Prisoner finishes his seventh, the door to his chamber opens.

Some MERCs aren’t too bad when they relay what the humans in charge are too fearful to say directly to The Prisoner’s scarred, mauve face. Wolf or Ray are the best, hands down; if either of them step foot into Beta’s pantry of a dojo, he knows it’s going to be an easy day – not that the courier impacts the subject of the instructions. Usually he’s made to stand up all day or to balance on one leg until he collapses, and then do the same on the other to see which leg lasts longer, tests of his endurance. Other days he’ll be handed a detailed list of humans that Apex has deemed to be objectively better than The Prisoner in every way, shape, and form, and The Prisoner will be forced to sit and read through the list until either he passes out from mental fatigue or decides to use the many pages of the list to slit his wrists and call it quits on this pissy little shitstorm of a life he’s made for himself. Some days, instructions don’t come, and he’s allowed to lay in bed all day. These days don’t come very often, but The Prisoner always enjoys them when they do. He wouldn’t if they came about with every rise of the sun, but they do not, so he does.

No, the instructions are never The Prisoner’s main concern. The instructions are remedial at best and busywork at worst, and that’s just fine to The Prisoner. He kind of likes having meaningless tasks to perform every day, to tell you the truth; it gives him meaning, a sense of purpose, especially after his last containment situation. They literally locked him in a coat closet, like, they bought coats, built a closet, stocked it, then surrendered the room. There wasn’t even a mattress fastened to the wall for him to lean on. Whatever, at least he has a bed now… even if he must bend his legs to lay on it.

His bed isn’t the main concern either, it’s not even a periphery concern. The Prisoner doesn’t bother with any concerns other than the main one, because if one concern is the main one and the rest are secondary, are they really concerns?

Christ, I’ve been smoking a LOT of good ever since I wrote Memorial Day Weekend and Dropping The Ball. Haven’t scribed a word since; my keyboard done went and got rusty on me. It’s not me, goodness no, it’s not that I keep disassociating and accidentally drifting between Existence and nonExistence, it’s not that I can’t stay on topic to save anybody’s life, whether it be my own or that of one of my characters. It’s my keyboard, the piece of shit… I need a new laptop.

The Prisoner’s bout of reminiscence is chained around the neck and pulled face-first into the mud when KingPig enters the holding room, wooden baton in hand. He makes a series of guttural, twangy barks towards The Prisoner, the spewed saliva doing nothing to help convey the MERC’s message. Thankfully, The Prisoner is a Zeroc and he can read minds, unlike these lowly, unevolved, and terribly miscivilized hairless ape blasphemes.

Ah, the lateness is explained. Today’s the day of the big mission. The only reason The Prisoner was allowed to continue on living all this time. The end… it had to come, and now it’s here.

Is it really, though? By some measure, sure, why the fuck not? The word horse means Let’s fuck, babyluv when it flies from some specific being’s mouth, maybe and probably. The point is that words are subjective; this book says nothing, it’s just a log of randomly struck keys, and the plots? The stories? You’re hallucinating all of it, or just making it up so you can say the crazy man’s book made sense to you, so you can feel superior over the normies you surround yourself with to make yourself feel better by association because you lack the courage it takes to bust your ass, spend your time on you, and blow all your money sustaining a creative project that you don’t know will pan out for you if you ever manage to finish it.


Regardless, The Prisoner’s forced internment inside the Apex Corporation’s most commodious of crawl spaces may be coming to an end, but his life ended a long, long time ago. It’s ironic, really; before he was captured by Apex, The Prisoner and his… well, they lived inside an outpost together, a cramped one parked in the void between two galaxies… or… or was it two star systems? It’s been so long he can barely misremember the specifics, but what he does remember is the isolation. Being trapped like that, alone with one other being, the same being, in the vacuous emptiness of uninhabited deep space, and for forty years, forty long, constant years that you couldn’t even feel passing because when you’re a space cadet, time passes despite your presence in its waves rather than along with you… it was infinitely more pleasant than Earth.

At least the outpost didn’t stink like human.

A strike to the side of his dome brings The Prisoner back to the present moment. KingPig gracelessly tears a few longboi splinters from The Prisoner’s cheek, only making the injuries worse. It’s fine, Zeroc are fast healers, even when they crave the light of death more than the eternal darkness of continued life.


“I’m sure I don’t need to remind you,” Hymarc says through the exhale of a cloud of tobacco smoke, dense with extra nicotine, “but today’s mission is very important, alien. In fact, one could say it’s the only reason you’ve been kept alive up to this point. That’s not to say we were planning this for a long time, per say, we just didn’t know what to do with you.”

The Prisoner begins to feel like a burden to the house in which he’s jailed.

“Honestly, your original abduction was a bit of a spontaneous decision, we uh… we saw a spaceship and wanted to test our mettle. Or should that be metal, as in our Earth elements against the shinier rocks of outer space?” He takes a drag of his cigarette and it begins to canoe bad, so he crushes the embers out on side of The Prisoner’s neck and relights it fresh. Then, “Anyway. Today will be your final mission, and once it is complete, you will be free.”

‘Free?’ The Prisoner thinks to himself, laughing internally and watching a kitten die externally. ‘Free of my life on this plane, you mean. You think you’re smart Hymarc, but you get clocked by the very same fallacy that all humans see coming but refuse to duck away from. You think you’re clever, you think you’re the superior lifeform on this planet when, in reality, a human could stand in a room alone and still not be the superior lifeform… fucking pitiful. You take my birthright of a Zerocian life away from me, you strip what dignity I have left by enslaving me, and now you admit that it was pointless the entire time, that all this turmoil and torture and all the nerve endings that are no longer capable of communicating with my brain, that it all could have been avoided, no, should have been avoided? You admit this all to my face and expect me not to break from catatonia and decapitate you on the spot? Bold.

Uneasy after watching The Prisoner’s lips flap tirelessly as if some sort of dialog was going on in his head, Hymarc coughs five times, each couch louder than the previous. The fourth dislodges a small tumor that formed on the edge of the last cloud he inhaled. The fifth expels it.

The sound of the mass splatting against the floor is drowned out by, “You uh… pardon my saying, but you don’t seem very excited to be earning your freedom, Prisoner.”

The Prisoner closes one eye and stares at Hymarc through the other. On planet Fuego, this is a challenge to a duel; on planet Earth, this is a sign of mental unbalance and a hint that whoever is making this strange face should not and cannot be taken seriously under any circumstances. Or else what? I don’t know, ask Mother… I’m sorry, there is no weird cultural eye thing going on on planet Fuego, I just have issues and I am petty.

“Oh god,” Hymarc sighs, looking to the ceiling. His shoulders slack and the lit cigarette almost drops from its safe spot between the Gray Fox’s fingers. “You don’t… do you really?”

The Prisoner’s second eye opens and darts away from Hymarc’s gaze on the coattails of the first.

“You totally do; my goodness, dude. You think you’re going to be killed after the mission’s over!” Hymarc laughs so hard he starts coughing again, then remedies the tickle in his throat with the hot tar of a ‘bacco drag. “What, do you think we’re going to walk over to you in fucking black hoods, shirtless, with axes or halberds or some other medieval shit in our hands, maybe flails? You’re not going to be executed, you stupid fucking alien.”

Hymarc plunges into his pocket, grabs hold of something, lifts that something waaaayyyy into the air, and then, when The Prisoner takes the hint and opens his palm, Hymarc brings something down and The Prisoner damn near drops it. That would have been worthy of execution; there’s only one of these bullets in the entire Universe.

“Remember, do not question what you’re meant to do. When the target approaches, pull the trigger and leave. If you are found and pursued, kill your pursuer. Do whatever you need to do to complete the mission and earn freedom. We want you to be free, Beta.”

Before The Prisoner can openly question what he’s meant to do, Hymarc leaves the room, delegating, “KingPig, take our boy here to the plane, will you? This is his last day, wouldn’t want him to have to run across the tarmac.”

KingPig brings the baton against the back of The Prisoner’s head and knocks him cold. The baton is traded for the extraterrestrial’s very long body, and KingPig grunts at least forty times in the hauling of his cargo to the plane. When The Prisoner wakes up, he can see the room he was just standing in through the open back door of the aircraft.

As he caresses the molehill protruding out the back of his head, “Why did you knock me out? It would have taken less time to just let me walk up here.”

“Maybee I wan’ned you t’mount me. Now shuh’da’fukc’ub and take what I ha’da geive you.”

The Prisoner shuts the fuck up.

KingPig gives, “Yuer miyassion is simple: one bullet, one target. He’s vertikally challenged, hayer as blak as naight, scrawniyer than me when they rescued my patheytic ass from that dawg pound…”

The Prisoner raises a patch of skin that once held an eyebrow.

“…and you only ha’the one shot to heit him. You shoun’t be fizikly caypable of meissing him, he’ll be aboard a stretched yellow transport vehicle. That bullet you have chambered there is very, very special, The Prisoner, very unique and very uneasily replicatable. If you fuck up, I promise your fears from before will come true. If you don’t, whether you believe my words or not, you’ll be released into the city and allowed to live out the rest of your life. We’ll even keep a picture of you in the database so none of our drones can pick you out of a crowd and publicly incinerate you when we go about culling the masses after we take over Cape Enterprises during its collapse following the success of today’s mission. Also, take these.”

KingPig hands The Prisoner two small black capsules, each with a button on one rounded end.

“There’s going to be opposition for you, and he’s going to be a real asshole about it. Look, all you have to do is press those buttons. The pilly doodads will unfold into subbies, and then, spray and pray, motherfucker. Light his ass up, don’t let him come back for seconds. Again, if you’re opposed and bested, you’re going to be killed. Not by us, but by the opposition. And he does not kill with friendship holding the grip of his Katanaxe.”

His browless skin still raised, “KingPig… what are you talking about? And what happened to your accent?”

“Fuck you and your accusations, there’s a man out there who wants to prevent you from securing your freedom. That man cannot be allowed to feel satisfied with his efforts at the end of his day. Understand?”


KingPig slaps the splintered end of his whoopstick against the callused, muddy palm of his hand.

“You have a cloaker on that belt a’yours.”

The Prisoner looks down and sees a utility belt strapped around his waist. He’s never worn a belt in his life, much less with utilities stored within.

“If you’re seen, you’re dead. If you miss the target, you’re dead. If you’re opposed and you can’t best the opposer, you’re dead. You do anything other than precisely what the Apex Corporation needs from you, you’re fucking dead.” He gently brushes his fingers down the length of The Prisoner’s closest arm. “Such pretty purple flesh… you know, there’s a species of fish that has blue flesh.”

The Prisoner lowers his nobrows just to raise them again.

“Yeah, a certain species of salmon. Real deep blue flesh, looks like an alien! The thing is though, it’s only blue when it’s raw; it turns white when it’s cooked.”


KingPig smiles and pats The Prisoner on the back like they were good buddies and KingPig just delivered a whole cord of firewood to The Prisoner for free and The Prisoner is in a wheelchair (I guess he will have to worry about that problem one day) so he couldn’t move any of the wood so KingPig did it all, and to thank him for the wood and the free labor, The Prisoner slung forth a dripping-cold brewski and KingPig caught it midair, and once the cans are cracked and the ale is slurped, a friendly pat on the back is shared from one man to the other to commemorate how their wonderful relationship has stayed strong over the years.

“Well I’m just wondering if the same’s gonna be true for you. I’m a mean bar-be-cuer, mister alien. I bet you ain’t never had Earth meat before. Beef, pork, poultry, human… it’s all so delicious.


A shapeless form drops unnoticed from a small aircraft. It lands on an arbitrary rooftop just as the cloaker runs out of juice. Huh, he didn’t need that parachute after all. No shit.

With his rifle strapped to his hands rather than his back, The Prisoner drops to his stomach and crawls to the edge of the highrise. The roof is hot, baked to a crisp, and the ice cubes you threw in the broth? They melted faster than your eyes could keep up with. When the barrel of the blaster ruins the day and reminds itself that it is, in fact, afraid of heights, The Prisoner looks down, too. This building may be arbitrary, but it’s the tall kind of arbitrary, the kind that the picker claims is arbitrary when the picker himself clearly has certain insecurities. No blip yet on his tracker… I wonder how high this is?

High enough to kill yourself, The Prisoner, don’t you worry. The Prisoner looks surprised, as if he didn’t think his mind could fall to such infantile depths as suicidal contemplation… but here he is, bottom sat on a rock just the same. It’s pretty obvious that this will, indeed, be his last mission for the Apex Corporation – and they can forget about the Christmas party – but will it also be the last mission as The Prisoner? The last stream of consciousness Beta’s spirit will be able to indulge in?

No. That would be too easy.

This isn’t his last mission. It can’t be. It cannot be, they’re not that honorable. They’re not the type of humans to let loose ends go until the sweater’s ruined. They fray a hemmed string and pluck it just to avoid the loose end in the first place! The special, unique bullet? It could easily be a bomb. The Prisoner wouldn’t be even the slightest bit surprised. Those capsules, too, who’s to say they won’t detonate when The Prisoner pushes the buttons? Who’s to say the plan isn’t to use The Prisoner’s delicate hands one last time before they’re blown off for good? Or worse, replaced by cybernetics, but regardless, who’s to say? KingPig? Sean Hymarc? When a lion eats its young, does it groom the cub first?

Time passes.

The tracker dings.

More time passes.

A foreign blip appears on the tracker.

Hymarc’s words echo in The Prisoner’s mind: ‘Remember, do not question what you’re meant to do. When the target approaches, pull the trigger and leave. If you are found and pursued, kill your pursuer. Do whatever you need to do to complete the mission and earn freedom. We want you to be free, Beta.’


The black of the crosshairs fade brilliantly into the target’s hair. The rifle’s ready, oh it done been ready, son, and the unique bullet is chambered. The single bullet, the special bullet. The only one of its kind. ‘Miss and you’re dead.’

The stretched yellow transport turned out to be a school bus, one gridlocked in traffic atop the kraken’s worth of tentaclish highways that loop and swerve around all the identical skyscrapers that make this city what it is: a regrettable human error. The bus is very similar to the ones in use on Fuego… in fact… no, it doesn’t matter. He’ll be back soon enough, there’s no point in making the comparison. He’ll soon be surrounded by the originals.

The bus continues forward towards a stoplight. Should only be thirty seconds before it jerks to a stop, and then? Pop. The Prisoner keeps the sight trained whip-style on his target, right above the boy’s ear and behind his temple. He won’t feel a thing, won’t hear a thing. Won’t even be aware that a trigger was pulled. It’s a merciful death, surely a better one than The Prisoner will receive upon the pulling of his trigger.

A stray thought enters The Prisoner’s mind and takes a piss on the yellow hydrant outside his lovely bi-level ranch-style suburban home. ‘When did this city get so many highways?’

Well that’s simple, The Prisoner. It didn’t.’

The Prisoner lets the trigger breathe as he plummets deep into a deranged state of panic. A schoolbus? A child? His mission, the only way to escape the clutches of Sean Hymarc and Doctor Torpol and those twisted psychopaths who call themselves the MERCs is to… assassinate a child?

Twenty seconds.

He… he can’t possibly, this is literally the one thing the Zerocian High Councils trained him not to do. Killing a child goes against the order of the Universe, against the Fuegan code of decency the Zeroc live their lives by.

Then again, so does being kidnapped and not rescued.

Ten seconds.

Yet still… he knew the risks when he jumped the jettison ship that day. It’s not up to the Zeroc to rescue him from the planet of the humans… the architecture, infrastructure, and language of which is identical to his homeworld.

His finger twitches.

Five seconds.


As he looks at a city that suddenly seems entirely unfamiliar to him, ‘How did I even get here?’

One second.


The bullet sears through the air, leaving a trail of burnt oxygen molecules in its wake. The sound is unlike anything Beta has ever heard, just an unhappy roar, high in pitch yet deep at the same time. And when it hits the bus? Beta isn’t even sure it makes a sound, but it makes a light. A bright, effervescent light, brilliant in force and blinding in lumens even from miles away. Once his vision returns to him, Beta refocuses his sight on the highway. The bus is in pieces and human offspring are scrambling about the road, panicked, trying not to get hit by the grown humans wildly swerving by in their automobiles. He sheds a tear and breaks the rifle in half, dropping it off the edge of the skyscraper.

The trigger is pulled. Only one thing left to do.

Beta brings out the teleportation device, or rather, the suicide bomb, his hands gripping the golden metal handles extruding from the glistening purple body of the thing. What’s to be lost at this point, exactly? The child’s dead. He hit rock bottom and kept on digging. And now the shovel’s broken.

Beta primes the device. The screen begins to count down.


Beta closes his eyes.


The Prisoner begins to tremble, as the air around him does the same. ‘When did they give me the teleporter?’


The device falls to the floor as The Prisoner is pulverized by a man in a suit of power armor come tearing through the sky.


The device blinks out of Existence.

The Prisoner is overcome by shock, only brought back to reality by the feeling of a quad-XL pane of window glass shattering against his back. They tumble across the floor, the man in the power armor caught by a support beam and The Prisoner scoring a gnarly dent in the sheetrock wall on the far side of the office. Dazed but intact, the assassin shakily rises and draws his capsules, hardly giving them enough time to unfold before pulling the triggers and unleashing a hailstorm of kinetic energy bullets in the direction of his adversary. After a moment, the triggers unpull. The resulting demon of smoke makes it impossible to land eyes on his target.

Then, accompanied by a pulse of energy, the power armor leaps towards The Prisoner, creating a hole where the dent in the wall once was.




Heavy metal gauntlets come down on The Prisoner’s fractured skull like a sledgehammer on a nail already driven into a board. With each blow The Prisoner feels the plates of his cranium loosening and drifting closer to his brain. His parietal lobe is punctured by the spines that line the interior of his skull. Blood is filling his ears, but he can still hear the screams of his adversary.

“The kid!?


“You killed the fucking kid?!


“Shoot me, shoot my friends, shoot fucking Hymarc!”


“But you don’t,




the fucking,”



The Prisoner makes an attempt to raise his weapons, but the man in the power armor doesn’t even give him the chance. Where there were once fists are now cannons, and from the barrels pour flames. The subbies are melted to The Prisoner’s hands, the triggers and the fingers that pull them are fused together, melded as one. Everything fades to black as an anguished scream fills the dusty air.


The Prisoner wakes to a chirping alarm. His existence is pain, there’s no feeling in his body other than the throbbing hollowness of ache. Above him, a slender man in a suit stands beside a rotund man in overalls. They plug a small device into each of his temples – The Prisoner is barely able to feel the pinch over the shattered nerves raising alarms throughout the rest of his body. The man in overalls turns and walks the other way, leaving The Prisoner alone with the suited man.

“You know what you did, you fucking monster,” growls the man in the black suit. “I’m sure you didn’t know what you were getting into. Judging by the color of your skin, you’re a slave of some sort, they imprisoned you. And for that, I should feel bad.

“But I don’t.

“You were forced to do it, sure, but you still did it, bucko. You pulled that trigger. You killed the kid. And you probably noticed that things were… off, up until the point that you did the deed. Different, mayhap, than you remember. Well, fuck your memories, that was then and this is now. Now, you’re going to relive then over and over and over again for the rest of your miserable waste of a fucking life, an extraterrestrial life no less! I mean fuck, dude! You were born on a different fucking planet and you still got slurped up by the vortex of suckass that is the daily goings on of planet Earth, sphere of the stinking humans. I don’t know if that speaks on your incompetence or to the asinine state of being the Earth allows her stewards to keep her in, but regardless, over and over again. The pain will never end. And I’ll be watching you the entire time, too, with a bucket of extra corny buttered salt and a sticky note crumpled up and wrapped in Cannabis flower buds.

“Then again, fuckstick, maybe I have been watching you this entire time. Maybe this entire time is a decade. Maybe we already know who put you up to it, maybe they’re already dead. Maybe we’re still torturing you because we think it’ll bring the kid back in some way, because you’re responsible for making us feel like we have to bring him back in some way. We know it won’t bring him back, we know he’s dead for good and we’ll never see his innocent, cherub face again, but we get a sick thrill out of watching you suffer. Well, I do, at least. Sigmund seems to have left the room, so… fuck you. I’d say go to hell, but hell is a fucking cakewalk compared to what you’re going to keep waking up to, over and over and over.”

The suited man raises his gloved fist and brings it down on The Prisoner’s forehead. He doesn’t get to see what happens next.

The Trigger


The Prisoner’s eyelids struggle to detach from the dried sponges that replaced his peepers as he slept through the night. His body stings with every move he makes. His mind is dull, numb, a muffled presence only somewhat held within the confines of his skull. This is a better morning than most.

When the screaming stops, Hymarc can get a word in edgewise.

“BETA!! Calm down, Christ!”

Beta opens his eyes to find himself centimeters away from a pair of the cloudiest eyes he’s ever seen. His hands immediately fly to his skull and he takes his first conscious breath when he feels that his head’s still intact. Then he sits up straight, waits for the blood to flow back into that intact head, and when his eyes can see more than black clouds of unconsciousness, he checks his surroundings.

It’s the lobby of the Apex Corporation. Lots of boxes, too. No suited man, but lots of boxes. Suited men, but they’re suited in mover’s uniforms. No the suited man in his terrible black suit.

“What’s going on here?”

Hymarc takes a puff of a joint and exhales through a smile, and evidently a contagious one.

“Well, Beta, we’ve won. Cape Enterprises Uncorporated now officially belongs to the Apex Corporation. It’s been dissolved, all assets are being transported to the facilities, and when that purple tower is emptied? We’ll transport it all back, along with all of my Apex stuff.”

He holds up a hand, as if to offer a high five, and says, “We won dude, new home base!”

Beta doesn’t slap him five. “So why am I here?”

“Hm? Oh,” before taking his sweet time burning the end of his happystick, a happystick that doesn’t seem to shrink. “Well, that’s a good question. Uh, Mister Cape had a whole room of these things, they look like coffins.” Hymarc slaps Beta’s coffin, the interior lined with electrodes rather than linens. “We opened this and poof, there you were. When the light hit your face, you started screaming. By the way, all the other ones? Empty. You were the only one, Beta.”

“It…” mumbled to himself, “it was a simulation…”


Hymarc hits the wall, but doesn’t drop his joint. Beta breaks one of the hinges on the right door when he pushes both doors open on his way out, but not the one on the left. I wonder why his right arm is stronger.

You know who doesn’t wonder that? The Hobo.

You know why? He’s far too busy wondering how the fuck The Prisoner is going to construct them a spaceship like the scoundrel promised he would.

“There’s no need to call me that, I am free. I may be Beta now.

The Hobo’s eyes light up. “Wehl naow I c’n tells ya my name!”

“…Okay, shoot.”

“It’s Hilter. Mister Hilter Billison, of the Bee-two Car Wash out of Buttfuck, Kentucky. Why be Aye-one with everyone lookin’ at ya? Be Bee-two, blend in and get your sheit done.” He spits on the ground. The glob is darker than the pavement. “Aye-men.”

Beta passes the joint to Hilter Billison. “Well, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mister Hilter Billison.”

A traffic jam-up the likes of which not even W-63’s New Jersey could generate in its bedridden plutocratic fuck New Jersey it’s so corrupt here.

He passes the joint back. “The pleshur’s all mine, Mistah Beta. Sheit, so when d’y’reckon we’re gettin’ off this mediocre rock?”

A car caught in the jam has its back bumper lovetapped by the car behind him. Yeah, the car made of pillows. Enraged but averse to whipping out the laser pistol that some teenager in a trench coat sold him, the driver lays on the horn. Five times. In succession.


Beta’s eyes go wide. That noise, that succession of beeps… that marked the simulation. That was his transition from scene to scene, that was the disturbance that kept his mind spinning fast enough to not question his surroundings. The beeping is the anchor, it kept him distracted, enamored and asleep in that dreadful matrix the suited man trapped him in. The beeping is the trigger, the greatest weapon of the simulation. Now it serves as a key, a marker of the way out.

“Beta?” Hilter asks, fiendin’ for that joint back. “You fid’na pass thAHH!”

Beta pins Hilter down, closing his throat with the hand that holds the joint. Choking noises follow.

“You’re not real, none of this is real.”

A tear drips from Hilter’s eye, runs down his cheekbone, and sinks into his ear. All of the sounds going into that ear become immediately muffled, but he can still hear Beta’s words. How could he not? When a lunatic speaks, you’re best to listen, lest you end up in his grasp.

“I’ll never know real again…” said to the space between himself and Hilter. A space that closes as rapidly as it expands, that ends as quickly as it started, just like this moment from the perspective of The Hobo.

Beta removes the joint from the crevice in his fingers and tokes steadily, and hard at that. Then, he shoves the ember into Hilter’s left eye, then the right one, keeping his vicegrip on the man’s throat. The screaming doesn’t stop until it does.

“One last mission now, Beta.”

He reaches into the right pocket of his skintight pants, a pocket that appeared only a moment ago, and feels what he knew would be there. He presses the button and the capsule unfolds in his hand, the trigger licking the top fold of the inside of his finger.

“Just pull the trigger.”


White Beaches

I wake to white beaches.

Hello Commons, this has been the sixth story from the fourth chapter of The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|, a satirical short story anthology about Existence and the universes that float within it. |The Sideshows| is the final book of the First Spiral, a longer story called The Highest One Writing.

The Highest One Writing is a story about an author told through the books he wrote. It starts with a self-help book and ends with the destruction of Existence. Also, it may or may not take you to the depths of insanity and back.

|The Sideshows| is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like |The Sideshows| and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here, OR you can buy the ebook for even cheaper here.

If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. Be well Commons~

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