• • •
“Whut in tarnation…?”
The image of Jonathan Knox zooms out to fill only the right half of the screen. On the other half is a fantastic-looking ‘man dressed like an anchor sitting at an ocean-colored desk with a stack of seaweed-paper clutched in his hands. Behind him is a shot of the sun rising through a pink sky – sailor’s warning – obscured by silhouetted trees. The sailor-type looks up from his papers as if he didn’t know he was being filmed, then smiles.
“Good morning fellow consumers of Wuester, New Jersey. I’m your local The Internet Culture Company newsman Kasey James with an update on this morning’s earthquake many of us felt shaking the foundation of our humble homes just as we were crawling out of bed.”
“I was wonderin’ about that,” Courtney says, hanging off the edge of her seat. “Woke me right out’a slumber, it did.”
Jonathan Knox didn’t feel the earthquake. Weird.
“Our The Internet Culture Company sources have informed us the earthquake was, indeed, an earthquake, but one without a natural cause.”
Jonathan Knox can’t take his eyes off the image of himself. He came here through the lake, his clothing was ruined from the get-go. How did they get that picture?
“As anybody living near its sandy shores will know, while tremors shot through the ground beneath our feet, our beloved local hotspot Lake Atacama mysteriously began to drain. The Internet Culture Company hastily dispatched a team of fixers from their headquarters out in Bur City, and I’m told the leak is now patched, but that’s not what this breaking update is about. The source of the leak is sabotage, ladies and gentlemen, and the saboteur is the man pictured next to me.”
Courtney and Cletus look to Knoxxi Boi with expressions of curiosity and budding awe, then they turn back to the floating televisionless screen.
“This man’s name is Jonathan Knox. Early this morning, while all of us were defenselessly asleep in our warm beds, in our humble homes, this maniacal villain wormed his way into the local headquarters of The Internet Culture Company. That’s right, this fiend somehow managed to best The Internet Culture Company’s submersible security teamsquad and break into the Compound ‘neath Atacama, and from there his rampage only continued. Jonathan Knox took out no less than three-quarters of the working staff – that’s over eight hundred human beings just like you and me, ladies and gentlemen – and proceeded to plant explosives everywhere throughout the massive hundred-story facility. Then, he pressed the button, and the Earth shook as the whole thing was eradicated. I… I’m very sorry to say there were no survivors.”
The budding awe has bloomed into a full-grown garden.
“Except for one, of course: the perpetrator himself, Jonathan Knox. This mad terrorist is on the run somewhere in our town, ladies and gentlemen, and he’s presumed armed and extremely dangerous. If you spot him, do not attempt a confrontation; one massacre is enough, Wuester does not need another. Not today. I’m hearing that The Internet Culture Company has their most competent surveillance technicians working overtime trying to lock onto his tracker chip but they cannot seem to find him, it’s almost as if this wretched Jonathan Knox has come from another planet entirely… or perhaps another time…! It’s not my place to say. What I can tell you, however, is the Wu Star Motel has been involved in the matter, so with a little bit of luck this should all be swept under the rug and stapled down tight by sundown tomorrow the latest. Rest easy, citizens of Wuester; it will all be over soon.
“That’s all I have for now. This is Kasey James, your local The Internet Culture Company newsman, signing off.”
Cletus, his bottom jaw brushing against the bulge in his lap, lifts the chromote and shuts the television off. The whirring beneath the black dome ceases at once, and the cabin is locked into silence.
Then, “Well I’ll be damned, Knoxx–… Jonathan Knox. I’ll be God-damned.”
Jonathan Knox can’t seem to speak.
“Jonathan,” Courtney quivers, resting a hand softly on his shoulder. “You… you’re amazing. How did you do it?”
Trembling, he asks, “Wh… what?”
“How did you do it, Jonathan Knox?” Cletus’s entire form, that’s right, all of it, is turned to face the house guest. “You got the droolin’ foot, and we came up to check on ya right after the quake was over. You were in bed. How in Wuester did you do it?”
“I didn’t, you Goddamned fools!” Jonathan Knox shouts. He then begins to say about thirty-four or so different words, but none of them make it past the first syllable, then he just starts screaming. Jonathan Knox screams and screams, and the Does let him scream his piece. When he’s done and he’s caught his breath, he says, “How is this possible? How do they have that picture? I don’t…” His glasses smush against his eyes when his head falls into his hands, but he doesn’t hardly care. “I don’t understand any of this.”
“Well the picture part’s easy,” Cletus says. “They fabricated it, just like they do with our food. If they can make longpork, they can make a picture a’you. What I don’t understand is why they can’t find y’r brainchip, Knoxxi Boi. Is what Kasey James postulated on for us all to hear and take and maybe, just maybe, even learn something about the world through just now… true? Are you… are you a space alien from a differ’nt time? ”
“NO!! ” Jonathan Knox shouts. “I’m… it’s a long story, but I’m not from here. This planet, I mean. This version of Earth.”
“This version? What does that mean?”
“I hardly know myself, Courtney.” Jonathan Knox stands up and hobbles in place. “What the fuck… just what the fuck is all of this?”
“Jonathan Knox,” says Cletus, rising from the couch. “This maight be the greatest thing t’ever happen to our town. You destroyed The Internet Culture Company’s headquarters, you’re a hero! You may as well be God, young ‘man!”
“I didn’t destroy the fucking Compound, I was here! None of this makes any Godd–… wait, you just said my name,” Jonathan panics. “My full name, you both just said it!”
“They’re listening to us! You both fucking told me they’re always listening! So they know I’m here! They’re going to come for me! ”
Cletus shrugs. “Let ‘em come.”
“You might be our new hero, Knoxxi Boi,” says Courtney as she slithers up behind Jonathan Knox, “but that don’t change a damn thing. We’re still go’n’ roast you on the spit and eat you up.”
“That’s raight,” Cletus says, lumbering in close. “Every last bit’a’you’s go’n’ fill our tummies f’r lunch, Knoxxi Boi.”
A total loss for words.
“Trust me, this way is better f’r you,” Cletus says. He chucks the remote back into the couch and heads for the door. “Kasey James said it himself, the Wu Star Motel is now involved. What we’re givin’ you is nothin’ short of a mercy killin’. Trust me, you do not want to refuse our offer.”
“Not like you have a choice in the matter,” Courtney says, pressing her heel into the top of Jonathan Knox’s droolin’ right foot and covering his mouth so she doesn’t have to listen’a’that whiny scream of his. “Y’cain’t ‘xactly escape on y’r own.”
Jonathan Knox is hard to kill. That’s what he was told, all those years. What a heaping pile of shit.
“Well c’m’on now,” Cletus says, holding the door open with one foot. “Imma get the fire goin’, Courtney’s gon’ prepare the utensils, and you, Knoxxi Boi? You’re gon’ hit the shithouse and void out all y’r bowels. We don’t want y’meat to spoil from the inside’r’nothin’.”
Courtney leads Knoxxi out by the arm, and Cletus slaps him hard on the back because he’s not hobbling to his death quite fast enough. The shithouse door doesn’t lock. Jonathan Knox is technically free to split just as soon as Courtney walks away to tend to her pre-cannibalistic duties… but doing so would be pointless. He’s in the backyard, they’re in the sideyard. He has one good foot, they have a combined four. Resistance is futile. Jonathan Knox cannot escape from reality.
Jonathan Knox pulls his pants down and begins to void his bowels, just like the ‘mans who will soon be gnawing his flesh commanded. Nothing comes at first, so Jonathan Knox has to give himself a stomach massage. Minutes pass. The world goes quiet outside the shithouse, aside from that little bit of yelling. Jonathan Knox keeps kneading his belly. The turtle eventually pokes its head out of its shell to take a look around.
And that’s when the shooting begins.
This has been the end of the last subchapter of the first chapter of the book Over the River: The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox. Here is everything you need to know about it:
Over the River
The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox
Over the River is the third book in a trilogy called The Fall of the Seven Earths. I’ve also released that trilogy as a single book called The Fall of the Seven Earths. Here’s everything you need to know about it:
The Fall of the Seven Earths
The Hillside Commons is an actual library of content. Click here to peruse.
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If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~