“Three” if by fire
3 -Hiss of Death
The armed alien-lizards targeted their prey with the grace and precision of synchronized dancers…and the guaranteed-deadly accuracy of point-blank range. Around the chamber, from each of their handheld devices, explosive, high-pitched whines ensued, like tiny jet engines pushed beyond full throttle. Then “Ss-s-s-s.” Light speed pulses of paralyzing energy engulfed then consumed each guard.
Their armor resisted the heat a moment longer. Going from red through orange to yellow-hot while the bodies inside turned straight to ash. In dreamland stop motion, Yoshi could see each of the charred men, like those tragically immortalized in Pompeii. But, then, like spent fireworks, the human residue fell silently to the floor, creating small impersonal heaps, three small lumps of silver, no doubt, somewhere within.
The scriptwriting dreamer left the audience unharmed. They sat gap-mouthed; blessedly silenced.
The President and those behind him looked about. Equally dumbfounded, they variously fingered their phones and hurriedly shouted for help, or looked one way or the other for magical new-knights-in-black-armor to save them, or, in the case of the several female cabinet heads, tried to heave themselves out of their throne-like high backed chairs. Probably, Yoshi guessed, to duck their heavy carcasses under cover of the expansive uni-desk.
But they all stopped; remained motionless – even the women with pampered behinds midair – while an even taller lizard-man shape wavered into view directly in front of the equally stunned Dear-Leader.
This alien terrorist held out an identical killing-device. Swept it back and forth the full width of the dais: an arc of potential-death. And they all knew it.
He’s eight-foot for sure, Yoshi thought. The creature was on the floor of the Senate, yet still had to slouch down to look the President straight in the eye.
“Ladies, ladies,” the creature’s bass tones resonated off all the old wood as it turned to face the bulk of the crowd. Many now cringed in their seats, some held neighbors’ hands fearing their blaze-of-glory was nigh. “Oh, and of course,” the creature continued, “Gentle men…”
It cleared its throat and spat. Velocity combined with the thing’s height caused a two-birds-with-one-stone hit on a pair of female Senators in the front row. The one whose skin had been spattered yowled in pain. She began pawing at the spot.
Is it acidic? Yoshi wondered.
“Your kind…” the alien’s weapon-waving indicated the full chamber plus the podium-ittes, who also wept and cowered, “tried this Tyranny Thing once before…back when your shock troops wore red coats,” it said, and whipped the parchment from the President’s now-weakened grip. This tallest creature, trying to pass as human, handed it off to an associate who’d appeared magically.
“Shall I–” the aide began.
The giant one cut in, “Yes. With the others. Well outside the blast-zone…” Then it went back to its angry history lesson. “Once upon a time, on our Earth, like on yours, a being named Paul Revere waited for a signal. A warning actually. On the eve of your first great war of secession…Remember?”
The political bobble heads looked confused – including the DLOTFW.
Word by word the creature’s volume escalated, “You broke away? From the British? The monarchy?”
Now the bobble heads all began nodding.
“Finally!” the alien said, then coaxed, “One if by…” and waited. Shouts came from behind, “land.” The creature showed some teeth.
He’s smiling, Yoshi realized. He also realized he himself was no longer in the gallery, but hovered right over the action.
“Good. Someone’s not scared totally stupid. So, one if by land and two if by – what about you, King? I mean, Mr. President…two if by what?”
The skinny man’s face was a sickly medium gray, his hair totally white. He stammered, “Truh…train?” His eyes easily wide enough, now, to stick in soft contacts. And Yoshi could see his Adam’s apple go up then down a few times.
“Land, you fool!” it spat again, liquid sizzling on, and a wispy chemical trail going up from, a teleprompter screen, “Two if by land…Today, Mr. President, you and everyone here can call me Paul Revere…because I’m here to warn you, something wicked-good’s this way coming. By fire. And that rhymes with ‘ire,’ sire.”
The thing let out a belly laugh and slapped the podium.
The President jumped, went paler gray and put a hand to his mouth as if holding a sickness back. Murmuring came from all points in the chamber, but not a single person rose in an attempt to help…or to flee. Rather, helpless sobs came from the heavily female crowd, especially those behind the President.
“Paul” turned to address the chamber again.
He shouted, “Boys!” nodded toward the perimeter and instantly some half dozen invaders appeared alongside him; took a stance facing various cabinet members and guests, and aimed their disintegrator-guns.
Paul continued, “To you Congressmen…and your media whores, up there – and elsewhere,” he panned the balcony with his dis-gun, “I suggest all of you, and quick, get right with your Creator…or your Evolver, as the case may be. Oh, and if there actually is a Judgment, why not be safe; figure out in these remaining moments how you’ll explain yourselves to those old, dead, White guys who bequeathed this once-great land to you. Why you systematically fleeced, then dismantled, and finally turned this whole once-beautiful American experiment full-of-promise, into this tyrannical nightmare of a shambles…”
One by one the “boys” confirmed their target – consulting a cellphone or similar – then rattled off the name before sending a pulsar to toast the politician. From Mr. Ketchup, Mr. Wayco, and Mr. McModerate on one side, to Mrs. Ben Gazzy, Mr. FastenFurious, and Mr. Chucky in the middle. Finally only the far side lizard-man’s quarry remained. In quick succession he dispatched Mr. TwoShotgunBlasts and Mrs. Turn-‘em-all-in-America. The latter, like most of the others, had continuously blubbered or balled like a baby, face covered with her hands, muffling her, “Stops,” her “Please, no,” her “What do you want?” and finally, “Oh, Dear God…”
Yoshi’s heart was beating fast and still it picked up speed. Front and center of the Senate, behind the remaining Politician-in-Chief, twelve velveteen chairs now sat empty, save for the smoking cushions and matching ash piles.
I wonder what the President’s nickname is?
As if snapping out of a trance the hundreds of congressmen and gallery visitors were up on their feet and crowding for the doors. Maybe they finally realized that getting a ray-gun blast in the back was no worse than getting it facing-forward.
Paul again said, “Boys?” and nodded to his cohorts. Except for him, the invaders now left as they had arrived: like an image suspended in midair slowly fading from translucent to a transparent quavering, then nothingness. Like a Pyrrhic victor, the President stood gripping the edges of his podium, white knuckled, beads of sweat gilding his forehead.
At the exits people were piling up. The doors were jammed. Or locked. They’d surely trample one another to death.
Was that the plan? Yoshi wondered. But with a loud hollow, “Clunk!” the heavy wooden doors released and the mass of bodies streamed out into the marble halls. The echoes from the herd of scared humanity died away.
The Leader-of-the-Free-World flopped down wearily on a chair which had appeared behind his podium. He glanced up at the creature but didn’t whimper or whine, nor did he beg or even pray.
He knows. Knows what he was going to do was…Yoshi stopped the thought.
“Well,” Paul began, “gotta go, but make sure you say Hell-lo to your leadership-mentors, especially those presidential comrades.” As the eight-foot form began to fade he turned towards the dreamer. His bulbous red eyes were slit vertically, like some devil cat’s.
The thing winked at him! Like Yoshi was in on the slaughter he’d just witnessed.
“Freedom can be yours, Yoshi,” the alien said, almost wistfully, “but only if you and your generation have the wherewithal to…” He vanished before he finished.
“To what?” Yoshi cried out, voice strong finally, “To keep it? To resurrect it? Or murder for it?” His head was spinning so he closed his eyes.
The alarm screeched.
END PART III of V