The Pulse: New York
Prophecy 3: The Storm Troopers Return
As flies to wanton boys are we to th'gods; they kill us for their sport. (King Lear 4.1)
The rain, whipping the streets of Manhattan like an angry god, hadn’t let up for weeks. On the ground, Bright Bark newsmen shouted orders to their underlings at The New York Times. High above, the newly-installed gargoyles of Fifth Avenue were fitted with anodized high-volume Incisor speakers. These trumpeted the orders of their angry leader to every corner of the city.
The blue teeth of the gargoyles received the orders in brief bursts, at all hours of the morning. Their job was to magnify and repeat these ranting tweets throughout the day, far and wide. Even the fans at White-Power rock concerts at Odin's Rage (formerly The Apollo) could hear the roar of their commander-in-chief. Patrons in the Grand Central Oyster Bar cut their lips on the shells, which, like the tables, vibrated because of the high volumes.
The great furnaces of Chelwich and Sochin were running full blast, stoked by the stiff bodies of Guatemalan children. These children, born amid the garbage heaps of Basurero, had drifted into the dangerous centre of Guatemala City. From gangland slums they made it North, finally crossing the Mexican desert in 40 days and 40 nights. Once over the Rio Grande, they were seized immediately and repatriated to the unheated maquiladoras of the Greater Washington Square Park Industrial Zone. When their tiny fingers could no longer fold soft-shelled tacos, they were tossed into the flames.
In a room beneath Starbucks Meagan stopped to look out an iron gate to the street above. Immediately she felt a jolt of electricity and leaned once again into the wheel to which she, Kristy, and a dozen Mexicans were fixed. Together, they turned this wheel day and night, in shifts, so that the coffee beans would rotate in their bed of charcoal and hallucinogens. The coffee was considered an essential service, since it kept the red eyes glowing in the towers above. It was essential — like stop, frisk and beat or like search, enter, and discharge — and anyone involved in its production was granted a waiver from the burden of having to strike, resist, or complain.
Remembering not to pause, Meaghan looked up again. She saw six birds swooping over Hell's Kitchen. They clipped several Union sympathizers and an aged rock star on 52nd Street, and then lifted their dazed bodies to the waters past Pier 666, where the sludge from the factories poured lethal chemicals into the harbour. The birds dropped their prey and cawed six times each — a signal for the mutant sharks to dispense with the terrorists. The Union sympathizers and rock star were just starting to gain consciousness when their bodies hit the cold water thrashing and screaming.
Beneath the leaden sky, the Lady of the Harbour was green with shame. She put a white bandana over her eyes so that she wouldn’t see the Nazguls swooping across the city — or the Dream-Catcher drones that swept away all traces of hope from anyone who still dared to look upward to the bread of angels. Anyone who still dared to think about the huddled masses.
Each drone was fitted on its underside with a metaphor blade, which whirled off the puffed-up head of any poet who wrote about the West Wind or the breath of Autumn’s being. Across her bandana was written in tar: STRUMPET TOWERING.
The Lady of Our Sorrows sorrowed in a moonlit water-garden of tears, the scapegoat of sinners she couldn’t stop. Rain flogged her graceful back like a discipline, and lightning struck her like the thunderbolt of an angry congressman. She was the last martyr, before the barbarian hordes sacked the ruins of the country, from the L.A. Coliseum to Madison Square Gardens.
Yet still the pilgrims came to her, gathered in hopeful groups, from every corner of the globe. Each one carried a little flame from the divine spark.
Some thought they saw unicorns. All prayed for the sky to open above them and lift them into Heaven or outer space
But it was all in vain. The Storm Troopers had been waiting for decades. The old gunships loaded with napalm had sat idle for too long, leaking dioxin, picloram, and cacodylic acid from the gunwales. All the blessings of democracy the Troopers once rained down upon Southeast Asia: rivers of flame, agents orange and agents purple, agents pink, red, white, black and blue.
The airships of the Storm Troopers lifted from the massive concrete pads that stood atop the flattened Met. They flew over the dark and battered streets of Manhattan, casting deep shadows over the coal-market of Times Square. Slowly but steadily, they wheeled toward the forbidden gathering across the water.
Next: All Shook Up