"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."
-Thomas Jefferson; The Declaration of Independence.
As the sun comes up pink and smoky over the alfalfa field where they're lying, on the edge of I-99 just south of Bakersfield, you can still see the orange glow of the flames billowing up from the former concentration camp in the distance. The prison guards weren't expecting to be invaded; most of them were killed or ran off into the fields within the first couple minutes of the militia's assault. Not a single member of the Kern County Militia was even wounded; after running around taking target practice in the high sierra every friday thru sunday for several decades, they were much better trained than the average national guardsman. When all was said and done, they didn't really have to torch the place after freeing the prisoners; they just thought it would be a nice touch.
They sent the orange-suited prisoners packing Eastward after the jailbreak, into the low limestone hills. Armed a few of the men with hunting knives so they could get themselves some food. Plenty to be had off the land right now, during the transition. It will be a few days still before the government has all the slave-labor crews from the quarantines out working the fields again. That is, if the militia fail in its mission.
They're lying in the thick alfalfa, spread out in rows denominated by rank behind their victorious General. Next to the General is a smallish, dark-haired kid with big black eyes and not a lot of meat on his bones. The kid's wearing a borrowed Militia uniform, but he ain't no militia-man. The rumor passing back through the ranks is that the kid is actually a Jew, and several of the more outspoken officers have wondered aloud whether the General isn't being led into a Jewish Trap, the kind they've all heard about. The General is aware of the morale issue but has said nothing. Not one of them would dare to confront him now, the Founder of the Kern County Militia, the Liberator of Bakersfield.
Interestingly, some of the lieutenants in securing the camp were observant enough note that the prisoners they were liberating didn't seem much like Bakersfield residents. But the General silenced any such speculation with his glorious victory speech, announcing the liberation of the Bakersfield/Lamont/Weed Patch metropolitan region over the camp's loudspeaker system even as the bullets were still flying.
Lieutenant Sanderson, ever the loyal ass-licker, passes the message back through the ranks to "remember the Hessians in the Revolutionary War." They've all learned about it as part of their training. General Washington couldn't have mustered his troops in the snows of Valley Forge without the help of the Hessians; and Hessians were basically Krauts. So the lesson is that foreigners of all stripes can be useful in times of combat, even if they themselves don't have the balls to fight.
"Anyway," whispers toothless Ruthless to anyone who'll listen, "I found the kid; he must be a tough bastard 'cause he escaped from the camp all by hisself, naked an' covered in cowshit." The men, one by one, take note of these facts.
The sun has crested the hills, blazing strongly through the browning smoke behind them, when the first of the lookouts radios the message: red semi tractor-trailer, northbound, moving fast. Chevy gets up, stands on the ridged shoulder of the interstate, waving toward the distant truck as it becomes visible through the rippling layers of heat rising off the asphalt.
The semi rolls up and hisses to a stop. Kenny, alone in the driver's seat of the cab, waves back to Chevy. "How do you like our new ride?" He exclaims, "We found it on the Univesal lot! It's a lot safer than the Battlestar. We're calling it the Deathbot. Got us right through the checkpoint at Valencia!"
Kenny's dressed up in full trucker drag, checkered flannel and a mesh hat that says "Born to Rock" over a Rolling Rock beer logo. He's a smooth "33" alright. General Reynolds is already opening the trailer behind the truck, shedding light on a rolling Wetnesses practice session that's been plugged in since 5 AM around Will's drum set. They've got lights set up and everything. Several bottles of whiskey and vodka in various states of emptiness are still caroming around the big empty container space. One half-full handle is trapped between Nick's legs. He looks up, ungluing his eyes from a Hustler magazine he's been reading cover to cover.
"Who the fuck are you, dude?" Doonan asks.
The General whistles and a hundred or so militia men stream up into the truck, harshing the Wetnesses' musical vibe for the moment.
Chevy gets in there too, dressed in his spanking-new camos, shakes hands with Doonan like two old soldiers about to go into battle one more time.
"Mind if I jam with you guys?" Chevy asks.
"Sure," says Joey, "take my ax, it sucks."
"Hey," Nick is up and talking with the General, "you got an extra gun?"
"Sure," Reynolds grins. "Know how to shoot?"
With a jolt that sets them all wobbling on their feet, the semi pulls off northward.
"What'd you wanna play?" Will asks Chevy.
"Let's practice the first song off the EP," Chevy says, "you know which one."
The afternoon is fading on September 11th, 2008. Most of the Wetnesses are passed out on each other, focused militia-men standing guard around them. The big red truck with the unmarked white trailer turs sharply between giant redwoods into a long, unmarked driveway that leads up to the Bohemian Club Forest in Sonoma, north of San Francisco.
The truck stops suddenly and everyone in the back gets real quiet. They shouldn't worry, though; Kenny is on it.
A guard is hassling him with a list that he isn't on.
"Party supplies, man," Kenny insists, keeping cool under his mesh hat. "See how there's nothing written on this truck? That's 'cause it's a Halliburton truck."
Two guards open the back of the trailer. What they see is a camouflage net slung over the opening and a big stack of unmarked wooden crates. They wave the truck through.
"Alright," says General Reynolds, "keep it cool. Wetnesses, you're up front."
Black-booted feet poke gently at the Wetnesses feet, rousing them from their drunken stupor. As the truck rolls slowly down the long private driveway, crates are shifted with military precision, netting is moved further back, the Wetnesses are placed up front nearest the entrance.
The truck stops and the trailer door opens from the outside.
"This shit looks pretty heavy," Kenny notes softly as Doonan, Will, Joey and Billie jump out. Chevy, in his camouflage, is sitting patiently in the sweaty heat back behind the crates, Will's girlfriend curled up sleeping against his shoulder.
The Wetnesses are standing next to a large lake set in a meadow with enormous, old-growth redwoods towering in Erisian chaos all around it. They're at ground zero of a bohemian clubhouse that started in the late 19th Century; was hijacked in the 20th by powerful, well-to-do WASPs with a penchant for corporate collusion; and has in the 21st taken on the mantle of the Illuminati and decided to remake the world to its specifications. Including reducing the world population by about 5.5 billion. Historical members of the club have included Nixon, Reagan and Eisenhower; current members are Bush, Cheney and most of their cabinet, as well as the chairmen of Halliburton, Lockheed, Global Defense and GE.
The band, to be sure, has no idea what kind of sitch they're about to walk into. But they've been pretty thoroughly briefed about eight times for what they're supposed to do next.
Soon as they jump out the back of the semi they start attracting attention. A pair of elderly men, armed with gin and tonics, promenade up from one of the scattered knots of frolicking WASPs who are lounging in the woods at the edge of the lake.
"Oh!" one of the octagenarians exclaims, his curled white wig jiggling with grotesquely coquettish lust, "They must be Air Supply's crew!"
"Come along, Walter," says the other man, taking him by the arm, "let them do their work."
Doonan, who is now naturally in charge, looks around and sees a stage on the opposite side of the lake. Behind it rises a colossal wooden statue of an owl. The statue stands about three stories high, glowering at all assembled.
"That's where we make our move," he points. They grab as many amps and drum sets as they can carry and start off around the water. Groups of old folks keep coming by throwing weird comments their way.
"Are you gonna do Dust in the Wind?" one doddering old idiot wants to know.
The day is waning; in truth, the Wetnesses are on the brink of collapsing under their heavy loads. Sleep hangs heavily in all their minds; aside from a few dizzy, drunken hours crammed behind a batchy militia in the back of the trailer, they've gotten exactly zero in the last thirty-six. Still, the prospect of waking all these fogies up with some heavy rock has them pretty amped.
"We're gonna warp some minds," Kenny remarks, lugging the bass head on his shoulders like Jesus' cross. Doonan and Will laugh.
"Well look who it is," comes a voice through the trees. The Wetnesses stop as a unit and set down their gear. "Doonan, I didn't know you were...associated with...the Club."
Doonan knows the voice. He grins a row of small, neat teeth, says nothing.
"And Joey," sneers another voice, "I didn't know you could sing." The speakers emerge from the redwoods, two tall, skinny figures in slashed-up Armani suits.
Doonan is standing nose to nose with Albert, the curly-headed guitarist from the Cokes. Albert's counterpart, Julian, is facing off with Joey in a lead-singer-death-match. The rest of the Cokes and the Wetnesses hang back. They eye each other warily.
"We're just the band," Doonan shrugs toward Albert.
"No," Julian butts in, "we're the band. You guys are the openers."
"Whatever," Joey rolls his eyes.
"Hey Billie," Albert spits over Doonan's shoulder. "I can't believe you're still playing with these losers. Why don't you hang out with us, baby?"
"Maybe 'cause I still have a fragment of a fucking soul," Billie returns.
The Cokes look at each other, dismayed.
"Good luck," Julian hisses, stepping aside reluctantly, "you guys need it."
The Wetnesses pick up their gear again.
"Fucking corporate asswipes," Joey mumbles as they clear the two, "that's a sad story."
"Yeah," Kenny replies, loud enough for the Cokes to hear, "who needs luck when your dads pay chicks to come to your shows."
Julian Casaverdes, son of the boss of the second-largest modeling agency in Europe, steps forward aggressively, gets all up in Kenny's business. Albert reaches out and restrains him with an arm.
"Chill," Albert soothes, "don't fuck up our sponsorships."
After a few tense seconds, Julian backs down. The Wetnesses trundle along with their gear, heading for the stage.
Several older men in long black and red robes are stacking wood for a tall bonfire beneath the encircling wingtips of the gargantuan owl. Absorbed in their labors, they don't even seem to hear the band's casual greetings. One of the robed dudes is squirting can after can of lighter fluid onto the wood as it's piled up.
"Free pyrotechnics," Will comments, "nice gig."
"Wait'll they see our shit," Billie giggles, hoisting a keyboard twice her size up onto its stand.
With a an unexpected whoomp and a sudden inrush of air, the bonfire behind them ignites into a huge fireball.
"Great White, move over," Kenny grins as the flames leap up between the wings of the big wooden idol.
"Sweet," Doonan looks up at the owl. Its eyes glow a strange, hypnotic red in the firelight.
Lots of old guys are emerging from the twilit woods now, pulling red robes on over their white golfing attire, drawn in by the firelight. There are no women to be seen.
"Hey, notice something weird?" Joey asks under his breath as he unravels a long guitar cable.
"Yeah, is this like a gay club or something?" Will hypothesizes.
"Nah," says Billie, who's already silently endured three or four groping attempts as she wound around the lake. "I just hope they aren't planning on sacrificing a virgin or whatever."
"Not like you'd have anything to worry about," Joey quips.
"Hand me that key?" says Will, kneeling and balancing a snare drum on his elbow.
"We better clear out," Doonan observes, "they're coming."
Several men in black and red robes are climbing up onto the stage. They're differentiated from the rest of the tribe by their red masks and elaborate golden head-dresses.
"Like the horns of that guy in Indiana Jones," says Will.
"Molaram sugaram," Kenny monotones.
Will replies with two kicks on the bass drum. Boom. Boom.
"Come on," Doonan repeats, jumping off the side of the stage. In the flickering red glow he discerns several familiar faces mixing in the crowd. President Bush is here, just like Chevy said he'd be; he's having a laugh right now with John Kerry, the guy he beat in the last election. Paul whats-is-name, with the big ears, is talking policy with Bill O'Hannity off Fox News. They're both nodding and smiling. John Ashcroft is standing facing toward the water -- he's doing something odd, at first Doonan doesn't believe his eyes -- Ashcroft has his robes pulled up around his waist and is publicly masturbating into the lake. There's a big shit-eating grin on his pudgy face; it is the face of a human anteater. Doonan averts his eyes from the horrific sight, makes a mental note not to go swimming.
The assembled statesmen, CEOs and dignitaries fall silent. The central golden-horned man on the stage begins to speak, his voice booming and rasping over the PA.
"Friends!" The masked figure declares in a strangely familiar Yiddish baritone, "Bohemians! At zis moment of our victory ve give thanks to Molech!"
"That's Henry fucking Kissinger," Kenny whispers.
"Shit, you're right," Doonan gasps.
"...O He of many names," Kissinger is expounding, "...He of the fires below..."
"I thought all these guys were all born-again Christians," Doonan mumbles.
"...that He may swallow up our cares for the world in His flames..."
"So this owl is the Mole-lock?" Will wonders.
"...that ve vill rule in his name for a thousand years! And so ve commence ze Cremation of Care!" Kissinger concludes, "Death to Care!"
"Death to Care!" all the robes begin chanting out in unison.
"Beats me," Doonan shrugs. "They shoulda hired Sabbath for this gig."
Two of the golden-horned leaders are working behind Kissinger with a large, heavy burlap sack. They loosen the rope that's tied at one end and lift it up to reveal a young, nude blonde girl, no older than sixteen. She appears to be dead. Their gloved hands lift her by her stiff white wrists and ankles. They carry her over to the giant owl, which is now all but consumed in the flames it's embracing.
"I'm hip," muses Kenny, "this really helps demystify some of our policies in Cambodia."
"Shut up, dude," Billie kicks Kenny's shin. "This is so fucked."
"Now on another topic," Kissinger booms, as the hopefully-dead chick begins to roast atop the owl's curved wings. "Ve have a band here for you -- I'm not sure vat zey're called..."
One of the other golden-horned priests leans over and whispers something to him.
"Ze Cokes? Alright."
"The Wetnesses!" shouts Joey.
"Vat'zat? Vell vatever, here zey are."
The robed priests turn at once, file off across the stage in solemn procession. Out in the shadows beneath the giant redwoods, halfway around the lake, Julian and Albert share a supsicious look.
"I think something's up," says Julian, "what do you think?"
"Yeah...where'd they get that truck, anyway?"
"I was just thinking that. Let's check it out."
"Hello PEOPLE!" he screams, "We're the fucking WITNESSES!"
No one claps or does anything; a few of the red robes look at each other like, who hired these guys?
"Great," Joey says back to Doonan, covering the mic with one paw, "just like a San Francisco audience."
"We'll turn 'em around," Doonan says and blasts a bar chord out over the lake to ring and writhe in a filthy dissonant fuzz.
Will lays down a meaty 2:4 bass kick, shouting "ONE -- TWO -- THREE!"
The Wetnesses all attack their instruments and microphones at once in a churning thrash-thrash-thump, a screaming five-part harmony crowned by Joey's rough-edged wail...
There's a new kid on the floor
BUT I SHOULD WARN YA
you cannot change what's kept in store
AROUND THE TABLE
you sit and ponder destiny
WE'RE FUCKIN' ABLE
we're gonna take it to the street
WE'RE TAKING OVER!
(ooh-ooh-ooooooh! Kenny and Billie are harmonizing)
WE'RE TAKING OVER!
"Shit!" Albert freezes, hands in the air, staring into the back of the Mack truck at a hundred militia-men bristling with guns. "Terrorists!" he tries to yell over the righteous sonic explosions of the Wetnesses. Julian, a few yards back, sees a black spot bloom on Albert's forehead as the young rock star flies backwards.
WE'RE TAKING OVER!
Julian's running back toward the red-robed crowd now, screaming "Terrorsts! Daddy! Terrorists!"
WE'RE TAKIN' OVER!
The militia comes churning through the water, tearing up the delicate meadow on both sides of the lake.
Thrash-thrash-thump, drones the bass.
THRASH-THRASH-THUMP, hammers Will.
From the stage the band watches as the rear of the crowd simply begins to disintegrate into a finely pulped mass, pure»d under a thick spray of bullets.
ALL YOU PEOPLE!
Joey is freestyling now to the chorus.
YOU'RE FUCKIN' EVIL!
The red robed crowd is running pell-mell for the tree line, being picked off one at a time.
YOU THOUGHT YOU FUCKED US!
Nick comes charging up onto the stage beside Kenny, raises a Ruger 10/.22 and starts plinking shots into the bloody frenzy below.
BUT YOU'RE THE SUCKAZ!
...One Year Later...
"Well, Jim, I'm standing here beside the massive, spontaneous demonstration that's making its way down Pennsylvania Avenue in celebration of the first anniversary of the Second American Revolution. What you hear in the background right now are the voices and footsteps of fifty thousand people marching and singing in unison to the Freedom Anthems of the Wetnesses. "We're Taking Over," they're singing! Strong and proud under the torchlight! Words fail me, Jim -- I can't describe how stirring and emotional this really is. In the year since our brave President Reynolds restored order to this beleaguered country, we've seen unemployment drop from seven percent to virtually zero! And the People are out in full force tonight, giving their unanimous thanks to our Leader.
"Even under the shadowy threats of Canadian and Mexican armies poised on our borders, Jim, the feeling in Washington tonight is tremendously hopeful that We the People will prevail against these dangerous Jewish-controlled Democracies!
Now I -- I believe they've started chanting -- can you hear that Jim? They're chanting 'Burn the Jews!' I'm sorry, I can't help it -- I've got to go join them! This is Carl McLealin signing off...Hail Reynolds! Back to you in the studio, Jim."
"Ha-ha. Thanks, Carl. And thank goodness our President is already working on that pesky Jewish problem! In our look back at this stunning, unprecedented year, we'll go in depth tonight on how President Reynolds and his band of merry patriots were quick to act against the source of the disease which had taken control of this great Nation..."
"Hey!" screams Doonan against the radio blaring off the loudspeakers, "Turn that fucking shit OFF!"
"This blows," Will says, staring at the rocks in front of him. "I can't believe they stole our song."
"Back to work, Jew lovers!" one of the guards kicks Will hard in the small of the back. The Camp Commandant pauses across the yard to glare at Doonan through the deepening haze, quizzically studying the young musician's nose. Wearily, Will picks up his hammer and chisel, readjusts the heavy chain around his leg, and begins hammering once more at the merciless, abiding rock.
After escaping the massacre at Sam Boyd Stadium (now a National Revolutionary Historical Site), Chaz and Hazel made their way to the Colorado River, where they stole a canoe and paddled to Mexico. They were granted asylum on the other side of the border and chose not to return after the war. They now live a quiet, professional life in Mexico, D.F.
After the Second Revolution, Chevy was quietly recognized for his Patriotic Heroism by the National Social Libertarian Party which had come into power. He and his surviving family members were granted a Special Jewish Pass and allowed -- encouraged, one might say -- to leave the country. The family has resettled in Shanghai, China, amid an exploding Jewish population there, many of them refugees from the US. Here they have found a relative measure of freedom from persecution by the welcoming government and are peacefully making strides in various avenues of commerce.
Chevy never saw Katie again. Upon returning to Los Angeles he did manage to locate her parents' house -- like so many others, it was abandoned.
Nick, who also received a medal for Patriotic Heroism, parlayed his fame into a book deal. He then used the profits to open up Sweet Sixteens Corp., a national chain of strip clubs exploiting several loopholes in child labor law, which has rapidly become one of the most popular franchises to arise under the new government.
George W. Bush's body was never found. Some of the old timers say he still haunts the woods in these parts; and on a moonless night deep in the redwoods, you can almost hear him smirking, shotgunning Budweisers and reminiscing about the good old days with his friends Bigfoot and Elvis. But those are all just a bunch of ghost stories; crazy rantings; legends cooked up to scare the kids...
Or are they?
About the Author.
Josh Strike has written five unpublished novels and accidentally lost two of them whilst confused and depressed. He leads an impoverished existence as a taxi driver on the outskirts of Los Angeles. In his free time he reads, plays music and watches cable news channels which are slowly eating his mind.
He is also quietly obsessed with Leonard Cohen.
He hopes to die in the very near future, before everything in this book comes true.