The Mission

Inherit the Earth

Inherit the Earth
by Saab Lofton

Touch me in the morning
Then just walk away
We don’t have tomorrow
But we had yesterday
–Diana Ross

The first Earthlings to explore our solar system were those who could afford to and therein lies the problem: By the time the corporate elite had colonized Mars, Terra Firma had been completely plundered and polluted. So while the wealthy wallowed in luxury hotel-casinos scattered across the red planet’s deserts, the meek finally inherited the Earth (Matthew 5:5) – or what’s left of it …

Tusayan, Arizona 2211 A.D.

To the everlasting shame of the few remaining Native Americans, the entire Grand Canyon was turned into a gigantic junkyard. Filled to the brim with everything from obsolete machinery to Scooby Doo lunch boxes, what was once one of the world’s premiere natural attractions has become just another assignment to the recyclers: Adorned in enormous exoskeletons (or “power loaders”), a recycler will sift through similar landfills for whatever could still be of use in the early 23rd century.

Three such recyclers — Aaron Dixon, his fiancée, Kathleen Neal and her little brother Lee — were working at a breakneck pace since the Weather Service had predicted that a bout of acid rain would soon douse the otherwise arid chasm. ”That’s enough for today,” Dixon radioed both comrades from his headset, “these suits are strong, but this metal won’t stand up to that dirty drizzle.”

“No, wait! I see something I got to have!” Lee impetuously insisted. “I can almost reach it …”

“Damn it, you heard Aaron,” Kathleen sounded parental even though she was only a sibling, “besides, you can come back when it’s not about to–”

“–just because you two are going to get married doesn’t mean you’ve adopted me, so get off my case,” Lee interrupted, “I know a collector that’ll give me a fortune for an Erin Brockovich action figure in mint condition!”

An ominous hiss could be heard as those first drops of corrosive precipitation descended from above and onto the armor of every recycler.

Now, Lee!” Dixon commanded. “Before it’s too late!”

“Almost there …” Lee ignored the man he answered to and kept grasping at the ancient figurine until an acidic driblet burned through a crucial circuit, which shorted out his exosuit and the sudden loss of mechanical motor control caused him to tumble into a pit. “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

Then came an avalanche of garbage which made it impossible for either Aaron Dixon or Kathleen Neal to even see Lee — let alone pull the brash youth to safety …

… soon that light mist became a torrential downpour and left the recyclers with no choice but to retreat, lest they be scalded by acid or buried in debris themselves. “No! We can’t just leave him!” Kathleen tearfully shrieked as a remorseful Dixon drug her to higher ground.

Despite the New United Nations’ aspiration to repair the ecological damage left behind decades ago by rapacious industrialists, an immense miasma of smog still fouled the air, so major metropolitan areas were often converted into hermetically sealed bio-domes and Tusayan was no exception. After the tragic death of Lee Neal (2193 – 2211), a funeral was held in a union hall where recyclers gather, and within certain spots of this domed city, black flags waved in artificially circulated air.

“Once upon a time, if the rich wanted to gamble, they’d sail in their yachts out to international waters,” Lorenzo Veronza, an elderly labor organizer, addressed the assembled mourners, “but that wasn’t enough for them, so Old Las Vegas was founded. Now they’ve exchanged one desert for another …” Veronza gazed upward towards the stars; implicitly at Mars. “… the loss of this youngster is the latest example of how we’re all still suffering because of their greed. Sure, there’s zero unemployment, but that’s only because they left so much to clean up! The worst, of course, are the wildfires and blizzards created by climate change; by pollution, mind you, which are as mobile as tornados but as powerful as hurricanes striking at whim … Should we be so grateful for a living wage with full benefits that none of us will mind dying on the job?”

Subsequent to the bereavement, Dixon approached Veronza in order to inquire, “are there any current examples the rich hurting us? I hate to play devil’s advocate here, but I’ve been to the Republic of Mars and those Republicans would claim that’s all in the past. Now they have their world and we have ours, right?”

“Wrong,” Veronza shook his head in the negative and gestured for someone nearby to come hither, “Aaron this is Aoki. Aoki, tell Aaron what you told me earlier.”

Dressed as a messenger for the New United Nations, Aoki shook Dixon’s hand and asked, “you know what coltan is, of course?”

“Of course,” Dixon answered, ”after it’s refined, coltan becomes a heat resistant powder that can store an electrical charge, which explains its value to computer manufacturers. During the 21st century, most of it was in the Congo, where my ancestors hailed from, and genocide was committed fighting over mining rights.”

“Well, aside from ice and dust, Mars is one big ball of coltan,” Aoki informed, “Pyrmidon, the biggest corporation there, has even gone so far as to play God and create genetically engineered supermen to mine it, but rather than trade fairly, we’re actually expected to exchange crates of bottled water for the tiniest bit of coltan.”

If Lee Neal’s untimely demise upset and disturbed Dixon, hearing the aforementioned consumed him with righteous rage. “Are you kidding me? As hard as clean water is to come by in this day and age?” Taking a moment to calm down, he queried, “why doesn’t Mars melt its ice for water?”

“Because that could eventually increase Mars’ air supply and Pyrmidon is also in the business of selling air,” Aoki frowned.

In desperate need of catharsis, Dixon was about to launch into a profane rant until he observed a poster on the union hall’s wall of none other than England’s greatest legend, Robin Hood – at which point, a wild idea occurred to him. “Aoki, are you the one who makes these bottled water deliveries to Mars?”

“Yes, I’m ashamed to say.”

Dixon then draped his brawny arm across Aoki’s shoulders in an ingratiating manner. “We need to talk …”

As far as the New United Nations had been concerned, this was business as usual: A freighter christened as the Sagan ignited its plasma drive and lifted off from the spacecraft carrier Bradbury en route to Mars. However, within the Sagan, Aaron Dixon and Kathleen Neal were impersonating N.U.N. personnel. “I must say,” Dixon leered at Kathleen, “light blue and white tights suits you.”

“If we get caught, we’ll be wearing fluorescent orange,” Kathleen’s pale face reddened with angst, “I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.”

“You’re an engineer extraordinaire, so we’ll need your expertise,” Dixon shrugged, “and you want to avenge your brother’s death more than I do. Granted, the bastards who’re directly responsible for the landfill and the acid rain that killed Lee have been dead for centuries,but history is repeating itself. Millions of gallons of our purest spring water for a smidgen of coltan?I don’t think so.”

“It’s not too late to turn back, apologize to the crew you stole those uniforms from and go back to Arizona,” Aoki suggested as he steered the Sagan out of Earth’s orbit, ”if you say it was a prank — or that you acted out of grief — they may not press charges.”

Dixon angrily grit his teeth. “We stick with the plan: When they unload all this bottled water, we’ll claim there was a computer error insofar as how much coltan we’re supposed to receive; we’ll trick their asses into giving us far more than they intended and then Earth will have enough coltan to last for years.”

“I don’t know if my hacker skills are up to the task,” Kathleen began to doubt herself, “tell me again why we’re not simply hijacking a ship filled with coltan?”

“Weren’t you the one who didn’t want this to become violent?” Dixon reminded. “Besides, it’ll take us thirty days to get there, so you’ll have plenty of time to practice those hacker skills of yours.”

Unfortunately, a month of study did little to improve Kathleen’s acumen. After the Sagan landed near the Milton Friedman Mine at the base of a massive volcano in Mars’ western hemisphere (Olympus Mons), she transmitted that false evidence of an oversight only to have her efforts laughed at.

“A thousand metric tons, indeed! Talk about wishful thinking! That glitch is because of your faulty software, not ours!” A snide miner replied. “In the name of Ayn Rand – you tree-huggers are supposed to build computers that actually function with coltan, not smoke it ..!”

“Smug bastard. So much for tricking them,” Dixon grimaced in chagrin from within the Sagan‘s cabin, “Aoki, what kind of fire power do we have?”


Dixon did a double take. “What do you mean, none?”

“All this time and you’re only now asking me if we have fire power?” Aoki raised his voice. “Some fearless leader you are!”

“I’ll show you leadership …” Dixon muttered under his breath as he hastily strapped himself into an exoskeleton. “… it’ll take a few trips, but with this, I’ll be strong enough to haul the coltan on board.”

“I’m going with you,” Kathleen also slipped into an exosuit, “in case you’ve forgotten, the Republic of Mars legalized cloning, so each of these miners are enhanced to the peak of Human perfection; strength, speed, agility, they’ll all be increased by a factor of–”

“–never tell me the odds,” Dixon cut Kathleen off, “and you know how jealous I get, so I hope you’re not lusting after those muscle bound Republicans. Aoki? While we’re out there, here’s what I want you to do …”

Every (exploited) employee within the Milton Friedman Mine’s protective dome panicked as the Sagan had unexpectedly spun 180 degrees in order for its rear exhaust to face them. In lieu of actual lasers, Aoki revved his engines so the fiery emissions could potentially incinerate anyone attempting to prevent Aaron Dixon and Kathleen Neal from loading the cargo hold.

“This is only going to keep them away for so long,” Aoki warned Dixon over their radio headsets, “soon they’ll start firing at the Sagan, and if enough damage is done, we won’t be able to take off.”

“I understand, but we’ve got problems of our own ..!” Dixon cried out into his headset since he and Kathleen were fighting for their lives against an onslaught of genetically augmented miners; dozens of six foot five, 250 pound men — each of which virtually identical in both dress and appearance – either fired lasers or threw themselves at the pair of power loader wearing intruders.

“Finish loading the ship!” Dixon ordered while swatting a muscular miner aside. “I’ll take care of these test tube Nazis!”

“I won’t leave you behind!” Kathleen shouted over the carnage.

Just do it!”

With the last chest of coltan in her exoskeleton’s giant hand, Kathleen lumbered towards an increasingly besieged Sagan. Meanwhile, Dixon snatched a stray laser from one of his unconscious opponents, fired at the mine’s ceiling and caused a cave in. The resulting rockslide eliminated any remaining miners and allowed him to escape relatively unscathed.

“I thought you were against the death penalty!” Kathleen chastised her fiancé once she realized what had been done.

“They’re clones, honey,” Dixon defended his dubious actions, “they might as well be robots.”

The Douglas Trask Hotel-Casino is located amidst the Syrtis Major Planum between the northern lowlands and southern highlands of Mars. The region happens to be known for its dark hue which is due to volcanic rock and a lack of dust. However, locals colloquially attribute that darkness to the many atrocities committed by an aristocracy dating back to the days of Donald Trump the Third. On the streets surrounding this luxurious resort were either callous tourists, desperate peddlers or homeless transients, but in its exclusive suite, Pyrmidon’s C.E.O. Mark Malkin and his military attaché, Ronald Ernest, languished on anti-gravity mattresses with a bevy of barely legal prostitutes — most of whom were still in a drunken stupor from the previous evening …

… then their lecherous bliss was disturbed by an urgent call from what they call Mission Control: “Sir! Terrorists have attacked the Milton Friedman Mine! They’ve stolen a billion ducats worth of coltan and killed at least a hundred miners!”

“Holy Tea Party!” Malkin hastily fastened his satin bathrobe, leapt out of bed and addressed the viewscreen that had activated. “Where are they now?”

“They just left orbit in a New U.N. ship called the Sagan,” a space traffic controller reported.

“Then it’s war …” Malkin whirled around to rudely awaken Ernest. “… get your lazy ass up and earn your keep! I want you to personally lead the fleet that’s going to blow that little thief out of the stars!”

Since its purpose was to haul cargo and not to fight battles, the Sagan very nearly perished because of the atomic torpedoes launched at it. “We can’t take much more of this,” Kathleen pointed out, “their nuclear powered ships are faster and stronger than ours!”

At that dire moment, the word nuclear made Aoki recall an atrocity in Human history and prompted him to think along certain lines. “I have an idea – Kathleen, hack into the computers of those ships and input the following …”

On the bridge of the Goldwater, Ronald Ernest couldn’t help but notice a dangerous increase in temperature. “Is it hot in here or is it just me?”

“I wish it was just you, sir, but it’s not –our cooling system is offline,” the Goldwater‘s engineer regretted to inform, “without it, the reactor core will overheat and irradiate us. It’s happening on the other ships too. We have to shut everything down and wait to be picked up.”

What ..?!” An enraged Ernest barked. “And let those damn commies get away?”

“It’s either that or we’ll all glow in the dark until we die of cancer,” the engineer alerted.

Cheers erupted inside the Sagan‘s cabin when its sensors detected that the Goldwater, the Reagan and the McCarthy slowly but surely ground to a halt. “One of these days, you’ll have to explain to me how y’all did that,” Dixon grinned.

“I’m originally from Hiroshima,” Aoki revealed, “and in school, we were required to learn everything about nuclear power – ’know thy enemy,’ as they say …”

Officially, to avoid a war with the Republic of Mars, the New United Nations disavowed any knowledge of the Sagan‘s mission and even went so far as to declare Aaron Dixon, Kathleen Neal and Aoki outlaws.

Unofficially, that coltan the Sagan managed to wangle was deposited in, ironically, England’s Sherwood Forest — where it incrementally found its way into Earth’s technology …


The Mission

Last Minute Holiday Gift Idea?

Just so you know, there’s a guy in town who will write a short story about all your favorite things for a nominal fee. His name is Saab Lofton and he’s a writer who self-identifies as a full time activist. He’s also a comic artist—creator of Silverbullet, the “world’s first black lesbian superheroine”—and a source of an endless stream of political opinions and Star Trek knowledge. He’s not gay, but one time he got gay-bashed by some thugs in Los Angeles who mistook his superhero costume for evidence of cross dressing.

Needless to say, I was intrigued the proposition, so I “borrowed” some cash from David and filled out Saab’s questionnaire on the spot. Three days later, he emailed me a story, which may be described with a number of adjectives, not the least among them awesome. My questionnaire responses and the resulting story are after the jump.

What is your favorite…

movie: The Time Machine (1960)

color: “tail of the peacock”

band/musician: Leonard Cohen

animal: tie between thousand-headed serpent and centaur

dream job: Betazoid high priestess

fictional character: God

sport: Luche libre

What’s your worst nightmare? The American Christo-fascist Walmartocracy

If you had three wishes what would they be?

(1) To be a rock star. (2) To be able to perfectly draw any image that enters my mind’s eye. (3) To help lead humanity to a more healthy and productive relationship with spirituality.

Confess to the Priestess
by Saab Lofton

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
–from the song Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen

Singing and playing guitar always made Leanne Kahn feel like herself, but nothing completed the musical experience like an overwhelming round of applause: It reassured Leanne that she’s doing something which was meant to be (and besides, it wasn’t often that a beautiful woman received a lot of public approval unless sex is involved). This accounted for Leanne’s penchant for performing in small venues — audiences seemed bigger and louder in them …

As usual, Leanne’s Christian rock band Crown of Thorns rocked the crowd of five hundred, and as usual, those who were paying attention could easily discern how radical her lyrics were …

Luke three-eleven
My favorite verse
The man with two coats
Or that fat purse
Must share what he has
Lest things get worse

… referred to by Rolling Stone Magazine as “the religious version of Rage Against Machine,” Crown of Thorns had come into its own as of late. What put the band over the top was its inclusion of a former professional wrestler as a bass player. El Spirito, a luchador who only recently became an American citizen, joined Crown of Thorns after a career-ending injury in Mexico City. And even though the man can no longer wrestle, El Spirito still wears his trademark mask wherever he goes. Leanne is one of the handful of people on the planet who has seen him without it and knows El Spirito’s Christian name.

After playing a rousing set at an out-of-the-way place called The Showcase, Crown of Thorns — Leanne, El Spirito, keyboardist Matt Fink and drummer Rick Allen in all — retired to its custom made tour bus, affectionately dubbed The Sweet Chariot. Imagine their collective disdain when they found a couple of yuppies sitting inside waiting for them.

“This is what we get for not locking the door,” Matt Fink lamented.

“Or for not having a bodyguard,” Rick Allen added.

“Hey, why hire a bodyguard when you’ve got someone who used to be world champion …” El Spirito began to advance menacingly upon the uninvited duo but Leanne stood in his way.
“Now, now, let’s hear what they have to say for themselves,” Leanne then turned to the two men in three piece suits, “this better be good.”

“Right. Well, Miss Kahn, my name is Wally Martin — I’m actually from your hometown of Westmount, Washington, and being a lifelong Christian, I’ve always been a huge fan of Crown of Thorns. This here is–”

“–Mister Ehrlich,” the older, foreboding man cut his more exuberant associate off, “that’s all you need to know about me.”

“Would your hesitancy to disclose personal information be due to your connections with the C.I.A., Mr. Robert Lee Ehrlich from Lynchburg, Virginia?” The pupils of Leanne’s eyes lit up for a moment and glowed bright red. For his part, Mr. Ehrlich seemed visibly shaken and struggled to maintain a stern demeanor.

“Uh, anyway …” Wally adjusted his bow tie out of discomfort “… we’re here to make you an offer. Since you’ve been on the road and don’t have a manager, we figured this was the best way to reach you.”

“And why do you want to reach us?” El Spirito cracked his knuckles to indicate his impatience.

Wally nervously avoided eye contact with the former wrestler and focused on Leanne. “W-We’re from WalMart and we’re wondering if Crown of Thorns would perform at the grand opening of our latest superstore in Bodega Aurrerá, Mexico.”

“OK, that does it!” El Spirito grabbed Wally and Mr. Ehrlich by their collars with the intent of throwing them out of the bus and into the street, but again, Leanne kept his wrath in check.

“Sheathe your claws, Wolverine,” Leanne laid a gentle hand on El Spirito’s 22-inch bicep, “let them finish.”

“You better listen to her before you’re unmasked in court when I sue you for every peso you have, senior!” Mr. Ehrlich barked while Wally cringed in El Spirito’s grasp.

El Spirito let them go, but wasn’t at all delicate in doing so. He then sulked in a distant, darkened corner of the bus and resumed cracking his knuckles.

“I apologize …” Leanne helped Wally straighten that tie — simultaneously, Mr. Ehrlich glared at El Spirito whilst he regained his composure “… my bass player has a problem with corporate bloodsuckers, no offense.”

“None taken,” Wally reached into his jacket pocket and produced a business card, “if you could give me a call before the end of this week, I’ll arrange a time for you to come to our office so we can cut you a check that’ll more than cover all your expenses for the trip to Mexico and back.”

“What’s the matter?” El Spirito called out from his corner. “You don’t have thirty pieces of silver on you?”

Without saying another word, Wally scurried and Mr. Ehrlich stormed out of The Sweet Chariot. Once they left, El Spirito angrily sprang to his size 13 boots. “What the Hell, Leanne? I thought you were going to throw them out!”

“Will you trust your fearless leader?” Leanne mischievously cocked her head to one side and smirked. “Look, I’m as pissed as you are: That bastard says he’s also from Westmount, but he either forgot that WalMart ran every small business there out of business or he doesn’t care — so he’s ignorant or traitorous. Don’t worry, though, I have a plan.”

“Let me guess: The ol’ Trojan Horse routine?” El Spirito folded his massive arms. “We’re going to take their blood money and donate most of it to charity — meanwhile, we’ll be scaring them shitless by playing your most radical song? Well it won’t be enough, not this time! They’re talking about opening another WalMart half a mile away from the pyramids of Teotihuacan! The ruins of an ancient, sacred city! It’s an attack on my heritage! We shouldn’t go!”

“I’m sorry, Spirit,” Leanne sat next to her six foot eight, three hundred pound bass player, “unfortunately, we need that blood money, but I swear I’ll make it up to you … Now that I think about it, I’ve actually heard of Teotihuacan — it’s said to possess a special energy, right ..?”

“Kind of like you, ‘Miss Red Eye’ …” El Spirito lowered his voice until Matt and Rick fired up the bus for the next stop on its tour; once they were in the driver’s/passenger’s seats and out of earshot, he continued “… how did you know that sinister looking old man’s first and middle name — not to mention his place of birth? You keep promising you’ll tell me how you’re able to know things about people one day. Well, I’d say today’s that day, darlin’ …”

A disconcerted look came across Leanne’s face — and after a long pause, she sighed heavily and replied, “All right, Hugo Romero, since I know who you are … But you’ve got to promise not to have me committed to a mental institution after I tell you and you have to swear to secrecy …”

“On my madre’s grave,” El Spirito swore, “God rest her soul.”

“I was still living in Westmount,” Leanne reached back into her memory, “it was one of those perfect summers in the state of Washington that makes up for the horrible winters there. I was sitting under a tree — by a lake I just swam in — drawing the peacock’s tail that’s on the cover of my first album. I was all alone, so there aren’t any witnesses to back me up on this, but I’m telling you, a centaur straight out of Greek mythology appeared–”

“–I’ve heard enough,” El Spirito began to stand and was about to get the attention of either Matt or Rick in the front, “you do need psychiatric help, honey.”

“I know what you’ve never told anyone,” Leanne’s pupils became crimson, “that you’ve always had feelings for me, and you’d want nothing more than to introduce me to your family, but you’re afraid I’d turn you down because we work together.”

An unnerved El Spirito slowly sat back down.

“We’ll talk more about that later. Anyway, this half man half horse creature,” Leanne continued, “trotted up to me and said I was chosen. He wouldn’t tell me what I was chosen for — just that I needed to hop on his back and ride with him. So I did, and not to make you jealous or anything, but once a gal goes centaur, she don’t go back.”

El Spirito grimaced in chagrin.

“Kidding! I’m so kidding!” Leanne assured. “OK, this is when it gets really weird, because no sooner than I got on him does he gallop at top speed towards this swirling light show — like a black hole in space except it was rainbow colored and on the ground; right in front of us. We stepped through and came out the other end back in time — about three or four thousand years …”

Stunned, El Spirito shook his head in the negative. “This just keeps getting better and better.”

“I was taken to a temple on top of a hill and inside there was a woman sitting on a throne — she wore this transparent gown and was surrounded by a golden glow,” Leanne attempted to convey, “she said she was Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. Then she said she looked into the future and saw the need for a priestess in the 21st century. So she gave me a bit of her wisdom — telethapy and empathy, mainly — and then sent me back home on that time traveling centaur.”

It took a moment for El Spirito to take all this in, but once he did … “So, The Cosmic Centaur took you on a magical journey to visit a goddess from Greek mythology, huh? And here I thought you were supposed to be a Christian. I mean, isn’t this a little blasphemous? ‘There shall be no gods — excuse me, goddesses — before me.’ False idols and so forth ..?”

Leanne leaned back in her chair and looked inward. “How did Minerva put it? ‘In my studies of your era, I’ve found that Christian Americans are especially threatened by my kind when there’s absolutely no reason for them to be. There are many gods worshipped on Earth and throughout the multiverse. They are given truth by the strength of faith, and thus, through belief and prayer are all made true. All spring from the same higher power, which means their faith is not misplaced or at risk. No one’s is.’ Wow. I can’t believe I memorized all that.”

El Spirito smiled from underneath his mask and scoffed, “maybe you’re possessed too.”

The next day, Leanne called Wally Martin and asked where she should meet him in order to cut that Faustian deal of his. Since there were so many WalMarts across the country, finding a corporate office that could authorize what he planned wasn’t hard at all. As fate would have it, a board meeting of top level executives happened to be scheduled at an office not far from Crown of Thorns’ tour route, so Wally told Leanne they should rendezvous there.

While the rest of the band waited in the The Sweet Chariot and watched a marathon of Star Trek movies, Leanne walked alone into the lion’s den. When Matt and Rick asked why he didn’t escort her, El Spirito shrugged, “believe it or not, boys, she’s more powerful than all of us put together.”

Wally met Leanne in the lobby and led her to that boardroom where those executives were. “When they heard I had procured the Crown of Thorns, they insisted that I bring you in.”

Leanne muttered under her breath, “I already don’t like this …”

The room was adorned with both a crucifix and a historically inaccurate painting of a white Jesus. Six equally white men in business dress sat around an oaken, rectangular table — dead in its center laid a phone book-sized copy of the Holy Bible with a stark white book jacket and gold lettering.

“Yeah,” Leanne nodded, “definitely not cool …”

“Miss Kahn, I’ll get right to the point,” one of the men in a suit and tie stood from his seat, “we’ve been going over your lyrics and find them to be objectionable. If you’re going to perform at our grand opening, you’ll have to play something purely instrumental or play a song that’s not offensive.”

“Everything in my lyrics is in that book you’ve got there,” Leanne pointed out their bible, “hand it over and I’ll show you.”

“I’m sure you’re very good at taking certain passages out of context and twisting them around for your own purposes,” another man in a tie mentioned, “but we’re not interested in your attempts to use the word of God to advance some liberal agenda. We just want our grand opening to be a family friendly, fun-for-all experience.”

“Translation: Don’t indict the rich and powerful,” Leanne’s eyes burned like twin flames as she began to pace around the boardroom in a manner befitting a caged animal, “Like you, Mr. From, who bribed a governor to veto a bill which would’ve required WalMart to provide health care for its employees. Or you, Mr. Robb, who approved the deletion of time from workers’ timecards and denied them meal and rest breaks. Or you, Mr. Chiles, who hired white truck drivers with less experience and serious driving violations even though there were plenty of black drivers to choose from. Or you, Mr. Nunn, who found a way around the Clean Water Act and oversaw the construction of sites that had a negative impact on streams and watersheds. Or you, Mr. Bayh, who got on FOX News, crowed about how America was being taken over by illegal immigrants, but then used them to clean your stores. Or you, Mr. Ford, who fired a woman for not being able to recite the Ten Commandments on command, but then promised you’d rehire her with a raise if she slept with you.”

“Harold, you did that?” Wally Martin asked in disgust. “That’s nasty …”

“Not only that, but they were both married!” Leanne amended. “Double adultery! What do the Ten Commandments say about that, Hal?” After catching her breath, Leanne’s eyes returned to normal. “Bottom line, gentlemen? You’ll cut that check and my band will play whatever the fuck it wants at this opening or everything I’ve just said will wind up in the lyrics of my next album.”

Bodega Aurrerá, Mexico exhumed a lot of memories for El Spirito — he lost the world heavyweight championship title to El Sierpe (The Snake), a wrestler who happened to be from there, and that match also cost him a key disc in his back, which brought a 15 year long career to an abrupt end. Nevertheless, El Spirito had nothing but respect for the tradition El Sierpe honored — since the inhabitants of ancient Teotihuacan worshipped serpents — and tried hard not to bear him any ill will. Fortunately, like Hulk Hogan, El Spirito also knew how to play guitar, so …

… when Crown of Thorns arrived in Bodega Aurrerá, Leanne made contact with the people there planning on protesting WalMart’s grand opening and arranged for the band to stand with them. On the day the latest superstore was to open, Wally Martin came dangerously close to a massive cardiac arrest when he saw Crown of Thorns performing for and amidst the protesters instead of on the stage WalMart spent a small fortune erecting!

“That’s one Hell of a breach of contract,” an enraged Mr. Robert Lee Ehrlich chafed, “we’ll bleed them bone dry in court.”

The lyrics Leanne sang spoke of Jesus’ last sermon and how it gave a hint as to who would make it to Heaven — and who wouldn’t …

When he thanked them for the meal
They didn’t understand
When did I ever
Feed the Son of Man?
He said, “when you fed
Anyone who’s hungry
It turned out that
You’re really feeding me.”

Desperate to put a happy face on the proceedings, Wally held high a pair of oversized novelty scissors and began the ribbon cutting ceremony. However, at the exact moment the giant bow was sliced, the ground beneath them quaked. It was enough for everyone — activist and elitist alike — to stop what they were doing …

The WalMart which was about to be opened suddenly suffered an explosion from within. Through its center shot forth a hundred foot long, forty foot thick trunk lined with reptilian scales. It rapidly emerged like a geyser would, and when its accent slowed, most in attendance shrieked in horror at the sight of a hissing, thousand-headed serpent. Some ran for their lives (namely the likes of Wally Martin and Mr. Robert Lee Ehrlich) while the indigenous population aware of the region’s history stood in awe as the monstrous ophidian savagely demolished the superstore surrounding it before burrowing back into the bowels of the Earth and out of view.

Utterly astonished, El Spirito and Leanne gaped at each other. “Myths are real,” they echoed.

To the delight of thousands of locals, that creature’s colossal amount of damage sent toys, groceries, items of clothing and various other amenities/appliances flying in every direction — which meant Christmas came several months early for the poor people of Bodega Aurrerá. While the biggest free-for-all of all time went down all around them, Leanne picked a cracked bottle of expensive perfume off the ground and held it up to El Spirito. “What do you think? Should we take part in the looting?”

“It may not be the Christian thing to do,” El Spirito remarked, “but we might as well stock up on supplies. It’s not like we’ll be able to return to America — not unless you want WalMart to sue us.”

“So what are you saying?” Leanne looked at El Spirito as if he was up to something. “That we should spend the rest of our lives in Mexico? I suppose that’d give you a chance to introduce me to your family, huh?”

“You said it, I didn’t,” El Spirito took off his mask and revealed he was blushing.

Leanne threw her arms around him and gave the Mexican wrestler/bass player a French kiss. “I did, didn’t I?”

Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
… from the staggering account
of the Sermon on the Mount
–from the song Democracy by Leonard Cohen

Dying for a story of your own? Contact Saab Lofton at saablofton (at) hotmail (dot) com.

The Mission

Seattle Suicide Watch by Saab Lofton

Originally published to

Seattle Suicide Watch
by Saab Lofton

“I’m distributed by studios that are owned by large corporate entities. Now, why would they put me out there when I am opposed to everything that they stand for … it’s because they don’t believe in anything. They put me on there because they know that there’s millions of people that want to see my film or watch the TV show, and so they’re gonna make money. And I’ve been able to get my stuff out there because I’m driving my truck through this incredible flaw in capitalism, the greed flaw. The thing that says that the rich man will sell you the rope to hang himself with if he thinks he make a buck off it.”
–Michael Moore, The Corporation (2003)

Never thought I’d say this, but Michael Moore is wrong. If anything, I’m living proof of how wrong he is …

I recently went to the Emerald City ComiCon at the Washington State Convention Center. There I met Wil Wheaton (Ensign Crusher from Star Trek) and cartoonist Peter Bagge (who unfortunately turned out to be just as gratuitously snide as his character Buddy Bradley). Like most comic conventions, this well-attended event was a source of stimulating conversation and beautiful women dressed in superheroic spandex. I was especially pleased the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund had a table. A most worthy cause, the CBLDF was founded in 1986 as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization and is essentially the ACLU of the comic industry.

Within the few hours I was at the Emerald City ComiCon, I sold over forty copies of my comic book, Rufus the black cat (that’s a dozen copies per hour — let Peter Bagge beat that). Over the past several years, I’ve consistently sold hundreds — if not thousands — of copies of Rufus in record time. In addition, both the second and third printings of my second novel sold in the span of a single calendar year (and half of the first printing of my first novel sold during the first year of its release). So if Michael Moore’s quote from The Corporation was correct, some capitalist would’ve invested in me and a nationwide book tour would’ve been paid for by now.

Moore claimed that capitalists, “don’t believe in anything.” This simply isn’t true. Most of those who’re in a position to heavily invest in the arts are white, and since I make Rev. Jeremiah Wright look like Steppin Fetchit*, their subliminal belief in the supposed necessity of white dominance alone will keep them from funding my work.

For the record, it’d have been one thing if Rev. Wright went off about how lizard men from Atlantis built a giant laser with the intent of knocking the moon out of orbit, but that obviously wasn’t the case. In fact, NOTHING Wright said was wrong: YES, America “supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans.” YES, America “got more black men in prison than there are in college.” These things are only controversial to someone whose sole concern is feeling comfortable; white suburbia needs to learn once and for all that just because something keeps you from being able to save face does NOT mean it’s inaccurate.

Author Flannery O’Connor phrased it best: “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”

Just as an activist engaged in a hunger strike will put his/her life at risk, I too am involved in something similar: When I won awards taking on the rich/powerful (the right-wing) via my column in The Las Vegas CityLife, I was happily killing two birds with one stone: Paying the bills BY making a difference. All too many, however, are content with working an evil day job so long as they can survive — it doesn’t matter to them what adverse effect their place of business has on the future (this inconsiderate attitude is culturally reinforced by songs like TLC’s No Scrubs).

After my column was censored in Las Vegas, I had to move in with my mom, but now I finally found someplace where the rent is cheap enough for me to subsist (albeit barely) off of what I was meant for (radical storytelling*). Like Jimmy Stewart’s character George Bailey from Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, my spirituality is entirely hinged on how much of a difference I’ve made. In case the pen ain’t mightier than the sword, I need to spend every waking moment doing my part; I can’t save the world if I’m flipping burgers full time, and all one has to do is read today’s Orwellian headlines to see that the world does need saving.

This commentary is entitled “Seattle Suicide Watch” for a reason. Either I’ll be able to survive doing nothing other than what I was born to do or I’ll die of starvation, period. Death before dishonor. This isn’t arrogance, this is about justice. How dare anyone ask me to work a day job when I’ve proven myself time and time again? When Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly or Ann Coulter (to my knowledge, none of those fascists can draw and/or write fiction) start burger flipping, let me know.