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The News

Page history last edited by Volkes_Wagon 8 years, 1 month ago

(part 1: water hole)

 

                The news was on as he ate dinner with his parents, as usual. His parents were both entirely absorbed in arguing with each other—this was usual too. He ate silently.

                The highlight of the news that night featured a live report about a particular police officer who was a member of the nation’s border control. He wore a safari hat and T-shirt and shorts and could barely fit his belly through the door of his vehicle. He was speaking with his face up close against the camera.

                “I’m gonna show you how us Border Patrol defend this country,” he said, his breath and spittle smudging the camera lens.

                “Joey,” his mother said over the dinner table, “don’t you agree?” He nodded without taking his eyes off the television screen. “See? Even Joey knows you’re not supposed to put too much detergent in the laundry.”

                “Oh, puh-lease, Joey,” his father moaned. “I’ve got to start learning from somewhere, right? Stop pestering me for being a late starter!”

                Joey nodded again, dipping his head down momentarily to nibble at his steak. The police officer was ordering the driver to drive, the gun carriers to carry the guns, and the news reporters to report everything he was about to do. The vehicle roared to life.

                The world in the television was hot and dry, so expansive that the vehicle hardly seemed to be moving. Pale desert landscape stretched on to eternity as tiny pixels scrambled to paint the electronic screen. The video skipped about an hour ahead, and the only difference in the landscape was a broad, deeply sunken hole that had appeared in the ground. From the camera’s angle the lip of the hole still concealed its inner belly.

                The vehicle pulled up alongside it. A cool voice from off screen narrated, “The following may contain disturbing or violent imagery and may not be appropriate for children.”

                His father slapped a hand on the table. “Hey, what do my vacation plans have to do with the laundry?”

                “Be-cause, they’re both slipshod and lazy and a total mess.”

                “You just don’t appreciate the effort I put into these things. In fact, you don’t appreciate me at all!”

                He glanced between his parents and the television screen, and quietly sipped his milk.

                “Here it is,” the officer growled. He and the two gun carriers got out of the car, the camera close behind. The footage swayed a little with each step the cameraman took. Close to the edge of the pit, they all dropped down to their bellies and crawled forward to peak over the side.

                It was filled with water. Dirty, faintly rust-colored water, ten feet wide and ten feet deep according to a caption on the screen. And the water was churned to a foaming white by dozens of darkly colored creatures, crowding into every corner of the pool. They drank and kicked and splashed and swam in the artificial oasis, and all of them were making unintelligible cries that sounded curiously like human moans.

                The gun carriers aimed, and fired. Nothing but a soft puffing sound, one for each creature that silently slipped underwater. The moans elevated, the water churned. The dark mass surged away from the bodies as if in fear.

                The officer took out a pencil, the stick of wood clumsy in his sausage fingers, and with each puff from the guns scratched into a notebook. He made a diagonal cross every fifth scratch.

                “Keeping a tally,” he explained. “How many hides I catch. Gov gives me one of them stipends for each one drowned, or just tran’klized.”

                Puff. Puff. Puff. Joey kept forking food into his mouth to keep his parents from noticing.

                “Whoa! Incoming!”

                Something was wrong. The camera shook as its wielder tried to turn.

                “Give me the gun! Give it!”

                The footage swung to the side just in time to capture the officer aim a hunting rifle at the distance. A cloud of dust was rising, a handful of dark figures at its fore.

                He pulled the trigger, and the bullet exploded outwards with a sharp bang! The shock rippled against his belly, but he braced himself and fired again, and again.

                Bang! Bang! Bang! The dust cloud in the distance was diminishing. “Take that, you buggers!” he yelled. “You ain’t messing with the Border Patrol! Go to hell, you damned Junits!”

                And he stopped eating.

                When the dust cloud had gone and the red blood of the Junits had all drained into the desert, the gun carriers took the hunting rifle and returned it to the safari vehicle. Then they went back to the hole, and the hole continued to swallow the remaining Junits into their watery grave. The officer settled back into his original scouting position, and grabbed the camera from the reporter again.

              “Little buggers go crazy off land,” he chuckled. “They know who’s the boss when they’re in water, but on land, boy! Madder than bulls. Killed my old boss, and now I’m the boss. I’m not letting any of them get in my country, not on my watch.”

                He leaned in close and grinned.

                “That’s why I’ve set up a system here to keep these little buggers out,” he boasted, his whiskers wagging around the contours of his teeth. “They come to the water holes and I shoot them and get claim for their hides. They go around the water holes and they dry up in the desert. It’s a win-win situation!”

                The food was suddenly too dry and bitter for him to swallow, and the milk tasted acrid. He chased a piece of broccoli around his plate with his fork without taking his eyes off the screen.

                The reporters went on to say they would stay in the officer’s home for the night and cover the barbed wire fence the next day. Then the news switched to how a young girl in town had caught a 50 pound red snapper, and his parents noticed him for the first time.

                “Joey, what are you watching?” his mother gasped.

                “‘Girl Hooks Giant Snapper’? Honestly, the news these days,” his father said as he turned the television off, exasperated.

 

Comments (2)

Mokona Go said

at 6:48 pm on Jul 29, 2012

80 lbs?????? That's almost as large as the world record WSB!! I don't even think she would be able to fight it, let alone land it!

Volkes_Wagon said

at 11:50 pm on Jul 30, 2012

lol. that better?

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