Be Fucked

Be fucked and wander on mate
your future isn’t near
your past is grey and dying
for your present no one cares

They said that you’re important
the focus of the world
but the image that they’re selling
isn’t anyone’s but theirs

So be fucked and wander on mate
though it gets no better there
at least you’ll have the feeling
that at last someone might care

For more from me you can check out my novel Crashed America – available in paperback and digital formats. Or you can try any of my other work here – variously available as ebooks or paperbacks. 

Technical Error

Donald Trump without his wig and fake tan

Sergei shook his head, trying to rattle out the incessant thud of the Techno soundtrack that was, for no good reason, blasting out to shake the foundations of the warehouse. It didn’t work.

The building was full to capacity now, the stands erected around the walls heaving with stern faced government apparatchiks, some vaguely nodding along to the music, others taking long draws from red-embered cigarettes or swigging from glasses of vodka. He recognised a few of the faces present, Generals, politicians, even a strangely orange toned man who could, perhaps, have passed for that guy off of the TV, the bombastic American with the bad catch phrases. Although all he could see of him was a small strip of gaudy flesh and petulant looking eyes, framed by layers of luxuriant winter furs and an oversized ushanka. No matter, Sergei didn’t keep up with celebrity culture anyway so his interest was limited and his commander had told him not to look too closely into the crowd. He was here to work after all, not gawp.

A few metres from him his opponent for the day was limbering up on the opposite side of the ring, showily flexing his muscles for the audience. A pointless display given the exoskeleton he was wearing, a series of cables, metal plates and pistons that encased half of his body. It was technology that would do the work, not the man inside it, they were just there to make a token gesture towards thought and give a name for the records to list as winner or loser. He’d noticed that the American fighters always enjoyed their showmanship though. This one no less than the others, his back piece even had the stars and stripes emblazoned on it, an American Eagle engraved on his steel shoulder pad, a weak spot perhaps given the circuitry that might lay beneath.

For his part Sergei is more practical, his commander doesn’t appreciate showmanship, he appreciated winners so a small Russian flag decal on his shoulder was the only concession to style he wore. The rest of his suit was just a bulky mix of wiring and armour plating. More than the American had on his, a point to remember when the fight started.

There were a few more minutes of posturing to endure, as the Yankee, a compact man, slight but densely built, played to his small but vocal contingent of compatriots in the audience. Sergei just stared at him, content not to have to feign his already real indifference. The foreigner had a look of All-American healthiness about him, side-parted brown hair and energetic brown eyes drawn straight from a commercial. Still, not someone to underestimate, when these fights took place everyone sent their best. The stranger would, at least, be military but probably special forces too, or Navy Seals, or drawn from one of those unnamed divisions who lived and died without ever passing through the paper trails of military bureaucracy. Looking clean didn’t mean he wouldn’t fight dirty. But then so would Sergei.

Eventually the showboating ended and, as the mumbled conversations of the crowd came to a trickling end, the anthems started playing. The Star-Spangled Banner first, a concession to the visitors and silently endured by the largely Russian audience, although out of the corner of his eye Sergei could still see the orange skinned man nodding his head in a poor attempt to match the tune. Next his own anthem played, voices around the warehouse dutifully belting out or miming their way through in a necessary show of patriotic fervour. He kept his own mouth shut for the duration, he didn’t know the words after all and as long as he looked suitably intense nobody would challenge him for focusing on the fight ahead, not even President Putin, who was bound to be somewhere in the crowd.

Formalities over a bell rings and the crowd stirs itself into a frenzy, ready to see some blood spilt. The American explodes out of his corner, mechanically augmented fists launching straight into a flurry of blows aimed at Sergei’s head. They hurt, they send him reeling, staggering backwards towards a steel ring rope that offers no give. No matter, he expects to take hits and where they bounce off of his body armour the shock absorbers do their job, where they connect with flesh he feels the adrenaline rush warding off the pain. The visitor gets to have his way for a whole minute, long enough for him to show himself and his intentions, long enough for Sergei to read him and know how he’ll behave. Only once satisfied with his gleaned intel does he launch his counter attack, punches and kicks sending his opponent flying as the force of technologically amplified blows take their toll. His fists focus on the gaudy shoulder decorations, the eagle etched out in gold. With the suits they both wear it’s hard to guess if there’s anything important underneath, he knows where his own precious circuitry is concealed but not his opponents. It’s a good focal point though, it’s worth a try and with surprising ease the metal starts to buckle. He can see that his opponent feels it too as a look of shock washes over his face. A soldier shouldn’t be shocked, not in a fight like this, but his suit is letting him down Sergei guesses, showing signs of damage too early, too easily. Hardly cause for sympathy but he notes it nonetheless as he continues his onslaught.

Soon there are sparks, the audible groan of servos seizing up and the soon to be defeated enemy, or at least competitor, starts to collapse in on himself, his suit becoming little more than an encumbrance. It shouldn’t be this easy, it’s never this easy, but it is and there’s no point in second guessing it. Sergei takes a step back, fist raised to deliver a decisive blow to the American’s head, not a killing blow, not intentionally at least, but one to knock him out of the fight and avoid the ignominy of being stuck in an inert and broken suit. There’s laughter from the crowd although looking round with attempted subtlety he can see that the maybe-celebrity has revealed himself and is screaming with rage, hat thrown off, scarf slipped down. He’d heard that the man had gotten into politics, perhaps that explained the invite, another irrelevance though, Sergei didn’t watch the news much.

The final punch knocks the other fighter out, smoke starting to curl from his exosuit where circuits have fried themselves and motors burnt out. He’ll live, which is good, even if the crowd does prefer a more final ending. The American is stuck squatting, his jammed suit fixing him in position and his eyes closed as the dark fug of unconsciousness saves him from embarrassment. Sergei raises a fist in a minor show of celebration, although he doesn’t feel that it was much of a victory. Too easy, too quick, a poor competition and poor entertainment although no one can blame him for that. Casting an eye down he can see, to his amused surprise, a small plate screwed in to the rolled back metal of his fallen opponents shoulder pad – ‘Made in China’. It doesn’t explain much, he’s fought Chinese contestants before, their technology has never failed them but then he doesn’t pay much attention to the machinations of international trade and politics, there may be a game here played well beyond his pay grade.

His commander is in the ring too now, a heavy hand slapping imperceptibally on his plated back.

“Come on, time to shake hands.”

Sergei lets himself be led away to a hastily assembled line of dignitaries. Generals, politicians, well dressed others of undefined importance, and at the end of the line President Putin and the orange man. The latter still whispering with frustration in the ear of a nearby bodyguard whose expression remains a model of professional indifference.

The Russians in the line nod approvingly at him, or even smile. Even if the fight wasn’t the best they seem amused by it, happy to have observed a spectacle even if it wasn’t as impressive as the clashes they’re used to. Even Putin, when his turn comes seems to flash a half smile at him, not something that he’s ever seen before. Only the orange man, who to Sergei’s surprise is announced to him as the President of the USA by his whispering commander, breaks from the formal mood of satisfaction. He’s ranting, even as he shakes the victor’s hand with a limp grip. Sergei doesn’t react, he’s trained not to and by the sound of it the man doesn’t think he speaks English, unaware of his vague grasp of the language gained from a distant childhood spent consuming American films and TV.

“He didn’t really win, this result is all wrong.” Letting his hand go the American goes on, talking over his head to the assembled officials, some of whom seem to be suppressing smirks.

“I know our boys, they’re the best, it’s just that guy – I should have known when they told me his grandma was Canadian, I did know. I told them he wouldn’t fight right, I told them I knew about this fighting stuff, everyone knows that, just ask them, they say I’m the best coach there is. I could have been a fighter too, I was, I just don’t talk about it, I’m too modest, that’s what all of my friends say, but I could have beaten this guy. Look at him, he’s nothing, He’s weak, not like me, everyone knows I’m strong, and I’m an older guy but I could have gone ten rounds with him. And I’ll tell people that, tell them I would have won, and we’ll deal with that loser later. People believe me, they know how good I am, they won’t buy this because it’s just wrong, Vladimir, it’s just wrong wrong wrong.”

Sergei feels a hand pulling him away, his commander. He lets himself be led as the American’s bodyguard tries in vain to guide his ward away too, gently trying to lead him away from Putin and his cohort who seem to be struggling ever harder not to laugh. It doesn’t work, as the President stands his ground, stubbornly continuing his defence as a translator desperately tries to keep up converting it into mostly incomprehensible Russian. He’s glad to be taken away, back to the lockers where engineers start to swarm around him unscrewing his armour and plugging it into various computers for the post fight analysis. It’s only back here that he can relax a little, free of the obligations of being on show.

His commander is leaning against the wall watching the process, a cigarette slowly dying on his lips.

“Sir, permission to speak?”

The officer nods, rheumy eyes inattentive.

“Was that really the President of the USA?”

An engineer stifles a snigger.

“It was. Not impressed?”

“Do you think he noticed that his wig was falling off?”

His commander pauses for a second to stub the tail end of his cigarette out against the wall.

“I doubt it, he didn’t notice when he signed Texas over to us, he just kept telling people about how he could run faster than President Putin, if he wanted to. I don’t think he pays much attention.

Sergei nods and shakes off the last piece of his disassembled exosuit, glad as always that no one expects him to pay attention to politics.

For more from me you can check out my novel Crashed America (free on Kindle until 6/2/2017!) – available in paperback and digital formats. Or you can try any of my other work here – variously available as ebooks or paperbacks. 

Mission Accomplished

Donald Trump's Alien Wig by Donkey Hotey

I made it in. Trust me, it wasn’t easy. Hell, the amount of times they almost stopped me, it’s a miracle I lasted this long. What with the stress and all I can’t even remember why I was so desperate to be here but I attached myself to this, this thing for a reason. It’ll come back to me, I’m sure, I just need to get settled, pull myself back together. It’s not easy, y’know? Being up here, being on this. I swear, the constant sweating, the throbbing veins, the scratching – I wasn’t made for this but what can you do? It was the only disguise I could find to pass around these creatures. My species is not an easy one to ignore when we show ourselves properly. It’s only thanks to willful blindness that they didn’t notice me even with the undercover bit. Shit, anyone who looked properly could have guessed right? Nobody has hair that looks like me, nobody. I’ve seen these humans, I’ve watched them, hidden away, seen their private moments and their public arguments. I’m about as subtle as a Great Dane on a pool table, but if people choose not to see then they don’t see. And with this goddamn thing I’ve had to live on to make it this far they at least had plenty to snatch their attention away.

Him though, oh he’s the best, a real diamond clad distraction. You could land a space ship on his head and start anal probing people, no one would look twice because he’d be too busy shouting ‘Wrong!’ and insulting women. I should get a medal for choosing him, I’m the best field operative we ever had. Not that it wasn’t close at times. Eyes wondering upwards, asking what the hell was up with that hair he had and me trying not to make a dash for freedom while I still could. But then he’d say some shit and boom, shocked silence and confusion all over again. And to think they said I should have been Jeb Bush’s beard. That’s High Command for you though, big picture bullshit, no sense of the details. Hell, Presidents don’t have beards, not these days. And the less said about the Hillary idea the better. Although I do wonder if those robotic sons of bitches were trying to take her over, it’s in the eyes, y’see? That dead stare of hers. Like I say though, I’ve seen humans, plenty of them, she wouldn’t be the only one to have eyes like glass balls.

I got the nuclear codes the other day. Which is something. Not my mission, I don’t think, but a bonus nonetheless. If we’re going to invade this rock then these things are useful to know. Plus it gives me something to report back with, buy myself some time until I figure things out. I need time, I sure can’t go asking what I’m supposed to do next, they frown on that sort of thing in my line of work. It’ll be sweet when I figure it out though, real sweet. I got that part figured out already. My last day, just before I get picked up, I’m gonna wait ’til there are cameras, crawl down this son of a bitches face, scream ‘MAKE NEPTUNE GREAT AGAIN!’ and then make a dash for it. Clear to the border, Tijuana, a few drinks – they turn a blind eye to strange shit like me down there – and then off to the rendezvous point and home again. Finally, I can be done with these meat bags, get back to a place where I’m more than a bad wig. Maybe even go into politics, gotta admit, I’ve had some ideas down here, real good ideas… the best ideas…

The Devil Wears Gold

It’s the end of days
or so they say
in corridors of power

The Devil he rode in to town
shot the Sheriff,
ran him down
he came in with a soulless swagger
full of spite
and sinner’s glamour
a punishment sent from below
surrounded by a strange dark glow

We didn’t call him said the farmers,
herders, drifters and sundry misfits
We just want a peaceful life,
no excess drama,
no excess strife

The writers they denied it too
and drinkers said they had no clue
no engineers held the seance
that called the beast up from the chaos
the Padre had no words to say
and the Madam stayed off locked away
as cloven feet and horned head
marched a path now filled with dread

Just one small cluster kept the silence
fearing for inflicted violence
not that they could have a clue
or be expected to pay their due

It was the Mayor,
the Boss
the Rancher,
the Journalists, the ones not plastered,
moneyed men, safe from disaster

Their wages given to the demon
they knew they were all set and even
safe from all dramatic prose
ensconced in mansions well enclosed
and even though their eyes averted
the cries they heard went un-diverted
and if the guilt lay at their feet
then the Devil never skipped a beat
as six-gun swirled and pitchfork trembled
he made the rest pay prices dreadful
a savage raging debt collector
ignoring every last protector

And at the end, the balance struck
a nod was given to those higher up
the moneyed men of wealth and fame
had paid their price with others pain
and what was learnt from this disaster
was that cruelty knows one lonely master
Money, wealth, and gilded greed
are the drivers of the steed
and when you hear that rattling spur
smell that sulphur coated fur
it’s not your neighbour who’s to blame
but the Masters of your own domain
and if you want to last the rest
cut their debit, end their rest
because the Devil’s coming back
and only you can break their pact

Political Division

Politics, at the moment, is defined by division. In the US Trump and Clinton are coming to represent to antagonistic portions of a polarised society, with Sanders as a theoretically retired figurehead for a third faction which is in opposition to the other two, even if some of them have begrudgingly endorse the Democratic candidate. In the UK Labour is battling it’s own internal identity crisis as self-proclaimed ‘moderates’ rally, ineffectually, against the party’s Socialist conscience and history. The Tories too are delicately treading around their own alter-ego, as if Theresa May’s unity act is a cure rather than a bandage for the divisions wrought by the Brexit vote. All around everyone hates everyone and the usual vague sense of consensus – be it legitimate or imposed – is fading away as sides form. In the media too loyalties are being declared along predictable lines, highlighting the joke that is journalistic impartiality when ratings and owners both demand echo-chambers, a protection of personal interests and a neat story line to keep 24 hour news rolling.

None of this is news, really. Anyone can see the divisions manifesting and most people realise that they didn’t appear out of nothing. Nor did they appear out of a Brexit vote or Trump’s candidacy, they’re reflections of societal issues that have been brewing for decades now. And there’s plenty written on which side could, would and should win any one of the factional struggles which have recently clawed their way into the public perception.

The only thought I have to add is one of concern to be honest. The problem with political polarisation isn’t so much that someone will win, although there’s definitely plenty to fear there given some of the challengers. That’s a given though, that’s an observable battle where we can each choose our logical and moral ground and stand on it. What’s more worrying is that other people will lose and, in losing, look for ways to strike back. A mild example is the internal Labour struggle where, by the looks of things, Iron Corbyn will crush the opposition under his brutal Stalinist boot – well, I’ll be voting for him at least. What follows that is the issue though, as the right of the party either leave as they split the party and attempt to drag support away and towards some SDP reboot or stay and repeat the tedious process of challenges, coups and undermining. Embittering their own backers and alienating their opposition as they go, making their own defeat an act of self-sabotage against the Left wing as a whole. That’s a mild example though if you compare current UK politics to what’s surrounding the US election. There defeat for one side or another isn’t going to be a blow against a fairly small political elite who have the power to wreck on a day to day level. There the losing side is going to contain a huge number of voters who’re going to be angry, scared and bitter about the potential results of their candidate missing out. Perhaps rightly so, depending on how fatalistic you want to be. Either way though the illusion of a looming apocalypse is enough to make people act as if the stakes are high and react to them to whatever degree they imagine to be reasonable.

In both countries it seems that those in the media and those in politics are confident in the capacity for the structures of state and society to absorb all this dissent. People will be pissed off, sure, but they’ll accept it and carry on. Most probably will, although some undoubtedly won’t – and even for the vast majority who prefer to live their lives as best they can rather than hand it over to political anger it’ll be another layer of resentment and of disdain for those structures which they’ll feel have misled and cheated them, be it in the media or at the ballot boxes. It’s another sawing away of the support struts of the established structure of state and given the unlikeliness of any real unity or consensus being found whoever wins in these sort of disjointed struggles it’s hard to see anyone moving to repair the damage. And sooner or later that damage undermines the whole thing.

There’s an upside to it all too I suppose. The breaking of the two party system in US politics, the reclaiming of the Labour Party as a Left Wing entity, even seeing the Tories confront their own inner demons regarding neoliberalism and Thatcherist ideals, they could all bring about healthier and more representative landscapes. But the nudging game of hoping for destruction as a precursor to rebuilding is a dangerous one. Again, with the immediate political wranglings you can see the sides, see the issues and see the potential end results. But when it comes to society as a whole and large swathes of the population? There’s no telling how things will fall. And some analysis of that would, for me, be far more interesting than the partisan sniping that surrounds those loudest in their commentaries.