2014 Summer Solstice Open The Stephen King Bracket
The Avengers vs The Justice League of America
The story must be told from the point of view of Death, The Grim Reaper
A Traveling Chamber Pot Salesperson
Can omnipotent beings feel sadness or remorse?
I ask myself as I look at my next victim. A man of thirty years old, might as well be sixty in his case. Living remnants of unused potential and one wrong turn after another. Each mistake leaving its mark on his now leathery flesh.
Such as the tattoo of the yellow animated minion on his left bicep. Rather than study, he drank alcohol and watched animated movies until bad ideas fused with the good ones. Then, there is the scar on his right cheek from the knife fight over a cheating woman. And the pacemaker in his tattered heart from overuse of energy drinks.
It’s kind of ironic to see his past hanging neatly behind him. While he is stoned on the couch his art tells a different story. Pictures of comic book heroes in bright colors line the wall above his dust covered art desk. His best work, the one of the Avengers battling the Justice League, is framed with his asking price of two hundred dollars still hanging from the light wood.
Everything is this way because of the white powder lines neatly forming on his coffee table. While many chalk this up to the curse of the artist, this is not one of those cases. Just a happy artist with a bad friend and within an instant everything around him turns upside down. Marijuana turns to LSD which leads to cocaine and crack.
The jobs he uses to gain money for the drugs is saddening. The talented artist is reduced to a traveling chamber pot and medieval antiques salesman by day and house burglar by night so he can secure his fix. He continues to use because, in his mind, he is a better artist high. The doodle on his table contradicts that, unless the drawing belongs to a five year old child.
I observe a woman walk inside, of course he is too high to lock the door, and start yelling at him. Apparently she is pregnant with his kid and she is yelling about him not using protection. In her rage she is oblivious to his glazed eyes, unaware nothing she says is registering in his brain. She grabs a beer from his fridge and leaves, slamming the door behind her.
Now I will stop mourning the loss of another young soul. I tighten the grip on my scythe and walk in front of the comatose body on the burnt maroon couch. I look deep into his eyes and realize he died years before I came here.
No Ice Cream
Tiffany Michelle Brown
I hope this bumbling tiddletwat can carry out my directives. His beady eyes and overeager disposition worry me. They remind me of a lap dog, always wanting to please, always wanting a belly rub—but never earning it. And the irony that I’ve been granted agency through a being the color of sunshine is not lost on me. Whoever arranged to have this thing bound to me is probably laughing right now.
They’ll be next.
My underling waddles down the hospital corridor, and I fear the mission is over before it begins. He’s certainly conspicuous; each pathetic step sounds like slushy snow. Thank God for the beep of heart monitors and the thrum of medical equipment.
I gave him explicit instructions. Enter the west wing of the hospital. Find Captain America’s recovery room. Hide behind the crash cart until the nurse goes on her smoke break. Shoot the superhero in the heart with a fire arrow. Be seen by no one.
It seems simple enough to me. I promised the lap dog ice cream afterward. I never had to incent Brutus. Why did he have to retire?
The yellow thing lingers in a doorway. He takes a piece of paper out of his overalls and stares at it, then looks up at the room number. He’s arrived.
Inside lies Captain America—or at least a battered shell of the superhero anyway. He has a punctured lung, broken ribs, and a severe concussion. He wasn’t supposed to survive the idiotic battle earlier in the evening. A clash with the Justice League. The years of competition, trying to prove this or that superhero clan was superior, the compensation—culminated in a battle of egos and axes. Pathetic.
My proxy turns around and gives me a thumbs up. I roll my eyes. Get to it already.
A doctor turns the corner. My minion scurries across the hall. He hides behind the crash cart and huddles in a ball—as if this will render him invisible.
The doctor approaches the nurse’s station. The redhead there smiles, bites her lip, and then follows him down the hall. Looks like she’s replaced one addiction with another.
The minion stands and steadies himself. He produces a bow and arrow from his overalls. He loads the arrow and pulls the bowstring back, closing his eyes with the effort.
A man in a brown tweed suit rounds the corner and heads toward the nurse’s station. He’s carrying a chamber pot, a fancy one made of platinum. Under his arm is a folder of order forms. This salesman clearly doesn’t know his market. Here, the piss pots are old and plastic.
Two steps later, the salesman clutches his chest, feeling like a fire has ignited within him. Humans call it a heart attack. He crumples to the floor. The clatter of the chamber pot echoes down the hallway.
The minion gazes up at me stupidly, then pantomimes what went wrong, squeezing his eyes shut to show how much effort it took to pull the bowstring taut.
I have three words for him. “No ice cream.”
The Beginning of the End
Humans have vivid imaginations. Most believe I can see the future but that isn’t true. I do get a tingling before something big is going to go down. And the tingling came that night about dusk. The Avengers had challenged the Justice League of America to another pool tournament. They are a determined bunch but they have never won a tournament against the JLA.
The call came in about midnight. The Peacekeepers had arrived in the U.S. and started their house to house searches. Terrorizing men, women, and children, demanding they hand over guns and valuables. The few who stood up against the Elite were being slaughtered. And those who thought it best to stay quiet and go with the flow; they are being murdered alongside them. Whole families are gone in the blink of an eye. And those not murdered are being hauled off to FEMA camps. Evil prevails over good because the majorities of good men don’t speak up and act. Instead, they value a false sense of peace and comfort.
Fighting against the Peacekeepers was something the JLA and Avenger had hoped they would never have to do. But now, they had no choice. This looked like the beginning of the end, and they had to help the people. The plan for this situation had been finalized years before. The only way to win was to draw the Peacekeepers away from the people. The desert land in the west was where they would make their stand. The West is filled with missiles but Iron Man and his little minion would handle them, leaving the other superheroes free to fight closer to the ground.
Many humans perceive me as an evil spirit but I am neither good nor bad, I am neutral. I have worked mass deaths in America before. The last being when millions of Native Americans were slaughtered by greedy, ignorant hate mongers who longed for total control so they could rape the land of all her treasures. And so things never really change. History has been repeating itself since the beginning.
The war waged on throughout the night into the next day. The JLA and Avengers brought the majority of the fight west into the desert, as was the plan, leaving the U.S. citizens to fight the smaller battles. Millions of lives lost and millions are now confined in FEMA camps. The war is far from over. The peacekeepers are stifled but not gone. Evil is patient, it always regroups and strikes again. Life in America will never be the same. At best, America will revert back to the time of the traveling chamber pot salesman. Without a doubt, disease and starvation will begin taking hold soon.
I have watched this same scenario time and time again. Surely, time will end soon, but I don’t know when. I am neither good nor evil. But even I can see this constant repetition needs to end.