Jun. 8th, 2017

drewkitty: (Default)
Warning: read at your own memetic risk.

###

Wow. That really hurt. A lot.

But this doesn't hurt. Odd choice for a hospital to dress me in cotton robes. I suppose it's better than being fitted for a halo and wings.

Non survivable injury. Oh dear. I'm dead. But I hear strange musical instruments, my bare feet are on a cool tile floor, and there is a bowl of sherbet on the low brass table at my right hand.

Can I file a complaint? Clearly I am in the wrong hell.

A jaw droppingly beautiful middle aged woman wearing a burqa and showing a shocking amount of ankle ... and her face! ... sits on the low couch across the table. I look once, then twice.

Ok. Big foul up.

"You are in the right place. He who saves the life of one man..."

I blink. I realize two facts. 1) She's transgender. 2) She's the one upon whom peace be. You know. The Big M. THE Prophet.

I died throwing a backpack into a storm drain. The jihadist carrying it was one of His. Hers?

"Not mine. He is going to the true dwelling place of Shaitan, where there is only salt water and the plant that causes hunger."

I stretch. I don't feel dead. But I am.

"So, Mo, we gotta talk."

She stretches an open hand intriguingly. The fingers are long and slender but masculine.

"What is with this bestiality thing? A man who discharges his lust with an animal commits no sin..."

Not what She expected. But if this is the complaint department, that is only one of a couple hundred items on the list. And if I've got eternity to bitch Allah out, it might be enough time.

"I never thought a mullah would say something so stupid. But have you ever tried to keep an Arab man from sticking his folly in places it never belongs?"

Yes. Ouch. Two points to the T-Prophet.

"72 virgins. Only four wives. Beating them with a stick."

"Variations on a theme. Trying to civilize some really barbaric people."

"Aisha."

"I died in her arms. I have no idea how Jesus does it. One death was hard enough."

"Age 8."

"Oh. You really have heard some stories about me." Her face turns crisp. Cold.

"Just trying to reconcile the religion of peace with a child rapist."

"Bitter?"

"Very. Never mind the ontological questions. You personally fucked an 8 year old. Yet we are here. I think I should pull a Marcus Aurellius and bash your head in with this table."

I start to get up, to do exactly that.

"Ten. We married when she was eight. Lived with her parents until she was nine. Then she lived with me for a year. Shared my bed. Warmed my heart. Then seduced me."

I sit back down. I've dealt with short eyes and sex offenders. This was neither. No attempt to justify or to defend. Love and ... wistfulness.

Then I got smacked on the back of a head with a pillow by a woman in her sixties. Hard.

"Aisha!" the Prophet exclaimed, and suddenly turned male.

"I am sick of these lies!" she shouted. "And you too damned proud to stand up for yourself!"

I had never imagined the Prophet being defended by his ... victim? No... spouse. The love and affection between them was plain to see and crossed meaningless boundaries like gender.
And much as it did not fit my culture, age.

I stood and bowed slightly. It was one thing to give a God a wedgie. But this was a saint.

"The lies men tell carry such heavy weight," she said.

"Sometimes the truth is heavier," I replied.

She nodded.

"You may hold many sins against men acting in my Beloved's name. Including the sin that killed you. But in his life, he strove to always act without sin. Can you or any of you say the same?"

I shook my head, and helped myself to the bowl and a spoon.

Delicious.

Three thimblefuls of hot coffee appeared on the table, and the three of us sat to talk.

It would be a long conversation, but a good one.

###

"Lift, on three! One, two, three! Male in his forties, blast injury, difficulty breathing, flail chest, collapsed lung. Intubation on scene. O2 sat low 90s. Blood type as indicated. Two units wide open. Head CT clear, chest CT hemo and pneumothorax. Page thoracic stat."

###

"Why jihad?"

"'As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free...' ...?"

###

"Seven dead, four expectant, eighteen immediate, at least thirty delayed. Requesting all available air ambulances, ten ambulance task forces, four rescue companies and any available hospital physician teams."

###

The coffee was delicious. The question was not.

"The suffering of woman... of course you realize men are the weaker sex."

###

The door splintered and broke under the weight of three strong, angry men swinging a battering ram. Others flooded in behind, waving the tools of their trade and shouting at the top of their lungs.

"Police! Police search warrant!

###

"The ultimate jihad is always the struggle within each man. And woman."

###

How he longed to wipe the smirk from the suspect's face. He knew they would cover for him. Everyone knew he deserved it.

"You will get justice," he promised.

And stayed his hand.

And jihad was won, by one man on one day.

###

That was one of the oddest threesomes of my life. Afterlife?

Her age kept changing. His gender kept changing.

So many pillows.

###

Whirr. Suck. Whirr. Suck.

Life. Thanks to, and perhaps only while on, a respirator.

My own jihad had just begun.
drewkitty: (Default)
My head aches with every step. I should stay in bed. But I have a duty to perform.

Shane helps me dress, with the same lack of precision and tact he brings to all his duties. He is puzzled that I am putting on the white long sleeve shirt and tie, polyester pants, and no duty rig except the handgun on my leather belt.

I should be putting on full battle gear, or staying in bed. He is more right than he knows.

The duty cart carries me to the hill. We used to call it Boot Hill because from a certain angle it looks like a boot.

Now we call it Boot Hill because of all the graves on it.

Chairs have been set up at the front. Benches along the back. I have a seat in front. Shane sits to my left, the barrel of his riot shotgun in his off hand and butt against the ground.

Several of the security team, in full battle rattle, are on overwatch. Others are concealed in the bushes. We only own this area on paper and in daylight.

There are three fresh graves. We lost one of the wounded in the night.

It's a hell of a thing, to half wake up, hear CPR in the background and go back to sleep.

The Site Location Executive officiated exactly once. He won't be doing that again. It is technically a leadership responsibility but his skill set is running a coding shop, not wrestling with life and death.

The coffins are repurposed server rack crates, cut in half the long way. One is draped in a US flag. Two are covered in blue sheets.

Janine is taking this one. She used to be a tech. She is now, by unanimous acclamation, the Captain of the Fire Brigade and reports to the VP of Site Ops. I also report to Site Ops, but directly to the SLE. On anything touching Security, she takes my word as gospel. We work well together.

Her stretcher bearers saved my life yesterday, at great risk to themselves. I saw the video. A round landed where they had picked up my unconscious body.

"We are gathered here today for ourselves. These beloved people are at peace. Their work is done, their tour of duty finished. We celebrate their lives and we celebrate our own.

"We have worked so very hard for what we have. Our work continues. Today is not a day of rest. It is a day to rededicate ourselves to the great tasks ahead, to protect and defend our nation from the obscenity that has befallen her..."

Careful, Janine. Careful.

"... loss of San Francisco still affects us all."

On cue, one of the firefighters ... a volunteer employee who chose the Brigade instead of the Reaction Team ... hits Play.

The rock band takes us by surprise.

"We built this city!"

Oh God.

"We built this city on rock and roll!"

Jefferson Starship. It is a song about San Francisco.

The City that is no more. Murdered. Just as surely as the three bodies in front of us.

Everyone but the security team is teary eyed. Some are weeping.

Our countersniper hefts his rifle slightly. No doubt to avoid an arm cramp.

The spoken bridge, the DJ ... for a dead radio station in a dead city ... "The city by the bay, the city that rocks, the city that NEVER sleeps!"

I blink away a tear.

I saw The Fire. Firestorm. Nuclear ignited urban wildland interface fire. Leaping from tree to tree, from roof to roof. Held only by a block of man-made destruction cutting through the former San Mateo, another murdered city not quite as famous. I'd helped.

The song ends. Janine speaks into the silence.

"We will rebuild. We rebuild where we are. Here and now, we work and we build. Let not a single person die in vain. Remember. Then get to work."

Mic drop. She professionally scans the crowd then loiters a moment, after which she immediately comes over to me.

I stand. It costs me. "Sit," she whispers. Hastily Shane gives up his seat to her. She takes my arm, slides down to my wrist and takes my pulse.

As the coffins are carried to their final rest, I am carried to the cart and put on a nasal cannula, oxygen, and the cart rumbles its way back to the infirmary I should not have left.

My rest is still a long way away. But people had to see that I was alive and doing all right.

It is Apocalypse. But duty is heavier than mountains, and death lighter than a feather.

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