1 – A God Fearing Man
Duke Dasher woke up at 3:30 a.m., as he did every morning, with a military issued Glock 19 (safety off) resting in each hand. The only way for a real patriot and ex-Special Ops member to wake up. Though his wife Stacy had expressed concerns about sleeping with loaded guns in each hand, Dasher assured her he would sleep just fine. “Who needs sleeping pills or a nice mattress when you’ve got guns?” Dasher told Stacy, flicking off the lamp with one of the Glocks. Stacy would lay awake for hours listening to the steel of the Glocks rubbing together, praying they would survive another night. He brewed his usual cup of black coffee, the only thing he drank before reading several verses from his leather-bound Bible. The county’s last Democratic President had bestowed the Bible upon him after Dasher murdered an imposter of that very President trying to blow up the White House several years earlier. Dasher attempted to remember the name of the President, but it ultimately alluded him, as the candidate was non-Republican and thus inconsequential. He considered the ease with which the Democrat was impersonated – bleeding heart liberals would trust any bootlicking pushover who was willing to stroke their fragile egos.
He turned the Bible over in his hands and threw it up in the air before unloading both clips into the book. Stacy woke immediately, in a complete panic, wondering why a gun was emptied in their bedroom. She looked at her husband Duke who stood menacingly over the book. He walked calmly back to bed and laid down next to her still holding the pistols. He stroked a loose strand of hair behind her ear, a tried and true way to pacify someone after demolishing a booby-trapped Bible with a barrage of bullets. He calmly explained that the former President had likely planted a bomb in the book. It would be just like some spineless Democrat to wait for an opportune time to detonate it and kill the family. Even though it was a holy book, it had to be destroyed; someone who could never be trusted had compromised it. Stacy could not make sense of the sudden irrational paranoia nor the unorthodox method for defusing the alleged bomb. Instead of arguing, she simply nodded, staring deeply at the smoldering book remains on the ground. “He’s not our President any more honey, nothing to worry about,” Dasher said, as he unloaded one final bullet into the book.
He pulled a fresh copy from his bedside drawer and calmed himself down by reading a few verses. The words helped soothe him as he began reading about the vengeful God he knew and loved. He had personally cut out the New Testament from every one of his Bibles with a machete, knowing damn well that God had gone soft in that version, his message disappointingly flaccid in comparison to the awesome power of a murderous omnipotent being cleansing the earth of evildoers. New Testament God was the reason Christianity was failing in Dasher’s mind. No one wants a God who is approachable and reasonable. They want unpredictable and ruthless. Dasher had responsibly wielded that same power for his country over the past decade, but had since retired to become a devoted stay-at-home father. A job more important than the most top-secret military force ever assembled. Though upon further reflection, he deemed it far less critical than carelessly mowing down hordes of terrorists with different assault weapons, sharp and blunt objects, and in some cases, his massive calloused hands.
Dasher stood at 6 foot 8 inches and weighed a hefty 260 pounds, a crew cut and absolutely no tattoos, cut like the Statue of David (if he knew what that was).
Dasher despised all art, religious or not, because of its frivolousness and its tendency for deviation from family, and country. The best way to worship and celebrate God was not artistic expression. It was sitting in a balmy church room with a productive cough and being tongue lashed by a dying priest who considers you an unsalvageable heathen.
“Morning dad!” screamed Terry Dasher, his 5-year-old son.
“You know the rules, stand silently while I finish this final Bible verse,” replied Dasher lovingly.
Terry stood for several more minutes in total awkward silence as Dasher finished his lengthy morning ritual. It was time for breakfast. Dasher asked Terry what he would like for breakfast before promptly serving him the same thing they ate every morning: three hard-boiled eggs and a glass of room temperature water. The two enjoyed breakfast together, talking about varying terrorist attacks around the globe, how to sharpen knives properly, and the prospect of taking another man’s life with your bare hands.
The most recent attack was a mysterious slaying in Paris; over two dozen people lay dead with their necks snapped. No other evidence existed; the scene appeared haunting, to say the least.
“Why do these piece-of-shit cowards do it, Terry? You tell me. Is it foolish pride? Jealousy? Maybe they are just too dumb to do anything else. Something about this latest one just isn’t sitting right,” said Dasher, alone grinding his teeth. Five-year-old Terry stood there, uncertain how to answer the extremely complex and nuanced question asked by his father.
Dasher waited several seconds, staring at Terry, hoping for a response that would never come. He shook his head in disappointment and went back to watching television. Thousands of miles away Dasher’s questions were being answered in an ISIS cloning facility.
Vladimir Popov sat in an abandoned ISIS cloning facility. A Russian businessman with a murky past and a propensity to get blackout drunk and lose his shit. A full-blown alcoholic who loved only two things in life: communism and the drink. The facility had been shut down and abandoned after the terrorist organization was only successful in cloning a mini horse-human hybrid. It was an unsettling looking creature, to say the least, with a somber human-looking face, sunken eyes, and continuously pursed lips. Its hooves were covered in varying sizes of toenails. The animal was too friendly for war and very temperamental, so they had cut their losses and focused on other things. Popov saw potential in the facility though; an opportunity for the Russians to genetically engineer a new type of super-soldier if all went according to plan. The problem with the terrorist organization previously running it was their obsession with creating what they deemed to be a warhorse, a horse with human intelligence. When in actuality, the facility could have just as easily manufactured genetically superior humans with the mere flick of a switch. Popov had found only one person left in the facility, an obsessed mad man who refused to let the project die and known only by the name Hisan.
Popov had taken the young man under his wing, promising to give him powers beyond his wildest imagination. Abilities that would let him seek revenge against the country that refused to let him run his horse-forward experiments. The United States would pay for preventing the world from experiencing his glorious creatures and his way of life.
Since finding the weak scientist several years ago, and immediately beginning enhancement experimentation, Hisan had become even more powerful than Popov could have ever foreseen. His willingness to push his physical and emotional boundaries was fascinating.
The keystone of his desire for torture, pain and hasty genetic enhancements were derived from a singular source.
Driven by pure hatred towards a single country – the United States of America.
Hisan longed for the mini horses he had raised from birth; he sought a world where humans and mini horse hybrids coexisted peacefully, building cities together in harmony. Sometimes even crossbreeding if the scenario presented itself.
With the rabid experimentations run by Popov, Hisan had grown to 7 foot 3 inches tall, his bones strong as titanium, his muscle fibers repaired five times faster than normal humans, and his reflexes were anything but human. His entire body marred in varying scars and brandings from the extensive surgeries and experiments and his head cleanly shaved, Hisan was exactly what Popov needed to create chaos. And he had done just that. Following orders from Popov, Hisan had begun several attacks around the world, including the most recently executed attack in Paris, which had found its way to Dasher’s television set. Testing and honing his abilities, the attack in Paris left two dozen people dead and several hundred commemorative Eiffel Tower themed berets urinated on and burned. Popov was impressed with his progress, but was he ready to topple the most powerful government in the world? Likely not. The infrastructure of the country was flimsy enough, but it needed to be further weakened.
Popov flicked a cigarette effortlessly to the ground and walked to the containment tank that held Hisan. The tank itself had been bought second hand from Criss Angel and was said to have unique healing properties. The magician had fallen on hard times and was forced to sell the decorative tank before it got repossessed. Even a magician as talented as Criss Angel couldn’t escape a lifetime of irresponsible spending habits. He had even thrown in a few mesh Ed Hardy shirts and several sets of heavily used leather pants to sweeten the deal as Popov gladly took the enchanted chamber off his hands. If the chamber gave one Las Vegas-based magician the power of levitation, imagine what it could do for a super-soldier going through a constant stream of enrichment surgeries and experiments. He took an enormous bubbling pull from a plastic handle of well vodka and swallowed it with ease.
He tapped on the tank like a child on the fish tank at a dentist’s office.
“Soon enough my friend, soon enough,” said Popov as Hisan’s eyes blinked open, full of rage.
Dasher gazed out of the window at his perfectly landscaped lawn, noticing his neighbor’s yard hadn’t been mowed in several days. Dasher considered the neighbor a failure as a man and more importantly, as a citizen of this country. Dasher likened the bent grass blades to football players kneeling during the national anthem, and there was nothing more disrespectful to the flag than a neglected lawn. He contemplated a physical confrontation but ultimately decided to do 1000 burpees with a knife in his mouth instead. Dasher took every opportunity to train, especially now that he was a stay-at-home dad and could feel his edge growing ever softer. But not too soft. His name preceded him in Rockford and there was always a tough guy looking to prove himself. Dasher would sometimes sit around at bars in the city; even though he did not drink, he did enjoy a good fountain diet Sprite and contributing to the local economy. On several occasions, patrons who had picked fights ended up in a choke out with a pomegranate Michelob Ultra up their ass before being morally eviscerated with a fire and brimstone lecture. Though the person lay unconscious and unable to retain any of Dasher’s misinformed Bible teachings, Dasher would preach on, sometimes even asking questions and growing more enraged when a response didn’t come. If the person didn’t answer quickly enough, Dasher would more often than not resort to routine water-boarding, which was equally ineffective in terms of getting repentance from an unconscious bar patron.
His wife worked as a pro bono doctor at a hospital for orphaned children. Sweeter than apple pie and said to have inspired the entire Open Hearts jewelry collection at Kay Jewelers. Dasher had sworn to her never to take a mission again, but how long could he actually last as an ordinary civilian? Especially with these strange murders taking place across the globe. How long before those reached his hallowed soil? Stacy found Dasher’s bloodlust endearing, and it was part of the reason she married him, but the birth of their son had made her more protective of Duke than ever.
Dasher was honorably discharged from Special Ops after he refused direct orders to leave his partner behind after they had been ambushed and outnumbered 100 to one. Instead, Dasher had infiltrated the group and silently beheaded the leader of the terrorist organization. Using his face as a mask, he commanded the rest of the troop to commit suicide, and like the cowards Dasher assumed they were, they dutifully obeyed.
When he had ripped off the skin mask, even his partner, Luke Riley, puked several times. Dasher held out his hand for a high five with a heartwarming blood-soaked grin. His enormous white teeth were in stark contrast to the blackened blood that filled every pore on the rest of his face. He had gone back to the barracks that night and reenacted the moment using warmed slices of pimento loaf and Greek yogurt to mimic the mutilated face. Troop members who had been shaken up by the whole ordeal laughed sheepishly and sipped whiskey, hoping that Dasher would grow tired of the insane charade. Dasher took their polite laughter as whole-hearted encouragement and continued to dance around; mocking the incident for several more hours before finally suggesting the group join him in an equally awkward group prayer.
Looking back on the incident…the scene was as grotesque as they came and though his partner was successfully extracted, news outlets covering the incident had found it to be one of the most disturbing ever seen. Dasher had watched the footage of the incident played by CNN years later and couldn’t understand the backlash. It was a mission completed with surgical precision and what media outlet wouldn’t love a good ole fashioned mass terrorist suicide by way of elaborate disguise? It was a feel good story by every classification of the genre. Classic leftist news outlets thought Dasher, always putting their backward narrative on even the most wholesome acts of heroism. How could the media spin something so beautiful, something so intuitive, something so American? Dasher’s hatred and mistrust for the news grew in the years following, to the point where he started a news station of his own on an AM radio; but, most of the reporting eventually devolved into rants about the dangers of contraceptives in regards to women’s suffrage and the myriad of biblical inaccuracies portrayed in Russell Crowe’s 2014 adaptation of Noah.
Dasher’s commanding officer, Tom Watley, had commended Dasher for his ingenuity, but because he disobeyed a director order, he was ultimately cast out of his Special Forces unit. Looking back on the incident, Dasher wouldn’t have changed a damn thing. It was the world that was changing, not him, and when a threat became too severe for this new softer world,
Dasher would be waiting in the wings ready to saw the face off whatever the problem was.
“Come on, son, time to get some groceries,” Dasher said to Terry as they hopped into their 2005 Chevy Silverado.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, thought Dasher as they drove to the store together. Dasher and his son headed through the town they had come to know and love. The lifeless suburb pacified Dasher to a point. It had painstakingly smoothed out most of his rough edges and distinguishing features, grinding him into a purposeless beige orb used to decorate a rarely used home office. The only things he was capable of focusing on was his lawn, his God, and his family. All and all a passable life indeed for most, but something was still missing. Maybe it was the murdering, but he couldn’t determine that at the moment. At the checkout line, Dasher caught a glimpse of a small tube television behind the counter. As the clerk checked over several tons of knuckle steak and a single onion, Dasher noticed something disturbing.
“Turn that up, NOW,” Dasher yelled to the clerk.
The news reporter stated what Dasher already knew. The most recent incident was the first of its kind on American soil. Thirty people at the Mall of America, all dead, all with their necks snapped. Not a single drop of evidence at the crime scene. No one knew why or how these killings were happening, but someone had to find out soon.
Dasher hawked an enormous wad of spit on the ground at the grocery store, drawing the eyes of several concerned customers. The customers looked down at the watery gobbet and back up at Dasher before returning to the pulsating wad. The bubbles of the loogie gazed back at them with similar distrust, eventually popping into the dank air of the supermarket.
“Watch him,” repeated Dasher to the clerk.
“Beg your pardon, sir?” said the clerk.
“Watch him,” repeated Dasher, more sternly pointing at his son Terry.
“Sir, I’m only 16 years old, and I have no idea who you are…” squeaked the clerk.
“I’ll be back as soon as I can, for once in your life, be somebody kid,” interrupted Dasher as he was already in a full wind sprint back to his Silverado. Time to get Watley on the horn. Could it really be…him?