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Chapter One: And Now for The Same Old Bullshit
"Damn, these are some shitty papers," thought Joseph. "I should have just walked to the gas station and bought some Zig Zag 1.5s like I usually use." Joseph was staring at the failed joint which had cost him fifteen precious minutes of his life, but not much else as he had gotten the weed and papers from a random bar slut he had picked up the night before, with all the disgust he could muster. This didn't amount to much, however, as he just gave no fucks. All of a sudden, his head throbbed as loudly as the collective screams of a thousand colicky infants having sandpaper rubbed on their asses until they bled, followed by having isopropyl poured into the wounds, followed up by them being strung on meat hooks; or in other words, the typical morning after the night before.
Deciding to scrap the doobie, he just packed the loose ganja into a bowl, and sparked it up. After he finished, feeling much, much better, he sat down at his makeshift desk, and reflected on his life. He had always been an iconoclast, since he was in the fourth grade. Everybody had that friend; you know, the one who was into all the weird shit, and who was the one to corrupt the rest of the group? That was Joseph. From an early age he had been smarter than most of the children he had encountered. While other kids were reading Encyclopedia Brown Dicks Around With a Lemonade Heist or Some Shit Like That (seriously, he always thought that Encyclopedia needed to loosen up a bit) He was in the back of the classroom reading Das Kapital and The Prince. He was slightly megalomaniacal as a youth, and he probably would have eventually became a ruthless dictator if one little thing hadn't happened: he made friends. That little fact, coupled with his disregard for acting as intelligent as he really was, changed his life from a fateful one to one of mediocrity. He later got into some trouble for his anti-VF protests, and had spent time on probation. There went any promise of a future.
Chapter Two: History Lessons Galore
What is VF, you may be asking? VF-211-198-8a nerve toxin was a chemical compound manufactured during the Cold War as a, quote unquote, pesticide. It was labelled as such to circumvent policies banning the manufacture of chemical weaponry. Its title, far from being its chemical designation, actually stood for "Violet Fog", so-called because as soon as the preparation hit atmospheric oxygen, the colorless liquid activated, turning a fluorescent shade of purple, sublimating into a gas, and becoming so extraordinarily lethal that just .005mg inhaled (or .01mg transdermal) would cause instant, unstoppable, death.
Ironically, its first human death was its creator, Dr. Rudolf Schwarzensheissen. A former Nazi black ops researcher, Dr. Schwarzensheissen was recruited by the United states following the end of the war in Europe. One day, in 1948, his superiors decided to test his new nerve toxin on some human subjects captured during the war. They were people who had worked in the most loathsome of Axis projects, testing sickening medical experiments on live humans. As such, they were considered to be unmissable, and since no one cared about them or their fates, they made good guinea pigs for the experiments. As he was finalizing attachment of the monitoring equipment in the test chambers, somebody fucked up. They misunderstood orders, and initiated the test on the wrong Axis subject. The door locked, and the ventilation closed. Realizing what was about to happen, he crossed himself, and said a prayer for his soul's redemption. He quickly attached monitors to himself, as it was all that he could do at that point. There was no fail-safe way out of the death chamber once the sequence initiated. His last words were, "It's so lovely. Shame it's so DEADGjkhUIGUYU..."
The production facility was located in semi-rural Indiana. It was called the Newport Chemical Storage Depot. The facility contained three massive tanks filled with enough VF to kill everything in a several hundred mile radius. It was an open secret to everyone who lived in the area what was going on there, enough so that the Depot started putting out calendars every holiday season, filled with cute little crayon drawings made by kindergartners, right next to advice on what to do if the shit ever hit the fan. (For all intents and purposes, it might as well have said, "1. Put head between legs [fig. 1] 2. Kiss ass goodbye [fig. 2]".
Fast forward several decades to 2004: The Cold War was a long forgotten fart in history, unlit by any of the wannabe frat boy world leaders. The nerve agent had never been used, except for small quantities deployed in covert ops in Korea and Vietnam. Joseph was in high school; Crawfordsville High School in west central Indiana, to be specific. One uneventful day, as he sat in drama class, super fucking baked, an announcement came over the intercom, informing them that there had been a massive release of the nerve agent, and that the school was to go into lockdown mode. Suddenly losing his buzz, he realized, with a sense of pained loss, that his family was going to die, and he most likely was, too. Outside the school, one could hear the VF alarm being sounded. It wasn't an air-raid klaxon; more like a robotic male voice warning everyone that the agent had been released by accident. It turned out to be a false alarm, triggered by some fucking chucklehead hitting the wrong button, but Joseph was pissed, and he had every reason to be.
You see, it only remained where it was due to a bureaucratic nightmare of the highest proportions. When the facility was built, the area was sparsely populated, unlike, say, the middle of Alaska, where damn near no one lived, but Alaska was to close to the USSR for the powers-that-were. Being poor people, the population grew much larger, as populations of poor people and middle-class people are paradoxically inclined to do; meaning that they were living around a ticking time bomb. After the fact, it was deemed too hazardous to transport it to an unoccupied region of the country. Therefore massive amounts of VF just stayed put. Add that to the fact that, short of firing it into a black hole, there was no truly safe way of disposing of it, and it was just a ticking time bomb counting down its years. That's part of the reason Joseph joined the anti-VF league called "Purple Haze? Not in MY Brain!"
Chapter Three: Chapter One Redux
Sorry about that tangent; let's get back to our protagonist in the present day. Joseph opened up his email, and saw a reminder to pay his rent. It was due in three days, and he wasn't going to have the money for another five. "Fuck that," he muttered. Bastards can't fix my fucking heat, or get rid of the neighbor's cockroaches that keep getting in here, but they sure as hell think that they need their money right away. Fuck 'em." Then he opened the stack of mail next to him: jury duty application for a county he no longer lived in (promptly junked), fake-ass pecker enlargement pills (if these things worked, they wouldn't need to send unsolicited mail. Junked.), some bizarre Christian holy water junk mail begging for money for having sent some of the earth's most abundant resource (letter junked, packet of holy water saved to give to some other Christian group when they came knocking), and finally, a letter from his ex-wife (junked with extreme prejudice in the toilet, to be shit and pissed on later.)
It was a Saturday afternoon, and he didn't have to go to the office for a few days. Thinking about this, he sat around and watched internet porn for a bit, playing his favorite game: Porn Roulette. The object was simple. Keep clicking on new videos until you either jizz, or accidentally get a girl taking a shit and lose your wood. Fate being what it was that day, the very first video was the latter. Disgusted, he put his schlong away and lit up a Marlboro Red. Finishing that, realizing that he was really fucking bored, he called a buddy and asked him for a ride to the Wabash Avenue bar he usually went to, not the same one he had gone to the night before. The buddy happened to be going that way, so Joseph lucked out and got a ride. His buddy showed up in his old school car. Joseph, not being a motorhead, had no clue what kind it was, nor did he care.
"Think you can pick me up about 0300 if I don't go home with Alexis?" asked Joseph. "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. Besides, aren't you two kind of a thing now?" replied his friend. "It's complicated. We both want it, but we have different schedules, and I'm still not completely over how bad losing Robyn to that assfucker Phelan hurt me. I mean, yeah, it's been awhile, but that was the worst, most intense pain I ever felt. I'm not in a hurry to repeat that. God, what did I ever see in her anyway?" His friend just shook his head to this response. He knew that Joe had a hard time letting that shit go, but he also knew that it was a moot point about the ride. Joe would invariably go home with Alexis, the pretty twenty-something bartender at the Bittersweet Symphony bar that Joe usually frequented. His friend smiled internally. Once Joe gave it a shot, he'd have someone worth a million fucking Robyns. Pulling up outside the bar, his friend dropped him off for the night, and split to do his thing.
Chapter Four: The Lusty Bar-Wench
It had been a slow afternoon for Alexis. The customers didn't usually start showing up until about 9:30ish at night, with the exception of her favorite customer. As of right now, it was all she could do to keep from giving him an ultimatum to get together with her or they were going to have to split up. She knew he had his issues to work out, but she had a trump card: she was pregnant. She had just confirmed it yesterday. There was no chance it was anyone else's, as he was the only man she had sex with in the last four months. She heard his distinctive footsteps walking behind her to the bar. "Joe, baby!" she smiled. "Where were you last night?" I've got so much to tell you!"
Joseph sat down at the bar. He gave her a smile and said, "Can I get a Guinness first? I have cottonmouth like a motherfucker." She brought him the usual, 36 oz of Guinness Draught. He started taking a swig. As soon as he finished, she was beside him with her arms wrapped around him. "You're being awfully affectionate today, Alexis," he said. "Not that I'm complaining, but what's gotten into you?" As soon as she opened her mouth, in came a random, huge group of people. "We'll talk about it after work," she said. At that point, Joseph felt a familiar rumble in his stomach. Corona's Revenge. He excused himself to the crapper. As he sat there, he heard a loud commotion outside the door. "Jesus, can't a guy take a shit in peace?" he thought angrily. Wiping his ass and washing his hands in the sink, he came out to an almost empty bar filled with a cacophony of noises.
Alexis looked unnerved. "Come on! Hurry! the shit has hit the fan!" Joseph replied, "What?" Alexis countered, "I'm talking about Newport! It just blew up! We've got a huge fucking cloud of VF coming towards us, and about two hours to vacate town! I've seen the emergency warning map, and if we hurry, we can make it the fuck away from here into the non affected zone! Let me grab some cash, and let's get in my car! We'll get as far away as we can and grab a hotel room for the night, or until this shit passes." Joseph was stunned.
Everything over the next 14 minutes happened so damn fast, Joseph might as well been unconscious for it. Alexis grabbed the money, and the bar's old tabby cat, Marnie, and threw them into a bag and kitty carrier, respectively, and then she grabbed Joseph by the arm and threw him into the car, started it up, and went to exit the town, and the affected area. For a sexy black-haired bartender in a tube-top, she knew how to handle herself in a crisis.
Chapter Five: Are We There, Yet?
As the 45 minute marker had passed, Joseph and Alexis were stuck. In their haste to flee the town, some assholes had wrecked and blocked the road. Some people were crying in their cars, while others attempted to clear the road. Joseph listened with horror to the emergency broadcast playing on the radio. Alexis saw his distress and turned the radio off. "So," she said, "I know this is kind of fucked up, but if we live through this, do you want to be an exclusive thing?" Joseph opened his mouth, but his response was drowned out as a man shot his family and then himself ten feet away.
"What?" asked Alexis. Joseph responded, "I said yes. I do care about you, and I guess it took a minor apocalypse for me to be able to confront that. I just don't know how to appreciate a good thing until I almost lose it, I guess. For the record, though, if we don't get away from here and we die right here, I will consider you my one and only until it happens." She let out a flat laugh, and her response was drowned out by another murder-suicide. Three more elapsed as they sat there, which took another fifteen minutes. "Talk about a damn mood killer, right?" said Alexis, "I mean, really?"
"Look! Traffic's moving again!" Joseph said optimistically. "We may get through this after all! Now, there was something that you started to tell me at the Bittersweet Symphony." Alexis said, "Let's save it until we get the fuck out of here."
And they got on the road, got out of there, and made a happy couple for the rest of their lives.
Chapter Six: The Fucking Downer Ending
Which turned out to only be about four and a half more hours. They were cuddled up on their third story hotel room bed, with the cat, the TV showing the emergency situation, and a thunderstorm raging outside. All of a sudden, the television started buzzing. It informed them that the affected area was going to be a lot larger than previously believed, and to prepare for the gas by sealing everything. It also stated that their area was about to be nailed in fifteen minutes.
"We're not going to live through this, are we?" Joseph asked. His only response was one word: "Nope." "Well, shit," he said. "What were you trying to tell me, anyway?" She sighed, "It really doesn't matter, but... I'm pregnant. You're the only man I've had sex with in a couple months, so I was telling you that you're going to be a father. Doesn't matter now, does it?"
"Not possible," Joseph said. "I had a vasectomy three years ago. I shoot blanks." "BUT HOW...? You know what, it doesn't even matter now. Let's just go watch it roll in. I've heard it's kind of pretty," said Alexis.
And as they stood there on the balcony with bated breath, watching for their doom, they saw a violet glow approaching from the north. And as the purple haze rolled in through the rain, Joseph said, "It is kind of pretty, but not as pretty as you." Alexis smiled, and said sarcastically, "At least we made it to the safe zone." Then they laughed; and then they were no more.
Epilogue: It Happens.
Johnny and Eddie were walking through the streets of Terre Haute. They were with DMORT. As they were walking down Wabash Ave, looking for the dead, they came across the Bittersweet Symphony bar. "Didn't you say you came here once when you were here a few months back? How was it?" asked Johnny. Eddie replied, "Well, I was drinking and I got stupid. I had a few too many drinks and tried hitting on the bartender... Alexis, I think... She turned me down, and I went to the back to rub one out. I got it everywhere... toilet seat, toilet paper, sink, mirror. Then I walked out and realized I was in the women's pisser. I left then." "Wouldn't it be fucked if you got some poor girl pregnant?" asked Johnny. "Don't be stupid," replied Eddie. "What are the odds that that would happen?"