Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Wealth of Nations

The shrine was the first stone laid on American soil by the British, a plinth of solid jade driven into the ground. The dome above it had been erected decades later, and its walls were engraved with the prayers and sacred mandalas that had made imperial colonialism possible in the New World. But no more. The English had been driven out –by Washington and his marvelous war machine, the half-man Jefferson and his sorcery, Rochambeau and his fleet of airships. And it was to uproot this final outpost of the empire that the Sagacious Hero of the Treasury made the long and arduous pilgrimage to Plymouth, crossing the glassy wastelands of Massachusetts.

Custom held that all who would speak with the shrine’s god must wait three days before the door, practicing all austerities of suppliance. Offerings were to be made, of silver, gold, and blood. Alexander Hamilton did not practice the austerities nor offer up the tribute. He pulled back his wig, straightened the cotton robes of office he wore, and rapped his fist against the great stone portal of the shrine. And for all the wards and seals that had been laid upon that ingress, they had no power to stand against a Sagacious Hero acting in his bailiwick. The doors opened, and Hamilton stepped in.

Hamilton sniffed to see the empty shrine, no longer festive with merchant stalls, slave markets, and vestal economists. The green-veined altar stone stood as sole adornment, and it was up to this he strode. He placed his white-gloved hand palm down on the stone, and spoke–not the prayers of proper entreaty, or the invocation of miraculous benefice, but a command. “I stand at your altar and brandish the authority of my office. Come forth, Mun, for we must speak.”

At the young sage’s beckoning, wisps of gold and silver light limned the altar’s face, swelling up to a veritable bonfire of of luminance. There was a deafening blast, as the clink of a thousand brazen coins within some cosmic till, and Mun stepped forward from the altar. The God of Economics was clad in a suit of immaculate black silk, festooned with ornamental chains of silver and gold. They wrapped tightly around his arms and legs, only barely jingling as he stepped forward. The god had no true visage, for no divinity could assume a true counterfeit of humanity. Where a man ought have a head, there was merely a seething soot-black of smoke, bearing a mask of whitest porcelain, carved into a patronizing sneer. The All-Numismatic One spoke, with a voice clamorous as the fiercest battles of the stock market’s arenas.

“Who dares seek the benefice of Mun?” he bellowed out. “What last man, still loyal to his king, speaks before the altars of my shrine?” His voice did not fade, carrying on in a sonorous arpeggio, but Hamilton cut him off with a decisive flick of his right hand. The Sagacious Hero of the Treasury looked on the god with contempt alone, speaking as he would to a child. “Mun, it is time that you change, or die. America has no need of coin and colony, no need of your divine domain. Are you so mad that you would cling to an abandoned temple, rather than shuck your mask and chains?” There was no allowance made for argument or condition in Hamilton’s chill monotone.

Mun bellowed and blustered, both bear and bull in his rage. “You dare? You dare defy me, in my place of power? The sun shall never set on my divinity, foolish mortal. My words are backed by the royal authority of the King, by the ordained propriety of the Divine Hierarchy. Does such a lofty authority give your words such weight, Hamilton? Are there any in this mad and kingless nation who would give you power to speak thus?”

Hamilton’s response flowed from his feet, poised in a stance surer than the imperial currency. It flowed through him as he twisted, his shoulders twisting to drive forward his blow. There was much of the West Indies in his blow, the swaying dance of tense muscle and fluid movement, but at the same time his lunge was restrained, cautiously tempered in the way of the Scottish war-philosophers. His reply was a strike of both Old World and New, and its power was unanswerable. His gloved fist pressed firmly against where Mun’s sternum ought to have been, driving the god off of his feet.

The deity snarled, half-rising from the ground. He did not stand, nor press back with a blow of his own–instead, the chains that coiled around his body unlimbered, lunging out at Hamilton like the tentacles of a wrathful kraken. Hamilton leapt to one side, but could not avoid the chains. The auric snares turned in the middle of their fly, snaking around Hamilton’s limbs and drawing taut. The tremendous pull forced the Sagacious Hero of the Treasury to his knees, and as he fell, Mun stood. The coffer-god loomed over his restrained foe, barely holding back his mirthless laughter. “Fools, fools, a world full of fools. Now you see, Hamilton? You stand alone against a god, a god invested with power both imperial and divine. You cannot hope to win, cannot hope to conquer me!”

There was a stony, painful noise as Hamilton gritted his teeth, shaking his head. “I do not stand alone. Mun, you may speak for the empire and the heavens. But my words,” he said, forcing himself up, despite the onus of his chains, “are backed with hot blood!” An aurora of scarlet light burst forth from Hamilton’s breast, blinding his divine foe. He pushed his shackled arms forward, plunging them into the stream of light. “And MANLY! FIGHTING! SPIRIT!”

The crimson coalesced into being, becoming a sword within his hands. Its hilt was ruby-studded, and its curving blade tinted the faintest vermillion. With one swing, Hamilton clove through the chains that bound him, sending links of precious metal clattering to the ground. Mun stepped back, trembling with the fear of his sudden revelation. “But that’s...that sword...”

Hamilton drew his blade overhead, locking eyes with the god’s mask. “Yes, Mun. Behold! I wield the Wealth of Nations!” Hamilton leapt forward, striking out with the legendary katana forged by Adam Smith. Only a true economist could draw the blade forth from his heart, and only one who had studied the Seven Arts of the Upright Capitalist could wield it. Hamilton brought down his sword in the first of the seven arts, the Propitious Allocation of Resources Kata. Its tip carved through Mun’s porcelain mask, splitting it perfectly in half. Before the smoky, amorphous visage could even assume a look of outrage, Hamilton drew back and dealt out a whirling blow, the Boom-and-Bust Barrage that sliced cleanly through the black silk of the Bank-God’s suit. Hamilton ceased his movement in a single instant, falling from motion to stillness as the price of a stock when the closing bell is rung. He smiled...and seconds later, all of Mun’s divine panoply, his vestments and accoutrements, fell to the ground.

Mun was now little more than a cloud of smoke, the trappings of his divinity cut away by the sacred economics of Hamilton’s blade. The Sagacious Hero sheathed his sword in his belt, walking towards his vanquished foe. “Mun, I am Alexander Hamilton, and I will not abide this foolishness, these childish outbursts. They ill befit a god. You are conquered, and by my blade you are reforged. Now rise, Mun, and become a god of America!”

And at Hamilton’s commands, the God of the Economy took on an assumption novel and strange. Gone were the silver and gold of mercantilism, the silk of opulent luxury. The new Mun wore an apron of leather over vestments of grey-white cotton, well-suited to an honest worker. No mask hid his smoky mien, now shaped into a grandfatherly countenance–a pair of spectacles was their sole adornment. All trappings of his past domain had been sundered, replaced with the mantle of capitalism.

Hamilton’s smile subsided, falling back into his cool manner. “Excellent.”

Monday, August 3, 2009

Radio Gaga

I wanna hold ‘em like they do in Texas Plays

When the first star spat out its massy effusions, she was there. When the infinite placenta of the cosmos was first torn open, she was there. In the shapeless, inchoate nothingness before matter and entropy first emanated into reality, she was there. To such an alien consciousness, sentient beyond the constrains of time imposed upon our understanding of the world, the existence of humanity is the faintest flickering in an endless midnight, a cosmic improbability that is simply waiting, inevitably, to collapse back into the seas of statistical chaos. It is impossible that she could care for the extancy of mankind, an absurd to even conceive that she could feel compassion, empathy, or understanding for beings so limited and fragile. But nevertheless, we have attracted her interest. The follies of us uplifted apes must light some amusement or intrigue within the boundless complexity of fractal selfhood that is analogous to a mind within her, and the least scintilla of her omniscient attentions have been turned to the terrestrial sphere of our home.

Can’t read my, can’t read my, no he can’t read my

She remembers Rome, remembers Babylon, remembers the savage and degenerate hominids that dwelt in caves before fire and language had made men of apes. Ever since the inception of our sapient species, she has called out to us, in a language whose phonemes and syllables are as the pulsating event horizon of a black hole to mere human minds. Those who hear her song fall to madness, their minds consumed within the vastness of her alien beauty. The asylums are filled with her children, all selfdom shattered by her greater, more majestic presence, and each generation seriatim has been rendered more susceptible to her call, the intricate spirals and helices that pattern the prerequisite sensitivity propagating crescenticly. All mortal art is the merest emanation of her into our culture, image and word and music all unknowing replicas of her beauty.

And baby when it’s love if it’s not rough it isn’t fun

Better that our world was gouged out by far-flung asteroids hurtling through the void, or torn asunder by some force incomprehensible. Better that life never was, never walked out from the sea than to have her walk our Earth. But the hapless stock of humanity is not so fortunate. She has sheathed an infinitesimal seed of her essence within a couagulate husk of life, biotic matrices of teratoma that counterfeit humanity. Inhuman and unearthly is her aspect, though the failing an unscient senses of mankind see it not. How weak is the mind of man, to be reduced to a hollow thrall by the mere sight of her, consumed by that simulacrum of beauty! Already her mortal assumption has spread tendrils throughout society, drawing an atavistic and inhuman cult unto her, her Haus.

‘Cause I’m bluffin’ with my muffin

And she sings, sings out to mankind with the polyphony of madness. At her voice, arms and legs unbidden dance, raving in spastic gyrations like the whirling limbs of galaxies. She awakens lusts unspeakable, the suppressed concupiscenses of our primitive and inhuman forebears. And these are merely the least preludes of her reign, a paltry prevision of what she will wreak upon our world. When she casts aside the falsehood of face she wears, unveiling her true and alien form like an imago bursting forth from a chrysalis of gossamer dreaming, she will open her squamous mandibles, revealing a gaping maw whose gargantuan admeasurement will scrape the celestial zenith. And she will sing.

Muh-muh-muh-my po-po-po-poker face, po-po-po-poker face

No prophet, no power of human imagination has ever had the capacity to conceive the apocalypse that she will harbinge. The most rudimentary axioms of society will shatter and implode upon themselves at the first notes, and all the cities of our doomed world will run with blood and sanguine-slick offal before the end of the first measure. She will shatter all selfhood outside the bounds of her own cosmic ego, breaking all of man and beast to her will. When the last stars die, when the last nebular clouds are swallowed by the maw of whirling black holes, when all of reality is rent by the inevitable mandates of entropy, Earth still will remain, illumined by her awful presence. And mankind will be immortal, blind idiot gods stripped of all humanity.

And all we shall hear is Radio Gaga.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Anyone Died

anyone died in a rat-and-bone town
(with up so floating many shells down)
fourteen fifteen seven-and-eight
he fought his didn't he killed his did

Soldiers and boys(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
guns bombs wire pain

Generals guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
fourteen fifteen seven-and-eight)
that noone killed him in the war

when by now and gas by shells
She laughed his joy she cried his grief
Fight by fall and dawn by death
anyone's war was peace to her

someones murdered their everyones
birthed their dyings and did their dance
(sleep wake fight and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

guns bombs wire pain
(and only the poppies begin to explain
how generals are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many shells down)

one day anyone rose i guess
(and noone followed in his rank)
busy folk scurried and fled in fear
bone by bone and brain by brain

tooth by tooth and groan by groan
and more by more they walk their dead
noone and anyone, death by undead
war by zombies and if by no.

Soldiers and boys(both bone and meat)
fourteen fifteen seven-and-eight
reaped their sowing and went their came
guns bombs wire pain

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Virtue and Vampyrism

It is a truth universally acknowledged that suffering arises because of desire. However, it is almost inevitable that this truth is so fixed in the minds of certain people that they consider it almost embarrassing, and make a semblance of ignorance for the benefit of their neighbors. "Oh, suffering? Probably arises out know, lack of fiber in the diet. Or all the zombies around." Which was, while not a noble truth, fairly close to the point, for while the suffering that ensues from having one's brain messily and thoroughly devoured by the undead most directly arises from one's own material attachment to their own cerebrum, the zombie can hardly be said to not have any involvement.

William George Austen was of the firmly-held opinion that suffering, whatever it might arise from, was not morally bettering, nor, in the case of zombie-related mishaps, intellectually enriching. He desired only a loving family in which he could take pride and comfort, a tot of rum at morning breakfast, a bank vault whose capacious innards held sufficient sums of currency to cause the death by crushing of any ne'er-do-well who should intrude upon it, and the occasional ruddy-cheeked prostitute. And so when his daughter Jane was born, he decided that he would gift her with a life free of suffering, that she might have better prospects of finding a sufficiently monied husband so as to provide funding for the latter desires in William's twilight years. It was well known that the local gentlemen scarcely allowed young Jane to be pretty, and were the weight of suffering to be added onto that, then all hope of matrimony would be dashed.

And so Jane's father summoned up a stern-faced demon governess to watch over Jane, and to see to it that she did not see the poor, the sick, or the aged, and that she might forever remain ignorant of suffering. Whenever the young girl went out for her morning constitutional, or her evening peregrination, the demon governess would walk a few steps ahead of her, incinerating any beggars or street urchins with her horrible death-ray eyes before they could blight Jane’s innocence.

But Jane was a child both precocious and perspicacious, and she could not help but notice the heaped-up ashes and the silhouettes burned into walls that seemed to appear every time she went out with her governess. She made certain inquires to her father regarding her governess’s horrible death-ray eyes, but was met with resolute silence and sent to bed without supper. Jane suspected that a girl of sixteen years was slightly too old to be sent to bed without supper, but did not press the point, and took her banishment with phlegmatic resolve.

And it was on such a night that Jane espied the figure of a man, crouched outside her window. Though the mere thought of a peeping tom gazing through her window brought a ferocious blush to her youthful cheeks, she nevertheless unlatched the window and threw it open, inviting whomever might be perched upon the sill in, with hopes of adventure and excitement. Jane, however, not being experienced in the field of inviting strangers in from off of window ledges, failed to notice that in opening the window with such vigor, she had inadvertently knocked the intruder from the windowsill, down into the gardens below. He collapsed jauntily upon a rosebush, a rather difficult feat, all things considered.

Jane knotted her bedsheets together, and lowered them down to aid the man – who she now saw to be quite young – embarrassed over her fecklessness. He grabbed at the makeshift rope, and she had soon pulled him through her fenestration. At once, she recognized his countenance. “Why, you’re that Coleridge boy!” she exclaimed, both startled and somewhat pleased, for while Sam Coleridge’s reputation as a rogue and rapscallion was infamous, he was also possessed of those virtues most exciting to a precociously curious young girl, a hearty lust for adventure and a handsome figure. “Jane!” the boy exclaimed, grinning a neat crescent-moon. “What are the odds that I’d see you here, in your bedroom? I was just going to invite you to accompany me this night on an adventurous romp through the streets of London, and who should I see but you? What an absurd and preposterous happenstance!”

Jane graced his facetiousness with a girlish giggle, and consented to wander a ways with them. They both clambered down the impromptu rope, and set off into London. But, before they could solve any nearby mysteries, discovery whatever pirate treasure might happened to be secreted away in the sewers of London, or watch a zombie fight, Jane was struck by a sight most novel and unfamiliar. It was an old man, leaning on a cane. Jane gazed at the old man with sorrowful eyes, and asked Sam, “Who is this man with grey hair and so decrepit a body, pray tell?” Sam, somewhat taken aback by her surprise at all this, informed her that the man was only elderly, and not to be feared. But Jane squeaked with sorrow at this, and inquired of him again, asking “Is that also to be my fate, that I will grow so old and loathsome?” Sam, rather eager to be getting on with the adventure, explained that old age happened to everyone, and that it happened faster if one were to simply stand around talking instead of going out exploring. Jane was somewhat suspicious of his ratiocination, but nevertheless went along with him, worried in her heart.

But Jane soon fell to a halt again, seeing a man lying helpless on the ground. His limbs were stiff and rigid, as if he had been carved out of ice. “Who is this ma-” she began to ask, but Sam cut her off. “He’s got syphilis. Disease. Nasty thing. Come on, let’s go.” The young man was rather keen on pursuing a route into the unchaperoned drawers of his feminine companion, and would have preferred not to stop and philosophize over the suffering of a syphilitic. He dragged her away towards the nearest theater, hoping to find some entertainment therein.

But once again, Jane stopped in the streets, pointing at a filthy, shambling man. Before she could even begin to ask, Sam pushed her back. “Jane, zombie! Dead thing, eat brains, run away!” he called out, all thoughts of grammar or sentence completion dispelled in the face of the rotting monstrosity. Sam made a most peculiar screeching noise, and down from the skies winged a snowy-white albatross, perching on his arm. He flung out his arm, and the bird swooped at the zombie, tearing away its soft and rotting flesh with its beak. Sam made haste to catch up with Jane, praying that she would not next stop to marvel at a shaggy lycanthrope or a serial killer with an affinity for mutilating prostitutes.

Jane returned home, safe and cerebrally intact, but she was not happy. As she bid Sam farewell and good night, she pondered how it could be that men grow old, or fall sick, or succumb to vile necrobiolobical viruses and reanimate as mindless zombies. And so it happened that she realized the existence of suffering, and fell gravely sorrowful. For seven long days and nights she immured herself within her room, permitting no visits from anyone. Her father bemoaned his feckless governess, who had let his child witness the suffering of the world, and so great was the demon chaperone’s guilt that she took out a hand mirror, gazed deeply in to it, and immolated herself with her own horrible death-ray eyes.

On the seventh day she stepped out of her room, and announced to her father that she intended to go and meditate beneath the clock tower, that noblest of timepieces that stood at hallowed Westminster, until she had realized the noble truths by which she might transcend her mortal suffering. She sat cross-legged in the shadow of the clock tower, every maidenly ounce of her body wholly given over to her meditations. But, just as scientists have found that Nature abhors a vacuum, and will destroy it with walking trees, so too does the inherent suffering of all life abhor a young English girl meditating beneath a timepiece and striving for enlightenment, and so it manifested a spirit of material desire to tempt and assault the girl.

The spirit manifest from dark of night itself, clad in black finery and a scarlet cape. Its skin was inhumanly pale and rigid, and its teeth were snarled with piercing fangs. It stood before Jane, and spoke. “My name is…Dracula.” he said, and Jane looked up at the inherent suffering that stood in the manifest form of a vampire before her. “I bid you…welcome.” Jane regarded him suspiciously, suspecting that the inherent suffering of all life had manifested him to distract her from her enlightenment. Dracula laughed maniacally, and thunder rumbled as he did, stirring up a storm. But for all the bluster of the gales and the fury of the rains, not a single fold of Jane’s dress was ruffled, nor did the first drop of rain strike her head. Dracula pounced on her, seeking to pierce her throat with his fangs and drain away ever last drop of enlightenment, but he found her skin as hard as marble, and his fangs in need of dental attention.

Jane graced his assaults with a girlish giggle. Her heart was filled with all-encompassing compassion, and she suspired pure enlightenment, a coruscating wave of non-ego that would embrace the vampire and redeem him of his ways. But Dracula is a being of material desire! He cannot be enlightened! The enlightenment coalesced around him, forced into a false material form, and fell to his feet as a manuscript. A pandemonic laugh leapt from Dracula’s throat. “Muahaha! Foolish Buddha, you seek to enlighten me?” But then, Dracula noticed the manuscript as his feet, the pages spread about in disarray. So…messy, so…disorderly. He could not help himself as he stooped on one knee, and began counting the pages, putting them in order, as is the well known habit of all vampires. As he picked up the first page, he read from it: “By a former marriage, Mr. Henry Dashwood had one son: by his present lady, three daughters.” Dracula raised his head up the heavens, and shouted, “NOOOOO!”

Jane frowned. “It’s not that bad.” she muttered, feeling a bit embarrassed despite her enlightenment and all-encompassing compassion, even for book critics. By the time Dracula had put every page in order and finished the whole book, it was dawn – and with the sun’s first rays, he would surely be defeated, burning to ash and nothing more. He trembled with fear as he finished the book’s final line, pronounced it dreadful, and looked up to see the dawn. But as the sun rose up into the sky, so too did Jane. She leapt up and kicked the first beam of sunlight, striking it with the All-Things-Under-Heaven Blossoming Lotus Compassion Kick, transforming the light into a ray of pure, enlightening radiation. The light struck Dracula, but did not destroy him – rather, it irradiated him with compassion and detachment from material wants, causing him to become the Nuclear Bodhisattva Dracula.

Jane set out for home as the Buddha, and was prepared to preach the Four Noble Truths she had learned, as well as a most efficacious method for disposing of unwanted vampires. But before Jane could reach her familiar estate, she encountered a zombie. She regarded it with all-encompassing love. It regarded her with cerebrophagous hunger.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Washington Invictus

“There is not,” George Washington had once remarked, “a bullet in this world that has my name on it.” This was entirely true. The General had lost many a coat to an errant musket-ball, and more than once had his horse shot down as he charged, claymore held high. But not once in his life had a soldier, savage or Imperial, marred his immaculate flesh with gunfire. Such power had cost him much–the Seven Lead Devils who presided over firearms were not bought easily. But in the end Washington had struck a pact with each of the divinities, sacrificing much that he might be made impervious to bullets.

However, on this day, Washington, for the first time in the whole of this long war, feared for his life. The British had somehow come to learn of his divine protection–perhaps Dee had finally broken through the wards of occultation laid in the nation’s capital, or else King George had bargained for the knowledge with beings best not spoken of. And so it was that the army marching against Washington today carried no bullets, nor were they even human. The British were fielding velociraptors. A full legion of them, clad in red coats and powdered wigs, advanced on the colonial army, reptilian eyes aglint with the cold malice of primeval hunger.

Washington did not permit himself the excess of profanity as he charged into the saurian infantry; such indignity did not befit a general of the American states. Were his men of a soldierly caliber, they would have followed him into the fray, brandishing their bayonets and thaumaturgic pistols. But he had been saddled with an unkempt rabble, a militia whose talents lay in bluster and bravado. The Americans ran, and soon discovered just how swiftly a pack of ‘raptors could advance. The scaly redcoats had soon laid open the entrails of many a coward, their sickle-curved talons slicing through fatted flesh with unhindered ease. Within mere moments, Washington stood alone, wheeling his claymore around to parry the rapacious claws that beset him. The rest lay in a morass of red, choking on the warm gore that slicked the fields of Monmouth.

Washington was not a man learned of numbers, but even he could count a legion of ‘raptors beyond his puissance to slay. For every scaled body his claymore cleaved through, for every pair of jaws he tore in half with his bare hands, a dozen more advanced, their powdered wigs shining with menace as the sun’s light receded. He cast aside his sword, its weight more encumbrance than boon, and dropped down into a low, centered stance. He knew he could not hope to break the enemy army, not by himself–but his was a code of honor that permitted no notion of failure, no calculated retreat, no weakness of temperance. Washington had trained in warfare with the greatest sages of the blasted North, the Canadian wasteland whose icy expanse spanned between two oceans. And now it was with their ways he fought–the brutal, unstoppable force of the savage Way of the Moose.

As Washington took on the Iron Antler Stance, the raptors drew back, their eyes almost wary. Dinosaurs had once roamed the American continent, but had fallen before the wrath of Utgun Bull-Moose and Yrka Mammoth, the two shaggy war-gods who had sired the nation of Canada. Did the beasts that now besieged him recognize the fighting stance of the god who had slain their ancestors? Washington cared little for such philosophical questions, though he might relate the tale to Jefferson once he prevailed, if he prevailed. After what an almost millennial moment of tension, one red-clad raptor broke ranks, leaping at Washington with its raking talons extended. The General moved slowly but purposefully, changing his stance ever so slightly and extending a single, ring-clad hand. As the dinosaur plummeted towards him, he caught its neck in one hand, his grasp clamping tight around the beast’s windpipe. He threw it to the ground with such force as to shatter its spine with a swift, agonizing crack. The carcass rebounded from the ground, bouncing softly off the hard soil–and, planting a solid kick, Washington drove it into the mass of the raptors, driving them back.

So the fight went, raptor by raptor. One would lunge out, and Washington would shatter its jaw with a knife-hand lunge, driving his fingertips into the soft brainpan of the lizard. Another would seize on the opening to duck under the General’s legs, striving to knock him off his feet. He, however, had held his balance against the charge of elk and the fall of avalanches during his journeys through the northlands, and it would take more than an alchemically-resurrected velociraptor to undermine General George Washington. And for every raptor that leapt and fell beneath his blows, he took a step. Had he sought to run, to escape the horde, they would have fallen on him in instants, carving the flesh from his bones with those cruel claws, so accustomed to American blood. Instead he moved with such slow purpose that the beasts scarcely comprehended he was moving. As long as he stood at the center of their ranks, as long as they were too cowed by his warrior’s mien to attack him all at once, he was invincible.

For three days and nights he fought, forgoing food, drink, and sleep. Lesser men would have succumbed to weariness or hunger, would have gone out in one glorious surge of strength. But temperance was Washington’s watchword, and he kept careful check on his strength. By the end of the third day, Washington had marched thirty miles, beset every step of the way by his saurian foes. Scores of them had been slain, lying in scavenger-picked heaps across New Jersey. But Washington had not slain without retribution; claw-marks were gouged across his body, deep wounds that would have blood copiously out in minutes had the general not slowed the beating of his heart, ignored the burden of his wounds. He could already see his destination in the distance–another hour, and he would be there.

Washington’s mark was the unearthly tor called Beacon Hill. If it had once been a fine pastoral scene, he knew not–for as long as he had been alive, the hill had been a profaned monument to the awful strength of science. For it was on Beacon Hill that Doctor Franklin had devised his final experiment, though it remained untested. The Continental Congress had feared Franklin for his sorcerer’s ways, and Washington much suspected that the bound demon which had devoured the scientist had been summoned by an American thaumaturge, rather than any of England’s imperial magi. But nevertheless, the diabolical machine built atop that hill was the sole weapon capable of defeating such an army, the hellish brood of thunderous lizards whose scale were proof against sword or musket. And so Washington marched onward.

He reached the hill as midnight slouched into its appointed sphere of the sky, casting a tenebrous pall over his struggles. His reptilian foes needed no light to see by, for their inhuman eyes were accustomed to the heat of Washington’s own body, a merit which he lacked. Every step now cost him a draught of his own blood, or a scrap of his own flesh. Intrepid as he was he could not fight forever without surcease, while the teeming multitude of his foes ensured there would always be another raptor. If he failed or faltered before he could reach the hill, America’s fate would be written indelibly upon the loom of heaven, nothing more than a savage land assigned to Britain’s prehistoric allies, the uncouth and ungentlemanly dragon kings resurrected by the darkest of alchemy.

And so Washington’s heart was gladdened as he looked up to the hill, seeing the engine desired and feared at its summit. A needle of pure iridium, scavenged from fallen stars, pierced through the summit of the hill, reaching all the way down to its stony roots. Ringing the starmetal spire were megalithic coils of copper and tungsten, driven into the face of the hill like massive screws. A console of brazen clockworks and polished steel stood before the engine, like a pagan altar to the sky. It was there that Washington would have to ascend to, that he might seize the engine’s reigns within his hands. He leapt forward with a whirling kick, toppling the velociraptors as if they were cherry trees before his axe. He would need to drive them back before he could ascend the hill–and so he hefted high a massive boulder, of such great girth that a dozen men of lesser mettle would have struggled to budge it from its ponderous place. But Washington lifted it without the semblance of effort, and hurled it. Its meteoric fall crushed the forward advance of the saurian troop, and it rolled through their ranks, forcing them back in panic and fear.

Before his foes could regroup, Washington leapt up to the hillock’s peak in seven bounds, as if, by sheer gravitas, he had disregarded the laws of physics that bounded all things to the earth. He approached the mechanical altar, cursing his own ignorance–for it was a bizarre assembly of unpolished levers, eleven-pointed dials, ebon toggles, and all other sundry apparati. He threw a lever–nothing. He struck a combination of keys on the console–nothing. He twisted a dial and pushed in a plunger–again, nothing. He sank to his knees in intemperate desperation, praying to the gods of star and stone that his death might not be horrible. And as he lay prostrate before the machine, he saw his salvation–an open receptacle, lying on the underside of the device. For all its scientific refinement, Franklin’s doomsday device was guided by the same principles as the demons Washington had once bargained with: there must be a sacrifice. The machine needed power, and Washington had what it asked for.

The ring on his right hand was set with a black stone, a strangely-angled gem whose facets revealed unearthly reflections, ghastly apparitions of one man–the traitor Arnold. His punishment had been consignment to Jefferson’s thaumaturgical workshops, where his soul had been forged into this ebon gem. And now, with almost nonchalant disposition, Washington threw the soul of the traitor into the machine. There was a flash of brilliant light as the engine drained the soul of its essence, and the general’s hearing was smote by a howl, the anguished cry of a soul being unmade. And that was all it took. Lightning wound through the coils along the hill, sparking and leaping freely, holding the raptors at bay. Shimmering light coruscated along the length of the starmetal needle, waiting to be discharged. Without calibration or correction, Washington slammed his fist down on the machine’s largest panel.

Triumph. A beam of light, pure and brilliant, emanated from the tip of the spire, touching the skies. It shone firebird red at first, then oscillated through the entire spectrum, until the sky was suffused with violet. And then, the heavens opened, raining down fire from the sky. Bolt after bolt struck the hill, a pyroclasm that incinerated the saurians down to the last raptor. Washington ducked beneath the altar, seeking refuge against the unstoppable force he had loosed. Skyfire fell for what felt like hours, until thousands of charred and sky-scourged beasts lay piled in charnel heaps. Washington stood, throttling back a lever that pulsed with luminescence. As he pulled it back, the beam of light from the machine dwindled unto nothingness, and the sky fell to silence.

Washington left the hill that night, marching alone towards Philadelphia.