Changing of the Guard
Nine high speed lanes traveling East, twelve West, fourteen North, and seventeen South. They braided themselves together right here in an area called Four Corners. The sound of never-ending traffic on the underpasses and overpasses was punctuated by squealing tires, vulgarities, and gunfire. It was a complicated mess made worse by malfunctioning traffic lights, vandalized signs, and the concrete safety islands that, long ago, lost their protective side barriers. Crossing the street on foot was almost impossible and the crosswalks only served as a cruel taunt for pedestrians.
Vicious street gangs controlled this area. Four Corners wasn't just a tangle of steel and exhaust, it had four of the largest and most violent gangs in the city controlling it, each holding a corner. Every night they gathered here to shout gang slogans, flash gang signs, and exchange inaccurate gunfire. With thousands of members throughout the city, they were armies more than gangs.
The leader of the Southern corner shaded his eyes and stared down at his timepiece. As the hour struck, he shouted to the shuffling crowd of green-clad gang-bangers standing behind him, “South Side!”
A word rumbled out of the gang and the rumble slowly built in volume, “Southside, southside, SOUTHSIDE!” The few hundred voices were not quite in unison, but the volume was impressive. “South, south, SOUTH!” On the last syllable, the Southsiders fired hundreds of rounds of ammo wildly into the warm night air.
Standing emotionless across the street, a red army marched in place. Their footfalls landed like drumbeats as the Southsiders bellowed and brayed. A man in a red beret stood at the front with his hand on his wristwatch. At fifteen minutes after the hour exactly, the wild southern gunfire ended. It was the West's turn now. “West Side,” shouted the red beret. “ Show those fools how it's done! Maneuver eighty-eight...execute!”
The assembled red troops broke into a long line that wove itself together until it had no front or back. Five hundred bodies moved in and around themselves like a snake hypnotically twisting itself into knots. On command, the odd formation froze in place, dropped to one knee, and drew their sidearms. Their deep voices boomed out as one, “East side CRIES! South side LIES, North side DIES, West side RISE!” As they stood, they fired one shot at an elevated angle, just inches over the head of the man next to him. When viewed in this near dark, the muzzle fire from this formation combined into something that looked and sounded like a single blast from one mighty cannon. BANG!
The Northern leader was not impressed by the pyrotechnic theater of the Westerners. He called out to his brown-shirted troops and they snapped to attention. Before their voices could rise, an impossible rain of West side projectiles began landing among them. The hail of dropping lead fell onto the tightly gathered North-side troops like artillery made from stinging metal bees. Hundreds of superficial slashes and punctures appeared as the plummeting rounds spun into exposed flesh. With so many wounded and several dead, they broke ranks and fled in a panic. The laughter from the West side was cruel and mocking.
The East side came to life with flashing lights and loud hip-hop music. A squad of acrobatic young ladies wearing skin-tight black bodysuits, and little else, clacked out a solid tattoo on the small wooden drums they had strapped to their waists. A silent column of very serious men followed. Wearing black body armor, full-face helmets, and carrying large automatic rifles, they marched into view through an archway of metal pipes coughing orange fire.
An armored vehicle came clanking through the flaming tunnel. A hatch opened on top and a man wearing a black trilby rose into view. He spoke quietly into an amplified microphone, “I am Hrah! I am God!”
Behind the tall barricade that divided the parade grounds from the rest of the neighborhood, the East Side Nation stood gathered. The rumble and shake from fifty-two lanes of highway speed traffic was replaced with a rolling shock wave that pulsed outward from the East side. A deep tone issued forth, a combination of thousands of chanting voices and twice that many stamping feet. It hammered outward with such force that children and smaller adults were knocked down or sent reeling. “Hrah! Hrah! Hrah!”
“Today, I am more powerful than God! Behold, East Side!” A small square panel at the front of the tank slid aside and a small missile launcher extended outward and snapped into position. It held a long, tapered missile, similar to a pool cue with fins painted black. It could easily level several city blocks. A more powerful series of crowd-based shock waves erupted from the East Side. “Hrah! Hrah! Hrah!”
“I am Hrah! I am beyond God!” A line of lights down the side of the missile began to glow red and then yellow. “I am Hrah! I can slay God himself!”
More ground shaking cheers, “Hrah! Hrah! Hrah!”
The yellow lights on the missile turned green. The missile was now armed and ready to fire. Hrah smiled. He could press a button and reduce his enemy to ash. His finger stabbed towards the fire button. “I, Hrah, greater than God, sentence you to burn in-”
An enormous blue bolt of lightning arced down from Heaven and struck Hrah squarely on top of the head. He and his tank were vaporized, leaving a deep, smoldering crater and a few tiny specks of flaming shrapnel.
“TOPSYYYYYDE!” shouted God. He smiled broadly, exposing His gleaming gold front tooth. “Greater than the G.O.D.? Ha!” He made barking sounds and then leaned back inside the vehicle. He retrieved His open 40 ouncer from the floor which, miraculously, hadn't spilled. Turning to Saint Peter, His driver, He said, “Gotta represent, ya feel Me?”
Saint Peter's long gray beard and bald head slowly nodded in agreement, “I feel you, Dog. I feel you.”Tweet