Gjallarhorn: Contingency Uprising
“No Justice! No Peace! No Racist- Police! No Justice! No Peace! No Racist- Police!”
The channel seven news droned on, detailing yet another black-death-by-white-cop scenario which had escalated into a near riot from the members of the community. This time it was Aaron Denning. A 13-year-old black kid racing his friend home in the heat of summer. The two boys had taken off from school, squirt guns loaded from the water fountain, heading towards Aaron’s house. Aaron’s friend Mikey had cut across a brightly lit alleyway, hopping the fence of one of their neighbors, in an effort to head his friend off. Aaron stayed his course, pouring on the speed, never even seeing the two cops ahead of him until it was too late.
Too late. The two shots, fired from officer Harold Smith, caught the young man in his stomache, rupturing his spleen, with one of the fragments piercing his lungs. He was dead within minutes. When questioned about why he took such a lethal route for a 13-year-old child, Officer Smith was reported as saying, “He- he startled me. We were already in the middle of a tense arrest, and then this kid came barreling out of nowhere with a gun in his hand. My partner yelled wait, but- like I said. He startled me. All I saw was a possible threat and I reacted. I didn’t intend to kill him. My only focus was defending myself.”
Harold Smith was placed on paid suspension until the investigation is cleared up.
“That sucks for Officer Harold,” Tony clicked his television off, taking a bite of his sandwich as he did so. “He was just doing his job.”
David looked at his friend carefully, struggling to fight the stricken look in his own eyes, and the sick feeling in his gut. The two boys were good friends, bonding over complex math and scientific studies at the School for the Intellectually Gifted which they both attended on scholarship. Both David’s parents were black. His father, a tall proud man from Nigeria; his mother a slightly shorter, but equally vivacious black woman from Oakland, California. His mother held two Master’s degrees and one doctorate. His father had built a lucrative media and consulting business from scratch.
Though they would never openly admit it… David knew his parents disapproved of his white friend Tony. It wasn’t because he was white- it was because he was blind to his own privilege. They thought it would end up hurting their son in the long run, but the boys got along so well, that they took a cautious step back to let it pay out.
Right now David was wishing they hadn’t.
“Tony. He shot a 13-year-old kid. To death. On reflex.”
“He felt like he was in danger!”
“Tony the kid was just a few inches over half his size!”
“Well you heard him- he reacted. And he’s sorry.”
David was incredulous.
“Are you serious right now?”
“Dude what’s your problem. Cops are people too. They can react badly sometimes. I mean, it sucks someone died, but that doesn’t make him a bad cop.”
David took a slow breath.
“Tony. The kid, Aaron, was 13. He had, a water gun. And he was executed on the street. The friend he was running with? I followed up on the story. Ran through seven backyards, before cutting back out to the street. Nobody reported it, said he was just doing what boys do. Aaron was black. Mikey was white. Aaron was only perceived as a threat because he was black.”
Tony shook his head, swallowing another mouthful of his sandwich.
“You’re like a brother to me man, but why does everything always come down to race with you?”
“Why doesn’t it with you? You’re supposed to be advanced. Are you seriously telling me you can’t see this?”
“All I see,” Tony mumbled through another bite, “is a very human officer caught in a very unfortunate situation.”
David’s knuckles nearly ripped from his skin, he was clenching them so tightly. He slammed the lid of his laptop shut, tossing it in his backpack before the light even went out. It was followed by the handful of books he had on the table. Backpack flipped over his shoulder.
“I’m leaving,” he said tersely.
Tony looked up in shock, crumbs falling from his mouth as his friend flowed swiftly out of his house, door slamming with a cracking finality behind him.
** ** **
Mayor Paeples steepled his fingers together.
“We need to quiet this. You need to quiet this. That’s what I pay you for.”
The Mayor’s PR consultant sat, unperturbed in the plush seat on the other side of the Presidential styled desk. Suavely ornamented in a navy blue suit jacket over a plain white t-shirt and dark grey jeans, Mr. Derk’s unassuming demeanor was underscored by his intensely contemporary clothing choices. His dark hair hung just over his eyes like a pop star on the rise to glory, plain blue eyes a match for the blue and white Vans perpetually on his feet. Mr. Derk was not a man you would instinctively pay any attention too, other than to laugh at the old guy trying to stay hip. He certainly did not give off the aura of a threat.
And that made him very, very dangerous.
“Mayor Paeples,” Mr. Derk began. “My suggestion would be that you keep your eyes on the big picture.” Here, Mr. Derk’s hands rose in complementary L shapes, forming an incomplete camera lens. “This town won’t be around for much longer- at least not in the sense that the lovely citizens of Glendor currently perceive it to be. Things are coming to a head, quickly, and the final anti-system is just days away from being fully integrated.”
Mayor Paeples stroked his goatee thoughtfully.
Mr. Derk continued.
“Let them have this. Let them get caught up in all their protests, their social media outrage, their resurrection of facts-“
Mayor Paeples snorted.
“Facts are merely the down payment on intellectual castration.”
“Precisely. Their facts are the bait drawing fish from all corners of the sea.”
“And they’re so preoccupied trying to get their mouths around it, that they can’t see the fishing line is their own mutated reasoning leading to a shore of nowhere…” the Mayor murmured.
Mr. Derk nodded.
“They will drown in their truth, before they realize that truth had nothing to do with it.”
“A fitting comeuppance.”
“My sentiments exactly.”
The Mayor leaned back in his chair.
“So we let them have this.”
Mr. Derk nodded.
“We let them rant and rage and rave.”
“I say nothing… because in a few days’ time, nothing said right now will matter anyway.”
Mr. Derk’s eyes were gleaming manically as he shook his head.
Mayor Paeples reached beneath his desk, surfacing with a bottle of gin and two small glass cups. He poured a careful measure of the golden victory serum in each of the their glasses, sliding one across to his PR consultant. Mayor Paeples raised his glass in the air.
“To the big picture then.”
Mr. Derk grinned in acquiescence, clinking his glass in the gloating toast.
“To the big picture.”
** ** **
David had been in his room the whole afternoon, ever since he’d come storming back home from his homework session with Tony. Mumbling something “stupid white privilege” and “I don’t need friends anyway,” his parents gathered that at least one of their concerns about their only son’s closest friend had come to fruition.
“We should go talk to him.”
“He doesn’t want to talk.”
“I’m his mother. I’ll make him talk.”
“And then you’ll become the enemy.”
Destiny Okafor threw her hands up in exasperation. All these years of high priced academic accomplishment and here she was, stumped, by a fifteen year old kid. Her husband smiled wryly at her, his dark skin rippling with energy and life.
“Don’t smile at me.”
“I cannot help it. I love your feisty attitude.”
“Hmph. That makes one of us.”
She scowled, but she couldn’t quite make it reach her eyes. Nambdi pretended not to notice, instead electing to walk over to the bookshelf hanging regally over their upright piano. He thumbed slowly across the worn casings of the literary treasures, stopping at the third one from the end. It was beige and held no letters along the binding, or anywhere else, Destiny saw as her husband brought the book down. The cover was blank front and back. He smiled tightly at the strange volume of work, before handing it to here.
She looked at him, momentarily confused, then flipped through the pages. Her eyes rose to meet his.
“Who wrote this?”
“Have you ever read it?”
“… No. I’ve been waiting for the right time. But. Maybe I never felt the time was right, because the time wasn’t mine anyway.”
“You think this will help David.”
“I think he is seeking his way. And my grandfather excelled in opening eyes to unseen paths.”
As one, the couple headed up the stairs, pausing outside their son’s door on the second floor. They tapped lightly.
Then a begrudging “come in,” lurched through the walls.
They glanced at each other.
Nambdi opened the door a crack and his wife slid the book inside.
They closed the door and strolled back downstairs.
David eyed the non-descript book warily for all of 45 seconds, before dragging himself off his bed with an exasperated groan. His curiosity wouldn’t let him sulk. Not when their was a mystery in the room, right in front of him.
He picked up the old book, noting the frailty of its yellow edged pages, instantly slipping into a state of careful handling. He flipped delicately to the first page.
“There is no date, because time does not matter. There is no name, because identity is eternally in flux. This is truth. Written in my own hand. Everyone may not believe what I have to say. But one day, one person will- and that will be the one who can change things.
The first thing you need to know about “Europeans,” or the so called “white people” is that they’re not real. They do not exist. Not naturally. We made them.
And by we, I mean us. My people. The Ancient Lords of Skin Like Night. Before Africa, before Egypt, before any “black” people you know about- there were the Ancient Lords.”
David couldn’t pull his eyes away, absorbing each page faster and faster almost as if he were watching it on screen and not reading it with his eyes.
** ** **
Several taps clattered against Tony’s window.
He snored right through them.
Down below, David began to reach for more pebbles, when he paused and nearly smacked himself in the head. Straightening briskly, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed his best friend’s number.
He was rewarded with the sight of a ringing glow bouncing daintily through the window glass. No answer. Frustrated, he mashed his finger against the screen, demanding a redial. Tony answered on the 5th ring.
“Hello?” he said sleepily.
“Tony. You’ve gotta come outside. Now!”
“Yes. Come outside!”
“Dave. Bro. It’s 2 in the morning.”
“This can’t wait. Come down now.”
A long pause.
“Fine,” came Tony’s voice. “Coming right now.”
David paced madly in his friend’s backyard, mind whirling in a frenzy. It just makes sense. It just makes so much sense.
“This had better be good.”
David whipped around as Tony came up.
“It is,” he assured him. “But we can’t talk here. Come out to my car-”
“Come out to my car and I promise it’ll all make sense.”
Tony rolled his eyes and followed. The engine cranked itself to life, sounding like a parade of hammers marching on granite to David. He eased his car down the street, headlights off until he reached a corner, then he turned the lights on and accelerated.
“David. Talk. Now. You’re acting crazy man.”
David ran his hand through his hair, suddenly nervous. He knew what he was about to say was absolutely insane, but he couldn’t get away from the perfect sense of it all. He decided to take a roundabout tactic, before diving into the heavy stuff.
“So. You know how we always joke about how badly white people want to be black, even though they’ll never admit it?”
“Ye-es,” Tony said cautiously, still unsure where his friend was going with this.
“The bump-its, the hip hop, the rock and roll…”
“The butt enhancements, the corn rows, the fashion, the swagger… yeah man, we’ve talked about all this before. What does this have to do with-“
“And you know how there always seems to be this racist connection between white people and black people?”
“Well, yeah I guess so-“
David was excited now.
“It’s like you guys can’t get enough of us in one way or another! It’s almost like you’re drawn to us.” They turned sharply, narrowly avoiding a stop sign on the corner, as David slapped the steering wheel. “What if the reason you guys are always trying to BE us, is because you were programmed that way??”
That was the dumbest thing he’d ever heard.
And he said so.
David didn’t care.
“Dude. Listen. It all makes sense.”
“No dude. YOU listen. This doesn’t make any sense.”
“Tony. Please. Please just humour me and I promise you we’ll go home. You owe me after I took the rap for your dad’s car getting stolen with that twenty thousand dollar chessboard still in it.”
Tony winced. As much as he protested David’s excessive claims of racism, he knew all too well that racism was the only reason he’d not gotten in worlds of trouble that day. His dad had absolutely no problem believing it was David who’d wanted to joy ride into a dicey part of the city, decide to enter an illegal night race, and then lose the car in order to avoid getting shot on the spot. To this day, he had no idea why David had spoken up when he did.
Perhaps because David knew.
And didn’t want his friend to get in that kind of trouble.
Because he believed in his friend.
Tony sighed, slumping back in the seat.
“Fine. Go ahead.”
David grinned and slowed the car to a stop, outside of a very familiar looking building. It was the campus of their school. Tony looked at him with a questioning eye.
“Just follow me for a minute Tone. A very long time ago, there was a group of black people known as the Ancient Lords who were millennia ahead of the entire world in terms of psychology, philosophy, biology and every other science. However, they saw that to materialize all of their insights at once would bring about either their own destruction or the destruction of the people they would have to destroy, who would no doubt attack them, thinking their advancement the work of the devil.”
Tony’s face was tight. This was ludicrous.
“Long story short, these Ancient Lords opted to move ahead with one super advancement of theirs. Even they couldn’t resist the lure of an extended life. So they created a clone program. A failsafe of bio-genetically engineered life forms, designed to enhance the lifespan of the Ancient Lords and their families. They were striving to create the perfect bodies. Think heart transplant, but on steroids. And in bulk.”
Tony sighed as he saw David wasn’t losing any steam.
“So, what, the clone gained sentience and rebelled?”
“Exactly! They became self aware and realized how they were being use. And revolted. And in order to make sure that never happened again, they set themselves up as the plight of black people everywhere. Yet it works against them, because- at their core- they were designed to be like us. They want us and hate us at the same time.”
Tony smiled for the first time.
David frowned in concern.
“Here’s the problem with that Dave. Even IF those clones existed, which I don’t believe they did, but even if they did… that doesn’t account for the constant reproducing of that mindset. That’s not how programming works. You know that.”
David shook his head.
“It’s all in my grandfather’s book…”
“Wait, your WHAT?”
“My grandfather wrote a journal, detailing all of this.”
Tony rolled his eyes so hard his head hurt.
“Tony. Come on man. Think. Maybe the corrupted clones procreated with other corrupted clones and just produced a damaged class of people. Maybe there’s some sort of hive mind connection. Maybe some atypical hierarchy of lineage creating a simplistic way of thinking. Psychological conflict between the programming and the resistance of it. Biological decomposition eating away at their brains…”
Tony leveled a finger at him.
“You, my friend, have lost it.”
David was silent for a moment. Then he spoke up. His chest heaved with full commitment. All chips were in with this one. This was his final card.
“We could easily find out you know,” he said softly.
“How.” Tony was skeptical.
“A sublevel DNA test combined with a cross wave comparative brain scan. If I’m right, then you and I will have unusually high similarities. And if I’m wrong, well, then I’m wrong.”
Tony considered this, his mind clicking through options.
“Fine,” he said. “But on one condition. It hasn’t escaped me that you plan to break into the school.” Here David smiled wryly. “So listen up. We’ll do this. And when it comes back wrong, I never want to hear a single thing about this again. EVER.”
David returned the steely gaze.
“Fine. And when I’m right, you’ll help me solve the next part of the mystery.”
The two boys stared hard at one another, then shook on it. Seatbelts slapped into the their respective corners as David kicked the car into drive, pulling it out of sight of the front of the school. Tony paused before they exited.
“Not like I care or anything, but… what mystery?”
David laughed without mirth.
“Seriously? You don’t see it? Come on man. A whole race of people programmed to be something else, only want one thing.”
David stepped out of the car.
“To be free of the programming.”
** ** **
Being in the car talking was one thing. Being strapped down to the machines was another. They’d broken into the school without a hitch- the campus was no match for the combined brainpower of two of its elites. Tony had volunteered to go first, confident in the results to be gleaned. His bio printout lay on a nearby table. David’s sublevel DNA test was also complete. He closed his eyes as the cross wave brain scan commenced, trying not to imagine his brain cells permanently scrambling over the extremely advanced and highly experimental technology.
Five minutes later it was done.
David took a deep breath, palms sweaty. Tony clicked a flashlight on so they could see the reports together…
And nearly spit out his tooth filling.
David was right.
Somehow, inexplicably, their blood work matched with the closeness of relatives. But even more than that… their brains. A secondary study would have to be done for sure, but even Tony could see that his cerebral matter was designed in a way he couldn’t describe other than as complementary to David’s.
“It’s real,” he breathed. “It’s real. Grandpa was right.”
Tony was speechless.
“We’ll need to double up and cross reference with other people, but this is an excellent start. Because if this is as real as I think it is, then that means this goes up to the highest levels. Police, teachers, board executives, the Mayor…”
At that moment, Tony’s flashlight began blinking weirdly. Then it stopped. Tony tapped the back of it in frustration, but David stood transfixed. The light flashed again and stopped. Tony rummaged around in the dark, presumably for some batteries. David stared at the table and when the flashlight blinked again, it all came together.
“Wait a minute,” he said. “That looks like Morse-“
Tony stood, light perfectly fine, gun smoking in his hand.
David’s body slid to the floor.
Mayor Paeples and Mr. Derk stepped out of the shadows, staring at the scene. Tony stood motionless, unblinking. Mr. Derk stepped closer to him and whispered six phrases in his ear. Tony shook his head, mind feeling groggy. He stared at the dead figure lying prostrate at his feet. He looked up at the Mayor and Mr. Derk. Both men nodded. Tony handed over the flashlight and leaned down to pick up the body.
Mr. Derk slid the specialty flashlight given as a gift from the city to every white kid at birth, into one of his inner pockets. Mayor Paeples looked on somewhat remorsefully. They’d come so close to executing the anti-system, without any unnecessary casualties. Two days. That’s all he’d needed.
He stared into David’s lifeless eyes.
“You were right about everything Mr. Okafor. Every single thing.” He held up a cigar, considered lighting it, decided against it, and slipped it back in his pocket.
“Unfortunately for you… there’s a such thing as being too right.”
The three men turned and walked out of the door, Mr. Derk scooping up the printouts on the way. They would have a cleaning team their in the morning and none would be the wiser. David would be found dead in the same area he’d confessed to illegally racing a car in the year before. Business as usual.
T-minus two days.
Joshua Evans is a prolific writer and sci-fi/fantasy enthusiast who believes story is central to everything and that mythology can change the world. He currently hosts two youtube shows- The Truth About Superheroes and Comic of the Week. If you would like to further be a part of his cosmic psyche, you can join him on Twitter and Instagram (@comicsinspire) or simply subscribe to this story reel… and remember- sharing is caring! Cheers!