Following in the footsteps of Robert Ferrigno's Islamists-conquer-America novel Prayers for the Assassin, ACC Studios' comic-book chronicles of a liberal dictatorship, Liberality for All, and Ender's Game author Orson Scott Card's new book Empire (depicting the "red-state vs. blue-state American civil war" in 2008) comes a new masterwork of culture war science fiction: The Colmes Diaries.
I never actually heard the explosion that knocked our convoy off the I-80.
Were weren't 40 minutes out of the New Berkeley checkpoint when the endless vistas of flattened fields and the crumbled ruins of Omaha lulled me into some much-needed sleep. One minute I was looking at the burnt-out hulk of a Sam's Club; the next I was choking on topsoil and brushing hot mud out of my glasses.
"You are all right, American?"
Mahmoud! Gaia knows what would have happened if he hadn't been watching the road. Three brutal years setting off IEDs in the American War of Aggression had given Anbar kids like him something damn close to Spidey-sense. I steadied myself and chuckled a little at this red zoner who figured he could outsmart a blue convoy with an Iraq vet on point. Then I grabbed my M-9.
"M!" I yelled. "Report!"
"Bomb go off!" Mahmoud yelled. "Right there!"
He pointed to the right side of our truck, lying like a stuck buffalo on the side of the interstate. Fire and smoke were billowing out of the gas tank, and when I craned my neck to survey the damage I ducked under the sound of bullets whizzing right above my helmet.
"Frak this," I grunted, gritting my teeth.
"What you say?"
"Never mind! I'm taking point!"
I pulled myself up and yelped at the pain in my leg. Mahmoud heard my weakness and started to make his own way around the truck. On the other side of the overturned cabin the bullets were coming fast, probably from one of those damn M-4s the rebels took with them when they fled the Ellsworth base. Then I heard … silence. They couldn't have stopped firing? Wait. Something else.
These Hannities were whooping it up! They thought they'd got us, that my cry of pain was from getting taken out!
I felt the blood rush to my face as the rebels, still invisible to me under the front of the truck, celebrated their kill. I leapt with my good leg and mounted the roof of the truck. There were three of them.
"What the fu--"
The fattest of the Hannities got cut off in mid-cuss when my slug tore through his 24-inch neck. His eyes goggled; he grabbed at his throat, lost his balance, and hit the ground as blood geysered between his kielbasa fingers.
The fat one's allies looked on, stunned. The rebel closest to me looked like he'd stuffed his fleshy torso into an old police vest, and shoehorned that under a sweatshirt with a silk-screened eagle holding the Old Flag in its talons and screaming "These Colors Don't Run!" The other one had the same suit of "armor" with a different sweatshirt -- a colonial soldier holding a musket, surrounded by blue stars in a white circle. I recognized it immediately.
"Gaw-damn lib!" screamed the one with the eagle shirt. "Blast 'im!"
I flipped up the reinforced door of our downed truck and deflected the hail of bullets spitting out of the rebels' M-4s. The hail slowed; they were emptying out. I ducked around the door and fired a round square into the beak of the eagle on that sweatshirt; the rebel grunted and reached for his ammo belt. I aimed again. Jackpot. Fat red chunks of bone and brain splattered across the turf as the rebel's corpse smashed to the ground.
My adrenaline was throttled, pumping so fast that when the Minuteman's bullet finally hit my hand it felt like Gaia had stopped on her axis. I fell off the truck, onto the ground, and onto my bad leg These Minutemen knew how to fight.
And damn if we hadn't taught them how.
When the UN mandate had come down and the Mexamericanadian Congress had agreed to the Great Repatriation, most of the country was too whipped on legal marijuana and meth to put up a fight. There was no force ready to stop us. Nothing except for the Minutemen, some fifth-rate vigilante group that had set up patrols along the old Mexican border back in 2005, sucking down Pabsts and making sure no wannabe lettuce-pickers crossed the line. A perfect, lazy red zone life -- patriarchal bullshit crossed with creeping obesity. It was a life they weren't going to give up just because some MexAmCan pencil-pushers demanded they hand over their homes to a bunch of Juans and Juanitas.
Maybe it's because I'm the kind of person who can see both sides of an issue -- that was the knock against me, pre-war -- but I sort of understood where the Minutemen were coming from. Who really thought the trial of Senator Tancredo (if you can call a 30 minute hearing, verdict, and execution that we broadcast on MTV2 a "trial") was going to break their spirits? These were the people who opposed the al-Qaeda Treaty, who opposed bringing Sharia law to Minneapolis, who walked out of the U.N. when we elected Secretary General al Sadr.
Now here was one one of them, a six-foot-four rebel straddling me as he took out his sidearm. He was smiling.
"Got anything to say, lib?"
I spat blood. "Sheeeeee-it," I laughed, imitating his red zone drawl. "If there's one thing you home-schoolers know, it's a good cliché!"
The Minuteman narrowed his eyes. He had spotted my ring finger, and my three wedding bands. Even if I explained that two-thirds of them were for my heterosexual marriages, even if I hadn't just shot his buddies, he wasn't going to let me off.
"One nation," he said, pointing his pistol at my forehead. "Under God."
I shut my eyes and heard -- a thump. I opened them and the Minuteman was falling like an old oak tree. Sticking out of his neck was a tranq dart. One of Mahmoud's.
"M!" I laughed. "Where you at?" My partner bounded over, smiling with his tranq gun dangling over his shoulder.
"I have your back, yes?" he said. "God is great!"
"There is no God, M," I said, smirking. "He is an invention of the old, dead way of life that we secular progressives have banished for good. But you ain't a bad shot."
"Shukran gazillan," Mahmoud said as he helped my on my feet and checked my wounds. Nothing too bad. Nothing that couldn't be fixed with a kit.
"Radio the base," I said. "And see what those rebels were riding." Mahmoud only had to search for a minute before he found the rebels' pre-war pick-up truck. He drove it over to me and unloaded the medkit he's found in the passenger side, then pointed out the sticker on the rear bumper.
"You see this before, no or yes?"
Only then did I realize how lucky we'd been to survive this ambush. These guys weren't just sloppy rebels. They were Gee-Dees, members of a militia with at least a thousand members in this zone. They marked their gear with bumper stickers like the one on this truck -- "Git 'er Done," some aphorism from a pre-war red zone philosopher.
"Gaia preserve us," I whispered. "M, see if you can work their radio." Mahmoud dialed in to the base in New Burlington, only an hour away up the highway. After patching myself up I staggered to the radio, just as we made the connection.
"This is Mondo. What's your status?"
Mondo was a libertarian -- as the meaner ones in the force called them, "quislings." People who'd shacked up with the red zoners before the war but broke that treaty after the "conservatives" refused to let the Muslims win the al-Qaeda war. Most of them were on our side now, and if they grumbled about the short shrift we were giving their fantasies of low taxes or legalized cannibalism or whatever, they usually took a second to count the corpses we'd piled up and banished all thoughts of crossing us.
"We're good, Mondo. Encountered three hostiles, dispatched two. A third hostile was taken down but is alive in our custody."
"Sgt. Hussein informed me of that capture. OK. Bring in the truck and the cargo. General Horowitz wants to see this."
I stopped. "General Horowitz? You trust him on this?"
"We're very aware of how his allegiances stood before the conflict," Mondo shot back. "He has proven himself many times over since then. We wouldn't be on track to fulfill the Chief Justice's five-year plan without the general's genocide device."
"That's fine," I sighed. "We're coming in." I signed off.
"We ready to go soon," Mahmoud said. "Need clean it up first."
My partner ripped off a little thing I hadn't noticed in the cabin until now -- the Gee-Dees had a cross. Not one of the little silver knick-knacks like you can buy in the Santorum Museum. No, the full-on Christ symbol, the little man splayed out on a wooden torture rack, gasping like he'd just been Cheneyboarded.
"Frak," I coughed. "Throw that out before it becomes contagious."
Mahmoud laughed, chucked the icon into the dirt, and grabbed something out of his back pocket. Of course -- a picture of the Chief Justice. Honestly, I liked it fine when we had a president. The abolition of the other branches of government in favor of the Supreme Court was probably necessary, and the current guy was all right, but who's to say what'll happen to a leader when you put him in charge for life? The Muslims took to it like gnat on wine, though. They've got that yen for authority figures. I don't get it, but allies are allies.
"You've got our cargo tied up?"
"He is bagged and he is tagged."
"That doesn't mean what you think it means, Mahmoud. But alright; let's go."
Mahmoud mashed down the photo of Chief Justice Feingold, to make sure it would stick. Then he hit the pedal.
David Weigel is the assistant editor of Reason.
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