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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s early yet, and I’m already tired.

I can hear them, out in the wilderness. I can’t see them. Not yet. But I can hear them. Slow, liquid breathing, like a throat gummed up with day-old mucous. I imagine rubbery lips pillowing in and out with each breath. Moist, bugged out eyes, looking for me. Nobody blinks out here. You don’t want to know what happens when you blink.

I know you’re there. I f^%$ing hate you.

Dank black clouds strut across the sky, massaging a purple dusk. No moon. It’s a hunter’s night. It’s a night you pray for rain, but the only moisture on your skin is slime eking from your own pores. You blow on your own damned skin in the hopes that it will cool you down, but your breath is as hot as the devil’s farts.

I tore up an old blender, fashioned a power source out of a chain of batteries dug out of old flashlights. Just enough juice for a couple quick frappe’ punches. Two to the face, nobody will bother me again.

The Turtles took some doing. I knew going in it would be three days in the arena. Day one, I came away with nothing but pure adrenal rage. I smelled almonds and stale piss. I tasted wet newsprint and the inside of a farmer’s hat. Nothing seemed to stop the shaking.

By day two, I was numb. Bruises littered my body, bookmarks for my pain. I don’t smoke, but I kept a couple of cigarettes lit, just to press them against my skin. Gotta stay sharp. Gotta stay alert.

I taped three shotguns together, and rigged the triggers to they all go off with one pull. I call it my triple shotgun, because I suck at naming things. I have homemade shells filled with gunpowder and ground up VHS copies of Leonard Part 6. Nobody’s going to laugh at this.

It only took seconds. That so much devastation could occur so quickly makes me burp. I vaulted the first cattle that stormed the gate and grabbed for the Turtles with bile worrying the back of my throat. I felt clawed hands scrape at the back of my neck. I climbed over a body that had gone limp and grabbed for the Turtles. The world was a rusty knife in my thigh. I was grinning like a cash register.

Victory had the reluctant shape of an old washing machine lying in the sun-parched desert. I don’t know how it got there, but I’ll never be able to wash this off of my clothes. But I got them.

I got them, but at what cost?

I fashioned a headband out of thumbtacks and duct tape. I dipped the thumbtacks in the juice of crushed Poison oak.

It’s not enough for you to bleed. I want you to itch. I want to see you clawing at your own skin and begging for the sweet release of death. Get in my way, and you’ll carry a memento of the mistake.

Others weren’t so lucky. You think you’ve seen everything until you’ve seen a man throw his arms back so far he splits his own chest. I walked away a winner this time, but the streets were littered with the wrecked lives of people that weren’t so lucky.

A hand grabs my ankle. I kick it away without looking down. It could have been a friend or lover. That didn’t matter.

The next one was a sneak attack.

You never know when time will run out. F%$k…you think time cares about you? Time moistens the tip of its cigar in your tears. Time wipes its shoes on your soul.

Time is a hemorrhoid.

Batman Beyond was true to his name. It’s beyond me now, and I never saw it coming. Sometimes you forget, when the rolling seasons come around, that vigilance is rewarded, and sloth is nothing but a toilet for despair.

You won’t catch me off-guard like that again. You won’t…until you do.

The worst is coming, though. The worst part of this…this plague that sweeps across the world this time of year. Some Damn Communal Contagion.

I don’t know what it’s going to be. I don’t know when it will be. I just know…oh God, I just know I will do what it takes.

I have filed down my teeth to shark-like points. I will bite the hand that needs, because nobody needs the way I do. I will chew your fingers down to the bone if it means one less hand grasping for that which I desire.

I don’t sleep anymore. Sleep is a luxury reserved for people who haven’t done the things I’ve done…the things I intend to do. I’ll wear your face if I have to. I’ll wear it on the back of my head, and in the split second you’re wondering why I’m walking backwards…it will already be too late. I’ll even put my shirt on backwards too. But not my shoes. No, that would be uncomfortable. I wouldn’t be able to walk with my shoes on the wrong way. Maybe I could tape the front of another pair of shoes to the back of mine. Yeah, I could do that. I could probably come up with specialized shoes, and you could say, “hey, why are you walking backwards?”

But then you’d notice that those weren’t eyes…it was my hair. My hair, from the back of my head, poking out of the eyeholes. And you’d freak out, maybe think I had really long eyelashes for a guy.

But it would already be too late.

There was a time when I was sane. I like to think he’d look at what I become at this time of the year with mild disgust. Maybe he’d feel pity. Maybe he’d feel remorse.

Maybe I don’t care. He doesn’t know what it’s like. But he will. He will. When his brain is nothing but broken glass and speed metal, he’ll know what its like. I’ve got a symphony playing nonstop inside my head. It’s the sound of all of you, crying out in anguish. Agony in F-Minor.

Come on.

Come on, Hasbro.

I’m ready.

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