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American Atheist: #3

by  Nelly

Posted: Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Word Count: 2209
Summary: American Atheist contains scenes that may be offensive to certain religious groups. The story so far: America has embraced Atheism as a powerful philosophy to replace the God of Catholicism. Unita and her mother have to look after Bobby the son of a Nonfather for the night while he investigates reports of a disturbance in the next village. A special news documentary of the American Atheist, America’s real life superhero and his sidekick Iron Maiden is just about to start




The television crackled once and launched into the Star Spangled Banner. The voice of a young woman provided the lyrics, her voice a gentle undertone to the powerful music. Unita and Ashanti both enthusiastically stood to their feet. Bobby was slower to rise. He had a resigned look and when the others placed their hands to their heads for the traditional salute, Bobby was slow to conform.

Once the music stopped, the image of the atom faded to a single black dot in the centre of the screen. There it remained briefly, only to wink out of existence a second or so later.

They returned to their seats, an air of hushed expectance between them.

Slowly, the grainy image of a man began to take shape, wearing thick glasses that enlarged his eyes, so they looked far to big and out of context with the rest of his narrow features. He stood before a stage, two long sweeping curtains were drawn behind him and a single spotlight shone directly onto his balding head.

"I’m Bud Allwin," he began, "and this is a special news bulletin for Attention America. Today for the first time in the history of our glorious Nation, we are able to present to you not only a live broadcast," he paused, licked his lips and continued, "but a broadcast from the front itself, to where the hero of the people has an important message to give to the public. Please stand by."

The image crackled with static and a high-pitched whine emanated from the television.

"What about Iron Maiden?" Unita asked desperately.

"Quite Unita." Ashanti waved her into silence, then her face lit up; "It's just liking watching the movies, only in the comfort of our own home."

"If we turn off the lights it will add to the effect," Bobby added quickly.

"Good idea," Ashanti said carelessly, eyes stuck like glue to the television set.

"Mamma I don’t…" Unita began, but Bobby interrupted and drowned out her voice.

"I'll see to it." He practically ran to the light and turned it off.

The room plunged into darkness.

"Perhaps you should get nearer to the television?" he asked Ashanti. "That way the picture will seem larger, just as if you really have gone to the cinema."

She nodded her agreement and edged her chair closer.

Bobby sat back down, next to Unita.

"I swear Bobby if you try anything…" Unita began, but again Bobby cut her off.

"Quiet Unita, it's starting."

On the television Bud Allwin stepped to one side, and the camera closed in on the curtains, which lifted up and silently drew back. A short drum roll followed and the face of the American Atheist appeared upon the screen, a close up shot of him looking directly at the camera and in turn, directly into Unita's home.

"My fellow Americans!" he called, "today we shall all have the pleasure of watching the good home-grown boys of the U.S.A, get a chance to give some back to the Papacy, to hit them where it really hurts. To get one in for Uncle Sam." He let out a deep laugh and the camera turned to reveal several Troopers dressed in grey fatigues, sat hunched over in the back of a dimly lit aircraft. It continued its rotation towards a pair of doors with large circular windows that looked out onto open skies, thick with rain-swollen clouds.

"We are currently flying a highly specialised Superfort over Rome airspace, and literally within a few minutes will have sight of the Vatican City." The camera turned back round to where the American Atheist talked. "Yes, we all know what that means. The good boys of 19th Bomb group have with my aid flown a flight path not only through the Church's defences, but into the heartland itself." He ended on a shout and the troops in the plane roared out.

"Superfort rocks.”

“Tonight we stand on the threshold of winning this war in one final, decisive move.”

Bobby’s hand reached out and rested upon Unita’s knee.

The American Atheist walked over to the windows. “This plane and the other two planes with us are carrying something that if used, will mean the utter and complete destruction of all life in the city below,” he stopped and pointed, “and there she is now.” The camera quickly zoomed in on a golden figure emerging from the inky blackness, to fly level with the plane. Iron Maiden lifted a perfectly carved hand and waved at the camera.

Despite herself, Unita felt a thrill of pleasure.

Without warning the camera changed angle, so the plane, the American Atheist and troopers were all upside down.

“Now that’s strange?” Ashanti said leaning closer and squinting. “Why would they do that?”

One of the troopers ran forward and knelt down over the camera, his face couldn’t be seen, but his nametag was clearly labelled ‘Johnson’.

“Ooh that’s Etna’s son, she will be pleased,” Ashanti cackled, but her laughter was short lived.

“He’s been shot,” Johnson cried, “ he’s only gone and died.”


***



The world seemed to stop.

“Pull yourself together lad,” the American Atheist commanded, “and pick up that camera.”

Before Johnson could reply, or anyone else could act, everything went crazy.

A deafening roar and a sound like the constant ripping of paper. The troopers began to dance weirdly about the plane, small fountains of red springing forth from their chests. Beyond the doors, brief flashes of pale light appeared, and hundreds of tiny holes were punched through the side of the aircraft.

The camera rolled back and forth as a trooper staggered into it, the image becoming surreal and disjointed.

“I don’t understand,” Ashanti said confused, “what’s going on?”

Unita understood. The troopers were all being killed and with them maybe the American Atheist.

Iron Maiden suddenly changed direction in mid-flight and ten jagged lines of lightning erupted from her outstretched fingertips. She fired at something in the night, and briefly Unita caught sight of a vast black plane racing by, belching smoke and debris, electricity still flickering through the cockpit. It’s pilot twitched like a marionette on the strings of a puppeteer, his purple robes smouldering.

The Vatican’s Nightime Flyers!

“Pick up the camera.” The American Atheist’s voice could be heard from somewhere in the plane.

“They’re all dead man. 19th bomb group are gone.” It was Johnson’s voice, near to the camera; he sounded terrified and close to tears.

Pick it up!” American Atheist shouted.

The camera wobbled and the American Atheist came into view, slightly out of focus.

“People of America, I don’t know how, but the Vatican have found us.” An explosion beyond the plane clearly highlighted an American bomber breaking into hundreds of separate pieces, cut off his voice.

Unita thought she saw the pilots in a last moment of life, screaming as the fire utterly consumed them.

“We have to continue with our mission,” the Atheist snarled and staggered towards the cockpit, as he went a second explosion rocked the plane.

“No, no, no that was ours, our last wingman, we’re flying out here alone.”

The American Atheist turned around; his eyes focused and calm. “I’m never alone,” he said. “Not while she’s with me.”

“I’ve haven’t been with your type before,” Bobby whispered.

Unita’s hatred for Bobby began to surface. A deep pulsating rush of anger hardened her muscles and tightened her eyes.

The harsh bark of machine gun fire flickered through the night, only to be answered by a single beam of gold that lanced out through the skies and silenced its call.

Iron Maiden was giving some back.

Johnson backed himself into a corner. The camera clearly showed the bloody interior, the dead bodies twisted and ruined, were scattered across the floor. Blood and gore lay over everything, it even dripped from the edge of the camera. His laboured breathing rattled the microphone and distorted the sounds, making it difficult to hear what was going on.

The American Atheist reappeared, looking even more serious than before.

“What did the pilots say?” Johnson’s voice sounded high, almost comical.

“Nothing. They’re dead. Window’s all shot through, must have happened on the first attack.”

A strange sound floated from the television, like running water or a spilt drink.

In one single stride the American Atheist stepped over to Johnson and grasped him by the throat, “You weak bladderd fool, get a grip, the mission still has to be completed.” The camera twisted so it looked right up Johnson’s nose. “We’re all going to die sometime, you have to accept that, but unlike most we can make a difference.”

“But I don’t want to die,” Johnson wailed.

“Tough luck son, you don’t have to be scared of death. It’s a natural state and you won’t even be aware of it.” The American Atheist let the trooper go and stalked off to the back of the plane.

Johnson fell to the floor, “Help me,” he whined. “Please somebody help me.”

The camera tilted and the pitch of the plane changed. The noise of the engines were dropping down low.

“Atheist!” Johnson screamed, “the plane it’s going to crash!”

“I should hope so,” the American Atheist shouted back, “I wedged the dead pilots body so that it would.”

“What!” If Johnson had screamed before his voice now became a shriek. “Why did you do that for?”

Dragging something heavy with him, the American Atheist replied, “Because we have to be certain this plane hits the Vatican. There’s no room for error and no second chances.”

He dropped before the camera a long black missile, roughly the same shape and size as a submarine’s torpedo.

“This is an enhanced radiation warhead.” He patted the metal casing. “ The kiloton yield is small enough only to cause minimal damage, but the X-rays, Gamma rays and Neutrons will be sufficient to punch through armour and several feet of earth. It’s a giver of death and the bringer of peace for our Nation.”

“You can’t activate the Neutron bomb now!” Johnson said with disbelief.

“Make your peace with the world Trooper, because its check out time.” He lifted the top of the bomb, studied it for a moment and made a slight adjustment. “Thirty seconds ought to do it.”

Ashanti’s face was less than an inch away from the television set. “Come on American Atheist. You can get out of this, you always do, what about Iron Maiden, wont she rescue you?”

American Atheist crossed to the doors and looked out into the sky, after a moment he said, “Good girl. She’s not following.”

“What’s so good about that, Iron Maiden could save us there’s still time,” Johnson pleaded.

The American Atheist slowly shook his head. “No there isn’t. She might get to us, but she wouldn’t be able to get away. The blast radius would catch her as well.” He faced the camera, looked down and breathed out. “America, this will be my last words to you.”

Bobby leant in closer and stroked her hair. “You’re so beautiful,” his voice sounded thick, almost syrupy.

"We are as rich and as varied as life itself, but we can all agree upon one thing.” The American Atheist looked passionately at the camera, “There is no God!”

“Our faith in this, has led us as a Nation to war, with the other great countries of this world. Hundreds of thousands of us have died on both sides, and before the dust settles many more will be counted.” His blue eyes shone as he spoke, as if on the verge of crying. “America will not be a slave to either man or their delusions of the divine. Always remember we are not less than dust to an almighty being, we are not servants who mindlessly worship that which they cannot understand.”

American Atheist managed one last smile for the camera, a white flash of perfect teeth accompanying every word. “We have been and always will be free. But freedom comes at a price. Remember be strong, accept your diversity, it is what makes us who we are.”

Unita punched down hard into Bobby’s groin, he grunted in shock, leting go straight away. “Please Unita,” he begged. But Unita’s attention was back on the television screen, back on the American Atheist.

“Goodbye America,” the American Atheist saluted the camera. “May the collective have mercy upon my projected consciousness.”

Behind him the darkness folded back, and through the double doors the domed roof of Saint Peters Basilica appeared, followed by a flash of sandy covered houses packed tightly together, and then the vast expanse of Saint Peters Square rushed to meet them.

“Noooo!” Johnson screamed and the camera went blank.

Unita also screamed as did Ashanti and Bobby, although Bobby screamed because Unita clenched her hands tight, summoning all the strength she could muster into causing Bobby pain. Bobby’s scream became a high pitched squeal, like that of a pig and he passed out.

Bud Allwin’s face reappeared on the television screen, “Get them back,” he shouted, “get the Atheist back on this instant.”

Anger gave way to tears and Unita started to cry, sobbing in hysterics at the death of the American hero.

Ashanti soon joined her.



***