Wednesday, 10 November 2004
VERY LONG POST ALERT
They said it couldn't be done. They said I wouldn't really write it. Well, friends, it's amazing what one can do with that many eProps at stake. And so, I give you...
How Christopher Russo Saved the President of the United States and the Queen of England from a Horde of Mutant Zombie Anarchist Ninjas with Laser Guns Using Only His Shoelaces, Two Dead Batteries, Some Wire, and a Spoon
by Chris Russo
So there I was. The year was 1999. The month was August. The place was Washington D.C. The weather was warm and partly cloudy. The ice cream was vanilla.
It was a vacation trip with photographic purposes. That is, I had a camera and I wasn’t afraid to use it. What was I taking pictures of? Well… I could tell you, but then I’d have to shoot you. With my camera. Oh, very well—I was photographing the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
The question is, what is one to do when one is about to photograph a ceremony and realizes five minutes before the beginning that the batteries in one’s camera has died? That is what I had to find out, because that is what happened to me. I hesitated, looking around at the flocks of tourists staring at the guard marching back and forth. Extra batteries? Where was I to procure them? I considered asking the guard, but he looked like he was too busy concentrating. And besides, who goes to guard duty with fresh batteries in their pocket? I certainly don’t.
And so I walked to the cemetery entrance, looking around for someplace where I could purchase batteries. A kiosk, a pharmacy, a black-market battery salesman with all these double-A’s hidden on the inside of his trench coat. (“Pssst. Hey, mister. Wanna buya battery?”)
Lacking any of these, I began to wander down the street, hoping I would find something before the ceremony started. What I found instead, however, was a bunch of people running the other way. I stood there for a little while, frowning, as they passed. But within a few minutes the meaning of this unseemly behavior became clear.
Shambling down the street (Isn’t ‘shambling’ a wonderful word? It gives the impression of shuffling combined with that of slouching, so one is left with the visual image of a hunched-over lope. I love words like that. Shambling, shambling.)
Er, where was I? Yes. Shambling down the street came a host of men and women in black catsuits. Some had black ski masks on their heads as well, though these looked very hot and uncomfortable in the August sun. Those that did not, had faces the white of a fish under a rock, or a slug’s belly. Albino white. Dead white. A few had oozing green pustules, forming tight constellations on their foreheads and cheeks. All of them carried these strange instruments that looked like the unholy mating of a plunger and a hair dryer.
“Doooowwnn wit’ ta’ guuuvnernmen’,” slurred one, as it fired repeatedly into the air. Bright flashes of heat lashed my face.
Another began to smash a store window. “Caaaapllltlleest piiigs,” it moaned.
“Freeeedom…” howled a third, shortly before committing hara-kiri.
An invading horde of mutant anarchist zombie ninjas. With laser guns. I had heard about such things on the news, but never thought such a thing would interrupt my vacation.
Of course, there was only one viable course of action. Run as though a horde of mutant anarchist zombie ninjas with laser guns was chasing me. Which there was. So I guess this is a lousy metaphor.
Ahead of me was a limousine, stopped at a red light. I do not know if the driver was simply not aware of the impending invasion, or if he simply felt that obeying the traffic laws of Washington D.C. to be more important than evading being shot or eaten. Judging from what I know of the strictness of D.C. cops, I’d suspect the latter. But at that moment of panicked running, I only knew that it was a vehicle, it was stopped, and that I was approaching it.
Quickly I yanked open the door and threw myself into it, screaming, “Drive! Drive for your lives!”
It took a few moments to register the rifle pointed at my face, with bayonet attached. In fact, the bayonet was a few scant inches from my left eye. I gaped.
The limo was packed with British guards—the kind one sees standing outside of Buckingham Palace. Their high furry hats were crushed against the low ceiling, and their bayonets made deep gashes in the upholstery. Most of them were sitting stiffly upright, staring straight ahead, except for the one whose rifle was trained on my face.
Then an imperious female voice rang out from the far shadows of the limousine interior. “Sergeant. Thou hast moved.”
The guard aiming at me swallowed. “But… but Your Majesty… This young nipper ‘ere came in and—“
“Thou may put thyself on report upon our return to London, Sergeant.”
The Sergeant paled. “Yes, Your Majesty,” he whispered. Slowly he sat back down, holding his rifle at attention, staring straight ahead like the others.
“Thou there. Young man. What danger hast thou seen, to give thee cause to flee?”
I stared into the shadows, but couldn’t see the speaker. “Er… There are mutant anarchist zombie ninjas with laser guns. Your Majesty.”
“What? Hast this city truly become invaded by the strangely-armed deviant undead rebels trained in the oriental arts of battle? Zblud, we feared so. Sergeant, close the door. Driver, thou must take us to the Palace of Pale Stone with all haste. The monarch of this colonial realm must know of the danger to his borders.”
I felt the limo lurch into motion, almost before the guard had finished closing the door. Slowly I breathed a sigh of relief. The danger was behind us. For now.
“And Sergeant,” said the female voice after the door was closed. “Upon our return, thou shalt place thyself on report twice. Thou hast moved again. As for thou, young man, approach.”
I made my way to the seat at the end of the limo, moving carefully so as not to fall. The speaker was sitting regally in her seat, despite how uncomfortable that hoopskirt must have been. Gold glittered at her throat and ears, and on the dozen rings that she was wearing.
“Who are you? Er, your majesty?” I asked.
She smiled. “We are the Queen Elizabeth of England, young man.”
I stared as I tried to digest this. “No you aren’t. Oh, um, your Majesty. I’ve seen Queen Elizabeth on television, and you don’t look anything like her.”
“Do not thou be impertinent,” she said, arching one eyebrow. “We are Queen Elizabeth the First of England. Duly we were brought forward to thy time via an accidental temporal mishap, conjured by the alchemists of MI-5.”
“Scientists, Your Majesty, not alchemists,” said a nearby guard.
“Ah, yes. A thousand thanks, Lieutenant. Thou may put thineself upon report as well.” She sighed, and turned back to me. “And now thou hast brought news of these rebellious undead, practicing their profane arts in the streets of thy colonial realm. We have fought such before. Mayhaps thou hast heard of the great Invasion of Unorthodox Viking Solicitors of 1593?”
“No I have not,” I confessed.
“The shame that few students and scholars remain in thine age. But hearken! We approach the Castle White of thy monarch. It does not seem the very defensible fortification, but we are sure thou hast many hidden trebuchets and ballistae within its walls. Driver, do direct us right to the front portcullis.”
The limousine lurched, and I lost my balance.
This, I thought, is not my day.
Here I stood somewhere in between six British Guards, their rifles lowered at the eight or nine black-suited Secret Service agents standing opposite them. In another second or two there would be one of the strangest crossfires of all time, and I would be right in the middle of it.
Queen Elizabeth the First was marching back and forth, demanding (in a rather shrill voice) to know why the King of America’s bodyguard didn’t to stand at attention at all times while on duty. “Indeed,” she declared, “Such an ill-mannered ill-disciplined rank and file will avail us little in the face of these deviant Grecian-fire-armed living corpses!”
One of the Secret Service Agents’ gun wavered. “I’m sorry, ma’am but could you repeat?”
I stepped in. “She’s talking about the mutant zombie anarchist ninjas with laser guns that are marching up Pennsylvania Avenue.”
They all exchanged glances. One of them spoke into a microphone on his collar. “Sir, we’ve got a 43A. Repeat, we have a 43A. M.Z.A.N.W.L.G. Please advise.”
I was thinking furiously, however. “Does anyone have a spoon on them?”
“No,” said one of the agents.
“Not on me,” said the British sergeant
“We do not,” said the Queen.
The agent who was speaking with his superior cleared his throat. “Are you Queen Elizabeth? Ma’am, we need to get you and the President out of here, right now.”
Elizabeth drew herself up. “Sir, wilt thou be so cowardly as to not defend thy monarch’s palace?”
“Your safety and the president’s come first,” the agent said simply. “Follow me, please.”
We must have made an interesting procession, practically jogging through the varied rooms and halls of the White House. I barely had time to snatch a spoon from a set dining room table as we passed through.
We met up with President Clinton and the First Family down in some lock-down vault in the basement. Clinton was talking to some military brass. “…are you sure we cannot use a tactical-strike hurricane to blow all these zombies out to sea?” he was saying.
The general cleared his throat. “Mister President, we cannot generate a tactical hurricane yet. We simply don’t have enough butterflies!”
“Ah,” said President Clinton, as he caught sight of our party. “Your Majesty, allow me to extend my apologies to you on the state of our capitol at this time.”
Elizabeth sniffed. “We think we shouldst return at a later date. Perhaps in 2006?”
(“Excuse me,” I said to a Secret Service agent nearby. “Are you using that?”
“Well, yes, I need th—hey!”
“I’m sorry,” I said as I dismantled the earpiece. “I’ll give it back when I’m done.”)
An aide ran up. “Mister President, Your Majesty, I’m afraid the helicopter won’t be able to make it. The airport is already overrun—they cannot reach any of the aircraft!”
President Clinton turned back to his generals. “What about that secret laser cannon y’all were working on?”
“Sir, we had to stop building the laser cannon when the military budget was cut.”
“You won’t need any laser cannons,” I said suddenly. “I’ve got a plan.”
Everyone turned to look at me. “Who is this guy?” Clinton asked.
“Look!” I said. “We can destroy all of the mutant zombie yada yadas with…THIS!” I held up what I had been working on for the last five minutes.
Queen Elizabeth clapped her hands. “Well done, young squire, well done!” Then she turned to one of her guards. “What is it?”
“It appears to be… two dead batteries, a spoon and a wire all held together with his shoelaces,” said President Clinton.
“No,” said I. “It’s a bomb.”
“A bomb?” asked one of the generals.
“Yes. The battery acid interacts with the metal alloy of the wire, causing a chain reaction that feeds off the tannins in the shoelaces and ignites the magnesium in the spoon. I saw it on MacGyver.”
For a long time, no-one said anything.
“Maybe I could throw my saxaphone at them,” said Clinton.
Outside the White House, the night was quiet, except for the flaring sound of laser gun discharge, and the occasional slurred anarchist slogans.
I waited at the second-story window, two Secret Service Agents waiting beside me. We trained our binoculars on the lawn below.
“Will that thing really work?” one of the agents asked.
“Look, if I saw it on MacGyver, it must be true,” I shot back.
The other agent shrugged. “He’s right.”
At that moment, a silhouette shambled toward the wrought iron fence. There was a flash, and the fence flew away in pieces. Another shadow appeared. (Shambling, shambling.)
“Powwwwaa toooo daaa peeepolll!” moaned the Mutant Zombie Anarchist Ninjas with Laser Guns
Embrazened by the lack of resistance, the M.Z.A.N.W.L.G.s began a stealthy shamble toward the White House, with the occasional backflip or ninja crawl. “Wait for it…” whispered the agent.
One of the MZANWLGs, for no apparent reason, totally flipped out and chopped off the heads of three of his companions, all while playing a wicked cool guitar riff. He was promptly shot down by the laser guns of his comrades.
“Wait for it…”
The decapitated M—Gs groped around for a while until they found a head, and replaced it on their shoulders. I am not entirely certain they matched the right heads to the right bodies.
“Wait for it… NOW!”
I hurled my makeshift bomb with my best throw. It sailed silently into the night, descending in a graceful curve…
Thunk. “Oooowwww,” rumbled an M.
“Soompin hit’ meeee…”
The Mutant Zombie Anarchist Ninjas all gathered around, peering in the twilight.
“Whaaat iss it?”
One of them suddenly stepped back. “Issssa boohm!”
“Isss notta boohm. Isssa wossname. Buncha batt’reees wiffa spoooon.”
The first one was backing toward the gate. “Nooo! Issa boohm! I ssaww wonah dem on Mmacgyyyver!”
“Runnn awayyy! Runnn awayyy!” yelled the other Mutant Zombie Anarchist Ninjas, throwing down their Laser Guns in fright. They all bolted for the fence, some of them losing their heads in their headlong flight.
(Get it, it’s a pune or play on words… because they’re zombies, and their heads fall off… “losing their heads”… “headlong flight”…. Oh, nevermind.)
The agents cheered, and we went down to tell the good news to the President and Queen Elizabeth.
The Mutant Zombie Anarchist Ninjas did return, eventually. But by then the United States Military had found enough butterflies in the Amazon. The tactical hurricane strike swept all the MZANWLGs out to sea, just as the President had hoped.
My dad stared at me across the kitchen table. “Wait, wait, wait. This story is just too unrealistic. You expect me to believe that you saved President Clinton?”
"Well, okay. Maybe I made that part up. But the rest is all true!"