In my brief stint as a woman so far, I have learned three things for certain…
I am compelled to talk excessively, I have to pee more often and I can kick ass as good as man, baby!
But much to my frustration I haven’t had time to enjoy my femininity privately. This train chase has gone on into the middle of California where the pursuit has left the rails. The X-Ray Man and the now powerless Naked Professor have separated from the rest of us. Amidst somewhere unworthy of a name, between a lonely stretch of eastern and western tracks of the northern California high-speed rail, Ray Shaft and Cecil Stanley make their stands.
Shaft radiates x-rays to his full potential, emanating high frequency waves from within his bone marrow. The intensity of the radiation causes plants to shrivel and birds to drop from the sky..
Shaft is Professor Stanley’s superior in size, standing six three in his boots with the trench coat giving him even broader shoulders than his own naturals. The Professor is five ten, naked and powerless with his starglasses missing. Shaft stands over the broken PhD like a bear over a fish barrel.
Against his every effort, Cecil collapses, unable to sustain his balance on one leg. He ignores the pain, not taking his eyes off Shaft. Sweat trickles from his brow into his left eye, stinging it. He realizes he’s perspiring heavily. His skin is burning.
“W-Why?” rasps Cecil, his throat dry, sticky, his tongue thick He feels a fist-sized rock beneath his fingers.
Shaft moves closer until standing over his victim. “I hate you and I hate all people. We’re all liars, even to ourselves. We all use someone else at someone’s expense; it’s the only way the modern world can work! Whether Christians, Women, Negroes, foreigners, intelligent robots or radioactive power, the Comfort Society requires slaves if production is to ever meet demand. The best among us is despicable, and you know it. If there is a God he put me among you to make you see yourselves for what you are. In my long life I’ve killed as many of you as I possibly could. You’re next.”
“I’m last!” Cecil says before flinging a handful of gravel into Shaft’s face. Shaft takes dust in his eyes, staggering back, holding up his arms defensively and spitting out dirt. Then Cecil flings his rock, smacking Shaft in the forehead bluntly. Shaft grunts, faltering to the side and falling to his knees, wiping his eyes with the arms of his jacket, head bleeding.
Professor Stanley struggles to his foot and hops aggressively to tackle his adversary. Sitting on Shaft’s chest Cecil pounds his face with elbow punches. After several solid blows Cecil feels Shaft’s resistance melt away, but the weaker the X-Ray Man’s muscles become, the stronger his radiation grows. The hateful expression is still staring coldly back when he opens his reddened eyes.
Cecil grabs his throat with both hands and squeezes, gritting his teeth. “You hate yourself. You lie to yourself. The best among us has weakness and the worst among us has strength. But we’re no better or worse than anything else your God created. You have no right to pass judgment and take life away.”
Yet Cecil stops squeezing for a moment realizing that’s exactly what he needs to do. He passed judgment and now he needs to take an evil life away, before it can harm anyone else.
“But I do…” struggles the tenacious toxic, “…have the power to do so. Power… ‘right’…what difference is there in the end?” The words are barely understandable, his breathing labored as he kicks and squirms beneath the Naked Professor. The grip tightens on his throat.
“I understand,” Cecil stares into Shaft’s eyes. “That’s how you have to go down. You have to be taken down without mercy.” But as the captured old man coughs, chokes and spits up dirt Cecil can’t do it. He eases his grip. Shaft can breathe again and takes desperate gasps.
When he has the composure Shaft grumbles, “Touching me is shortening your life by…”
“Shortening my life?” yells Cecil, slapping Shaft’s face. “You’ve just killed me, you sick fool! What do I have to lose? How many lives have you destroyed, you maniac? You’re proud of the children you’ve orphaned, the parents you’ve destroyed…”
Orphaned? As this 96 year old serial mass murderer looks up at Cecil, mind fogged with a shimmering reflection of yesteryear and the shunned orphan he was, he testifies, “Children are not easily destroyed, Professor. Sometimes they’re transformed, instead…”
The cold eyes of a killer fog over.
Cecil agrees. “Into monsters…”
Cecil burns, a death grip on the throat of Ray Shaft his vice of victory.
Long minutes later an odd helicopter carrying a passenger on the side descends and lands. An artificial life form called Jenif releases me before transforming into medical diagnostic mode at the side of the motionless nude strangler and his familiar victim.
Within moments Jenif reports to me, “Ray Shaft is dead. And this man is near death.”
“Professor?” I ask, leaning over him. I take his hands away from Shaft’s neck and help him up as Jenif miraculously forms a cast on Cecil’s broken leg from branches and vines, at a fantastic speed. I recoil at his condition. I’ve known him well and worked many times with this healthy partner, but right now he’s withered, bones, skeletal, yellowish and changed by feeling the life drain out of a man in his own hands.
Bits of the Professor’s hair are lying about and more is falling off. Several teeth are on the ground. I hold the pitiful specimen for his final moments. Sheets of dead skin peel off in my fingers.
His face is caving in, the skull of immortal death looming transparent. His jaw is moving but nothing is coming out. Or is it?
I lean in, trying to ignore the stench of burnt flesh, and hear him whimper, “My glasses!”
“Your glasses?” I repeat. “Your starglasses?”
“Where are they?”
Cecil whirls his forefinger a bit, “Nearby…find them!”
I pat him reassuringly on the shoulder, “Don’t worry, Cecil. We’ll find them.”
“Now!” he yells, grabbing my shirt, startling me. “Now!”
He collapses in my arms.
“Do you assume he simply wants to be buried with them,” Jenif suggests, “as per human customs?”
I consider. “Naw. I know Cecil. He had something in mind. His starglasses must be around here somewhere.” I lay him down gently as the sun dips below the horizon. “Let’s find ‘em.”
Before I start to look, I secure the body of Ray Shaft to a cactus, hoping that somehow even though he is dead it still hurts.
And Jenif is able to find Cecil’s starglasses. I decide I’d better put them on the dying Professor just in case that’s what he wanted.
For a few minutes nothing happens, then amazingly the Professor’s body seems to glow. Over the next two minutes his muscles regenerate and parts of his hair grow back.
“What the Hell?” I laugh incredulously.