Amazon Jihad:

Lesson in Vengeance

Written by Captain Fun

Based on characters created by Captain Fun and Shaun O’Donnell

©2006

 

 


“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

 

“This aggression will not stand, man!”

-The Dude

 

The Teacher

All I wanted to be was a teacher. Not just any teacher, but a high school geometry teacher. After joining the military and becoming a Navy SEAL, I decided I had done enough killing. Teaching was my passion. There are over eighty five different ways to kill a man with your hands, but none of these seemed nearly as fascinating as graphing and acute angles.

I also coached track on the side. That’s how I met Charla. Beautiful Charla. She was an angel, pure and simple. She showed me, a weary veteran of the Gulf War how to live again. She was an English teacher and the girls’ soccer coach. While I’ve never been much for poetry, she melted my heart with it. The world was ours for the taking.

But life is never meant to be this good for someone who’s done as much killing as I have. When you’ve spent Christmas Eve strangling a man with piano wire while his children sleep peacefully in their rooms next door, you can’t really be on God’s good list. I guess I always thought I had an agreement with God. That for some reason my sins were OK because I was doing them for my country. But what I’ve learned is God doesn’t care about country or nationality. He cares about the human soul, and apparently, I have a lot of atoning to do.

I remember the day clearly…

I walked into my classroom with my students all looking up at me ready to learn. I put my briefcase down and picked up a piece of chalk and drew a triangle on the chalkboard. It was time to have “the talk” with the kids.

“Who knows what this is?” I asked.

A girl, Susan, raised her hand. “A triangle?”

“Very good, Susan. Does anyone know why Susan knows that? Because she’s a whore. Stand up, Susan.”

Susan stood up.

“This is what a whore looks like, class. Too much makeup, tight clothes, and always knows a triangle when she sees one. Now, can anyone tell me what a whore does?”

The class was silent. Susan sat down.

“A whore is a person who tries to make you feel better about yourself by giving you diseases. Some of these diseases can kill you. Susan, do you have a boyfriend?”

“Yeah,” said Susan. “Todd, he’s right over there.”

“Todd,” I said. “Did you know about Susan being a whore?”

“Yeah,” said Todd, “I figured if I dated a whore I’d be doing better in my classes.”

“See, that’s a common misconception,” I said. “Whores don’t actually help with boosting your grades. They just look pretty and make you feel good.”

“OK,” said Todd, “But I kind of like Susan. Is it still OK to go out with her?”

“Of course!” I said. “That would make you her pimp. A pimp is someone who gets to hit the whore if she isn’t behaving.”

“What if the pimp is a woman?” asked another kid.

“Then she’s a madame and is usually known as a ‘crack-whore,’ because she probably also does drugs.”

“Is it OK to touch Susan?” asked a student.

“Only as long as you don’t arouse or anger her. Right now she is in a calm state, but any sudden movement might make her go into attack mode.”

“Mr. Terrace?”

“Yes, Joey?”

“Are there any Jewish whores?”

“Now that’s just immoral and offensive, Joey. Go to the principle’s office!”

The class grew silent as Joey got up from his desk at the back of the classroom and left. Maybe it’s my large size, but my students don’t mess with me. They know I’m a bad-ass. I turn back to my students.

“Now class, tomorrow I’m going to be giving you a quiz on what we’ve learned today. I expect everyone to pass. Just remember, you can do anything you want to as long as you don’t get caught. Now I think it’s almost lunch time. Go have some tater tots.”

The bell rang for lunch and the kids filed out. I walked outside my classroom and saw the hustle and bustle of teenaged kids trying to get from one place to another while still managing to look good. I remembered my high school days, playing rugby, getting sweaty, hanging out in the boys’ shower… but I had to grow up some time.

Then I see some kid pull a knife on his friend. I go into SEAL-mode, ready for action. I slam the kid up against the wall and grab the knife, stabbing it into the palm of his hand.

“Violence only leads to more violence,” I say. “Next time try to talk peacefully.” Strong words, I believe. I’m not sure if he understood me through his painful cries, but I’m sure I got my point across. Two more teachers came and were able to jerk the knife out of his hand after a few tries. Some of the blood got on me, but otherwise I was fine. I turned around and there she was, smiling and giving me that “Oh, Johnny” look as if I just did something stupid. I ran up and hugged her.

Charla,” I said.

“Not here,” she said. “The students can see us.”

I let go.

“Knife trouble?” she asked.

“Oh, just a kid being a punk,” I said, now noticing that I had transferred some of the blood to her clothes.

“Well, tell me about it over dinner, tiger. Right now I’m late for lunch duty.”

“I love you Charla,” I said.

“Hey,” she said, “Murphy’s looking for you. I think he’s mad about your last average GPA.”

“I’ll talk to him,” I said.

“You OK?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Life couldn’t be better.”

I made my way to the office of one of my most trusted friends, Principle Carl Murphy. Murphy has been a principle at Eagle High for almost twelve years. He’s stern, but the kids like him, and he’s a good educator who believes in what he’s doing. I walk into the main office and his secretary, Doris Heller, looks up from her computer.

“Hi Mr. Terrace!” she says in her cheerful voice. “Mr. Murphy’s been looking for you.”

“Did he try my classroom?” I say.

“Well, no.”

“That’s where I was.”

Doris giggled a little as if what I said was something a little kid would say.

“He’s in his office, go on in.”

I went into the office and saw Carl standing at the window looking out at the front lawn where the American flag flapped freely in the breeze. I sat down on his couch and reached over to fiddle with this weird-looking cube thing he had, but it fell apart when I tried to move it around. He turned around and sat down at his desk facing me.

“Would you like a cigar, Johnny?” he asked.

“Carl, I think smoking isn’t allowed during school hours.”

“Neither are Cuban cigars, but I have them anyway. Want one?”

I shrugged. “Well, I’ve never been one to turn down a Cuban when I’m offered.”

He hands me this giant cigar and lights it for me. I look up at the smoke detector.

“Don’t worry about that one,” he said. “The batteries went dead about four years ago and I just never replaced them. Allows me to smoke in the office.”

“Nice,” I said. “So what do you need me for?”

He hands me a file folder. “These are your overall GPA averages for the last semester. They show a considerable drop. Kansas is the fifteenth smartest state in the nation, and if we want to stay there, we gotta have these kids get better grades! You’re the best math teacher I’ve got, but the last semester you seemed to be, I don’t know, fooling around.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“The kids aren’t learning anything by having one of your drunk war buddies from Vietnam dress up as Robbie Rectangle and sing a song about being perpendicular.”

“Hey, my friend needed a gig. Plus, the kids learned a lot about drinking and driving that day.”

“But your lesson plan for that week was on matrices and the quadratic formula! So when test time came, the kids were screwed!”

“Well what do you want me to teach these kids, huh?” I said. “Do you want me to teach them that math is really just another lie their parents tell them to make them sleep better? Math is America. Math is what me and my buddies fought and died for! You try waking up in the middle of the night with a commie in your face with a machete and all you have near by is a toothbrush! Does Social Studies save you then? No! I’ve been stripped down to nothing and hung upside down before and you better believe my ability to make accurate lines on a torn piece of graphing paper saved my ass and the asses of at least four other American soldiers. You want me to teach some freakish lie? I can’t. Math is my life, and these students need to see that.”

Carl looked at me for a moment.

“Well, I can see you’re very upset, Johnny. Just take a breather, you’re not losing your job or anything. I just want to see better results for this second semester.”

“You’ll get just that,” I said. “May I go now?”

“Sure, Johnny. And keep the Cuban.”

I left his office somewhat flustered and went back to my classroom and finished out the day. How could Murphy understand what I went through? When I was doing undercover missions in Bosnia, he was running for high school principle. He can’t understand my world. No one but me and my fellow soldiers can.

That evening Charla and I made love by a roaring fire. Then we ate these really good TV dinners Charla put in the microwave herself. That night I laid awake thinking about all the men I couldn’t save and all the civilians I left behind. Was it worth it? Did I do right by the red, white, and blue? Or had it all been for some kind of twisted lie. I wanted to believe I did the right thing. I rolled over and saw Charla sleeping. I knew instantly that if God could give me something this beautiful after all the ugly I had seen, maybe I was OK in his book. It was the last time I felt truly connected to God.

It seemed like only a second later, but the clock said I’d been sleeping for two hours. I heard just the faintest of footsteps in the room. I turned in bed and saw a geared-up commando with a silenced assault rifle aimed right at me.

Charla!” I yelled right as two bullets found a home in my shoulder. I kicked the man’s gun and grabbed him by his neck with my feet. He was still firing the gun. I snapped his neck and the gunfire stopped. I turned around and saw Charla laying on the bed, a bloody mess.

“No!” I yelled. Then fire rose up all around me and I was propelled out the window and onto the front lawn, where I went unconscious into a horrible nightmare.

 

The Nightmare

It had been raining solid for the last nine days. We’d lost four men to pneumonia and still no signs of the enemy. My men were getting restless. Mac was getting sick, Tony couldn’t raise anyone on the radio, and none of us were going to have any more ammo after today. In the distance we’d heard the thunder of bombs going off and the clatter of machine gun fire, but the action was far from where we were, ordered to find a secret military base somewhere in the jungle in the middle of nowhere.

“Does anyone know what country this is?” I asked.

Kid checked his compass. “I don’t even know what direction we’re going,” he said.

“Who gave us these orders?” asked Mac in a shaky, desperate voice.

“The higher-ups. Trust me, they gave good intel,” I told him. I looked at the map. It’s just green with dots and the names of cities like “Birjinnaal” and “Pqnrenhh.” I have to squint really hard to read it, and even then none of it makes sense. Finally I looked up.

“We need to keep moving,” I said. “Get your gear, men. We’re moving out.”

We walked through jungle. We walked for hours. We heard gunfire in the distance but no one was even near us, and if they were, they weren’t shooting anything. Suddenly I heard something, a twig snap. I saw a stick fall from a tree. I held up my hand and signaled for the men to stop.

“Charlie’s close,” I said. Then, from the trees, came down hundreds of men, all firing semi-automatic weapons.

“Spread out!” I yelled. I whipped out my field knife and threw it, impaling it in the chest of one of the commandoes. I fired my machine gun and threw a grenade, then ran toward one of the camouflaged men. An explosion erupted near me and the force of the impact flung me head-first toward him. I took him down and began choking him with my massive forearm. Another commando came from behind and kicked me in the back. I snapped the downed commando’s neck and stood up, facing the kicker.

He looked to be about twenty-one years old. Just a kid. He unsheathed a machete and waved it around. I took out my bayonet.

“Come on,” I said, taunting the kid.

We went at it, the metal clanging together with swift swiping motions. Finally I caught his machete with my hand. It pierced the palm of my hand and blood started to flow down my arm, but I held firm. I reached up and slit his throat, watching the life drain from his eyes as I did so.

Finally I turned and looked around. All my men were dead. I had three commandoes pointing assault rifles at me. I was beat.

“What do you want with me?” I asked.

“This is the one he wanted,” said one of the men.

“Take him,” said another.

I was hit on the back of the head with something hard and I blacked out.

When I came to, I was looking at the familiar face of Saddam Hussein.

“Son of a bitch,” I said. “I should’ve known it was you.”

“The Klingons have a proverb, Mr. Terrace,” said Hussein. “bortaS bIr jablu'DI', reH QaQqu' nay… Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

“What are you saying?” I said.

“You are in a coma, Mr. Terrace. I am your guardian light. Your house is destroyed, your wife is murdered, and now you need to figure out who did it. Find out who took your wife and carry out your vengeance.”

“Why?”

batlh,” said Hussein. “Honor.”

“So how do I get out of this coma?” I asked.

“Simple,” said Hussein. “You escape from my clutches.”

I looked at him in the eyes. The edge of his mouth twitched slightly, as if to smile. It was then I saw the pistol pointed at me. I kicked it out of his hands, then rolled backwards and crashed into a display case of Arabian swords. I grabbed a sword and deflected a gunshot aimed right at me. Then I chucked the sword right at Hussein and impaled it in his brain. I took his pistol and went out of the room.

Immediately, one of the guards saw me and triggered the alarm. I fired at him, but he dodged the bullet. He fired his machine gun at me and the spray of bullets nearly hit me. I rolled, stood behind him, took out his own knife, and slit his throat, then took his machine gun.

I walked out of the narrow hallway and out onto the deck of a battleship. Suddenly, a harrier jet rose up right in front of me and fired a spray of machine gunfire at me. I ducked down and crawled to a flight of stairs and rolled down, dodging bullets as I fell. The harrier jet followed me and I ran down the end of the boat to a door at the end. The siren was blaring, the guns were firing, commotion was in the air, and I had to escape and save my life.

I made it to a door on the end of the catwalk and mowed down all the soldiers inside the hallway, then made my way through the hallway, down some stairs, and back outside. I saw a helicopter being prepped to take off. I shot the pilot and hopped in, checking the gauges and making sure I had enough fuel, then I took off.

But there was one problem, that damned harrier jet was still after me. Fortunately, I was packing two stinger missiles. I launched one at the jet soon after taking flight. It took a wing off the jet and sent it spinning down into the battleship, where two more helicopters were taking off after me. I fired the second missile right into the holding bay of the battleship, where the fighters and weapons were held. The explosion was thunderous and the shockwave shook my chopper and sent it spinning out of control. Everything went white.

And that’s when I woke up, gasping for air in a hospital bed. Nurses and doctors swarmed around me. One of them grabbed my hand.

“You’re gonna be alright, son,” she said. “The worst is over now.”

But I knew the worst had just begun…

 

The Broken Man

I laid in that hospital bed for days. Every once in a while a doctor or nurse would come in to run some kind of checkup on me, make sure things were running smoothly. I drifted in and out of consciousness, in between a world where reality never really had any meaning.

Then Carl visited me one day and put everything into perspective.

“I take it you know they found some more of the body?” he asked. I didn’t respond.

“You’ve really got to start eating, Johnny. We need you back at the school. Larry the substitute is doing his best, but I don’t think he can stand these kids for much longer.”

“They’re just kids,” I said.

“Don’t say that,” he said. “That’s not what Johnny Terrace would say.”

“Carl, my wife is dead, my life is ruined, and I don’t even know who did it. I think whatever I would’ve said is a moot point.”

“Nonsense. You need to start teaching again,” said Carl. “And hey, Doris is single! You could always date her!”

“I don’t think I’ll ever love again,” I said.

“Don’t say that, Johnny. You’ll find a way. Just get some rest and be back in the classroom by Thursday, OK?”

I just closed my eyes.

Thursday came. I was walking with crutches. One of my legs was still in a cast and the other was barely strong enough to hold any weight. But I was there at the head of the classroom, a teacher to the last.

Carl had been nice enough to come up with a cover story for the kids, so that the truth about my absence would be left secret.

“…and that, kids, is why you shouldn’t start forest fires. Any questions?” I asked. Joey had his hand raised.

“How did Smokey the Bear learn martial arts if he wasn’t a Buddhist?”

“Joey, if you’d have paid attention you’d know that martial arts are about the mind and the spirit. They have nothing to do with religion.”

The children nodded at this. Then Todd said, “And this has nothing to do with the article in the paper about your house being blown up and your wife getting killed?”

“Todd, the newspapers are paid to tell lies about people. How else do you think wars get started?”

Just then, the bell rang and the students were dismissed. I saw Carl in the doorway and gestured for him to come in.

“How’re you holding up, Johnny?” he asked.

“My wounds will heal in time, but it’s getting hard to be in front of everybody again.”

“You’ll get used to it,” said Carl.

“Hey Johnny!” came a taunting voice. It was Mr. Hobbins, the physical education teacher. “I heard your wife got blown to shreds! Poor little Johnny’s got no little girl to go cry to! Boo-hoo!” Hobbins laughed a ridiculous laugh. I threw my crutch down.

“Try saying that to my face,” I said.

Hobbins entered my room and stood nose-to-nose with me. Then he grabbed a piece of chalk and ran it across my chalk board and cackled a mean laugh.

“See you later, Johnny-baby!” he said as he left the room.

I stood there, lip trembling, ready to hit something.

“Don’t let him get to you,” said Carl. “He’s just jealous.”

But I knew the truth. Hobbins wanted a fight, and I wasn’t about to back down.

The next day, I went to the gym near my new apartment. I started a furious workout process. I lifted weights. Then, I hit the punching bag. After that, I tried stretching.

Within two weeks, I didn’t need my crutches anymore. I filled two buckets up with pebbles and walked them up and down the steps of the capitol building on my shoulders five times. Then, I put on sparring gear and faced a Mongolian fighter three times my size and beat him.

Then, I ate a cheeseburger the size of my head in under three minutes. I was ready.

The next day I walked into Eagle High a new man, changed for the better. I walked into the gymnasium and approached Mr. Hobbins, who was tying his shoe.

Hobbins,” I said.

“Yeah, Mr. Poopy-Poo?” he shot back. I didn’t even flinch. I grabbed his hand, twisted it backwards, ignored his cry of pain, grabbed the pen from my breast pocket, stabbed it through his broken hand and down onto the bench he was sitting on. Then, I rammed my knee into his face four times, breaking his nose and taking out his two front teeth.

“Glad we could share this moment,” I said as I sprang my pen from his hand and put it back in my pocket. I felt a ton better. It was good to be back.

 

Taking Control

St. Larry’s Blessed Church is the Catholic church right down the street from my apartment. I went there about a week after my confrontation with Hobbins. Inside the large, empty sanctuary sweeping the floors was Father Joseph Persley, an old war buddy of mine who became a priest after too many years of combat.

When he saw me, he immediately put down his broom and held out his hands to shake mine and give me a hug.

“Johnny,” he said. “It is so good to see you walking again.”

“It’s good to be walking again, Father,” I said. “But I’m here to ask your guidance.”

“What is it you seek?”

I cleared my throat. “Someone has destroyed my home and killed my wife. I intend to find out who, and when I do, I intend to kill them.”

“What do you want from me?”

“Permission.”

“You don’t need my permission.”

“Not yours, Father,” I said, and pointed upward. Father Persley sat down on a bench.

“Johnny, you’re getting into serious business here.”

“Yeah? Well so did the people who killed Charla.”

“God frowns on vengeance. Even in the Bible.”

“Then I guess me and God have a little disagreement.”

“You can’t disagree with God.”

“Yeah? Well he should’ve thought of that before I did. So there,” I said, and stormed out of the sanctuary. That showed ‘em.

When I got back to my apartment I picked up the phone and dialed the operator.

“Get me Skippy,” I said.

Skippy is, to be blunt, an orangutan, specifically a Simia pygmaeus. He drinks, smokes, womanizes, and fights and kills better than the average Navy SEAL. I did two tours with him in ‘Nam, and another in Desert Storm. We’re two of a kind, best friends for life. Whenever I’m in trouble, Skippy is always there to get me out.

I book him on the next flight to Kansas.

Skippy arrives two days later wearing a Hawaiian shirt and clinging to a flight attendant.

“Found a friend?” I asked him.

“She’s a cutie,” he said. “Can I keep her?”

“No,” I said. “No room in the apartment.”

“Right,” he said, and turned to the girl. “Sorry, honey. This is where you get off.”

They say their awkward goodbyes and then Skippy turns to me.

“So, here I am!”

“Yeah, thanks for coming.”

“Well, when I heard you were in trouble, I knew I had to be there.”

“Let’s get back to my place and order a pizza, then we’ll talk.”

Once we got into a large pepperoni pizza from Papa John’s, I told Skippy about the dream with Saddam Hussein.

“Pretty weird,” he said. “What do you think it meant?”

“I was hoping you could tell me?”

“Well, it’s obvious you’re hiding a lot of enemies. There are people out there who want you dead. We just don’t know who.”

Just then, the news came back on in the background, the nicely-haired anchorman said “Apparently the Church of Scientology wants Kansas schoolteacher Johnny Terrace dead. More on that later…”

We were both silent for a moment, then Skippy said, “Well, that answers some questions.”

“Yeah,” I said.

“I could really go for another breadstick,” said Skippy.

“Help yourself,” I said.

 

Poj jagh

Skippy and I managed to convince Carl to keep the school library open for us to do our research on the Church of Scientology. We prowled through volumes of books, searching endlessly until finally Skippy found something in an ancient volume titled “The Sakred Sanktuary,” a list of taboo religions and customs of the past.

“Scientology, found it,” he said.

“Tell me,” I said, taking my cup of cappuccino over to where he was.

“Founded by writer L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology is the continuing search for oneness, being, and wholeness. Little is known beyond that of Scientology, its customs, or its eccentric founder. Scientologists are believed to be mostly celebrities and the religion has since become a sort of pop-culture phenomenon.”

“With the enthusiasm at which they tried to kill me, they seem to think of it as a way of life,” I said.

Skippy typed a little bit into the computer and pulled up a newspaper article from the internet.

“It says here the last Scientology meeting was three months ago at Tom Cruise’s hidden bunker. I bet you a carton of cigarettes Mr. Cruise is the man who set up the deal to kill your wife.”

“But why?” I asked.

“That’s what we need to find out,” said Skippy.

“So what are you proposing we do?”

“We have to get you close to the enemy. You’ll need to disguise yourself, go undercover. Then, when you have Tom Cruise’s most confidence, you strike.”

“Right,” I said, “easier said than done.”

“Hey, I can get you in with a wire by this time next week, and if you can blow the hatch on these crazy fanatics in a few days, I can have commandoes crawling the premises with semi-automatics taking down anything that moves. You’ll have your vengeance.”

“But remember, Cruise is mine.”

“You in?” Skippy asked me.

“Let me think about it,” I said.

I left the school and headed to St. Larry’s to meditate. I needed quiet and the all-night chapel there was peaceful and calm. I stared up at the cross, a symbol that used to mean so much to me.

“Where did you and I go wrong, God?” I asked. “I thought I was doing your dirty work down here, taking all of your sinners. I thought I was fighting for the country you blessed. But I see now you don’t bless anything. Our being down here’s our own damn fault. Well, fine. Maybe I don’t need you anymore. You took from me the most beautiful thing I’ve ever known. Now I’m a broken man. So I’m out for my revenge and payback, Lord. Be expecting company.”

With that, I tied a black bandanna around my head, took off my jacket to reveal a bloodsoaked tank top, ammo, and a hunting knife. I also had a huge machine gun. The image of me decked out in weapons really didn’t serve any purpose, but I bet it made quite an impression up in Heaven.

A week later, my blond hair was dyed black, and I was driving my new silver BMW convertible towards Los Angeles, the City of Angels. In the passenger’s seat lay my trusty double-barrel shotgun, a box of shells, and some beef jerky. I also had a newspaper stating the whereabouts of the next meeting for the Church of Scientology, where Tom Cruise was most likely going to be appearing.

When I got to the convention center, there were angry protesters yelling against the Church, saying who-knows-what about them. Tom Cruise stood at a podium giving a speech that fell on deaf ears.

“Scientology is about peaceful coexistence,” he said into microphone interference. I decided now was the perfect time to step in.

I fired a shot from my double-barrel. The crowd went quiet.

“Last I heard, this was America,” I said. “Home of the brave, land of the free. So what the hell gives you the right to tell these people how to worship?”

An old lady stepped forward and said, “These people are bringers of evil!”

I pointed the gun at the lady, everyone gasped. “Good, evil, I’m the guy with the gun, and I say let the man do what he pleases. You don’t like it Grandma? Go back to the Great Depression and tell a hobo about it; see if he gives a damn.” I looked up. “And as for all you Bible-raping, closet-homosexual, constitution-burning hypocrites go, I want to first take this opportunity to thank you for taking the fun out of first-person-shooters, and secondly tell you to get the hell out of my life and die in a cold, dark place.”

Everyone just looked at me as if I said something not of this Earth.

“What, are you all stupid? Here, let me put it in simpler terms: I have a freakin’ gun! Run for your lives!”

That started the panic. Everyone ran in every direction. All except Tom Cruise, who never took his eyes off me. He had a sinister toothy smile on his face. I could tell my performance had made an impression.

He approached me after the masses had either gone home or been repeatedly sprayed with mace.

“That was some ballsy stuff you did,” he said.

“Well, I’m no Science-ologist, but I sure do like your movies.”

Cruise laughed a big laugh. “It’s ‘Scientologist,’ and thank you about the movies. Which one is your favorite?”

“You know… the one with the kids.”

“You mean ‘War of the Worlds?’”

“Yeah, sure.”

“Gosh thanks, you know I take such flack for that one, it’s great to hear someone actually liking that one.”

“Well, it’s like you said in that other film… uh, ‘If you can’t, uh,…’”

“‘In this life, it's not what you hope for, it's not what you deserve - it's what you take!’ Gosh I know!”

Geez, it’s like you read my mind,” I said, having know idea what he was talking about.

“Look,” said Mr. Cruise, “I’m in need of a bodyguard and you just impressed the heck out of me! What do you say?”

A small smile curled on the side of my mouth. “I think I could do that,” I said.

“Good,” he said with a toothy grin. “Now come inside. I have a speech to give. You can stay backstage if you like.”

The event hall was filled with hundreds of people all waiting to receive Tom Cruise’s message. I stayed behind the curtain and looked for a quiet place to send a message to Skippy.

Then the lights went down, and the curtain went up, revealing hundreds of television monitors that all had the solitary image of Tom Cruise clad in angelic white in the center of the stage standing at a clear podium.

Thetans! Hear me!” he said, arms outstretched. “I am your leader, and I feel the power of Xenu!”

The crowd erupted in joyous cheer.

“The turmoil that was known as Johnny Terrace is for now put to rest, but he is not gone forever, my loyal thetans. Which is why our plan must move forward! Punella is coming! The lizard will awaken! Yay, though I’ve seen the stars and the planets align, and the Psychlos have danced their wicked dance, I’ve seen their energy pull down from the great eye… the lizard god Punella must rise! Rise, and give birth to her young to feast on the aberrations! Are you with me thetans!

The crowd cheered again. I’d decided I’d heard enough. I moved back into a restroom and pulled out my comm link to Skippy.

“Johnny to Skippy, you there ol’ buddy?” I said quietly. I was met with static. “Skippy, it’s me, Johnny, you there?” But there was no answer.

Then the door to the bathroom burst open and two guards grabbed me and pulled me out onto the stage.

“We found him trying to contact someone,” said a guard to Tom Cruise.

Cruise turned to the crowd and said, “Thank you, thetans, I will view your prayer requests later. Right now I have other business to attend to.”

The Scientologists filed out silently. The whole time my eyes were locked onto Cruise. I wanted to take him down right then and there. All I had to do was make my move.

 

Hard to Get

The guards were easy. I simply hooked my left leg around the leg of the guard to my left, underhooked the left arm of the guard to my right, and brought their heads together.

Tom Cruise held an extended steel baton ready in his hand. I grabbed a stun gun from one of the guards that was almost as long as the baton. Cruise immediately attacked with a swift offense. Somehow he managed to twirl the stun gun around and make it zap me. I let go of the stun gun and Cruise grabbed it, now holding two weapons, me holding none.

He charged forward with a high twirling attack with the baton. I caught his wrist, then caught the other and twisted both. He dropped both weapons, but forced both feet into my chest knocking us both on either side of the stage.

I kipped up and did a spinning roundhouse to Cruise’s face. Cruise blocked and slammed a palm in my thigh that hurt to the bone. I was sent on my back. Now Cruise jumped on me and began punching me repeatedly. I kneed him in the chest and rolled him off of me.

We both stood up and went for a punch that was blocked by our own closed fists. Cruise went for another punch but I caught it and punched him hard in the face, then palmed him in the chest, sending him flying into the television monitors, which sent sparks flying and glass breaking.

I decided this was my time to make a break for it. I exited stage left, but could hear Cruise’s cry of “Get him!” chasing after me.

I quickly found my BMW convertible and hopped in, turning the ignition and getting the hell out of there. I merged onto the highway, but the Scientology Police were hot on my tail. Everyone started moving to the right and left when they heard the sirens, making it hard to navigate. One of the Scientology Police cars crashed. Good riddance.

I heard gunfire and knew it was directed at me. I turned sharply into an exit into the city. Two more cars crashed into the wall behind me. I guess the turn was too sharp for their crummy little cars.

I came upon my first city block into a barricade of Scientology Police cars blocking the road. I swerved left right into a jewelry store and drove straight through the building, shattering my windshield and banging up my precious car pretty badly. Debris and rubble came down around me, but I only collected a few scrapes and bruises.

Finally I’m back on the road, but the Scientology Police are still on my ass. I got out the gun from my glove compartment and began firing. I took out one of the front tires of a Police car and it flipped over and crashed into another car, but the third one moved around the wreckage and kept coming at me.

About this time I looked up in the air and saw a helicopter following me. I saw someone on the helicopter with a rocket launcher.

“Uh-oh,” I said, and swerved the car, slamming the breaks and jumping from the car, just as the missile hit my precious convertible and blew it to pieces.

I landed on the pavement a bloody mess and out of bullets. I slowly made my way to my feet. My shoulder was dislocated and I was going to need stitches in my right eyebrow.

I was barely standing, my t-shirt soaked in blood, my face a bloody mess, and my spirit just about broken. Two officers stepped out of their cars and pointed their guns at me. I began to walk forward. They began to fire. I think I took about five hits before I went down. Everything went black. I saw Charla again.

 

The Man on the Beach

I’m laying on a beach, listening to the waves, feeling the salt water in my wounds, but not quite connecting with the pain. I see an old Oriental man with a wooden staff and long gray hair standing over me. I’m wondering, is this God?

I heard him speak, “jInaSchu' vaj.” It was Klingon. “A vicious warrior.”

Darkness crept over me, and I slipped into a vast nightmare, where toothy grins and insane religious beliefs were everywhere.

Then I awoke. I was in a bed in a house. There was a calligraphy painting in Cantonese on the wall facing my bed that read, “Peaceful Dreams.” The old Oriental man sat in the corner mixing something in a bowl. On a table beside him lay a dead scorpion, some tea leaves, and a kettle of water. He poured the water into the bowl and I saw steam rise up. Then he mixed whatever was in the bowl with the pestle, pounding everything together.

Once he seemed satisfied he came over to me and held the mortar bowl up to my lips. I drank the tea. It tasted like piss, but I knew it would be good for me. The old man put the mortar down and laid a hand on my chest, then patted my chest twice.

The next day I felt worlds better. I got out of bed and went into the living room, where I saw a number of weapons, including a number of samurai swords. The old man came in from the kitchen and said something I didn’t recognize, then he handed me a bowl of rice, which I ate as if it were the only food I’d ever had.

He handed me some garments and signaled for me to wear them. They were traditional Oriental fighting robes.

“Are we training today?” I asked. The old man nodded.

I put on the robes and we stood barefoot on the beach in a fighting stance.

ghob!” he shouted in Klingon, and we began to battle.

I attacked with two punches, which the old man blocked. He then kicked me in the ribs, but I stayed standing. I went for a chop, he blocked by grabbing my hand, then twisted, sending me down.

luj,” he said in Klingon, indicating I had lost.

We stood back up.

ghob!” he shouted.

We fought again, and again, and again. That night my ribs, my back, and my legs were in pain, but I knew it was all for the best. We sat down and the old man gave me a bowl of noodles and rice with chopsticks. He sat down across from me.

“Thank you,” I said. “maj.” The old man nodded.

I ate for a minute. The noodles were bland, but I was so hungry that they tasted like the finest steak.

“You’re probably wondering why I need to fight,” I said.

bortaS DIb,” said the old man.

“Yeah,” I said. “Vengeance.” We continued to eat.

The next day I awoke to the old man punching me in the ribs. I rolled out of bed and wheezed, then slowly stood up. The old man smiled and unsheathed a samurai sword.

batleth,” he said.

“Great,” I said. “Toys.”

We practiced with swords until sundown, then the next day we ran on the beach until my legs couldn’t carry me. Then, over the next week I practiced stealth and the art of disappearing.

Then, one day, the old man sat in the middle of the living room, legs crossed, and didn’t move.

“What are we doing today?” I asked.

No response. He sat there with his eyes closed.

“Sensei?” I said.

Nothing.

Finally, I decided to sit down and meditate with him. I sat there for what felt like days. My mind and spirit became one. I became whole. My body was focused and ready to be used. The image of Tom Cruise was burned into my head.

I felt something fall at my feet. It was a newspaper clipping from the “Los Angeles Press.” The headline read, “Tom Cruise to unveil new Church of Scientology this Thursday.”

I looked up at the old man. He was smiling ear to ear. “Heghlu’meH QaQ jajvam!” he said. Today is a good day to die.

“I won’t let you down, sensei,” I said.

I put my ragged white t-shirt back on along with my black pants. Then I got a black robe and put it on over these. I took a bow and arrows from the old man’s den and the samurai sword he gave me. Just as I was walking out, the old man approached me.

majQa” he said, and handed me a necklace with a pendant with the seal of Kahless on it.

I smiled and put it around my neck. “I will not dishonor you, sensei.”

He smiled and nodded. I left the old man’s house. It was time to teach Tom Cruise a lesson… in vengeance.

 

Lesson in Vengeance

Tom Cruise stood at the podium in the pulpit of the giant domed sanctuary of the new Church of Scientology. Behind him was an array of weapons from semi-automatics to stinger missiles. I figured this was because he was anticipating my arrival.

Thetans hear me! Punella is nigh! We must prepare for the lizard king to arise and bless us all!”

The guard by the fountain made no sound as I slit his throat.

Tom Cruise blathered on, “Last night, our holy leader, L. Ron Hubbard, appeared to me in a dream. He told me that I was the chosen one. He said that there would be holy serenity for anyone who would follow me to this illustrious sanctuary that I have built in his name!”

Two guards in the bell tower with searchlights soon had arrows in them.

“And he shall rise among us once again in the form of Punella, and we will ride on his back in the wonderful light of his being! And it will all be thanks to me!”

An arrow hit the centerpiece on the podium and stuck there. All eyes turned to the back of the room… to me. I stood with a flaming arrow ready, aiming right at Cruise’s head.

“This one’s for Charla,” I said, and let go.

Cruise moved out of the way just in time, as the arrow hit a curtain behind him, which burst into flames.

“It’s Terrace!” shouted Cruise. “Kill him!”

In that second, everyone started screaming and running for the exit. All except for Tom Cruise and the guards, who seized the guns and began firing at me. I jumped under a bench and rolled to the front of the sanctuary, where Cruise and his men were. I chopped off the foot of one of the guards, then seized his machine gun.

I stood up and fired at the guards, who found cover. I noticed Cruise grabbing a sword and running. I decided to pursue him. I took a grenade from the fallen guard and took out the pin, then threw it and ran the hell out of there, the explosion thundering behind me.

I followed Tom Cruise up the stairs and onto the glass dome of the Sanctuary, where he was waiting, sword drawn.

“I’ve killed you twice now, but like a cockroach you keep coming back. Maybe I should just cut off your head myself and burn your body to a crisp.”

“I used to be a man of honor and dignity,” I said. “But then you took away the only thing in this world that ever really meant something to me. I wish I could share with you the amount of pain you have given me. Instead, I’ll just have to kill you and hope that the nightmares go away.”

I attacked with a high swipe which Cruise blocked. He brought my blade down and punched me twice in the face. I broke the connection and went for another attack, then another. Cruise was too fast. He went for an attack, then stepped back.

“Your skills with a blade are exceptional,” he said.

“As are yours,” I said.

“Then let’s cut this sword crap and fight man to man.”

“No tricks,” I said.

“Tricks are half the fun,” said Cruise.

We threw down our swords, then circled each other slowly.

“I think I can beat you with my Perched Dragon stance,” said Cruise. “Which stance will you use?”

“The I Will End You stance,” I said.

“I don’t know that one,” said Cruise.

“Here,” I said, “let me teach you.”

I punched him in the jaw, blocked a kick to the ribs, kicked him in the crotch, pounded him in the back repeatedly, then picked him up and threw him down on the glass. Blood dripped out of Cruise’s forehead. He coughed, probably from the pain, but he may have been catching something.

I picked him up by the hair and slammed his head into the glass. Then I punched the back of his head twice. The thick layer of glass was breaking under him, but it was thick enough that it would still support us.

I turned him over and drove my knee into his stomach, causing him to cough up blood, then I punched him in the jaw again, and again. My rage was flowing out and I could feel my vengeance being fulfilled. I punched him left and right in the ribs until I felt them break. Then I stopped for a minute to catch my breath. Cruise lay beside me a bloody, bruised, swollen mess.

I sat him up, got behind him, and put him in the headlock.

“You killed my wife. You picked a fight with me and now you’re going to pay for it with your life. I’ll see you in hell, Cruise.”

I snapped his neck.

Then something weird happened. Cruise laughed. His high voice mutated into a deep, sinister one. His body began to transform. I stepped back.

“Behold!” he said. “I am Punella! Lizard King!”

“Uh-oh,” I said.

Hatching from Cruise as if his body were a shell came a giant iguana, almost twenty feet high. It seemed to grow as it hatched, as if it were in fast-motion like in movies about flowers or something. Then the iguana looked at me. I began to run for it, but the iguana’s massive hand came down and smashed the glass, sending me falling a few stories to the floor of the sanctuary.

Right then I started looking for one of the weapons they had stashed there, but I had already blown them all up. Then I looked down and saw that my samurai sword had fallen through the glass. I picked it up and looked upwards at Punella.

“Come down here you giant son of a bitch! Face me like a… lizard.”

“Oh, but I’m through with you,” said Punella in his loud, sinister voice. “I’m going to unleash my terror on Los Angeles!”

And with that, Punella crawled off the dome and headed into the city. I raced out of the sanctuary with my samurai sword and hopped into a Jeep. It took me a few fatal seconds to hotwire the thing, but I got it moving.

I went toward the city, which was already erupting in chaos. Punella was very much alive now, and it was all my fault. I knew that only I could make this right.

I drove toward the most important part of LA, the Hollywood sign. This would be where Punella would strike first.

I made it in time to find a squad of police cars outside the Hollywood sign surrounding the thing, whilst Punella began to eat the H.

I walked up to the captain, a black guy who greeted me nicely.

“What the hell are you doing here?” he said.

“Look, I’m Johnny Terrace, I’m the thing’s arch nemesis, I have to kill it or else it’ll eat the whole sign!”

“Look pal, I’m already having to deal with living in Ollywood, I don’t want your life on my conscience.”

“It won’t be. Trust me, I’m a former Navy SEAL.”

“Alright,” he said. “You’ve got a few minutes, after that we’re gonna start clubbing it.”

“Things really don’t change around here, do they?” I asked.

“Hey, it’s what we know, now good luck, son,” said the police captain.

I took off toward Punella like a bat out of Hell. Right when he saw me, however, Punella put down the H and picked me up in his scaly claw and swallowed me whole.

“That does it,” said the captain. “Alright, commence beating!”

The police guards began to run in, nightsticks at the ready, but suddenly something stirred in Punella. A sword emerged from his chest, then I exploded from his body, a dripping, bloody mess. Punella fell lifeless onto the ground, a withered, dead body.

I stood up and straightened my hair as the police officers all clapped and cheered for me. The captain came up to me and shook my hand.

“Well done, son,” he said. “Well done.”

“Thanks,” I said. I turned around and looked at the corpse of my old nemesis. It was as though a huge chapter of my life was finally over. I was able to move on. I had avenged Charla, and now I could be a man again.

It was time to go home.

 

Epilogue

“I was thinking I could have my old job back,” I said to Carl Murphy the next Monday at school.

“Your room’s ready for you. You can have it when you want it.”

“Great,” I said.

“Johnny,” said Carl, “you did real good. Charla would be very proud.”

“I think she is,” I said.

I walked out of his office wearing my nice tan suit and carrying my black briefcase. Doris Heller was out there powdering her nose.

“Oh hey Johnny,” she said.

“Hey Doris,” I said.

“Um, if you’re not doing anything later, I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind taking me to dinner?

I smiled. “Why not?”

“Great!” she said. “I’ll see you at six?”

“You got it,” I said. “But for now, I’ve got a class to teach.”

I walked into my classroom full of kids ready to learn. I pointed to Joey at the back of the class.

“Joey, can you tell me what a lesbian is?” I asked. It was good to be back.


About the Author

Nick “Captain Fun” Varnau is the editor-in-chief for “Hollywood Blockbusters Weekly,” a free online newsletter for movie reviews. He has also written numerous short stories and essays. He also owns the independent production company Stickboy Productions. To subscribe to “Hollywood Blockbusters Weekly,” email hollywoodblockbusters-subscribe@yahoogroups.com and to email Nick, email Stickboyprez@indy.rr.com.

 

 

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