A vision of the darkness beckoning us if we continue our cultural allegiance to law and order in the name of vengeance and justice by way of outrage and violence.
In the years following the fall of America as the world’s superpower, social relations in that nation began to crumble. As a result discord and violence rapidly increased. Eventually the court systems were too backed up to process most criminals, while corruption among law enforcement eroded public trust to the point that only criminals called the cops – for assistance. Mobs began to form and the most menial of offenders of social norms were subject to public violence. In order to control the outbursts new laws were passed that explicitly allowed citizens to execute offenders who had committed a limited list of specific crimes. It was believed it was easier to channel the phenomena than stop it altogether. Spontaneous capital punishment flourished across the land, mostly in the form of stoning, and before long somebody figured out how to make money on the terrible ordeal.
Only a few minutes ago the park had been full of children’s laughter as Charles Matthew Hard played basketball with his friends, but now a chorus of outrage began to replace those joyful sounds. The game came to a stop and the group of boys looked over to where a crowd was gathering around an old man sitting on a bench. Charles had seen him sitting there for the past hour, reading magazines and minding his own business.
“Hey, come on guys, lets go check it out!” cried one of his friends excitedly.
The group of boys scrambled towards the growing mob, while Charles kept back to take in the larger view of the scene.
“Come on, Chuck,” his best friend Alec harangued, and so reluctantly he moved closer.
“Listen, ma’am, I don’t know what you think you saw, but I haven’t done anything.”
“Don’t lie you gross old man. I saw that lump in your pants. I saw you touch it. You’re a pervert, a pedophile. Sitting in this park watching children like it’s your own personal peepshow. No. No no no. We can’t have that here. We won’t.”
The man seemed to shine under the sparkling gazes of bloodlust that befell him as the woman gestured manically at the crowd, inciting them to act on their deadly desires. They mimed back their approval with twisted grins revealing salivating sadism.
“As a citizen of this fine nation, the best there has ever been, I sentence you to death for the crime of pedophilia,” the woman declared to the man, but more so to the eager executioners surrounding him.
The man began to protest his innocence, but it was of no use. The first stones began to fall upon his frail old body and his testimony turned to howls of pain and terror.
Charles had seen this sort of thing in videos before, but never in real life. At first he was horrified, but his personal revulsion and fear began to give way to the primal aggression of the group’s mentality as the violence reached a frenzy. After a few of these impossibly stretched out moments he began to look for a rock, but could come up with nothing. He looked around and saw others also scrambling to find stones, which seemed to be in short supply. The park’s landscape was all grass and trees, with few stones large enough for a deadly pummeling, and the largest of the group fought their way to retrieve their weapons so they could throw them again. Soon a melee of sticks and trash and whatever could be swung, thrown or used to bludgeon were coming down upon the old man’s lifeless body.
As the maniacal crowd beat the corpse into a sludge, Charles ran from the scene crying, angered that he hadn’t even gotten one hit in. He vowed this would never happen again.
It didn’t matter how heavy it was, he carried his backpack full of rocks everywhere. Occasionally he would find a new stone he liked and add it, or trade it for an older one with less lethal potential.
Weeks went by, then months, without any public acts of impromptu justice. As the aftermath of the previous assassination set in, locals had become less enthusiastic about what had happened. Especially after it was discovered that the old man had lost his ability to fulfill his libido in an industrial accident a quarter a century earlier, and was most likely not a sexual threat in any way whatsoever. While it was argued that you didn’t need your junk intact to be a predatory pedophile, the consensus was that an innocent man had been killed. In response those involved had plead ‘Oopsies’ and told anyone who would listen that sometimes its better to make a mistake then do nothing at all. The expense of keeping law and order, they called it.
Finally the day arrived when his burden paid off. At the end of the block Charle’s neighbors caught a man trying to steal their car, and he happened to be outside when the commotion started. He grabbed his bag and ran to the scene, by which time a crowd had begun to gather and hostilities started to simmer.
“Please. I am sorry. My mother is dying and I have no way to get there. I didn’t mean…”
Charles grabbed his most deadly stone and heaved it at the man’s groin. As the would-be thief doubled over in agony, the crowd turned their eyes on Charles and his cache of geological missiles. Then they looked around for more projectiles and found the area wanting. A man pointed at Charles and yelled, “I’ll give you five dollars for your biggest rock.”
Moments later the teenage terror salesman had set up shop at the edge of the slaughter and started a bidding war for his remaining stock. By the end of it he had made nearly two hundred dollars, and as the crowd ambled away in the half-shamed haze of a post-killing frenzy, Charles sat smiling next to the pile of pulp and bone he had helped create. In that moment he had seen entire his future laid out before him. He picked up his bloody merchandise and took it home to clean and resell at a later date, the sooner the better.
It didn’t take long for the young entrepreneur to see the holes in his business model. It would be nearly impossible for him to be in the right place at the right time often enough to make a steady income. Finally he determined that if he couldn’t know where a stoning was going to take place, he would have to be the one to make sure they happened.
There were a few more issues. If he stuck around in the same place instigating executions, it wouldn’t take long before people caught on and made him the subject of their greed for vengeance. He would have to take his macabre vending service on the road, and put several miles between himself and his last point of sale each and every time. And so as not to be too obvious he bought a truck and disguised it as the property of a landscaping company, that way he could travel with a plethora of stones without raising too many questions.
Not that he was too worried. Stoning was becoming more commonplace all of the time, as well as more readily accepted by local citizens and officials everywhere. The price of law and order was being paid beyond the debt of justice, and even though more people died of flash mob justice than had ever been murdered before, the general consensus was that things were getting safer than they had ever been.
Sales soared as Charles roared across the country provoking wanton terrorism, and then selling the solution to his maddened marks.
In the small mining community of Hanna, Wyoming he convinced townspeople to kill a fourteen year old girl by making a scene at a football game where he claimed she had killed their infant child and buried it in the mountains.
On the shores of Lake Michigan in the town of Ludington he challenged the audience of a city council meeting to murder the mayor, alleging that he had been embezzling city funds for several years.
Outside a Taylor Swift show in the parking lot of a Miami venue, he made five grand enticing teens to make an example of a ticket scalper, who was actually just a homeless man that had inextricably wandered into the area singing Burt Bacharach tunes in pitch perfect falsetto.
He crossed the country from coast to coast peddling mineral maliciousness, and after a few years he had made so much money that he hired a staff of instigators, salesmen and product recovery and renewal specialists to take over his duties.
Charles’ plan to retire was upended a few years later by the beginning of a promising political career, and by the time he won his second term as Senator he had already enacted legislation that legitimized the sale of stones during public executions.
At that point the malevolence of the American spirit was so great that it was no longer necessary to make false accusations, as nearly everyone had become a criminal in the name of enacting the law. The cycle of ill will and venomous intent grew to such proportions that the endgame was clear – everybody must get stoned.
The price of law and order would not be paid in full until the last person standing fell face first into a pool of their own blood, bludgeoning stone in hand. Or at least that is what President Chuck M. Hard had told an irritable crowd moments before being reduced to skeletal fragments and splashy gore on the White House lawn.