Escape From New Orleans
by Edgar J. Steele
September 23, 2005
Caution: not for children - rough language and graphic scenes
Blackness. Snake struggled up out of a sucking, swirling blackness. Then he remembered. Behind me... Snapping his eyes wide open, he saw that he still was in the large room he first had entered and that he had been tied to the long, waist-high raised structure that had reminded him so much of an altar. Arms bound to his side, Snake had no idea how long he had been out and could not twist his wrist enough to see the countdown watch.
"He be wakin' up, boss."
Two black faces hovered over him - one belonged to a small, twitchy man who nervously glanced between Snake and the other, a giant who had to slouch in order to keep from banging his head on the ceiling, some seven feet above the platform upon which both Black men stood over Snake.
"Ooooh....you in trubble now, White boy. You dun messed wif da wrong muth...."
"Shut up!" The giant waved Twitchy away and looked down at Snake with a bemused look on his face. In a soft Creole, now, "Ah don' know how you did it, but you are either very lucky or very good, to have gotten this far."
"Beginner's luck, Stretch. Got a cigarette?" Snake grinned up at him.
Now a full smile broke across the giant's simian features. "Tha's good! I like that, boy. You have spunk. Not gonna do you any good, but I like it, just the same." He moved just out of sight, beyond Snake's field of vision, toward the right side of the raised platform.
"Tell me who you are."
"Call me Snake."
"Very well, Snake. Who sent you?"
Audibly sighing, the soothing Creole voice responded, "Well...I have no idea who that is. You mean the Feds didn't send you?"
"Sort of, I suppose. They told Florida's governor, who told the Warden, who let me go. Now, how 'bout that smoke?"
The accent shifted from Creole to pure Ivy League College: "Am I to understand that you are a prison inmate, sent here as a mercenary? What's in it for you? Wait a minute...Snake? You're not the guy who rescued the last President from that Mestizo cesspool called Los Angeles, are you?"
"That's me. So, do you give up now? Throw down your weapons and untie me and I'll see that they go easy on you."
A booming laugh: "I like you, Snake. But not that much. In fact, you are going to join us."
"Seems like I'm the wrong color for you boys. By the way, who the hell are you, anyway?"
More laughter. "Well, you could say I'm the new Mayor of New Orleans, seeing as how the last mayor appointed me his successor, just before his untimely demise."
"Crawdaddy. You're the guy they call Crawdaddy - the Mayor's son in law?"
"The dear, departed ex-Mayor, you mean. Yes, that is what they call me."
The man walked back down alongside Snake and into his line of vision once again. "We couldn't get your ankle bracelet off. I assume that is some sort of homing device, which will do you no good down here, rest assured, but what is this?" Crawdaddy gestured toward the ElectroDart, now held out by Twitchy, who had come into view again. Twitchy then twisted it before his face, curiously pushing and probing.
"Oh, that! Well, you see, that's a family heirloom and I sure hate to be without it. Just ornamental, of course."
Crawdaddy chuckled, "I'm sure that was most attractive on your grandmother's arm." Just then a loud crackling and Twitchy was covered in sparks, hopping madly from foot to foot. Dropping the device, he fell headfirst over the edge of the platform and out of sight. Snake twisted his head and saw, beyond where Twitchy had fallen, several Blacks clustered near the platform, looking at him with evil smiles.
"Hey, boys! How ya doin?" Snake was disturbed to see President Shrub off to the side of the group, standing erect but with all-white eyes, just like the guard in the hallway upstairs. Looking back at Crawdaddy, Snake nodded toward Shrub, saying, "If you break him, you've bought him."
Crawdaddy glanced back from where Twitchy had fallen with a hint of a smile. "Ah...a Taser of some sort. I see. And what about this watch? It seems to be counting down in reverse."
From the angle at which he dangled it overhead, Snake could just make out the time: 62:50.
"Well, you see, that's how long my little vacation from the State Pen lasts. Where's Shrub's daughters, anyway?"
"One of his daughters is upstairs entertaining a few of my boys just now, but the other - Ginna - ahhh, she has proven to be most...talented. I have granted her a spot in my personal quarters. Let's talk about your ankle bracelet. What is the purpose of the red button?"
"Well, you see, Stretch, one push of that little red button and within ten minutes there will be about three brigades of United States Marines dropping onto this building. So - whaddya say? Surrender now? I'll see they go easy on ya."
More of that booming laughter from the giant, who was resplendent, if a bit gaudy, in a bright, red suit and yellow shirt, open at the collar, with several gold chains glistening through the opening. "I really doubt that, Snake. What few military units left over from that debacle in the Iranian desert started by my loyal convert Shrub last week now are scattered around the country, fighting off gallant Black insurgents, just like here in New Orleans. That second hurricane, the one that hit the Texas coast two weeks ago and reflooded New Orleans, saw to that, right enough. No, I don't think so. Here's what I think - I think that button was designed to call in a helicopter to lift out the President. We can use that, but first I have someone I would like you to meet."
What could only be the local version of an African witch doctor heaved into view above Snake. Naked from the waist up, the man had a skeleton painted in white on his face, arms and upper torso. In contrast to the shiny formal top hat he wore was what appeared to be an actual small bone through his nose and bracelets of some sort of grass on his wrists. He began chanting in a low, unintelligible gibberish. From just beyond him came the sound of drums, slowly at first, then increasing in tempo with the chanting.
Moving around and around the table, chanting for what seemed like hours, the man finally stopped and leaned over Snake. He uncurled the fingers of his outstretched hand and blew hard. A fine powder flew toward Snake's face. Transfixed by the sight above him, Snake thought too late to close his eyes or hold his breath. The powder flew up his nostrils and filled his eyelids. Immediately, Snake's vision blurred and he involuntarily hacked, which drew even more of the powder into his lungs.
"Cut him loose," ordered Crawdaddy to nobody in particular. The fellow who had put the drums tape into the boombox now resting on the edge of the platform stepped forward with a machete. "Carefully! Don't damage the merchandise. Our friend Snake is going to prove most useful."
What stung at first had turned into a golden, bathing glow of sorts, though Snake's vision still swum. He felt the bonds removed from both his hands and feet and then he tried to sit up, but succeeded only in falling flat on his face alongside the altar. Struggling up, Snake planted one elbow on the altar and saw another knot of Blacks clustered near the far end of the platform. The drumbeat seemed to possess his consciousness, which began to ebb and flow with the rhythm.
Shakily, Snake pushed himself to his feet. "Wha...what was that?" he asked.
"Just a little something to help you along the path to true enlightenment," said Crawdaddy with a broad smile.
Snake felt his arms and legs go numb, then he simply collapsed onto the platform.
"Straighten him out," commanded the giant. Hands rolled Snake over and placed his arms alongside his body, all of which seemed to have become disconnected from Snake, just as his vision cleared somewhat. I can't even move my eyes, he thought, trying to get a response from every muscle he could think of. Nothing.
The face of the witch doctor heaved into view, just inches from his own. The man bobbed his head back and forth, in and out, watching Snake's eyes intently. "It is done," he solemnly intoned.
Another face, then another, grinning wildly through gigantic lips, appeared just above his. Snake could hear and see clearly now, but had lost complete motor control of his body. I'm not breathing, Snake realized with a start. I'm dying! But he actually seemed to feel pretty good, considering that he couldn't feel a thing. Must just not be able to feel my lungs moving, either, he thought.
"He daid!" exclaimed bongolips with a giggle and a huge grin.
Dead? Can't be. Or could it? Is this what death feels like?
Snake's world shifted then, as he sensed, but could not feel, his body hoisted into the air and carried backward, toward the wall. All he could see was the ceiling and catch an occasional glimpse of bongolips, who had hold of him by his legs. Roughly, Snake was dropped into a casket lying in one of the shallow holes. Crawdaddy appeared briefly above him, then the rough wooden lid was set in place and two hammers set about pounding nails all around its edge. The drumbeat seemed to get louder now and actually synchronize with the hammer blows.
Wait a minute, Snake tried to call out. Wait. I'm not dead. Wait...
The hammering stopped. Then the sound of dirt hitting the lid of the casket. A scream formed in Snake's mind, a scream that never quite reached his lips.
http://www.conspiracypenpal.com/columns/escape5.htm Copyright ©2005, Edgar J.
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