At precisely eight thirty-seven, the electronic locking mechanism on the umma’s cell block jammed in the open position. Seconds earlier, one Sgt. Farmhaus Philbert, who oversaw the video panopticon in Tower Three at the far end of the exercise yard, had Met His Maker via strangulation: a fitting end to a ripe slob, who had just dined on a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, a large fries, two supersized cokes and a vanilla shake, and, in the process of expiring, vomited these partially digested items all over the console controlling the movements of Gizmo Camp 5’s surveillance cameras. At eight forty, the individual containment doors slid open on their rubber tracks. So far, the umma thought, we’re still better at calculus than the civilization we imparted it to. The same operation occurred at precisely the same time in four other cell blocks of Camp Five. At eight fifty, the Officer’s Mess next to the KFC franchise in Camp Five’s mini-mall exploded, thanks to a carefully fused baseball of Semtex puttied onto the underside of the room-length wet bar. The camp’s commanding officers—Major Beal Bookertee, Captain Earnest Vandersmere Dinsmoor, Lieutenant Colonel Pangborn Sanborn, and several others, hailing from Georgia, Ohio, Illinois, Idaho and Kentucky, among other places—had barely commenced the evening’s bottomless ingestion of impious beverages. One second they were pitching around new methods of waterboarding that could involve filling extremely large basins with urine, motor oil, salt water, peroxide, or Listerine Mouth Wash, the next they were bits of writhing meat vectoring aimlessly through space, colliding with flying scrap metal, glass shards, pulverized wood grain panelling, scattered flaps and fillets of one other sticking to melted plastic cafeteria upholstery, smacking into incomprehensible lumps and streaks of debris, careening like pinballs all over the mini-mall, landing wherever the bits struck durable surfaces, fabric and flesh shearing through the Food Court Plaza. A cannonade of severed limbs and haunches and scalp struck a gaudy “chuck wagon,” its bright steepled signage reading, “Dizzy Gizzy Food Court Chow Down.” A severed shin and foot in a lace-up Army boot flew into an all-you-can-eat salad bar featuring an array of spicy noodle salads and rice pilafs, splattering an aluminum tub of Creamy Ranch-style dressing into a hailstorm of red and white creamy pellets. An eyeball attached to a jagged skull fragment, an arm in a uniformed sleeve, various snotlike ribbons of viscera whizzed through the open doors of Camp Five Gizmo Burger King, colliding with serving trays and napkin dispensers and ketchup fountains and illuminated Duratrans Whoppers, Thick Shakes, and Freedom Fries, then slithered to the decorative linoleum tilework. The skeleton crew of the Burger King, ducking a blizzard of intestines and random gobs of flesh, scattered in horror past the fryolators and warming bins, scrambling for the walk-in freezer. Thirty seconds later, the entire mini-mall rose several feet as the second explosion lifted the structure before squashing it into its own foundations, shock waves blowing out windows in Camps 4, 3, 2, and 1, shattering the eardrums of sixteen servicemen posted in guard towers. The ground beneath a horseshoe expanse of crabgrass and weedy wilderness near Camp 5’s security gate split open in a five inch fissure. By the time the explosion shuddered through the other camps, a perimeter of sharpshooters in gas masks, ranged across the only paved tarmac into Camp Five from three converging service roads, counted off seconds as the first emergency personnel ran towards them. The snipers’ AK-47s filleted the bewildered infidels with the ease of a scythe slicing elephant grass. When a second, motorized contingent of peacekeepers rumbled into Camp Five, stunned by a tsunami of greasy smoke from the blazing cinder mound that had featured their customary breakfast pancakes and Egg McMuffins, gooey dreams of a vanished past, thirty phosphorus grenades smashed through their windshields or detonated inside their roofless jeeps. A lung-scorching stench of melting flesh and upholstery and liquified steering wheels mingled with a toxic cloud of asphyxiating smoke. The snipers bit down on cyanide capsules secreted in their dental work. Umma Obikhan and his confederates had piled into Jeep Cherokees twelve seconds before the Officer’s Mess lived up to its name. An elite corps of zombified grunts raced them to the curlicue rock jetty where Gizmo tapered into the sea and helped them into a customized cigarette boat, waved goodbye as it vanished in the evening mist, then turned smartly to base with a precision hitherto unknown among Gizmo’s enlisted imbeciles. They buckled on suicide vests, crossed the smouldering ruins of Camp 5, and mimicked shock and horror for the panicking Army personnel running helter skelter into the carnage. The former jailor GIs shouted gibberish, gesticulated wildly, arms flailing in carefully rehearsed confusion, confounding their erstwhile comrades in arms while surging deep into their disordered midst. At precisely nine fourteen, their voices keening in unison, they ullulated that there was no Allah but Allah and triggered their explosive outerwear. Adios, Gizmo, muchachos!
Monday, February 23, 2009
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