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stephen_dedman
To celebrate the fact that we have ADSL at home again, and to show my support for International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, here's a free story. It's previously been published in a fanzine and (IIRC) a Swancon Program Book, but I'd all but forgotten having written it until reminded of it by recent events.



You know, the first time I heard it on the news, I thought it was a blooper, that the guy meant to say the government was going to remove restrictions on automatic weapons, but I didn't think too much about it: I was already running late, and it wasn't till I got to work that I saw I'd picked up my blackhawk in my hurry, which is strictly non-regulation. When I told the sergeant, he told me to be especially careful not to shoot anybody. Joking, of course. I mean, I hardly ever draw my gun, too much damn paperwork, and anybody I shot with the blackhawk wouldn't get to complain.

It was Owens, the Queenslander, who told me that the guy was right, because it was atomic weapons; it'd been in the papers (okay, so I only read the headlines and Footrot Flats) as well as the SBS and ABC, what Owens likes to call 'news news'. The laws still had to go through both houses, of course, but the word was that it wouldn't have any problems. Something to do with 'most favoured trading nation' status, or something like that: anyway, the Chinese didn't have anything to trade for our wheat except their war surplus, and since they'd signed the non-proletatian treaty or whatever that everyone else but India had already signed, that included lots of nukes. Small tactical ones, of course. The large ones were being traded to someone else for oil, or so Owens told me, and he tends to be right about things like that. Got an economics degree and doing law part-time and votes greenie, so I guess we'll be seeing him working for the opposition pretty soon, but he's a nice guy in a smart-arse sort of way. Anyway, he said now the ex-soviet republics wanted in on the act and were selling their bombs as well - okay, maybe they weren't theirs precisely, but serves the Russians right for leaving things like that just lying around. Dumb bastards.

I said I wouldn't buy anything the Russians had made, especially not if it was for export, and told everybody the story about the Marxists somewhere in Central America who took their brand new AK-47s out of the crates and watch the stocks fall of half of them before they were even fired. Everybody laughed, except for Purdy, who told us how you could clean an AK-47 by tapping the muzzle on a hard surface until the crap falls out, and how many snipers chose them when they wanted to shoot up the place they used to work or a school or a mall or a restaurant before they had the good taste to shoot themselves too, and how thousands of people rushed into the gun shops to buy one every time this happened. Look, said Owens, it doesn't really matter, because the Americans will get into the market soon: it's like the cigarette companies, there's just too many jobs involved in producing the damn things, and while there's enough local demand, I mean in the States, to keep the manufacturers going in the short term, they're already spending big money here, lobbying to push the legislation through. Moskowitz said he was going to wait for Japanese nukes to come onto the market because you could trust the Japs to do things right. Purdy was trying to say something, using that voice that sounds like he's trying to shout over a playground full of little kids, but everybody suddenly decided it was time to get moving, and we did.

It was a night like a million others, nothing worse than a domestic though Christ knows they can be bad enough. Maybe that's why Sharon and I never fight: we both see what can happen too bloody often. Of course, maybe the way we're hardly ever home the same time helps, but what do you expect when you marry a nurse? I turned the television on soon as I got in, trying to kill the silence, not giving a damn what was on, and got some current affairs shit. I heard the end of a story about some gunman shooting his girlfriend's family then killing himself, then the weather forecast and jobless figures, then some comedian came on and interviewed some American from the bomb lobby, the National Radioactives Association or had they changed it to International? Well, whatver. Apparently Canberra was leaving the issue completely in the hands of the state governments, just like Washington did. Queensland had okayed the sale of nukes (though not of MIRVs, whoever he is - no, I'm joking, I know it's Multiple something Re-something Vehicles) a month ago, and they were voting on it in Tasmania tomorrow. The lobbyist was saying how humane the nukes were; if you only shot something with a rifle grenade it might have to suffer until you managed to reload, and the interviewer said, okay, granted that in Queensland and the territory there were razorbacks and wild cattle and crocs, but what the Hell was there to kill in Tasmania? and the Yank, Whitman or Chapman or something like that said, well, what about the Tasmanian tiger? and the interviewer told him it was extinct, and Chapman/Whitman/Whatever asked, what, already? and the kettle whistled and the next thing I heard was an ad for a car that's easier to steal than it is to park. Wonders of modern technology.

I sat there, stirring my coffee, and half drifting off to sleep. The comedian came back, this time talking to a no-nuker, who said that the problem was that too many people who had weapons eventually felt they had to use them. Look at the French, she said. Okay, maybe people in the country might be able to have nukes, but they'd have to be licensed, with severe penalties for illegal use. In the city, no-one needed them, and she didn't even understand why anyone would want one! I had to laugh: Hell, you might as well ask why kids always steal the fastest car they can find when they haven't any goddamn place to go.

Y'know, maybe I should get a nuke, just a small one, next time I go up to Surfers, just in case somebody breaks in. After all, who the Hell would be crazy enough to argue with somebody who's got the drop on you with a weapon like that? I mean, you'd have to be suicidal, right?