Grand Mal Press

forum last stand

To read more of Ryan C. Thomas' stories, check out his contributions in MalContents and Alien Aberrations



By Ryan C. Thomas


When I got out of the shower, I found Thomas sitting on my couch watching TV and drinking a cup of coffee. For a lawyer, he was always nervous, and today was no exception. His hands were shaking so badly coffee was spilling onto his thousand-dollar suit; the suit he afforded from the per diem I provided him. But then, he was worth it, had never lost a case. And I’d had plenty.

“Remind me to take your key away,” I said to him as I made my way to the kitchen to pour a cup for myself.

“I couldn’t sleep last night,” he said, “kept tossing and turning. I figured I’d meet you. I knocked but…um…the maid didn’t…anyway, I made coffee.”

As I passed by the TV, I saw a newscast from Japan. An angry mob was holding up signs and yelling into the camera. The protesting was so loud that the anchorman was cupping his earpiece and shouting at the top of his lungs to be heard. Not that it mattered anyway, neither Thomas nor I could understand Japanese.

Before I could tell Thomas to change the channel, the image switched to a young news reporter standing in Tiergarten Park in Germany. It was the same type of scene, just different scenery.

“Turn that off,” I told him, “put on some cartoons or something.”

“There aren’t any cartoons on this morning. The coverage is everywhere.”

“Well, throw a DVD in or something.”

Reluctantly, Thomas stood and put in a Bugs Bunny DVD and came into the kitchen. He stood against the wall, leaning on my Marvel Comics calendar, while I poured my drink.

“You know, you can still back out,” he said. “People might forgive—”

“No. No backing out. It’s my decision and I’m carrying through. Do you have a problem with that?”

His shaking hands betrayed his words. “Of course not. Why would I have a problem? It’s just, you know, as your lawyer I’m obligated to tell you about...I just want you to know all your options.”

“I know my options. Hand me the sugar bowl.”

From outside came the sound of a car engine. Checking my watch, I realized that my driver, Santino, was pulling the Rolls into the driveway. He was right on time as usual. Thomas read my mind, frowned and said, “Then I guess we should go get this over with.”

“Don’t give me that look, Thomas. This should have been done ages ago.” I drank the coffee, got dressed, and left with Thomas in tow.




My Rolls is a vintage 1930 Limousine Cockshoot purchased from an antique dealer in Prague. I paid extra to have it airlifted in a cargo plane because I didn’t trust shipping it on a barge; cargo containers are not hermetic and the salty air of the sea will destroy a car’s body. It is a very rare automobile, which is why the Rolls Royce Enthusiasts Club in my state keeps pushing for me to join. But I want nothing to do with them.

Thomas and I sat in the back while Santino drove. The radio was buzzing with news reporters yelling my name so I had Santino put in a Hank Williams CD. The morning paper was on the seat next to me, my face covering the front page, so I flipped it over.

About twenty minutes away from my estate, on the main highway, we slowed to a stop. “Senor,” Santino said, looking at me in the rear view mirror, “there is a traffic jam. Should I take the 357 and go north?”

Looking out the front window, I saw hundreds of cars trying desperately to get around one another but not going anywhere. More than a few were crashed together, their owners standing on the sides of the road waving their hands like grandstand conductors. Thomas gulped and suggested I take Santino’s advice.

“That won’t be necessary,” I said. I waved my hand toward the cars and they all flew off the road and hurtled several yards into the hills on either side. Car horns erupted all around as people ran screaming away from the freeway. More than a few men pointed at my Rolls and made the sign of the Devil.

Santino didn’t say a word, but Thomas registered his own disdain for my actions by looking out the window. It mattered little to me, and he knew it. I had learned a long time ago that the lawyer was not really my friend, and didn’t care about my legal security; he was simply afraid of me.

“Go ahead, Santino,” I said, “the road’s clear now. We should be there in fifteen minutes.”




Indeed, we were at the park right at 9:30am, greeted by what must have been several million people waving signs and screaming obscenities. The sound was cacophonous. I could break them all in half very easily if I wanted to, could scatter them with a mere thought, but I decided against it. Perhaps when I was done with the morning’s business I would teach them a lesson. Maybe pop them like beans in a microwave, or melt them like candle wax. It seemed every couple of months I had to teach the people a lesson. My periods of quiet only made them wonder if I had lost my powers, and the surest way to show them I was still godly was to give them an act of god.

Oh, I don’t use the capital G for myself—I am not God—but I am something akin to a deity. Doctors and psychiatrists never could discover how or where I got my powers, but then, I’m not too concerned about it. When you can manipulate, create and destroy all matter around you with only your thoughts, you tend to just go with the flow.

Angry as the crowd was, when it saw my Rolls, it parted like the Red Sea. Cliché intended.

“That’s a formidable mob,” Thomas said, looking back at me again. “You know you can still—”

“Thomas, you’re getting on my nerves this morning.”

That shut him up. We rolled to a stop in the center of the park and got out of the car.

In the middle of the park stood a rocket ship, larger than the tallest building on earth. So large it had given me a headache just to create it. It was silver and red and looked like a giant bullet. I don’t know where I got the design from, probably a comic book from my youth, but it was strangely familiar nonetheless. I knew it would fly, that was not a problem. I knew it would fly because I would make it fly. I would make them all fly, all the rockets in all the cities all over the world. All the rockets I had created over the past week. Thousands of them, each one larger than anything that had ever been constructed.

In front of the rocket ship was a raised dais, and on the dais was a microphone. Ascending the steps, I reached out and tapped the microphone, happy to see it was already on. News cameras swarmed around me, flash bulbs popping. The irate crowd, still waving their signs, began to quiet down.

“Gentlemen,” I said to the millions of nervous and angry men who had come to yell at me. “I see you are very angry with me, but I must ask that your emotions not rile you too much, or I will be forced to maintain peace. Let me just start the ceremony by saying, trust me, things will be better from now on.”

Angry susurrations swam through the crowd.

A voice came from behind me: “Dear God, this is a mistake.”

Turning away from the mic, I found Thomas standing there. “What did you say?” I asked him, sotto voce.

“You can’t just do this because she broke up with you. It’s insane.”

“No, Thomas, I’ll tell you what’s insane—that I didn’t get a new lawyer the moment you first questioned my decision. Perhaps you should tell me why I need to keep you around anymore. You’re just like her…like everyone…all against me.”

“She left you, Ernie, because…because you’re insane. You treated her like garbage. She only stayed with you as long as she did because she was afraid of you. And when she didn’t care anymore, she reciprocated. Can you blame her?”

“She’s a bitch. They’re all bitches.”

“You say that because you still love her,” Thomas said.

“So what if I do? I’m tired of these women thinking they can drive men crazy and we’re just supposed to accept it. We’re all better off without them.”

“You just don’t understand them is all, and for all your powers, you hate that you can’t figure them out. But you know what, none of us can, and that’s what’s so great about them all. What will this prove? Huh? Ernie, my sister is in that ship. Does that mean anything to you?”

“No. And I’m tired of your complaining. You know what? I think a demonstration of my powers is in order.” I turned back to the microphone. “Gentlemen of Earth,” (the news coverage was being aired live around the globe) “before we get started, a quick reminder of what happens to troublemakers in my midst.”

I waved my hand at Thomas and his head exploded. The corpse of my former lawyer stood still for a heartbeat, then toppled over next to my feet. The crowd grew quiet at this.

“Gross, isn’t it.” Nobody laughed at my attempt for humor, so I decided to get on with it. “Okay then. Well, I guess this is it. Like my father always said: If it has tits or an engine it’ll give you nothing but problems. Boy was he right. I know you’re all a little upset now, but you’ll see, in a few months, this planet will be quiet, productive, and free of decorative hand towels. You’ll be able to lounge in your underwear and watch football without a single nag. You’ll see, you’ll thank me in no time.”

I turned and looked at the giant rocket ship, looked through the tiny portholes in the hull. Inside, I saw long blonde hair, high-heeled shoes, hands holding purses, lips painted red with lipstick. Millions of women, jampacked inside like dirty clothes in an overstuffed suitcase. If you listened hard you could hear their cries, which to some extent, was music to my ears.

Through one of the portholes I could see her, Jessica, the woman who’d broken my heart. She made eye contact with me, but all I saw there was her hatred of me.

So be it. If she didn’t want me, she’d have nobody.

“Don’t worry,” I told the crowd. “NASA says they’ll have a space station built on the moon sometime in the next fifty years. You can see your women then. If you still want to.”

With that, I waved my hand at the rocket. It rose into the sky and shot into the heavens, headed for the moon. The crowd stood gaping in disbelief, eyes locked on the myriad white contrail streaks that suddenly appeared everywhere in the sky as rockets from every city on Earth headed to the moon, each full of the one thing I would never understand: women.




To read more of Ryan C. Thomas' stories, check out his contributions in MalContents and Alien Aberrations

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