Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 17: Power, Corruption, and Lies
Part 4: The Faither You Heal, The Booster You Die
Part 4: The Faither You Heal, The Booster You Die
10 october 2014.
library. Team Bremelo hold an emergency meeting. Shira turns to the GSA members. “You guys need to get out immediately if y’all don’t wanna get ex-gay faith-healed.”
“Back entrance!” says Chuck.
Lyssa, her girlfriend, says “Front door’s off limits.”
Shira shoos them out. “Now go! Hurry!” Lorelei leads the GSA quickly out the door. “Okay now. Brandi, you take Cory, Kio, and the Tachibanas out with you, same way.”
Brandi looks them over: interracial Cory, Kio the big Hawaiian, Fuyumi and Harumi Tachibana and their cousin Seika. She nods and leaves toward the door; they follow.
Polly joins them at the door. “I gotta go too!”
“How come you’re leaving?” asks Mimi.
“Witches don’t like to get burned!” She comes back to grab Mimi’s hand, then drags her out with her. “Later!”
Along with Colette, Team Bremelo’s hardcore fighters remain: Jennifer and Connor Blair; Leila, Rob, and Fiona Shelley; and Shira. Fiona asks, “How come you’re staying, Shira?”
Shira grins wickedly. “Somebody’s gotta jinx this.” Leila slips her a sinister conspiratorial smile. Shira winks at her.
school assembly. The burly armoured guards herd the students, willing or unwilling, into the gymnasium. A few other determined (or just plain lucky) ones escape on the city bus before the guards can catch them. The rest take their seats in the bleachers and chairs. On one side, the bleachers are folded up for a stage set up in the manner of a tent revival meeting. The gym serves as the tent. The preacher today is Rexelle Steele, Shepherd and evangelist of the Church of America.
Her daughter, Deborah Steele Becket, is seated front and center. Her fiancé Barry Longmuir sits to her right, her cousins the Fleer sisters to her left. Shira sits next to Barry; the Shelley twins and their redheaded sister Fiona sit behind them, with Colette next to them. Debbie blushes and sweats nervously, not because she’s afraid that her mother will use her as a prop yet again (though she is), but because Shira’s gaydar is on full power and Debbie can feel it. Barry looks at Shira suspiciously and whispers into her ear, “Say nothing.”
“Hey,” she whispers back, “I got clueless foreigners to explain this to, so deal.” She quickly glances toward the Shelleys.
Barry stares back at them, then at Shira, then says to her, “Okay. But keep your explanations quiet.”
Shira nods and winks.
When everyone is seated, the lights go dark to signal silence. The spotlights turn on and shine onto the stage. Falconer announces with thinly disguised fangirl squee, “Let’s welcome, Shepherd Rexelle! Praise Jesus America!” Rexelle Steele is a slim woman of average height. Her hair is bleached blond, unlike the natural blond of her children and their father, Police Chief Jack Becket. She shows obvious signs of plastic surgery short of a full Resculpt. She is obviously very, very rich; she wears expensive clothes and tons of jewelry. She looks every bit the celebrity. Shepherd Rexelle receives a standing ovation, though much of it is less than enthusiastic or feigns enthusiasm out of fear of punishment.
When Rexelle notices Shira, she nearly panics. Shira smiles sweetly and waves. Rexelle shoots an angry look at her. Shira pretends to zip up her lips.
Rexelle takes the microphone and yells into it, “Praise Jesus America, and thank you all for coming!” Amidst the cheers, some as faked as orgasms under the stress of performing, she looks down and spots her daughter right in front of her. A feeling of dread comes over Debbie: it’s clear to everyone in the front row, or otherwise in the know, what Rexelle plans to do to her.
While Rexelle preaches, Shira quietly explains to Leila and Rob, “Before you clueless foreigners can grok faith healing, first thing y’all gotta know is, all diseases are caused by demons, not germs.” The Shelleys nod. “How the faith healer heals is by casting out demons.” They nod again. “AIDS? Caused by demons. Cancer? Demons. TB? Scoliosis? Tourette’s? Guess.” More nods. “The reason for this assembly? According to the Church of America, homosexuality is a disease, and therefore caused by demons.”
Leila, Rob, and Fiona look at her strangely. “Really,” Leila whispers.
“Really?” echoes Fiona.
“Sounds primitive,” Rob adds.
Shira nods. “Mm-hmm. That means liberalism too is, by definition, a disease caused by demons and curable by faith healing.”
The Shelleys barely succeed in suppressing their giggles. Kelly and Christian shush them. The three take deep breaths.
The altar call. Kelly rushes up, wails at her inability to resist the demons, begs Rexelle to cast them out. With a flourish, Rexelle casts the demons out. Kelly is now free of the demons that cause homosexuality! Half the crowd cheers. Debbie leans toward Shira and quietly snarls, “It’s your fault, Shira.”
“Really?” whispers Shira back. “I didn’t even out her.”
Then Rexelle turns toward her daughter. (Shira to the Shelleys: “Now here’s where it gets...interesting.” Barry: “Shhh!”) “Oh my darling little daughter! I can feel the demons that have come over you again. They’re trying to lead you back into the sin of lesbianism! By the power of Jesus America, I shall cast out those demons and cure you so you can be the obedient wife and mother God made you to be!”
Debbie holds her hands up in front of her, gestures wildly for her mother to stop, and pleads, “Mother, please don’t! Don’t do it!” Rexelle, blinded by her own self-importance, doesn’t even notice her. As she prattles on about her daughter’s need for Ex-Gay Faith Therapy, Debbie’s terror turns to rage, and her rage turns murderous, until Rexelle can no longer even pretend to not notice.
“Mother!” shrieks Debbie.
She pulls herself onto the stage and rushes her mother. Rexelle’s face shows a flash expression of shock before settling into fury at her impertinent child. Debbie takes a wild swing at Rexelle’s jaw. Rexelle lunges forward, puts her hands around Debbie’s neck, and starts to squeeze. The Fleer sisters scream in horror, and the horror spreads contagiously throughout the assembled student body. Assistants swarm the stage to pull mother and daughter apart before they kill each other.
“You monster! I hate you!” screams Debbie.
“I’ll kill you, you evil little bitch!” yells Rexelle.
cafeteria. “Wow,” Jennifer marvels. “The disasters have been piling up lately.”
“Aw, c’mon, Jen,” says Shira. “This one was building up for years and years.”
“But for it to happen now” I doubt it’s a coincidence.”
“Sounds more like desperation on Rexie’s part.”
Jennifer shakes her head. “I never thought I’d ever see a mother be so cruel to her daughter, and so publicly...”
“Hey, you don’t know the Shepherds and Prophets of Jesus America. Drusilla used to do this to Charlie and Desi all the time.”
Debbie stomps up to Shira and growls, “What did you tell my mother.”
“Like Rexie, of all people, would ever listen to some worthless piddling infidel mudblood like moi. Who needs moi, when her own bloated ego, I mean Spirit-filled mind of faith is more than enough?”
“I don’t believe you!” sobs Debbie.
Shira takes her into her arms and looks deep into her overflowing eyes. “Debbie, believe it. I know these people. Your Aunt Drusilla’s been trying to ruin my life since before I was born. She’s pulled this stuff on me, and on her own daughters, longer than I can remember. Now do you realize what you’re up against?”
Debbie collapses into Shira’s arms and cries bitter tears.
Suddenly a klown invasion beats its way past the incompetent guards and chases students screaming away toward the back door. The leader is Coach’s steroid dealer, a Napoleonic dwarf known as Little Badd. Among the four big Honkies he’s brought with him, one is so grotesquely huge he’s an obvious acromegaly case. Little Badd yells out, “Where’s Shira Thomas?!”
Shira pops in front of him suddenly and bops him on the head with the knuckle guards of her fighting glove. “Yo, shrimp,” she says gleefully. “Is this a Challenge I smell?”
The Goliath-size man brusquely brushes Little Badd out of the way, stands a few feet away from Shira, glares down at her, and announces, “I’m Big Baddd! With three D’s!”
Shira glances over at Little Badd. “What did I do?”
“You’re fuckin’ with our business! You won’t stay out, we gonna take you out!”
Big Baddd grins, slaps his fist, and growls, “I’m gonna rip your head off and shit down your neck, mudblood bitch!” He swings his massive fist at her face. She dodges the blow easily and punches his wrist with her armoured knuckles. He flinches, then looks at his hand. He tries to make a fist again, but finds that he can’t.
“Need a tendon stapler, Big Bad-d-d-d?” mocks Shira. “You been extra boostin’.”
He responds with the irrational fury of ’roid rage. He tries to punch her out with his other fist; she snaps its wrist tendon so he can’t close that hand either. He tries to slap her down, but she easily dodges the blows. She hits with both hands below his shoulder joints to sever the pectoral tendons. His arms swing behind him and stay there; he can no longer move them. He whimpers in panic.
Shira flits around him like a butterfly, making him look slow and awkward. He tries to kick her. She flits out of the way. When the leg comes down, she kicks him under the knee and severs the patellar ligament. “Die young!” she taunts. His quadriceps contract all the way to the upper leg and take the kneecap with them; the leg flexes back, permanently. He hops on his remaining intact leg. She kicks under the other knee. “Die strong!” Unable to stand, he falls backward.
“Dianabol!” Students and Klownz stare on in horror as she brings her left fist down onto Big Baddd’s heart, force of muscle and gauntlet reinforced with force of chi. His heart explodes with a sickening wet pop. Big Baddd holds his hands to his chest where his heart used to be, gurgles and struggles for breath, then falls dead. The corpse twitches and gurgles before finally going limp.
Shira glares at the Klownz. The dwarf whimpers, backs up till he runs into his goons, then slips through them and runs away. Shira thrusts her left fist out in front of her and yells, “Next victim!”
The three remaining Klownz stand paralyzed in terror and stare at her. Little Badd calls back at them, “What’ch’all waitin’ for, ya fuckin’ girls? Fuck the bitch up!” They take their fallen comrade by the legs and straighten them; with all their might, they drag the massive corpse backwards and out the door.
principal’s office. Seven Bremeloes barge in uninvited: Shira, Jennifer, Connor, Leila, Rob, Brandi, and Colette. Six of them stand in a line facing the desk; Shira stands in front. “You sent them, didn’t you, Major.”
Falconer, shocked to hear her voice, rushes out to confront them. “What the hell are you talking about, Thomas?”
Shira shoots her an intense accusatory glare. “Your gang, Major. The Klownz who sell you and Coach your ’roids. Your midget pusher brought his hyperboosted champion, Big Bad-d-d-d, in to kill me.“ She grins maliciously. “Just one punch to the heart and booster boy’s dead dead dead.”
The vice principal storms into Shira’s face. Shira continues to smile and does not flinch. “This is none of your business, Thomas! Leave now and forget everything, or I’ll have you court-martialled forthwith!”
“It’s everybody’s business now, Major. Either you cut the crap and stop trying to turn this place into a holy holy freak show, or everybody’s gonna know.”
“This.” Shira thrusts her phone in Falconer’s face. On it, the video Shira took of Falconer meeting with Stan Green as if they were spies, buying his stash of steroids.
Falconer goes cold. “You. little. bitch!” She tries to swipe the phone out of Shira’s hand so she can destroy it. Shira quickly brings down her arm; Falconer grabs only air. “You can’t blackmail me, Thomas! You’re just a worthless mudblood! I’ll destroy you!”
“But I’ve got power over you now, Honey Bunny, and I’m perfectly willing to use it. What’s more, there’s more of it where this came from. And it gets even better.” Shira touches the screen, and the video switches to a scene of Falconer making out with — Admiral Fleer.
Falconer stares into her past, and into Shira’s mocking smirking face, and realizes with horror that Shira’s threat is not idle: she really may release it to the whole world. “You can’t do this,” she protests hoarsely. “It’s illegal. You’ll be punished.”
“Can’t you remember?” Shira says contemptuously. “The blood running through my veins is illegal. The blood of [clears throat] niggers. If I didn’t protect myself with expensively acquired Exceptions, you people would have been summarily executed me long ago for Eugenics Code violations, the same way you did the twin sister I adored. Now do you realize the depth of the shit you’re in, Honey Bunny?”
“Don’t call me Honey Bunny...”
Shira sings, “Can’t promise you anything, Major.”
school lobby. After Shira and the Bremeloes leave the office, they find themselves surrounded by members of the Student Council and Team Valiant, all of them staring at them accusingly. Debbie glares hatefully at Shira, wordlessly accusing her of ruining her life along with the revival assembly. But she doesn’t dare issue them a Challenge. Neither do Bart and Charmian.
Shira answers by flashing them a friendly smile.
Church of America Bremerton. Byron Scofield stares at his enemy’s vidphoned face on the monitor. Shira grins sweetly and sings, “Hi, By!”
“Don’t call me that! You must treat your Holy Prophet with respect and deference!”
“My, my. Touchy, touchy.”
“After what you and your meddling friends did to the much beloved Shepherd Rexelle this afternoon, we have no more reason to tolerate your impiety!”
“Really. You’ve got pull, perks, and mindless faith-based enforcers. I’ve got money, and I’ve got leverage. I suggest you lay off, O my Holy Prophet, or I won’t be so nice anymore.”
“We shall get our revenge!”
“Your whole revolution is nothing but revenge. Revenge against reality itself. But what will you do when reality starts to bite back? Not if. When. ’Bye, By.” Shira is laughing at him when her image disappears.
As if the vidphone had carried the image of Rebel Styles instead of Shira Thomas, Scofield shoots the monitor with his Colt .45 revolver. He glares at its ruins as if she were still there. Her contemptuous laughter echoes in the depths of his mind.
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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 2, 9/14/11: The order of scenes has been changed so that the Big Baddd fight scene now comes directly after the revival assembly (even the new section title signifies this), heavily revised to fit the new continuity and to correct first-draft text errors. New first and last scenes have been added, plus Shira’s explanation of faith healing to the Shelleys and the character of Nicole from Chapter 5 and Parts 2 and 3.]
[Revision 2.1, 9/29/11: Changed Nicole’s name to Colette to fit Third Edition continuity.]
[Revision 2.2, 10/4/11: Removed superfluous scene indicator and made one edit to Big Baddd’s introduction.]