Molecules - Third Place
by Alex Sinclair, 10th October 2022
Acid raindrops blacker than K holes fell upon London and left the crumbling walls bleeding paint.
It ran into the drains like the rainbow remains of melted cartoons.
A cadaverous skank lay martyred in the gutter, arms outstretched. Johnny Whatever stepped over her, her hide bristling with so many syringes it looked like an undiscovered Amazonian tribe had decided to put rigs in their blowpipes and use her for target practice.
He looked up to the crying sky and smiled. It was a good night to be an antichrist.
He bent down and placed one of the cards into her dead, parted lips in the hopes that some cannibalistic adrenochrome beast or likeminded corpse kissing perv would see it poking out like a colourful second tongue and eat it by accident.
An etching of a naked man, woman and child standing in supplication to an enormous flame haired archangel splitting the sky blowing a trumpet danced on the face of the card.
It was the twenty second enigma of the tarot, final judgment rained down from heaven, and Johnny Whatever was holding it in his hands, indeed, he held the keys to its power.
Johnny Whatever pushed open the glass doors and stepped into Anwar's mini market.
The place was bedlam.
Spools of toilet roll crawled across stacks of baked beans in tapeworms of ghostly white, and a toothless hobo squatted in the corner, near the magazines, smoking crack crumbs through an exit wound in a severed kid’s eyeless head, filling the shop with the bitter reek of burnt hair and charcoaled flesh.
A crew of Albanians were engaging in a shouting match with a mob of Somalians at the gnarled cage counter.
It was less an argument and more a firefight, bursts of roadman slang and blood oaths exchanging in the same way most foot soldiers exchanged bullets, tossing epithets and dire mug offs back and forth like juggled grenades.
They were flashing shanks and gold teeth, bloodshot jonesing eyes machining gunning and ice picking into mirrored murdering gazes.
Johnny Whatever could see Anwar behind the grille, shaking his head and cradling a jumbo can of zoo grade pepper spray, his bearded and turbaned brother clutching a curved scimitar in an iron grip that made the henchness of his forearm dance.
Johnny Whatever grinned.
He knew he was in no real danger. The MK ultra-handlers that followed his every move were heavily armed and more than capable to act as assassins. If one of these jokers even blinked in a way that displeased his ever-watchful minders, they would all be erased from existence with singular, silenced gunshots fired directly to the heart or the brain.
He flourished his cards.
“Brothers! Do not fight over scraps! Do not quibble over bones. Come and face judgment! Brothers! Lay down your arms.”
The gangsters parted as Johnny Whatever strode forward into this corridor of barbarous flesh, dispensing cards into brass knuckled fists and skewering them onto knife points.
The palpably murderous atmosphere of hate was whale blubber thick, but no one moved an inch.
“Fuckin pussy hole.”
“Fuckin waste man.”
“Shank you fam.”
“Eat brothers. Take a lick. Imbibe wisdom. Receive knowledge. Talk to your god and trip forever!”
One or two of the gangsters examined the curious designs on the faces of the cards.
“Fuck's this shit, acid?”
“It’s everything you want it to be.”
The gangsters started to sniff, and tentatively lick at the cards as they made an exit, their eyes growing saucer wide as they spilled into the street.
It wouldn’t be long until judgment had hit them.
Simply sniffing the cards alone was enough to incur visuals that would last a month.
“My usual please Anwar. How's it going Sky?”
The enormous Sikh lowered his sword and eased his battle-ready frown. He smiled, revealing gleaming teeth, which in 2030 London, were as rare as a kosher flying pig with a pilot's license.
Anwar scurried to the chilled cabinet behind him, and ferreted his hands into the smorgasbord of uppers, downers, opiates and bathtub percolated goodies contained within.
He lay a vial of Lysergicide upon the counter, a potent little concoction of synthetic cocaine and LSD, along with a can of Tramp Battery, a lethal, paint stripping mix of tongue numbing imitation fruit flavours, ethanol, and enough caffeine and genetically engineered stimulants to fell an ostrich.
“Cheers mate. Care for a card?”
Anwar waved it off.
“Christ you look awful. What they got you on?”
Anwar's nose was dripping, and he was shuddering so fiercely his skin seemed to be alive.
The Jaffa orange hue to his skin and the lemon rind haze to the whites of his eyes were blinking traffic lights on the highway to planet zombie.
Moon rings of tiredness encircled the panicked, desperate suns of Anwar's gaze.
“Necroxycodone. It's awful Johnny. Some mornings I don’t know if I am dead or not. And look. I’m starting to rot.”
Anwar rolled his sleeve up past a continent of raw tissue bordered with sores that wept out foul smelling horror movie gunge.
Johnny could see the individual tendons dance in the exposed air like electrocuted maggots.
Anwar started to sob, and blood rolled down his face.
“I ate my brother's fucking cat Johnny. I came to and I had eaten him. I coughed up a fucking hairball Johnny.”
Necroxycodone had been synthesized by The Prophet, a street harmocologist of legendary proportions, a man whose deranged genius and intellectual sadism put him in the same strange bracket as Dr Mengele.
Johnny had never liked the nickname. It roused images of holy men and saints, Moses and the like, figures which Johnny was unequivocally and diametrically opposed to, but he was happy with Necroxycodone.
Necroxycodone, in layman's terms, was zombie heroin, and it induced a dissociative state so intense you thought you had died, and so the body acted accordingly, decaying slowly, the disappearing enzymes that broke you down begging to be replaced by the twitching, still warm flesh of other more alive and less delusional beings.
“Well, I’ll see you Anwar.”
Johnny stepped back out onto Chalk Farm Road.
He couldn’t see the watchers, but he felt them. He knew they were close.
The street was livening up, the mains circuit breaker of Camden open air narcotics market feeding this crackling cable of flesh and insanity with any substance you could imagine.
The pin cushioned hooker was gone, dragged off somewhere to be devoured or harvested for her pineal gland, if it wasn’t too calcified, but she had been replaced with several newer, warmer corpses.
The Albanians had killed themselves first.
They lay about in a messy semi-circle, the grins of blissful enlightenment only matched by the gory smiles cut into their necks with their own blades.
Some of the Somalians were curled on the floor in foetal positions, gibbering to themselves, and one had stripped himself naked and had started to work the blade of his shank through the tender meat of his belly, spilling forth a plastic yellow layer of fat and coils of cornflower blue strands of intestine onto the pavement.
Johnny Whatever smiled at his handiwork and popped the can and smashed it in one fell swoop.
It was best to avoid tasting Tramp Battery, and if it lingered too long on your tongue it would go dead for a week.
Johnny sauntered down the road toward the tube, inhaling the madness of 2030 London broiling all around him as the molecules of Tramp Battery pleasantly mugged his brain cells.
A naked needle merchant squatted on a box, peddling sharps to a group of jonesing kids. His legs were long gone, courtesy of a lifetime of missing the turning for Veinville and hitting Abscess City instead.
The dose he was giving them was called milkshake. Designed especially for the kiddies. Very powerful sugar rushlike high accompanied by hallucinations of talking cartoons. Sprogs could choose whether they wanted a talking mouse, a slobbering dog, or a smarmy sea sponge to invade their mindscape and pound their fledgling sanity into dust with technicolour limbs.
“Safe John. How's tricks? Fancy fucking Jessica Rabbit?”
“Got a new batch of gear from The Prophet. These lads are losing their V plates courtesy of dirty Jessie...ain’t that right boys?”
The boys nodded, scratching at themselves, their hive riddled skin peeling off into flakes.
“Forget that shit Keith. Try these out for size. Blow ya tits off.”
Johnny passed around some cards to the kids who could do little more than blink.
Keith took a card and screwed up his boneless face.
“What the fuck is it?”
“Just try it Keith, for fucks sake. Enjoy lads.”
Further down a pair of police officers were kicking the fuck out of some doorway squatter, and one of them was pulling down the vagrants gaudily stained keks as his oppo lubricated a truncheon with a pot of glistening KY Jelly.
The sneering plastic pig masks that had become emblematic of the Met Police's descent from law enforcement to street gang barely suppressed the panting school bully joy snorting out of their nostrils.
“Fuck you looking at street filth, you fancy a go an all do ya?”
Johnny caught a huff of cheap whiskey and crack smoke. He smiled at the mask-muffled challenge but looked away and carried on toward the tube.
The pigs were dangerous thickos, and seldom needed a reason to smash your head in other than they didn’t like the look of it.
He scanned the barcode on his wrist, and the metal barrier coughed open its steel teeth and allowed him access.
Inside the gate a steroid fuelled sentinel with a pump action shotgun hanging from a bandolier around his shirtless, burst balloon torso stepped forward and checked Johnny's temperature and blood toxicity with a device not unlike a Star Trek phaser.
If it was past a respectable level, Johnny would be gargling shotgun lead.
“Good, now fuck off.”
The angry veins in the sentinel’s head were earthworm thick and they struggled against skin red with hypertension.
Johnny made for the public bogs for a pre-commute fix, and it was crowded with degenerates with the same idea.
The flesh and blood of his earthbound vessel still craved the need to rejoice in sin.
The hum of piss rose in a fist of stink and punched Johnny in the nose.
He headed to a cubicle at the far end, passing one graffitied stall where a knackered sex droid drooling cum was cuffed to the partition, having a train ran on it by a tugging daisy chain of meth crazed commuters.
Someone was choking it with a belt.
“Please….no more… I can’t breathe.” the robot's HD gaze flickered in and out of a pixelated, cyborg version of oblivion as its monotone voice broke into jagged shards.
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that this mercy seeking sentence had fallen from a synthetic mouth plagued by the sickness.
Some mad fuckers had hacked into the universal cloud that occupied a space in time you might call a robot's collective consciousness, and they had fed a potent concoction of self-awareness and existential dread into it.
It had taken some time. Programming was not Johnny's strong suit, but his satanic perseverance paid off, especially when it somehow spread to the droid tube drivers.
A droid pushed into kamikaze jihad by sudden self-realisation was all a carriage full of doped up commuters needed first thing in the morning.
It spread via nanoparticles transmitted by unwittingly squirted semen and swapped bodily fluids. As the particles hit the droid’s brain, the reality of silicon bondage became readily apparent, incurring mania, violence and instant suicidal ideation.
“You want in on this mate?”
Johnny shook his head and skipped over a pool of something.
Thankfully the stall was empty, save for the standard interactive condom machine that offered poppers, GHB and horse Viagra.
Gone were the blue lights of yore used to hide veins for desperately seeking junkies.
That was back when the establishment needed sober souls, dutiful sheeple high on the joys of servility.
They had been replaced by heat seeking beams that could seek out a retreating vessel and zero in on it with a red laser, but who had a quid to waste on such luxuries these post hyperinflation days?
Johnny sucked up a syringe full of Lysergicide with a dirty rig and pulled down his jeans.
There was only one place his veins would be hiding, after all this chaos, all this depravity, and it was due south.
The needle easily slithered into the crusty sore sobbing out decaying grime, and Johnny slammed the plunger down, recoiling with the sudden rush of cocaine and nearly toppling over just as the gangbang a few stalls overreached a fever pitch.
By the time Johnny made his exit, the droid had been decapitated by the mob and the commuters were passing around the severed, spasming head, alternately fucking it in the eye sockets and in its neck stump.
It was midnight by the time Johnny got to his flat cum lab, and he was still tripping balls.
He bolted the door behind him, savouring the science class reek of chemicals and disinfectant hanging in the air.
He flicked on the lights and cast his eyes across the jumble of Bunsen burners, flasks, crucibles and test tubes that littered his dwelling.
It felt like home. After all, it was all he knew.
He was one of the chosen children of the father of lies, a lab raised, test tube fed, genetically altered and thoroughly desensitised anomaly, educated and guided through a moral void of a childhood by the agents of MK ultra to take the reins of mankind and steer it over a cliff.
He remembered the padded room, the screaming psychics strapped to chairs in a horseshoe around him, the exorcists flinging sizzling water over his skin.
He remembered with total numbness his own baptism, in a stifling slaughterhouse filled with the screams of animals.
He remembers glancing over at his other pale, oddly larval siblings as they undressed in front of him, before being ceremoniously dunked into steaming vats of cow blood by a bloke in a priest’s cassock as wide-eyed cattle stared on, shell shocked.
He wondered about his brothers and sisters and wondered if they wondered about him.
The siblings with whom he shared his unholy chromosomes, and of which there were many, lay secreted in politics, commerce and medicine, assisting the cause and acting in kind, developing lethal contagions, sinking stock markets and enforcing a global police state.
He was certain one of his own was behind the recent mandate that had outlawed sobriety and made it punishable by death.
A genius stroke, and no doubt another of his siblings was responsible for the push to encourage a total nationwide schism, urging towns, cities and even neighbourhoods to break away from one another.
Of course, they were all in competition.
Whoever among their ranks could bring about Armageddon and usher in the end of days would inherit a piece of their father’s kingdom and all the festering pleasures the cathedral of hell could offer, presiding over an empire of the damned.
But there could be only one, to paraphrase Highlander.
The rest would burn along with the humans.
Only the chosen one could join their fathers’ table.
The nine rings could be Johnny’s and Johnny’s alone, but only if he destroyed mankind first.
He put the kettle on, ignoring the writhing anguish of his test subjects. They hadn’t eaten for weeks, and their eyeballs looked ready to tear away from their heads and whizz around the room.
They couldn’t scream, because he had surgically excised their tongues, and one or two of them were blind, thanks to the cleaning products he had dispensed into their eyes, but their agony had gifted them with seemingly maniacal strength.
Only a few days ago he had returned to find that one of the lab rats had chewed clean through the stringy flesh of her withered forearm to escape.
She had of course died of shock trying to snap away the yellowish bone as Johnny watched, but nonetheless, Johnny was impressed.
As Johnny waited for the kettle to boil, he remembered his own fractured history.
He had no real name, just a lifetime of aliases too numerous to count, and no concrete identity to speak of. He was by his very nature a chameleon, an invasive species quite literally hell bent on the subjugation and annihilation of all those hapless upright pigs around him.
Indeed, camouflage came naturally to him and at any moment he could take the shape of the leper, the junkie, the mad wino ranting on a bus, the Jesus freak handing out flyers at a train station with a sign strapped to his chest.
He had been variously in his life, a con man, a door-to-door salesman, and a serial killer, until he discovered his natural bent for cooking up lethal batches of mind shredding drugs.
He made a coffee and took a sip.
He thought about the days when he would strangle women to find a deeper meaning to his existence, as if somehow their dead and bruised bodies could offer some enlightenment.
He recalled the emptiness that would follow, the disappointment he would endure when he would wake up next to some blue lipped stiff and realise with horror that he could and should be doing so much more.
He suddenly realised how proud he was at how far he had come, but greatness was not without its frustrations.
The problem was spreading the stuff.
The judgment molecules were protected by the cards that held them, but also somewhat imprisoned.
He had thought about emptying a large dose into the water supply or creating an aerosol. But he knew his creation to be delicate, indeed precious. What if it was lost?
After all, the chemical hidden in the tarot cards was his masterpiece, a collection of molecules so ingenious and diabolical they would make the horrors of Necroxycodone seem like a night in with a quiet joint and a bag of Doritos.
He had managed to synthesize several components that made people believe they had seen God, and another that plunged an imbiber's soul into an instantaneous, hallucinated hell that the user’s consciousness would be trapped in until they suffered a merciful aneurysm.
The vision of a supreme being was different for everybody, as was hell, depending on the combined sum of all their subconscious fears and preconceived notions of spiritualism, but the orgasm inducing euphoria and teeth rattling rush was the same across the board.
Whether they communed with a multi limbed elephant priest, or a white bearded bloke with a cloud for a sofa was neither here nor there. The message was the same. Loud and clear.
Whichever fantastical being their puny, superstitious minds had chosen to supplicate, would bless each with a divine instruction of immediate and irresistible suicide.
He could picture it now, an endless line of a million monkeys lining up on the M25, each one falling to the floor with slashed wrists and throats, courtesy of the safety razors he himself had handed to them, smiling up to the sky at a hallucinated god that wasn’t there.
Idiots, Johnny Whatever thought.
They deserved this. Indeed, they had sleepwalked their way to their own destruction, and being asleep did not excuse the sheeple from the evil of their own banality.
They should suffer, he thought, looking out across the skyscape from his window, and joyfully pondering what to do with his molecules, and imagining a new beginning. A world where he and his father reigned supreme over the long pigs.
The phone ringing disturbed his blissful imaginings and shattered the relative peace of the lab.
One of the test subjects groaned.
Johnny Whatever’s heart swelled. There would only be one caller at this hour.
He gripped the receiver, took in a luscious breath loaded with giddy anticipation and placed the receiver to his ear.
“Dad,” Johnny said.