by Greg Petix

The shout of a pipe bomb shakes me awake. A piece of shrapnel whistles throught the window and imbeds itself in the wall. I hear the sound of running feet and the wounded cries of a boy. His wailing recedes until it is lost in the white noise of faraway gunfire.

I turn on the radio. A Hell's Angel is dedicating "Anarchy in the U.K." to his commander-in-chief. The Hell's Angels were better anarchists when they didn't know there was a word for what they were doing.

As Johnny Rotten's voice trails off, the d.j. comes on:

"Rocking you with one steady roll, this is Dr. Tongue, bastard son of a thousand maniacs and the ayatollah of rockenrolla. It's high noon, and time for Rumble Report. Megasaurus firefight action exploded this morning in Hegel Park as the National Front and the American Dental Association launched a joint offensive against the Anti-Federalist/Menshevik alliance. The siege of the downtown abortion clinic by Operation Rescue crusaders enters its third week today. The N.O.W. amazons defending the clinic are threatening to use atomic bottle rockets, so steer clear. The gang war between the Black Panthers and the Hassidic Jihad is still raging full on, so consider the Lower West Side a no zone. Now, here's Don with the weath..." I turn off the radio and get out of bed.

From my second story apartment window, the victim of this morning's explosion looks like a Rorschach test printed in red ink. Pigeons land and pick hungrily at his wounds. Beneath my window, an Animal Liberation pack tramples a sleeping dog while in pursuit of an N.R.A. survivalist. Across the street, the Andalusian Dogs paint surreal graffiti with the blood of symbolists. In the alley, Up With People stormtroopers wearing smiley-face t-shirts lynch a nihilist from a fire escape. I turn away from the window and walk across the room. The sound of cat bones crunching beneath my boots makes my stomach growl. I strap on my dart belt and walk down to the street. The walls of the stairway are padded by a sandwich-thick covering of political flyers. Peeling them off one by one is a jack-shit time machine, revealing changing allegiances and blatant hypocracies. The pigeons feeding on the pipebomb casualty take to the air when I open the front door of the apartment building. The surrealists and the stormtroopers look my way, then look away when they see that I'm not packing heat. Unfortunately, the trampled dog has already been dragged off, so I'll have to work for my dinner. A few blocks down the street, I see a cat chewing on a dead Shriner's arm. My mouth fills with saliva. I slowly pull out a dart, take aim, and let it fly. The cat howls as the dart sinks into its left hip. It bolts down an alley, but by the time I get there, it's gone. The alley comes out in the Mormon zone. Mormons will shoot you for picking through the garbage, so I follow the double yellow lines down the middle of the road. I can feel them stare out at me from their pillbox bunkers. I hope none of them feel religous today. Utah Boulevard becomes Engels Street , and I pick up the cat's blood trail. I hear gunfire close up ahead, but my empty belly, heedless of anything except hunger, urges me forward. Finally, on the corner of Marx and Engels, I see the cat lying next to a lamppost, panting. I approach it and quickly wrap my hands around its neck. I lift it up to eye level, and it looks at me with fear and sadness. I almost feel sorry for it. Suddenly, a mortar shell explodes in the middle of the intersection. Pieces of concrete slash my face and arms. I drop the cat and duck into a bombed-out storefront. Through bullet holes in the wall, I can see the Democratic-Republicans and the Republican-Democrats tearing up Marx Avenue. Opposing cries of "Liberty and freedom!" and "Freedom and liberty!" can be heard over their gunfire. Nobody knows why they hate each other so much. Most people can't even tell them apart. Before the two gangs can kill each other, a third gang attacks both of them. They come swarming out of a side street screaming "Give peace a chance," but they're jacking up the body count something awful. It must be the Swords of Aquarius, the city's only gang of militant pacifists. The battle ends abruptly when one of the Swords detonates a backpack bomb. When the smoke clears, no one is left standing. In Dogmapolis, this is known as a "convenience store." I scavenge my way through the dead and dying. As I search the pockets of a wounded Sword, I realize that I recognize him. His name used to be Jake Viscous, but he changed it to Billy Jack when he joined the Swords. We used to be best friends. His eyes open, and he looks at me with mutual recognition. There is no warmth in his eyes, though; just the cold flames of a fanatic. "Hey Jake, for a pacifist, you sure fight like a motherfucker."

He whispers to me through a mouthful of blood, "a true pacifist must be willing to kill...for peace." He closes his eyes and gives up the ghost. I sit down on the wet tarmac and eat his rations.