Bradford Middleton was born in 1971 and is a writer of poetry and short fiction who currently resides in Brighton after coming of age in London and then being somewhat transient for a while during which he lived in both Surrey and Staffordshire. He has so far attained the status of Contributing Poet at the Mad Swirl, and has been published online in numerous places, including Word Riot, Foliate Oak, Dead Beats and Horror, Sleaze Trash as well as in print in various journals and anthologies, including Poetry Quarterly, ‘Retail Woes!’ and The Weekenders. He has a novel near completion entitled Dive which someone will get to read soon.
REIGN IN BLOOD
By Bradford Middleton
Jack could not believe his eyes as he staggered out his usual watering hole of a Friday night, a bar with no name, a bar with no sign, it was simply a bar; when you want to get drunk you go where the beer is cheap and the company has no pretence to moderation. As he looked up a bright flash of red light exploded before his very eyes and the clouds started to break.
“What the fuck?” was the natural reaction to the scene that was unravelling before him. Had one of his drinks been spiked with something which may cause such wild hallucinations? He was sure after years of chemical over-indulgence in the early nineties he still had some in-built tolerance to most things of that nature. Looking around him he saw a group of over one hundred already assembled watching apparently the very scene Jack was witnessing as well. He was pleased by their presence as it confirmed his own mind was still relatively sound but it was at this point he knew that what was unravelling in front of him was of a very serious nature.
“I PROCLAIM MYSELF THE WINNER!” a voice boomed from above the clouds. It was full of menace and instilled in every person across the planet a sense of overwhelming fear. This was something of a planetary magnitude.
“What the fuck is going on?” Jack asked frantically of a man stood next to him. Jack grabbed him by the arm of his expensive suit jacket and asked him again, this time a little too enthusiastically. The man looked at Jack, his eyes looked scared and his face a grimace. Jack’s hand let go of the man’s arm and it feel back down to his side with a quick silence.
Jack’s eyes again veered towards the sky. A shape was developing from out behind the clouds and as it came closer to prominence it became clear it was a face. A face Jack had never believed could exist.
“I AM THE DEVIL. YOU HAVE ALL DONE WELL BUT NOW IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO DIE.” People instantly panicked, fear gripped the air. Jack merely ran to the nearest bar and got himself a bottle of whiskey. It was chaos as bodies started flying through the air towards the devil’s enclave. Once their transportation had been completed Jack knew then the shit was really going to hit the fan. It was going to be an armageddon of epic proportions.
Jack sat in the bar watching the carnage outside developing on the TV drinking heavily from the bottle. He had never believed in anything religious in his life and this whole development had completely taken him by surprise leaving him in a state of complete confusion. Had he, with the life he had led, somehow helped in the destruction of mankind? It had been a pretty debauched lifestyle, especially during his twenties, with the booze and the drugs but then he just assumed he was free to live his life as he saw fit without any judgement from a so-called higher being.
“Ah fuck it!” Jack announced after musing upon the implications of what was in his mind. He concluded that if it was partly his fault that all this had gone down and that he might as well go out in a blaze of glory. He took a huge slug of whiskey and let it go down before going outside into the madness and the destruction. Within seconds it started raining down with blood. Blood was covering everything and everyone. Jack and a few other people dived back into the bar where all the TV crews on outside broadcast were being covered in blood. It was clear that enough people had sort shelter in various buildings around the world and that the Devil’s campaign of global annihilation was going to take a bit longer than he would have hoped and expected.
“Damn them and their fangled contraptions. I’ll have to send in ground-troops at this rate, » he ranted to his side-kick, a former deeply religious man who had once been the most powerful man on earth.
The ground troops moved in; an army of creatures without eyes and who looked like nothing any human had ever seen before. They were all over seven feet tall and were made up of the entrails of the decapitated war dead. It was, upon reflection, a fitting way for the end of humanity as they were now being systematically destroyed by those that they had destroyed in the throes of war.
Eventually after a couple of days during which Jack drank from his whisky bottle whilst watching the carnage unfold on the TV screen in front of him he decided, maybe due to his intoxicated state, to venture outside. London had been one of the first and most easily destroyed cities and there had been no news on the TV for the best part of thirty-six hours about any new actions taken in his vicinity. As he again stumbled out of the bar he took the time to look around. London had been levelled to the ground and there was very little left in which to take shelter. Jack thought it funny that the only building remaining on Wardour Street was the bar where he had sort refuge. It then became clear that it had been intended that way.
« Jack » proclaimed a voice from out of the ether. Jack was unsure of what to do but his intoxicated state and the fact he hadn’t talked to any one for the best part of two days involuntarily forced him into replying.
« Yes? » was all he could muster.
« Jack, you have done remarkably well and you now get the prize. »
Jack pulled a confused look on his face but through the debris could see a person walking towards him; despite this he remained calm.
« Your prize is this. With this woman you must help me re-populate the planet. » Before him stood screen icon and French goddess Beatrice Dalle. It was going to be a lot of work but he knew he wouldn’t have it any other way.