[I was going to write something about Australia Day but this came out of my head instead which has nothing to do with Australia (it’s on the same planet). It started silly then got weird and dark. The ending isn’t intended to be aspirational just where the story ended up. It goes on a bit and there is some bad language. As always – first draft and uncorrected]
It was green everywhere but the sky. Donnie had always been dismissive of that colour, it made him think of sickness, he preferred his signature triad of colours: red for his virility, blue for his strength and, of course, gold for his wealth.
Yet this green was something else. Donnie had stood on many carefully managed golf courses but none of them had the depth and strength of the green in the countryside all around him. ‘Emerald Isle’ he thought, trying to process the colour in terms he could make sense of; jewels, wealth, money.
The rolling grass draped ground was almost sexual in its vitality. Of course, he knew underneath was dirt and shit and disease and germs but for once he could almost ignore that. He wasn’t actually going to take off his patent leather shoes, pull off his monogrammed socks and let his naked feet soak in the verdant dew but the idea didn’t actively cause him to be nauseous.
This – he thought – was going to be an incredible golf course.
It had taken some effort. His reputation for stiffing contractors had begun to catch up with his projects, his creditors were making unfriendly noises and some American feminist ‘writer’ bitch who’d settled nearby had objected loudly to the plans for the golf course. Fuck ‘natural beauty’ – thought Donnie. What flattery, bribes and selective blackmail couldn’t get you, smart lawyers could. Let that bitch moan, pretending to ‘connect’ with her Irish roots when she was just here as a tax dodge.
Across the field near a small copse he hadn’t noticed before, that would sit near the start of the fairway when the course was finished, stood a woman. Donnie looked around. None of his handlers where in sight – his elder son and his smug-but-tolerable son-in-law were up at the big grey house finalising the deal. Donnie smiled – he wouldn’t have to listen to their prissy warnings about lawsuits or police reports. He rummaged in his jacket pocket for a tic-tac and then strode across the field towards the woman.
The woman stood with one arm leaning on a holly tree. Blond, almost golden hair cascaded over her shoulders. Just like that Australian actress, Donnie thought, in that movie. He felt his heart racing and forced himself to pause for a moment to regain his poise and swagger. HE WAS IN CHARGE, shouting his own thoughts to himself inaudibly, HE WAS IN CONTROL.
“Good morning. You must be the new lord.” her accent was foreign but not Irish and Donnie suddenly found himself stammering to reply. The woman just smiled and touched his face with long fingers that were cool but not cold. Donnie could only stare at her translucent skin framed by her hair which was the deep iridescent black of a raven’s wing. For a moment Donnie panicked. He looked around hoping to see his adult son nearby, always ready to help when Donnie felt overwhelmed. But Donnie was alone.
When he looked back everything made sense again. The woman’s hair was a dark auburn red, not black, not blonde. Red. He liked red, not as much as he liked gold but it was a virile colour.
“We need to talk about contracts.” said the woman, stepping aside and ushering Donnie towards a garden gate.
“The lawyers…” Donnie tried to speak – to explain that the lawyers were at the big house and the lawyers handled the details. Donnie was about the deal not the fine print.
“This isn’t a contract your lawyers know about, Donnie,” she said reassuringly, “this is something very old, a pact if you prefer, a treaty, an agreement between powerful people, kings and queens. People like you and I Donnie. Not worms. Come with me, Donnie. We’ll talk business and then…who knows?”
Donnie stepped towards the gate – still uncharacteristically tongue-tied. And then…
Perhaps he had an episode. The doctor had warned him about these. Not the hippy but his other doctor, the one his son would bring in when Donnie was too sick to say no. Donnie was sitting in a room, small but opulent like a Victorian drawing room or in an ivy-covered gazebo or he was sitting on a moss covered rock under a bower of trees or…in an office. It was an office, wood panelled with a walnut desk and burgundy chairs. The woman was there, her green hair contrasting with her white suit.
“I think your blood sugar levels may be too low, Donnie. You should eat something”
Donnie nodded feebly and reached out towards a small bowl on the desk. In the bowl was rose-coloured Turkish delight. He grabbed a piece and bit into it greedily. He instantly felt more alert.
“Just my attempt at a literary allusion,” she said with a knowing smile. “Now we need to talk rights-of-way, easements.”
Donnie sat up straight, his demeanour fixed into what he regarded as his most commanding. “There are no rights of way across my golf course. That has been all settled both in court and by the county council.” He stared across at the woman. He could see now that he’d been mistaken about her hair being blond – it was grey, nearly white. The gold he’d seen must have been a trick of the sunlight. It disgusted him, she should have the self-respect to dye it, he thought, nobody wants to see that.
“I’m afraid this particular right-of-way is beyond the jurisdiction of the county council. My property borders yours, specifically at the point by the holly trees where we met. At that point is a gate between the land below Eire and the land above. That boundary was settled by war and by treaty and…”
“No deal sweetheart. My land, my rules. The only deals that count are deals I’ve made. Try and fight me and you will lose – big time.”
Donnie had barely finished speaking when he saw the trees around him growing darker and closing in. He could see now what his eyes would not accept – the woman’s hair might be white but it was stained red by the blood that covered her hair and which pooled around her feet and which ran in rivulets down her forearm and which poured from the human heart which she grasped in her hand.
Donnie clutched at his chest only to find the tattered remains of his shirt and a gaping hole in his chest from which the harridan in front of him and pulled out his own heart. He wailed in fear and shrank down as the woman seemed to grow in stature before him, standing in growing pool of blood.
“Do not dare to threaten me, puny man. You’ve eaten of my food and stood in my house. Only my own laws of hospitality restrain me from flaying the skin from your corpulent flesh and hanging your head in my fields as a feast for the rats.”
“let’s talk sensibly,” she continued, sitting back behind her desk and straightening her tie. “You owe me an easement. However, I have little use or desire for access to your golf course or to the Republic of Ireland in general. The time when this corner of the world was important to me has, sadly, passed. A right-of-way somewhere else, though…well that may be of mutual interest to both of us. Something we could negotiate, a deal which would allow me to overlook your earlier rudeness.”
Donnie was not a man of natural courage but he knew what to say in a negotiation.
“I could threaten your soul but perhaps you no longer possess one. Then let me offer an inducement. You will plant this holly sapling on one of your North American properties. In exchange, I will grant you one favour…” (Donnie leered) “…of a NON-sexual nature once the gate has been established.”
Donnie sat back, as if in thought, and then replied, “I want that and fifty thousand Euros.”
“Like yourself, cash is not something I have easy access to. However, if you look to your left you will see a small chest.”
Donnie looked to one side and there next to him was a small wooden chest no more than a foot wide. It was open and overflowing with gold coins.
“A pot is more traditional,” said the woman “but I abhor the modern cliches of the good folk.”
“Done. Where do I sign?” asked Donnie, his eyes gleaming at the sight of the treasure.
“You already have…” whispered the woman with a breath that was almost a caress in his ear.
There was no copse, there was no woman or office or grove or ivy-covered gazebo but in his left hand was small sapling and in his right a small wooden chest and engraved on the hasp of the chest was the woman’s name “HRH Bahn Seeth”.
Donnie sat bolt upright in bed. There was somebody in his bedroom. Not his new wife, she slept in the room next door. He fumbled for panic button that was hidden under the top of the bedside cabinet as his eyes adjusted to the dark.
“If you are hoping that your guards all come, you should know that I put them all to sleep.” said the voice.
Donnie stared in the direction of the sounds and as he did it was if the room filled with twilight. A small man sat at the end of his bed, dark skin and a pointy face, he was dressed like a leprechaun.
“Are you,” said Donnie nervously, “A leprechaun?”
Donnie’s face exploded in pain as the little man slammed the edge of a walking stick into the bridge of his nose.
“I’M NOT A FUCKING LEPRECHAUN YOU ORANGE BAG OF SHIT. I’M A FUCKIN DEBT COLLECTOR.”
Donnie held his face and began shouting for help.
“They can’t fuckin hear you. Are you deaf and stupid?”
“How did you get in here?” cried Donnie. This was the penthouse suite of his signature, eponymous New York tower. Aside from Donnie’s personal security entourage, the tower itself had a full-time security detail and Donnie paid enough in bribes and favours to expect the NYPD themselves to keep a close eye out for potential intruders.
“Fuckin fairy magic you stinking pig fucker.” answered the little man.
“Who are you?”
“You can’t guess? You made a deal with my employer, remember? You were supposed to plant a holly tree. That was three years ago.”
“It’s all in hand! Listen, we just needed some time to find the very best place! The finest place. Look, I’ve got top people on it. The best landscape gardeners. FUCK!”
The little man swung the stick as Donnie’s face, narrowly missing.
“You are a lying piece of shit stained rat faces. You threw that sapling away when you got back to New York. It would have died somehow it managed to take root in a landfill site up-state. She ain’t happy with you Donnie and FUCKIN LYING isn’t going to help you.”
“I can explain!”
“You can fucking beg for mercy while she slits open your stomach and feeds your entrails to her fucking ravens.”
“Please! I’ll do anything!”
“Yes, yes, just give me a chance!”
“Well in that case…there is a job you can do us that will help settle your bill.”
“I’ll do it! Wait! No, wait. What is the job?”
“We need you to run for the Republican nomination for President of the United States of America. Don’t even think about saying no. I have compromising pictures of you fuckin a dead pig’s head.”
“I’ll…hold on. You don’t have pictures of me doing that!”
“Hmm, you’re right. That’s the other project I’ve got going. Look, we’ve got pictures or we can make pictures of anything and everything you’ve ever done.”
“I don’t get it. What’s the catch? I’ve got no problem with running for president. I’ve been thinking about doing that anyway.”
“No catch. You run for the GOP nomination and the debt is settled.”
“It’s a deal.” said Donnie but the little man had already gone and the room faded into darkness.
The cheering crowds in the rally were better than cocaine, better than some kind of elixir of youth. Donnie felt alive and energised. Everything was working for him. Nothing could go wrong or rather even when it did somehow it didn’t matter. He knew that the fairies or elves or whatever the fuck they were must be helping but he didn’t care. It took nothing away from his success. After all, HE had bought the land for that golf course in Ireland, he had made a deal with that Cate Blanchett wannabe, he was the one who cleverly broke the deal and he was the one who managed to negotiate a deal where the pointy-eared freaks would make him President. Nobody could make a deal better than Donnie and only Donnie could have out tricked a race of magical tricksters.
His end of the bargain was complete. He had run for the nomination as promised. True he had been a little bit spooked when his campaign began to succeed. Every now and then he’d see maybe a tiny figure dressed in twigs behind the scenes or playing with a teleprompter. Even now, as he scanned the crowd he might pick out an overly tall figure with an unnaturally long face and teardrop eyes staring back at him. Not that anybody else could see them even though they looked like a renaissance fair had wandered into a NASCAR rally.
His poll ratings had hit rock bottom but he wasn’t disheartened. People still loved him. He had a movement now and it was all thanks to his own genius.
“I’m a genius,” he said to himself waving back at the crowd as the cheering and applause rolled on “I’m unbeatable!”
The Secret Service and his own security men helped him off stage. His cloud of advisor trailed after him: angry-guy, fat-nazi, skull-face-girl. Nicknames kept them in their place. He could see the greedy ambition in their eyes – hell they were worse than his vulture like children – just waiting for him to die so they could gorge on his corpse. A bile-infused bitter anger began to rise inside him as it always did once he stepped away from the crowds. It burnt the back of his throat like vomit and fouled his equanimity. Five minutes ago he didn’t care, despite his rhetoric, whether he won or lost. The glory of the fight was all that mattered beyond the cheering of the crowd.
Donnie stalked into his dressing room dismissing his entourage with a snarl.
“I want to win.” he said to nobody.
“We can arrange that.” It was either an old woman or a sack of sticks. It was both round and spindly, shapeless and yet full of angles.
“And what’s the price this time?” asked Donnie.
A huge wet, rough tongue licked the side of his face. Donnie stumbled back in horror. Beside him stood another creature of faerie, huge, corpse-white with bloated, ulcerated flesh. Donnie yelped in horror.
The Secret Service agent stationed outside knocked on the door. “Are you OK sir?”
“Yes, yes, I’m getting changed. Leave me alone for fuck’s sake.” Donnie had grabbed some antibacterial wipes and was hurriedly cleaning his face of slobber.
“This is Mustardweed, Her Majesty’s court entertainer,” explained the shapeless twig woman, “Mustardweed craves a holiday and asks that you stand in her place each full moon for the next forty months and there entertain the court with japes and comical faces.”
Donnie glared back at the shapeless woman. “I won’t be made a fool of.”
“I have other ways of winning. Get out of my sight. Fucking freaks.”
The Secret Service agent knocked on the door again and with an angry recklessness, Donnie pulled the door open.
“Sir?” the agent stopped speaking and his eyes went wide. Donnie turned to see what the faerie folk were doing but his room was empty. He turned back to the agent. From the agent’s open mouth the voice of the shapeless woman spoke, “You’ll regret this.”
Donnie was exhausted. The weeks had passed and election day was due. He’d called in favours and pulled strings, he’d told lies and had lies told for him, he’d mortgaged his victory with promises of positions and blackmailed, bribed and threatened whoever he could. Yet somehow ‘that-bitch’ as he called her was still in the game.
His peripheral vision was haunted by the little people. He’d catch glimpses of sprites and brownies, he’d see or imagine pixies at the edge of his vision, he had almost screamed in alarm when he saw the reflection of a tiny goblin in the glasses of the governor of New Jersey. His nerves were a wreck and his only hopes were a maverick data-transparency radical hiding in an embassy, an incompetent FBI director and the possible intervention of the Russian secret service. Still, he thought, despite it all, better than being in debt to leprechaun mobsters. Donnie had been in debt to the actual mafia, so he knew a thing or to about owing favours to the inherently amoral but he’d rather owe millions to the mob than deal with another elf.
He stepped carefully over the line of salt at bedroom’s doorway. He hung a pendant of heather about his neck and checked the horseshoes at the window. He’d had a Tibetan monk, Father Mulrooney, his valet’s rabbi and the VP-candidate’s evangelical minister all bless, pray or whathaveyou his bedroom. Donni had drawn the line at inviting an imam but had still given serious consideration to it. His children were worried and his wife knew better than to express concern. His crowd of sycophants said nothing but he could see the doubt creeping up in their eyes, threatening to overwhelm their greed.
Donnie just needed rest. Whatever happened, tomorrow it would all be over. The day after would be a new beginning. Fat-nazi was talking about a TV network and he could still keep holding rallies. Hell, he could spend the next four years making life hell for ‘that-bitch’.
Donnie lay on his silk sheets in his gold bedroom and closed his eyes.
“We are all here you know.”
Donnie opened his eyes. It was dark and he stood on top of a landfill site. Nearby was a small holly tree and arrayed around him where humanoid creatures of every sort. Twig people, satyrs, bloated corpse people, sadistic leprechauns, masticating giants, a prehensile goat man, a bear with a human skull for a head, a hundred foxes with fire for tails, twenty naked women with raven heads, a man dressed as a circus ringmaster with an elephant’s trunk for an arm, eighty centaurs, a milk maid covered in spiders, a troupe of dancing pigs, seventy unicorns with human legs, a myriad of ghouls, a gross of trolls, a hundred weight of imps, a peppercorn of pixies, a league of lamia’s, townsfolk of the hedgerow, village folk of the sewer system, boggarts, bogles, bogeymen and bugbears, pookas, spookas, militant snookers, goblins, demons, kobolds, imps and imperators, major-domos and factotums, ten cat-headed children and a thousand child-headed cats, an army of centurion mice and deputations of rat kings. They surrounded Donnie and the holly tree and stared up at them both – silent and waiting.
Her Royal Highness Bahn Seeth stepped forward from the tree. Her purple hair glowing in the moonlight. Donnie stared at the moon, the previous night it had been only half full surely and yet now it sat fat and glowing in the sky with a smug belligerence.
“Listen, my children,” Bahn Seeth cried out, “tomorrow is the mortal plebiscite. To whom should we cast our votes – the lady in the pantsuit or our orange fool?”
Creatures in the crowd cried out “fool” or “pantsuit” in turn. Donnie turned in anger to Bahn Seeth. “This is an outrage. These freaks aren’t allowed to vote! It’s against the law!”
The queen laughed like a cascade of tiny bells then turned to the crowd with mock seriousness. “Children our fool says that we must not vote! To vote would be to break the law of mortal men! Should we show our tangerine friend what we think of the law of mortal men.”
The crowd roared with laughter and Donnie found himself lifted up onto the shoulders of the masticating giants. Around him, the millions of fair folk began dancing and leaping into the air. The giants began throwing Donnie back and forth over the teeming millions. The creatures sang incomprehensible songs with cacophonous voices and capered and japered around the partly landscaped landfill. Then from pockets and sleeves and bodily orifices, the assembled creatures pulled forth papers and forms.
Although it should have been too dark to see, and despite him being hurled from giant to giant, Donnie could read each and every one of the papers, and each was a ballot paper and on each one, the name of his opponent had been marked.
“NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” screamed Donnie.
He sat upright. Safe in his bed. The door burst open and the Secret Service rushed in.
“Listen! Listen!” Donnie cried to them, “There are millions of them! Monsters each and everyone! And they are all voting for HER!!! You have to believe me! You have to stop them!”
An hour later and he was still shaking. He didn’t doubt the veracity of his dream. He knew the tricks that these creatures could pull.
Donnie stood alone on the Penthouse balcony. The moon had returned to its normal phase but he found no comfort in that.
“It’s not too late.” said the voice of Bahn Seeth, “You can win if you just promise me three favours once you are king.”
“President” Donnie corrected in a whisper.
“If you win, you’ll rule as a king. I have held your heart – I know what you desire.”
Donnie closed his eyes and whispered “I accept your offer. Make me win.”
Michael had hoped that he’d enjoy the role of Vice-President. He was not a power hungry man but he ached to see the world set right. The idolatry and lack of faith people had upset him and he felt that it was his obligation to restore the world to its proper order. It was not hate he felt, of that he was certain but a desire for tidiness, a desire for neat categories, for things in their rightful places. Gay people, obscure religions, women with short hair, unusual food choices, they were all equally objectionable and each an affront to the proper ordering of things. He could not conceive of his views as malice but as the natural outcome of his love of God and for Michael God was indistinguishable from order.
Yet that very desire for orderliness was making his life unbearable, for his boss was the epitome of chaos. Michael, of course, had anticipated that the unstable character of the POTUS might eventuate the need for impeachment and in such circumstances, he would, nobly and reluctantly, step-up and take on the mantle of the presidency and shepherd the wayward country to a better future. What Michael had not anticipated was the direction from which the impeachment request would come.
“You HAVE to depose me!” Donnie had grabbed Michael’s suit and had pulled him close in a conspiratorial clench the night before. The President’s eyes had been wilder than usual. He’d called Michael to a meeting in the secure situation room bunker with express orders to tell nobody about the meeting (an essentially impossible request in the West Wing).
Donnie had insisted but each time Michael had inquired why Donnie was unable to say.
“The Inauguration!” said Donnie. Not this again, thought Michael.
“You saw them? Tell me you saw them? They were all there! The millions. They all came. The lined up, all the way to the Lincoln memorial. You MUST have seen them! You all agreed that they were there!”
Michael tried to calm Donnie down. “It’s all past Donnie. It was just the media trying to demoralise you. You know what the media is like? They are all New York homosexuals and communists. We won and we’ve kept winning! Just like you promised.”
“They voted against me, Michael. Each one of them and then they all lined up to see me get crowned. Did you see the crown they put on me, Michael? It was gold and made of sticks and it had stars and the stars formed the shape of Cassiopeia.”
It was really that last word that had worried Michael the most. Incoherent tales of plots against him were part and parcel of the whole Donnie persona but ‘Cassiopeia’? Seriously, when had Donnie ever mentioned astronomy before. Michael understood the difference between astronomy and astrology (one was lies by commie academics and the other was lies by satanic witches).
So Michael sat at the fulcrum or a conundrum. Ignore Donnie’s wishes because Donnie had become mentally incapacitated would mean leaving Donnie as POTUS which was, in Michael’s view, his proper position. On the other hand, Michale could use the powers granted by the twenty-fifth amendment and become acting President. Yet despite Donnie’s pleas to Michael, the President refused to declare himself unfit. To act Michael would need to get the cabinet to agree – and those cynical vultures would much prefer to have Donnie nominally in charge than Michael.
Michael had his suspicions, just as everyone did, about Russian influence over Donnie. Was this the root cause of Donnie’s distress? Yet Donnie seemed kept turning to the non-existant crowds at the inauguration – an unpleasant fact but not one that could be laid at Putin’s door.
He checked his watch. He was nearly late for the DARPA briefing. His heart sank. This briefing seemed to focus Donnie’s distress. He picked up his pace and made his way to the Oval Office.
Donnie sat morosely behind his desk. Seated around the room were the Secretary of Defense, of State, and of Homeland Security, Donnie’s chief advisor (and son-in-law) and the seven Joint Chiefs of Staff. Facing this intimidating array were the two DARPA representatives.
Michael apologised for his late arrival and found his seat. The presentation had already begun.
“The research begun at the behest of the President, into protein folding in bacteria under neutron stimulation has been extraordinarily fruitful. The team are deeply grateful to the President for providing the funding and the vision to support our work.” the young man (whose named badge stated was ‘Dr Milt Bremner’) positively glowed with enthusiasm but Donnie just stared as if he was seeing his doom play out before him.
“Well, as you know, we have successfully engineered a bacterium that exists in a benign stable state that will reproduce in a human host without any outward symptoms or harm to the host.”
The second DARPA representatives, a young woman wearing a badge saying ‘Dr Edith Kline’, interrupted, “This benign state maximises the spread of the bacteria among the population. Sick people move around less than healthy people. So an infectious agent that causes no feelings of sickness will spread very rapidly.”
The Marine Commandant looked puzzled, “I see how that helps the spread of the bacteria but what’s the point if the bacteria does nothing?”
“Ah!” replied Dr Bremner, “The benign state is just one of five possible states of the bacteria. This is where our research brings us to a new paradigm of weapons technology. We believe we have engineered the first truly ethical bacterial weapon. A weapon that will change warfare and will enable the USA to carefully target our enemies without unnecessary collateral damage either to civilians or to property.”
“Also,” added Dr Kline, “it is the first truly ecologically friendly weapon. No damage is incurred to wildlife or plant life. It’s actually impossible to harm anything other than the intended target.”
There was muted laughter around the room at this.
“The key,” continued Dr Kline, “is the response of certain protein chains in the bacteria when exposed to specific levels of neutron radiation. When exposed, it causes a random refolding of the proteins into one of four alternative states.”
“When the refolding occurs,” continued Dr Bremner flipping over a page on the flip chart to reveal a diagram, “the bacteria becomes quite hostile to its host. This leads to either collapse of liver function, haemorrhaging within the lungs, sudden severe meningitis or severe flu-like symptoms. In each case, the condition is fatal within one to 6 days.”
“In essence,” added Dr Kline, “targetted exposure of the subject to neutrons of a specific nature switches the bacteria from a benign state to a lethal state. Anybody not exposed to the neutrons is incapable of catching the lethal form of the bacteria.”
“Why not?” asked the Chief of Naval Operations.
Dr Bremner smiled, “Because the population is already infected with the benign version of the bacteria. The benign version is designed so that infection by the lethal version is effectively impossible.”
“So what stops our own people being infected by the benign version?” asked Michael who was now sitting forward in his chair.
“Nothing,” replied Dr Kline, “That’s the beauty of the weapon. Once released everybody becomes infected. The benign version is actually a defence against the lethal version. You see it isn’t really bacterial warfare at all. The weapon is the targetted neutron exposure.”
“Which can be delivered how?” asked The Marine Commandant.
Dr Bremner laughed, “Anyway you like! It could be delivered by an agent using a small device to target a single individual. Alternatively, a suitably equipped vehicle or drone could fire a neutron pulse of the right kind at a building. The neutrons will penetrate walls so even a heavy bunker would be no defence. You can scale this to any size you like. A satellite weapon could work or a suitable adapted nuclear device.”
“So you could kill a whole country? It could be a weapon of mass destruction?” Asked Michael, shocked by the thought.
“You could, if you chose,” answered Dr Kline, “but we have nuclear weapons already. This weapon even deployed on a continental scale would still cause less destruction. Millions would die but the land and the buildings would still be habitable. There would be no atmospheric or climatic effects either.”
“Naturally,” said Dr Bremner, “We aren’t suggesting you should kill whole countries! The point is simply that the weapon can work at every scale of warfare but with less secondary damage and almost zero risk to our population or troops.”
The discussion proceeded as details of the weapon and the deployment became clearer. Yet Donnie stayed quiet even after the DARPA people left.
Donnie had insisted on a literal button and a red one at that. Even for Donnie, a gold button felt too vulgar. He had infected the world in the name of peace. Above him, a ring of satellites were ready to target any spot on Earth with a stream of calibrated neutrons. Even the USA was targetted – a necessary precaution, military planners had assured him, in case of insurrection or military rebellion. Nor had this cost the Queen of the Tuatha-de-Danann any more than two of the three favours. Once Donnie had set the initial wheels in motion, the rest had taken on a life of its own as the military and hawkish cabinet members eagerly embraced the new-paradigm sixth-generation warfare device.
“You tricked me,” Donnie said to darkened room.
Bahn Seeth stepped out of the shadows. “Of course. It is what we are – tricksters.”
“We had a deal.”
“You had nothing, Donnie. You were mine as soon as you ate at my table. Your mother should have warned you of our rules.”
“I won’t do it.”
“You literally have no choice. You haven’t had any choice since Ireland. Donnie, it’s time. For your own dignity, such as it is, don’t make me force your hand.”
Donnie closed his eyes as tears fell on the device before him.
After the decisive battle against the invading Milesians, the Tuatha De Danann agreed to terms. They would split Ireland in half, sharing the land with the invaders. The Milesians would take the top half that faced the sky and the Tuatha De would take the other half, below the mounds.
But time had passed and now each and every descendant of those invaders was dead. Indeed, aside from some remote hill tribes in New Guinea or deep in the Amazon, all mortal humans were dead. The bargain was over, the terms of the deal had passed.
The woman of the mounds with her rainbow hair led her people back from underneath.