The United States of America has been taken over by terrorists. I know this because the angels told me.
Warned me, actually. Their voices were soft at first. Distant, unfocused. I didn't understand, but I listened and soon it all became clear to me. So clear. They had chosen me- me of all people, to divulge this vital information to. I felt honored, but at the same time very frightened.††
These terrorists have controlled the country for many years now. I do not know how many exactly, as the angels do not consider that detail important enough to tell me. What they have told me is this- that the terrorists are in control of every aspect of the government and by extension every aspect of the lives of the American people. Nothing happens to us that does not have their planning behind it. Good things, bad things, random things. Can you see how this makes for such a brilliant plan? It is all so well hidden, so perfectly executed, that no one has caught on and we continue to believe that our vote counts in the elections when it is really a man or woman hand picked by the terrorists that is destined to win each time.
They started with America, but if I do not stop them they will move on and soon the whole world will be ensnared. I begged the angels to tell me what to do with this information, pleaded with them to provide me with further guidance. They would not tell me. Instead they only repeated again and again in my head that same chilling message- "The United States of America has been taken over by terrorists."
I could not go to the police. Surely they would be compromised by now, probably have been for years. Not safe. At first all I could do was watch my back until I could figure out what must be done to protect my country. Unfortunately, I had already run out of time. They knew somehow, or at least suspected. I could feel them when I left the house. Following, observing, keeping track of my every move. It terrified me, but I tried to stay brave and wait for further instructions from the angels.
I finally decided it was best to stay in the house as much as possible. Couldn't go to work, they would be waiting for me there. I still felt safe in the house. At least, I did until they started sending me messages. The first time it happened I was watching the evening news, two days after I decided to stay in the house. It was late and I was exhausted from worrying all the time. The news helped. It kept me connected with the outside world while I took shelter in my last refuge. It allowed me to monitor the activities of the terrorists from afar. They were watching me, but I was watching them too.
The anchorman droned on about the latest developments in economic news, the dull monotone of his voice lulling me into a fitful sleep. Then suddenly his voice changed, taking on a deeper and more sinister quality. I snapped my eyes open and leaned forward in my chair. He smiled at me. I screamed and leapt backwards right into the chair, tumbling over and cracking my head against the hard wood of the living room floor. As I lay there bleeding I could hear that evil voice addressing me from the television.††
"We are coming for you. The angels can do nothing to save you. Just you wait. We are coming."
I leapt from the floor and unplugged the TV violently. They did know. They even knew about the angels. How could they know? How was that possible? The doors and windows were already locked. I realized that they must be waiting for me out there. Waiting for the time I would run out of food and be forced to leave the safety of the house. Then they would swoop down and snatch me up or kill me and make it look like a suicide to deceive my family. I spent that night curled up in the bathtub, weeping at the hopelessness of it all.
The next morning my head hurt so much I wondered if perhaps I had simply fallen and bumped it and imagined the whole thing. I went to the living room and plugged the TV in again. The 8:00 news was on, narrated by an attractive young woman with long pale blond hair and rose colored lipstick. She was talking about the weather. It was dark and cloudy outside, she said. It would always be dark and cloudy outside, she said. Then she looked me in the eyes, smiled, and winked.
"And that's the forecast for the rest of your life! Nothing but darkness and clouds, clouds, clouds! You will never see the sun again. The angels have abandoned you. There is nothing you can do. Give up already and just wait for it. We are coming."
I shuddered and switched the set off. None of it made any sense. What were they waiting for? Why didn't they just break the door down and come in and get it all over with? Why would the angels do nothing more helpful then repeat that same phrase to me over and over and over again?
"The United States of America has been taken over by terrorists."
The food could be rationed. I went into the kitchen and pulled a little paper pad out of a drawer and started taking inventory. I could eat what was in the refrigerator first, then move on to the things stored in cans and in the freezer. I calculated that what I had would last me about a month, if I stretched it. I did not want to think about what would happen when I had eaten the last of it.
Two more days passed, and then there was a knocking on my door. I crept toward it cautiously and peered out through the little peephole. It was my brother Dan. I felt so relieved I almost burst into tears as I threw open the door for him. Instead of stepping inside he paused in the doorway, a shocked expression written on his face. I realized how awful I must look in clothing that hadn't been washed in four days, sporting a split in my head deep enough for white bone to show through and blood dried and crusted all down the right side of my face. I reached out to him and took his hand, squeezing it tightly as I tried to explain.
"Oh Dan thank God you're here! They told me all about it but they didn't tell me enough and now I don't know what to do. You have to help me. The president is a terrorist and he's sent the FBI and the CIA and the police after me and as soon as I set foot outside they'll get me! They told me so on the news. And then I fell and hit my head and now I'm afraid that if I turn it on again they'll laugh at me and mock me and I just don't know what to do any more."
I grabbed on to his arm and pulled him inside, stopping in front of the TV. I turned it on and stepped back, letting him see for himself. There was a young woman reading the morning's news, but different than the one from before. Dan stared at the screen. He looked back up at me. He looked terrified. Surely he must have heard it too.
Now I realize with utmost bitterness the genius of the terrorist's plan. They really are everywhere. They didn't have to get to me by breaking down the door. They got to me through Dan. I do not blame him though- he is a mere puppet, oblivious to the manipulations he is subject to.††
Dan took me to see a doctor. Doctors, I soon realized, are also under the control of the terrorists. The doctor was going to call them and let them know where I was, so I punched him in the mouth, knocked him to the floor, and made a run for it. I didn't get very far.††
Now the terrorists have me right where they want me. They sent someone to take me away and lock me up in a horrible place full of frightening, mad people. They force me to swallow pills, which they say will "make the voices go away," but there is a serious flaw in their plan.
The angels never left me.
And it turns out they aren't angels either.
They are really devils. They told me so themselves. It was a test, they said. If I am to wield the great and terrible power that will allow me to destroy the terrorists I must prove that I am strong enough to handle it. I must prove that I am willing to listen to them no matter how difficult things become.
So I did. I clung to this new revelation with all my might, desperate to prove myself. I sat in my room and blocked out everything else, focusing on those voices, listening for further instructions. The doctors gave me more pills. The voices grew weaker, but my will to listen to them was strong. So strong.
Thankfully, I passed their final test. They congratulated me by opening up my mind to a whole new world of knowledge. They showed me things, awe inspiring and terrible things. They showed me what I must do to destroy the terrorists and save my country and the world.
I must go to Washington DC, they told me. When I get there I must stand in front of the White House, as close as I can get, under the noonday sun. The sun will take away my shadow, leaving it a tiny circle around my feet. Then it will happen. They will share with me a portion of their mighty powers. I will melt into my shadow. I will become a shadow, the Angel of Death.
As a formless, clawed beast I can then slither across the lawn and enter the White House. I will be unstoppable, and no amount of running or hiding will save them. The president will die first, but all the rest will soon follow. They are all terrorists and must be exterminated.
After I have killed all of the terrorists in this corrupt city I will travel the country and deal with the rest of them. In every city, large and small, there is a mayor. They are all terrorists- yes, they have infiltrated that deeply and completely! I will rid the country of them all, slashing them to bits with my claws or scaring them out into the open where the liberated citizens will realize the deception and take care of them for me.
They will know me as a hero then. The man who saw the truth and set them free. I will stay in my shadow form forever and always, watching over them and making sure that the next set of leaders to guide them are fair and just and pure. Any who do not live up to these standards will soon meet their fate at my claws.
All I have to do is wait. I tell the doctors that I am feeling better now and no longer hear the voices. I do not try to hurt them any more. I am as harmless as a mouse. In fact, several of them have come to like me rather well. I think I may even get them to regard me as a friend. Soon enough they will become lazy and lower their guard. When that time comes I will be waiting, ready to fight my way to freedom, stand before that house of corruption, and become a shadow in the sun.