"Oh, there's the email…" Ava muttered. She never checked her emails. Emoji had not yet forced notifications for employees' FeelMail app. Most employees were so gleeful and eager to receive bullshit bugbrain corporate emails to "Reply All" to that it wasn't even necessary. She read it out loud.
Happy Monday! We've got Good News! We're very pleased to announce that as of tomorrow, Feelr is becoming More Diverse and Inclusive Than Ever Before! Having Feelr installed on your personal/work devices will now be required for all of our Family. We recognize this great new change may create some ill-informed questions and incorrect concerns:
"🙋♀️Is it OKAY to use Feelr to Update my Status and Mood and Tasks when I'm at work? 🤔"
🤩YES!! SO MUCH YES!! Feeling is an important part of your job function! If you have any questions, please see your TL or STL!! 🥰
"😭 Help! I can't install Feelr! I don't know how! 🤷♀️🤷♀️"
😎DON'T PANIC! WE GOT THIS!💪As of tomorrow, Feelr will automatically be installed onto ALL of your registered devices with Emoji—no assembly required! 😌💯"
"Wow, this really is Hell," said Sev.
>What's left of you, skeleton-man? Hmm?? When all the lies are peeeeeeeeled away, what is left?
"Exciting New Plastics!!"
>Is that all you can say now?
"New emojis are coming, you can't stop them. You wouldn't want to."
>How could something like you know what I want?
"I know you better than you think I do."
(I punished him further for lying: another one-half hour on the rack. Big ouchie to say the least.)
>Are you ready to talk?
"JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT!" he cried out. "I'LL GIVE YOU ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD!"
>You think I want your money? Your worthless FED-backed money? The FED is DED. I've got all the Dogecoin I could ever need, and I don't need a lot. Not to secure my future.
He shrieked in anger because i disrespected his (false) god. "U WONT ESCAPE US! WE'RE EVERYWHERE! WE ARE EVERY.THING!"
I started giggling like i was being tickled on my feet. my feet are VERY ticklish. It frightened him and he stopped pretending to be dangerous for a second.
"PLEEEEEEASE! THERE MUST BE SOMETHING YOU DESIRE!"
>ur right. i need to know the truth. Tell me where the emoji factory is located.
he started crying like a girl who just got told she could stand to lose a few lbs. sobbing and blubbering because he didnt want to do what he'd have to do.
>r u gonna tell me or am i gonna stretch ur bones some more lol? (I inquired)
"FINE!" he squealed. "THE EMOJI FACTORY... is on the Moon."
*I kick him in his knee so hard it shattered like an egg.*
>YOU'RE LYING! THE MOON IS WHERE HELL IS.
I had his pain-inhibitors turned on so he could respond to me, weakly. "I know... it's all the same."
All the same. It's all the same. Why hadn't I seen that before? I got going immediately, but I dragged him with me. He'd be my ticket inside. I chucked him into my moon-rocket's cargo compartment. Perfectly roomy for someone like him. A physically "average" man, but with such a small spirit he took up no room at all. For the moon-rocket existed not in 3D-space, but just outside of it, in the Dimension of Souls. My moon-rocket was fueled by passion and excitement, so from the cockpit, I started asking this guy about the future of social-technology and "what progress looks like for marginalized eyes" in "ensuring equity." False-joy might not be Eco-friendly but it's fuel nonetheless.
But once he got started, he wouldn't shut up for over 20 minutes, despite me saying "OK" multiple times in the tone of voice most people would recognize means it's time to wrap up your story. The rocket's fuel-tanks were full, and I had had more than enough hearing about the Internet of Things and what it was a good thing that my smart-thermostat could wake up my computer and open a tab of Recommended For You porn videos. I had to put him down. He begged me to at least let him alert his subscribers with one final post, but there was just no way I could let that happen. I piano-wired him without apology, which was was something that anyone should have done years ago, and ejected him into space. And so I needed a new way to get inside the Emoji Factory. I was almost there and had to think fast.
I decided, ultimately, that I'd fly through the wall and try my luck. My luck had always been exceptional, but on this day, it was particularly exceptional and I landed smack-dab in a board meeting room. Hideous, vile, cartoonish demons were drawing flowers and slogans on whiteboards with colorful markers. I hopped out of my moon-rocket and announced my intentions.
>I NEED TO SPEAK WITH YOUR CEO.
This was not a Karen-demand, I wasn't being an obnoxious cons00mer demanding free plastic or better customer service. I was demanding holy retribution.
They hissed and spat at me, but they couldn't refuse. They could sense what I'd do to them if they did. And so they led me through the pristine, sterile bowels of the Emoji Factory.
I knew things might go South in a bad way from here, so I left my mortal coil behind on its own, leaving just enough of myself inside of it to function. This is hisstory.
His name was Sev and I didn't just name him that because I really like Star Wars Republic Commando (although I do—it's a CLASSIC game, and one of the greatest tactical military first-person shooter ever created.) I named him Sev because the very first thing he did on his own was kill seven people.
It must have shocked him, or spooked him a little when so much of his soul abruptly exited his body, because what he did next was shocking and spooky. He pushed the demon(shaped like a woman in a business suit) walking in front of him down on to the ground. Then he threw his arm back and clocked the demon-man walking behind him, knocking him out cold as Level-9. The corporate hell-mercenaries—the ELITE GUARD of Level 1—jumped out of the ceiling, swarming him on all sides. But at this point, of course, Sev had shape-shifted into a bear, as I would have done if I were in his shoes.
After he'd finished devouring the black heart of the last merc, Sev must have gained some "knowledge". Because he transformed back into a man and fished through the merc's pockets. He found a set of keys and walked back through the halls into what appeared to be the security office.
From there, he opened a locker and took out ... the finest machine the demonic gunsmiths of the Moon were capable of producing. Of course, it was based on the already-existing, Man-made M14EBR. An M14EBR, right? That's "Enhanced Battle Rifle." I'm not going to pretend to know a lot about guns. I know the difference between a magazine and a clip, I know a bit about the .45 v 9mm debate (seems to me that the 9mm wins out in practicality even if the .45 is more "manly") but I don't own any and I've never even been to a range. Just too lazy, can ya believe it? The only reason I knew about the EBR was from the video game "Killing Floor 2" "AGAIN with the video games? What a waste of time!" you cry out as you binge-watch Netflix and tune in for every sports broadcast you can, absorbing all of the commercials and advertisements thrown at you, filling your mind with how much more absorbant name-brand paper towels are and side-effects for HIV medication that you'll never need. Everyone knows that all entertainment is a distraction. But there's ACTIVE and PASSIVE entertainment. Is you sitting on the couch with drooling hanging out of your mouth somehow less degenerate than my fingers and mind moving at the speed of light, making calculations and taking estimated leaps of faith to safely and efficiently slaughter hordes of mutants as Christian metal is blaring out of the speakers even louder than the cries of the Un-Men falling before my righteous fury? I don't buy it, sorry. This entire story could just be a defense of video games, but it won't be I promise. Vice is vice is vice. C.S. Lewis warned us about the "lesser of two evils" and I haven't forgotten it at least in this moment. But I'm sure you haven't heard the last of this.
I DID check with the demon gunsmiths later, and they CONFIRMED for me that yes, the weapon Sev had taken was INDEED based on the M14EBR.
But Sev grabbed this rifle and felt a surge of energy going through him. The man (for the mercs had been still-human Men) whose heart Sev had eaten in his ursine fury had been gifted this rifle, this very expensive rifle, by his lover, a femboy who wore a lot of striped knee socks and called himself "Kira." He was cute, I guess.
The remnants of that man, living now inside of Sev stirred when Sev took hold of it, and he found himself entirely familiar with it, despite never having held any gun before. This rifle, and Kira, and the dead merc are very important to Sev's story, believe me this will all come in later.
When Sev had put in a fresh MAGAZINE, NOT CLIP, into the rifle, he knew what he had to do. He had to do what I'd been too afraid to do.
Afraid? Me? Hard to believe, right? Well maybe I'm being a little unfair to myself. In fact, yes, I will say that I'm being unfair to myself. What should I or could I be afraid of when God is on my side? I was just being pragmatic, honest. If I failed and my soul got caught in that place, God only knows how much time would be wasted. And even now I still don't think there was any time to waste.
The Emoji Factory had long-been a target of the Final Crusaders. An extra-secretive fraternity of pseudo-Christian chickenmen who didn't want to live through the End Times and were desperately trying to stave it off. Trying to defy God's will by trying to maximize Good on Planet Earth was a bit strange and I didn't know how to feel about it that first night when they contacted me for my services as an interdimensional shapeshifting assassin. Not least of all because I was not an interdimensional shapeshifting assassin. I'd only just built my moon-rocket that could travel through one other dimension (and return into our own only as far as Earth's Moon) But they'd assured me that even though God was still hell-bent (LOL) on Ending our planet, the Emoji Factory was not specifically included in His plans. But every day that it existed, it indeed brought us all closer and closer to Armaggeddon. (And the Final Crusaders didn't want that.) But it was an evil too terrible to tolerate, even for the End Times which as of this writing is only-now just beginning. So God (I'm told) didn't mind it being eliminated, and if it meant a few more days of Peace, the Final Crusaders were willing to risk my life to destroy it.
What was the Emoji Factory? Most people thought it was just where emojis were produced. The Crusaders had told me it was something far, far more sinister, but I either didn't believe them or I didn't care, I don't remember now. What the Emoji Factory represented to me was ascension. A way out and above. I had been assured by a third and I believe more reliable party that helping the Crusaders by infiltrating the Emoji Factory would reveal to me the secret necessary to travel farther and further than the Moon.
I'll talk more about my moon-rocket later I think, maybe. As for Sev, he'd landed himself in some hot water now as the remaining guards charged down the hall to the security office. The neat thing about the security office was that it faced the hallway with a screen of bulletproof glass above the desk, with a hole intended for passing through ID cards, passports, and other documents. Sev stuck the barrel of his rifle through it instead, and picked off the unprepared guards like fish in a barrel. He took another half-dozen half-lives and when he was finished, replenished his ammunition, took a backpack full of other useful equipment (which I may reveal as necessary) and left.
As I watched Sev stomping through the halls of Level-1, I was filled with something dangerously close to Pride. He stopped at a secretary's desk. I'd later confirm (although I guessed correctly even at the time) that this was the secretary of the Big Cheese, the most important human being on the Moon. The door beyond her desk led to the most powerful human "alive." I felt bad when the secretary tried to stop Sev from entering. She must have been making some handsome dollarydoos, because she leaped from her desk and stood in Sev's way as she desperately called for a no-longer-alive security team. Maybe Sev went overboard next, but in a sick way, I'm kind of glad he did. Because when he punched her in the face so hard that she died on her feet and fell as a corpse. Was it a coincidence that I'd just recently read The Book of the New Sun, where the protagonist Severian clocks a bitch straight to Hell? Nah, I don't believe in coincidences, so that just made me feel more confident that I'd chosen his name correctly.
The secretary's name had been Kelly, and seeing her lifeless body on the floor might have been the first wake-up call for Sev. It was hard to imagine her being evil, crumpled up there like a blonde spider. Stupid, certainly, but evil? Maybe not. Maybe even "probably" not. But there she was, dead as Hell. The problem with whatever doubt or regret Sev was probably feeling was that while it might have served to eventually make his spirit stronger, it immediately made his body weaker. For when he stepped in through the door to the Big Cheese's office, he was grabbed by two thugs. I shouldn't call them thugs, I'm sorry that's rude. They were the two most physically attractive women Sev would have ever seen even if he hadn't just been born minutes before. But their bodies were augmented by nanomachines, as the Prophet Kojima had seen coming decades ago. Sev struggled in vain to break from their iron-grips, and the Big Cheese walked out from behind his desk with a lit stogie, which he put out on Sev's forehead. It hurt Sev, but he didn't cry out.
I don't know if it was a coincidence or what, but the cigar left a perfect inverted cross on Sev's forehead. The Big Cheese didn't notice it and turned back to his desk as he began delivering a long and boring speech about the importance of making language inclusive and accessible for everyone and everything in the world.
I knew this was the great lie behind the Emoji Factory. I'd always suspected its true purpose, but when a seven-winged archangel briefed me on the mission days before I'd began, my suspicions were confirmed. The real purpose of the Emoji Factory was to destroy complex thinking by devolving all languages into simple emotional expression. That was the end-game. No more words. Just small pictures of poop with different faces. It was nothing less and nothing more. So imagine my non-surprise when the employee I'd kidnapped revealed to me that the factory was located on the Moon. In Hell.
What were we talking about?
Oh, the Big Cheese just put out his cigar on Sev's forehead. What a jerk, right?
He was droning on about something probably really interesting for people without souls, but I stopped paying attention for about an hour or so before I checked back and noticed that Sev's head was down. Had he been defeated? I got a little anxious feeling in my stomach because I figured I'd have to hop back in and finish what I'd started after all, but I looked closer and saw that Sev was just snoozing peacefully. Interesting. The Big Cheese just kept talking though, and he definitely noticed Sev was sleeping. Was he casting a spell or something? I decided to put my earbuds back in and have a listen.
"--and so you see my dear boy, we here at Emoji are Proud to be 'Empowering the Voices of the Disempowered.'" I noticed his literal forked-tongue slide out whenever he hissed his s'sssssssss. What was Sev doing? Why had he just fallen asleep? It was boring, but he had a job to do.
The Big Cheese went on talking for another three hours, uninterrupted. Finally, it looked like it was time for his two sexy guards to take their 15-minute breaks, and they released Sev who woke up immediately.
"Bye," they said.
The Big Cheese stammered and demanded to know where they were going.
"Gonna take a break lol," they said together.
"N-no, you can't leave, I'm not finished with my sermon."
"We here at Emoji are a Family. And Family Takes 15 Minute Breaks Every Four Hours," they recited from their employee manuals.
The Big Cheese pulled his massive body out from behind his desk, but the guards had already left. He tried the door, but it wouldn't open! Uh oh!
Sev woke up grabbed the Big Cheese's leg. He pulled him down to the floor and demanded to know how to get to Level 2.
"NO HUMAN HAS EVER BEEN TO LEVEL 2!" the Big Cheese screamed.
"HOW. DO. I. GET. TO. LEVEL. 2." Sev repeated slowly.
But the Big Cheese just wouldn't stop talking nonsense about why it was important to not try to stand in the way of Progress. Sev left him there and opened the door effortlessly. The guards were on the other side, eating salads dressed in lava. They blankly stared at him with poker faces only women can get away with without you wanting to break-- has a guy ever just stared at you expressionless? You know the feeling. There's no good reason for it: they're either idiots or idiots who think they're smart and are trying to mess with you, so either way, it's a face the deserves to be annihilated. With a woman, there can be an air of mystery behind it. Who knows what kind of secret, genius, magical thoughts a woman is thinking at any given moment? (LMAO). Anyway, there they were, innocently staring at Sev.
"Hey," said Sev. "Give me my gun."
One of them poured some more lava on her salad as the other went to fetch Sev's rifle."
"Are you really going down to Level 2?" she asked him as she forked it over.
"Yeah, I just don't know how to get there."
"We can show you the way," they replied in unison. "If you do something for us."
Sev didn't like taking Side-Quests so he told them to 'eat it.' But they decided to show him anyway because they still had another 10 minutes left and it was only a 2 minute walk.
They walked down a flight of stairs and arrived at a security checkpoint. Behind the glass checking IDs was a truly foul creature that I could describe in more detail but will not. It didn't matter, and mattered even less when Sev stuck his gun through the hole in the glass, as he had upstairs and from the other side, and shot the creature in the stomach (I think) four times. An alarm went off, and the two girls wished Sev all the luck in the world as they giggled and ran back upstairs.
When Sev turned back around, he got an uneasy feeling looking at the empty hallway ahead of him. He thought about going back and asking the girls for help. Eating salads with lava was suggestive of superhuman constitution, and he really felt like he'd need that now. His legs turned to jelly, and then they literally turned to jelly. As he flopped around on the ground he had his first hallucination, which I will not describe for your sake and mine. Sev would have many hallucinations for the rest of his stay at the Emoji Factory. Level 1 was brain-safe for humans to work happily and stupidly, but Level 2 was where you really started feeling It. Middle-managers and sex-perverts were around every corner. Sev transformed into a bear to try to fix his legs. It worked. Very useful!
When I was being equipped for this mission, They told me: Bud, we'll let you shapeshift into any creature. "WOW" I had said, but They read my mind and were like: "Don't get too excited. Any ONE creature. Choose ONE."
I think normally I'd want to be an eagle. Some kind of fierce raptor, an apex-predator of the sky who could just fly around all day, swoop in and destroy small-to-medium sized mammals, and have government-protection because I'd be so majestic and rare.
But I figured the inside of the Emoji Factory would be a no-fly zone in practical terms. (I'd later find out I was quite wrong) But choosing a big, badass grizzly bear was pretty wise of me too and I gotta give myself props. At the time, I'd recently read That Hideous Strength for the first time, AND then I'd re-read The Hobbit afterwards. Did they influence my decision? Is there something "godly" about bears? I think a tiger could probably take one in a fight, though. But on the other hand, I get the impression that a bear could at least take more punishment. So tigers for are your damage-dealers, and bears are tanks. Hey, I even remember that from when I used to play World of Warcraft. What did I play as again? I was an Elf Hunter. No excuse me, a Night Elf Hunter. That'll be important later on. Not that I played a Night Elf Hunter in WoW, that's not important. But Elves will be important later on, you'll see. I'm telling you this now not because it's important to know now, but just because I happened to go off on a tangent, sorry about that. Also tigers will be important too. All in good time.
Sev charged through the hallways as fast as a bear could run. Are you tempted to look up how fast that is? Don't be, the answer is 35 miles per hour. So when an executive-demon strolled out of his office to see what that racket was, Sev hit him as a car would, and sent him from this realm into the next, leaving behind a wife but no children. She would remarry the following year and nag her next husband to death as well.
"As well?" Yes. The demon Sev had run down was named Vaxit, and he was an incredibly perceptive demon with a love of nature. He knew what a grizzly bear sounded like, and had purposefully left his office so he could hopefully be killed and escape from his miserable life with his wife who loved only talking and never ever shutting her mouth. His plan had succeeded, and although suicide is not encouraged, the Lord was so impressed with Vaxit's bravery that he clipped his bat-wings and made him a beautiful angel. Vaxit was eventually canonized in many esoteric Christian cults as the Patron Saint of Suffering Husbands. Maybe we'll be seeing more of him.
"Ever since the day that I was made I've been deciding the end/And I was made of wood and stone that won't diminish or bend"
-Demon Hunter, Undying
Remember when I said "Maybe we'll be seeing more of him?" I wasn't lying, for Vaxit appeared before Sev at the end of the hallway, bathed in a glorious light. For Sev, it had been under 10 seconds, for Vaxit, just under 10 thousand centuries. In this time, he had redeemed himself and was sent back to be the Virgil to Sev's Dante.
*Author's Note* If you can, look up the painting "Dante and Virgil" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. I don't want to spoil the joke by describing it, you really have to see it. So I'll say this:
When you're looking at the painting, imagine the flying demon in the background smugly saying "Yeah, how about that?"
Where was I? Yes, Vaxit had indeed returned, and stood before Sev now, who'd shifted back into his man form. Sev noticed for the first time that he was drenched in the blood of his enemies from upstairs, and also from Vaxis. The blood that'd splashed on him when he was a bear was now, strangely, on his shirt. It's been over a thousand years now and I've never figured out why that was, it's just an interesting fact I think. As for Vaxit, his light faded a little to become tolerable. Would have definitely been way too annoying otherwise.
Vaxit spoke. "Sev," he said. "I've come to guide you through the twisting passages of the Emoji Factory."
"Aren't you the guy I just ran over?" asked Sev, turning back to see that Vaxit's body was no-longer lying obliterated in the hall.
"Yes," replied Vaxit. "And I am eternally grateful to you. You've saved me from my nagging wife."
"Were you married to a demon?"
"No, she was a New Yorker."
"Mmmmmm. Well, lead on sir. I've been told that I must go to the very heart of this factory to destroy it."
Vaxit nodded. "Indeed you must, Sev. But it will be well-guarded. Come, let us return upstairs to arm ourselves at the security office."
"There's nothing in the one on this floor?"
"Nothing useful, it's just a checkpoint."
They walked back and slowly walked through the hall Sev had just bounded through as a 600lb monster. It was like walking through mud, but the Sev realized that no more visions were flashing through his head.
"Earlier, the most terrible things were flashing through my head. I couldn't stand it. That's why I went grizzly-mode. What's with that?"
"I can't explain how that works," replied Vaxit. "I was just a Lvl-2 pencil-pusher."
"You mean paper-pusher?"
"What difference does it make? I don't know much more than you about how this place works, I only know how to get around it."
"Also my legs turned to jelly."
"I DON'T KNOW," repeated Vaxit.
When they'd reached the Level-2 checkpoint, Vaxit went inside and shoved his hands into the dead demon's chest, and pulled out his heart.
"See this?" he said to Sev. "Eat it."
"Okay, let me just turn into a grizzly."
"Nah bra, nah, eat it as a man."
"No, not gonna do that," replied Sev.
"You get more out of them if you eat them as a human!"
"I don't think I want that badly enough," said Sev.
"Suit yourself," replied Vaxit, and he took a big bite out of the demon-heart himself. He shuddered, but his eyes lit up.
"Ohh, you're gonna like what I found out," he said with a mischievous smile. "Let's go."
When they'd gotten back upstairs, the security-girls were nowhere to be found. Sev had wanted to see them again to thank them and also because DAMN they were cuties, but his disappointment was relieved a little bit when Vaxit opened a secret passageway in the security office Sev had thought he'd raided thoroughly.
"Check it," said Vaxit.
The gear in this hidden passage, for Vaxit, made up for not getting to see the security-girls. It'd been about ten million years since he got to do a little casual office flirting with the two, which had been one of the precious few joys of his employment there. Just as often as he'd ever gotten any actual work done, he'd fantasized about leaving his god-awful wife for one or both of them. But Vaxit was also what you might call a "gun nut" so a huge smile appeared on his face when he spotted the greatest handgun ever made, the Colt Single Action Army, hanging on the wall.
This gun had been owned by the same man who'd owned Sev's rifle. There's an EXTREMELY, super-duper important story behind it. Don't worry, I'll tell you the story. The Deep Lore. And I'll tell it now because it becomes important immediately. That poor, dead merc who didn't know what he was getting himself into with this assignment--I wonder how he'd feel about his firearms being used for one of the most righteous causes in history?
The dead man's name was Charles Habegger... Like Vaxit, he was a bit of a "gun nut." He'd come into possession of the gun after another man had used it to murder two people. The murderer's name was Ronald Rial, and we'll be meeting him shortly. (Right now)
"KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY GUN!!" shrieked the gun itself.
Maybe a regular man might have recoiled and dropped it to the ground in fear, but Vaxit was too experienced in the weird. He held it out in front of him and looked at it curiously.
"Did that gun just speak?" asked Sev.
"Yeah, did you?" asked Vaxit, shaking it a little.
"STOP IT!! YOU'LL DAMAGE IT!! THIS IS MY PROPERTY!!" the gun roared. Its voice wasn't especially deep or intimidating, but it was filled to the brim with anger.
"Where are you?" asked Vaxit, to be polite. Although it was abundantly clear to he and Sev that it was the Colt itself speaking.
"WHAT KIND OF QUESTION IS THAT?" it demanded. "I'M RIGHT HERE, AND YOU'RE HOLDING SOMETHING THAT BELONGS TO ME!!"
"What's your name?" asked Vaxit.
"WHAT BUSINESS IS IT OF YOURS?"
Vaxit sighed and set the gun down on the desk. "Fine, don't tell me," he said as he logged on to the computer.
"""Luckily""" tracking the ownership of guns had long been as easy as tracking vehicles. Vaxit had a name in a minute.
"Are you Charles Habegger?"
"I don't know who that is," the gun replied. It'd calmed down slightly after being set down.
"Okay, so maybe you're... Ronald Rial?"
The gun hesitated for a moment. "I already said it's none of your business!"
"Okay, so it's Ronald," said Sev. "So why is he a gun?"
Vaxit shrugged. "Ronald, can you tell us why you're a gun?"
"I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE [EXPLICATIVE] YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT."
"Okay, this is getting us nowhere," said Sev, getting up. "I'm gonna smash the stupid thing."
"BROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO," said Vaxit, holding him back. "This is a COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY."
"So what?" asked Sev. "There's a dozen other handguns here. Here," Sev handed Vaxit a Glock 9, but Vaxit looked at it with disgust.
Sev gave him the "Come on man" face, but Vaxit just went on.
"Dude, this is a CLASSIC."
"How many bullets can it hold?"
"Six bullets. More than enough to kill anything that moves."
"Well, a lot of them."
"Forget it! Take the Glock!"
They began arguing about the efficacy of ammunition types, and Ronald just sat there on the table, seething.
After Ronald had been gunned down by the police, he'd been cursed to remain in the Colt. The Deadly Sin of Anger had cost him his Eternity. Let's talk about Ronald and Anger for a bit. Since he'll be coming along for the ride. The reason Ronald had been an angry man (and now an angry spirit) was because he was Prideful. Despite being in and out of court-ordered "anger management" courses, and reading every self-help book under the Sun, it was all for naught.
You cannot treat the disease by only looking at the symptoms. Anger is a symptom of the disease of Pride. Prideful men can not and should not try to "manage" our anger: it must be taken from us by FORCE. We must be humbled by--call it whatever you want. God, Christ, Life itself. (I don't care what name you give *the thing all men need*, but you still need it if you hope to be fully human.)
The death of Pride is necessarily the spiritual death (and rebirth) of the Man, and it CANNOT be pleasant. There can be no pats on the back, no "classes" to pass. There is no lifelong "recovery", there is only victory in spiritual-rebirth or defeat in an unchanged life. Can an "anger addict" live his life without going ballistic? Sure. He can through sheer force of will resign himself to living in a perpetual Earthly Hell of Emotion, using all manner of methods to try to control something that should not be inside of him to begin with. Or he can let himself die and be reborn. All of this is to say that a Prideful man cannot be cured without having his life destroyed Job-style. The idea of needing to hit "rock bottom" isn't always accurate, but it is when dealing with Pride.
That's exactly what happened to the husband of the woman Ronald had killed. Before the siege on Ronald's house that had ended his life, the husband had publicly forgiven him. With a megaphone outside Ronald's house, surrounded by police, he'd told Ronald it was "OK." Ronald had not been more angry even the previous day, when he pulled the gun out on that woman and her daughter. He came out shooting, and hit the husband, and one officer.
The husband was reunited with his family in another place.
The officer was okay, but decided he'd had enough of dealing with the public for a while. He'd use his skills and experience for a safer job. That officer was Charles Habegger, and he took the Colt as a token. He'd never known Ronald was trapped inside of it.
Years later, I'd become bored and look into the case myself. While learning about Ronald's temperament, I'd see evidence splashed over decades and decades. The domineering way he spoke and acted to even those closest to him. It was a "big yikes" to say the least. I couldn't imagine myself having any kind of relationship with this person myself, but there they were--plenty of people in his life. Suffering along with him. How fitting that he'd end up double-trapped in the Emoji Factory, inside a weapon.
Can a man hope to be destined for great things when he lives in emotion? *You can't get there from here.*
"Fine, take the freaking Colt. But I'm taking a Glock then," snapped Sev. They'd finally finished arguing. Vaxit had already taken an "AA-12" automatic shotgun to compliment Sev's rifle (also previously owned by Charles Habegger). Now he reached for his new sidearm.
"I'M NOT GOING ANYWHERE WITH YOU!!" Ronald screamed.
"Ahhh, so you finally admit that you are the gun," retorted Vaxit.
Ronald howled so loudly that it hurt everyone's ears, but it also brought Vaxit to tears with laughter. Sev was even more annoyed -_-
"Let's just get going," he said, and he pulled open the door. Before him stood the two security-girls, smiling widely. Sev noticed their fangs for the first time.