Joshua loaded up in the truck with a small group of younger peckerwoods, the plan was pretty straightforward, the Faceless were operating in Pico-Union, a bad neighborhood on the best of days, and with MS-13, the Faceless and Desert Rats about to be active, there was no way any cops would show face tonight. Joshua checked his gun for the fifth time since starting the drive. It was going to be bloody, between the three gangs, the streets would become flooded with the blood, piss, and shit of violence and hate. It would be easier for the Rats, if it was brown, kill it. If it were white, don’t. With more than one Latino gang stalking the streets in his city, they would have to think twice about one another, while he and his clique could blast indiscriminately.
Mike, one of his brothers who had joined the Desert Rats around the same time he had nodded his head grimly, he was excited of course. Joshua realized that he was in danger of becoming just one more soldier, he knew it was time to take this to a new place.
“No more talk, no more sitting around with a beer and talking what we would do if we could.” Everyone’s eyes turned to stare at him, Josh could feel his stomach tightening, this was his moment, this was his war. He would join the heroes of the White Nationalist movement. “Tonight we’re going to actually fucking make a difference, we’re going to make the streets safer for white women, we’re going to stop them from ruining our country, we’re going to stop them from taking jobs that belong to white men.” They were nodding now, though he was saying nothing new or meaningful, each word struck a chord with people who had been indoctrinated in hate every day of their lives. “We’re going to take back what’s ours!” The truck reverberated with the roar from the young racists. Joshua felt in control, this is what it’s all about.
Only a moment later, one of the walkie-talkies that Alexander had supplied each van crackled to life, the sound of gunfire and shouting immediately filling the car.
“. . .we’re surrounded, . . . wrong here . . . aren’t . . . gang bangers, I don’t know if they’re even . . . George and Steve are down, . . . can’t be . . . please god, they’re coming through . . . the rats . . . through the walls.” Everyone in the car could hear the gunshots and screams, and an odd scritching noise through the speaker. Joshua could feel his bowels trembling in fear. But they were too far to turn around, they were already in the middle of the action.
Bullets slammed into the side of the truck, Joel, in the driver’s seat tried to keep steering, swerving to avoid fire as he accelerated. In the window Joshua could see the hateful eyes of men and boys glaring from above yellow bandanas, the truck shook as Joel ran over those unfortunate enough to be caught in his headlights, both Rats and Faceless cut down like grass before a blade. Josh screamed for him to stop, to slow down, to do anything, but he could see that Joel couldn’t hear him, the fear had caused him to grit his teeth so hard they had cracked, as Josh reached for the wheel, Joel finally rammed the car into the side of a building forcing a stop.
It felt like an eternity before Joshua was able to clear his head. Opening his eyes he was greeted by the sight of his friends, his brothers sprawled across the truck, most were riddled with bullet holes, all were broken. Joel’s body was halfway through the windshield, sliced nearly in half by broken glass, and Mike still stared at him, bits of brain matter still oozing from the bullet hole between bloodshot eyes. There was movement in the truck with him, and Josh whipped his head around, ignoring the pain to see who else survived.
He recoiled with a strangled scream as he saw rats streaming into the body of the truck to feast on his dead friends. Scrambling as fast as he could, he moved to the opposite side of the car from where the vermin were crawling in. Nearly mindlessly he grabbed for a gun and the walkie-talkie.
“Come in, come in, someone come in, everyone is dead, I’m alone, please come in.” Snot and tears ran down his face and Joshua limped away from the truck, pointing the gun at shadows, sure the Faceless would appear at any moment to finish him off. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be, he was supposed to be a great warrior who ground these wetbacks into the dirt. He was supposed to win and get the drugs and the girl and he was supposed to get to be important. “Please, I need help.”
“I hear you Joshua” The calm voice of Alexander came from the walkie-talkie, relief flooded Josh’s entire body, as heady as any high. If Alexander was still alive, he could be saved. “You still have your gun, son?”
“Good, good to hear son, now here’s what I want you to do.” Joshua’s heart sank as he listened, Alexander expected him to do his job like a good soldier, Alexander wasn’t going to rescue him. “I want you to find their leader, they call him El Rey en Amarillo, find him, and kill him.”
“I can’t, I can’t do it, sir, please, help me!” Joshua had fallen to his knees at some point during their talking. He didn’t believe he would be able to get back up, not without vomiting. When Alexander spoke again, his voice sounded cold, distant, but also old and inviolate.
“You can. You will. Go now.” Those simple words brooked no argument, and almost as though he had no control over his body, Joshua rose, leaving the radio where it lie. He would kill the leader of the Faceless, or he would die. It was that simple, nothing mattered but serving Alexander, dimly he realized, his will was no longer his own. Joshua wondered how long that had been the case.
He stepped through an alleyway and found himself facing building he didn’t recognize, that seemed to jut up at the sky in mockery of God. As though the tower of Babel had been the first shot in a war against the divine and whatever was left on Earth was going to win the war. He continued to walk through filthy streets lined with trash. Each step he took, left a pool of blood and bits of the waste he had voided from his stomach during the crash. And with each step, a group of rats left the shadows to feast on the essence he left on the asphalt. There was a figure there, at the end of the ally, he raised his gun, wavering where he stood, he would kill the king. He would destroy them.
Slowly recognition dawned on him, and he dropped the gun, it was pointless, the man he had been aiming at was already dead, the scorch marks around his eye socket, the missing features that had been messily cauterized, the boy he had tortured hours ago, (only hours?) stood before him, smiling a horrible lipless smile.
Joshua tried to run, tried to move one leg then the other, but nothing would respond, even as he felt the rats crawling up his body, they bit into his flesh and began burrowing into his still living muscle. The figure of the boy moved closer, so close that Joshua could smell the burning flesh even above his own filth and blood.
“Thank you, Joshua” The voice was a wet gurgling rasp, and it was somehow even more terrible than the chewing sounds from below. “You made me faceless, I will thank you, by giving you to the crawling chaos of this city, to the grime and sickness.” Josh could feel the rats in his intestines now, chewing their way through his body, but he couldn’t fall, he couldn’t die, all he could do was scream.