By Michael Mulvihill
Not compatible with
Outside the hospital,
my friend Ehab watched the star-spangled flag wave. He believed he would see
this flag he associated with his personal liberty replaced by black flags
associated with death, devastation, oppression and, ultimately, an end to liberty.
The nurse, dressed
in blue scrubs, examined all of Ehab’s belongings, making sure that everything
he had presented to the hospital was returned to him. She also went through his
various books—a Quran, a Hadith, a Bible, a Torah, a Talmud, an Orthodox
Christian prayer book, a copy of the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church,
and material on the basics of Zen Buddhism and Hinduism. He did not know
exactly which was the correct version of how man was created and what happens
after death, but he did believe in God. He believed God was omnipotent,
omnipresent, all merciful, all wise, all compassionate, all loving, all
forgiving, in complete contrast to the humans He created. Religious and
softhearted, Ehab detested violence. He’d had enough of it in his former life
to conclude that violence is not what a human being is made for. If life became
so worthless that war was considered its normal state, then why live?
Ehab had survived the
latest Syrian War, where he had witnessed too many examples of “man’s
inhumanity to man.” None of the animals he knew were as savage as the humans who
dared to call human monsters animals.
Ehab also found it ironic that Americans loved to create fictional monsters, as
if there were a lack of real human monsters to reflect on.
“God, so loving and
kind, wishes us well. We have made His world sick with hatred,” he told the
nurse, who smiled back at him, and then handed him a slip of paper to sign.
He looked at her
sadly. She was beautiful. She did not know the road ahead. Ehab did and in no
way wished to reveal his visions. Having been hospitalized for blood pressure
problems, he did not want to be kept there because they thought he was crazy.
Nobody believes in predicted devastation until it is upon them. Released from
the hospital, he returned to his apartment in a complex that I manage.
Once home, Ehab
boiled a kettle for coffee while listening to music. The view from his kitchen
window showed him the prime real estate that constituted the Bay Area. Ehab was
a proud new citizen. We called these apartments New Aleppo and our Baghdad by the
Bay, Bayside or Little
Damascus. A fugitive of the All Syrian War, Ehab had arrived here in 2014. He
delivered pizzas by day and watched “Aleppo Today” online every night.
My friend never mentioned Syria. He thanked
God every day that he had arrived safely in America, the land of the free and home
of the brave. His new home was democratic, fair, where dreams come true, and
any nobody can aspire to be somebody. To Ehab, who believed he was simply one
more nobody, this was a heaven on earth.
Ehab kept a journal,
and, after his passing, I found his testimony horrifying. He wrote about events
which have now happened and others which I do not want to happen, but expect
I am not sure if the
man was as mad as his means of protest made him appear. He was erudite, his space
full of books. He had writings displaying intense interest in philosophy,
politics, and history. His big question was: “What does it mean to be an
American now?” He embraced cultural diversity, but foresaw a war where people
used diversity as a catalyst for division and mass murder.
Death as Thanatos,
he claimed, had been summoned to America by fanatics who wanted to use war in
this part of the republic to bring about the birth of a powerful new caliphate,
The Ehab I knew for
fifteen years had always worked selling goods in markets that have been around
for years. In his writings he predicted they would be destroyed. He kept asking
how people like him could then eke out a living. When his business went
belly-up, he did not wait around to see.
A week after his
release from the hospital, Ehab woke up one morning and decided to walk the
streets as a prophet of an undeclared (although rumored) war. Dissatisfaction had
been the status quo for decades; nobody really thought this could result in homegrown
conflict. Would any normal
person agree that killing was the answer to our differences? Despite the flaws
of the state, no one would have desired a resolution by conflagration.
Ehab was so
perturbed by his visions that madness overcame him. He was besieged by images
of what he believed to be the apocalypse. Any witness to the destruction here
will agree they are apocalyptic.
Tormented, Ehab sought
a holy end. How could God condemn him if His created world was being perverted
by humanity? God should understand Ehab’s profound need to simply withdraw from
life when there was nowhere left to go. God would know why my friend had to
make a decision that rejected a world conquered by hell.
parading down roads that would become terror’s dividing lines, “why allow greed and
madness to win? You sell your souls and violate peace when you let hatred dictate
the terms!” This was his analysis of what was behind the coming strife. On the
eve of a dying state, his was a dirge over the slaughter of freedom.
cried in accusation. He shouted at skies that would be filled with air support
above where warring factions would meet to destroy the city. “You shake me to
my core. I am not cold or indifferent to your intentions. Hear my objection to
Exhausted and delirious, Ehab talked to the
buildings he knew would fall. He hugged walls that would soon be rubble, those who
built and maintained them lying crushed beneath, along with their children. After
hugging the walls, he listened to the birds sweetly singing. They would not
drown out the bombs and guns that put them to flight. Ehab heard their songs
only as laments for the dying. Knowing the terror that lay in store tormented
The attacks would be
described by a UN official as a crime of historic proportions: citizens
annihilated by land, sea, and sky; rescuers, like the heroic firefighters of
Bayside, also targeted, many killed while trying to rescue people buried under
He must have heard
those future heartbreaking shrieks of pain and panic. My late friend could have
shared the same message with many an American city, whose people danced and
dined, shopped in stores, worked and studied, played and prayed. He could have
told them that this haven was doomed, but who would have listened?
To make his point,
Ehab chose what he thought was the best option. He poured petrol over himself.
He hugged the still standing buildings and walls. Who else knew that they would
soon be shattered, blood pouring from debris enveloped in the reek of decaying
corpses? Nothing would ever be the same.
“Walls have ears,”
he told the wall as petrol dripped from his body onto cement. “Bear witness
that my visions of the coming catastrophe so absorb my mind that I have sought
The walls were mute,
unable to testify to a future that would bring them down.
said, “do you really think even walls can survive evil?”
Sighing, he looked
up at the sky, lit a match, and burned to death.
I imagine that, as
he burned, Ehab’s cries of anguish joined the future wails of babies, and
adults begging for mercy. His eyes sizzled, but could not burn away what he had
seen within and written down—violent waves drowning the survivors of human
cruelty along with the so-called victors in war. He had seen too much, not only
the discontent that would bring down democracy, but the indifference of humans
to their own home.
When Ehab became
ashes, the rest of us were just beginning to catch fire. How the self-immolator
must have suffered in knowing that even holy places would be blown up. The wave
of this social media-fueled revolution was rising in a restless tide;
dissenters’ demands breed waves of war and states fragment like shells
shattered on a beach. In his written dreams he became a bird taking one last
look at his nest before his tree was cut down. Seen on the self-immolator’s
body before he burned was the state flag, a fitting symbol for the coming
destruction by the fires of war of the souls living there. His death cries were
but the first of millions.
I can tell you this
and more from my home here in Baghdad by the Bay. Caliphornia is host to
propaganda films, murder, torture, and rape; even hospitals are bombed. Any
civilian can be taken for slaughter. Occupied territories are turned into slave
markets. Diverse ethnicities are purged—often in the name of population
control. Here the light of hope has been extinguished.
Scholars apply terms
like genocide, ethnic cleansing, and cultural unification to this conflict, but
who were the true instigators? They are dealers in powerful, technological
weaponry, ideological cancer, extremism, terrorism, hatred, murder-for-hire,
and mind control. These expertly stoked the flames. Surely years of oppression
from social divides hurt the poor and the crumbling middle class, but no one of
sober mind expected a mass grave.
Vaskania came to this region.
Calling several factions “part of an axis of evil,” eagle claws were sharpened.
New Russia was ready to pounce—a predator with no compassion, merely objectives
The outside world
could not leave Caliphornia alone. Its internal affairs were meddled with. The
crisis here is an international experiment. We are the pawn, and violence the
instrument. Humans love to assume power over life and death, and assert their
power by killing each other. These are the proxy wars of vicious fantasies,
creating warnings, to the discontented of the world, of what superior weapons
Thanatos is not at
fault just because he stands on the roof of your house, or sits at your
fireplace warming what can never warm. No, there is always something conjured
up by the unapologetic psychopath, who claims, like the bureaucratic Nazis of
yore, to just be following orders.
Death has been
following orders since time began. This war has certainly been no exception.
But it is the demons under Lord Keres, Violent Death, who now call the shots. Although
the greyness of neutrality is ugly, Death’s position has remained stuck there
since arriving to lay ultimate claim.
I studied pictures
of the state before this war, and viewed normality. Looking at those times, my
heart aches. The history of this place where people constructed cities with
homes, parks, houses of worship, arenas, museums, schools, and theatres, is
haunting, given the present sea of destruction. For fugitives like me, it’s
like finally reaching Eden and being ordered out. Stay, and watch the entire land
turn into hell on earth. Look behind as you leave, and be turned into a pillar
of frozen tears.
The skeletons of
apartments dagger the city’s heart. What caused this war seems so pointless a
question within the vicious heat of battle. When Caliphornia is one vast graveyard
they may be quenched of their bloodthirst. Or, perhaps it will become global,
and can only be fully quenched when everyone is dead.
I was a witness to,
not an actor in, this violence, while others hunted, raped, and ravaged. I was
like the blocks of stone falling from a bombed building, not the explosives
that blew it up. I could do nothing, since I was nothing. I am not the mega
bombs. I am not the instrument of genocide. No doubt, Keres would love to claim
responsibility. It is my lot to live, breathe, smell, and be consumed by war. As
but one human Thanatos rules, every day since the war started his aura has
surrounded me. Maybe it’s time to follow Ehab’s example…
Michael Mulvihill, firstname.lastname@example.org, &email@example.com, of Dublin, Ireland, wrote
BP #78’s “Self-Immolation” (+
BP #77’s “Drop” and “Lupine Savagery”; BP #76’s “The Watchers”; BP #68’s“The
Toasters’ Tragedy” and “Ziggy’s Afterlife Analysis”; “Homeless” & “Why
Hell Siberia?” for BP #67; was featured
author for BP #65’s
“Ethagorian Evidence, Parts 1 & 2” & “Uninsured Assurance”; VAMPIRE
HORDE, Ch.1… for BP #63; BP #61’s poems, A
Love Story Beautiful, Capitalism’s
Modern Architecture of Love, Red Brick, The Securocrats, and Toxic
Addiction; the poems, “Fatigued,” “O Mother,”
& “Spike-Inverted Hearts” for BP #58; “The Cleaner and the Collector” &
all 6 BP #56 poems; BP #50’s “The Soul Scrubber” and was featured vampire poet with A Vampire’s
Dilemma: Love, Becoming a
Vampire, Vampire Insomnia, and
Vampiric War in The Kodori Valley;
wrote BP #49’s poems—I, the Vampire, The Reluctant Vampire of Tbilisi, Vampire Observations, and Vampire Psychoanalysis). The 30ish author published a short story,
“Ethagoria Nebsonia,” in BP in ‘98 and had a poem, “The Bombing,” in The Kingdom
News about a domestic tragedy in
Ireland. He has two 2007 poetry books out with Exposure Publishing: Searching
for Love Central and The Genesis and Anatomy of Love, and has
written the horror novels, DIABOLIS OF DUBLIN & SIBERIAN HELLHOLE.