Andrew Duncan Worthington is a teacher and writer living in New York. He is the author of the novel WALLS and the forthcoming story collection DELETE SPACE. His work has appeared in Vice, Atticus Review, Word Riot, Mr. Beller's Neighborhood, and other places. More at andrewduncanworthington.com.
1 story by Andrew Duncan Worthington
The Golf Course
Early reports indicated the course was under attack. It was hard to tell. It was bigger than any other golf course. It wasn’t located on the outskirts or in the more sprawling suburbs, like most golf courses. It had been built directly adjacent to the financial district of the city. Twelve miles wide east to west and roughly fifteen miles north to south, it was one of the biggest golf courses in the world, offering regular tournaments from beginner to amateur to professional to world class, as well as a few country clubs, each catering differently to different demographics, whether PGA tour members or local high school teams or college bros or financial bros or middle-aged housewives or alt 20-somethings or alt teens or birthday parties for little kids with their friends. It was an amusement park and an athletic complex, a social space and an office space. The attacks had started at the Republican National Convention, downtown inside the football stadium, packed with Liberty Originalists. Protesters infiltrated the convention floor, interrupting a speech by the 47th President. The Liberty Originalists did not like that there were protesters there. They had guns, as was their philosophy and habit. One of the Originalists opened fire on the protesters, or at least fired a shot. Police do have a suspect in custody, but I am not permitted to disclose their identity at this time.
The shooting caused the Homeland Security officers guarding the convention to assume a formation responsive to hostile fire, based on drone feed showing that the shots had come from the area nearby where the protesters were concentrated. Following an outbreak of hand-to-hand violence, a protester gained possession of an officer’s weapon, causing another officer -- young and in his first month of active duty -- to fire an impulsive shot at the protester, who had the firearm aimed at him. After this second round of fire, the crowd dispersed, running for the exits. Protesters outside the stadium, having watched the events from the Mega-Jumbo-Tron above the entrance, began running in fear, some running at the officers stationed outside, others running towards the bridge, to get over the river and out of downtown before they were injured or killed. The convention stadium lights were shut down, although the patriotic convention decor remained as the night grew darker and the noise in the city did not die. Explosions and shots rang throughout the night, into the early morning, although law enforcement, as well as the media, thought that the disturbances were contained in the midtown entertainment district.
As the national morning news shows began reporting that the violence had almost subsided, there was a separate report from a blog with no more than 100 readers a day, claiming that there had been an attack on a gun store, Winston Holsters, that was located in a suburb named Cambria Hills. This report was not known to members of the major news media. Cambria Hills was not a community that knew much violence. It had an idyllic downtown, along with a sprawling mini-mall highway lasting four miles, before it reached the golf course, where it became an underground tunnel lasting almost ten miles under the greens and ponds of the course, before it reached the beginning of downtown. The Cambria Hills police department responded to the disturbance with dozens of officers, but by the time they arrived there were only two dead clerks and a ransacked store.
Thinking that the national media was correct and disturbances were abating, the regular Monday morning golfers kept their tee times, joined by an influx of finance workers who had been told their offices were closed for the day, following the previous day’s incident.
At the 18th hole of Course #26 (known as “The Greenest Course”), two elderly men who played every week were each eyeing their putts when one of them noticed a group of several dozen masked people approaching from the thick hanging trees nearby.
“What is this?” said one of the old men, as he was rushed by several of the masked people, who threw him to the ground, pointing their weapons at him and then also at his partner, who threw his hands up. A puddle of dark appeared on the crotch of his khaki pants, streaming down until it came out onto his foot.
“The motherfucker pissed himself,” said one of the masked people, with a man’s voice.
They tied up the two old golfers, dragged them over to the forest area, shoved them down a little ravine, turned around, squatted down, and began moving slowly in unison around the green.
After creeping around several holes, they raced across the green towards the country club on the hill. A few citizens eating brunch pointed at the people running towards them, amused or confused or both about why there were people in masks running.
The phones at 9-1- 1 began ringing, with calls of terror from different clubs throughout the golf course. At about 11 am, a livestream was broadcasted of the events taking place in one of the clubs. A group of terrorists had members of the political and business establishment sitting in blindfolds against a backdrop of newspapers dated from that morning, most with photographs of one of the protesters shot in the stadium the day before, her mouth open, apparently screaming, and her hands against her abdomen. It had already become iconic.
On the livestream, the armed protesters demanded that the president throw his support to a candidate other than his vice president, who was known as one of the most extreme members of the administration, in terms of both ideology and tactics. He was favored to win the brokered convention, but only with the support of the president.
In addition, the armed protesters demanded that the two shooters -- the Liberty Originalist and the Homeland Security officer -- be immediately brought before a demographically diverse jury of their peers, with the assumption that both would be proven guilty if given a swift, democratic, and orderly trial.
John Malone was a Homeland Security official based in the local office as the head of the Department of Community Relations. He was in charge of organizing outreach efforts to local schools and games and giveaways for consumers at local airports and transportation hubs, designed to humanize the officials of his federal department. He was not at all trained in handling terrorist negotiations, which is what he was now being asked to do, since the protesters had demanded that the negotiator be both local and someone with a resume of nonviolent interaction with the community. He had been given a brief script, boilerplate answers, all with the gist of “We do not negotiate with terrorists.”
As he arrived via helicopter at the golf course, Malone was awed by a landscape he had never seen: the state-of-the-art series of courses stretching for miles, with the downtown cityscape in the background. He thought, Why haven’t I done this before? Why haven’t I just taken a helicopter and gone sight-seeing?
The protesters sent a message to the department helicopter, warning that they should land at least five hundred meters away from the clubhouse.
“We’re going to have to do what they say,” said the pilot. “It’s what the brass wants us to do. They said obey what the terrorists say in terms of the meet-up, but don’t give in on the verbal end.”
Malone nodded. He wasn’t really listening. His mind was on the people he was going to be dealing with. These weren’t Islamic jihadists or militant separatists. These were ordinary people. College students and civil rights activists were the main groups representing the protests, according to the intel he had received.
Walking into the country club, he saw people gagged and blindfolded on the floor and tables.
“Stop there, you fuck,” said a woman’s voice. He looked across the room and saw a masked woman pointing a rifle at him.
“Don’t move,” she said.
She walked over to him, rifle still pointed, and spit on his chest.
“You’re the one they sent?” she asked.
“I am,” he said.
“Get the fuck out of here.”
He turned to leave and felt her shove the rifle into his back.
“I didn’t really mean to leave, you idiot.”
He turned back around. She took off her mask, revealing blushed cheeks and tangled standing curly hair.
“Come with me,” she said, motioning him forward. The gun remained at his back. Crossing into the next room, he saw a few people, presumably terrorists, with masks off sitting around a large conference table eating brunch. Five bottles of hot sauce were on the table. What in the hell could they need all that hot sauce for? Malone thought.
“Who are you?” said a man sitting at the end of the table.
“My name is Malone. I was sent here by the Department of Homeland Security, on the directive of the President himself.”
“Oh really? He really cares?”
“I don’t know. I know that he wants to resolve this conflict.”
“Does he? Then why hasn’t he given us justice?”
“The President wants to resolve the situation and open up a dialogue that can lead to
lasting peace and progress.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“The government of the United States is meant to represent you, not oppose you. We hope that we can eventually work together to find common ground, as this is your cause as much as anyone else’s.”
Malone added that last part on his own, a little bit of improv. It didn’t sound right.
“You’re right this is our ground,” said a man sitting in a patio chair next to where Malone stood.
“So what are you supposed to say to us, huh?” said the first guy at the far end of the table.
“I am supposed to find a way to peacefully resolve this. For you to put down your guns and join us in a conversation. We admit that blood has been shed and pain has been felt. Help us make this right.”
The guy at the end of the table eyed Malone, then approached him, slowly.
“You can’t give us shit, can you?” he asked once he was inches from Malone’s face.
“No,” said Malone, “I’m afraid the United States does not negotiate with terrorists.”
“That’s what I thought,” the guy said. He took Malone by the scalp, tugging his hair, and kicked him in the groin.
“Come with me,” he said. He dragged him out to the greeting room. He ordered him to strip. Malone didn’t move. The guy pointed a handgun at Malone’s head. Malone took off his pants and suit and tie and shirt, leaving only his underwear and socks. The guy glared at him, pushing the gun closer into his head. Malone took off his underwear and socks. The guy grabbed his hair again, shoving him onto the balcony overlooking a waterfall.
“Please, don’t,” said Malone.
The guy pushed him off the balcony, his naked body falling, flailing until it hit the bottom of the falls, blood streaming red into the light blue water pool that was there.
Sirens sounded, cars emerged from the perimeters of the green, and helicopters appeared above the trees, all heading towards the clubhouse. Shots rang repeatedly, then less and less after seveal minutes. Explosions continued periodically throughout the afternoon, birds scurrying in crowds after each blast. As the sun reached its peak, the explosions finally ceased, and the birds again settled, this time on the bodies of protesters, bloody and bleeding all over the golf course.
The course manager had survived, as it had been his one day off for that week. He arrived there later that afternoon, with military, police, and emergency health officials everywhere. He thought about when they might be able to re-open and if the massacre would be bad for business. Perhaps, they could make it into a memorial of some sort. Would that be profitable?