Pop (First Draft)

Collage by Bryan Gahagan

This is sadly, a fictional story.

On January First, 2022, at noon Eastern time exactly, Space Man and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ head exploded.

And on January Second, 2022, at noon Eastern time exactly, Tesla CEO, Uberbro and Joe Rogan’s best friend Elon Musk’s head exploded.

And on January Third, 2022, at noon Eastern time exactly, Luxury Goods Huckster and Art Whore Bernard Arnault’s head exploded.

And, as Kurt Vonnegut would say, “And so it goes.”

A blood piñata, that’s how Bezos’ personal assistant Ann Hyatt described the explosion. “One second, Mr. Bezos is fine. The next second, I’m covered in a fine blood mist. His head is gone from the shoulders up, the bottom of his neck a straight, smooth line across the shoulders. The force of the explosion pulverizing and propelling the blood and flesh onto the walls out, like 15 feet away. Ruined my 3,000 dollar pantsuit. Negative red shadows on the wall like Hiroshima.”

On the seventh day (Larry Ellison), the world began to realize billionaires were being knocked off, in order, from the 2021 Forbes world’s richest list. The list contains the world’s 2,674 billionaires. Google’s Larry Page was number eight. The morning of the eighth, Page was sequestered in his panic room, alone. And by 12:01p, his head was gone, the sealed room painted in blood.

And the heads popped, once a day, 2,666 more times.

$$$

Bag of chips, Coke Zero, two Virginia Slims, and two Oxy in her car: Allison was in the middle of her mid-shift break ritual when she heard the news about Bezos on the radio. She squealed, “Fuck Yea!” and almost cut her finger fist-bumping the inside roof of her 2002 Honda Accord. Allison was an Amazon warehouse worker just outside St. Louis. Back to work after a roof collapse last month. Twelve Hours a day, six days a week, three am to three pm, Allison was always moving. A monitor strapped to her waist, she had to complete a task—stocking a shelf, sorting products or packing an item—every seven seconds her whole shift. That’s roughly 5,760 tasks a shift. If she fell behind, the clock switched to six seconds a task.

She’d only been working at Amazon for six months, but ached like an aging heavyweight. If she stayed the whole year, she’d take home 31,000 dollars.

And, now, working on New Year’s fucking Day with no overtime, Allison started her car and went home. While she certainly would be fired, who cares, the world is off its moorings. Glued to the TV, she got drunk on cheap box wine and masturbated almost to the point of annoyance that night.

Allison was single. She usually met boy friends at work, but Amazon kept all employees at least eight feet apart at all times due to Covid and efficiency. She called in work the next day to find out she was, indeed, fired. A relief.

$$$

Dubbed The Pop or Pop-mas, immediately, the world panicked. Like a 9/11 everyday, news was non-stop. Productivity stopped. The dead billionaires lauded as Gods and heroes. International prayer chains were formed. World leaders convened to form plans. In smaller, backward countries, billionaires and multi-millionaires were executed as an appeasement to various Gods. John Fredrickson (216) from Cyprus jumped into a volcano two days before his number was up. A group of mid-level billionaires launched themselves into space a week before the first one was set to explode. Cameras showed the live freak-out as the other billionaires watched as (Save Big Money At) John Menard Junior’s (145) head popped. The blood mist jammed all the controls and they were forced to float in space and see each other die. NBC made the event a seven-part mini-series. The Dallas Cowboy’s Jerry Jones (264) just disappeared. Days after his pop-date, it was learned Jones had himself cryogenically frozen and buried deep inside Norad mountain. You can guess what happened.

Everyone had theories, except the scientists. They were baffled. Baptists blamed the gays. Marxists blamed capitalism. The  President went on TV nightly proclaiming, “Take me and make it stop” to whatever was causing The Pop. Bars would open early and have drink specials based on who was popping that day. Bar patrons watching the daily, live special and cheering. Most thought the cause was aliens or some kind of remote Scanners-type shit. But nobody really knew. Not the politicians, faith healers, tarot card readers, woo merchants, engineers, biologists, other billionaires, philosophers, consultants, and not even Deepak Chopra knew what the fuck was going on.

Congress, after day 50, passed a bill expediting inheritance and eliminating the estate tax. Only about 10 percent of the billionaires gave everything away, mostly to the tax havens of third world countries. And just enough to get off the list. David Geffen built a lot of water filtration plants in Zambia in a short time. And on Day 245, his head popped. 

Nothing could stop the heads from popping.

The stock market only dipped a little. The constant transfer of wealth and systemic locks kept the whole rickety operation afloat. Natch.

$$$

After nearly seven and a half years, Allison was back, this time huffing paint, in the WalZon parking lot. Sam Walton the Ninth bought Amazon and instituted many new policies including a full-time the six-second clock. The Big Pop only made life worse for Allison. Jobs actually became scarcer as most industries froze in shock of the daily events and stopped hiring. Allison had four crappy low-paying jobs, a drug overdose and three medical emergencies. And felt forced to go back. Life will swamp you every time, she thought. She spent most of the last seven years drunk. 

But today was the last day, according to The Forbes List. Day 2,674. The last one. Chinese software billionaire Zhou Wei was set to pop. And it was to be over. Forbes never made another World’s Richest List. A quadrillion dollars were transferred to family members over the past seven years. And little of that wealth made it more than two levels away from the billionaire giving the money away.

Wars were fought, millions died. But it was to be over. Millions stopped working. Drug use was rampant and faith was waning.

But today. It was over. Today it ends.

Allison, resume in hand, walking into the supervisor’s office, pulled out a gun and shot him in the head. 

“Pop,” she said.

$$$

And on the next day, nobody’s head popped. The world’s remaining billionaires celebrated by holding a multi-million dollar party. 

And on the next Monday, all of their heads popped.

###

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