Monday, March 13, 2017

National Women's Month: Heather Schubert's "A Rose in Hell Might Not Smell As Sweet"

     “Go home Death. You’re drunk and overfed. Try a diet of those most in need of a compassionate end. Something more satisfying, like the coup de grace, and just leave the rest, damn it. Just leave the rest,” said Rose quietly said to herself as she zipped up the last body bag.
     The warm wind was dry and stung her cracked lips. Salty tears leaked a trail down her dirt-stained cheeks. Rose pulled off her latex gloves and wiped them away with the back of her hand. She stood up with a heavy sigh and rested boney hands on her protruding hips. The plague had taken many lives these past few months, mostly children. Their young vital lives withered to sick days in feverish hospital beds till, one by one, they ended up here with her, encased in brightly colored body bags.      
     The neon shades were intended to set the plague victims apart from the rest. It was a sickening irony that most of the children ended up tucked away inside of them now. The population of her home town had nearly been cut in half, just as it had in towns and cities all over the United States.
     All of today’s dead were little girls. She felt slightly better about that, and hoped their suffering ended before it had truly begun. They would never fully experience the reality of what this world had become. Sexism ran rampant, unbridled, and free. The government declared itself anti-feminist; it shielded rapists, and domestic abusers, and set back women's rights a hundred years. “The Rise of the Kings” the media called it. Glorified misogyny.
     Rape, which became commonplace, was no longer considered a violent offense. Consequently, all of“non-violent” offenders had been released and set let loose on society. Citizens looked at each other with a sense of shared sympathy and shame, knowing, with the election over, there's they could do.          Decriminalizing rape had crashed the national economy. Anti-feminists emerged from behind the safety of their computer screens and gone on the offensive, certain that the new government would protect them. The workplace politics shifted, and women were brutally pushed out. Nearly every business become a boy’s club. Major corporations seemed unaffected at this point, but t was only a matter of time. Being a woman in America, now, meant the same thing it always had; fighting constantly for the right to govern their bodies, and for some small scrap of equality.
Rose’s co-worker, Riven, sashayed over to her. “Done for the day doll face?” he asked in that carefree manner he seldom showed anyone but Rose anymore, as it wasn’t safe.
     “Yeah, I’m headed home,” Rose replied, “You?”
     “Nah. I’m stuck here till midnight. Just me and the neon children of the damned.” Riven said, as he looked at the line of brightly colored body bags. Rose waved goodbye, and began her trek to the hospital parking lot to find her car.
     The LBGT communities were massively impacted by the radical setbacks. Forced conversions, brutal attacks, trans women attacks, and murders increased. At first,gay men were ostracized, since only real men could be Kings of the New America. To ensure survival, gay men created anti-feminist groups of their own. Now, they are mostly spared, as long as they aren’t too effeminate. In the beginning, lesbians were left alone, but now they received the same treatment as other women.           
     Women’s lives were fundamentally altered, especially on personal and social levels. Abusive husbands, no longer held responsible for their actions, reigned supreme, Young women and girls ran scared. Men who defended and protected women were systematically ostracized, attacked and often killed. The ancient symbolism of burning crosses on front lawns in the South had multiple meanings now. Religious leaders hid behind biblical references, women of the world were as guilty as if they'd personally handed that apple to Eve themselves. On paper, women could still legally defend themselves, but generally ended up in prison if they accidentally killed their attackers. The legal system was clearly biased, and killing a man carried a much higher price than men received for killing women.
     Rose heard there were still places where women wore dresses and went out to events with family and friends, but it was a luxury reserved the wealthy. As with every other bad political decision ever made in the history of the world, the ones most affected were the middle class and the poor. Rose still had her job, because there weren’t many people who could stomach being a coroner when the dead were mostly women and children. Plus, she had a friend, or sorts, in Riven.
     “I wanna fuck you,” was the only pick up line Rose ever heard anymore. She always responded with, “Well, go ahead and do it then,” and would hand the perp a condom. She knew he'd probably rape her. Any man who got that close, and was confident enough to lean in and whisper those words in her face generally wasn’t afraid to finish what he started. She’d learned that the hard way, like many other women during the last six months.
     Why resist the inevitable as your spirit shrivels inside the hollow husk of your used up body like a dried raisin, thought Rose, Why fight? All that ever got her was a trip to the ER, and medical bills she couldn’t afford. Since rape was legal now, and beating a woman a misdemeanor, ninety percent of the homeless were female. Homeless women banded together in encampments and defended their space as best they could. It was like episodes of The Walking Dead, but instead of fighting off the zombies, they battled the male population. The only cops were corrupt ones, and all of them men. Some had deals with the women at the encampments. The women entertained them for free in exchange for being allowed to live in parks and alley ways. They traded sex and blow jobs for a limited amount of protection. These women stayed in these places until the cops got tired of them and forced them out.
     Rose remembered an older gentleman she hooked up with a few weeks before. She thought she'd been safe, and maybe, a real relationship could save her from being raped so often, and finally, she could move somewhere else. He seemed sweet, as he courted her, and he didn't rush into a physical relationship, or attempt to force her in any way. She thought she'd finally found something worth a damn, until she finally gave in and slept with him.
     “I like the way you whimper when I fuck you,” he told her.
     He seemed so nice, gentle and sweet – a widower. He rubbed her back, called her “beautiful,” paid for their room, and bought her treats. In the end, to Rose, men were all the same.
Rose heard a version of that line before. Come to think of it, she’d heard a version of that line before. Her ex-boyfriend Gabe once said, “I like the noises you make when I fuck you.” Now she knew what he really meant. Deep down, were all men predators? Was it ingrained in their DNA?
     Gabe once told Rose the reason men liked threesomes was that when the woman gagged on the other man’s dick, her pussy spasmed and tightened around his penis and it felt good. It was something Gabe thought every man should experience, at least once, but Rose wondered, w
hen men said threesomes were every man’s fantasy was that what they were really talking about? She remembered going to a local girl Girl Scout event afterward their conversation, and not being able to think of anything else, while she watched innocent little girls going about their lives with zero knowledge of these facts. Would they ever know? She hoped not. How many men, how many of their fathers, felt the same way as Gabe? It made her sick. She wondered if there was any hope for humanity at all. At that time though, she knew not all men were thisway. They simply couldn’t be and, even if they were, then surely the good ones only exercised these fantasies in safe, sane consensual ways… right?
     Maybe it was the fault of society, which encouraged BDSM play with books, stories and movies, which portrayed men as beasts and women as the ones who love them all the more for it: the cave men dragging their wives by the hair' vintage movie posters showing monsters traipsing through the mud with some scantily clad beauty in their arms; Dracula, and other vampire movies with women of the world reaching for their red lipstick and sexiest outfits while the men reach for their axes and torches; Beauty and the Beast taken to the extreme.
     Well, Rose mused, We're in a fine pickle now, and analyzing the crap out of it wasn’t gonna help anyone.
     Rose got into her grey mid-sized economy car, once again thankful for its bland appearance that wouldn’t draw any unwanted attention. As she began driving back to her apartment, the wheels of her mind kept musing on the same questions she'd just asked herself.
     The first few months after the election were the worst. The day after the election, saw race riots, the KKK marching out in the open, and gays attacked in public. At first, the people rose, and worldwide protests erupted, but one fact had been forgotten. This wasn’t simply the work of one person but instead was a carefully organized regime. Anger and fear were the natural response from many, but it was to their detriment.
     Now classified as nonviolent offenders, rapists had been released. Misogynist groups no one had ever heard of before suddenly rose up like pus filled, maggot infested orcs out of the pea green swamp of anonymity. They argued that women needed to take responsibility for their own sexual assaults and lobbied to make rape legal as long as it occurred on private property. Then, it was open season on women. Hundreds of women died in massive gang rapes in the streets, and many more ended up infected with STDs, which Rose figured to be the origin of the plague. It had to be, she thought, ro else God has given us a punishment for what we’ve created here on His Earth, in His paradise lost.
     Rose was slightly Christian, raised in a Christian environment for most of her life, but the events of the past six months had shaken her beliefs to the core. Still, she had to believe that if true evil existed in the world, then God must exist somewhere as well. She knew, first hand, that true evil was alive and kicking, not to mention lounging around on her living room floor.
     Maybe God was just on vacation? Rose shrugged to herself. Whatever it was, there seemed to be no good solutions, and definitely no end in sight.
     As Rose turned down the street that led to her house, one of the few left on her block- all the others had burned down- she thought of her history lessons in school, and realized America had pretty much always sucked.
     Our founding fathers were racist, women hating white men who owned slaves and went to war because they didn’t want to pay their taxes, Rose told herself. Thousands of people died because those great men wanted to stay rich and exploit people.
     No one thought the presidential election was important, or that each personal vote would carry so much weight. She remembered casting her protest vote for one of the other parties. She couldn’t even remember which one now, or at least she tried hard not to remember. Rose tried to forget everything about the elections, and the weeks that followed. Most people did. No one ever thought it would matter this much.
     We should have, though, Rose thought. We should have realized it when we first discovered we were living in a Nation in which a presidential candidate who openly spewed racist remarks, publicly described his own daughter as a “hot piece of ass”, and freely admitted to assaulting women actually gained supporters, instead of losing him his chance at nomination like it rightfully should have done.      We should have realized it as neighbors, politicians, and the media made excuses for him right up until election day. We should have realized it when fake news sprung up everywhere and the legitimate news stations were systematically censored. His opponent, a woman, brought out all the misogynists and closet anti-feminist groups, and he knew it. He played right into it, accepting endorsements from the KKK and other anti-Semitic groups. Earning the right to vote was one thing, but now we went too far with a female presidential candidate. She was assassinated two days after she lost the election, just to prove that point. The former first lady was assassinated the morning after the new guy was sworn in. The former president fled the country in fear for his daughters’ lives, and rightfully so.
     The government of a free country is supposed to guarantee all things are possible for all of its people, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, social or economic status. It's supposed to ensure our freedoms, our natural rights, and protect us at the most basic human level. If it's not to your liking, not what you signed up for, or how you want to live, then fucking move already.
The irony is that in a truly free country that enjoys democracy, we can’t boot these people out. We respect the rights of everyone, including the toxic villains of the world. The misogynist candidate was cunning. He figured out how to play our Machiavellian game of politics so well, even Satan himself sat back on his new makeshift throne in silence, momentarily speechless, in awe over the plate of dumb luck he’d been handed. Satan watched the events of the world play out on what looked like a big screen tv. Deportations, forced straight conversions, reproductive control, trans violence, gay bashing, Islam-a-phobic legislation, racism, lost health care, homelessness, and rape... it was like the ultimate Friday night line up to him. All Satan had to do now was sit back and watch the world burn. Shoot, even the Russians had nukes again and their dicks firmly up our president’s ass.
     It began with the United States, and soon enough WWIII would take out almost everyone else. Apocalypse might have sounded dramatic in the beginning, but it’s just a walk in the park these days. It is the reality in which we now live, each and every single one of us.
     Rose gave up praying for miracles months ago. She was resigned to her fate, battered, beaten, and brutalized. How far do I have to go for a tiny piece of safety? Rose wondered. Will I sell my soul for a chance of survival? You bet your sweet ass I will.

     As Rose walked into the living room, the temperature went up 20 degrees. The smell of sulphur brutally assaulted her nostrils. She sneezed. She threw another log on the fire pit, and curled up on the floor next to her newly acquired Lord and Master. As Satan placed his arm around her shoulders, his skin singed her tank top. He pushed his forked tongue past her teeth, and kissed her deeply. She cringed, and then regained her composure as she curled up beside him. Resigned to her newest fate, Rose passed Satan a bowl of popcorn as they continued to watch the world go up in flames.

© 2017 Heather Schubert

 Heather Schubert’s education and involvement in Thelema and the philosophies of Aleister Crowley has been rich, broad, deep, and exciting. Her burning passion currently lies in further propagating the Law of Thelema and in expanding the areas in which these philosophies apply to all aspects of modern day life. She joined Ordo Templi Orientis, or O.T.O., in 1994 and has been an ordained Priestess in Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica since 1999. She teaches classes on the poetry of Aleister Crowley, as well as on his other writings and rituals. Heather has studied classic literature, poetry, philosophy, psychology, religion, anthropology, and early childhood education. Her interests and talents lie specifically in applying the Waldorf and Montessori teachings of the therapeutic aspects of creative play across many scientific disciplines and philosophies, including research in positive child psychology, sociology, philosophy, and other sciences as they relate to what cultivates thriving childhood experiences. She was the editor of the Crowned and Conquering Child for three years. Her poems have been published in a local journal called The Blue Fur, as well as in a variety of coffee table books, newsletters and magazines. She is currently working on a collaboration of collected poems by Aleister Crowley, a book on thelemic parenting styles, and another book that delves into the spiritual aspects of orgasmic birth from a thelemic viewpoint.


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  2. An excellent and thoughtful short story. It surprised the hell out of me but shouldn't have. Women's rights are such a fragile thing, having been around (more or less) for not quite two centuries. Great writing. Great turn of a phrase.