Just for some context, this story was inspired by the article of the same name, written by a friend of mine.

But I should note: any similarities to any persons living or dead is purely a coincidence.

Would I lie?

God Hates…. Superman?

A story of Sean Ryan.

Security specialist Sean Aloysius Patricus Ryan did not like working science fiction conventions. There were too many places to hide real weaponry under fake weapons. While plastic ties were useful, anyone who had come prepared for mischief could bring a proper pair of cutters, untie their weapon in a bathroom, and be ready for havoc.

Not to mention that dealing with the convention and the con-goers was akin to herding cats. The convention centers were typically so crowded, he was certain that fire safety laws were perilously close to being violated. And reporting a crime was tough when the only description you can get was “He was tall, wore a black helmet, cape, and he breathed funny.”

And then there were days like this.

Electric blue eyes flicked out over the crowd outside the convention center, and Ryan sighed. “I know California is where all the celebrities are, but I hate this damn state. The land of fruits and nuts.”

“They’re not from around here,” rumbled the voice of Edward over his shoulder.

Ryan looked away from the window and glanced at his partner in crime. Edward “Call me Eddie and you die,” Murphy was two meters tall, and one wide, a shade of skin that was the opposite end of the spectrum from Ryan’s pale white—Edward liked to say that he was Black Irish.

“I’ve considered automatic gunfire,” Edward said, “but that doesn’t look good in headlines.”

Ryan pointed at the crowd and their “God hates Fags” signs. “I don’t think that does either.”

“An appellate court said that they had the right to say whatever they like.”

“I’ll go outside an abortion clinic with a sign that says ‘Jesus loves babies’ and see if they say the same thing,” Ryan muttered.

“Sean,” his colleague said, “you’ve laid waste to more property than some earthquakes. I’m surprised you don’t have a restraining order filed against you by most major cities.”

“Granted … though are you sure that Paris will let me back in after the last time?”

Edward paused for a moment, uncertain about how to answer that. One the one hand, there was nothing official. One the other hand, there was an offhand mention of shoot-to-kill orders.

Sean waved at the gathering outside. “What do you know about this group and the loser who leads them?”

“From the midwest,” he began, “and the loser runs the same protests at military funerals. A father filed against his sorry ass for showing up at his son’s military funeral. The court basically said that the signs had words, therefore it was covered under freedom of speech.”

Ryan blinked. “I suppose I could go out there and say I’m going to kill each and every one of them—that’s covered by freedom of speech too, right?” He sighed, and rolled his eyes. “Anything else?”

“Nothing important. Disbarred in 1977. Now a Midwest minister who runs his own church who wants to spread ‘God’s hate’. The church hates Catholics, Jews, gays, the country—”

“Anyone who isn’t them,” Ryan finished, “got it.”

“—and Sweden,” Edward finished.

Ryan gave him a glance. “Seriously? He has too much time on his hands.”

“He’s run for office several times as a Democrat—”

“Another reason to vote anarchist.”

“Hey,” Edward laughed, “Robert Byrd was a Democrat, and a Klansman. If the white hood fits—”

Ryan rolled his eyes. “So, that’s it?”

“Well, he hates the country because it tolerates gays—”

“I’m Catholic. I tolerate gays insomuch as they don’t hit on me too often.”

Edward arched a brow. “That’s a problem for you?” he asked dryly.

“You’d be surprised….” Ryan frowned thoughtfully, staring back out the window at the crowd of protestors. “Okay, so America tolerates gays, military people protect the country which protects gays … he protests at the funerals. Okay, fine, this idiot can move to Afghanistan. He shows up at a convention…. why?”

Edward sighed. “That’s the problem. It’s not just military funerals. Random high schools, celebrity deaths, the San Francisco office of Twitter—”

Ryan laughed. “He has signs about hating gays, and made it out of San Francisco alive? I’m shocked.”

“I don’t think he went through Castro.”

Ryan nodded sagely. “Got it. So, that’s it?”

“Well, he says that the conventions are for idol worshippers—”

Ryan laughed. “And this moron thought, what? ‘I’m going to stand outside and yell, hoping to get attention amid superheroes, aliens, and a menagerie out of a science fiction encyclopedia’?”

Edward shrugged. “I try not to read the minds of people crazier than I am. This includes you.”

Ryan smiled. “Gotcha.” He looked over his shoulder at Edward. “Remember that creationist museum?”

Edward rolled his eyes. “You mean the one with a Garden of Eden setting … with a Velociraptor off to the side? I wish I could forget. Why?”

“I never felt the need to disavow every single stupid thing a Christian group has ever done. After all, I’m Catholic, so most Christian denominations, have already disavowed me. So when other folks in other Christian groups do something stupid, I generally don’t care.” He nodded outside. “This guy, though, is pissing me off. He’s a failed politician, failed lawyer, all around failed human being.”

“Oh, he’s just another ‘Christian’ moron—”

Ryan shook his head. “This idiot isn’t a Christian. He actually belongs to no organized religion that I have ever heard of. “God’s hate” my ass. While God’s somewhat cranky in the Torah, it’s a matter of ‘Screw With My People, I Will End You.’ Hate is never stressed as a key component of any modern faith I know of; the others were wiped out centuries ago.

“You know what he does remind me of? Well, if ‘God hates’ everyone who isn’t part of his little band of twits … I suspect that if there’s a headline media story, this moron will chase it, and park his people in front of it, lodging a protest, because God suddenly ‘hates’ everyone involved. But only after it becomes front page news. So, if you take any attention away from this idiot, God hates you.

“No. When you consider that a Christian is defined as someone who follows the principles of Jesus Christ, this jerkoff is not a Christian. At no point did Christ mention anything about “God hates [this large body of people].” In fact, He generally preferred using examples of social outcasts who acted as better models of proper behavior than the high priests. There’s a good reason why the Catholic Church has never declared that any individual person has gone to Hell—the Vatican condemns certain behaviors, not certain people. It has never tried to take on the moral authority assumed by Dante.

“Taken together: he has a small, insular body of people who clearly demonstrate an attitude that it is ‘us’ versus ‘them.’ In this case, ‘them’ is ‘the world.’ Also, this guy … let’s call him Mr. Felps, is using the Gospel according to … Felps. Not to mention that Felps is very interested in having the cameras on him at all times. It seems that the most dangerous place in America to be is between Felps a microphone. A narcissist with delusions of godhood … there’s a term for that, isn’t there? Let me think about that a moment. Wait, it’s coming to me … it’s coming to me … Yes, I have it. I think the term I want is ‘cult leader.’ And ‘attention-seeking media whore.’ “

“Well,” Edward said, “He has been put on the hit list of the Anti-Defamation League, gay rights groups, and Ann Coulter… I bet you’d never see those all on the same side, did you?” He looked past Sean at the street. “What do you want to do about them?”

“Well, Felps is here, so we must have cameras down there, right?”

“Of course. Why?”

“I think it’s time that Mr. Felps gets a little bad press.” Ryan shrugged. “You know how I like to have evidence that shows the other guy threw first.”

“You think we need to move them?”

Ryan frowned. The line to get into the convention was hemmed in by a small legion of stormtroopers—all of them volunteers from the 501st Vader’s Fist regiment, and most of them were ex-marines, retired cops, the sort of people you wanted between you and a horde of fanatics. “I dislike kegs of gunpowder just lying around. Consider how many G8 summits have had a riot.”

Edward chuckled. “You mean all of them?”

Ryan nodded. “If not all, then darn near. I’d rather not have these idiots catch us flatfooted, or decide that they’re going to throw a temper tantrum in order to get a few extra news crews down here.”

“A tantrum defined as…?”

“Provoking a few Cos-players into beating them down, starting a riot, that sort of thing.”

“We’ve come close already,” Edward told him. “There were complaints.”

“Oh?” Ryan asked, still looking out the window.

“Some people claimed they were assaults by ‘the freaks.’ “

“Really? Who?”

“Couldn’t say, they were all wearing matching stormtrooper armor.”

Ryan shook his head. “Sounds like bull to me. Conventions are surprisingly orderly. Unlike soccer games, there are few major outbreaks of violence. None, to my knowledge. I like to think it’s my job to prevent such things. Besides, our stormtroopers would have broken their jaws.”

“And you want to—”

Ryan turned and gave Edward a large, slightly insane grin, one that made the eyes sparkle like Tesla coils. “How do bomb squads defuse bombs after they’re safe to move?”

Edward nodded. “They detonate the explosives. Got it. So, you have a plan in mind?”

He smiled. “Oh, I’m just going to talk to him.”

“That’ll do it.”

“And if it doesn’t, well… tell Athena I may need her to go to Plan G20.”


Sean AP Ryan pushed open the doors, and moved towards the crowd of idiots. “One of these days,” he muttered to himself, “I’m going to raise the rates on jobs like this.”

Ryan, despite being 5’6″, moved like a man who had taken martial arts all of his life, an image incongruous with the suit and tie he wore—the tie was a clip on so it couldn’t be used to pull him, and the suit covered his gun and his tactical baton. He slipped on sunglasses for a better poker face.

The building was like every other Javits Center, a great big gray slab of concrete that looked like a bunker with windows. The only real art involved in the construction was the multilevel lobby, and perhaps the labyrinthine halls in the lower level.

When Ryan closed on the protestors, he kept a straight face, instead of laughing at all of them—he didn’t want to set them off early. The leader of the group spotted him and thought his intent was harassment, and moved to meet Ryan in the middle. Ryan stopped, waiting for him. When he was certain the minister was close enough to hear him, he said, “Good morning, Mr. Felps.”

Blink. “What the hell are you talking about? It’s already afternoon, and my name is not—”

Ryan held up his hand and smiled. “I just figured that if you’re going to try doing the impossible, you should adopt the name of the leader of the Mission: Impossible task force.”

The protest leader smiled…. it looked like a cross between a smirk and a sneer, the sort you get on bullies who know that they couldn’t be harmed. Ryan knew this type of person, he had to beat up his fair share of them growing up—and no one believed them when they claimed to have been trounced by the smallest person in the class.

“And what are you going to do, Mister….”

“Ryan. Sean Ryan. I’m just going to ask that you move your thugs back another, oh, say, hundred feet? You’re blocking the view of the street, and your crowd is rather unsightly.”

There was a snicker, and a long, rambling speech about his first amendment rights, freedom of speech, assembly, the courts had deemed him covered by the constitution, and do-you-know-who-I-am …

Ryan tuned him out, and could probably write him a better speech. In his time in security, Sean had been railed at by experts. Lawyers, political consultants, handlers for celebrities, and practically anyone who could string together a grammatically correct compound, complex sentence had given him a piece of their mind.

Though in this case, he thought, I might tell this guy to hold onto what little of his he has left. He cleared his throat when the minister took a breath and said, “Make that a hundred yards.”

“Didn’t you hear a word I just—”

“A hundred meters.”

“Who do you think you—”

“Okay,” Ryan sighed, “now I just want you to leave the city. This town can’t be a hundred kilometers long.”

There was another snicker. “You can’t make us.”

Ryan cocked his head, then pointed down the street at the local police standing guard near one of the exits, and said, “No, but they can.”

“We haven’t done anything that we can be arrested for.”

“No?” Ryan caught a bit of reflected movement in the lens of his sunglasses. “But look, I wonder what this is.”

He stepped back, and the protestors slowly went silent at the two people who had come out of the main doors. A small crowd had gathered within the convention lobby to look, several of the con goers already giggling.

One was dressed in typical Jedi Knight attire of long brown robes, white karate uniform, and purple light saber. The only object out of place was a placard around the female Jedi’s neck—an 8.5″x11″ sheet that read “I [Heart] The Pope,” with a large silver Star of David pinned to the upper corner. The other carried a sign that looked like it had been stolen from one of the protestors on the street, with the trademark “God Hates [fill in the blank],” and the only thing he wore was a bright lavender bodystocking with great big glittery fairy wings.

Then they started a mock-dual reminiscent of a Richard Lester slapstick routine. The fairy looked more like he was prancing than fighting with his protest sign, and the Jedi took her job of cutting him to ribbons very seriously. The con crowd laughed hysterically—either at the fight or the blank stares of the protestors, no one could be sure.

“Hey,” someone called out from the group of protestors, “are they calling us fairies?”

A bottle came through the air, shattering on the ground between the protestors and the mock fighters.

Like pebbles starting an avalanche, mob mentalities were easy—it only takes one person to spark the casual simmer of rage and turn it into a full boil of violent action. Immediately after the glass shattered on the ground, there came a rain of water bottles, concrete stones from the pavement, rocks, and signs, accompanied by screams of pure hate.

Sean Ryan was already off to the side, standing next to a line of stormtroopers, who had all taken firing squad positions facing the protestors. When the line of bigots looked like they were ready to charge, Ryan held up a fist—a signal to hold fire. He reached down, grabbed one of the stormtroopers’ weapons, and raised it to his shoulder.

Ryan dropped to one knee, and the stormtroopers followed suit. “Aim for the body.”

It was at that point that the minister who led this protest wished he knew slightly more about science fiction. While the guns the stormtroopers held looked like blasters from Star Wars, they were actually H&K G11 submachine gun.

The minister turned to his flock of sheep, but they were already moving on the con goers. The convention attendees stayed inside the hall, and they looked like they were ready to meet the invaders.

Ryan nodded at one person in the crowd as he broke away, and ran towards the line of stormtroopers. Ryan called out, “Hold fire. Wait for the signal!”

The faux protestor made it to the line of stormtroopers and stopped behind them, like he had just reached home plate.

The protestors and the convention goers were only yards apart now.

Sean touched his iPod. The iPod was connected to his radio, so it immediately sent out the tune he picked to the earpieces of all of the stormtroopers.

The tune was John Williams’ Imperial March.

Everyone opened fire.

Rubber bullets hurt. That is a fact of life. And while making the bullets out of rubber limits the odds of penetration into the body, the worst thing that can happen is if someone takes one in the eye, but that is about it. However, shoot someone in the chest or stomach area, the worst that can happen is that will be a lot of pain involved.

Ryan’s first target was the leader, putting three rounds deliberately into his chest. The rest of his minions went down in a hail of rubber.

When all of the noise was over, a kid came out, who couldn’t have been more than eight years old. He was dressed in red and yellow scarf, wire rimmed spectacles, and carried a wand. He walked over to the heavily bruised body of the fallen minister, and shouted “Avada Kedavra!”accompanying it with a solid kick between his legs.


As the police hauled the protestors away, Ryan looked at the protestor who ran behind the line of stormtroopers. “So, why a bottle?”

Gregory Crawford, one of associates in Sean AP Ryan & Associates, smiled. “Well, I figured that the glass wouldn’t penetrate Athena’s Jedi robes, and the other guy was out of reach. And shattering glass is more dramatic than a rock going thud.

“True,” Ryan said with a nod. “Terry Pratchett isn’t here, and I think he copywrited Thud! already.” He looked back to the front of the Javits Center at the Jedi Knight he had sent out to entertain the convention goers, and to provoke the protestors.

Athena Marcowitz was built for her namesake—she was a 6’2″ African-Cuban-Irish-Jewish-Japanese-Chinese-Puerto Rican ex-Secret Service Agent and one of Ryan’s senior associates. Currently, she was with the police, giving them a statement in full, professional, Secret Service standard formality—possibly in triplicate, knowing her. By the time she was done, the police would be bored to death.

Ryan glanced over to the police wagon and smiled as the minister was the last one loaded on board. The police had the option of hauling all of them away in ambulances, but since there weren’t enough EMTs in the area to tend to everyone hit with a rubber bullet, the nearest prison infirmary was going to tend to the minister and his minions.

He put his hand next to his mouth and called out, “Hey, Mr. Felps, I guess the secretary will have to disavow all knowledge of your existence.”

The minister turned his head towards Ryan, and winced—apparently, one shouldn’t make too many sharp turns of the head after one has bounced their skull against the concrete.

“I have to ask,” Crawford began. “Where did you get the idea to provoke the crowd like that?”

“What? You mean plant someone in the crowd at one end, provoke them at the other? You really should pay attention to how they break up protestors in Iran.”

May 2018
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