The Idiot Imposter
fiction by Luke Fraser
. Of all the possible things that Daniel Briton could have imagined doing today, murdering a stranger would have been nowhere on his imaginary list. Yet, when he pushes aside the swinging door to his kitchen after returning home from work, he finds the end of a pistol pressed into his right cheek. Holding the gun is a man wearing a bright red tracksuit and a black ski mask. For a moment Briton looks beyond the barrel of the gun into space while his two cats, Lenny and Max, float into the room through his legs.
. “If you would be so kind as to sit down, sir,” says the man with the gun. Briton, who doesn’t care either way, obliges.
—SIX HOURS PRIOR—
Denman Forst, a man with thin lips and slicked-back hair, watched from his cubicle as Briton walked to the elevator for his lunch break. Mr. Forst is a petty research assistant at Briton’s firm who, in his idle moments, often fantasizes about improbable romantic scenarios between the two of them. Although Denman thought it was strange that Briton had no wife or children, that there might possibly be some terrible flaw in his personality that repulsed other people, he couldn’t help but ogle the man as he memorized the features of his face for those fleeting moments. Yes, Briton is your average Caucasian male, but Denman just loved the way that his eyebrows sat on his warm, brown eyes and the way that he combed over his hair. What a catch. With that thought, the elevator door closed and Briton hurtled down forty stories to the streets of New York.
. Of course, one cannot blame Mr. Forst. Briton is a somewhat attractive, middle-aged man. As far as intelligence goes, he is at least observant. In the fourth grade he won the annual spelling bee competition for the word “competition.” It seemed that none of the other children bothered to turn around to see what it might actually look like. His looks had attracted the occasional girlfriend in his youth, but none of them seemed to have stuck. Most often he felt he simply couldn’t relate to any one of the modest number of girls that had passed through his otherwise successful life, so he stopped trying. Male companionship was a matter of difficulty for him as well, but he managed to make at least one friend while he studied at Cornell University many years ago. Gary Fishkill was his partner in crime back then, but after a squabble over the ownership of their shared collection of Led Zeppelin records at the time of their graduation, the two parted ways forever with Briton making off like a bandit.
. Some years later, the night before this story takes place in fact, a morsel of Gary slipped into Briton’s life by chance. Gary was recently employed as a security guard at a meatpacking factory during a string of dead-end jobs. A month in, his boss told him that he was a good-for-nothing-limp-dick when it was discovered that he had slacked off during a few of his night shifts. Gary, unbeknownst to his boss, long ago acquired a disease that causes erectile dysfunction. Enraged by his boss’s comment, Gary managed to yank some of his human seeds out of his wilted member into one of the outgoing boxes of chicken breasts.
. That package made its way to an Italian restaurant where Briton often takes his dates. Last night Briton was there with a woman whom he had once shared a cab with to Grand Central. She fell in love with his salt and pepper look when he flashed his healthy-sized wallet at the end of the ride. At dinner they were just discussing the weather when their food was served. I believe the last thing to be said was, “You know, I just don’t believe the scientists. I mean, the Earth can’t just keep getting hotter, or else we’ll all die. I think they’re all just after my money.” This comment came from the woman sitting across from Briton.
. “Yeah, me too,” replied Briton, too hungry to care for conversation with food in front of him.
. Oddly enough, most of the money that the woman was concerned with was not actually hers. Only a small portion of it was a representation of her own income, the rest of it came from her father, a powerful man amongst the juggernaut powers of the wiener industry. He was the self-proclaimed Wiener King and, much to her chagrin, her father’s associates often referred to her as Princess Wiener.
. Briton didn’t know all this as he sat across from her, nor would he have cared if he did. In fact, he couldn’t even remember her name. He remembered holding her dainty hand and introducing himself in the cab, but he was too concerned with the shape of her lips as she pronounced her name to hear it.
. After a few minutes the waiter came to ask, “And how is dinner tonight?”
. “Gud, tanks,” mumbled Briton through a mouthful of chicken.
. Turning to the lady afterwards, he confided, “A little too salty for my taste.”
. That taste, you may have assumed, was the token of Gary that had travelled across five states only to get cooked into Briton’s meal. After dinner, Briton then shared his own seeds with the woman that he still couldn’t remember the name of. She slept over and this morning she kissed him on the cheek with a, “Bye Daniel.”
. He could only smile back at her and say, “Farewell… my dear.”
. A brief thought of his morning passed through Briton’s head as he walked along Broadway during his aforementioned lunch break. Although his interest passed on from his lady friend to nothing in particular, I can tell you that he certainly wasn’t worried about whether or not a gun would be pointed at his head that day. No, but in a few minutes he began to think of the rash on the middle knuckle of his right hand. Outside in the frosty afternoon it stood out like a summer-fresh grape tomato on his skin. He told himself not to itch it. He itched it anyways.
. The mysterious rash preoccupied his attention as he waited at a corner for a light to change. There, a homeless man dressed in tattered accretions of worn-out coats came up to him and pulled at his sleeve. “Mistuh, mistuh,” he said, “Can ye spare some change? Just some change s’all I ask fuh. Muh fam’lies in trouble mistuh.”
. Briton looked at the man whom he saw was wearing a fishing cap over mirrored aviator sunglasses that obscured most of his face. He also noticed in particular the dark handlebar moustache that curved down around the man’s lips.
. To his reflection in the sunglasses Briton said, “No, sorry sir.”
. He crossed the street, but the bum followed.
. “Oh, but mistuh whatevuh ‘appened to the good Chrisht’n spiruht? Can’tcha ‘elp a felluh during this most needy season?”
. “No, no, sorry. I’m a busy man.”
. Briton walked on for a few more seconds.
. “Well, you’ll shuh regret this, shuh you will Mistuh Briton.”
. With that comment Briton spun around, but there was no more sight of the homeless man. He wheeled back on his heels and paced a nervous double-step to get to lunch.
. Back at his office Briton could still hear those quick whispered words rattle through his head. As he stood in front of his secretary he motioned to the rash on his hand and asked, “Does this look like anything serious?” He was always inclined to ask obviously unimportant questions. She shrugged at him and went back to playing solitaire on her computer.
. Over the course of the afternoon, Briton checked and rechecked his email twenty times, even though he knew that his secretary’s secretary took care of all his online correspondences. He checked the weather forecast online before actually looking out the floor-to-ceiling window behind him to see if the change since the hour before was correct. He checked to see that his stocks were doing well, or rather, he checked to see that the stocks his accountant managed for him were doing well. They were. He searched for help for the rash on his hand before he realized that it had disappeared. He even browsed The New York Times website for a short while, but he had already read all of the movie reviews from the last week and grew tired of anything else. He contented himself by watching videos of kittens instead. There he was, a grown man at the age of forty-four, giggling to himself in his office over videos of cats sitting in boxes.
. At about a quarter past three the button on Briton’s phone lit up, it was his secretary. Apparently there was a research assistant who wanted to see him. Although he never liked to speak to people in person, he told her to let him in anyways. His afternoon in his office had been dull enough, as it was. After a few seconds Denman Forst crept into Briton’s office with a shaking folder between his hands.
. “H-hello, Mr. Briton, sir.”
. Briton looked him up and down and said, “Please, sit. What can I do for you?”
. “Well, you see, I’m just an assistant here, my name’s Denman Forst, but I thought I might try… I thought you might be interested in some new ideas.”
. “Ideas? What kind of ideas? This firm runs on tradition and precedence. Ideas can be a danger, young man.”
. “Yes, yes. Well, perhaps you’d like to give my ideas a shot. I think I’ve found areas where we can help save a lot of energy, and as you know, energy is something to be discussed these days.”
. Briton narrowed his eyes at the man in front of him. He could tell Denman was anxious by the way that he fidgeted with the folder in his hands. Whatever it was, he had already decided it was garbage from the moment that slick creep walked into his office.
“So, is this going to cost us anything?”
. “Well, you know, there’s start up fees and such, but in the long-term we could really help the rest of the world by taking these measures. Perhaps we could mitigate those costs if, well, if you were to make me your own personal assistant for the project.”
. Briton’s face turned into a grimace, but lucky for him at that moment his phone lit up again and so did his countenance. He didn’t hesitate to take it.
. “One second, please,” he said to Denman.
. According to his secretary there was now an urgent caller waiting for him, that the man had to talk to Daniel Briton right away, but she asked him if he wanted to wait until after his meeting with Denman was over. “No, I’ll take it now,” he replied. He then turned to Denman and said, “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to excuse me, Mr. Forst. Emergency.”
“Yes, yes of course Mr. Briton. Perhaps we can discuss this over lunch or… dinner sometime soon?”
. Briton waved his hand at the young man with a muttered, “Later, later.”
. After Denman vacated the room Briton pressed another blinking red button to patch through to the caller.
. “Hello, this is the office of Daniel Briton. Daniel speaking.”
. “Dan-i-el Briton.”
. “Yes, hi, this is he. How can I help you?”
. Again, the voice on the line said his name by adding an extra syllable in the middle of his first, “Dan-i-el Briton. So glad to meet you.”
. “Pleasure, but what did you say your name was?”
. “I didn’t. No need to worry though. My name, Danny, is Montgomery Quasar Watts the Fifth. You can call me Monty.”
. “Hi Monty.”
. “Hi Danny. Now listen, I’ve got… umm… some real bad news. I’ve got some good news too, but that… that’s besides the point.”
. “Yes, you see, here’s the bad news. In another couple decades you’re going to cause the complete meltdown of life on earth. I know this because my future self sent me a message to make sure that it happens.”
. “E-Excuse me? What kind of joke is this? I don’t have time for whatever you’re trying to sell.”
. The truth, though, is that he really did have time. He still had another thirty minutes until four o’clock when he could leave the office.
. “Nope, no jokes pal. You see you’re going to discover how to cure humans of all diseases, so to speak. That’s the good news, by the way. However, as I said, by doing so you’re going to send human civilization into complete turmoil. I’m calling to ensure that.”
. “I’m sorry Mr. Watts, but whatever this is, I simply don’t care. Good day.”
. Briton heard Monty say something through the receiver as he plunked it back down on the main line. What an odd day, he thought. The hobo, that intern, and the phone call. All weird. A nervous tick pulsed through his right leg and he sat with his face in his hand for the rest of the workday. He wondered what he would tell his cats when he got home. At four o’clock he already had on all his winter clothes and left the office. Denman was in the copy room checking out a new intern, so he didn’t see Briton when he walked to the elevator to leave for the day.
—THE PRESENT MOMENT—
. Monty, as you now know him, makes a big theatrical scene in Briton’s kitchen when he pulls off the ski mask and exclaims, “It is I, Briton, your one and only Monty!”
. Briton isn’t impressed at all. In fact, he really wishes he hadn’t eaten only a sandwich for lunch. By now he is simply dying of hunger. So are the cats.
. The man before Briton stares into his eyes. The one furry eyebrow that crawls across Monty’s forehead gives him a crazed appearance and Briton even thinks that he resembles a sea lion by the sad sags of wrinkles around his lips and handlebar moustache. For a brief moment they sit in silence. Briton knows he’s seen that moustache before, but he represses that idea from stirring in the back of his mind. Montgomery then smiles with the folds of his cheeks at Briton, who still can’t quiet his growling stomach.
. “Are you surprised?” the madman asks Briton.
. Briton takes a few seconds to take stock of what had happened since he got home besides the movements of his digestive system.
. “Well… no, not really surprised.”
. “Then how is it you suppose that this kidnapping is at all going to work?”
. “You, kidnap me?”
. “Yes, correct! Well, sort of, that is.”
. Briton laughs at his prank, “But I’m a grown man with no wife or children, you’ll get nothing from such a stunt.”
. “I’m not after valuable goods, I only want you yourself!”
. Briton scrunches his face at the man. “And that’s because?”
. “You remember our conversation from earlier? You are crucial to this world. Right now, this is how the end of the human race begins, you are the catalyst,” Monty says with a kind of titter at the end.
. Briton, on the other side of the table, still doesn’t know what to think about this ridiculous man. He keeps his eyes on Monty’s, unable to penetrate the intention behind them. However, a new thought occurs to Briton and he manages to make one thing clear. If Monty truly believes this farce about the end of the world, then his life is not in danger. Either Monty never intends to pull the trigger of that gun, or it isn’t loaded at all. He decides it’s both. With this he knows he has the upper hand. Unfortunately, he is wrong about the bullets.
. “To be honest, Monty, I’m quite hungry. I wouldn’t mind a bite to eat, if you’d excuse me.”
. “Of course! Can’t let the imminent destroyer of the world go hungry. Stay where you are, I’ll find something for you. I see you have some bread, will toast do Danny?”
. Monty takes a whole loaf of bread out of its package and puts it into the oven. Briton parts his lips to say something, but he feels too awkward to ask. Monty sits back down at the table with the gun pointed straight at Briton’s head.
. “So everything is clear, yes?” Monty asks.
. “No. Not at all. What is this end of the world business about?”
. “Well, you see, I’m here to ensure that you successfully accomplish that.”
. “Yeah, you’ve said that, but what exactly does that mean?”
. “Well, as I said over the phone, you are going to discover the cure to end all cures. That is, you are going to discover the cure for the single most important disease on Earth. Do you know which one that is?”
. Briton’s guess is as good as anyone’s, you see, but still not quite right. At the time that these two are alive this so-called cancer is an epidemic among the human race. Nearly everyone who hopes to live to a ripe old age or longer somehow becomes afflicted with a cancerous tumor, the precise cause of which is widely debated. As it is, however, most people wouldn’t accept the fact that perhaps there are simply too many humans living for too long. A natural culling of the herd, so to speak.
. “Well, yes, but no. You see, this is it! You are going to discover how to cure humans of death.”
. Death, too, is a fickle subject. It is a side effect of cancer, as well as many other kinds of afflictions, wounds, and maladies. Life, all life, is born at one point or another. Then it grows and lives until eventually it dies. Flowers wilt, many species get eaten, and, if they’re lucky, humans live long enough to shrivel up into incoherent raisins. In their society there are warring factions over what happens then. Briton is of the mindset that there is an afterlife. He is wrong. Monty believes that there is nothing beyond their Earthly existence. He is right.
. “Wh… what did you just say?”
. “Death, you will conquer death.”
. “No, that’s impossible.”
. “Wrong again,” Monty squeals in excitement, “Here’s your proof.”
. Monty takes a folded square of paper from the sleeve of his jumper and places it onto the table. “Go ahead, read it.”
TO MONTGOMERY QUASAR WATTS V,
I hope that by the time you receive this message it will be about one hundred years in the past from now, the year 2114 C.E. If you’re wondering why you, MONTGOMERY WATTS, discovered this letter in a sealed 1984 edition of PLAYBOY, that is because I intended you to find it there on December 16th, 2014, after purchasing the magazine from an antiques shop in BROOKLYN, NEW YORK. It was the most suitable stitch that I could find to sew this message into the time continuum. I would have come myself, but the universe doesn’t work that way apparently.
In our current time, all human society on Earth is on its way to total demise. Our greatest ancestor, PRESIDENT DANIEL FAIRFAX BRITON, discovered the CURE for the ultimate disease known as DEATH. In the year 2017, it was he who accidentally discovered how to turn off the human aging process. However, not all death has been abolished. Only old age and illnesses no longer affect our race. People still kill people. Biological processes don’t. Thus, because humans have become the primary agents of ending life, there is no such thing as death, just destruction.
From the moment it happened, it took Briton little time to discover that he ceased to be aging normally. His hair grew, his heart had a beat, and he could still eat and pass waste if he wanted to, but something just felt different. A strange new protein, now referred to as BRIT-PRO, had been formed in his cells without him knowing, ultimately paralyzing the aging process of his body. That protein also has the ability to produce the most powerful antibodies known to humans because they can defend us from any micro-assailant and even repair DNA.
Since then, massive populations have been vaccinated with the BRIT-CURE, as we call it. It is designed to paralyze the aging process at the time of vaccination. The only side effect, however, is that anyone who takes it becomes sterile. In the wake of such a devastatingly powerful vaccine, all civilization has ceased to have any meaning, which is just delightful if you think about it. Soon, we hope, Earth will be rid of the worst people through war and anarchy. Then the planet can return to an Eden of sorts with only the best of company still alive.
NOW THIS IS IT, YOUR MISSON:
It is your DUTY to see that Briton produces that protein. The Briton of your future, as well as the Briton of our past, does not know exactly when or how it is supposed to occur. All we know is that it happened shortly after he became the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, an election that is IMPERATIVE for you to orchestrate. Best of luck.
YOUR FUTURE SELF, MONTGOMERY QUASAR WATTS V
Dream-spire Technician and Blorg-shop Surveyor of The Knights of Adam
. To Briton, the meaning of all the seeming ridiculousness of Monty’s note becomes obvious to him in the shape of a grin. A joke! A great joke! In a boost of ego, he imagines that he must be on television. He isn’t.
. Monty must be the host of some new reality show and he’s one of the first contestants. One of his friends must have set this up. But really, Briton’s delusions couldn’t be further from the truth. Besides, he doesn’t have any friends.
. In reality, Montgomery Quasar Watts V is not even the madman’s real name. The person in Briton’s kitchen is actually a man named David Alexander Smith, one of those horrible, generic names that offer no sense of identity to those who bear it. Montgomery Quasar Watts V, in contrast, is fantastic and unique, which is why Dave chose it for his alter ego.
. David Smith, you see, is a forty-nine year old widower with a single child and the ownership of a carwash in Bethlehem, New Jersey. His wife Cecilia passed away four years ago. But as you know, she didn’t actually pass on to anywhere in particular. At the time of her death, David was in the office of his carwash in the process of balancing on the back legs of his chair, as he often did while he was at work. He was wearing the shirt with the logo of the carwash over his breast, “Randy’s Carwash!” Often customers would come up to David and say, “Nice to meet you Randy.” In a fit of awkwardness, David would never correct them. Randy was his father, who had passed the carwash on to him. He also passed away, too, but you know, not really.
. So when David was stealing idle moments in his office on that fatal day, Cecilia no longer existed. Earlier that day she had intended to drive to Manhattan to visit their daughter. As she drove across the George Washington Bridge the driver of a tractor-trailer to her left fell asleep at the wheel and sent both of them off the bridge into the Hudson River. A few hours later the phone rang in David’s office. Still balanced on the back legs of his chair, he picked it up. The shock of the news sent him teetering back onto the bare cement floor. There, his life fluids swirled around his office for a short while until one of his employees discovered him and called an ambulance. David fell into a strange sort of mania following the traumatic episode of his wife’s death and the bump on his head. It was around then that Monty came into being.
. Now, Montgomery Quasar Watts V is the kind of man who breaks into the homes of boring people under the pretense that they are going to bring about the end of the world. David Smith is not. Most often his ruse works because his stories and theatrics are so priceless that he leaves his victims in shock for the rest of their lives. One woman, by the name of Nancy Adelman, believed David so much that she waited for months trying to figure out how to produce that protein. Eventually she became so anxious that her mental health deteriorated to the point where she believed she was absolutely invincible. Unfortunately, it seems that humans can’t survive falling from the roof of a forty-story building. Not all of his victims follow the same exact pattern, but most do become paralyzed by the shock of their encounter. However, I have to say that it only works most of the time because in the case of Daniel Briton, either because he’s too intelligent or too simple minded, it doesn’t.
. “So do you understand now, Danny?” asks Dave, still under the guise of Monty.
. “Yes, of course, when do we begin?”
. “That’s the spirit! Let’s see, we’ll need to begin our tour right away, right away. We don’t have too much time before the next elections in 2016, so we may as well get started soon. Do you have some paper?”
. “Yeah, go grab some in the office through there,” Briton says as he points to the door next to the fridge.
. David disappears into the next room while Briton sits alone in the kitchen. He picks up the gun that Dave left behind on the table. Never before did Briton ever have a reason to hold a gun in his life. “He must think I’m a damned fool,” he says to himself, “Either that, or it’s a test… That’s it! I’ll beat him at his own game, I’ll show him for the sham he is!”
. When David strolls back through the door with a handful of paper he stops and arches his eyebrow over his wide eyes. Before him stands Briton in the center of the kitchen with the gun pointed at his forehead.
. “Bang! Bang! Gotcha!”
. Whether from lapse of judgment or from actual intent, Briton then pulls the trigger. The papers explode around David as the bullet passes through his skull to the door on the other side. It is probably evident, but humans need their heads. Without them intact they pass on, as they say. The hole that Briton punctures through David’s is enough to send life out of his body in milliseconds.
. When Briton realizes what he’s done, the nervous tick pulses through his right leg once again and he drops to his knees with water running from his eyes. Humans call this crying, it’s a sign that they believe the universe is unjust. As I’m sure you know by now, that belief couldn’t be further from the truth. Briton doesn’t know it, but there isn’t actually any point for him to be upset right now. Tears won’t change the fact that David Smith is in a better place. That is, you know, he exists nowhere.
. After some time Briton manages to stifle his bleating cries and pull himself together. He goes up to his bedroom and about thirty minutes later he comes back down his front hall stairs with a packed suitcase and a travel crate for Lenny and Max. He leaves without locking the door or turning off the oven. David’s untouched body, left sprawled out over a mess of blood-soaked pages, also remains.