Flying north down the highway, I could finally see the Glen C. Jackson bridge on the horizon. With a new flat-screen TV, DSLR camera, and other various electronics obscured in the trunk, I felt like a frantic thief on the run. Not that I was an actual thief though, honest. I purchased everything, just like any other responsible citizen. But, in the glorious state of Oregon, it was all tax-free baby. I’m a Washington State resident however and so is my girl here, who just bought about a thousand dollars’ worth of clothes. According to the Washington State government, people like us are not paying their so called ‘fair share’. But, who can blame us? We’re just regular people like yourself, doing our best to make a living.
You couldn’t imagine the savings you can make when you play your cards right. Working and living in Washington while shopping in Oregon, it’s brilliant.
Although, the savage bureaucrats in the capital cities of Olympia and Salem have done all they can to put an end to this game lately. Revenue agents have been on the prowl all along the Washington/Oregon border, snatching up unsuspecting offenders and making them cough up their fair share, by charging them a ‘user tax’ in the form of a fine. Oh, the horror.
Oregon residents are no angels either mind you. They’ve been coming up here in swarms, and snatching up job positions the second an employer has an opening. Only now, they’ve been getting the heat too. After finishing their tax services, they get slammed with a giant income tax bill mailed to them, courtesy of the Oregon State Capitol.
The game has certainly become tougher to play, thanks to the cooperation of enforcement between both state capitals. But we knew what we were up against after studying their deviant methods and learning from other scapegoats’ failed attempts. Recently, due to the increase of enforcement, there had been an attempted terror attack on the Washington State Capital by a psychotic anarchist. He was an Andrew Joseph copycat, who attempted to fly a plane into the capital. But he failed miserably, and ended up crashing somewhere in the Washington state wilderness, and was mauled to death by grizzlies before any revenue agents could get to him.
We just crossed the border now, and there are no agents in sight. I can see a glistening spark in my girl’s eyes. These trips get her so hot. I’ll be the luckiest guy on the planet tonight if we pull this off. Almost there, just another minute until, mother of God what is… “SWEET JESUS!”
The whole bridge vibrates as if a shockwave had struck it. But this was no earthquake. The remainder of the bridge was now completely blocked. Looks like I won’t be getting lucky tonight after all. But that was the last thought on my mind by now, with this eerie sight slithering ahead of us. Dear God…those are tentacles.
I’m so mesmerized by the sight of them that I fail to notice the frantic traffic screeching to a halt behind me as I step out of the car, and my girlfriend’s screams from inside fade to muffled static.
I tip-toe glacially, like a cautious doe to the edge of the bridge. Then, when I finally muster the courage to peer down, my nerves go numb as a corpse. It was like staring into a portal of an alternate dimension; a gigantic eye, infrared with radiant fury. This creature had haunted me all throughout my childhood, especially whenever my father had taken me out sailing in the Columbia River or the Pacific Ocean. I was never a fan of the water. Once I grew up I scoffed it off of course, as being nothing but a silly myth. Only now, here it was. The creature itself, manifested in the flesh. The Kraken.
There’s no way to explain how petrified I felt, the second I locked eyes with the beast. No matter how I tried, I could not look away. Its skin was flickering between colors like a kaleidoscope, paralyzing my brain with its hypnotic spell…
The world goes white, absent of any substance or color. Out in the distance, there’s a figure that emerges in the blank horizon. An eerie silhouette, cast across my hazy vision.
With every step I take, an hour seems to pass. Time feels awfully distorted in whatever strange realm this is.
After what feels like an eternity, I’m finally able to make out what this figure truly is. A man, cupping his hands over what appears to be an imaginary fire. When the man turns around, my legs buckle under and I collapse to my knees when his face is revealed.
“Son.” The man says. No, it can’t be…
“Son!” he demands. “Square your debts, or pay the price of eternity!”
Before I can gather my thoughts, my consciousness fades from sight.
“Mark! Mark! Get the fuck up Mark!”
Shit… I awaken to my girlfriend standing over me going ballistic. Did I get into an accident? Did I dream it? Holy fuck…
No, it wasn’t a dream by any means. The flaring tentacles were still there, blocking the road. Behind us, horns and tempers continue to blare away hysterically. But, that hardly matters to me now. What was it truly, that I had just arrived back from? A place of limbo trapped between Heaven and Hell? Purgatory? Or…
I hear what sounds like a jackhammer being jolted into the asphalt, and I jerk my head to see a huge pair of boots just a few feet away, as another shockwave rattles the bridge.
“ENOUGH!” a voice roars from above them, rendering the blaring horns to a paralyzed silence.
Sweet mother of God…it’s him. Davy Fucking Jones. His physical features shared a slight resemblance to his portrayal on Pirates of the Caribbean: A tentacled face and a lobster claw hand. But there were striking differences also. This savage caricature had blood-curdling eyes like an arachnid, and all eight of them had vertical slits for pupils like a venomous serpent. He had reptilian teeth, and his face, tentacles, and claw hand were all submerged in a collage of moss and lichen as well.
That chilling arachnid gaze turned away from the traffic jam and pierced into my soul. Then, he spoke. Words that would haunt me until the end of time…
“You have a debt to pay.”
My heart sank. The game was up.
“What are you talking about man?” I replied, crawling backwards to my car slowly, like a crab.
My girlfriend had fled the scene it seemed…no there she is, cowering behind the trunk of the car.
“There is no escaping the taxman Mark. I’m sure you are perfectly aware of User Taxes as a Washington State residentuh.”
“I can’t say that I have.” I replied like a fool.
There was no audible reply. One second he’s a few feet away, then the next thing I know my neck is latched in the shackle-like grasp of his lobster claw.
“The last thinguh, you want to do is take me for a fool Mark!” he spat in my face before releasing me. “Now tell me. What’s in the trunk?”
“I plead the fifth.”
“HA!” he proclaimed, shattering the car’s windshield with his lobster claw. “Do you now boy!?”
“Just open the trunk Mark!” my girlfriend shrieked from behind the car.
But I didn’t budge, and remained silent.
“He appears to be a slow learner.” Jones voiced over to her, before turning back to me. “Your constitutional rights have been revokeduh.” He said, handing me a paper as proof of an issued search warrant. “So, I’ll ask again, what’s in the trunk?”
I still remained silent, as Jones walked over to the edge of the bridge and peered down.
“TO THE DEPTHS!”
A deafening squeal erupted from below as I helplessly watched a gigantic tentacle launch into the air and snatch up my girlfriend.
“NO! Wait!” I cried out.
But it was too late. The Kraken yanked her down into the frigid depths of the unforgiving Columbia River. Then, Jones turned to me with a sadistic smile.
“One year in the locker for every dollar she owes in taxes, and you’ll share the punishment unless you’re ready to cooperate.”
Words could not come to my mouth, as I was still visibly shaken from that terrifying sight. So, I nodded immediately like an obedient mutt.
“Open the trunk.”
I did as I was told, remembering my father’s words: “Square your debts.”
Wait. Where is it all?
“What sorcery is this!?” Jones shouted at the empty trunk.
Before I could react, I was once again locked in the chokehold of his deadly claw. He hoisted me over the edge of the bridge and I hung there helplessly in his asphyxiating grip, as the Kraken roared below with ravenous hunger.
“Deceit will cost you an eternity boy! Tell me where she hid the plunder, or to the depths with ya!”
I did all I could to muster an answer, but then I saw a sudden sparkle in his eyes as if an epiphany had already hit him. He swung me over and dropped me onto the pavement, where I flopped about like a fish gasping for air.
I watched in horror as he tore off the passenger door to get a better look inside my car.
“AH HA!” he cackled from inside. “Too bad she forgot the receiptuh!”
I already knew I was fucked, but then a far more daunting revelation hit me. It was too late to react on though. He was rummaging through a life’s worth of incriminating evidence that I had sloppily left behind in my glove compartment; an endless pile of previous receipts. He placed them all into a suitcase and stomped towards me as I squirmed sheepishly in the pavement.
“Not even Donald Trumpuh, could afford to pay your debt. Your lifetime of tax evasion from the state of Washington has reached a costly end. Now tell me Mark…” he said, unsheathing a blood-spattered blade. “do ya fear death?”
“NO! DON’T! I CAN PAY YOU!” I squealed like a swine about to be slaughtered.
But he pinned me down like a rabid bull, and stuck the blade to my throat. Those arachnid eyes sent seizing tremors through my bladder, and before I knew it my jeans were soaked in putrid shame.
“HA HA HA!” he suddenly cackled, and released me. “Your snowflake generation is so easy to break.”
He stood up and peered west with an amused yet repulsed grin, then recited my grim fate.
“Fortunately for you your crimes will not cost you your life. But it will cost you your soul.”
I laid there in a puddle of piss, with traumatized eyes recoiling in bewilderment.
“You will be billed what you owe from the state, and whatever amount is left after your accounts are drained will be served upon the Dutchman.” He said, pointing to a ship with tattered sails hovering off the shore of Vancouver.
“One year of servitude per dollar owed.”
“And of my girlfriend?” was all I could mutter out.
“An eternity in the locker. A fitting punishment for her deceit. The state of Washington doesn’t take dumping evidence into the Columbia River too kindly boy.”
That would be the last question he would answer. The bridge was littered with too many offenders to fit on the Dutchman after I boarded it. So, Jones let his pet finish them off, an awfully horrid scene. The Kraken decimated the bridge and feasted upon the remainder of them. The Columbia River has illuminated a crimson shade ever since.
After the tax services in Olympia finished their calculations, I was due to serve 10,000 years of labor upon the Dutchman to square their debt. (Which was getting off too easy according to Jones)
It has been a year now since that dreadful day. The I-5 bridge was torn down as well, and both states have become separate countries. The ship remains on duty in the Columbia River, and we’re ordered to shoot down anyone attempting to cross state lines. Portland remains weird as always (or so I’m told) but, Vancouver and the surrounding towns have appeared to vanish off the face of the Earth. After the Glenn F. Jackson bridge collapsed, everyone panicked and fled north to Seattle. Anyone who immigrated here from California have now been deported or thrown in prison, ever since both states have seceded. Serves them right though, they’ve been pillaging our land for long enough…Jesus. This ship has completely sodomized my moral codes. I suppose it’s true what the veteran crew members say; Part of the crew, part of the ship. It’s a curse that injects itself into your bloodstream, and your consciousness dissipates with every day that passes. Ignore Horace Greeley’s advice, stay away from the west and save yourself from the depths.