Welcome to the Flambé Dunk Tank (With a Nod to Cormac McCarthy)

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Welcome to the Flambé Dunk Tank (With a Nod to Cormac McCarthy)

The ruinous hordes worshipped the sun baked carnival machines. Oil churned and dripped like crimson sustenance to bones now crushed to dust. The heavy breathing of those sworn to Immortan Joe’s loyalty syncopated to the rising howl of flames penetrating the fire breathing dunk tank called Flambé. Their cracked, cancerous lips jerked gaudy and bruised while the machine engulfed the first occupant laden with protective gear all shine and chrome and they raised their hands in a violent triumph as if to suggest some cosmic specter of fate demanded them to bolster the sun up noonward. The flames rise at a barbarous tenor swinging circles inside the tank, still confined but radiant, baking the backs of the Boys now standing foot to foot up to fifty paces back. The warmth danced between the sweltering maze of pressed shoulders and shaken hands like a curious convection almost as if it too waited for its turn to throw the sand crusted ball.

What more certain validation of a man’s worth can there be than this ball striking this target? The universe spent untold millennia placing the atoms of this ball in the same mote of dust as the Citadel just in reach of a black thumb named Kenny from the Two Bit Circus who built this macabre mechanization of crackling brimstone. Now in this swelteringly fatalistic inferno stands another Boy ready to deliver a satisfying throw.


The thrown ball had a perfect arc which quenched the thirst of chalky bloodlust. The dunk tank bellowed with flame and pushed and howled at another throw as the occupant flirted with immolation. They knew that only a battle could truly slake their thirst for Valhalla but they never ignore a whisper. That is the way it was and will be. That and not some other way.

In the distance Immortan Joe grinned beneath his horse-toothed mask. War Boys are born for games, he said. Nothing else. War Boys know the merit of game is not solely on the game itself but on the value of the hazard. These trials of chance or skill all aspire to the condition of war and a chance to glance at Valhalla and see my glory in that shiny reflection.

Into the night the Boys’ fires danced for Immortan against god, against reason, with a clay grain and thunderous singing that he would never die. The War Rig’s mission would be tomorrow and in the confines of the Boys and Joe were no divinations of the transgressions that Furiosa spun into fate. The cascading Citadel waters would no longer erode these sad stories and just as the Flambé burned carnal joys into the damned retinas there in the shadows welled the desire for freedom. They were not things, and they would not be silent.


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is a graphic designer for Make: Magazine. His life is defined by three B's: Bikes, Burgers, Battlestar Galactica. Tiny electric car enthusiast and founder of the Power Racing Series. (www.powerracingseries.org)

Also helped start a hackerspace that one time and tricked himself into thinking he didn't write this in the third person.

View more articles by James Tiberius Burke


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