“Pizza Boy” is an exclusive extract from After the War: Stories from the New Regime, a collection of short stories published by Passage Press. “After the War: Stories From the Next Regime asks /ourguys/ to answer the question “What comes next?” Including stories from the likes of Bronze Age Pervert, Raw Egg Nationalist, Mike Anton, and dozens of others plus a foreword from Zero H.P. Lovecraft, this anthology takes readers to Hyperborean battlegrounds, interplanetary space stations, Pacific Island cargo cults, and sinking battleships to imagine our circumstances leading up to, during, and after the great cataclysm that awaits us.”
Once upon a time, around about when things finally started to go right, this New York office space, all 20,000 square feet of it, had been the headquarters of a magazine called Rolling Stone. Nobody talked about Rolling Stone any more these days – in fact, they’d stopped talking about it long before it folded – but for a while it was considered the future of popular magazine journalism. A heady, exciting mix of music, politics and culture, unlike anything that had come before. That was the late 1960s. A very different time in America.
A very different time for the world.
Now that the stone had well and truly stopped rolling, the moss could finally begin to gather. There was a new magazine in town, full of promise. Its name was MAN’S WORLD.
The CEO of that promising magazine, a British gentleman who used to go by the anonym “Raw Egg Nationalist” (and sometimes still did, largely for reasons of nostalgia), was in his office. John Winthrop – for that was his name – wore an exquisite chalk pinstripe suit from Huntsman of London, John Lobb shoes from Jermyn Street, a shirt from Budd’s of Piccadilly and a yellow silk tie he’d picked up from Boggi in Milan. No pocket handkerchief – of course.
His silver lapel pin bore the slogan, “Barron for Chancellor 2032”.
He turned from the full-length window and pressed a button on the desk. After a harsh buzz, he was greeted by the far more pleasing sound of his secretary’s voice.
“Yes, Mr Winthrop? How can I be of help?”
“Eva, I’d like a double espresso, an ice-cold bottle of San Pellegrino” – Sol Brah’s orders – “and six duck eggs in a pint glass with a shot of tabasco.”
“Of course, Mr Winthrop.”
He loved the emphasis. Eva was charming, beautiful. Dutch. She was the best hire he’d ever made.
He ordered the same thing every day, three times, and three times every day she’d enter the room a few minutes later bearing a little tray with his drinks on it. The drinks were always, without fail, perfect – the espresso topped with a rich silky crema, the sparkling water as cold as if it had been retrieved direct from an alpine stream, the quantity of tabasco just enough to cut through the richness of the pastured duck eggs – but really it was the way she delivered them. The almost unbearable sexual spark she was able to ignite in her progress from door to desk. The way she laid out the drinks in front of him on three BPA-free paper coasters, her breasts drawing near to his face as she leaned across him. The little smile she gave before turning. And then the long walk back to the door, affording him plenty of time to study her tight little ass from Nijmegen or wherever it was the Dutch were growing all of these incredible blondes.
Not a word was ever said during this thrice-daily ritual.
The man formerly known as Raw Egg Nationalist chewed on the thought of Eva in her short pencil skirt for a few minutes, while he waited for her customary rap-rap-rap.
You can imagine his surprise, then, when instead of Eva’s gentle ingress the door was practically kicked off its hinges. A man appeared in the doorway, sweating and attired in a manner that could only be described as “comically dishevelled”. The interloper swept across the floor to the desk with the grim resolve of one of those terminally harassed waiters that work St Mark’s Square in the summer months. It was warm in the building; but no man had any right to be perspiring to this extent.
“Your, uh, drinksh, uh, Mishter, uh, Winshrop,” he spluttered, with an accent that placed him somewhere south or perhaps east of the Alps. Rome or Romania – it wasn’t clear. The man presented the tray on one hand, tucking his other hand behind his back and bowing forward with a perfunctory bit of mock-ceremony. An unnerving approximation of a smile spread across his face.
Something about this chap seemed familiar…
“Yes. Well… er, thank you for that.” Winthrop removed the drinks, one by one, from the tray, doing his best to keep his distance, and placed them directly onto the antique green leather of what had once been his grandfather’s writing desk.
As he peered into the espresso cup and tried to fathom its contents, he noticed that the fellow hadn’t moved an inch. There he was, standing in the same spot with the same forced look of… whatever it was plastered across his face.
“Is there something else?”
“The dishident right!” he exclaimed, standing up straight and raising a finger as if in revelation.
“The dishident right!” the man exclaimed a second time, finger still raised.
“The dissident right!?” That was a phrase Winthrop hadn’t heard or used for some time.
“Yesh. I wash in the dishident right, jusht like you. I ushed to hath a magathine, jusht like you.”
Winthrop squinted at him for a moment. Aha! He remembered! Back in the early days that savagely balding pate had been the beginnings of a Norwood 5, and the grossly distended belly a mere paunch, but still it was unmistakably – him. Now, what was his name?
“Well, well,” Winthrop said uneasily. “How far the mighty have fallen! Time is a cruel mistress and all that. I jest, of course. How are things… er… my friend?”
“Itsh been up and down. But I’m shtill writing and publishing. Shtill looking to make it big. Here…” The man began fishing around frantically in his trouser pockets, which only added to the impression of a demented vagrant. Winthrop made a note to himself to have a panic alarm installed under the desk.
At last, with immense satisfaction, the man presented a pile of crumpled papers and set them down next to the drinks.
The CEO of MAN’S WORLD leaned forward. It was a cheaply printed pamphlet with a meaningless title that was impossible to pronounce. “Art and Literature for the New Dissident Mainstream” ran the subtitle. Winthrop bit his lip and began turning the pages.
He counted the words “Operation Paperclip” at least four times. “Dreaming of Trumpwave”. “The New Blackpilled Bad Boys”. Something about Dua Lipa. This was the same drivel this chap had been publishing ten years ago, to no discernible effect.
“You’ll read it?”
Winthrop looked up at the man, and was greeted, to his surprise, by the face of a child. At this moment he knew the wrong word could, quite literally, be fatal.
“Yes, I’ll read it. I’ll let you know what I think. Give my secretary your details and I’ll be in contact. Now, I have work to be getting on with – once I’ve enjoyed this delicious coffee, of course.”
The man smiled and then stood to attention, performing a little salute. As he reached the door, he looked back and said, “I knew you would like isht!”
Winthrop studied the contents of the espresso cup again, then put his hand on the glass bottle of sparkling water. Warm. He didn’t even look at the eggs.
Satisfied that the man would now be on his way out of the building, he pressed the buzzer for the second time that day.
“Yes, Mr Winthrop. How can I be of help?”
“Eva, I don’t ever want to see that man again.”
There was a short pause.
“Yes, Mr Winthrop. You never will. Is there anything else?”
“No, Eva. That’s all. Actually – wait. I’d like a double espresso, an ice-cold bottle of San Pellegrino, and six duck eggs in a pint glass with a shot of tabasco.”