George Goner firstname.lastname@example.org
Cassidy watched the war on television. It looked fake. The destroyed buildings and the mangled vehicles looked as fake as the destroyed cities in Japanese monster movies he watched as a kid Saturday afternoons on The Creature Double Feature. Godzilla vs The Thing, Yog, Monster From Space, and Ghidrah the Three- Headed Monster. They looked real, but his dad carefully explained that the cities were models, and the monsters were people wearing costumes. All his life, Cassidy nursed a suspicion that his dad had lied to him. The voices he heard behind the walls agreed: If the Godzilla movies were fake, the war in Iraq must be fake, too. Or vice versa...
And the tsunami that struck Indonesia and killed 250,000 had not been real. He had had his doubts about that one from the first: the train knocked off its tracks and onto its side in the news footage looked very much like the train wreck in the film Rodan.
Cassidy debated: fake footage in the news reports, or real film footage in the Creature Features? The problem seemed insoluble, especially when the voices from the walls grew too loud for his poor brain to hear itself think. He sat on the couch, waiting for the voices to subside. When they did, he stood with sudden resolve. In the silence of the room, a revelation filled him. Cassidy felt like Paul on the road to Damascus, or John the Divine, driven insane by the seven vials of the Apocalypse. But this couldn't be insanity. His thoughts felt much too clear.
He hurried down to the basement of his apartment house. From there, he exited through the back door to the supply shed.
He returned with a five-gallon gasoline can.
Cassidy splashed the can's contents around the basement. The stink of hydrocarbons singed his nostrils. He tip-toed over to the door, trying not to get too much flammable mess on his shoes. Hand on the door latch, he reached into his shirt pocket for his monogrammed lighter.
I am real. If I feel the heat of the flames, the fire is real. A horrible doubt: I am real, aren't I?
He hesitated. The voices whispered: maybe. Maybe not.
Cassidy thought: Even if I throw the lighter, and this building burns like Hokkaido in War of the Monsters, does it mean anything? I'm in an insane asylum dreaming of a basement. Maybe I fell asleep in front of the TV and it's Saturday afternoon and I'm eight years old. No. This is real. I can get burned. I can go to jail. For good this time! The idea terrified him. Cassidy decided to call the whole thing off. With a thrill of extra horror, he realized he had flicked the lighter into flame.
That close. I came that close before the circuit-breakers kicked in. Dear God, I need help. A sudden fear struck him that the reeking fumes alone might be enough to cause the room to ignite. His mouth went dry. His hand trembled.
Step outside. Don't even risk moving your finger to close the lighter. The fumes churned his stomach, scratched his throat, made his eyes water. I'm frozen in place. The palm of his hand felt slick and sweaty against the lighter's smooth metal. Take a step back. I'm doing it. Another...
"Hey, Cassidy! What the fuck you doing? Hey!"
The landlord's voice behind him. Too close.
The door opened inwards. It struck Cassidy's back and shoulder. He fell forward into the hot Woosh! of igniting vapor. Just before his eyes melted and his brain cooked, he heard the channel 56 program host of countless Saturday afternoons say, "There's more Creature Double Feature coming your way... if you can stand it!"