The River Cannon
rating: +17+x

Rivers fucking suck.

Or at least that's Luke's core philosophy. Growing up in Nevada was something he didn't appreciate until he moved out. The dry and barren paradise was a safe haven from these stupid flowing bodies of water; their white rapids just glistened with a smug aura that Luke couldn't explain to anyone without sounding insane. This strange phenomenon of constantly being ridiculed, obviously caused by the rivers too. What he could explain was how his life turned for the worse when these fucking rivers flowed into his life.

At the age of 12, his family moved to Chicago, the God-forsaken city bordering Lake Michigan. Big mistake. Luke didn't have a bone to pick with lakes specifically, but did his parents not know the number of rivers that were birthed from that monstrosity? Perhaps his parents were just unaware of its disgusting, evil intentions. Anyways, he dropped his Bionicle into the Chicago River the day they moved in. Looking back, that son of a bitch probably grabbed the toy on purpose. From then on, his teenage years were only a string of river-related mishaps. The many times the school bullies threw him into the stream behind the school, the many items he's lost to these liquid thieves, and the loss of his family.

Well, the river didn't kill his mom per se, but his parents got a divorce and she moved into a new house next to the Chicago River. First his Bionicle, and now his mother. Luke developed a deep hatred for all things rivers, the sole cause of all his misfortune in life.

18 years later, he finally saved up enough money to buy a house in the rural parts of Illinois. Away from Lake Michigan and away from all these accursed bodies of water. After two decades of hearing the rivers and their mocking splashes and currents, it was all coming to an end. He grabbed the listing online and settled in almost immediately. He looked around his new home and sighed. He may have spent most of his life savings, but it was worth it. Luke lay down on his bed, content with his escape from the rivers.

Free at last, he thought to himself as he drifted into a deep sleep.

Luke woke up the next day relaxed; it was the best sleep he'd had in ages. He thought a nice way to start the day would be a walk in the wilderness behind his home. The late morning sun was warm but still had the cool touch leftover from the night before. Truly it was a beautiful day. The trees were rustling in the wind, the birds were singing, the river was—



The river…

The river


Boiling rage poured out of Luke's body in every way imaginable, his eyes went bloodshot, a guttural roar escaped his throat, and the veins on his forehead popped out so much they looked like they were going to burst.

How? HOW!? How is this POSSIBLE!?

He had specifically chosen this property near the forest to avoid these things! Luke was extremely smart so he knew that trees absorbed water through their roots. So according to his sound logic, all these trees sucking up the water should mean that rivers shouldn't exist in this place!

Luke had to calm down. He had to figure this out. He racked his brain for the possibilities —could the property agent have scammed him? Was she working with the rivers? No. Rivers can't talk. Even Luke knew that. Were the trees just not working hard enough? Luke kicked the nearest birch tree when this thought crossed his mind. Of course! These were river birch trees! These motherfuckers were working together!

Regardless of the circumstances, the river was here and it needed to go. Luke had a closer look at the river. It was a small creek no more than six feet wide. A puny annoyance that could be easily removed with a bit of elbow grease and the right tools. Luke sprinted back into his home in search of something that could dispose of this intruder quickly. He thrashed around in a sweaty and hateful mess, trying to find anything that could assist him until he found it.

He gripped the tool in his hand. This would do nicely.

Luke approached the small stream once again, fiery hatred burned hot in his soul but that wasn't enough to boil the river away. He steeled himself to step into the river and end this. The current of the river taunted him and caressed his ankles. Luke took this as a final plea for mercy before its painful demise. His new home would be riverless once more and be his dry utopia! Luke screamed and attacked the river, aiming to give it a painful death.

Hours later, the river wasn't dead. Luke was exhausted, puzzled as to why stabbing the river with his kitchen knife wasn't working. Seeing as his current strategy had failed, he retired for the day to come up with a new solution. Now with his day wasted, he returned to his bed defeated.

Luke didn't sleep well. The stream was so small and so weak yet he couldn't defeat it, like the 15-year-old who stole his McNuggets last week. He tried to challenge the little devil to an honorable duel for his food but it was too elusive and Luke had to pay for another box. Clearly another agent of the rivers trying to make his life more difficult.


Little… Devil?


Luke had an idea.

The final candle was lit. Dark and unholy symbols covered the walls. A large summoning circle, intricately painted with the blood of a sow, stained the floor. The air felt cold and lifeless as if something had left the room and its sole occupant. Luke took a deep breath. He knew he did this correctly because of course he did. They kicked him out of magic school because he was correct. He was correct about everything.

He placed his hand on the summoning circle and spoke. Ancient words of power flowed out from his lips, resonating with the runes and symbols plastered across the walls. A blasphemous cry erupted from the summoning circle but it did not belong to any man. A red creature, tall and overflowing with power, stepped out. It hunched over unnaturally low as if its spine was as flexible as its tongue. The demon adjusted the mask on its face carved from an elephant's skull and pulled a ragged hood over its head. It shuddered, allowing itself to adjust to this new realm. Finally, it speaks:

"GRYAAAHAHAHAHHHHHH. ONCE MORE I STEP UPON THIS MORTAL PLANE!" it yelled triumphantly. The demon shifted his head towards Luke, the lone bulbous eye poked out through the hole in the elephant skull, examining the creature that has the gall to demand his services. He sniffed the air around him.

"Ah, a sorcerer… Dime-a-dozen cocky scum." It raised a bony hand in a display of professionalism. "Greetings human! My name is Oizmomin Raqualat. If it is intense power you require… I will be so inclined to offer a taste of my capabilities!"

"So you will be able to destroy my enemy?" said Luke, skeptical despite the monstrous appearance of this being.

"Oho? You're one of those I see?" Oizmomin let out a bellowing laugh. "Hah! Consider it done! Your foe will be vanquished within the week. Now tell me human, whom shall be the target for my wrath?"

Luke's grin stretched so far it almost broke out of his face. The power to destroy that thing was in his hands.

"Thank you demon, I will be making good use of your services." He rubbed his hands together in glee as he thought of the possibilities, "You see, there is a river behind my property and I want it DEAD."

Oizmomin puts a hand to his chin and replies, "Hmm river nymphs might be tricky but still do-able. It should still be—"

Luke squinted. "The fuck is a river nymph?"

The demon gave Luke a puzzled look.

"A nymph?" The demon raised his singular eyebrow. "Y'know, like the minor nature goddesses, the avatars of—"

"I do not care about these nymphs, avatars, or whatever James Cameron is shitting out, did you even listen!?"

Luke was in luck as Oizmomin's curiosity was outweighing the irritation of being interrupted.

"So… what do you want to kill?"

"The river you ketchup-shaded fool!"

"You want me to kill the river itself?"

"That is correct," replied Luke, his tone signaling as if he'd said the most obvious thing in the world.

"Like, get rid of the whole thing?"

"Yes? Is there a problem?"

"Well uhh…" Oizmomin sucked in air through his teeth. "Yeeeah I don't think I can do that."

Stunned, Luke snapped, "Why not!?"

"I uh, don't have my landscaping permits for Illinois…" He admitted with a sheepish look while trying to avoid eye contact with the human.

He stared up at the 'almighty' thing he summoned in disbelief.

"W-what? What the fuck is wrong with you? Why the fuck do you care?!"

"Alright, listen here human, I live in hell and I know better than you squirts not to fuck with the HOA." He crossed his arms, satisfied that he got his point across to the human.

The point was lost on Luke, unfortunately. Confusion slowly turned into rage as the current circumstances began to set in. His breathing became heavy and loud, somewhere between a rabid animal and a seething child.

"Woah now, how about I call some people and we can get some contractors for the job?" said Oizmomin, trying to defuse the ticking timebomb of Luke's rage. "I know some dudes that do great work in the Chicago area but depending on the size of the river, it could be preeeetty pricy. Like five figures pricy."

Luke's eye twitched. His mind was racing trying to process the idiocy on display. The mention of the price and a subsequent reminder of his financial situation was his breaking point. He chose the drywall as the target of his immediate anger. He punched his fist into the wall behind him and a feral cry of pain, anguish, and self-disappointment launched itself out from Luke's diaphragm.

Oizmomin took a second to let Luke do what Luke was doing before suggesting, "I mean I could call in a favor and get a discount on those contractors. Seven percent off? Maybe ten if they're feeling generous."

Luke shot a look of pure disdain towards the hellish being he summoned, calculating the possibility of this piece of shit being another agent of the rivers. Oizmomin took the hint and decided not to continue. Neither of them wanted to speak but neither of them wanted to stay much longer than they needed to. After an agonizing minute of silence only broken up by middle-aged heavy breathing, Oizmomin spoke up.

"So um… Another thing in your summoning circle, you forgot to filter for demons with landscaping qualifications." He points to a small section of the rune lacking in blood. "Also, you've booked me for the week so… what's the deal now?"

Too mentally and physically exhausted to get even angrier, Luke just stared at the hole in the wall he made.

"J-just leave," Luke muttered, still facing the wall.

"Wait, really?" Oizmomin's eye widened and his back hunched down further to meet Luke's eye level.

"Yes, yes I don't care. Just get out of my SIGHT!"

"Sweet! Thanks human!" the demon chirped.

Oizmomin wasted no time as he enthusiastically walked out of the building. He had a skip in his step as if summer vacation just began, all while humming to the tune of 'I Want It That Way' by the Backstreet Boys.

Luke heard none of this of course, as he continued to stare at the broken wall thinking about all the resources he just wasted and how the result was merrily walking down the street. His state of deep thought was interrupted when—

"Umm, Mr. Watterson?" said an unfamiliar voice.

"What?" The single word practically slid out of his mouth like a clump of moss getting dislodged from a drain pipe.

"Your hour is almost up, please pack up or we'll have to charge you extra, thank you," answered the rental studio receptionist.

A heavy sigh escaped from Luke.


The evening had passed and night had settled in. As the world went to bed, Luke stayed awake; alone as usual. The only source of light in his house being Kung Fu Panda 2 playing on his computer. Illegally streamed of course. He didn't consider paying the subhumans over at Disney as a worthy investment. He took a handful of chips and shoved them into his mouth, a rain of crumbs landing on his unwashed shirt. Eh, whatever, I'll clean it in the morning.

Truth be told, even if Luke did pay for the movie, he probably would have enjoyed it less. He wasn't even paying attention to the plot.

Some bullshit about inner peace probably Luke guessed.

To add to his disinterest, the events of the past couple of days still lingered in the forefront of his mind. The move, the river, and most recently, the demon.

Why do I always have to be the only competent person in a 10-mile radius? A compelling question from Luke. He grabbed another handful of chips, spilling some onto the floor and even more onto his shirt again. In any case, no point worrying about the could-have, should-have when everything that had happened was out of his control. The movie was ending soon anyways. Po, the main character was defeating the main villain by redirecting cannonballs away from—


The gears in Luke's head began to turn.

Redirecting…the cannonball?


…the cannonball…


If the demon couldn't clog up the river, then—

Luke had an idea.

The work began. Planning was the first step. Blueprints, drafts, and logistics were next. Slowly but surely, Luke's plan was taking shape. The pre-planning was accomplished quickly and he moved on to the next step.

Days turned to weeks which turned to months which turned into years until Luke turned off the timelapse of a tree growing on Youtube before getting back to work. The project took a couple days and a single trip to Home Depot. Before long, he'd done it. The greatest thing he's ever created in his life, his magnum opus, his masterpiece!

He called it: The River Cannon

If the demon couldn't clog up the river, then all Luke had to do was blast it to kingdom fucking come. It was a simple device; a tube made out of sheet metal hoisted up by wood planks. The tube was filled with a makeshift gunpowder made from fertilizer, charcoal, sulfur, and a bit of sugar.1 It's truly amazing what you can find at home depot. Finally, the capstone to all of this, a massive rock. Almost a foot in diameter, Luke found this rock on his way to the river and it was the perfect size for the execution. Luke wasn't a believer, but if this rock wasn't a sign from God to kill that bastard river he didn't know what it was. He lugged the massive device and its projectile to the home of the disgusting flowing creek, giggling under his breath, thinking about how he'd celebrate his victory once the deed has been done. His mind racing with ideas, victory speeches, and many colorful phrases he'd yell before obliterating the river with his cannon.

The rush of excitement reached its peak as Luke spotted the creek in the distance. He reached the edge of the river and positioned the cannon. He looked around at the forest surrounding this fish-filled eyesore. It was truly beautiful. Luke felt a sense of pride well up inside him as he will be the one to save the forest from this aquatic stain on the environment. The hero of this story! The liberator of this peaceful, serene—


Luke whipped his head to face the source of the sound. He was so engrossed in his fantasy and his plans he failed to notice the familiar face that had caused him so much frustration.

"Yo! Human!" Oizmomin enthusiastically called out, giving Luke a friendly wave.

The demon was sitting cross-legged on a fallen log, wearing an oversized Chicago Bulls T-shirt over his previous demonic garbs and hood. He had a bag of potato chips in his hand which looked tiny in comparison to his large stature, needing him to hold the bag with two fingers. He shook a small pile of chips onto his other hand and continued eating.


The sharp noise broke through the sounds of nature, penetrated straight into Luke's brain and into whatever part that controlled annoyance. A constant reminder of this idiot's presence.

"What the fuck are you doing here?" Luke hissed through his teeth.

"Oh, me? Well, after we went our separate ways, some sightseeing was in order so I did a little stuff here and there, y'know, ate some pizza, took a dip in Lake Michigan, normal tourist stuff. Oh! Can't forget about the game yesterday." Oizmomin points to his shirt, stained with ketchup and what was either beer or soda. A collection of battle scars signaling a damn good time. "Seriously human, this is the first paid vacation I've had in years! Oh and by the way, I came over yesterday and wanted to ask you something but you were working so I just uhh, helped myself to the refreshments."


Luke pinched the bridge of his nose harder hoping it would drown out the noise coming from this creature.

He rolled his eyes. "Whatever, I have a job to do and I'm not letting you distract me again."

"What's that big thing you're dragging along?" quizzed an unfamiliar voice.

"Hah! I'm glad you asked, I'm— Wait, who the fuck?"

Sitting beside Oizmomin was a short young lady, only made smaller in comparison to the large hooded demon beside her. Her long hair was the color of pondweed with long smears of light brown and yellow irregularly interspersed. She wore a blue and white dress that appeared to be shifting and flowing into itself. The colors flowed down the cloth of the shimmering dress and crashed at the seams. Her eyes were brown like reeds and sparkled like specs of panned gold. Those same eyes stared at Luke's device. She was also helping herself to Luke's stolen chips.

Oizmomin snapped his fingers, "Oh right! I was chilling in Lake Michigan with the local nymphs, cool place by the way, the scenery is immaculate this time of year, you should take a walk around there sometime. Anyways, I was curious about the river you were complaining about so the nice spirits pointed me here. I introduced myself and I was gonna ask if you wanted to talk to her but again, you were busy. "

"Sup, I'm Melia." She introduced herself and waved two fingers casually in a peace sign. Her other hand not leaving the bag of chips.


"S-so you're the spirit of the river. This river right here?"

"Sure am buddy. Hey, aren't you the guy that tried to catch fish with a kitchen knife last week?" Her answer was muffled through her mouthful of chips.

Luke's eyes widened as he realized what this person was. To say he felt disgusted would be an understatement. Every fiber of his being hated the very idea of the individual sitting on the log right in front of him. Bile began to rise into his throat. Inhuman, indiscernible noises of visceral displeasure leaked through his teeth.

Every fiber of his being hated this individual. And it was sitting right in front of him. However…

Luke's disgust turned into a sick joy as he made an exciting revelation. If it was alive and here, he could kill it.

"Dude, are you okay? You're making some pretty weird noises." Melia was genuinely concerned.

"You need a doctor, human?"

"SILENCE!" screamed Luke, his twisted face of disgust now stretched into a sinister grin. He cackled softly before bursting into a full-blown maniacal laugh. "Years and years of torture because of these god-forsaken rivers! All I ever wanted was—


-some PEACE from you and your ilk. But clearly, your kind hasn't finished siphoning out all the suffering from my soul, so they send YOU. I can't even ask for a simple request to-


-be rid of this torture and all I get is an incompetent, lazy, waste of a sacrifice! Now, all is clear to me. You were an agent of the rivers this whole time! Sent to sabotage my efforts until this very moment. But now I see the truth and-


—CAN YOU BOTH SHUT UP?!" Luke pointed an accusatory finger at the two spectators.

Both Oizmomin and Melia halted the advance of their chip toward their mouth. Their attention was fully invested in the ravings of the man who had just appeared.

"Sorry bout' that human, don't mind us, just continue on." The demon eagerly waited for Luke to continue, like a child waiting for the next episode of a cartoon.

"That's it! I've had it with the two of you!" Luke exclaimed, exacerbated.

He stumbled back to his machine, vision red hot with rage. Adrenaline fueled his muscles as he rotated the cannon to face his adversaries instead of the river. He struggled to move the massive wood and metal structure now loaded with a large rock.

"Should we give him a hand? He looks like he's gonna hurt himself."

"Nah, I believe in the human."

His 'adversaries' commented as the barrel of the cannon slowly rotated towards them. The two of them not moving a single inch throughout the whole display and continued their snacking, both eager to see where this goes. Finally, the metal barrel of the cannon pointed in the right direction and its creator was out of breath. Through his haze, Luke readied himself and lit the fuse.

"Hah! wheeze The countdown to y-your swift and painful end begins now! Both of you will face the wrath of my machine!" Luke laughed maniacally with what little oxygen he had left.

"What's it called?" asked Melia.

"Oh? This contraption? It is called the River Cannon! And it's going to—"

"The River Cannon?"

Oizmomin snorted. "Couldn't have named it something more creative?"

"I mean it's not the worst name you could have come up with, but come on dude," Melia chimed in.

This was Luke's breaking point. The insufferable river has not only made a mockery of him but now his creation? Did they not understand its destructive power? He stepped forward closer to the nymph, in front of the cannon. Any rational thought left in his psyche was just thrown out the back door.

"What did you just say?" Luke's voice shaking and low.

"Human, you have to admit there's probably a more appropriate name for it. It's like you took the placeholder name and you never stopped calling it that."

"Alright, alright cut him some slack Oiz, it's not that bad of a name. At least it's not—"

"Stop patronizing me, you heinous creature! The River Cannon is the perfect name and it is the name of my perfect machine which spells your doom! For my name is—"



The cavern was dark, drops of water rained down slowly from the stalactites on the roof. The air was unbearably humid and unnaturally damp with the tainted stench of limestone and rot. This place wasn't right. Luke sat up, unaware he had been sitting down in the first place. He focused his eyes on the only light source nearby: a small lantern perched on the bow of the small fishing boat. Realizing he was in fact, on a boat, he jumped slightly, causing the boat to rock.

"Careful now… You wouldn't want to capsize, would you?" a shrouded figure spoke up, his voice slow, deep, and calm. His accent had a slight touch of Greek or Spanish or something else that Luke's American ears couldn't recognize.

The stranger was lanky and well-built, expertly keeping balance while rowing the small boat like a gondola. A slow, patient method practiced over and over again.

The rocking of the boat spurred Luke into a short panic, "Shit! Where am I? Who are you? What happened to the river? How—"

"Ah, concerns of the living. None of which apply." He bent down to open a compartment next to his feet, his actions as monotonous as his speech.

The living? Was this the afterlife? That's impossible, the River Cannon could never have failed. Maybe the demon had cursed him before the weapon fired?

"What? What kind of cryptic fucking answer is that? Who are you?"

He sighed. "My name is Phlegyas, all other questions can be answered here."

Phlegyas retrieved his item from the box and handed it to Luke. It was a stack of papers with the title 'HELL INDUCTION PAMPHLET AND FAQ'. The tone of his voice, evidently, wasn't calm professionalism. It was boredom. He's heard the same questions asked by so many dead men it had become a hassle.

Luke almost dropped his papers in utter disbelief. How could someone like him be sent to hell? How could an innocent soul like him be condemned to this place?

"T-this has to be a mistake! All I wanted was peace! I-is that too much to ask!?" Luke screamed in a mix of anger and desperation.

Phlegyas, indifferent to his passenger, shrugs. He reaches into his compartment, retrieving a clipboard and flipping through its papers. Through the orange lantern light, Luke could make out the large words 'BOOK OF THE DEAD' printed in bold Ariel font on the cover page.

"Right here, that's you isn't it?" The boat captain tapped on Luke's name on a printed Excel sheet. His droopy eyes barely made contact with Luke's.

"Yes, b-but surely I shouldn't be here, right? Isn't there someone who—"

The boat abruptly stops as Phlegyas stops rowing, the current now in complete control of the boat's movement.

"The higher-ups wanted to put you lower actually. Summoning that creature didn't do well on your resume but they thought here would be an appropriate place for you." Phlegyus cleared his throat. His voice now booming, he announced, "Luke Watterson, for the sin of wrath whilst your time amongst the living, you shall be sentenced to the fifth layer of Hell."

The boat rocks even harder as the current grows stronger. As the lantern dips closer to illuminate the water, the things below the surface become visible. It wasn't the current shaking the boat. Countless souls thrash and crawl under the water, all trying to push up to the surface while pushing each other down. Their faces were contorted, unrecognizable as once human, and throats swollen full. They haven't had the privilege of air for centuries. And Luke was going to join them.


"In the name of all that is just, you shall eternally drown in the River Styx."

In an instant, Luke was pushed into the river, his unbearable suffering to continue until ages passed. However, he was blessed with something very few people had in this constant flow of mud, water, and violence. Contentment. He sank, knowing that he had at least died bringing another with him to hell. He had died with purpose and by his own terms.

"Is he dead?"

"Oh yeah, he's hella dead."

The strangely named 'River Cannon' only managed to shoot its rock about two feet before striking its creator in the back of his head. If that wasn't enough to kill him, the shrapnel of thin sheet metal from the barrel of the cannon probably would have. Somehow having not enough gunpowder to reach its intended targets but enough to prevent it from destroying itself, a shocking precise middle ground of complete failure. Said intended targets still not having moved an inch since the human showed up.

There was a return to the serene sounds of nature for a short moment before the nature spirit made a terrifying discovery.

"Yo Oiz, we're out of snacks."

"Aw man that sucks. I'm pretty sure I saw more in the human's pantry."

The demon sat up, the log shifting as his massive weight was removed. He yawned and stretched before making his way to the human's house. A shame he didn't catch his name.

"Be right back Melia, I'll go check if there's any flavor you haven't tried yet."

"Oh, can you get some more sour cream and onion? I freaking love those."

Oizmomin chuckles and gave her a thumbs up. "Sure thing!"


Rivers are fucking awesome.

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