It was Thursday, 3am, and The Defcon Crew awoke. Outside of the Defcon Compound lay multiple feet of snow. The area had been turned into a nuclear winter for the past few weeks. However, there was a platinum lining around this Orwellian scene. The Defcon Crew was to embark on our annual pilgrimage to Albuquerque, New Mexico, home of the Fiery Food Show. This glimmer of hope kept the team alive, as the daily shoveling of the solidified water had taken its toll. I, the Defcon Creator, knew I was going to be in Heaven as I brought individuals, one by one, into their own personal Hell. We gathered our belongings and headed to the airport. The Defcon Pallet of Doom had arrived at the field of battle in New Mexico, and the homunculi had eagerly transported the newest yield of Zero a few days earlier, life was good.
We arrived at Newark Airport, globally known as one of the worst airports known to man, at about 4am, and stood in the TSA Line of Stupid Human Tricks. I have to admit, I did find a little joy watching the frustration grow in others, as they were forced to march lockstep by the orders of the $8/hour TSA guards, who moonlight as fryguys at the Waffle House. The high-maintenance women, forced to obey the decrees of the TSA Minions was worth the wait, as they all knew if they stepped out of line, a cavity search would ensue.
We made it through the line, as my Jedi Mind Tricks always allow us free passage. We feasted on seasoned cardboard and sugar water in the airport as we waited to board the aircraft. As we boarded, I did a personnel check, seeing how many screaming cretins would be joining us in our flight. I counted one, life is good. We took our seats, and the parade of circus freaks began. One by one, they attempted thought by trying to fit their oversized carry-on into the stowage area. It became quite apparent that this weekend was to be a good one, at the expense of others, as I began to chuckle softly at the ineptitude of the circus freaks. My focus then switched to an approaching evil, it was the formerly comatose cretin I observed in the waiting area. It was whimpering, and squirming, as if possessed by demons. The owner of the nemesis then gazed upon the row numbers, and chose the ones directly behind us. My world was shattered, as I knew I would have to endure three and a half hours of abject misery. The plane departed, the cretin opened its maw to release the sounds of primordial evil. The Hellspawn was ignored by its owner, ’tis the way of the beast these days. I plugged myself into my alternate reality and cranked the iPod with the subtle harmonies of Motorhead, which countered the screams of the foul child-beast. Life again was good.
We arrived in Houston to board our second aircraft. It was quite uneventful, until I remembered the type of plane they use to take us the second leg of our journey, the infamous Continental Express Jet. We had about an hour to kill, and I looked upon my spouse, The Createss, with a look she has seen before. We gazed into each others eyes, each clearly understanding the other, when she said words that will make any man melt like butter, “Yes dear, you can have a beer”. These words echoed through my head, and I was taken by some other power to the beer stand and received my Vessel of Heavenly Delight. This elixir would calm my psyche for the upcoming flight, as well it did. Life was good.
We arrived at the Albuquerque Airport right on time. The beer made it possible, I know this as fact. We got on the Sandia shuttle, and headed off to set up our fort upon the field of battle. It was a beautiful day, in the mid 50’s, a temperature known to me only in memory, as our nuclear winter in New Jersey had erased most of my memories of higher temperatures. We stopped at a convenience store and picked up our ‘necessities’ and then entered the resort. Many Vehicles of War were noted in the parking lot, with various designations proclaiming they were on our side, the manufacturers. We got our passes, said hello to a few of the Field Marshals, like Bill Milroy of Texas Rib Rangers, and headed into the Room of Darkest Doom, where the weekend of 72-hour perpetual battle would take place.
One thing that would set the tone for the weekend was immediately noticed, our pallet was actually in our booth! There’s a first time for everything. We had packed our Defcon Experience pallet kind of light this year, looking to change up a bit, so setup was easier than usual, taking only three hours, instead of the normal five. Many Vendor Generals stopped by to say hi, as did a number of bloggers, which is always nice to see. We discussed various battle tactics and other levities, and headed back to our respective fortresses. While The Createss was fine tuning the finishing touches on the Defcon booth, I joined Mike from Badgerland for a couple of beers. We honed our skills at sarcasm at the expense of the bartender. That night, we met up with Scott Roberts and Ed Rome, for an overpriced meal at the casino. Shortly after, we fell into a food coma, and decided it was time to call it a night, as we would need our energy the next day, as the Recon Units (wholesalers & distributors) would arrive to clear the area for the general public.
It was Friday, the first skirmish was scheduled. We made our way to breakfast. I wanted to avoid the ‘Groundhog Day’ breakfast at the buffet. Over the years, I have observed that the buffet room is indeed a room full of arcane magiks, as time stops within the walls, and nothing ever changes, including the food they serve. We ingested our sustenance elsewhere, and may our way back to our quarters to don our armor and pray to the Chile-God Valkyries for victory in battle.
This day would be light with formal melee, as had been witnessed previous years. It wasn’t until 4pm the Gates of Hell would be unlocked, so as to allow with demonic spawn to descend upon us. However my predictive intuitions would prove to be somewhat inaccurate this year. We were set upon by numerous wholesalers and distributors this day. Our Pen of Capitalism inscribed their orders to paper, and the orders they did come, fast and furious. This was like nothing I had seen before at this event, as the land usually lay barren of these individuals, and the day is spent consuming massive quantities of beer, to bide the flow of time. Today, this was not to be. At the stroke of 2pm, an individual appeared and approached our fortress. A True Acolyte, known as Larry, had arrived as reinforcement for the ensuing battle. We were glad to have him, as he has been our reinforcement for the past 4 years, and knows the battlefield well. Life is good.
At 3:45pm, I made may way to the General’s Lounge, and joined many other manufacturers before the Gates were opened. Everyone was filled with vim and vigor, and smiles, that would be erased for the next 72 hours, were on the faces of everyone. We finished our last cigarettes, and assumed our positions within our respective parapets. At the stroke of 4pm, the Horn of Valhalla was sounded, the Gates of Hell were opened, and the first swarm of bipedal minions shambled towards us. However, these were not the mindless drones that would fill the aisles in days to come, these were the cunning and clever masses, knowing the exact booths they want to attack, and exactly which products they would possess. In the mere 3 hours, we met with dozens upon dozens of fellow Defcon Acolytes, who we see each year. We exchanged jokes, hung out, and they gave us the Green Papyrus of Monetary Indoctrination in exchange for our legendary elixirs. Our purses, more full than usual on a Friday, were a happy sight. There were a few mindless drones that perused the aisles with no set direction, occasionally being redirected by a painful product they ingested. These drones were few this day, but it was only a sign of things to come. This was the calm before the storm. 7pm drew the show to a close, and everyone headed out to consume the holiest of elixirs, beer. We joined a few Field Marshals at the casino bar, and then headed to a place we go every year, Countyline BBQ. It was a bit late, and we had all forgotten the absolutely bizarre hours of operation that restaurants and bars have in this area. Honestly folks, who the Hell closes the kitchen of a restaurant at 9pm on a Friday and Saturday night? Must be the same mentally challenged individuals who decide to close their bars down at 11pm. WTF? Perhaps I’m spoiled living in the northeast, but any bar closing before 2am is BS. But I digress, we consumed mass quantities of bovine ribcage, and feasted upon many lagers, in the short time they were allotted. Once again, the ever-present food coma would consume us, and we returned to our bivouac for a peaceful slumber. We would need a well-rested life force, for today was only the battle, tomorrow comes the war.
Dawn broke, and not having adjusted to the time difference, I actually SAW dawn break. We donned our battlegear once again, consumed our morning foodstuffs, and readied ourselves for the inevitable combat in a few short hours. Our inventory had been somewhat depleted from the day before, and we knew we would have to fend off the masses this day in an unholy barrage of capitalism, but our constitutions were strong, and we were not to be shaken. For the first 120 minutes, the wholesalers and distributors came to us, but in our minds we knew what was to come. 11am struck, and once again the Horn of Valhalla sounded, resonating down the spine of every vendor and manufacturer, as if Sauron himself was present. The biomass flowed, and filled each aisle, the ‘grazers’ (people that eat, but don’t buy) were as plentiful as in the past years. Some, delirious with beer muscles, would demand the usual, “Gimme the hottest you got!” My dark side would emerge at these instances, and they would be sent from our booth in exquisite painful bliss from the ingestion of the Zero elixir, created from the essence of Marquis de Sade himself. I wallowed in my sadistic pleasures, watching the mindless minions wander off in searing pain, as I would shout at them, “Vae Victus!” It was then I was summoned to the main stage by the KOAT weatherwoman, Amber Lee herself. I was asked to cause pain to three victims on camera, an act I was more than happy to perform. As I stood on stage, awaiting the beginning of the pain session, I turned to face the battlefield. As I looked upon the thousands, I spread my arms and stated, “My People!”, the masses cheered, and there was much rejoicing. I placated the cameras by dealing out the pain, one victim nearly dropping as she was overcome by the Zero. I laughed at her demise, and proceeded back to the Defcon Keep.
As the day crept on, the beer crept into the drones in ever-increasing amounts. The pseudo-bravado increased as well, and many met their demise on a stirring straw in our booth. Tears of joy filled my eyes as tears of pain filled theirs. Many cursed my name, which only made my constitution stronger. Our faithful Acolyte, Larry then gave me news that would enter me into another level of happiness, we were beginning to sell out of everything. Some time passed, more victims felled, when a man by the name of Paul asked of me an interview with James Beck. I was more than pleased to agree. Paul stated it would be hilarious to have James imbibe the Zero. I wholeheartedly agreed. As we waited at the set for a couple of beers, James noticed a stirring straw laid on the table, and said unto me, “Is that for the Zero? I don’t want to taste it”. My reaction, as expected was, “Trust me James, would I do a thing like that?” As the filming progressed, and we spoke about our history and products, it was time. I held the mighty vessel of Zero up to the camera, and completely suckered James into trying some. I love live TV! James, as I had never seen him before, was at a total loss for words (insert evil chuckle). If daggers were real, the ones coming out of James’ eyes towards me would have been prefaced by the words, “Et tu Brute?”. I made my way back to the booth for the final hours of battle.
It went strong until the tolling of 7pm, when many of the mindless drones evaporated into small clouds of sulphur-laden smoke. The war had been won! One could easily sense fatigue within the ranks of the Defcon Crew, but we stood our ground, sold out of many products, and were all too eager to consume mass quantities of alcohol in celebration of our victory. Once again, we made our journey back to Countyline BBQ, and feasted on more bovine ribcage, and pitchers of lager. Our souls and bodies having been partially recharged, we made our way back to our cubicle, and slept. Life is good.
Sunday, yup watched the dawn again. We gathered our tattered corpses together for the final battle, the Battle of Ragnarok if you will. Our armor, pitted from the hordes, showed its wear. We headed downstairs, and since our constitutions had been slightly weakened, we succumbed to the Groundhog Day Buffet Room, a.k.a. Rod Serling’s Restaurant. The Createss and our trusty Acolyte Larry dined on the evil fare offered. I stuck with about 8 Cokes. With their bellies full of lead, we proceeded to the battlegrounds again. I enjoyed a couple of smokes on the General’s Lounge with other vendors, whose fatigue was clearly evident. Talk of victory resounded throughout the conversations. We discussed our end game, and headed back to our posts. At 11am the final Horn of Valhalla sounded, and the infernal masses once again swelled and amassed against us. With a newly found vigor we stood firm against the tidal wave of Hellspawn. They tasted, they bought, we sold out. This was the first time in 5 years we sold out the booth, there was much rejoicing and merriment within the Defcon Camp. They still came, in their never-ending assault. I held back the waves with my trusty stirrers of Zero, and the minions of evil fell at our feet. I reveled in their pain, and sought more souls. As the last minion of evil left, we cracked a beer, and claimed our prize of victory. Victory was ours!
We broke camp rather quickly, due to the fact we had brought only the necessities this time around. I took this time to travel the hall to see Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, a.k.a. Danny Cash, in full glory, removing the headpiece of Sam McCanless of Zane & Zack’s. His uber-mohawk was removed, there was a moment of silence (well, not really). After sealing our camp within shrink wrap, we headed to the casino bar, and joined in the round table with other Field Marshals like Cindy of Cin Chili and Flaming Joe and his lovely consort, and basked in our glory. We said farewell to other leaders of industry, and vowed to meet them again on the field of battle yet soon enough. Life is good.
Until we meet again my fine Chilehead Nation, until we meet again……
Terminat Hora Diem, Terminat Auctor Opus