An essay by Win Chester 
Brought to our attention by E. B. Fischadler
Art by Ariel Alian Wilson
Recently, the U.S. Army responded to environmentalist concerns about pollution from toxic components of practice ordinance by issuing a request for biodegradable ammunition. They are seeking non-toxic replacements for gunpowder and warhead components. More amazing is the proposal to also include seeds in the ammunition. Not only would these seeds result in fields of flowers where once stood stark target ranges, but these flowers would eat the toxic chemicals, converting them to something a bit more pleasant. They further state:
This effort will make use of seeds to grow environmentally friendly plants that remove soil contaminants and consume the biodegradable components developed under this project. Animals should be able to consume the plants without any ill effects.
This may be the best argument ever against going vegetarian.
We at Crackshot Industries are proud to introduce Crackpot®, a revolution in military armament. Crackpot® is a major step forward in the prevention of the dreaded psychological injuries associated with combat. Since the Vietnam War, substantial resources have been devoted to understanding and treating this problem. Crackpot® is the first product intended to prevent such injuries before they occur.
Crackpot® can be readily introduced to the field wherever needed, simply by replacing conventional ammunition with Crackpot® rounds.
Each Crackpot® round has two major innovations, which will greatly ease the stress of the soldier firing guns in combat. The first is the addition of marijuana to the propellant charge of each cartridge. When the cartridge is fired, the marijuana is burned. In contrast to smokeless ammo, Crackpot® rounds surround the shooter with a cloud of cannabis each time he shoots. This renders the soldier mellow, and since the amount of smoke emitted is directly proportional to the number and frequency of rounds fired, Crackpot® automatically titrates to the soldier’s stress level.
The second is the replacement of conventional bullets with hollow bullets containing doses of opiates such as Fentanyl. That way, when a bullet penetrates a target soldier, that soldier’s pain is relieved by immediate delivery of a dose of painkiller directly to the wound site. Not only does this make the target’s death less painful, but knowing he is firing Crackpot® ammo, the shooter can rest assured that the bad guy went down comfortably.
We at Crackshot Industries value our civilian customers as much as the military. To that end, we have a proposal that is one of the only things the NRA and PETA, not to mention PETAH can agree on. We have developed a version of Crackpot® in 12-gauge, with the lead pellets replaced by capsules of soporifics, called CrackHead®. With CrackHead®, the hunter gets the satisfaction of seeing his prey go down, but the animal is merely tranquilized, not killed. When the drug wears off, Bambi rises to gambol, reproduce, and get shot again.
We also have something for our friends in law enforcement. Our crack testing department has shown that CrackHead® ammunition is far more effective for crowd control than rubber bullets. After a few rounds are fired into the unruly crowd (incidentally, these include the marijuana laced propellant), the police and protesters sit down and pass some loving stuff around. We plan to release this new product, called PotShot®, to urban police departments throughout southern California.
In the future, Crackshot plans to offer a third improvement: Weedshot®. Weedshot® rounds incorporate a small capsule just behind the bullet. Each capsule contains at least 100 marijuana seeds. When troops fire Weedshot® ammunition, they are planting the seeds of peace in enemy territory. Soon, even the Taliban will be laid back, and won’t think we’re so bad after all. In regions where the incumbents are a bit more resistant to change, the marijuana seeds may be replaced with poppy seeds. In time, the enemy will be so strung out that we can just walk in and take their arms away.
We must caution commanders to be prudent when issuing Crackpot® ammo. In field tests, it was discovered that snipers fired their first few rounds selectively and for effect. However, subsequent shots came more frequently and were much less carefully planned and aimed, as if the snipers intended to use up their ammunition without regard to its effect on the enemy. We also discovered troops wandering downrange after target practice for no apparent reason except to recover spent bullets. When we last checked, the street value of those bullets was ten dollars each.
One side effect we noted in field testing was that after several exchanges of gunfire with Crackpot® ammo, both sides became quite friendly toward one another, began singing Blue Oyster Cult songs (badly), and united to wage war on the planners who sent them into battle. While we believe Crackpot® ammo may have the benefit of ending war as we know it, the concomitant upheaval in the upper echelons of the Pentagon will be far worse than anything seen since the 2016 election.
Police tell us that captive criminals are much more compliant after a few warning shots with Crackpot® ammo. And wives of police officers report their husbands are far less stressed when they return home from a long shift. However, they also report a marked uptick in consumption of potato chips, Doritos and Twinkies.
Imagine how much more fun getting shot with a paintball could be if, instead of a red splotch on your uniform, the dude who just shot you leaves you surrounded by a mist of mellowness. Crackball® is the latest offering from Crackshot industries. We bought a whole mess of paintballs, and managed to replace the colored dyes in each with a dose of mind altering substances. Now, paintball is just as much fun for the losers as it is for the winners–maybe more fun.
At the request of the U.S. Marine Corps, we have developed a version of Crackball® called Ballbuster®. Ballbuster® contains a proprietary agent that can make any timid boot into the Corps’ ideal of a lean mean fighting machine. Imagine: wimpy recruit George McFly shows up for Marine basic training afraid of his own shadow. Sergeant McDeath sends him off to play war games where after taking only a few shots, recruit McFly turns into Rambo.
Crackshot industries has recently diversified into the automotive industry with our newest offering: the Pothole® muffler. Inspired by catalytic converters, the Pothole® muffler can be installed on most cars at any auto repair shop or marijuana dispensary.
The Pothole® muffler has a small reservoir filled with a mind-altering extract. When the motor runs, its heat boils the extract, and the resulting vapor is introduced into the exhaust stream. With Pothole® mufflers, the noxious smell of car exhaust is replaced by the familiar, overly friendly smell of weed. With the gradual introduction of Pothole® mufflers into the fleet, drivers will be more relaxed, and road rage will be replaced by folksy sing alongs. Rather than polluting the atmosphere, cars with Pothole® mufflers will be creating an atmosphere of love, harmony, and peace.
Pothole® muffler refills will be available at better marijuana dispensaries in participating states.
 http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/01/world/biodegradable-bullets-us-army/. I wish I had made this up–I’m not that twisted.
 Somehow, I doubt these flowers will smell like a rose.
 The patent office said “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
 Or more accurately, we hope the civilian market is as valuable (read lucrative) as the military.
 PETAH: People for the Effective Termination of Anti-Hunters.
 The “Head” in CrackHead stands for Harmless Emulation of Animal Death.
 We like to refer to this as “catch and release hunting.”
 Or sex, drugs and rock and roll.
 As well as street corners in most cities.
 Holy Cow! A footnote to a footnote! How did the editor miss this? Anyway, CEO stands for Cannibis Enhancement Officer.
 Don’t Bogart that Joint, My Friend. If I gotta explain my jokes via footnotes, I must be losing it.
E. B. Fischadler has been writing short stories for several years, and has recently begun publishing. His stories have appeared in Mad Scientist Journal, Bewildering Stories, eFiction, Voluted Tales, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine, and Beyond Science Fiction. In addition to fiction, Fischadler has published over 30 papers in refereed scientific journals, as well as a chapter of a textbook on satellite engineering. When he is not writing, he pursues a career in engineering and serves his community as an EMT. Fischadler continues to write short stories and is working on a novel about a naval surgeon. You can learn more about Fischadler and access his other publications at: https://ebfischadler.wordpress.com/
Ariel Alian Wilson is a few things: artist, writer, gamer, and role-player. Having dabbled in a few different art mediums, Ariel has been drawing since she was small, having always held a passion for it. She’s always juggling numerous projects. She currently lives in Seattle with her cat, Persephone. You can find doodles, sketches, and more at her blog www.winndycakesart.tumblr.com.
“Crackpot: An Advance in Mellow Weapons” is © 2018 E. B. Fischadler
Art accompanying story is © 2018 Ariel Alian Wilson