Seven Days: Conclusion
Posted By: SeverianofUrth
Date: 10 December 2009, 10:01 pm
You see, when one goes blind, it's not just about losing sight--it's also about losing what makes you a part of humanity. That shared experience, of seeing, is lost, and in turn you join the small fraternity of the sightless. Your world loses all luster and gains in echoes and scents; sounds from distant places and smells from small things all permeate and envelop you.
Let yourself sink into the earth, that you can no longer feel. You remember, once upon a time, how it looked: brown, green, clumps of living things growing on dead things, the feel of dirt and grass in your hands as you wrest the leaves away from the earth--but that memory is just that, a memory. Your skin disappears. You sink. Slowly, inch by inch, you sink into the dead ground, a dead thing yourself, and even the world of sounds you inhabited for that short period of time you spent as a blind man, it disappears too. Soon, sound is sucked away by your descent into the earth. Soon, the smell of leaves and the world around you, is gone, replaced by the smell of bones and worms.
Soon, it occurs to you that there is but one more step, before you are gone--for good.
Seven Days: Part Seven: Conclusion
Just who is you?
You stagger out the building with a wounded heart. Not physically--just the things you've seen. All men experience horror, as they experience love, joy, and happiness. It's a part of the human experience. It's what they call life.
Life is a bitch.
You see, Kassad is dead. And the thing that was you is dead too. Once upon a time, wings grew upon your back. But those wings are gone, burned away from existence like cigarette ashes dumped from the ashtray. Dissipating, into the wind. Fade away. That is, was, you. You died, then, you disappeared.
Let's look upon the world you left:
The fires burning along the forests, where stray beams of energy caught the trees in passing, and lit them like matchsticks.
The dead, in all their mute permanence, lying or sitting where they died, some in halves, some in wholes, some in parts divided thrice or more.
The crumbling towers that topple and crumble with clockwork regularity.
The cities, dead.
The villages, dead.
And underground, the last attempt at communicating with the rest of humanity--dismantled.
Enjoy the alien menace, mankind. Enjoy what detests--hates--you because you are not a part of their covenant.
Some were carried alive into the ships.
Their language, hemorrhaged into strange machines, then discarded like husks of corn.
Purple ships idling near the horizon, blasting in a garbled accent the human tongue--
Hello, hello, hello.
We are here.
Get a flamethrower and set the moths alight. Watch their wings burn in glowing embers, as they fall to the ground, charred and dead, leaving trails of glittering sparks behind.
Get a ship and set the world alight. Watch the lands burn and bubble under the heat. The rocks turn polychrome into sleek glass.
When I first died, Ben, I went through a brief stage of denial, then grief. Then, after weeping for a day or two, I realized that I had grown wings.
They are white, glowing, covered with clean, pure feathers. I first noticed them when I tried to scratch my back- funny, how even when you're long dead, you still sometimes get a little itchy- and I ended up pulling out a few feathers. I screamed, then; the pain is excruciating. It is like having your finger nails pulled out with pliers.
I was annoyed with the wings for a few days. Then, I accepted them; now, I love them. It's not that I always think of them, and hold them in my mind: I love them as you would love your hands. You have good feelings for them, but you don't necessarily think about them.
I started to fly, then. I flew for quite a while, watching the once-pure seas get scorched and finally dry up with the constant bombings. I saw the imported Terran dolphins go belly-up in the oceans. And finally, I watched as the native sea squids, whose thousand tentacles often stretch out for miles and are visible from the sky, died away, their flesh and skin simply melting away.
I got pretty sad about all that, Ben. And that was when I finally had enough of flying. But I had nothing to return to; the world was dead, and no one knew about it. The dream that was New Hawaii was gone.
All I have left are stories. Mine, actually. About how I died- and perhaps, Ben, you might hear this from your bed in Reach. Maybe in your dreams you might hear the echoes of my story. I don't know if this will simply get lost in the winds, or if it will drift through space, echoing from star to star until it slowly disappears. All I have is hope. Hope that someone will remember it. And sing the song, Ben, sing it til' it's on everyone's lips, of how the dream fell. Dreams of heaven on earth.
I get an urge, sometimes, to simply fly and fly upwards, you know that? But I can't. Not yet, until I tell my story. Maybe it's a way to empty myself, so that I can prepare for whatever lies ahead. The story anchors me down, Ben.
Remember grandfather, Ben? How he always used to tell of his stories in the army? He always started with "and so it began..."
And so it began.
I know you didn't hear a single word of what I said, but that's fine. The story always was meant for myself--as all stories are, in the end.
Do you live, Ben? Do you live your life as you were meant to live it, bound not by some aimless purpose, some fucking political cause beyond your understanding, some fucking war--or did you live an ordinary life? We lost contact when we were young. I hope for your sake, that you did.
This is a memory. Back on Earth, when I was nine and you were eleven--going into the Lochaber Caves. Artificial rock formations glinting with nanotech lights embedded into the stone. In the complete darkness of the echo chambers. Then the darkness suddenly split by the living lights, little globes of squid-eye halogen lamps. Pulsing jellyfish formations swimming along the dark man-made rivers.
The time we shared, compared with the time we spent apart, seems small and insignificant. But we still have the memories, and more, we identify ourselves as family--as brothers--and though I'll never speak to you again, that fact will always remain a fact, instead of it dissolving into fiction.
This story was meant for myself--and here's how it ends. There was neither a bang or a whimper. The sound that it made as it ended--it was like air hissing out of a balloon. Slowly, deflating. Like a cosmic fart, with God grinning in the end, half-moon smile hanging sickly and stupid above the universe.
What an oddly beautiful sight it was.
Firestorms bloomed and rippled across the surface of the planet, terrestial acne bursting and popping, emerging from the mantle with a fiery heave. The continents split and were torn asunder as purple and vermilion ships hovered above New Hawaii, sending down to the ground wave after wave of blistering light.
There went Oahu, and Mouse-Cow-Vladivostock.
And above them I went soaring. Into space I went. It was quite a strange experience, like a bad hallucination, yet real--but perhaps afterlife is just one vast dream. Like the vision the dying have as they, well, die.
I blinked. Then there was silence. Fragments of my memory split into little threads, then those threads burst into dust, and the dust into insignificance. I tried to touch one and nothing was there, then I had no hand; I was insubstantial, and after a moment, that loss of control--like drowning, like drinking, like dreaming--spiraled into oblivion.
There are no dreams in the end, because dreams lie, and lies have no place where everything is dealt in absolutes. And nothing is more black and white than the dead and the dying.
It all ended in a little basement, below a restaurant. They didn't notice him there, huddling underground like a little rat. Maybe he was too insignificant.
Mr. Jojola sat in the pitch-black dark, unable to see, one hand groping the bare concrete floor feeling nothing but the harsh sandpaper texture grate under his fingers. The other hand cradled a bottle of whiskey, old Hong-Oreille, fifty years old and bought for a fortune before planetfall, in the dark halls of the colony ship. He had planned on keeping it till he was old and dying, and popping it open to drink it then, before he died, to savor once more the layers of smoke and fruit and peat and time--dust and age and rot mingling and bursting, old sour alcohol taste gone and driven out by the textures underlying every sip, the appreciation for the keen and the onion-like layers of flavors. Something like that. Something like that. Something, like that. Something he'll never feel. How angsty, he thought to himself. I was never like this.
But he's about to die. He knows, and he trembles in the dark.
Jojola had barricaded himself in the basement. But he was realizing now that it was as much of a prison as it was a shelter. Truth was, he didn't know what was going on outside, and the possibility of going outside to be gutted wasn't a pleasant one. He also knew that the sight of whatever devastation that might lie above would be too much for him, too much for his frail little heart. Some people have boundless energy, passionate, like matches that refuse to go out: burn away they must, but till the end, they burn bright, and Jojola knew he wasn't anything like that, he'd flicker into nothing at the first breath of wind.
Hey, he thought.
The bottle was chill and silent in his hand, and in the dark, he felt for the top. His fingers found the seal, a mixture of wax and plastic. Clumsily, blind, he tore at it until it came loose. Whiskey doesn't age in a sealed bottle, he thought. At least, not well. A taste from fifty years back, a peaceful time, when he was but an infant. The time of giants and heroes, the time where his parents were alive and there was no such thing as nightmares or death or horror or despair--
Oh, fuck, he thought. Why am I crying?
Just enjoy it.
He finally tore the wrapping off and twisted off the cap. It came off with a satisfying pop.
Something was wrong.
He sniffed it. It smelled like rubbing alcohol.
He drank. It was a small sip. It burned his throat and he coughed in the dark, and he cried, because shit, he'd gotten robbed like the little fool he was.
And so it ended.