Posted By: Mr Bill Jr V<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 6 January 2005, 3:29 AM
I remember fragments of something. Parts of the whole I can grasp at. Dreams.
Armies clashing, men dieing. Vanity in the face of love. Everything aged, pictures faded on nickel plate. Somewhere scattered in the past. Falling air coming to steal away this image. Human I can only struggle against this awful night. Washed ashore on scarlet beaches. Hung trapped in wire. Burned against crosses, or butchered on foreign soil. Pray for safety, but death cannot be cheated at his hour of glory. Reap and souls he has come to claim. He bears faces- let this be said here. He comes in silent shroud, and steals away without menace. A messenger only he is. Sweep the faces clean, I close my eyes. Never should a man know what face it is that death bears, for it is that image to be carried forever in memory. I struggle, but edges only can I see. Pray, an image. Let me see such simple pleasures.
Stainless silver washed light and glass. Drawn blinds flooded rising sunlight through cloudless room. Confined bed, comfortable or too small? Clothes strewn about and alarm waking. A hand drew itself out from the hotel-grade sheets and silenced the beeping, quite breathing filling in. A moment more, then the sheets were thrown back in careless array. Pale skin seen back in silhouette as a women sat upright, legs swung out over the bed side. Her hair fell short, some kind of brown. Eyes flickered from open to close, working over the windowed view. Drifting smog mixed exhaust turned the horizon orange, but a paler blue prevailed in the cloudless heights. Glass spires struck up against the sky, wisps of jet stream spreading apart in the early light. City sprawl carried off for kilometers, far distant. Nine-hundred-million crowded below. The outside air was shimmering with heat. Darkness prevailed on the women's side, natural light an only filter. She sighed, then made to stand but found her feet toppling over an empty instant-soup container from the night before. A curse, but the day had begun. And then morning.
Tiled shower steamed and drained. Water ran volumes down new skin, hair flattened in matt brown. She let the water run off her face, subtle drops of it splayed off against her nose and over closed eyelids. White water fell. Volumes slipped away tile sheen. Drain carrying off memories of the night and beginning the raising pulse of the day.
The city seethed like clouds billowing. Light streams through great patches of steel. A million lights shown with waking daybreak. I watched it part through my fingers like waved grass as I closed the blinds. I could feel its rhythm gaining strength like great gears falling into place. This would be the day. The darkness is coming closer still. I can feel them above, pressing down their doomed will. On the final day, we have only time for reflection, and so listen now:
My name was Lauren.
The night before had been spent in indolence. Beer bottles lay about the floor, mixed with clothes, sheets and a fallen lamp. Dully I went about the room, settling the bill for the evening's enjoyment. The plants needed water. Had I seen friends? People had been over, but I could hardly remember their faces. All comes back eventually, yet our faces you shall not see. Flash of pain, I reached for my shoulder. The scar tissue was obscene, but I still remember. Such sin cannot be mistaken in desperation. Here now, am I halved?
I cock the action and hold the barrel to his head. He gasps, metal against skin. There are seven rounds in the magazine, counting the chambered bullet. The gun is an extension of my body. Calmly I watch the breach open and close, the action sliding. The man falls forward, then stops breathing. I untie his bound hands. He has no face. The nylon wire falls. The armies of Earth do not execute prisoners.
"Christ," echo voices over the salted walls. Frozen stone in smoke filled air, blood painted on grains. Breath in plumes of cloud, floating free.
We heap the bodies together and burn them. Fumes of petrol and white flames brush up against my skin. I feel pale. They turn to cinders and ashes. In the darkness, steel grates above, pine wood breaths fresh air. Wet firs drip pure rain, leaves tumble off aspens in the moonlight. Sudden wind rolls over forest floor from jet wash. Magnificent grey cycles overhead, passing the sewer grate. The dropships hovers low in the clearing, landing struts extended. Their engines burn blue, calling us away. To my side each man turns and vanishes. One by one silence beckons them back, and their faces slip into shadow. I turn away, and climb out of the sewer. Men in armor, expressions hopelessly grim, rifles ready, line the dropships' interior. These same men who stood beside me- watched those things we committed. They had been so fragile, emotions tortured by murder, then. But I cannot recognize these men. Their faces so foreign, trying so hard to forget.
"Come on, commander!" crackles a voice over the radio. I turn away, and can see flame licking from the sewer grate. White pyre, I sigh and look above. The trees still breath around me.
I board a dropship. Its engines burn. I watch them burn. This is how it had ended. How did it become like this? I cannot answer. Killing the wrong enemy. Over and over and over again. The dropship rises up above the trees, engine hum turning us space-bound. Another battle somewhere to be sought, but not wanted. Fought, but pointless.
"Lauren?" asks the quite morning light. I look away, but it still questions me. "Who have you become?"
The morning light turns to darkness in that instant. Everything gone and cold... Deep breath, soon my last. So much pain, and so fruitless. Killed so many men; we killed each other. And now it's too late.
I could beg for forgiveness or pray for salvation, but my judgment is over. Oh, but there was a moment when we were free, we slaves to violence. I still see, but my thoughts are images scattered. Are your thoughts broken, too?