Collision

When I first started coming by the quarry, it was a pleasure to see the sun strike at the far corner. Catching man-made facets. I didn’t realize for a while that it was different every time. After all these years, I still have to tell myself not to go looking for the quarry, what is like our Eden. What bright things loom will surely follow me with stranger senses than sight, but I will not look. Not again.

The day I first mentioned it to Ada was also the first day I saw the rabbit proper. I’d seen rabbits there before. Sickly, lank, hollow eyes. Dad said the population might be sick. But that day, the looming maw of ears could be nothing so mundane. Coming around the bend, bag of firewood slung on my arm, I stopped to look a second. Lines of clouds bubbling on the horizon met what little land I could see beyond the cavern, they were dark and slightly green. Tornadic. It was funny how they boiled just past the blue.

My eyes were drawn to movement in the basin. It was far off, but I could just make out a lumbering little silhouette. A rabbit, or… no, not any rabbit. It hobbled on three legs. Crooked arms dragging behind it. Mottled holes in lieu of ears. It turned and looked at me. All at once, I was hyperventilating. Dark sound in my ears, so faint I didn’t notice until I turned away and the rush left me. When I looked back the rabbit had left me, too. I wiped my forehead, starting hurriedly on the path. The clouds had lost their tint.

Ada was listening to the radio when I came into the shop. Sitting cross-legged, humming along while she idly moved a stub of a pencil over the expanse of butcher paper. I sat on the bench and turned the volume down. She started to protest, but I cut her off.
              “Have you been by the quarry lately?”

She shook her head.

“Not since we’ve been on break. Why, should I have?”

 I looked down at my feet, feeling silly all at once.

“No, I just, um… I’ve just been going out by the school to hang out with Tom and them, and I’ve been going by there.”

“And?”

I shrugged. Why was it so hard to think?

“I just, uh, I just saw some weird stuff there lately.”

Her eyes narrowed.

“What? Like, an alien or something?”

“Maybe. I saw some weird rabbit sort of thing today. I didn’t get a good look, but… It looked like someone’d cut it’s ears off. And its arms were, like, sort of too long, y’know?”

She raised an eyebrow, expression of mingled concern and incredulity.

“No, I don’t. Are you okay?”

 I shrugged.

“I mean, yeah. I just can’t figure that place out. There was that rabbit thing, and the clouds are, um, they’re different colors than what you’d think. Like green and pink. And I think the rocks are a little different some days than others.”

She looked more worried than anything now.

“Are you okay, Silas?”

 I looked her in the eyes. I’d never seen her look like that.

“I just want you to see it with me.”

 She knit her eyebrows and stood, walked over to me.

“Fine, yeah. Just, do you need to talk to Dad or anything?”

 I shook my head.
              “Nah, I know he’s already worried about me. I don’t want him thinking I’m schizophrenic, too. Just, come out and see it.”

“Now?”

“Yeah, it’s pretty early still. We can make it back before dark.”

I could feel dread mounting as we walked out into the foothills, Ada leading. Familiar ground took sinister turn as it led to some perceived destruction. Of what, I couldn’t tell. Was this path always so winding, so unmarked?

“Does it seem different out here to you?”

“In what way?” Ada said without looking back. I didn’t know myself.

“Just darker or something. More turns.”

“Not that I can tell.” She stopped and turned to face me. “Look, if you’re not good with this, we can turn back.”

 I shook my head.

“No, I want you to see it. I’ll be fine.”

She nodded, kept going.

The clouds were dark brown overhead. Washed in the middle by wavering green sunlight. The basin, overgrown with massive overlapping trees, seemed to stretch farther than the eye could follow. I could see no other side.

“What the hell…” Ada said under her breath. She turned her wide eyes to me. “What’s up with this place?”

“I told you! I told you it was screwed up.” The panic started seeping in again, I swallowed it down in pieces.

“You okay?” She said.

 I nodded, but I couldn’t speak. Something was putting pressure where my stomach brushed spine.

All at once, it was there. Some not-a-rabbit, even stranger than before. On the path in front of us. Gaping holes of eyes moving under twitching ears. Ada shrieked. The feeling of passing out moved in my head but did not pull me down. It turned to me.

You are something new, it spoke. Words buzzing where my spine touched. You are something new. Ada grabbed my arm.

“Do you hear it?”, she whispered.

I didn’t answer. We stood with our eyes locked on the crooked thing, it’s face writhing like worm-ridden, its void of eyes passing us over. You are something new. It took a little step with one of its twisted feet.

Ada turned suddenly without a word and jumped down the cliffside.

“Silas, run!”, she called.

For a second, I was left alone with it. Its little nose folded further in, reduced to slits. It raised its foot for another step and I bolted after her, rushing over the ravine edge and trying to run down the slope. The crumbling ground shook as I ran, and my footing fled me almost instantly, I managed to pull my body into a roll as my back touched unstable earth. Ada was just getting her footing again when I hit the bottom. I tried to stand, but I fell sideways and slammed into a tree instead, the dark tangle turning circles around my vision. Ada put a hand to my bloodied arm.

“Silas, Silas! You okay? Silas?”

 I choked out a feeble yes, holding a hand to my head.

“What is going on?”, she said. She looked up the slope and her face drained.

“Oh my God, it just keeps going!”

I looked up, too. The slope kept upward, far and away, no sign of where we’d come from. Ada sat down heavily and leaned against a tree, cradling her knees.

“What the hell is this?”, she said without looking up.

 I shook my head.

“I-I don’t know.” She looked up. Hollow eyes. I turned to the yawning forest. The trees, even taller than they’d seemed from the slope, grew into a forest that swallowed all light. Void like rabbit’s eyes. Dark sound growing. I looked back down and met eyes with Ada.

“We’ve got to go, Ada.”

She nodded. We stood there for a few seconds longer, noise sounding, before I helped her up.

The overgrowth blotted all but atom-thin needles of green sun. The lines coming down were spread through the forest, flickering like some great wings were passing the sun overhead. There was no clear path, but the trunks were spaced apart so we could push our way through.

Presently, even the green sun began to fade. Ada and I spoke very little in the passing hours, we just kept stumbling towards some unknown. Sometimes, we would pass a wall of low tone sounding somewhere in the dark, centered in patches of forest that weren’t lit by anything. As the light died, I could hear Ada crying softly. It set me off, too. And finally, with a last flickering moment, the forest faded away to void.

Somehow, neither of us fell in the total dark. I kept my sister’s hand in mine until the space between them dribbled sweat on the forest floor. My legs ached, my throat burned with thirst, and the tips of my feet were blistered raw from pecking away at the systems of roots. The moonlight, fading slowly from green to red, gave little guide.

After what felt like days of walking, I almost fell over on the edge of something hard.

“Ah, dammit!”

“Wh-what is it?” said Ada, trying to keep the shake from her voice.

I felt the ground. There was a shelf of rough stone where my hand touched.

“I think it’s a wall.” I kept running my hands over it and, finding no far edge, I stepped up onto it and tapped forward with the tip of my foot.

“It’s a slab, like a foundation.”, I said, helping Ada up onto it.

We walked a little farther, pulling together, feeling the even stone underfoot and a deep cold rising from it. I raised my free hand out to feel and, after a few steps, I brushed against brick again.

“Wall.”, I muttered, walking sideways. Soon, my fingers gave way to open air.

“There’s some kind of entryway here.” Silence.

“We have to go in, Ada.”

“I know.”, she said after a moment. The silence held a second longer before she spoke.

“Okay, I’m good. Let’s go.”

The cold was deeper and the ground gave a bit as we walked. It felt like carpet the way it tugged the bottoms of my shoes, but in the moments my feet were planted I could feel it move. Outside the structure, there had been the tiniest glints of moonlight here and there, but inside it the darkness was absolute. After a while we came to the far wall, identical to the first, but something was different in the doorway. The faintest hint of red light defined the next room. I could make out the silhouette of something hunched in the middle.

Ada started babbling, her grip tightening around my hand so I thought she would break it. I felt the bottom go out of my stomach, the waves of nausea coming over me and the urge to pass out on the cold floor. I was aware that there were more in the room, blended with the dark, the tips of their rolling shoulders and heads just visible in the baptism of red. They started towards us. I felt myself relax as darkness took me and my hand went limp in Ada’s.

I came to with Ada’s bloodred face smiling over me.

“Silas! Silas! It’s okay! We’ll be okay!”

I sat up. The same room we were in but brighter lit. The figures gathered around were bathed in red and shadow, sat in a circle on the floor. Nearly the form of people, but joined by lines of flesh between them, they were draped in finery that glittered around their arms and flowing garments. The lead of them was taller than the rest, sat just in front of me, and I saw that the circle of them was compassed by objects. Statues grown from shrubbery, diamond-facet tubes lined with protrusions, liquid metal pooled about like affects in a pharaoh’s tomb. The tallest spoke to me in the same way as the rabbit, to the base of my spine.

Do not fear, child. You are witness now to something beyond you.

I blinked, opening my mouth to speak but finding nothing. Ada was grinning ear to ear.
              “I’ve been talking to her, Silas, they’re from somewhere else. Like another dimension or, or realm or something like that. There’s been like, sort of, um…”

A collision, the form said. Ada nodded.

“A collision. Between our worlds. She says it will pass soon enough and we’ll be back in the quarry.” I shook my head.

“I-I don’t understand. Why… w-why us? Why this place?” Ada shrugged.

“They don’t know either. They could see it coming, but they don’t know why.” I turned to the form.

It will be a span of time before you are returned. I cannot say what that span will be in your terms, but it will be short. Until that time, join us here. Our ritual will commence.

“Ritual?” I turned to Ada. She shrugged.

The lighting grew brighter. The forms did what seemed like standing. I could see the jewelry around them faze in and out of their bodies like liquid. All at once, a noise was building. Not like the rabbit’s noise, but something otherworldly. Beautiful beyond words. The cleanest of all tones, the raw screaming of pleasure and time. They danced, and their dance bid us join them.

Thirst gone, I was swept in them. They turned as individuals, twisting limb in their circle and stretching to fractal bodies. I look up and saw, hanging, the vibrant red sun radiating down on us and I felt them, I felt the fractal grow without me and warm me. Senses man would not be given for a trillion years more were open to me. I saw Ada inside-out, her beating heart, her leaping muscles going as she danced. We moved like in honey. We turned form in the crimson sway. The building fell away, the forest, I saw grand palaces and cities beyond them. Every form of this place moving in unison, and me and Ada to.

We danced for years there, danced and sang and put our voices to the swell of many for an instant of eternity. Time blended, I wanted to feel them around forever and ever, but it passed abruptly. In the last moment, I felt the tallest form smile in every fold of me, and I smiled back even as the layers dissipated.

We were left in the clearing, the edges of the quarry standing resolute and the clear yellow sun hanging distant. Laughing, crying in joy, Ada and I laid in the basin and waited for the warmth to pass us.

“Ada, oh man, Ada, I feel a million years old!”

Ada laughed.

“I think we are! I think we’ve been there that long.” I smiled, fighting laughter, tears flowing down as I looked around. The quarry was the same as when we’d first moved out, a little wash of man-made valley.

“We’ve got to go back to school. See Dad again, listen to the radio, draw, read… Silas, how are we going to go back?”, she said, still smiling.

 I shrugged.

“I dunno. We just will.”

Walking along the ridge, I turned back when we reached the top. The sun struck at the far corner, catching the facets it always had. Ada and I looked out at the valley somberly for a long while before we glanced at each other. She nodded and I nodded back, and we started down the path home.

The trail didn’t look overgrown for all our time in that other place. We found out later that not a lot of time had passed for our world, only a few weeks. Certainly not the eons we’d seen. The way back was short, but it felt like forever before we crested the hill and saw the shop door standing open. Ada looked back at me with eyebrows raised. I shrugged. She turned and we kept walking, down into the yard and up to the doorway. With bated breath, we pushed the door the rest of the way open and stepped in.

Our father sat hunched in the shop chair, looking over the landscape Ada had been working on when we left, his back to us. His head raised up, and he jerked around. Took a long breath in. Tears streaming.

“Dad, I-“ Ada started, but he stood so quickly that the chair tipped over and rushed to us, pulling us into an embrace. It was the first time in a while I’d seen Dad cry. When he finally pulled away to look at us, I saw his eyes pass from hollowed husk to brimming with life. It filled his face like it had us in that other wilderness.

We acclimated to normal life easier than you’d think. I felt so much older, happier, like every burden was drained away. Ada and I talked about it for hours where we could. As time went on, the memory never faded, but life rose to meet it. As I said, I have to fight the urge to go back down to the quarry. I know that it is dead to that place now. That we are sealed here in life until we pass on.  

 

 

 

I Will Make Herself Reverse

She is so immaculate
Dying body, brain is spent
I cannot see any way
To face a day without her face

Manacles made up of tubes
The shades of blue, the flowers bloom
Ivy drip is trailing over
Vibrant bruises, open clovers

I will make herself reverse
Make her veins to wires
Crackle-hum is haunting her
Light lines line desire

Make to sense the abhorrent
Call to Christ, abandon him
Place a pressure, lay her out
Quilt her bits of flesh about

Posthumous her body,
Segregate make hastes,
Pull the rush apart to see
The way her pleases taste

She is conscious, I’m alright
She is breathing, I can fly
She’s together, I’m okay
Tiny step from full decay

Her eyes will never falter
And her brain will never float
Wheeling hospice bed an altar
Oh my love, you’re my last hope

Sinew in Wind

White-tail rambler, take flight
Soaring in the shadows
Brush stroke pattern on your hide
Shaking as the wind blows

Nose wide, scents upon your mind
Ears a-twitch with buzzing
Panic, creeping like the flies
Bright spots grey and fuzzy

Slow thing, terrible and tight
Trace the forest sprawling
White-tail, what is at your side?
Dusk eyes see him crawling

Leap in quiet, somber dawn
Gold-scape glazing sweetly
Predator has jumped the fawn,
Marked her back for eating

Run, you sinew drifter, run!
Free as falling feathers
Chase the antlers to the sun
Prance the field untethered

Sparrow

She composed her life where
she could only lie there
counting on the cold air
to cobweb her resolve.

She produced a bird sound
Pulling at her night gown
Dripping on the warm down
Her bloody siren’s call.

I handwashed in cold soap
Watching pinkish suds go
Overwriting striped holes
A palate soft as silk.

Her young eyes were bright white
lightning veins and lids tight
Face uncut by smile lines
and pale as mother’s milk.

Nights of pacing, breath spent
Oh, her little teeth went
Nails impaling, harsh bit
To draw my eyes away.

“Oh, my sparrow”, I’d sigh
“Why do I even try?”
Hydrogen Peroxide
Baptized forearms swayed.

I am sorry, sparrow
Winter trapped us in snow
Winter kept the coals cold
You were already gone.

You were already gone.

Small Death in Rain

A gentle rain, a cavalcade
has split my thoughts along their seams.
An arcing path of barricades
Was layered strangely in my dreams.

Patterning the open ground,
the droplets reassure the space.
The floor of water flows around
where dirt and pavement alternate.

My fathers’ hands were buried stumps,
the dirt imprinted onto them.
I stepped along the newest lump.
Like glass, I saw the form of him.

Like bone, his dripping headstone shined,
like doom, he hung about my head.
Like planet earth, he churned my mind,
and lo my mother, too, was dead.

Her frailty affixed to me,
and mingled with the smell of death.
The lips that could not comfort me
moved with maggots, not with breath.

I pull my glasses from my face
To wipe the errant paths away.
Oh, Mother Mary, full of grace,
please stay until my dying day.

dripping old angel thing in the woods

Hah! Well, mother might well have gone mad towards the end, even without the angel’s help. There were walls to every inquiry, a bleak infinity of shut downs from, how about this, a wrinkled up shut-in! Oh, I guess she was just agitated. You remember those meetings, don’t you? She had a thing about those meetings; well, I mean to say that she had a thing about everything, you understand, but… this bit of the picture was painted real deep. I went to the meetings like always, like… since I was a kid. I ate of their food and drank of their drink, in exchange for the only smiles I remembered.

Now, speaking of, these meeting people had a thing about plastic. Yeah, I guess I never told you about what we did at them… Just sort of a meet-and-greet. All the utensils and things were plastic. They loved it, and when you were done you stacked it up in the corner with the other plates and forks and things, and the solo cups. And old “Uncle Boris”(I never learned his real name) would come with a ramshackle old flamethrower and torch it down into a smoldering brick. Then he’d take it back somewhere and… well, who knew. Mother loved that kind of theatrics. “Just like my soaps”, she’d prattle, haha. And she’d give this cold-glowing smile as the warmth of the blaze cast shivers over me.

When we got home, and the keys were on the table and our shoes were placed neatly in the hall, she’d wait around a bit with a worried look. Never failed, the smile would fade and fade until she was the cold statue I knew, slumped spinelessly on the love seat smacking her lemon-lozenge lips at the soaps and fretting her jaw and brow about until I thought her face would collapse in. She was always so worried, thinking of the cars outside, y’know. And she’d turn her quivering eyes onto me, they were raw and watering, generally, and she’d ask to see Pop’s spirit spot again.

And I’d always protest, and she’d always threaten to kick me out of the house that I PAYED for, and that argument would go on in circles a while and then we’d go. I mean, like, as late as one o’clock some nights. Whole big thing, getting on the shoes and coat again, pulling the car out into the pitch black nothing void, all to see the place Pop died at “just one more time”. Once a week, disturbing my night. Along with that of the innocent fauna, mind you. Haha, right.

It, um, it was a little brick structure that lined the shoulder of highway 16. Little red flag fluttering, pale pink and rot-ridden. His shirt sleeve, I’ve realized since. She’d kneel sometimes, or walk a circle around it, whispering a prayer to all plastic souls. The car’s headlights would shine out on a sea of outstretched shadowlines pulled away from the base of every pebble and putrid item of litter. I hate litter like it’s the devil, because it is. Oh, shut up, you know how bad it gets towards the city! Not too irrational if you ask me. But, anyhow. She knew, too, she knew how it hurt me to get churned and passed around and consumed whole by the filthy seeping detail of it. She bided her time there, and I could do nothing but wait.

It agitated me at first, to see the dripping old angel thing come out of the woods. It never failed, that the first hairline stripes of dusk would streak my dark-accustomed eyes. Mother always told me, she always INSISTED that we’d be home before, but we both knew that she was there to embrace her guardian angel. The bulk of it that hung off the sides was some gooey intestine mess of grey matter wrappings. Pinkish tint and dripping with red like some strange and blood-looking sap. Or maybe dew, perhaps that’s more apt to describe it’s feel of a new, uh, self shattering morning.

I admit that I loved it, too. The suspended head was this perfect, round little brain, and it’s intertwining wings blowing in the wind. It walked on the trash where I could not, like the figure of Christ on calming waters. And it’s great, drooping feet taking the plastic up and digesting it. My mother would go to it. And it’s funny, not a single car would ever pass by when it was there. Right by the road, and I never saw another soul. I mean, granted, I was transfixed by it, but I never heard a single car’s roaring in the grey space betwixt night and morning.

I got the feeling that It didn’t want me to touch it. It would have let me kiss it’s intestine form if I had pressed, but I didn’t. There was peace in the look of it for me, but Mother needed more. She rubbed her head in it, held it tighter that she’d even held Pop. She thought it was partially Pop, a Pop transformed or at the very least altered. I can’t say I disagree, to be honest. It’s a funny thought, but strange business like that benefits from funny thinking, I guess.

Anyway, there’s not a lot more to it than that. You asked me how we got through those days, and that’s how. Pretty much just one day at a time. We’d go down maybe once or twice a month. Sometimes once a week, when she started getting really bothered at night. That, and, um, the trips to the grocery. That really kept us both grounded. You have to go out and find your own little comforts, I guess, when things are all coming down like that. Yeah, It was. Really nice catching up. Guess I’ll let you go now, I’ve got work, uh, y’know, like always. Heh. Uh-huh, bye-bye.