"My god." the woman hissed, as the dark world behind her cleaved in two. Twin bolts of bloody neon-white light shot out, illuminating a path. "It’s constructing a way through the woods . . ."
Emily sat, paused, in the cockpit of her Ford Illuminati and considered. Red dummy-lights flared, telling their own story of engine maleficence and she smirked in collusion. Her drinking had stalled the car. She knew she shouldn't have stolen that bottle from that dorky convenience store but the people were so lame; so stupid . . . she couldn't resist. She'd tucked it beneath her coat and struck a fashionista pose at the counter, hand on the other side of the hip to extend the line of the jacket and hide the evidence. She paid for a pack of Early Native rolled cigarettes and gum with a five and change and walked out.
Now a long whence from nowhere; she'd stopped dead-smack in the middle of the road, having ridden the white line of an unknown, abandoned and dull as shit highway for some time. The bottle of Chivas was a third gone; the gum chewed and remanded to the underside of the steering column. The last bit of coke sat next to her in its glassine envelope, in full solicitation mode. She stopped the car in the middle of fuck all to make nasal adjustments. Emily kept the ignition turned and the radio blasting with non-committal static. Emily took a long drink, and knocked the remains down to a quarter. In the greyed out cockpit of the Illuminati the red engine light stared. She ignored the implications and wiped her mouth delicately with painted fingertips. Emily turned her head. Something was crawling around in there. Her mind was a muck of symbols, and pictures flooded her cerebral cortex. She turned to the lights she'd caught in the vanity mirror. The back of her car was ablaze and doubled beams of protean energy spooled from her taillights into the distance; in a graphic commentary on the beginning or end of all times.
Emily slotted the bottle, her cigarettes and remaining coke in the deep left pocket of her midnight blue hoody. She left the vaguely warm insides of the car and stepped out. She zipped her jacket. Fuck it, it’s cold, she thought. She removed the bottle and took it in hand. Mass murderers and rapists were everywhere these days.
The night sky roared. The back-up lights of her Ford Illuminati were obviously ground zero for some kind of military incursion to suit some mind-shattering and invasive or organizing end. Emily watched the two matched battalions of light stride away from the car in martial precision. They zigzagged through the trees, carving an indescribable path. These photon-bolted armies were on a mission, Emily thought, and she somehow was enmeshed in its business.
The stuttering corridor looked like a catwalk for a black light discotheque. Emily knew how to walk one of those, so she rolled her shoulders back, put on a look of insouciance, thrust her hips out of their sockets and said, “Fuck. You.” The ramp into darkness made no comment. She strode through the trees and the high grass whipped her jeans. Moisture clotted her clothes. She looked for the moon but it was disgruntled . . . it was hiding behind the clouds. Not even he would be a witness.
She felt quickened, as messages came and went, leaving whiffs of something behind. She knew she was to look for a special plant in a body of water, which sounded like a lot of rot to her. Emily of cool conscience and colder heart thought this experience mighty distasteful. She certainly did not approve of water unless it was sparkling, in alcohol, or contained somewhere bitching in a first-class resort where it was warmed, refined and bleached to all hell and back. Nature was full of outrageous things she wanted no part of. Emily told whatever it was skootching her onward, to grow up – to go screw itself.
The world grew darker as she plodded on and Emily took a moment to take stock. She could see nothing but the shifting bullets of light on either side of her. The rest of the world might well have been blasted away and she'd never know. She wondered how she could tell if it was. Emily took a swig of stolen whisky and lit a cigarette uncompromised with pollutants. She put a bit of coke on the nail of her right pinky and took a hit. Things became much clearer. She began to chant the words to ‘These Boots Were Made for Walkin’ by Nancy Sinatra. A kind of advanced photon bombardment prodded her on.
The bombardment got into her hair, which pissed her off, and messed with her vision. The corridor opened. It put forth the proposition of a straight line for her to walk and the thousand, thousand troops of scintillating energy faded, leaving her on the edge of a disgusting and smelly pond and there she stood; wasted and bare to the bones. Everything looked disgustingly normal for the outdoors. She noted she was no longer cold; in fact she was very, very hot.
Emily took off her jacket. She put her drugs on the rock near the water and laid the jacked down for her to prop upon. She had no time for this, she thought, and she recalled the many other things she could be doing. As she mused she removed the remains of her clothes, folding them neatly and stacking them on the wet grass.
Emily found herself alive with her hands in the water. Unnamable and creepy things from the brackish edge of the pond were clutched securely in hand and she finely laid them on the stone in some kind of cosmic order. She assumed her position – that of a flying buttress extended over water, and her arms plunged again; in and out of the cold depths. Emily doesn't give a flying fuck for what she is doing, but she can’t seem to stop this disinterment. Emily believes the pond is thinking. There is still no moon.
The tips of her fingers play, breaking the tensile surface of the pond. She pushes through that straining barrier to sink her hands all the way down. They are dark and alien and fishy. The cold has numbed her hands. She has no idea whose they are. They twitch and twitter and she slides them down slimy stalks to reach delicate bulbs. Emily taps out something with beats - blind and foreign spells are sent through fluid reed fortresses and saw-grass redoubts. She searches for necessary charms. She is in the right place. There is power here.
She upends the world of the pond, and silt swirls in ambivalent spirals. She dislodges tender roots. She is squatting on a flat rock. Her feet are braced and sure, but something unseen and unwanted brushes her skin and she yanks her hands out. She loses her balance, and falls into the drink, headfirst. When her head bursts from the water, strange forms pummel the air with sound and fury. Bats wing out and birds scatter from their rest. Emily reaches for the reeds, then the shore, then the stone, and crawls out of the watery womb. She thinks maybe she should start a fire but then she forgets and goes to sleep instead. The cold insinuates. It mounts her like a furious lover and pricks and pokes her unconscious flesh with knives.
Her hands have become hard and her thoughts bent toys she cannot repair, but she is awake at least, and alive. A metallic taste bloodies her mouth. She thinks once or twice about death and wonders why she isn’t. The water weeds are rhimed with frost. Jesus, Emily thinks, how long have I been here?
A barbed mind flickers and Emily tracks the whining incursion. A mosquito reads her blood signature and settles limply on her thigh. She snaps it aloft with finger and thumb then applies splotches of mud in amusing patterns. Something has left her blank and empty . . . but still here. Her heart beats, but it beats to an unfamiliar drummer. She tries to remind herself she doesn't like nature but her toes curl in pleasure. Emily forces bits of roots into her mouth and into anywhere that can contain them. She has to walk. She looks down and her body is moss green . . . barnacle black . . . cyanide blue. She has become the thief of all false dawns.
Emily’s face smoothes out. Harsh lines disappear, especially around the mouth. The crevices on her forehead above her eyes ease away. There is a moment of peace and she walks on, on flat feet broken from high-heels. They have become something else. She has become something else. It, she, walks on two bended stalks; its bowling-ball head peering and leering into the water.
Emily’s body temperature is dropping. She and the thing that has commandeered her body stand knee-deep in almost frozen muck. She sort of likes this non-existence. No worries about rent or bad men or lousy modeling jobs now that she is past thirty. It is soothing in an absent kind of way. No whoop. She smiles, looking down upon her ridiculous legs she once thought of as money in the bank. Ice water clings to her knees and she thinks how nice and sparkly it all is. The part of her that is Emily imagines going home. She'll lug her newfound relics in and introduce them to her cat, Simon-says. He is a ferocious hunter and will be enthralled. He will stalk her smell and it will be enough to drive him slightly insane. The Grey Mouser will paw her flesh for frogs, for fish, for fronds. She will lay her treasures down and he will carry bits and pieces in his teeth to better homes, probably under the bed to be forgotten, but the smell will remind him of glorious things.
Her mind snaps in place behind some kind of curtain. The feel of muck pulls her narrow feet. She is up to her knees in the pond, by some odd flowers that seem to bloom only in the night. They are beautiful and strange and she thinks they are probably not endemic to this planet. The murky earth swirls in uncompromising patterns and she stands at rigid attention. She waits. She is the holy traveler. The bloodwater fills the back channels of her heart.
There! There! The head of the flower by her hand opens to the night. It extends its stamen and pistils and sends unworldly pheromones into the air. She wonders what sort of thing will propagate it and is quite sure she doesn't want to know. Emily stands chilled and watches passively, having been raped and bled of social consequence. Her skin is a lovely blue. The wind touches her . . . whispers her name. She wants . . . she can't remember what she wants. She thinks of some cat somewhere and scratches her nose.
The rim of dawn breaks hard and a quarter-inch of pond shivers. The water’s tensile strength does duty as highway, for all the pond-road truckers seeking breakfast or love or death. Beetle/aphid/spider/fly; all feet and wings and snouts, take to the roads on their way to somewhere else. Emily shoots out her hand and snares a beetle. She puts in in her mouth and it skitters around a bit. She crunches, swallows and waits.
A blunt shape, a messenger; descends from the heavens. He’s come at this young hour for the fishing, and in response to a call she did not know she issued. All is mad honking and thumping of bombastic wings, then the world is stilled and the bird falls into its dive. The sun bangs through the trees and its missiles make mincemeat of the schmutzy dark. The duck body-slams that hard-cut water and the pond explodes in neon greens and blues. Contrails form off his elegant tail and travel all the way to the shore. The armies of dawn clear the morning refuse in long, lingering strokes that travelled all the way from the stars to be here, now.
The night springs away as bowed heads with bright eyes and aerodynamic frames search the pond for silvery things. A flared tail carves the air surely for the millionth time. This courier for fluid perfection is a go-between, a messenger whose body is designed to transport one part water to a hundred parts air and disseminate them up to the stars and down to the earth below. Emily watched from her secret mind and smiled. The other watched too, for the exchange of information from sender to receiver, from the seeker of death to the gifted of life. A blind, yellow eye strikes the messenger fast and hard and its magnificent rays bounce off millions of fractals of water that reconstruct the world, again and again. It is the show to end all shows, for the minds and micro-mornings of small intelligences, everywhere.
Emily watches a male Mallard take a nose-dive into the shining water. It comes up with a fish flapping in protest of a hostile universe. The bird will feast, then rest. It does not care that it shattered the world of others to eat; it will no doubt form a feast for another. With every beat of its wings, with every tilt of its crown of shimmering light, it sings . . . “I am home, I am home, I am home.”