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Pariah (ii)

They sit on the edge of a small patio, attached to the body of the dojo and facing the waterfall, the forest above it. The town’s wall, tall stalks of bamboo that has yellowed with age, terminates at the woods’ edge. Kiori dangles his legs in the air, kicks them back and forth with the impatient energy of all children. He looks up at the waterfall, over to the trees and down the road in turn, his attention never remaining in one place for long. His father simply stares straight ahead, feet planted, but knee twitching uneasily.

“You’ve fallen behind in your training, again.”

Kiori’s legs stop moving, then begin again with increased speed and intensity, but his eyes are focused straight down at the stone walkway. They remain there, as though stuck, while his father takes the rare opportunity—his youngest son, listening!—to continue speaking.

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Posted by on March 8, 2011 in Writing

 

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Pariah (i)

“Kiori!”

The voice echoes against bamboo walls, audible over the roar of the waterfall that ends just inside their border, at the edge of a thriving forest. Tall stalks of bright green encircle Eiji as he enters deeper into the closest copse, mid-day sun dimmed to stray slivers by the tight canopy. He walks briskly, with purpose, each footfall sure and certain, but almost silent, never heavy. Eiji’s broad shoulders slump, feet stop in place, not for fear of being lost, but of an emotional weariness he can’t shake. He takes one last step forward, branch almost catching on his loose ponytail as he slips under it, and stands erect, scanning the forest with jade eyes.

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Posted by on March 7, 2011 in Writing

 

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Gehenna (finale)

The dreams break under the harsh brilliance of the morning sun, but its ire is somewhat deadened, filtered through a palpable aura of contentment that dulls the obvious and blunts the true. Such is the power of human folly, the strength in oblivious disregard for the facts.

Her hand spreads against his chest, fingers running through coiled hair. He breathes deep, smells the tonic in her hair, the oils of her skin weakened by the passage of time, but still remaining in a faint wisp of their former glory. Oil… To anoint royalty, yes? He stifles a laugh, but she feels him shake anyway, raises her head and looks into his softened eyes with hers, likewise healed.

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Posted by on March 6, 2011 in Writing

 

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Gehenna (vii)

He makes his own fire, this night. He doesn’t try to understand why Henya’s father indulges such a whim, cutting deeper into their limited supply of flammable materials, just takes his portion of food and slinks off, hides behind the mules, out of sight and, he hopes, out of mind. Alone with his thoughts, alone with the taste of the tough, sinewy beef, overpowering brine, a small canteen of lukewarm drinking water. There is a single flat, dry cracker; utterly flavorless and wholly unpalatable without the water to wash it down, but it fills in his stomach what the meat alone cannot.

Each item in sequence. Meat, cracker, sip of water. Repeat. The mules bray gently, nervously. A brief wind picks up, but dies down just as suddenly, its appearance pulling at the flames, urging them to dance. The shadows warp and bend on the ground, Uza’s own circling around from behind him, curling back like the hand on a clock before splitting in three directions and returning to a single spire once again as the fire settles down.

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Posted by on March 5, 2011 in Writing

 

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Genesis (III)

It doesn’t take too long to grow numb to the waves.  Beautiful sounds and sights can only entertain me for so long before I start to crave something more… Visceral.  Air rushes around me, fills my ears with white noise, but my passage disturbs no one, people left either slumbering peacefully in their gutters or otherwise predisposed.  It is those who are so preoccupied that I seek, the ones with their minds sunk to untold depths.

They’re the criminal element, and they’re my punching bag.  One goes for my face and finds the wall behind me, screams as the bricks twist his knuckles into a tortured claw.  He stops when the air escapes his lungs in a single burst of pressure.  My knee leaves his chest and my leg returns to the ground in time to catch his partner’s foot, about to rise and probably kick me in the groin.  Cursing, he tries to turn and punch me, but it’s easy to feel the shift in his heel with his toes trapped under mine.  Duck the swing, rise and turn into an uppercut that snaps his jaw shut, cracks his teeth against each other and ejects blood from between his lips.

He’s already unconscious when he hits the ground.

The first thug, recovered enough to stand, meets my eyes for a long moment, then gathers up his companion and hobbles away as fast as he can, wounded and carrying a body’s worth of dead weight.  For just an instant, I see a setting Arizona sun in reds and pinks, a child running with another in his arms from something unseen, panicked features as they stretch to reach a monolithic wall, shuddering and sinking into the Earth slowly, deliberately, but unyielding to their calls and their fists.  It brings a shudder to my spine and a shake to my head, a twist of the torso and a shout that penetrates the air as my knuckles do the bricks behind me.  Something stirs in the sudden half-light, voices carry through the hole, but the rooftops are my haven and, above them, I hold dominion.

It won’t let go.  The thought continues to tear at me, pick me apart one iota from another.  A measured breath controls it, temporarily, but when will that stop being enough?  Voices crackle in my ear, more incomprehensible for all the wind passing me by.  Breathe, compress, coil, leap, breathe.  Focus on the rhythm, not on the destination or the thoughts that niggle within, try to pierce pinpricks of light through impenetrable prisons.  Force them back.

No.  Let them spill forth.

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2010 in Writing

 

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Genesis (Cont.)

Stumble out of bed, check my breathing, my pulse, nearly fall into the sink as the faucet opens and pours rusty water onto my head, into my mouth as I turn it up toward the flow.  The flavor’s terrible, but the cold shocks me out of my stupor, gets my blood flowing and heart pumping.

A breath of fresh air.  That’s all I need.  The window protests, but eventually jerks open with a whine and a small crack, splintered wood and weeks of caked dust tumbling down in front of me.  I don’t remember closing it, but there’s nothing worth stealing in there, anyway.  Besides, three stories up with no fire escape… Good luck getting in.

It works, to a point.  The wind in my face clears away the cobwebs, lets my consciousness process that I’m still alive, that I’m above ground, that I’m not powerless or trapped.  Not physically, anyway.  The rooftop comes up quickly, solid impact that leaves my calves with a pleasurable ache as my legs coil, push off again and take me further through the air, hurtling toward the shipping district.  I want to look at the water.

Thoughts stumble blindly through my head, trip neurons in my brain that haven’t been active in months, years, even decades.  Memories are called up: a visit to the desert, the lonely Saguaro with its drooping arm on the wrong side.  It makes me self-conscious, as though looking in on myself from the outside, seeing everything I assume about how others perceive me thrown into disarray.  Part of my life, the only part of my life until my mid-twenties of which I’m certain, wiped cleanly away, without so much as a scar to note its passage.

Smells don’t bug me.  Fish, once drawn from the sea, might assault others’ senses, but it’s just a backdrop to the view.  My eyes are the key, ‘cause what they see, I know.  I know it’s true, I know it’s there, and there’s comfort in that, comfort in the way the water laps gently against the docks, curls around the long stilts that hold up the entire boardwalk.  I can corroborate the sound, the multitude of minuscule splashes, the mostly silent roar of the water’s constant movement, with what I see before me.  Sound alone, smell alone, neither says much.

Not that there were sounds or smells that day, either.  I went back and I saw, I glimpsed with my own eyes the barren expanse, and the only thing is clashed with, the only sense that didn’t want to believe what the eyes were saying… That was time.  Memory, which is suspect by its very nature.

No, there was nothing there, and somehow that had made me feel even lonelier than my years in solitude and seclusion.  The one thing I was sure of–that I’d been born and raised, that I’d been young once and had experiences that worked to shape me–had become suspect.  Maybe, one day, I’d just popped into existence, a quantum fluke on a grand scale, brain mapped in such a way that these delusions of memory were simply patterns engraved into my subconscious.

But, if that was the case… Why does the dream bother me so much?

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2010 in Writing

 

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Genesis

I was born in a test-tube.  It was three times the size of a man and hooked up to millions, if not billions, of dollars worth of equipment for monitoring and life support purposes, but it was, for all intents, a test tube.

I was conceived in a Petri dish.  Nothing unusual about that.  Seeds meet an egg and pound their faces against it until one of’em breaks through.  So I don’t think there was anything exceptional about how I was put together, at first.

But I wasn’t just an experiment in in vitro fertilization.  They’d perfected that years ago.  I was one, among many, who was created to test something else.  I want to say it’s something more sinister, something more appalling, than any could possibly imagine, but that’d do a disservice to a lot of sick and twisted imaginations out there.  It’d also make it sound like I know why I was created, but that’s the rub, the little sticking point in the greasy gears of my early life.

I don’t remember shit.

Yeah, well, I remember learning.  I remember a classroom with windows looking out on a vast and arid expanse, just sand and this one, forlorn looking Saguaro with a droopy arm, silhouetted by the sunset.  I remember the particle board desks attached to plastic chairs with steel legs, and the nails of a white-haired man with a bushy mustache dragging on the chalkboard.

The screech of those nails becomes the wail of a siren.  Red light floods the halls, brilliant flashes of white burn into my retinas as the klaxon continues to scream, and I’m moving.  I don’t remember setting myself into motion, but it seems like a bad idea to stop myself now.  Someone in full-body armor steps out in front of me, but something overrides the pressure of authority on my brain.  His helmet splits down the center as my fist meets its side, and I glance down to see his gun clatter to the floor, dropped even as he pulled it from his holster.  A large, heavy boot comes down atop it and I realize that the foot within belongs to me.

The scraps of the firearm and the stench of gunpowder follow me down the corridor and into the classroom, where the walls are cracked and the window is covered by a blast shield, rusted over.  It takes me a moment to realize that the red light has faded and the sounds of the emergency alert and hurried footsteps are nowhere to be heard.  Just the cool fluorescents above, the teal tiles of the floor matching the walls, except where a fissure or two has exposed the grey innards.  Concrete debris near the cracks and in the center of the room alike tells of the passage of time.

It’s silent.  Not the dread silence of a horror flick before the creature jumps out and the music spikes.  This is the calm silence of solitude breaking over my consciousness, taking me to the wall, to the window.  It opens easily, despite the rust–I’m stronger than I’d like to admit–and dirt fills my vision, my mouth and my lungs, dry and coarse, as it shatters the glass and pours in through the gaping portal in an unending stream, until I’m choking and trapped, stationary in all forms, heart slowing and brain screaming until-

I wake up.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2010 in Writing

 

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