Aftermath, Chapter One.

Fruit had become strangely bitter in the aftermath. The ashes had stained into the flesh of the apples that grew in great groves across the Illawarra, and the sulphur in the air permeated the winds across the entire state.

The scent of baking damper slowly overpowered that smell, mingling with the scent of roasting apple – caramelising butter and cane-sugar to sweeten it – and a herbal tea that steeped in a cast-iron pot.

The small camp-site on the edge of a small quickly desertifying town, in a small fenced in car-dealership lot. The rusted wrecks of the cars had already been stripped for useful parts. The heavily boarded up dealership was a safe-house for the Pathfinder patrols that crossed the suburbs. Forward scouts for the resistance against the living and the dead.

Sam leaned her head against her friend’s shoulder. Jess, too busy drinking to stop her. Patrol 36, eight unfortunate souls, sat around a campfire made from scavenge and dreams. It was mostly silent, until someone spoke, a long day had taken most of the joviality from them. A few ‘chem-lights’ – glow-sticks – lit the road beyond the dealership’s thick chain-link fence with bright yellow and orange lights. Nothing was out there yet. But it was probably due for some rain.

The newcomer, a young woman a few years Sam’s junior, sat across from her, hand still clutching their rifle as they drank the thick soldier’s beer. Two meals a day, three litres of water and two bottles of the thing the commissariat was generously calling beer.

Jess: “Got any smokes still on you?”

Sam pulled a tin-box from her breast pocket and took a peek. Still a few left.

Sam: “Three.”

Jess was her second-in-command, her last remaining friend from before the end. Nearly as fucked up as she was. Jess rummaged through their pockets.

Sam: “Here.” She offered a cigarette, “Don’t worry about that shit.”

Jess: “You sure?”

Sam: “Yeah, I gotta quit anyway.”

Jess took the cigarette, those things’ll kill ya. Herbal cigarettes, half the time they were padded with saw-dust because it burned but didn’t fuck up your lungs or the taste quite as much.

Jess lit up, then wrapped an arm around her shoulders and held her close. Dinner took a long time, and most of it was just spent in silence staring at the flickering flames. A few sips of soldier’s beer and a bite to eat, then it was time to sleep. Nights out on patrol became bitterly cold, so it was always welcome to have Jess to share them with. The entire Greater Sydney Basin had started to turn into a desert, ashen and grey. The small town where they made camp was too small to retain much heat and she could feel the ache in her bones as she laid in the back of their truck to rest.

Had it only been five years? She had lived in this town once, her school was just down the road from here. Everything that had happened in the aftermath; death, misery, suffering, darkness. Everything from before felt like a dream, another reality. The only thing that reminded her it was real once upon a time was Jess.

 

It had begun with a cough. A small outbreak of an unknown virus in the heart of Manhattan.  It was entirely innocuous, life went on as everyone simply struggled through another bad flu season. Then people started to die, it spread so quickly that the world was on-fire before anyone had any clue what had happened. It went from a sniffle to a pandemic in a month. Governments went into crisis, the world locked down, quarantined the sick.

Whatever it was presented itself, bleeding membranes and bruising on the more delicate skin of the body.

In a month one percent of the entire world’s population was dead. Nearly eighty million people. And that would have been survivable, if they had stayed dead. In two months, five percent of the population had died. Then they stopped keeping track. It was pointless to quarantine the sick, so they quarantined the healthy.

Every single healthy person they could fine boarded the long-train west. The sick but not yet dead were rounded up and told to die fighting. Ten percent, the population of the world that was resistant enough to the virus that they weren’t killed outright. Half of one percent, those who seemed physically immune. It wasn’t immunity, they were carriers, with no symptoms and no need to fear.

Sam and Jess were two of them, they were torn from their family. They all died in the war as Sam and Jess boarded the long train.

Day Zero, the last day of the war, when the dead had overcome the living. A broadcast echoed out across the world, the final radio signal to reach out and transmit what little the Australian Government knew about the virus. It had broadcast on all frequencies, it cut through all the static, it interrupted broadcasts and it said the same thing for a week.

It is airborne, it is airborne, it is airborne.

There was no escape, simply breathing the air was enough to infect you. And you could tell if you were going to die just by how the bruising spread across your body. If it was only isolated to the eyes and mouth, you had a good chance of surviving.

The government was gone, and rather than descending into anarchy, fear brought the remnants of society together. Those that filled the power vacuum had a few ideas about how the world had come to end. As a punishment for the sins of the living; the queers, colours and heathens. Hedonism and addiction, the old world had to be eaten to cleanse it for the righteous.

Fire-brands in the shell of the old Commonwealth, the entire world started to burn.

“By the fires of the grace of the Fallen God, we are cleansed of the impurities of the soul. Be they called as Jehovah, Allah, or by any other name, the Fallen God lights the path to our salvation.”

They took root in the quarantine camps, and immediately began their reign of ‘correction’ and ‘cleansing’.

“It is upon us to correct the sins of those who do not walk in the light of the Fallen God.”

Being a young girl trapped in the confines of a cell, surrounded by monsters, having them know you are with another girl. Seeing the pyres they light, hoping that is your fate over the alternative – yet knowing the real fate for you.

“You are too precious to burn.”

Death is a kindness.

“Through the grace of the Fallen God, we were made. And yet by our hubris we rebelled and slew them. With no guide to take our souls to eternal paradise, instead we shall return to consume our own flesh and drink our own blood until the final body is devoured and nothing remains but the purgatory.”

 

Sam woke, she had missed her shift. A grumpy Ashley, one of her closer friends, had no issues taking over.

Ash: “Boss needed her sleep, she’s been running herself into the ground.”

Elizabeth: “What’s her deal anyway?”

Sam laid listening to them.

Elizabeth: “Why’s she hate them so much?”

Everyone here hated those pricks, that’s why they rebelled, why they fought two wars instead of one.

Ash: “It’s not my place to tell that story. But there are worse things you can do to someone than killing them.”

Sam got up, there was no point delaying it. It was nearly dawn, just the slightest hint of colour had made it into the sky. She approached the still burning fire and sat down. They noticed her, greeted her with a nod.

Elizabeth: “It’s not really the best I’ve ever made, but…”

Elizabeth was making something from the left over bread and apple. Tea was reboiling.

Elizabeth: “Beats the alternative.”

They offered her the first slice, it was toast. Toast with some kind of crushed apple spread.

She took a bite, it was surprisingly good. Crushed apple paste, a hint of something she couldn’t put her finger on, maybe some butter in there, nice and brown with a bit of a char to the ashen bread.

Sam: “You’re good at this.”

Elizabeth smiled warmly: “Thanks, I taught myself how to cook. I didn’t have much else to trade.”

Ash: “What’d you get for that sort of thing?”

Trade was pretty simple, if you didn’t have a service to offer, you needed a good to barter. The Pathfinders were a good place to scavenge up some stuff, but the Free Colonies of Sydney that the Pathfinders were a part of also gave them rations and a few luxuries for doing their job. Luxuries were basically the only thing worth trading because there was always a shortage.

Elizabeth struck Sam as a pragmatist: “Coffee, smokes, condoms, grog.”

Sam: “So why give that up?”

Elizabeth: “Boredom.”

Ashley drank a morning beer and stoked the flames: “Gotta do something ‘til you die.”

Ashley definitely was a pragmatist, the kind of girl that traded all her smokes for condoms so she could spend some time earning some more smokes.

Sam: “Thanks for letting me sleep in.”

Ash: “No worries, mate,” Ashley took the slice of bread offered to them, “I figured I’d get Jess on my good-side for once.”

Ashley was one of those country-town girls that had been rounded up for the long-train ride. Wouldn’t know it by looking at her though. A grimy, scarred, messy kind of a girl that scrubbed up alright with a bit of steel wool and elbow grease. They were all like that though, Sam supposed. Ugly young women in tattered repurposed clothes designed for a different world, torn and gnawed and cut into a thousand pieces. The only real difference was her hair. Digging through ruins, killing undead, crawling through mud and dirt and marching through rain. Sam had been such a delicate girl in her youth, Jess was the tomboy.

Ash: “This is pretty good, you should do some cooking back at base.”

Sam agreed: “I’ve got nothing to offer, but I know people that’d give an arm and a leg for something decent to eat.”

Plus people hoarded up cigarettes and alcohol just because they liked to feel like they’ve got something to their name. They’d definitely part with a little of their stash for some proper food.

Ash: “If I weren’t on the hook to Jess for fags-uh, sorry.”

Ashley chagrined. Sam shrugged.

Ash: “I already give her smokes.”

Sam was curious, she’d never actually bothered to ask: “What does she trade you anyway?”

Ash: “Rubber.”

Sam traded them the same thing for their coffee…: “Wait, then how are you always complaining you need more?”

Ashley shrugged: “Sun’s up, I’ll go wake everyone.”

Ashley dashed off before any more questions could be raised. Elizabeth poured herself a cup of tea. Coffee had been in short supply for a while now, whatever the substitute was they’d been having trouble getting more.

Sam: “She’s gonna be pissed when she finds out I’m giving up smoking.”

Elizabeth laughed, Sam chuckled.

Elizabeth: “She can have mine if she wants, I’ve got no use for ‘em.”

Sam: “I’ve still got no clue where they get half this shit from. Logistics is fucking magic to me.”

Elizabeth nodded thoughtfully: “I guess it’s no less impressive than the dead coming back to life.”

Sam: “Guess not.”

Elizabeth: “I bet you’ve seen some shit. You’re a career soldier right?”

As far as occupations go, she was a philosopher. She’d never actually trained to be a soldier, she just refused to die easily.

Sam: “Yeah, guess so.”

Elizabeth: “You’re a black-shield, right?”

Sam nodded. The whole shield thing always kind of bothered her. It was a pseudo-rank thing the Free Colonies did and all it really meant was that you had logged a lot of time out in the field. Every three months you got a different colour, from White which was untrained, Green which was trained but under three months. All the way to Black, which was an entire twelve months spent in the field. Her actual military rank was captain. Ashley who was a red-shield, nine-months, was also a captain and Jess who was second-in-command was a lieutenant but also a black-shield. Elizabeth was a green-shield, and a private. In the end, it meant fuck all, it was just some revolutionary bullshit the high-command was pulling because they were worried about any associations at all with the Commonwealth. They had even considered renaming Sydney but never came up with a good name for it.

Elizabeth: “How many times have you been bitten?”

Sam: “Twelve, maybe as high as fifteen.”

The others started showing up for breakfast. Elizabeth passed around the food and the tea. The eight women of Patrol 36, much more cheery than last night, but all still looking like death.

Jess: “So, where to next Boss?”

They wrapped an arm around her, hugged her to their side as they ate.

Sam: “Well, I’m out of cigarettes, so I say we head back to base.”

She offered Jess her last cigarette. They were getting low on supplies anyway.

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2017-09-15.

Posted my vote for the Australian same-sex marriage survey today. I voted yes.


Insomniac, spend all night day-dreaming.

Wake to the memories of coffee and cigarettes.

Stairs down carry weight.

Outside world, sunshine and flowers.

Spend the day trying to paint.

So tired, asleep on my feet.

But then you wrap your arms around me.

Kiss me softly on the cheek.

Lay me down to sleep.

Romance, missing in the real world.

Sing, dance, dream.

Then get told effort is meaningless.

Sad songs don’t make it to the radio.

The theatre is empty for this play.

Wrap your arms around me, lay me down to sleep.

Dreams of treading water, trying to fish.

An empty sea for the fisher-queen.

Barren like a wet desert.

Easy silences follow every cast.

Thick breath.

Sell a pound of flesh.

The barcodes label sells cheap.

But then you kiss me softly.

Hold me tightly to your chest.

Knight falls, sun rises and the daughter runs away.

Unwelcome child, a plague upon her house.

Bring forth unspoken desires her father suppressed.

A Juliet and a Rosaline.

A rose by any other name.

Offered up in earnest amongst a bouquet.

Stalwart friends scramble, hoping to be next.

Then you came to me.

Then we danced.

You sang me off to sleep.

You held me as I dreamed.

Insomniac, spent all night day-dreaming.

Of the day we’re allowed to marry.

2017-09-14.

Another.


Gaze into the stars, seek clarity of mind. Soft music in the background, leading her home into the dream. Songlines trail across her skin, falsetto trills in her veins. Blood as thick as water, weeping down her body. Blood, sweat and tears.

A hard slog of a day becomes a soft rest by night, humbled beneath the stars of her ancestors. Anxious, the space between her and the woman she dreams about grows. Two days becomes four, then sixes and sevens.

Two days at least.

Space, the ultimate humbler, distance is perspective. Lying on her back, on the tray of her ute, she can see the smallest of distances between the stars. London was about as far away from Sydney. An atom to an ant. Tiny things that must seem so close from so far back, but imperceptible to those involved.

The distance between an ant and an atom, is no different than London was to her.

Sky falling, shooting stars, shoot her. Hit their mark, cut her in half. Skies crush her.

Being alone isn’t too bad, being lonely is the worst experience ever. Reminded that nobody else will be there.

Sigh eternally, try to sleep, too sick with love to move. People tell her that it’ll get easier, that distance is surmountable.

Do they see the distance between Earth and Moon and think to themselves – such a small leap? Decades between two bodies, so close in the scheme of bigger things.

They say, find a way to be happy.
Happiness is the sort of thing people serve up without really understanding how it works. There is no binary between suffering and pleasure, only thorns both share.

And without someone to share them with. Distinctions fade.

An atom to an ant.

2017-09-13.

An ongoing saga.


Hand on the hilt, he steps forward into his moment. He draws his sword, the heavy blade weighs down his soul.

Light breaks in through the high windows of the throne-room, memories of soldiers in heavy armour line the hall. His shadow casts towards the throne, the sun shines upon Her. She stands before the throne, a doubtful eye cast down upon him.

Without armour, faceless in a sea of light, skin bare to their barbs. She holds in her hand a spear, propped against the broken floor. The long nimble blade at the tip is nearly as long as his sword. She was always the best of them.

“I’m glad you came, Sister,” she speaks coldly, indifferent to the world, “I missed you.”

His fingers tighten around the hilt of his sword. Her bare skin is heavily tattooed, dark blue lines that glow as they surge from her heart to the tips of her fingers and toes. Just like his own, brighter and stronger than his own.

“They still call you the Drake,” she finally broke her stoicism with bemusement, “like some kind of dangerous animal. Even a duck can be trained to guard sheep.”

“You always liked to howl, wolf.”

“I like that, Wolf. Maybe if I betray my Queen I can get make that my name.”

“There is only one way to find out.”

She took a step down, one step, still up upon her perch like a singing canary, “I am still surprised they did not send me first.”

Another step down, spear pointing towards him, “Did our Sisters even give you trouble?”

One more step down, out of the blinding light, he can see her glass-scarred face now, “You always did have a special place for me in your heart. Do you now?”

His heart aches, he turns his eyes down.

“No, I am too disgusting for you to even look at.”

She stands upon the final step, spear aiming directly for his heart – she could end this now if she truly desires it. His arms, heavy, his sword lead at his side. Even from across the hall, with dozens of metres between them, she could simply put him out of his misery.

Glass crushes beneath his feet.

“We burned, we bled, we lost pieces of ourselves because of you.”

The dark blue across their skin simmered, fire boiling at their scarified flesh. Their dark skin has thick, angry pink lines that cut through the tattoos, the more he stares at her the more he sees it.

“I took her skin, her hands, her face, her leg, her arm, her heart. I know what I did.”

“Then fall on your sword, end this all.”

He looks her in the eyes, one is cloudy and both are seething, “I never said, I regret my actions.”

“Then, Drake, Sister, Traitor. Let’s get this over with.”

A rapids surging forth, her spear struck against his chest, a wave washing over him. His sword hangs by his side as though he had never tried to block. He can feel his heart carved in half. The blood inside him pours free. She stands face to face with him, the shaft of her spear through his chest.

“You… rob me of my justice.”

He stares at her blankly, the world falling apart around him. He smiles at his final thoughts. She screams at him, only wishing she could kill him again, and again.

“I-” his lungs are filling, he can’t speak his final words.

She leans in, desperate to hear him beg for his life. His runes simmer a strange grey, as though he is trying to hold himself together. Then, he grabs her face and in searing agony she collapses to the ground, writhing and thrashing. Her entire body burns, fire consuming her mind.

Her fingers crack, her throat chars as she screams and contorts.

She wakes, her soul heavy, body tender to the air against her skin. Everything hurts, everything is a blind ache.

“It hurts the first few times.”

The voice, it is familiar.

“After about the fifth or sixth time though, you only pass out for a few hours.”

Her stomach growls, her mouth is dry and dusty. She tries to speak, but it hurts even to breath.

“In a few days time, you will feel better than ever.”

He struggles to stand, to look down at her. His body is weak, sore, barely able to breath.

“I guess there is a reason no-one bothers learning healing magic, it is so much kinder to let them die.”

He finally stands, “Until next time Sister.”

2017-09-12.

Something a little more dark today.


In sickness and in health, I promise I’ll love you no matter what.

Swallow pride, amongst less savoury things. Bitter is the pill, sour are the grapes. My medication is sickly sweet, mostly sugar. A placebo effect at the least, my brain doesn’t fry up like it should. Poor thoughts lead to poor manners, poor etiquette and poor execution. Pull a dress on me and call me pretty, a nice white to hide the reality.

A centrefuge provides no shelter, it gets straight to the heart of it. How valid are your vows? Are your words worth your weight in gold? I should have protected myself better. Blood separation magic, but honestly I should have known I’d be caught.

The way you look at me, perplexing, hurt, scared.

The new medicine is bitter, but it pairs well with wine. We’re more alike than different, we fight the same demons as they rise. My health fades away, you shield yourself with another. I keep my disease from spreading, bottle it up inside.

In sickness and in health, you promised you would love me no matter what.

But neither of us said we’d keep that exclusive. We all need a change in scenery to grow our illnesses. You spread your plagues, I hold it inside as it consumes me. As I rot, as I wither on the vine. Those vines you tend to so affectionately before you go out.

New pills, new liquors, I try cigarettes – why not? Not like I’ll make it to old age. I can feel the cancer in my lungs thriving – maybe that’ll take me first. I wear a pretty white dress and sit about waiting for you.

You’re exhausted but your demons are in check. How much satisfaction does that bring? Being with others, sharing yourself, letting them take you in, letting them feel you. Bitterness.

What medicine is there for regret? My real regret was getting this sickness in the first-place but I’d change so much more. Is it wine – too bitter. Is it the pills – too sour. Is it you?

How can it be, if you’re out there spreading yourself to everyone else. While I rot.

Sickly fucking sweet, mostly sugar. My brain doesn’t fry up like it should. No point in this shit any more, no point in any fucking thing.

Where are you when I need you… with another… where are you when I want you… living. A white dress no longer hides the fact, everyone can see the plague pox upon my skin. My face sinks, my back cracks, my eyes swell and darken. My blood is thick with the infection, it slows to a crawl. My heart aches, my fingernails redden from the scratching.

And where the fuck are you? At my bedside wondering what went wrong.

What the fuck happened.
You didn’t catch me the second time around.

2017-09-11.

In honour of this special day, a reminder about what it was always really about.
I promise I’ll start making these longer again.

PS: Whoops, looks like I didn’t publish this up properly so it’s a day late.


Always at war with Eastasia.

Battlelines have been drawn since time began. Spears and swords, under the banner of the only God. Batter down the walls, take whatever is left. Upon the sands and ash we build a kingdom, upon the sands and ash we carve an empire. Disparate peoples, unified by the true desire, liberation – we bring to the faithful liberation. And we shall cleanse the heresy.

 

Always at war with Eastasia.
Bombs and guns, the battlelines dig deep into the earth. With sabre, we charge, light cavalry and heavy infantry, airplanes buzzing along the trenches. Machineguns tear down armies, artillery shreds their lines. Formations break, disparate peoples, unified by the true desire, liberation – we bring to the noble liberation. And we shall cleanse the heresy.

 

Always at war with Eastasia.
The battlelines shift so quickly like the flowing sands. From one desert to another. Drone strikes melt away their armies, Jets buzz their lines. Surging forth in heavy armour, cavalry and light infantry swoop in to pick apart like vultures. ‘Fighters’ die a dozen at a time, hiding amongst the crowds. Organisations crumble, disparate peoples, unified by the true desire, liberation – they offer the downtrodden liberations. And they shall cleanse the heresy.
Always at war with Westasia.
The battlelines have been drawn since time began. Assault rifles and hand grenades. Drones leading the way, a lance through the heart. Knights jousting, soldiers skirmish over ground shifting – changing hands. Disparate peoples, unified by the true desire, liberty and equality and the pursuit of happiness – they offer the land freedom from its wealth. And they shall cleanse the heresy.

2017-09-08.

Nothing impressive or meaningful, just practicing mixing tenses without it being terrible. Feel free to tell me I failed miserably.


The night skies darken, the stars slowly blink out of existence – unable to watch as the void approaches. Standing upon the alkali flats, broken dirt shifting about around her feet. Her cloak floats out behind her, the air singes in the heat death approaching. White armour, dark black oozing from the gaps. The etchings and scribings across the armour’s plating sizzle, breaking the shadows and radiating pure white light. A gap in the world forms about her, where all time and space cease to be. Nothing but white, nothing but the monochrome of the true duality.

The final conflict between black and white, the light and the dark.

The darkness consumes all it touches. Nothing is left in its wake, it pains her mind to even realise what it is she is fighting. For what she is fighting does not exist, it is literal nothingness. The only thing in her mind, is herself. The feeling of her blood hemorrhaging from her pores, blood leaking from her eyes and her nose and her mouth. Each thought brings another piece of herself back, reforms her to die.

But what is she standing on? Stone, the stones of a city street. She can see the buildings now, rising from the nothingness of a wilderness. A city, down to every detail, every face, every feeling, every finery and flaw.

And of the wilderness? Harder to visualise in this great whiteness. The stone spreading beneath her feet buoyed her. Cities rise, wilderness spreads. She moves earth and sky, and with each new mind she remakes, the world strains her a little less.

The thick red mist forms around her, her blood vapours from her, disintegrating into the world she is remaking. All the lands she had visited, all the people she had known and the people she had seen, all of everything her mind could bring back to her, and everything everyone could remember from that. Held together by her very blood.

“You succeeded?”

The voice stings at her heart, “I failed.”

A woman with long brown hair and deep hazel eyes, the one thing she fears she was unable to recreate as they were.

“But, we’re both here… I died, so long ago. I still remember your last words to me – you promised once it was over, once you won, you’d find a way to save me.”

She turns, their face is as soft and gentle as ever. They embrace her, blood staining their skin.

“I lost Gwen… I never had a chance.”

“Then, what’s this?”

“I had to get creative.”

She let them remove her helmet, “Trust me, Cor’, you won.”

They kissed her, and the white of her armour faded.

2017-09-07.

Today is another day.


I’m working on my profundity.

It’s all well and good to be clever, but if you never sound it then what’s the point? Social anxiety has always held me back, maybe because everyone I’ve ever known has left me for dead. That is not a metaphor.

After a while you wonder, “is it me?”

Nah, they’re just assholes out for themselves.

Probably doesn’t help that I live in a wasteland, surrounded by inhuman monsters looking for gold and sin in an era of decadence. The kind that’d sell themselves into slavery for the right price. That right price is about, $18.29 per hour, before tax.

I try not to fall into that trap, I value nothing more than happiness and happiness can’t be bought or sold. People, places, objects, they just weigh you down. So nah, it isn’t me, it’s all of them. Being in this world isn’t much fun, being in this life is a hassle at best. At worst, it is oddly cathartic.

Hearing about people helping each other, about the way they can come together after a disaster. – to rebuild the status quo. To remake the world that put them in that disaster in the first place.

Throwing money at a problem doesn’t get rid of it, and flooding people with your useless shit in the aftermath doesn’t help. So what do you do?

Don’t give charity, that’s just putting your burdens on others.

Burn down the cathedrals built in their image. The glass and steel monuments to their own fucking glory. They call for you to give, charity is the poor helping the poor while the rich get fatter. So arrogant they build their houses on sand, out of glass.

“What makes you a good fit for our company?”

I look at the interviewer, “I get along well with other people, we’re all here to work and if I can help make this a better place to be, then aren’t we all better off for it?”

I’m still working on my profundity.

2017-09-06.

Tried to do more action stuff. Not sure this came out too well.


Descending down into the darkness, the ruins of a lost city, time ate away at the minds of those imprisoned. An algal bloom sweeps over the stones, vines drape in the small pools and slivers of sun that pierce deep inside. The eternal lanterns of others that came before litter well walked paths. A watery blue glow about all of them.

The soft trickle of water as it carves its weary way through layer and layer of walls and floors. A city built upon a city, built upon a city. True ground far up above. He walks. The forgotten stones that lay just beyond the light seem to call out for him, they want to be remembered.

A lonely wandering knight treading ancient paths. Upon finding a small shallow pool of clean water he stops for a drink. His tin cup shakes in his tired fingers. A sun-spot has cracked through the ceiling, an improbable thing if not for the brightly polished mirrors still shining through. A soft trickle of water over it keeps them clean and they fill the ruins with the light needed for the lush plants growing wildly about him.

“Even in the depths of hell I can’t escape you,” he looks up to the figure standing in the doorway across the small pool. The crumbled bridge forms into stepping stones strong enough for the two armoured men.

“It is a shame to bloody this beautiful place, Brother. Perhaps, we could step into the next room?”

“You know what must have happened to our Sister, yet you came anyway.”

The figure steps forth into the light, a woman taller and broader than himself. In heavy armour that would crush a lesser being but that is positively light on their huge frame. They carry forward effortlessly, onto the first of the steps.

He bows his head in acknowledgement, “Allow me a moment’s rest.”

They step forward again, “I don’t think I will.”

“I suspected as much.”

He straightens, and draws his blade in a flash of steel. It rings dull, glimmering in the sun. The woman comes for him, her thick gauntlets like hammers swinging for him. He can see the green glow between the plates of her armour. He steps aside, ducks her hammer blows and drives his blade against her stomach. The tattoos snaking across his skin glisten dark green, his sword clatters against her armour and she has to step away from him as he slips by.

He spins his blade in his hand to rebalance it, the ethereal green of his tattoos weaving into the steel of his sword. The runes carved into the blood-groove shine that same earthly green. The blade thickens.

From beneath her helmet, he could feel her derisive expression, “You never were much good at anything more than the basics.”

She steps towards him again, this time to his side so he had no choice but to turn. His back to the water and not the stones, no room to back away. No room for her either. She lunges, aiming for his chest. Unable to parry, he turns his body away and strikes her point first in the chest. Her armour dents and she staggers slightly back.

He stabs again, this time she tears the blade from his hand and throws it aside into the water. His fingers ache, his arm had nearly torn off trying to hold on.

“Now what?”

She comes for him again, he steps aside and rolls away, finding his feet at the edge and leaping over the stepping stones with ease. She turns to him and throws out her gauntlet, catching him by the throat on the third of the seven steps.

He is dragged down into the water, his head cracking against the stone floor. He pries free of the fingers around his neck, and rises from the water.

“Give up Brother, you are lucky you made it this far.”

The green of his tattoos fade, he struggles to draw in breath. His chest aches.

“No.”

With a sigh she throws out her other gauntlet, this time he throws up an arm to defend himself and it latches on. Her other gauntlet rises from the water and hooks his free wrist. It is pointless to fight, she drags him from the water and hangs him before her by the arms.

“You don’t have a choice.”

He hangs his head, she pulls him closer, the sickly green glow coming off her gauntlets and her armour fills the room.

“You were always too good for me to beat fairly, Lya.”

“You can’t cheat your way out of this one.”

He smirks, “Can’t I?”

His arms shimmer blue briefly, a sudden, blindingly bright blue and his wrists turn to water. Slipping from her grasp, he lands on his feet, spine glowing green. The tattoos on his face are bright green by the time he slams his head into hers. Her helm crumples and she falls against the stones. He shakes out his arms, they reform as flesh and bone and with the raise of his left hand his blade surges from the water to rejoin him. He sheathes it and bends down to pick up his tin cup so he can finally have a drink.

“You were right about me Sister, but I had to learn. You should have expected that, maybe for the next time we meet.”

He strings his cup about his belt and crouches down to look at her. Her face would be a mess behind that snarled metal, but she would live. Just like Ish.

“Send my regards to the Sisters. I’m assuming I will see them all soon.”

2017-09-05.

No commentary today.


Come around sundown, let your setting fires clear the skies. Wash away the clouds and bring the night. Sit in the garden, drinking beer from glass bottles, sometimes it’s just good to step off the throttle and enjoy what you’ve got.

Together.

Watch the sunset, drink some whiskey. Hard stuff and soft stuff, not much of a fan. Prefer the metal kind, let it trickle through the veins and arteries like slow blood.

Two.

Then, one – way or another, sitting together in the garden, skies on fire and lips pursed. Lean together, hands together. Head on shoulder, table shaking as a knee knocks it. Ignore the pain for Her.

One.

The clouds merge into. A mystic window like a red hole pierces the bottom of the clouds. Always wanted to see a blue hole but not much for swimming. Cigarettes, whiskey, beer, coffee. Even divide. Hand in hand, leg in leg. Sitting together in the garden with Her.

None.

Darkness finally reaches the horizon, world awash in black. Turn the lights on, light some candles, swat the mozzies that straw close. Eaten alive by bugs. Crash on the lounge, watch some TV, cuddle up close next to.

Her.