The Rebellion

Standard
Thank you Chelsea! Follow her on Twitter @Infinitevirtu.

Thank you Chelsea! Follow her on Twitter @Infinitevirtu.

He hated mud, especially the way it locked his boots in place. Each step took three times more energy as walking on pavement, which he thought horribly inefficient. Still the teenager trudged forth with soft sighs and mucky suction cups. He didn’t want to admit that his grandfather, although much older, seemed to glide through the trails on ice skates while he struggled. Sweat trickled onto his shirt sleeve as he wondered how many more times they would make the trek. “The old bastard can’t live forever,” he thought, out of jealousy more than spite–also while quietly gasping for elusive oxygen.

The two swam through smothering humidity, suitable for the high time of the year, which his grandfather almost always seemed to schedule instinctively. Resentment ran as thick as the atmosphere, but less than the swarms of mosquitoes. If he thought it would help, he would uncap his plastic bottle of Off bug spray and digest each and every drop. Years of experience, and hundreds of scratching scars, taught him the futility of escape. Like years past, he would watch in envy as each individual parasite veered evasively from his grandfather and attacked him instead. He became a master of the quick slap.

Not long into their hike, the air struck them with a dank and putrid smell. It consumed him the way the unfamiliar often does. Just off of the trail lay a whitetail, gutted innards resting in a pool of red. A small slab of pink hung from it’s mouth, it’s empty eyes staring daggers into the wood, and a puddle of blood sat on it’s head where the antlers were removed. The wounds were imprecise and sloppy–less the hands of a surgeon, but a child pulling dandelions in eager anticipation of his mother’s response. As he stared into the deer’s eyes, the smell disappeared and the playful sounds of nature stopped. Movement stopped, the world turned white. Loneliness swept over him, and he never felt younger.

He mustered focus and muttered a simple, “why?”

“Humans hate freedom. It eludes us in the day to day until days no longer come. We are guided by this hatred, digging our heels deeper into enslavement. Freedom is powerful, and we are not. Laws and bylaws and clauses and promissory notes and amendments are guised by safety. They’re not safe, they’re power mulchers, and when someone breaks the rules, it reminds us of how powerless we really are. Nature does not follow our rules. Lawyers cannot dictate terms to a pine, nor an owl. Their freedom is abundantly powerful, and it frustrates us to no end. They do not respect our reign. Each liberating breath is a reminder of what we have cease to be and will never be again. To fill our void, we reduce freedom to rubble–we take trophies that are chain links and locks made of flesh. We are lost.”

His grandfather stood weathered–a nail beaten sorely into steel. For the first time, he felt somehow sturdier and fresher than the old man, but mostly he felt uncomfortable. Death, although less intense than before, refilled his nose. Mud reappeared beneath his feet, surrounded by the woods and fading green. He pulled his lucky rabbits foot from his pocket, calming himself by shifting it in his hands, and left the deer behind.

Advertisements

Soles of our Shoes

Standard

 

This story marks the start of  new challenge for me. As often as possible, my good friend Chelsea Carbonell (Twitter: @infinitevirtu) and talented photographer, is going to send me a picture. Using that picture, I will try to create some sort of relevant story. My goal is that this will force me to write more and motivate her to get out and find interesting photographs. Either way, it’s going to be a blast for the both of us, and I already cannot wait for the next picture! Visit her twitter and give her some love if you like her pictures.

Soles of our Shoes

Thank you Chelsea! Follow her on Twitter @Infinitevirtu.

“But I miss the mountains,” she complained, “plus, it’s so hot.”

“No sense talking about that now. Would you like some water?”

She nodded, and he fished a bottle from the old suitcase he was carrying. The bottle crinkled under his grip and the contents were warm, but he handed it to her anyways.

His suit had faded from a dark to a light gray. He used to wear it to special occasions, like when he received his first promotion or when their grandson turned one, but he has long since retired. Now, the cuffs spliced into ragged shards, no longer held together by links–he lost one of them miles back and discarded the other for sake of symmetry. He loosened his top button and tie, wearing it lower along his chest. Everything in shambles, especially the shoes, which held together by thin sinews of leather.

They walked south along a desert road, flat as boredom and everlasting. To the west, an old railroad paralleled their path, cutting them off from a distant rolling of hills. No trains had passed since they have been walking, but the distant crossing lights seemed operational. Above all else, however, they noticed the heat; not heavy, but oppressive nonetheless. It wore them to the core without compassion nor escape. Yet, they kept walking.

“Does your hand hurt? Let me take your suitcase, darling.”

Together, they inched along, best friends understanding without talking. Up ahead they noticed a man standing at a road crossing over the rail. They had seen crossings before, but never thought to, or were never called to go over them. He leaned against a sign with one leg propped up. He wore a black baseball cap, faded and dirtied by the desert heat. A cigarette hung from his lips as he looked towards the ground, raising them calmly only when the old man spoke.

“Where does this lead?,” the old man inquired.

“Down a’ways is a rest stop. Ain’t much but a place to rest your head.”

“How far? We have been walking for a long time.”

“Not sure, but I’ll take y’ there.”

“What is your name?”

“Charro.”

“That’s a unique name.”

“These are unique times.”

The old man handed over their suitcases, and together, all three crossed the tracks and continued down the road.

Circles in the Dirt – Chapter 1: Transformation

Standard

Thank you for reading! This is an unedited teaser for my upcoming novel Circles in the Dirt. I hope you enjoy it. Please comment anything positive or negative.


It’s not everyday we’re asked to walk in circles; in fact, we have such few opportunities that we often confuse the duty with a tedious chore. Each ungrateful step takes us bounds away from the greatest elusive truth–we’re alive, and that alone is a power immeasurable.
I measured each step against two and a half adjacent logs firmly impales into the ground. Two and a half logs paced steps in perfect rhythm, like walking to the ticks of a metronome. When I was young, I did the same thing to slabs of concrete, except I had to reach for each crack to catch tempo. The routine soothed me, only I haven’t seen a slab of concrete since everything changed, parted, disappeared.
Beforehand, people toyed with “The End” like some sort of heroic romance. Stories on screens and games painted a pastoral collapse of society, survived by men clad in futuristic armor or purposely ratty outfits paired by professional stylists, armed with automatic weapons–a population of modern, yet primitive, ubermensch. They ran camps like the old wild west I used to hear stories about, shooting aimlessly at beast and man alike. Most importantly, their mortality depended more on dramatic shock value than danger, accident, or lack of survival skills. They were heroes of inarguable moral and physical stature.
In reality, however, the world transformed imperfectly. Bullets and psychological medication drew thin, then ran out. Those who casually planned intricate escape plans panicked or turned to violence and ended up wiping themselves out. Many gaudy business men and their families sought shelter in bunkers designed for myths. Isolated and alone, most turned to familial homicide motivated by mercy or overwhelming solitude. When preparation became reality, guidebooks reduced to kindling.
Initially, survival depended on an intricate balance of innate human drive and compassion. The hopeless gave up while the fanatics killed each other off. In the same way, the charitable were discarded by the self-seeking. Towns and cities collapsed under politicians whose only powers were twisting words and marshal law, which lasted until local aid stockpiles diminished. Then, all structure and logic wilted and decayed just as most of the crops had months before. The chaos spread from city centers, reaching the outer suburbs, where the stubborn and naive recognized their mistakes but were too late. Our country neighbors who came together, however, overcame. Through painful sacrifice and often irrational altruism, pockets of survivors from the area eked past the initial surge of violence, famine, and pestilence, but not without losing loved ones.
There were no celebrations, no comic relief, nor heroic expressions of love. Each day number than the last, passion meant sharing a can of food and helping to bury, or burn, dead family members. But with small triumphs and greater tragedies hung faces like nature: dry, grey, and expressionless–droning survivalists both.
From these pockets formed our ragged tribe, and from the tribe, a sense of isolation driven by collective fear. My mom looked skeptical when the elder men decided to construct Endo, but hid her protest behind quiet, shy eyes. A year and a half later, a wooden palisade hidden within dying foliage surrounded us;  a blanket of comfort, according to mom, separating truth and struggle from reality–a sense of security to the rest of us.
Since our world shrank to just over a square mile, each day a member of the community endures the responsibility of walking the entire perimeter of the fortress; a duty called circumventing, which involves checking the wall for damage or breaches. Besides a few minor repairs, nothing has ever been reported. Circumventing is better spent day dreaming and making up meaningless games, like timing steps according to log placement. And so I walked in circles, carefully distancing each ungrateful step.
I wondered about the unnamed warriors mom used to describe in stories meant to drown out the groans of pain and starvation around us. My favorite traversed violent oceans, fought enemies of both natural and supernatural realms, and returned a couple decades later to reunite with his family. She always told me there was more to the ending, but never actually finished. I guess she didn’t feel stories, nor circles, were meant for finishing. “Two and a half logs a step,” I shook myself, refocusing on the dull eluding of truths.