Monday, August 21, 2006

vampires on a train- an almost fff

big-up jj for taxing us this week, by continuing to call this thing flash fiction, but requesting use of the hero's journey in 3acts. as a result, this is neither flashy, nor within deadline, but after all that work and weeding, i wasn't gonna not post it. fuck that.
and yes, i'd describe shit more if brevity weren't such a difficult target this week, and yes, i also admit that when the goal is brevity+creativity by deadline, it'd be nice if i achieved @ least 1 of the 3- but in my defense, i apparently can't read, and when i checked our assignment on friday i thought the hero's journey was optional, and quite frankly, wasn't gonna. so i'd set aside a little of sunday/monday for this project, then discovered neither block of time was enough, and the phone's ringing off the hook so far today...
so to compensate a tiny bit for this being mostly format with a few words hung on it like too-small fig leaves, and especially since i missed fff#48 on that v.a. beach trip, in a nod to last week's unwritten fff, i threw in a little sacrifice:

Vampires on a Train.
sitting quietly, ashen. in rows on benches in musty cabins, leaned back, trying to melt into the shadows on the walls behind.
the vampire express had run forever – not that any of us could verify that – but we could tell it’d take another forever before it carried them all back. they were so many that they’d been unable to hide, overrunning the planet, leaving swathes of empty darkness where they’d laid waste to entire colonies. the few colonies who’d managed to keep them out had banded together, our best and brightest designing the pre-emptive vaccination that made us their kryptonite. then there was war.
the world was relieved when the agreement was reached, and the express started shuttling. that was forever ago.
now that it was our turn to hold up our end, we had no idea what we should do. there was no history to look to, no precedent to follow – when the agreement was reached the leaders thought they’d have sent them all back on the express – one-way, with no means of return – well before having to fulfill promises.
now here we were, delivering up our son as sacrifice to the unholy gods – and what else were they, immortal would-be puppeteers – to save the diminished masses.
none among us had ever ridden the express. being the first seemed a dubious honour.
we’d tried to fight it, but there was no way to win – who were we to hold everyone to ransom over one life?
we boarded, eyes downward, trying to be still enough that our blood might cool. we felt the stares burning holes through us, searching our veins for value. he cried then, the first and last time since he’d been told he was saving us all. he begged us not to make him do it, and all we could do was tell him we loved him the more for it, that he’d be the most loved among us forever.
once we got settled the door whispered open for one of them who was also one of us – we didn’t understand how he could be possible, but when the others almost destroyed the train car to get to us and we knew he was the only force between us, we didn’t care about his species. we watched the metal box around us crumple from inside a snow-globe-like shell, our son forgetting this was not an adventure he could return to tell stories about. we asked no more questions, just accepted that this was the angel our son insisted he was.
the angel stays with us for the rest of this journey and his presence comforts, except for his eyes’ concession that this is only the beginning.
we disembark cautiously, conscious of our alone-ness. we look to the youngest and least experienced of us to lead. he must know the way.
he starts moving without a word. he’s stepped into his role as if engineered for this landscape. we follow hastily, struggling to keep up with youthful legs that walk this path with the certainty of a longer lifetime. he doesn’t look back. we realise that we are now merely his witnesses.
as watchers we see him navigate his journey, taking pitfalls in stride, learning the lessons failures teach, led ever northward by his internal compass. we see him choose his battles along the way and feel he’s become his own angel.
then she comes in the night, stark and stunning, bringing visions of what he could have with her, what he could be with her, forever. she shows him the life he knowingly forfeits by continuing to follow instinct’s lead to his ultimate purpose; the life that could be his, should he choose his life over the others. and she shows him much more – she knows the meaning of his dreams, so vividly lingering in the days since this began. he learns and grows in her light, becoming a man as we watch, thankful for each glimpse of what he’d have become.
she empowers him, but must necessarily try to persuade him to stay with her, and we watch him fight his ego to keep forward momentum. their combined power could have been awe-inspiring but he knows his quest is the only thing. he must continue as surely as she must try to keep him.
he makes his way directly to the centre. he’s never stopped – the angelic presence lingers like his dreams, seeming to mask our own existence – none of them notice us as others; none of their senses pinpoint life walking in their midst.
when we get there he lets us know that it’s time. now he is the parent and we the children, but in another moment we will be the ones in control. our relationships are fluid now, shifting as each phase in this history we write comes to pass.
he climbs into the marble throne and sits, regally, growing into the place carved out for him by the moment. he pulls the blade out from what seems like nowhere and holds it out to me. i am the servant, he the master, but i will be the end of him. we feel the hum emanating from the other end of the tiny drainage system that is the only decorative detail on the massive throne, and know that the time is well nigh. they are ready, their machines are ready, the system is ready to be satisfied. all i have to do is use the blade to spill him into the network of miniscule channels, taking the answer to their unquenchable need for life to fuel the undead forever.
i lean into him, ready for the sacrifice.
he asks why i have abandoned him.
i lose my resolve. he is my child and this is not what parents do – i might as well be one of them if i do this deed – are we worth saving if this is what we demand of each other?
he asks again and i have no words to explain. i do what i know i must, slicing as gently and delicately as my shaking hands will allow. it’s over so quickly.
i lift his limp, drained body down and wonder what to do next. i hold him in my lap. his mother tries to fill her loss with her tears while i think how warm he still is, and how his warmth is connected to the steadily rising hum of the machine and the almost-life it supports – he remains warm in spite of sacrificing his internal source of heat, and they remain cold in spite of assimilating his life.
i look up from what remains of my family and into his angel’s face. i’m suddenly struck by how much his angel looks like her, the one who explained his dreams. then i see that they are all one – our son, his angel, his temptation, all share the same face – if we’d taken our eyes off him we would’ve seen it, but until now everything looked like him because he was all we saw.
they approach, dual incarnations overlapping and coming together as one as my eyes focus. he kneels at the body in my lap and closes its eyes. he holds his mother while she cries, never telling her it is himself, but waiting for her to open her eyes to her grief and discover him – alive?
as the question resonates in my mind i see the ashen pallor and realise that the sacrifice has been made successfully. his mother will see him again, but not truly alive.
he takes us below, under the centre, showing us what his life was worth. we see them already feeding off a million blank versions of him, each vacant face a perfect replica, lacking only the spark of true life. these carry his blood, but are merely vessels to produce and pump a neverending supply for the hungry, still arriving in droves on the vampire express.
we try to make him come back with us, but know his place is in this world now.
eventually we leave.
going back we’re the only ones on the express. none of them can ride it in this direction – part of the agreement – and now that we’ve delivered their savior, they don’t need to. their irrigation system’s mainline is tapped into the source. his dna was perfect for them, and the engineering and cloning were simple enough, so we gave him up to pre-empt the harvest of us all.
we return to no empathy.
we dream of his return, but know that he is beyond the parameters of our world. we know them but can never be of them the way he is now. although we’ll never see him again, any time we think of him we will know he’s out there.
he will be. forever.


walk good.

3 Comments:

Blogger The Peong said...

Wow! Just wow!

This is so unlike anything you have ever written. It's fantastic. You don't need anymore description, it works so well as is. Great work!

3:44 pm  
Blogger mamalujo1 said...

Nicely done. I can see why (and I'm glad) you wanted to get it posted. Thanks!

9:32 am  
Blogger angel said...

brilliant, fabulous, spookie, scary, vivid, suprising, LOVED IT!

3:48 pm  

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