Pete Barker | July 8, 2018
800 Words. Due date: June 23, 2018
Topic: “Bring Up The Bodies”
Title: Dead Reckoning
Upward. Upward. Out of the ground. Upward toward a dark sky you lurch. It’s not like in a cheesy teen flick where nuclear waste slopped in a graveyard raises the undead. Oh, no. You hear the call pulling you upward, ever upward. The singing, tearing you from the mouldering soil. The keening. The keening, piercing the crisp June night. The singer.
As you break the surface, sightless eyes see dark skies pierced by a billion stars. Stars that go on forever. It’s not the stars that call your festering heart. It’s the icy blackness between them. Keening, keening, ever keening. The stars pierce it like silver bullets through a nun’s heart.
But you know all this of course. Your brain, rotted to a rattling walnut, no longer filters out the universe. Everything is laid out there to see, to feel, to know. The keening. The call. The singer. You must follow the song, the dreadful song. Brains. Fresh brains. Must have fresh brains. It’s the only thing that can filter out the horror. The horror. The terror incognita. The only thing that can stop the keening.
You know, of course, the scientists have it all wrong when they think the human brain uses reason and perception to understand the universe around it. And the priests and other mystics are no closer to the truth in believing the brain a receiver to tap into the universal consciousness, or god or whatever. Now, with all neural tissue gone, that meat of mindfulness rotted away, save that savage reptile stem, that rattling walnut in your rotten skull, that cadaverous cranium, you know, you know. You know it all. For ‘tis the brain and the brain alone that filters out the all of it all. The all of it all that is too vast, too beautiful and yet too dreadful for any one of us to bear alone.
Brains. Fresh brains. Must have fresh brains.
You stumble and stagger on decayed legs, flapping rotted feet toward him. Him. He. The One. The One who put you in that cold dark hole, one year ago tonight. One full revolution of the planet around the sun. Spinning. Twirling. Shrieking like a cannonball through a sandstorm. And back again.
You loved him. Still love him, like only a 12-year-old schoolgirl could love a 19-year-old foster brother. You couldn’t understand then why he forsook you, having then a brain that blocked out the most of the all. When you told him about the baby you were going to have together, what he did blindsided you. Came out of the dark. Never made it through the filter.
Why? you wondered as he squeezed your throat so tightly until the light was gone, took a shovel and put you in that hole.
But now, now, with no gridlock of grisly neural pathways, no obscuring sieve of synapses, and the whole universe laid out upon a table, you know all about Him. And His father, the pastor who, afraid of the scandal, fetched the shovel and chose the lonely spot under the last mangrove tree in the district. And His mother and His sister, who lied to the detectives that they saw you leave for school that next morning and didn’t know where you were.
It’s all so clear. So clear. Clear as the stars above. Clear as the keening, the singer. Clear as the window you see them through now. Like ghosts in the flitting blue light of the television. Sitting on the couch where once upon a time He made you feel so special. Called you His princess. In the house where you were supposed to be safe, where they were supposed to take care of you, shelter you, nurture you. Protect you from your junkie mother and the string of “uncles” she brought home and let run loose on the promise of the next fix.
You knew no better then. But now you see it all too clearly. How it will be. How it is. How it always was. The back door is unlocked. It’s always unlocked. They won’t see you coming from behind. He can’t get away. You know this.
Brains. Fresh brains. Must have fresh brains. You will eat your fill, enough to block out the keening, the singer, the horror, the all of it all.