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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Acid Fizz - 12

Acid Fizz, an insano-fiction online serial for those who like their bread butter side down.  If you haven't been reading, catch up on the earlier segments right here:

click picture & open link in a new tab for a song while you read


The woods are in the back of the darkness like a stage at the end of a dark theater.  I lead her toward it and I feel as if I am murdering her, not helping her, as I take her to this place where she can rest.  But it is the place she is meant to be, it appeared the moment she let go of the world and her eyes popped open in the darkness.  And beside that, it’s this or the bottomless sludge sea.  If I ever see that thing that did this to her, that stranded her here in the folds of nothingness, I will be sure that it knows what it’s done.
            She didn’t even protest, didn’t ask a question, didn’t try to bargain with me.
            “Is it that easy for you to accept your death?” I ask her.  A thousand insects hum in the woods.
            “I don’t think I do accept it,” she says.  “I understand it, though.  I wish it weren’t true but I’m sure it is.  And you say I should go into those woods.  I believe you.  I hope I accept it later.”
            I feel the thick air from the woods now.  The place is so much more vibrant than the village.  This is all so much easier for her.  Years of darkness and doubt, a pale and mute village as my fickle oasis.  Are they all spared it?  Am I the only one who was made to have to bear it?
            “How long have you been dead?” she asks.
            I don’t even know that I am dead, entirely.  I answer it the easy way.  “Nine years.”
            “Huh.  This place is big, isn’t it?”
            “I think it is.  Yes.”
            “That was a dumb question. Sorry.”
            The woods are bigger now.  We’re almost in them but that they still have a border, like the edge of a photograph.
            “So do you still miss people?  Your family?  Friends?”
            “Yes, I do.”
            “Do they find you when they die?”
            I don’t know, I don’t even know if she should be here.  I want to tell her to run, but run where?
            “Yes,” I say.
            I set my pure black foot down on the mossy floor.  She does the same.  A wind brushes wild anamu leaves against me.  A stony stream chirrups by our side.
            “So, what do I do now?” she asks and smiles at me.  It feels genuine but also like a bandaid sealed over a different emotion.
            I have no idea what to tell her.  To her I am an all-knowing guide to this world but inside I am empty and dumb.  “Keep going,” I say.
            “Oh,” she says.  She takes a step forward then turns back to me.  “Okay.”
            She steps over a stone and cracks a fallen malletwood branch with the ball of her foot.  She slaps a mosquito on her thigh.  “I can’t relate this place to anything I’ve ever seen,” she says.  “I have woods around my hometown, Belleville, Wisconsin, near Madison.  We have woods there, but not as lush as this.  It looks to me like movies or like a folder I would have had in second grade.”
            She disappears for a moment at a time behind the trees.
            “It’s really beautiful out here,” she says.  She’s right.  “You know the whole point of me talking right now is just that I’m terrified and I want to know there’s someone else here with me, so you can join the conversation if you don’t mind.”
            “You’re right.  It is beautiful.”
            “Yeah.  Ow.”
            “Are you alright?”
            “Yeah.  I just scraped my leg a little on a branch.”
            The trees are so thick now I can only see her movement, but not her shape.
            “You know what the real shame is?” she asks.
            “No.  What?”
            “I’m just now figuring out how to end my show.  I’m a radio DJ.”
            “Yeah and I had about forty minutes left of the show.  With all the spots I do plus all my chatter, that’s probably about six or seven songs.  And I got them now.  I know exactly what I’d play.”
            “What would you play?” I ask.  I shout because she’s farther away now.
            She shouts too.  “Well, I’ve got this sort of trio of songs I want to do that are all related, it’s Elvis, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez, sort of a meditation on the life of songs.  It will be pretty interesting but just to make sure no one’s falling asleep, I’d kick out The Stooges next.  They have this crazy song that just busts right through the speaker but what really makes me gaga is there’s a xylophone in it, what a nutty song.  Do you know The Stooges?”
            “I may have heard of them.”
            “Then I’d slow it down for a piece with Woody Guthrie, keep toes tapping but also make it so their hearts jump when the next song starts.  Oh, Jesus.”
            “Music is all I ever talk about.  I don’t want my last conversation to be about music.”
            “Talk about anything.”  There’s only woods behind me.  I don’t know where we came in.  I walk in the opposite direction of her to find my way out.
            “Oh, shit.  I don’t know what else to talk about.  After that, I’m thinking 96 Tears.  One of those songs I remember listening to in the car with my mom back when oldies stations played sixties music.  Then to close it out, Duke Ellington, Blue Pepper from the Far East Suite.  It’s a crazy song that will cave your head in it’s so crazy.”
There’s a path cutting through the woods, but it doesn’t look like it’s part of the woods.  It’s covered in smoke a few inches high, so thick there might not be a floor underneath it.  It reminds me of the road in the village.
            “I like Duke Ellington,” I say.  I think that’s true.
            “Me too.  Me too.  What other kind of music did you like?”  I can barely hear her.
            I step onto the path and smoke grows over everything like white vines expanding in fast-forward until it is everything.  I would try to answer her but I know she wouldn’t hear me.
            I step forward and there is a moment.  It is only a moment but it feels like it could have been years and I am suddenly exhausted from how far I’ve travelled though I’ve only taken a step.  I’m in the village, standing on the gray white featureless road with the white featureless sky above me and the white featureless houses on either side.
I don’t see anyone else.  I’m not waiting around for them this time.  I walk to the big cloudy house at the end of the street.  I’m going to walk in, whatever happens happens.
As I pass one of the last houses on the right, I startle.  There is someone here, she’s camouflaged the exact same gray as the steps she’s sitting on.  Her hair is long, curly, rowdy.  Her face looks like a stretched out moon.  The patches of her dress hang by one edge, ragged wings like flakes of diseased skin.  She watches me as I pass.  I look straight ahead and walk until my feet scrape the mat outside the front door of the big house.   I put my hand on the knob.
I could open it right now and go through.  I could.  Or I could try to ask her first.  I take my hand off the knob and look at the woman.
“Have you seen…”  My voice works, somehow.  I walk toward her while I start again.  “Have you seen a black mass?” I ask.  “A man-shaped thing, all black, bubbling out of the ground?  I saw it the last time I was here.”
“It was here not long ago.  We tried to kill it.  We don’t allow mortals in our village.  We don’t like strangers at all.”  She looks hard into my eyes.  “But we do not tolerate mortals.”
“It’s mortal?”
“Sure.  If it wasn’t, it would just walk in here like you did instead of bubbling up halfway through the ground.”
I stop a few strides away from her.
“It cleared out about as fast as it came, but not before it took Merl’s finger.”
“It attacked you?”
She shakes her head.  “Merl grabbed it and held it while Bill come at it with a knife.  The thing must have been slippery as all hell because it got loose just as Bill was driving the knife and he put it into Merl’s hand instead.  Now of course Merl won’t stop complaining about it.  Go inside and you’d be sure to get an earful from his surly ass.”
“Where did it go?”
“Skedaddled between those two houses across the road.”
She points over my head at the white gap between the two houses.  I walk toward it.
“Hope you get it, mister,” she calls after me.
I walk faster and leap between the two houses.  The white gap is all dead, dried brush.  I fight through it.  My head starts to feel like it’s on a burner or like something is heating it from the inside.  Something’s pulling at me in the middle of my being, pulling my self away.  Oh no.  I’m losing this place again.  I keep throwing myself through the brush but I know what this is.  I’m going back.

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