Fallstreak

Perhaps, this'll be reworked into something more permanent.

FALLSTREAK

Personally, I think the shade from the Unknown is quite lovely.

The Unknown. I thought we had reached a point where all things in the universe, grand and magnificent as it is, had been identified, quantified, categorized, and classified. Then, seven years ago, this anomaly, this behemoth of a mystery, plots itself above the New Washington Monument and stews. We, myself included, had no word for it, so we called it The Unknown, the abyssal remains of the withering human condition.

These are the preconscious thoughts of someone currently in the wax museum railcar just before he wakes up. My eyes are heavy, as they should be, as I had predicted. Nitrous Oxide is a cruel mistress, clad in leather straps and chains, smoking an unfiltered Marlboro Red, waiting on you to cry and beg for forgiveness…

“Yipe!” I cry, the barrel of a gun pointed at my face. Behind me, the firmsoft breasts of a woman. I turn around, head-first into a smiling face. My right arm feels heavy, and I think for a moment that I’m having a heart attack. I reach out and slap at the faces around me. Then, my eyes focus, and I realize I’m surrounded by people. Well, that’s incorrect. I’m surrounded by “people.” My breathing becomes more regular, comforted by a steady in and out, and my heart rate decreases. I'm sitting on a box. Come to find out, it’s still just as shocking to wake up to a wax Al Capone as it is the real Al Capone, who’s gun is still pointed at the back of my head. I’m nestled in between the fictitious bosom of Madame Bovary and “Eine Kleine NachtMussolini” (the World War 2 Exhibit). How ironic, caught in a railcar with a World War 2 generalissimo.

I look down to my arm and find my hand attached to a briefcase. A real briefcase, as if I’m a real spy. As if I have a codename, and when this train comes to a stop I’m going to be escorted off to the side by a brawny man in a black trench coat and a pistol with a silencer shoved in his pocket. I would have laughed at the ridiculousness of the scenario, but something tells me that I’m not wrong.

My first blackout occurred two second, no exaggeration, after The Unknown appeared. I woke up that time in the emergency room surrounded by fifteen other people who had experienced the same thing. That was the last time my blackouts resulted in something normal. The second time, I woke up in Nova Scotia, submerged in a tank of bath salts, connected to an IV drip of what felt like a simple glucose solution. So, to regain consciousness in the middle of what resembles a person is oddly comforting.

I bring the briefcase to my lap and try the latches. Locked. Of course. That’s when I feel the rustle in my breast pocket. Using my free hand, I pull out a folded piece of paper.
Inscribed on the paper is a crude drawing of a cow.

Iona. I remember Iona.

“It’s a cloud,” she mused. I stood by her side, covering my eyes against the sun in the west, and stared at The Unknown. It was amusing to us, a deep, dark purple-black against the pristine blue backdrop of a summer day. It was manifest of our lost direction; it was a metaphor for our end.

I liked it, though. Underneath it, the Washington Monument took on a milky-white iridescence. The air seemed to stop around it, and most people found it disconcerting enough to take pictures of the Lincoln Monument instead. So, it was practically deserted most of the time. We gathered there, speaking in turns, waiting for something to happen.

“It’s not a cloud,” I returned.

“If it’s not a cloud,” she interlaced her fingers with mine, “then what is it?”

I faltered, then chuckled. I let my gaze settle on the cloud, immersing myself in its rippling surface, transfixed by its fixed point in space. I turned my head to face her, to study how the sun shines off her cheekbones, how the red of her lips is like shattering glass. I linger there, vacillating. “We’re going to be okay, right?”

She breathed in heavily. “Maybe.”

The train grinds to a halt, and a life-size model of Willow tumbles before me, and lands face-up, wand in hand. I suppose Iona will be waiting for me.

I gather myself, take the gun from Capone’s hands, and clamber to the door. It’s midday, and we’ve stopped somewhere in Virginia. Of course, most everything is covered in snow, insisting that I get lost trying to find out my exact location. I head south.

As the day trudges on, I get a glimpse at the looming cloud that seems to have doubled in size since, when, when was it I got on the train. I must be walking through a forest; the trees sublimely sway under the weight of the snow. It’s peaceful here.

The train pulls out. I can hear the gears in the distance grinding once again on the tracks. I was part of a delivery. Suddenly, I am reminded that I am wandering through a down blanket of snow, and perhaps I’m not in Virginia. Perhaps I was taken North, through Main…

She stood there, naked, in the doorway, trying to, what, tempt me? tease me? elicit some sort of primal instinct, drive me to pin her to the wall? No. No, I was incapacitated. My arms were restrained with what felt like duct tape, and I was reclining. My mouth was open.

I stumble forward, the weight of the briefcase pulling me toward the ground. My jaw starts to ache, and I have to embrace the ground. I let myself lay in the snow until I can feel it creeping through my clothes. It’s certainly not warm.

“Stoyer?”

I recognize the voice. It’s her.

“Stoyer, you’ve made it.”

I push my head up and find her shape, that lovely shape, plastered against the harsh white of the trees. I shake my head to clear it, and strength surges back through me. I stand up.

“How are your blackouts,” she asks me as if she already knows the answer.

She’s looking well. I shrug my shoulders.

“Mine too.” She turns to walk away from me, toward something, and I have to follow. We walk in silence, her leading, my following.

She stops on the edge of a frozen lake, and I stop next to her.

“It’s a cloud,” she says, and laces her fingers with mine.

The briefcase unlatches and falls to the ground. I find myself staring at the water, impermanent and holding on to the final days of the sun.

-JR Simmang

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