Artemis Drifting

Just because she tippietoes, doesn't mean she's a creepin'.


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What cruelty we bring, coming into another’s home and claiming it undone. When the hammer comes down and catches the back of my spine, having each bone scream pain to the next, I am frozen.

I becomes her, and soot sweeps beneath brutishly short nails.

Blood leaps from calloused platforms to the valleys beneath, sloughing off her knuckles like winter ice. When she opens her fist, he falls from her grip onto the concrete beneath her polished boots. The steam from her nostrils is bright, enough to illuminate the perplexing nature of her dark skin against the savannah gold of her scalp.

The body at her feet is of concern, and yet no concern. Dispatched, but breathing – oh, she thought she’d have plenty of time, always plenty of time when this moment came. Yet the moldering smell of the woman’s garments across the alley have pushed this drama to the finale. She did not bother to turn her head towards the smudged barrel lined up with her head. “Funny time, you pick.”

They are her last words. The bullet catches her in temple, throwing her head with the weight of a boxer’s glove. A cheek that will never bruise breaks against brick, and she slumps into a stubborn kneel at the feet of the unconscious man.

There is no parting retort, nor the emergence of the dim face of a cell phone. They are left to their deranged tableau with no further interruption.

Now he is laughing, far away, in the smooth arms of his lovers. Their warmth is the champagne in his generous mouth, and he nestles the stretch of his body between their own. Unfolding his arms like wings, he embraces both and pulls them into his chest – whispering into the looped curls of their hair. When they trill, he rejoices, the hammer to the church bell. He can make their bodies ring, their eyes shine like stained glass.

But he can’t use them to stop what’s coming.

When he looks up and through the haze of bar smoke, he sees her standing opposite of the expensively stained table. Oh Abba he knows it’s a Her because no ratted up hoodie would keep him from seeing the very bottom of a soul. It is his inattention that draws his companions eyes away from the silky undershirt their eyes sought the secrets beneath. “What–?”

“Eradication.” He whispered, his thick eyelashes becoming a half-veil of shadow over his eyes. The first bullet catches him in the throat. The irony is not lost to him, and he does not waste the few moments afforded. They were never in danger, but he throws them to each end of the couch regardless. It is their screams falling away from his ears that are the last thing that he hears, as he watches the shadowed woman take aim at his heart.

The final bullet punches into his chest, shuddering through his torso like a final breath.

She behaves as if she is underwater, and the rising calamity around her is as normal as the pounding surf to the sides of a lighthouse. “No more.”

And she sounds so tired.

The next scene bears even more witnesses. She takes to the stage like a dream, her naked feet among the many others that cross the polished floor. As she weaves through the talented throng, her impossibility shows like the slip of a gown beneath formal dress. No being, how sweet, could emit such unrestrained kindness. She is perfect, but not enough to hear the disgusted hiss of a patron disturbed by an ill attired attendee.

This is the shortest act of all. Mid-spin, when her leg is to lift so that her ankle meets her ear – the back of her neck opens up. The only act comparable would be to drive ones thumbs into the closed bud of a rose, and disregarding resistance, rend it open. She falls just off center stage, sightless eyes an empty tape in a recorder.

In the surge of panic, where dancing becomes flight, and seated pleasure becomes a mad scramble – the shooter is never found.

By the time she finds the mad one, she is limping. The night receptionist had seen death come for her residents so often, she mistook the sombre nature of the visitor for yet another peripheral spiritual being. It never occurred to her that the determined shuffle had weight to it.

She finds her in the corner, scratching the back of her head with fevered speed – as if these lice required extraordinary effort to oust. The blue, issued gown is as filthy as the hands of the being that stands in the doorway. They both watch each other with the familiarity and intensity of feuding lovers.

“It’s a rule!” she shrieks, darting from the corner she was crouched in, thin-limbs in the air like the ghostly exclamation points. “You’re b-b-breaking your BIG RULE.” the run is so hard, so desperate, that an observer would become convinced there was a door of escape that she was fleeing to.

But no bullet was wasted, even though they did not all strike vital points – none of them buried into the cushioned walls. Only the black bile of her vomit splashed there, and she thrashed brokenly just inches away from her imagined escape. “I can’t f-fight back.” her chest expands erratically, spraying blood that becomes her death’s bridal train.

The shooter lingers until she is certain of expiration. As she passes the receptionist once more, who is engaged in a frantic phone call with the authorities – their eyes meet. Even Death is above insanity, what had crossed her threshold was not Death at all.

But it could cry.

The final scene would have no witnesses.

One Response

  1. This world needs more information like this.

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