1. Zemblanity (1)
As the day sprouts from night, so does life spring from death. As the day dilutes into the night. Life slowly melts into death. Even as the lightning flashes, death bolts like thunder, at times...Colors of the universe, bright. But dark are the rays of light. See those fallen shadows there. Are the shadows false of light? Is life light in motion? Yonder truth no one knows. He who seeks shall find it sure, from the book of futures' life."
●Mani Purathayil Madhavan.
To me, the moments I am beaten down are like rain on a warm evening, light and drizzling, splashing every part of me in portions, little by little covering me whole. Each drop clings onto my clothes to me while the soft sting soaks into my bones. I may shiver and complain, maybe even writhe in pain, but I always bear the weather, no matter what it may be.
That's how I was raised.
I lay against my seat. I know a few people that would think they're indestructible under any circumstances, but even if I've rarely seen it, I know they have weaknesses- everyone does. As a matter of fact, this particular occasion might be one of Silvas'. I wonder if I'll finally see a chink in that fluid exterior of his. Tap, tap, tap. I think it'd go. Or maybe like; tink, tink, tink… tap, tap, smack! The sound returns harder and harder. I grunt and whip my head towards the perpetrator, slapping Donovans' hand off. "What, Uno?"
"We're coming up on a two-way, my warp fell into oblivion, so let me use yours." He gestures tiredly at the highway of red graveled hills and dips. It was a damn three-day drive to enter the southwest Lobby. Now, it’s thirty minutes to our destination. We've been taking turns- five hours each, my shifts ended an hour ago.
I puff out my lip. "I’m glad we didn’t copy the use of fossil fuels. But remind me again why we are driving to Woodmoor."
He ignores my request. "Unless you want to take over."
"Dude, it's nothing but a road, just keep going straight."
"I'm using my warp."
"Then pay attention, at least. I'm not trying to get lost out here in these crazy canyons."
"Kiss it." I roll my eyes. Something I always do when aggravated, which is why even if he couldn't see me, he still cooed sarcastically.
"Bend over." I fake gag. "Jeez, if I didn't know you, Lori, I couldn't vouch that you weren't a pampered princess."
"Careful with the word. Besides, if I didn't know you, I couldn't say that your ass wasn't a spoiled brat sucking on your family's silver spoon." I retort and turn away just as his lips curl into a displeased pout. He comes from money. Even so, ethically speaking, he saw it as being his parents' money, his. Can't help what he had to take from them. I never claimed to have had the roughest life, but I never flaunted what I did have, either.
My warp buzzes with a random notification. I consider changing the way I twiddle my thumbs for the millionth time, maybe doing something more dramatic, as I intentionally avoid focusing on the small band of hair just underneath my hands. I'd even meticulously placed my warp in its center to be sure that it covered the white ribbons' italic wording on the front. I sigh, totally despondent remembering the morning I received this and, once again, rested back in pain. Kid sent it to me a week ago and I still couldn't come to terms with it. My fingers skittered along its edges, gripping then letting it go. I sigh again, then close my eyes. I'm acting like a damn kid. So what? You were his damn kid. My mind countered, truthfully I didn't know whether to reprimand myself or agree with that quick thought.
Thirty minutes later an exit came, and no other crafts or carriages or winged things have been around since. "Take it'n just follow the path. Should see a welcome sign a lil ways down.”
Donovan snorts, "Alright, but I hope that's the last of the directions because your voice is starting to grate on my ears."
"Te golpearé más tarde."
"Haha, finally a Human language." He lifted a hand to grab his shoulder and shivered theatrically. "You got me so fucking scared." I scoff. I knew he didn't mean it, he was just nitpicking to keep me from turning into a balling mess.
It was a bad idea to lean away since the evening sun slowly angled to beam into my pupils. It’s always so bright in this part, hardly a rainy day. I guess a perk from literally being among the clouds. The same goes for most places up here in the Western Lobby, although clouds are this place's saving grace, despite its nickname being the sun’s favorite child. In this type of world, civilization lives very above the surface of our planet's natural life. To leave things as natural and untouched as possible, we've learned ages ago how to survive like this. Tech is different, food is possible, and water is attainable. Sectorans try to classify things in their way to grasp them, but most have gotten some hang of it. Many scapings- the term for the city, are grouped in their general directions now; the Western, Northern, Eastern, and Southern Poles.
Lobbies are what we call the vicinity we enter, and are divided into smaller accordingly. Humans are no longer the apex predators, especially since coming to our planet. Some have come to terms with that, but others will forever loathe and try to fight, maybe turn back time, maybe figure out how to travel through dimensions. We don’t blame them, but we don’t let them, either.
Our central control is renewed as it is every century; they're known as the Sterlings. Their main base is located in the Southern Lobby, but they’ve deployed their special forces here for a few months due to the rise in rebellions, although rumors have it that they were mainly camped here to hunt down a group called the Voices. I rub my temple; rumors also whisper that a certain brother of mine brought it to life, who has not been caught yet, thank goodness. The assigned leaders in the southwest lobby requested them and the kaleidoscopes; dangerous, deadly, and identities unknown until it’s too late apparently- at least Delvyn has that in common with them.
The other problem is the quiet talk of some new stimulants, some kind of breakthrough for Humans to become like us Throkkan. It's probably a baseless rumor, based on the sheer impossibility of it, so I’d rather not talk about that. Where was I? Oh yeah, the sun is in my eyes, so I reach my hand out and swiped it over the window. It's tint coming in while I note that the empty road doesn't take long to become enshrouded by trees- verns on both sides.
Trees that towered over us, some crooked just at the top like enormous claws stuck grasping at the green sky. The sunlight almost filters through them but their bodies were too thick, saving my eyes from comfortably taking in the scene of forest and path. Unfortunately, memories collide with the nostalgia hidden behind every trunk and shrub or expanse of land; a vern I climbed whenever I ran away when I felt too scared, a rock I jumped from to prank my sister and brothers, hide and seek. There was an old, deep crevice behind our home where Solo had made our secret hideout, it was a bit further in the woods but not far enough to get lost.
A smile graces my lips as our childhood antics roused and our laughter faded in my ears. More play behind my eyelids, passing in my mind like my own number one movie. My smile broadens the more my little self tails behind everyone. Once, I tried to hop over a stone shaped like a funny witch shoe when my foot slipped but, instead of falling, a strong arm wrapped around my waist and hoisted me up on an equally rough shoulder.
"Dammit Tinker, if ya can't watch where ya steppin', don't go travelin in the dark!" He all but growled in that guttural voice that gyrated my eardrums every time while he carried me back. His reprimand went from the trees back to the house, longer if he caught us tuning him out. My shoulders shake in quiet laughter. God forbid he heard us mumbling. Pops' voice was always loud, always strumming every vocal cord in his throat to the point that I saw other bears jump at the sound a few times. A firecracker he was when he blew his fuse, but as tame as a river when he wasn't.
I feel Donovan peek at me out of his peripheral, staying quiet to let me drown in my reverie. Instantly my smile drops, just as my movie reaches the part I haven't even experienced yet, his lifeless body shrouded in white, laying upon cushions of puffy pillows. Rejection of the image burns my eyes and I hold the tears at bay at the cost of dropping my attention to my lap.
In the meantime my mind plays tons of scenes all about him: smiling, yelling, angry, worried, ruthless- all flashing back and forth like an old picture projector, each clip pulling me towards him, sucking me into the frame that held more emotion. The more I saw, the more I concentrated only on him. Only him until his pictures became faint, his voice frail, his strong arms fragile. They encircled me without the usual grip but a new, colder sensation pooled around me in its place.
It was like pressure covered my throat too tightly. A murky sensation eats at my airway the more I try to use it. No, not now. Come on, breathe. I try to shake my head, but nothing happens until another heavy pressure grasps my shoulder to jostle me. At first, it's something easily outdone, yet, gradually, it becomes heavier and firmer, and then a voice pounds around the outside of it, sounding like a hard fist doing damage to a large door. "Breathe, Lori. Come on, we're almost there so I'm not trying to land, but I will burn the fucking rubber if you don't get it together. Come on, you have to breathe. Breathe. Copy me."
I somehow manage to chuckle, because crafts don't have wheels or use such a harmful material like rubber, but he still says that. As always, Donovans' stern voice was soft with worry whenever I got like this. He may be overconfident, and a pushy asshole which combines into an unholy concoction, but his considerate side- which I've learned to bring out with my sprinkle of personality- poured in to balance his flavors. At the behest of wanting to be rid of his strong grip, I copy him and end up taking the deepest breath as if I just learned how and meet his gaze as he retracts his hand to slap onto his leg.
The sleeves of his burgundy jean jacket strain against his biceps and his white tee are finished with black jeans and matching timberlands. My outfit; a white tank with a plaid over a shirt and stressed jeans twins his casual wear. I didn't want to roll up already in the traditional attire and furrowed brow, I felt that I could breathe easier with these on, that the other clothes would feel too big on my heart. And if I want to do right by that old man, I was doing something as simple as my clothing, my way--- at least until I arrived.
I glance at my best friend who merely followed suit in clothing and journey in general for my sake. When he holds my stare, the corner of his lips quirks a little in a rare sweet smile before completely twisting into a cocky smirk. Here we go. "Lori," he cooed sickly sweet, "I thought you already got your daily dose of eye-fucking me?"
I click my tongue. "Donovan, please. Looking at you wouldn't do a thing for me. You wish I'd eye-fuck you."
"No, sweetheart, I know you do. And it's alright. It's totally okay if it'll keep your spirit animal calm during this dark time. So, by all means, eye-fuck away."
My nose crinkles in disagreement as a shudder peels down my spine at his former comment. "My spirit animal? That's what you think I have?"
"It kind of is like that, isn't it? Your animal reflects you or some shit like that?"
"Not really. If you're in a particular category then that's that. What you're talking about is more like a roll of the dice, but that's only if your parents aren't the same species, then it's one or the other. But I mean, if it truly does reflect you, then that'd be a nice coincidence, I guess."
He hums, right before the smirk from his lips dies and is replaced with an iced stare that molded sincerity and understanding into one awestruck gaze. Among other things, his attention to me makes me want to shrink away, mainly because his seriousness brings more reality to my obstinate dream, so much so that I had to repeat it to myself in a reminder as if I'd somehow forgotten. I'm going to his funeral.
Sadness coils around my heart, melding to the shape in heated twists and prods. My hand clutches the air above my chest and I hiss just as I avert my eyes, trying to make it seem like the real heat was from his devilish grays rather than the blacksmith toiling away inside my chest.
"Thanks, Uno." I cave after a minute with a full dose of candor of my own. "For coming with me, for keeping me company. I mean it, I really appreciate it." I stretch and groan like a madman, just as Donovans' large hand opens and reaches across, with an amused hum I grab it and intertwine our fingers as our arms naturally begin a petty battle for who's forearm would be dominant.
The sun keeps nipping at the crevices between the trees even as it almost sets behind the skyline, forcing me to continuously squint because I'm the idiot that lost her sunglasses in the neverending spaces of this craft. A mellow mixture of orange and yellow tinged into the oncoming blue of the night. The day is almost up, time will move no matter what may change or want to remain the same, so it's up to us to move with it. And just keep moving. My fingers toil at the memorial tightly, my teeth sliding against each other as if preparing for the worst sucker punch I'd ever get, even though all I was doing was remembering one of my big brothers' lessons.
Don't wait for anything to change, at that point you may as well laugh at yourself, cause time definitely will. Just move. And keep moving.
I push down my tears and hang on to his words, crinkling the strands of neatly wrapped tendrils as my eyes slide over the typical words sewn into the ribbon.
In loving memory of Idris Xavier Vi Censeri.
The second the words became blurry I will the tears to stay, wetting nothing more than my lashes. My teeth dig into my lip while I mull forth that poem I'd recently discovered to help aid my wounded mind. I whisper it like a spell, or like a memory forgotten.
"As… As the day sprouts from night so does life spring from death. As the day dilutes into the night. Life slowly melts into death. Even as the lightning flashes, death bolts like thunder, at times..Colors of the universe, bright. But dark are the rays of light. See those fallen shadows there. Are the shadows false of light? Is life light in motion? Yonder truth no one knows. He who seeks shall find it sure, from the book of futures' life."
"Who was that by." Donovan asks, sounding listless and a little impressed with my dorky hobby of going through his books, as he always was whenever I did that.
"Mani Purathayil Madhavan."
"Yeah." I wiggle about in an attempt at another comfortable position. After a couple of minutes of failing, hearing Donovan yawn and crack his neck then blink a thousand times to keep himself awake, and with nothing else to do, plus with no hope of getting any sleep myself, I grip the secured hairs before stuffing them in my pocket and hitting his shoulder. He grunts his annoyance whereas I simply gesture to the side of the dusty expanse of the road. "Pull over here. I'll drive the rest of the way."
To be continued.
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