It's All Heavy
It all happened so fast. Before I even knew what was happening it felt like it was chewed up in a garburator. Cold blew in and froze the rest of me. I stood silent and awkward and could feel by chin scraping on the floor. It still beat in her grasp. It was pumping nothing, struggling to do its job and unaware that it had been removed it kept working.
It would be nice to only have a singular function. Everything would be so easy. No drama. No one or anything to think about, no thoughts, guilts, worries, or decisions. Man that sounds nice.
Coming to my senses as the pain needled deeper into my brain I tried to yell.
"You've done enough yelling today. Don't you think?" Charon says sonorously and with an air of condescension. She tosses my beating heart and catches it. It's dark and gory, a stark contrast to all the white. She does it a few more times, teasing and toying with me.
"What do we do now?" I ask, a little petulantly. "Do I get my heart back or is this where we roll dice, play cards in a bid to win it for keeps?" My frustration froths to the surface. I have come so far and I have no real idea where I am still. Why I am here. How any of this is even happening. Is it a nightmare? So far it could go either way, but everything hurts so goddamned much it has to be real. Charon just looks at me and shakes her head, no.
"It isn't that simple." She says. I am so fed up with all the cryptic bullshit that I reach out and try to snatch it back but she's a full head taller than me that I almost have to leap for it. I must have broadcast what I was going to do because she pulls it just out of reach long before I even get close. She gives it a squeeze. Huge lumbering fire ants go crawling up my left arm inside the skin all the way into my chest and every single one of them bites and tears at the soft stuff inside there. She smirks meanly at me as I drop to one knee and she holds up a finger in an ah, ah, ah gesture. I drop my head feeling the weight of defeat. No Atlas, am I.
She walks stiffly over to the table, rubs her hand along its edges feeling the scars and the intricate notches and carvings, the symbols and the sigils. She inhales breathily. She's enjoying this way too much.
"It is time," She says. "We've delayed the trial far too long. You've had way to much sway here for my liking. You're out of place and I'd like you on your way, which ever way it is."
"Get on with it then. I can't stand to look at your ugly mug one more second."
"Such childish impudence. That's all you've got then is it? No real fight, no plea for forgiveness or explanations... just give up and give in. Humanity has grown so soft. You are so pathetic.
I can see it now. I can see your fate. Where you are going, you deserve."
Turning her attention to the scale she places the feather on one of the brass plates. It drops with a small metallic clank on the wood surface. Raising my still beating heart, she breathes on it and uses her shirt sleeve to wipe some viscera off one of the ventricles.
"We don't want anyone to accuse us of any duplicity, now do we? Fair is foul and foul is fair and all is fair in love and war. Isn't that right?" She says this holding my heart over the other plate, then lightly puts it down. As soon as my heart touches the plate begins to squirm. It sounds like a boiling lobster. The table rattles and a black ink fills all of the white around us in big squid clouds. Lightning forks across every surface creating a huge wheels of rolling thunder. The heart slams the brass plate of the scale heavily into the table cracking the wood as a tree trunk size cobalt bolt of lighting strikes the brass knob above the fulcrum at the top of the scale's base. The brass plate holding the feather is flung to the end of the beams and the rope's reach before it drops. The feather hovers for half a second before it is singed to dust by the towering bolt.
When it is all over, even the silence had retreated. The ink was retreating from the white but you couldn't unsee the stains it left behind. The air smelled like ozone and burning, melted plastic. As for me, I don't feel lighter for facing my judgement. I feel as bad as I did before, worse actually, knowing that my heart carried so much.
I get up off my knee. Charon approaches the table again looking at my heart beating clumsily now. She picks it up off the table and examines the damage there.
"It has been a long long time since something of this magnitude has happened. There are so few as ignorant as you. She tosses my heart aside.
"Hey, what the fuck. Don't throw that away I still need that." I curse her.
"Ha!" She snickers, even tosses her head back as she laughs. "You are so stupid. You do not need that. You haven't needed it... No, you haven't used it, perhaps haven't even known how to use it for a very long time.
For you it is a special kind of damnation. What wasn't clear before is certainly clear now. You've gained nothing on your journey. Nothing but an embarrassing voice and penchant for speaking out of turn.
You are hereby DAMNED for all eternity."
"No." I snarl ripping the bone blade from my waist band. I thrust it forward at her, "I don't accept." She takes a step back parrying my strike with an open palm, redirecting my attack so that I stumble with my own momentum. Regrouping, I steady myself turning toward her, knife at the ready. I can feel the heart sigil breaking under the sweat of my palm. Deep down I can feel it happening for real, in him, in the jade man. There's that radio broadcast from the other side again.
"To see the lights all faded?
And that heaven is over rated..."
Charon squeezes her fist; opens it, closes it, opens it, closes it. Tendons taught, muscles bunching. Then a large staff appears in her grip, materializing with each pump of her hand. It is tall, taller than her with a crook at the top where an ancient lantern hangs. She takes the lantern off of it undoing a clasp. Then it is spinning in her hand. Whirling to the left and then to the right. I lunge knife straight, aiming for her own heart. She swings the staff hitting me square in the forearm. A nasty welt forms instantly with a poisonous sting. I try really hard not to show the pain, biting back tears. I've never been whacked like that before.
It's her turn to lunge, she spins the staff over head gaining her own momentum and then swings it down. I stop mid stride and arch my back letting my head and shoulders hang over my ass so that her down swing misses but she's lightning quick and that was only half of her attack. She is swing it back up as I am regaining my balance moving forward and she connects the crook of her staff on the underside of my chin with a loud CRACK! and a very audible clack of my teeth slamming together. I instantly taste blood and gag on a tooth that fell out. My legs swing out from under me and I land hard on my tail bone. Squeezing my eyes shut from the pain I'm seeing a galaxy of stars. I hear her foot steps approaching followed by the whirring of the staff coming at me again. Instinctively I roll to the left and it misses me by an inch echoing off the floor. I roll over and up to my feet get in close and stick the knife in her side. It isn't blood that comes spurting out but strange ashy stuff that pours on to the floor like hourglass sand. She gasps and leaps backwards grabbing for the wound.
"You are only betraying yourself further, by doing this," she barks, her voice gnarled by effort and pain.
"You won't trick me into going anywhere worse than what you've already put me through."
"You still do not see it do you? I did not put you through anything. That was all your own doing. That knife you hold is your betrayal. It is the symbol of all that is wrong with you. Do not feel the heart break?"
Do I admit to it or not? If I admit it now, then I am wrong and have always been wrong. To deny is to stay my dignity.
"There is no heart. Not anymore. You took it from me and tossed it aside." I say, with my head held high.
"You are a fool. So be it." She stamps her foot forward with the staff.
"Did you fall from a shooting star
One without a permanent scar?"
She pushes the tip of her staff into my ribs but I am able to knock it away with the knife. I grab it with my free hand as it swings pulling her close to me. It works somehow. With the staff under my arm, I use my elbow to pin it to my side and slide along it in close. When I am near enough I jam my fingers into her throat. She gags but it doesn't have the same effect on a being of her stature that it would on a person. Realizing this I move quick and slice her across the chest, right in the centre over her sternum. More ashy stuff plumes out of the wound. She flat palms me hard in the chest sending me sliding backwards on my feet. It's hard to breathe. She swings the staff like a baseball bat and catches me in the ribs. I hear crackling. A roll of bubble wrap is being popped inside me as I double over. She grabs the back of my head and shoves down hard slamming my face into the floor. A fine mist of blood fills my eyes and mouth.
Lying on my stomach she walks around to my right side. She stands on my arm putting as much weight on me as she can muster. The bones in my forearm grind. Reflexively I open my fist releasing the knife. She picks it up and walking up past my head she smacks me one more time in the face with her staff. Blood streams out of my mouth onto the white.
She lowers herself until I can hear her rasping breath and smell the dumpster smell of death on it. She grabs me by the jaw and straightens up pulling me up with her. She holds me off the floor, squeezing hard, bones and teeth rub painfully. In her other hand is the bone knife. She holds it up to my face so that I can see it. Then she sticks it into the whole in my chest where my heart used to be and flicks it around.
"That is your doing. Yours and yours alone," She says. A cold breeze whips through the hole again. She pulls the knife out and holds it up for the last time between her fingers and then she snaps it in two cleanly. Dropping the blade, she takes the handle and sticks into my chest, rubs her palm over the open wound and my flesh knits itself back together with the knife handle inside. Solar flares arc and jet around inside now. The backs of my eyes burn with the heat of it and things change. I begin to see things for the way they are. I feel heartbreak and break, and break, and break. She lets me go, wobbling when my feat hit the floor but still standing.
"Why?" I ask.
"This is what is required. This is what it costs." She answers. I understand. I don't get it, not really, but I understand.
Massive arched doors open up behind her. She opens her hand and waves me by. I head toward the doors which emit another layer of white brilliance a little less stained than this room. I walk towards them with a little hitch in my gait from the fight. My chest is still burning with the heat of the sun. I can feel my eyes glowing incandescently.
"Wait," she calls after me. Stopping and turning toward her, she takes a step toward me. What was his name?" She asks. I have to think really hard, harder. "I don't know." Is the only answer I can come up with. "Who are you?" She asks. The wheels spin and spin. "You don't know that either..." She answers her own question. Think about that when you get on the bus to go to the party. Think about why that might be."
Turning around I head through the doors into white, blank space.
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