“Kill. Loot. Destroy. Burn it all down, for all I care. Or not. Just get it done.”
Simple instructions. If you tried listening for the nuances, you would’ve gotten a face full of spittle and warm air. But she tried nonetheless. The voice lingers in her mind, the specific words tangled up and choked out in between the tresses of misplaced memories. Ringing, her ears buzz with harmonious static. Her eyes are glazed over, focusing on no point in particular. She’s in no rush, but her body hurries into position under subconscious instruction. The globe moves too fast for her. She’s kept alive through the feeding tube of standard procedure. The walking half-dead. She’s driftwood with a more lovable face. But to some, driftwood is arguably easier to love. After all, when has driftwood ever killed anyone?
The soil is the colour of unhealthy lungs. It kicks up as she passes, and blooms briefly in the wake of her trail to form miniature clouds, as if gasping one final breath just before its momentary existence is wrestled away by the inevitable breeze. The sky is painted with obscure shades of pastel. She watches the show unfold, in which colours struggle for balance across the vast celestial landscape, shades of orange and indigo ripping each other apart for atmospheric dominance. Expiring bodies of cumulonimbi slumber slowly across the sky, like an ornery old man driving 15 below the speed limit on a winding two-lane mountain road.
She perches herself on the cliff top, feet teasing the edge of a finite oblivion. Her silhouette blots an illegible smear against the setting sun’s sky. One by one, delicate embers flicker through the windows of the city below. She rips the scarf away from her face, blows a bubble of warm air, and saunters her eyes between the alleyways and dead ends of the city beneath her toes. The wind stirs, and whirlwinds of dust swirl around her. She coughs, and admires the telephone poles and dangling wires; sloppy lines against the focused forms of houses and office buildings. She allows her eyes to aimlessly wander through the streets, letting them bask in the odourless fragrance of a neon rainbow. Her eyes wander further, and track their way to a saccharine fluorescence; a weak shimmer among a sea of equally brilliant hues. Pink. But not any old pink, no. This was an insensitive pink; an intense, attention-seeking pink. Intensity gone to waste, apparently, for it was no more glaring than its neighbour, yet somehow equally sickening. Not to say that she disliked this colour. It was quite the opposite – her pupils twinkled the same tinge of overzealous pink, and dilated accordingly with the same unrestrained ferocity. It was a perfect match. She coughs again, and resigns herself back into the confines of the scarf. The dust clouds are getting cocky.
She doesn’t know how high up she is. High enough to break a neck, and high enough to develop a second fear of heights. The gusts let her know how powerless and insignificant she is against the titanic gaseous forces of the earth. A sudden turbulence knocks her balance awry, and her body sways like an inflatable tube man as she blurs the line between the fear of death and the fear of heights. The city she overlooks seems to zoom out at her in fisheye perspective, and forces her to take in the full scope of her situation.
Here’s to unplanned entrances.