Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Diary of Mitch R. Singer


Somewhere in the desert, the heat falling down like knives from the sun
There is a saguaro cactus before me, tall as a telephone pole and pronged like a trident. I find and consume a fallen fruit, ruby red, full of water that cools my parched tongue. Rocky desert is all around, and I see something shimmering on the horizon, something long and lean like a panther. I look down at my belt and find that my pistols are missing. On the opposite horizon, there is a mesa rising above the wasteland, and I move my feet toward it. My Stetson hat has bullet holes in the brim, and there is dried blood on my hands. It's coming, I hear a voice say in the wind. The creature on the horizon makes good time, moving between rocky outcroppings, bounding with preternatural grace. At the mesa there will be a knife and an altar, but I don't know if I can get there before it reaches me. There are no gods that I can pray to, none that will listen, none that will answer with anything but taunts and curses.

A wasteland village, composed of squat shelters and crumbling ruins
The villagers speak to me in Spanish, pleading with me to leave, but I do not heed them. I steer towards the saloon, where I sit myself down at the bar, ordering whiskey after whiskey. It tastes like liquid iron, but I keep drinking, my grin growing with every glass. A dwarf ambles over to the piano and plays ragtime music, his little hands dancing on the keys. Eventually a boy saunters over, his face stern, and I can tell he's thinking of taking out his knife, so I pick up a bottle and hit him in the face. They drag him outside, blood gushing from his eyelids. A girl comes down from the upstairs, her bodice full, her lips making silent protests. I tell her I am the mayor's chief man now, and that whatever I want, I will have. She smiles sweetly, and we go upstairs. In the morning, I find myself in darkness, with no air, dirt in my mouth and eyes. They've buried me, I conclude. My hands know the way, and we tear through the subterranean, desperately seeking light. 


A hunting trail, winding through the scraggly pines
Big Chief and I follow the trail of blood on horseback, our ears listening for any sound from the wounded bear. The elevation climbs, and I hear my Indian cohort sucking in air, his breathing heavy and wearied. There's a hole in his heart that no medicine man can ever close, and I find myself similarly wounded. "She left nothing but bones and scrapes of meat," I tell him, and he nods, whispering words in his own language. We come to a cave with human skeletons lying in disarray by the entrance mouth, bones of women, men, and children. I see tears welling up in Big Chief's eyes; he has lost his child, and I have lost a lover. "We do what is asked of us," I tell him. We dismount and enter the cave. Inside it is cool and moist, water dripping from stalactites, eyeless creatures of alabaster scurrying at our feet. The smell of the beast is heavy and musky, a pungent odor that makes our eyes water. We find her with red ragged jaws, scrapes of clothing caught between her teeth. "I loved you," I say, as she rushes toward us, her roar deafening beneath the earth. Her claws slash through Big Chief chest, and as he falls I fire my rifle, the bullet breaking her skull. She does not transform in death; she stays an animal. I cover the entrance to the cave with rubble, sealing her inside along with my friend and the other souls she consumed.  

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