(Animal Stage (Abandoned) #1, 2011)
We lost him in the fire.
A shoot out between some mobsters and cops, a car chase, everything going wrong, everyone for themselves. Somewhere in all that chaos a bullet pierced his chest, he didn't notice until his chest goes wet with blood, and when he looked down at his chest he crashed the car, his passenger took off, to each their own. To each their own, amigo. Adios! The car sped up and made some distance only to get stuck underneath a trailer. The fuel tank is ruptured and the metal against metal friction ignited the fumes and the car was set to flame. It was time for him to leave. His badass character, heartless and mighty, something of worthiness long time passed, the true grit, pulled his pistol and fit it beneath his chin.
A shot fires and the car explodes instantly after. The explosion echoes down to the cops shooting mobsters and the mobsters shooting cops. They all suddenly stop what they're doing, realizing their actions are meaningless. All of them share a thought, what am I doing. Forgiveness is shared equally upon them. Everyone started laughing and looking to their neighbor, shaking their hand, "What was it all for!". Some go as far as giving each other hugs, and we leave this scene with a mobster hugging a cop, they even kiss, on the lips, and say, "We are nothing more than fools".
The scene grows quiet, and off in the background a pair of shifty eyes creeps in the shadows. No one sees this, but they all hear an evil laughter echoing from all around. Joy shifts to fear, and something like a tidal wave coming in from all directions and swallows them whole. The fiery car that exploded moments before is now put out, and sinking under the waves. Mobsters and cops alike all drown, and the evil laughter grows louder and louder until it appears to be coming from a giant omnipresent monster. No one is there to hear it as some still struggle to breath underneath the waves, others just float like buoys. Disappointed, the source of this evil laughter stops laughing and begins to work. One by one he gathers up the body. The few who remain on the borders of their lives are put out of their misery with one glimpse of his face, what a horrible sight and then gone, eyes rolling back, the light in them fade to blank, blank, gone. He grabs them and pulls them on to his boat, some ancient gondola in all black with skulls carved into the wood crafted from some haunted evil looking tree from Ferngully. And though he shares similar duties as Death, he isn't, no, but he is a cousin to Death, and for now we'll call him, Sleep. Those men he is pulling from the blood filled water are not asleep though, and he looks on like he is tired. Eventually all the dead are on boat, the gondola surprisingly fitting them all on there, including the one who shot himself beneath the chin moments before exploding. Sleep paddles away, and as he leaves and disappears from the scene the water does too, leaving behind no trace of water ever filling the space. We don't leave this scene, the story pretty much ends here, as we look upon a landscape filled with a violent history, that didn't happen years ago, but moments prior there is a static in the air. This landscape is haunted with the spirit of thought within us all.
Lightning strikes in the darkness of night, the clouds all dark and heavy hover over an old mansion. The place looks long abandoned, the paint all dark and bruised with decay. We approach closer and closer, floating across the equally dark and decayed lawn, and we fly up the pouch and just before we hit the front door, a door which hasn't been opened for a long long time it opens. There is a crackling sound as the scab that has formed in the gap between door and molding surrounding the door is relieved and we enter the house. It is a scene out of Casper, ancient furniture cloudy with dust and cobweb mixed with the faint light showering detail to the darkness. We find our way to a small hidden passageway and head down a stairway. The steps are stone, and spiral down with each step growing warmer and warmer in a yellowish glow. Something is alive downstairs, has been living here for a long time, and hasn't left in an equally long time. The basement is another world, it is dark while being lit with amber glow, and there are bottles of odd mysteries and one lone coffin. We approach this coffin, still floating, and we look at it, knowing that something wicked is going to come popping up. We ready ourselves for disappointment. AHHHHHH! Twisting its head, the corpse tries hard to scare us, it sticks its long dead tongue out, screams, and has its hair whip back and forth like a dead super model. Nothing phases us we say with our dead pan stares. It grows quiet, and gives up. It is our friend, Sleep, and he was doing exactly that before we came flying into his house.
Sleep puts on a robe and pours water into the kettle and disappears into what appears to be the kitchen. Just as the water boils he reappears with cookies, and to spite everything looking old and dead the cookies aren't, in fact, they're delicious! He pours the boiling water into separate cups, each with their own teabag, and smiles as he hands them out to us.
"How are the cookies?" he says with his wicked voice, a wickedness that he struggles to fight against but it is with him for afterlife.
"Yummy!" we say unanimously.
"Good, they aren't poisoned, in fact, I made them myself, only an hour or so before you arrived."
"Did you anticipate us?" Thinking he might just well know everything, before and after it happens.
"No, I just felt like it."
A silence takes over where words once filled a space and we start sipping our tea, which is also very delicious. Sleep puts on a record, one of us remarks, "Mussorgsky?".
"Night on Bald Mountain", Sleep replies.
"Fitting", one of us says.
The wind picks up, the windows start shaking, and the house creaks like all is wants is to die. We wait for something to happen but it doesn't. Off somewhere far away a rock is falling to earth and is going to land in a field on some farmer's land. Off even farther that someone is having laser eye surgeon done to both their eyes and will no longer need glasses nor contact lenses. They will be temporary blindfolded for a few days, something that seems almost necessary even if it wasn't required, to go from having glasses to not is sort of a miracle, Jesus-like, and to have a buffer of blindness in-between only sweetens the miracle. Without the struggle, without taking something away, when it comes back you will never realize how much you needed it, how much you missed it. Take it away and you'll cherish it alone, milking off the memories you had with it, longing for it, seeing it from all angles in your mind, in your heart. But there are somethings you don't need to have removed to realize how much you need it nor how much you'll miss it, that you immediately and always cherish it, when it is happening, realizing that each and every moment is worth all the fighting, struggle, laser-eye surgery and the blindfolding for days, for.
Sleep comes to wake us all up, we had fallen asleep out of boredom sometime in the night, and it was morning. Sleep made us sausages, vegan ones for the vegans, and eggs, of course tofu eggs for the vegans, and we ate them down with orange juice and freshly grounded and pressed coffee. He took us out on a ride on his gondola, we sailed across the sea that he made just moments before. We held hands and looked up as the stars above disappeared.
"Children," he said.
"This was all worth fighting for."
Silence as something profound stirs from within. A face appears in my memory, it sets me in a mood that is both full of excitement and wonder for the future. How long must I wait I tell myself, how long until, I ask myself, before, before I repeat, I find that peace.
I fall out of the boat and exhale all the air out of my lungs as I sink to the bottom of the sea. The bubbles that float to the surface each contain some of my last thoughts, and when they reach the air above they fizz out a whisper. An ear pressed up close to them struggles to comprehend my words. It is a lost cause. I turn into a fish and swim away. I transform into a mermaid and swim away. I transform into a shark and swim away. A whale. Swim away. A dolphin. A zebra. A tiger and an eagle. Fly away.