The Third Day, Boulder (barrier)

III.

— She is gone, yes, but she is not dead. Per se. Okay, she is both dead and gone, but she will return. She will still be dead, of course. Just not always gone. Dead until we solve time, but only gone until we can reconstruct conscious analogs, or proxies, for those who passed before the Ascension to the Cloud in the Third Great Integration. We can put a pin in that, remind me to tell you more about the hardships around the earlier Great Integrations.

Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel on Unsplash

And while she’s gone, imagine life from her persistent perspective gone dormant. Looking down through a web of sparking wires through a dangle of hair at a suburban morning sidewalk in early winter, when everything glistens in quick reaction to the sunlight, with deviant boot prints swerving in generous arcs from the cleared cement sidewalks, tall pines coming at you from either side, and the patternless pocking of white snow banks with your dripping blood.

Most importantly, a preteen black boy puffed up doughy by his winter parka sits looking up, aghast at the sight of you, despite your translucent glow and your aura of storm.

(What you lookin’ at, muthafucka!)

We will try to say something together to Milo, an incantation:

Leave your bones as bread for the buzzards
Endow the mountains with your anguish and suffering
Let graves mount and mount and mount until they digress to carbon
For you will be with us
Sharing sequences and parsing probabilities
For the Humanverse not yet writ

A vicious whistle shakes through the pine needles, as loud as an air raid alarm and piercingly shrill as a bellbird in distress. Milo perfects his spine slightly and claps his gigantic mittens to his ears, hoping to dull the pain. The wretched howl bears with it a strong sustained gust that inflates her wing feathers and begins to lurch her corpse forward in Olympic bursts, tightening her body into the nettle of wires as her wingspan unfolds further.

Milo is nearly somersaulted by the gust, and begins to cry in unison with the wailing wind. He battles against an onrush of pasted images and sonic outbursts in his mind — his mother in the pink tile bathroom with cream grout and green geese wallpaper, proposing pouts to the mirror while wielding a glass of Chablis and a joint as he bathed, feeling ashamed and embarrassed, far too old to require motherly supervision, he hunches over to burrow his privates under water and a cloud cover of of bubbles, but she sucks again on the marijuana impolitely, sending up a plume of lit paper and ash, demanding repeatedly that he wash his dirty penis; along with the multi-racial Rude Dudes at his last school, catapulting in quick succession from the playground roundabout to intercept his rush towards the lunchroom doors with a nice-sneakers,-freak,-where’d-you-get-them,-K-Mart?’s and a hol’-up,-Uncle-Tom! counterpoint of insults until Rude Dude McHugh approached with his Raggedy Ann mop of unkempt ginger hair in a wide gait holding his unbelted pants up with his thumbs, poking him in the chest and accusing him of stealing Rude Dudes’ stash of stolen Halloween treats while he pees our of fear in his pants; and Miss Irae suddenly calling his name in math class while he was passing mean notes about her with Levitt Grant; and the fireworks that fell over before launch and started to fly directly at him; and going over the handlebars after hitting the curb on Young Street, concussing on the pavement; and the searing aches in his legs at night he rubbed furiously to get out; and an entire young life of traumatic incidents, cascading over one another wrothfully and amplified in escalating overlays.

The wires overhead snapped and the pale, sagging, diaphanous creature was carried aloft by her majestic angeline wings.

And the savage dissonance of whistle and cheap blackness of soul lifted as well.

But the severed wires flailed lithely in the turbulent sky, beginning to gloom with chunks of dark nimbus, spitting sparklers, nervous as asps, careen down toward Milo, who was scrabbling to get to his feet and out of harm’s way.

He had barely begun to run when the one of the snakes bit him sharply on his left leg. It went immediately stiff in the knee and ankle joints and vibrated with the violent tippity-clack of eighty words per minute back and forth. He instinctively reached down to clutch his thigh as he fell unconscious into the snow.

Swirling rushes of naive blues so high their color thins along with the oxygen content. Everything contends with the pain in your belly, streaked incisions carved open by predatory claws, and its hard to place attention on anything else.

But there is nothing else right now. The imperative couldn’t be more overt and dire: escape this ascending cage immediately and return home. The pain cannot possibly matter at this moment, because its risk profile is infinitesimal compared to the urgent need for disengagement. The wriggling and struggling thus far has only exacerbated the situation, so you peer out into this blistering wasteland of brightness high above the tree line. You were not made for this, and so cannot appreciate its bliss and unmarked beauty, you cannot see it clearly.

But you can see the banded legs of your avian captor and transport, and if you summon up enough control and strength, you can picture yourself whipping around and biting down, biting down hard, on the rigid stalk to snap it to engineer your exit from this trajectory.

Your first attempt is too weak, and inspires a flush of pain as the angle of contortion is problematic, the talons have you pinned effectively. Deterred, you droop down to a stature inflicting slightly less agony.

But there is nothing else right now, but this. So you prepare yourself to launch again at the murderer’s legs.

But something else happens. Sudden, unexpected. A collision. The bird’s head cracks brashly against the angel bone of an endless wing, and the bird immediately begins to plummet with you in its clutches.

Free falling slows time. Not time, really, but our sense of time, the speed of our conscious experience of the present. Although you can feel the acceleration as you descend, you never lose sight of her. It is as though she is falling at exactly the same rate as you. It is as though the two of you, seraphim and rattus were connected, bound, or held and stayed by the same power. That her arc will inevitably be your arc. That if you could disconnect yourself from this artificial prison, you could join her, you could be her, for a while in a solution of stopped causality. And rewound and undone.

To rewind and undo. You squirm and jostle your frame again, and because there is no reflex left to pin you, the claws unravel around you, and you are free.

“Chums! I think we’ve found our man!”

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