“And if you keep the distance of a moose between you and yourself you’ll be alright.”
The rocks were black and the waves spilled oil. Queer snow and purple skies.
He shivered with delight and exhaustion as he adjusted Cary’s coat and proudly lifted his hood. He remembered when a hood and just a dash of common sense were all you needed. How sweet were those illusions, those delusions, and those offensive lies. The patches of ice melting and the swimming corpses less than six blocks away had proven that maybe they always were, and would be, powerless.
The General never did get Cary transferred to another hospital, but he got him out of the fake hell and into the real one and he was proud to stand with his son as civilization took its last sigh and all he hoped for was a joyful exit. It saddened him to think of the plastic man who never made it and Maria who poisoned herself with crayons. Their last remnant of consciousness was four white walls and the stain of dead ladybugs. But he could no longer reference or rewind. He pulled Cary up on to his shoulders and they maneuvered with the rest of the tribe eager to exhale and be free one last instant or for the first time in their life…
The cold mountain top.
Shrubs, hollow berries, and sand that still moved.
They had made it.
They achieved the impossible and were able to feel their humanity slip away. And if they could not fight their disease and the makers of their disease – they could at least mourn for them. These people were able to laugh and cry one last time in the dusk of life. One last time. And as the moon began to whistle slowly down towards them, the General closed his boy’s eyes as they all turned to the magistrate and listened to their fate.
Chills not knowing which way to flow.
The magistrate hung on to that final sound of himself clearing his own throat:
“…And the sky rained body parts.”
© from Holy Rant 215 April 4, 2020; excerpt from the short story Where Ladybugs Go to Die, September 9, 2006.