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Portrait of a Genocide

Patient Zero

The itching has become nearly unbearable.   There isn’t a patch of the entire epidermis that isn’t raw and tingling.  Three days ago I could not have guessed that it might be possible for even hair to feel prickly and irritated.  I can almost imagine millions of microscopic fire ants crawling just under the skin.  It burns. Can’t let it get to me, though; have to tough it out… have to get through this.  Had to package my nails last night in ziplock baggies wrapped tight with rubberbands to keep from clawing off layers of flesh in my sleep.

Not that it mattered. 

     Sleep... what a joke.

Dawn slithers determined tendrils without malice into my room through an oppressive winter shroud, no less foreboding than it would on any other day.   The sun understands.  He is ready.  He smiles as he greets me.   The balance of creation remains ignorant.  It is our secret, his and mine.

I rise.

The dog groans and rolls over.

Swaying at my closet, I wonder, what is appropriate attire for this occasion?  Flowing crimson chiffon gown… too formal… something less maudlin.  Tailored ebony velvet suit… too goth… something less emo.   Plain eggplant cable-knit sweater… ordinary, inconspicuous… perfect.   Add a faded pair of jeans and it’s just another manic Monday.

     I don't like Mondays.

I dress.

The cat opens one eye and blinks, yawns, stretches.  He has no agenda.  He doesn’t care.  He curls back up into a ball and shuts the world out. 

Passing through the kitchen, my stomach has forgotten any knowledge of a need for breakfast.  I fill both food and water dishes and return them to the dining room floor.   The dog wakes from her slumber and trudges through the exterior flap for a moment of respite.  She remains blissfully unaware of what is coming.

I follow outside.

The landlord is plowing the walk.  I hope he was not disingenuous about loving the pasta
dishes and casseroles I’ve been bringing next door over the last month.  A single man living alone wouldn’t bother himself to cook his own food if a meal was prepared for him, right?  I’m grateful he is good about pets… they will need him soon.  I know selecting him nullifies the random factor of neutralization, but, the animals… they didn’t have any part of this…

Can’t think about that now…

…can’t let my plans become diverted. 

           It's finally all coming together.

A bicyclist rounding the corner, distracted by a yard sign, is nearly flattened by an oncoming street sweeper as I pull out of the neighborhood.   The driver was on the phone.

        Just keep moving.

A well-endowed jogger passes over the bridge as I merge onto the crossroad to downtown.  Dressed minimally for the weather, she is sweating to the program penetrating her headphones.  The left turn signal of the motorist veering into my lane on his right indicates she has caught his attention. 

I evade collision and focus on finding the most efficient path through congested traffic.  I taxi my evanescent agent through swarms of bustling commuters, pass crowded sidewalks teeming with scattered busybodies, every one with somewhere else on their minds.

The ziggurat looms ominous against the suffocating sky as I approach; the nebulous tower is eager to participate.  I pull up to the empty yellow curb in front, holding my place with a sign that warns “No Parking,” to everyone but me.  Throngs of scampering minions take no notice.  The meter enforcement officer is engrossed in chat with a mounted patrolman.  They are playing at making plans for the future, none of them involving me.  I leave the door unlocked, keys inside.  If I had a hat, I would tip it to them as I stroll casually up the steps to the aperture of the architectural giant.

The concierge ignores my nod of acknowledgement to continue texting as I cross over the threshold crest, absentmindedly turning a shoulder in my general direction without really watching me pass to the elevator.

As the
floor guard's wireless tablet broadcasts a pivotal moment in the big game, his cheers drown out the alert of the lift's arrival at the top level.

I proceed undeterred.

At the door to the rooftop, the custodian is caterwauling
loudly along with his working tunes, as the voice on his two-wave radio goes unheeded.

I slip past to the exit, and escape onto the heliport at the apex of the world.

Above me, herds of parturient clouds migrate in the same ignorant fashion they have maintained since the inception of time.  I look up into the face of infinity as I advance; worship the great beyond.  Dropping my coat,
I open my arms, spreading my vessel of omnipotence; I am miasma, harbinger of the new age of man.

In front of me, the city stretches to the edge of every horizon, sprawling into suburbs, countrysides, boondocks and badlands.  Not a creature among them has a thought for the awesome power I wield in the virulence that courses through me.

I roam to the edge of the overlook, climb the railing and catch myself on the top rung, leaning forward to peer down into the abyss of the unconscious dominion at the foot of my aerial dais.

Below me, the world's population scurries about their oblivious lives, caught up in the dissonance of their daily obsessions.   I consider the survivors.   They have no concept of just how strong they can be.  Soon, though, they will know.

In the distance, subjugated woodlands sigh
impatience and apathetic mountains yawn indifference.  The heavens open up and weep.  I lift my head to bathe in their tears.  The oceans are crying for relief.

I wonder, will the remains of humanity hear them?

     Will they listen?

I raise a toast to my celestial audience...

I am mortality. Judgment is now

              ...To the restoration of the Earth.

I release my hold on the structure of man,

      step out into the open air,

              and on wings of the torrential sky, I fly.

For a fraction of moment, all of nature holds its breath,

                      ...and the world is still.

LJ Idol | Season 8 • Week 15 - Topic: PREOCCUPIED
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( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 21st, 2012 06:37 pm (UTC)
Wonderfully written of course, but I particularly love the reactions of the natural world: from inattentive and uncaring to the pitiful oceans.
Feb. 21st, 2012 09:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks. The thought here was that the different aspects of nature represented the different levels of impacts from oppression by man... the trees suffer greatly, so they are desperate for a change that would allow them to breathe freely, but the mountains exist in millenia... like the cat, they will sleep through most of life, and can not be moved. But the oceans, in their ebb and flow, as they absorb and release from streams, rivers, lakes, and storms, interact will every aspect of nature. They see all. Thanks for reading.
Feb. 22nd, 2012 12:22 am (UTC)
An interesting intriguing piece. (=
Feb. 22nd, 2012 05:00 am (UTC)
Thanks. I like to mix it up every now an then. My original thought was to write a story from the perspective of a person who is going about her day normally, where everyone she encounters is ignoring her, and eventually she jumps off off the roof of a building, but, I figured if I just left it there, commenters would be making sure I was okay, and reassuring me that life was worth living. It was just an interesting perspective on how mankind is often too preoccupied with itself to really notice one another, but, I wanted first person present tense, and imagined that would have enough people unable to disconnect the "me" from me personally, that I didn't want to be fielding responses from the unnecessarily concerned, and then figured, why not take the preoccupation of man a step further, and destroy him with it? So, really, it ended up being the same story, but with a more sinister twist (which is very in my nature), and one that one (or at least no one who actually knows me) would ever mistake for me. Thanks for reading!
Feb. 22nd, 2012 03:34 am (UTC)
Nice. I like the combination of isolation and interaction. Fiddling with the tenses is interesting for that discontinuity.
Feb. 22nd, 2012 04:26 am (UTC)
Thanks! The fun thing about the isolation for me here, was, even in her interactions, she experiences isolation, as every creature she encounters is too preoccupied to connect with her in any capacity, which naturally lends itself to her sense of invisibility, and her god complex. As for the tense, the entire piece is all in present tense; the only time anything not described in the moment it is occurring is when she describes the night before, and the moment after the near miss accident. That is designed to lend itself to her sense of superiority, as if she is somehow manipulating all that she surveys.

Thanks for reading!

Edited at 2012-02-22 04:32 am (UTC)
Feb. 22nd, 2012 07:12 am (UTC)
It's very absorbing in the first-person sense. Everything is through her senses. Delicious, and slightly discomfiting.
Feb. 22nd, 2012 05:47 am (UTC)
Intriguing, and a bit out there (but in an good way). I'm not really sure what the itching at the beginning has to do with it though...
Feb. 22nd, 2012 06:37 am (UTC)
The itching, in its most extreme form, and the character's reaction to it (bagging her hands to save from losing her flesh, pushing through the experience, etc.) is the first indication into something not quite right about the scenario. In reality, it is the virus she has been percolating within her own body coming to its most communicable stage, which is the point to which she has been "brewing" it, so to speak, in order to release it through her death. These are elements of the back story not told here, but alluded to/hinted at. This short should leave some questions, but there are suggestions to the answers within it, so that while so much is missing, there is enough remaining to put the pieces together, and the reader has a fair amount of room to fill in the blanks, with some direction. Thanks for dropping in!

Edited at 2012-02-22 07:30 am (UTC)
Feb. 22nd, 2012 05:58 am (UTC)
This is beautiful. I love the personification. :)
Feb. 22nd, 2012 06:40 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! I was really going for a quick progression from the simplistic and mundane, to a more grandiose, almost epic feel in the language, so I'm glad it worked for you! And thanks for letting me know. ;)

Edited at 2012-02-22 07:17 am (UTC)
Feb. 24th, 2012 02:34 am (UTC)
You're welcome. And you got that, lol. :D
Feb. 22nd, 2012 10:07 am (UTC)
Feb. 22nd, 2012 04:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I tend to prefer that over "Creepy!," but either works!
Feb. 22nd, 2012 06:24 pm (UTC)
I loved this on all fronts. It uses the prompt very well (everyone and everything is "someplace else" than the here and now, a threat to each other and oblivious to the threat from the narrator). The idea is unusual and well-executed. And much of the language is just gorgeous.

Feb. 22nd, 2012 07:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! You know, you're one of my favorite readers, because I feel you generally tend to connect with my work in exactly the space from which it was written. I really appreciate that someone can, and in so doing, might be touched in the way I intended.
Feb. 22nd, 2012 11:32 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, this was really powerful. I love the way that, at the start, it seems as if she's just going about her normal day (after all, no-one likes Mondays) and becomes more sinister as the piece goes on.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 06:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Yes, that was the intent. The sinister is there all along, but, the reader doesn't really notice it right away until it's too long... it's a progression; or, rather, a descent into madness that eventually can no longer be concealed, and, of course, cannot be stopped. Thanks for reading!
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks... that's just a pattern I have in most of my pieces when writing for the web... it helps people to skim. Thanks for reading, glad you like it!
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )