EARTH, and What Became of It (Full)
Earth, and What Became of It
Rising strings of violins wretch in my head’s empty chamber and descend deep into the chasms of my throat. I can feel them tremble and whisper, “We will shake hands with Heaven the day all of this rubble turns to light and returns to stars.” Mallets strike my eardrums without any pattern, rhythm, or beat. Sympathy possesses either any man or God, for God is sleeping now, heavy and guarded. His comatosed arm is thrown as he tosses and turns on the black, starry bed covers. Right here, five-hundred miles from where I stand, is where his fist struck the ground.
Echoes flood my head until the sounds release through the slits of my eyes. They weep as they are given grace, for they were tucking away in the dark corners of my mind. But no being, supreme or concrete, can hide: for God is all around is He not?
And just as God, light surrounds me like I am a scared child and it is a warm throw. All I see is white, a white that is not possible in nature.
Finally the light stops and all I hear are the whistles of God’s sleep; He is sighing and mumbling to Himself. The echoes and mumbles fill the air as a solid substance, a slime crawling across the torn, wooden floors. I can only hear them getting closer and closer to my feet, if they have not disappeared into char. The white turns to black on the inside of my eyelids. I keep my eyes closed because my ears are flooded and my mind can’t take in anymore.
After a morning of white the streets are empty and hungry. Dust rises off the bones of the city as ash rises from the hellfire of the buildings and bodies.
I open my eyes and see my feet, then the ground, then the cement walls protecting me like Haha*. I could feel a sharp twinge in my neck from being cramped in this storage closet. It is underneath my home which was probably blown away and is floating in the air like dust. This compartment is the hell to my home, but also my and savior.
My feet are black on the bottom, gray on the top, and there is heavy grime between my toes. The ash seeps into my skin and I feel as if there are leeches inside of me, like slugs are crawling through my blood vessel, like snails are rifling through my brain. I can almost see bulges on my skin where they are residing; I would crush them but I think they’re controlling what life I have left. I think they are holding me by the strings, this body by the blood vessels, one by one. I stand like a house taken back by nature, with dusty green vines wrapping my body and broken glass inside of me-- grinding my insides. I yell but to no one. I scream but no ears are present. I cry but there is no arm to comfort.
I back up to the corner and begin to sob in fear and pity for myself and someone else; I don’t know who and I don’t know why. He is sorry, but can something that might or might not be there feel remorse? If so, is this remorse true, and is there truly remorse?
Sweaty, crying, and seemingly deaf, I scuffle around in the closet and unravel my spine, noticing the frayed bones coming loose. The separated bones slice through my skin and poke out the back of my neck, but when I reach back and rub it, I cannot feel them; just a mound on my dirty skin where my spine usually is.
My head feels like a balloon while my arms feel like two rebars shackled to the nubs of my shoulders. I could lift off and fly away with the helium but these metal arms won’t allow that. They are anchors on this fleshy vessel on a sea of black earth and ash.
I pull the string to open up a hatch right above my head, releasing not only the heat from the room but seemingly the helium from my head. Now my mind feels as heavy as ever, like a cannonball connected to my neck by twisted bones looking like tree roots, and my body has turned to ice, freezing my organs. I can feel the crackling of ice in my insides, crunching and crunching. I unwrap my legs and stand up but they give as soon as they buckle. I catch myself with my hands and pull myself out. I crawl to what’s left of the door, and open it; the shrieking cries of the door make me wince in pain.
Judas’ Cradle is beneath this Earth and it is the last day, but I remember the hour. There was no rumble. There was no sound. Only the beauty and horror of the greatest light one can imagine.
I breathe but I feel no air pass through my body. I feel as if I am leaking, as if the air in my lungs has been squeezed out of the pores in my skin, wrung like a towel, and I can not move. I can only see atoms upon atoms crumble like a falling building. All molecules crumbling and crashing atop of one another. I can see their faces wince in pain. Their legs are charred at the thighs, and past that no more is left. No more flesh, no more. Skin turns to charcoal, cooking us until we are burnt and blackened. Fat Man.
There is nothing left of my house. Nothing: no tables, no chair, no sliding doors, no oven, no clothes, no walls, only flat, black matter. But I knew this already. My knees finally gain the strength to fully support my body. I tread slowly until I reach my front step. I slide down it like dirty water, spilling onto the warm soil.
The neighborhood was always home, and always bustling. Always with the music spilling from our windows, the wind carrying the cherry blossoms, the children playing, and the water kissing the docks. My brother and I would dance and sing along to the music while we walked down to those docks. He always told me secrets, I felt like I had to listen since I was older. He told me things like how the storage closet was always his favorite place to hide when Haha and Chichi were bickering. He said the cement muffled their words, and his crying. He said it got really hot down there, but he hoped it would make him a stronger man. He was right on both accounts. He was seven, I was thirteen.
I continue walking through that old neighborhood that feels more like hell than Earth now (or, perhaps, heaven?). I reach another pile of ash but instead of flesh and bones I see the smashed, fabric face of a small animal. Like the humans, half of its body was turned to dust, but the arms were wrinkled and crushed from being held too tightly. Next to it was a small pile of red bones, and an arm reaching for the bear. Little Boy.
I finally arrive at the water but the beach has turned from golden to gray. I look out onto the water, inhale and find that it is indeed ashy rubble and not fog thinly covering the ocean. I pinch wood and metal particles from my tongue. Imagine my lungs, how burned and inhuman now. The light turned the pink to ivory and with every breath I feel the black in and out. Fleshy walls turned to burnt stone, causing my full body to participate in breathing. I am forced to launch my head forward like a bullet just to get a small slice of air. My black lungs fill with the tiny portion of oxygen and I can taste metallics.
And then, the dam breaks; neurons fire like shotguns scattering my memories like dust. I remember a soft, cool drink of water from a metal cup. The taste of metal being absorbed by my tongue and the icy waterfall in my throat. I cock my head back down with it still between my lips and notice the sea of bright pink cherry blossoms. I hear laughing and playing across from my side of the river and a girl looks at me. Her eyes are sharp but not piercing, more comfortable. They look at me seemingly detached from not only the girl herself but the world around them. Her body is still moving, playing and dancing around with her young brother, and her mouth still dances with laughter, but her eyes fixate on mine. It is as if she sees something forbidden behind my mind’s windows.
I am awoken by the shrill, truly piercing sounds of metal scraping against metal. You could see the sparks flying all around, whirling in the radioactive wind like cherry blossoms. I look out deeper into the ocean and I find a ship slowly sinking down to the depths. My mind does the same, with similar scrapes and screams.
I fall to my knees but keep looking on, out into the deep green garden of water; its plants are wooden structures protruding out like mountains. I imagine when it was blue, and when the homes were red, and when the flesh was pink. But now all is in mutes of greys, blacks, and whites.
My knees begin to bleed; I must’ve knelt on some glass, the only gift left from the homes that were here. The pain wrapped me up in comfort by letting me know I am still alive, but simultaneously brought to my attention that this was, indeed, not a dream. The blood wrapped and wrapped like ribbons around a dancer, until filling me up to my forehead with the deep, dark red. The ribbons eventually left me as they came to me, in the same daze just as before, wondering why, wondering how.
I open my eyes and see that there is just a small puddle around my flesh that was touching the ground, and I get up to walk away. I find a man looking out what is left of his window. The man is very fat and almost bald, but still seemingly somewhat young. He doesn’t look directly at me, but instead he seemingly scans across this plane. This infinite plane of undead stars grasping on to the last bit of atoms it has left. He scanned but came back with no findings. The only life left was floating and hollow. He looked at me then but he did not detect heat or life. But if he stayed breathing so could my brother, and so could He. Fat Man.
And in thinking of hollow, I see Chichi*. I see my home along with its red banisters and floral walls. It had always felt empty. He had not talked to my brother, Haha, or I that I could remember. I cannot recall the sound of his voice, only the phantom of his perpetual frown. The sound of Kunihiko Hashimoto* rang through our home nearly every week. The loud trills and horns are planted in my brain. I can hear his compositions better now than Chichi’s voice. But even though I can understand the incredible power of his art, I cannot associate these sounds with a warm, comforting home. No one spoke, and the only sound came from cooking rice and Hashimoto’s french horns.
The man’s frown spoke to my mind some more. I noticed he had a swift fog moving above his head. It was whirling around him causing his barely existing burnt hair to swirl and swish around and his small eyes making them blink with the burnings of ashy air. I look above his tired face to see the sky lurking behind him like a panther, getting ready to take him too. I follow it until my neck crinkles and I am looking straight up. If someone was there to ask me I would have told them I was looking at the weather, but truly? I look for God. I look for the angel. The angel shows no signs. Perhaps that itself is the sign?
When the light touched the ground you could not hear anything. Only the high ringing of constant deep, bassy bells crashing and a whistle along side them, accompanying in the orchestration of humankind’s extinction. The light was the elephant rifle and we the game. But soon the elephant rifle will turn without reason and God will pull the trigger. He will die from starvation with the food chain being broken, and all three; the game, the hunters, and the ghost of God, will flip over the hourglass. Not long after that, gunpowder will be discovered, God will be born of gunpowder, and it will start again.
I hear God’s nostrils whistle in his deep slumber, still dazing and dreaming of a land where there are no Great Lights. He cries and moans in his sleep because even his sleeping brain knows that this could not be. And I know that his cannot be, so I cry and moan also. I drink my tears to clear the smoke in my lungs. it is the last source of water here not touched by purge, but the smoke only leaks out into the rest of my insides, turning all of me black; it’s a spreading bacteria, a virus. Do I wish to drown in my own tears, or to suffocate from the black smoke? The tears merely pass through me and the smoke leaks out because I am not here, I am empty. I am a shell of what used to be a crab, but I am now cooked, chewed, swallowed, disintegrated in the acid pits and secreted.
The rest of the way was an alley that used to be covered in those cherry blossoms. They used to kiss the wind and dance with the ground, whirling and twirling about. Now I walk through this alley and all I see is another kind of dance; all of these bones rolling around on the cement, and the ash running across those bones, tickling them with death. The ash tickles my nose too, creating a smell not only of death but of desperation along with it.
I reach the stairs and my knees bleed as I stretch and contract the skin, showing the mountainous glass protruding out of my earthy flesh. And with every step the echoes come back; the sound of feet caressing the ground alongside the chattering of my own teeth. I turn left around the corner and continue into what is left of the door.
I slide open the rice-paper, letting that slide slip into my ears like water. The droplets pitter and patter, rhyming with the softness of my steps, basking in their glow. I reach and grasp the hatch handle with my gray, inhuman hand. I use all the strength I have left to heave open the hatch.
And with the sight of my brother’s skull (wide open and filled with holes), I feel as if my teeth are going to clench so hard that they will splinter off and slice my cheeks open. As though I will bite through my teeth and my fangs will punch my jaw. There was a small puddle of sweat from the heat in the storage closet. I wonder if he thought God’s arguments with the Earth and His beatings upon it were actually another one of Haha’s and Chichi’s brawls (but just like God and Earth, it was always more of a beating than a brawl).
All I can do is stand and clench my teeth. And look, look on at what God has done to my brother. His fist pounded and pounded on this home until his flesh withered away and became the ash that I swallow. I am digesting my brother
But yet I am not angry, I couldn’t be angry. At what? How do I know He did this for His pleasure? It could be either pleasure or revenge or any other reason man or ash could think of. So why worry about anger? Why worry about revenge? Why? Because it makes you feel better, because it makes me feel better? No, it doesn’t. It never does, and it won’t. I could go jump in that acid ocean and disintegrate to nothing like the godforsaken crab I am. I could grab my brother’s bones and jab them in my eye until they meet my brain, or bash my head in with his skull, headbutting him like we used to do when we wrestled. I could do all and everything else in this black valley. If I touch any of the walls that surround me I will be taken by a blackness that neither destroys me nor creates me, but merely holds me. It would hold me so tight that my neck would just barely be able to pass air, but I would still be breathing, and I would still be living. But I wish to stay in the valley, to battle the walls long enough to forget. Even if I stop my heart what would that bring? Only a heaven where I get to watch this happen over and over again, repeating; reloading a revolver and shooting again. And with every shot God reloads, slides a bullet into the chamber, and hands me the gun.
So what else would come with heaven? I would only remember what I saw when I lived in flesh, repeating, reloading. So what would heaven bring? What could heaven bring? I reach down and grab his skull, then I throw it against the wall. I do not hear it crack or smash, I only watch it turn to dust and float off into the wind.
What could heaven bring?