Mountains looked fucking pathetic from so far away. Little triangles. Little pointy majesties. Little points on a little crown on a little planet gone to shit.
Might’ve been my birthday. Still wasn’t sure on that. I kept track of it for ten years and then I was like, who the fuck is going to tell me I can’t just be seventeen forever? Okay?
Like, fuck you.
The wood planks beneath me cranked a righteous moan, reminded me straight up of this homeless chick I’d seen once drifting down the street, demonic and swooning spit-marbled teeth at me. Pennies, she’d moaned. She just needed pennies. A penny, singular, even. Kept moaning like something pretty nasty had gotten her brain stuff, made it all gray and fuzzy with rot. You ever think about that? Rot’s not really green, is it? It’s the same color as a brain is anyway which is horrible because really think about that: If our brains rot, who’s there to say it’s actual rot and not just our brains being terrifying pieces of shit? Huh? Who’s there to say?
So, anyway, whatever, I muttered something snarky in passing to this homeless chick, and she had reached out in a clawing cloy – actually fucking got me. Fucker, man – fucker. I had screamed a shrill call of the wild and she let go but not without cursing me a bunch and hoping all my kids ended up incestuous fuckin’ messes, like something out of a scary movie. She kept talking about all these kids I don’t have, never will have, didn’t want anyway. She kept talking about how ugly they were gonna be but I had tuned her out. You can’t listen to BS like that, y’know? Keep trucking, son. That’s what they say. Keep on trucking and eat your stupid vegetables.
The wood cranked out again, planks clunking together and wheezing away, push and pull. A fight; love-hate. Over and over they all pressed into each other, seemed to recognize their grains as one and the same, and then they bowed in grotesque repulsion. As if they recognized something they didn’t like about being so similar. As if they had wanted to change, be oak instead a’ pine, or some shit. I dunno.
Tree houses. Tree houses make you think shit like this, especially the tree houses that are falling apart. Like mine. That’s when you look at mountains like some hippy on acid, when you start seeing mountains for what they really are: Rocks with huge fucking egos.
And then the big globes up in the air, you see that? Beyond the mountain points, where the tippy-tops meet the froth of cotton cloud, big-ass silver globes. They just sit pretty up there, watching. Waiting. If they see you they crush you like you’re a fleshy bowling pin. That’s it, that’s all. Nothing fancy like in the movies long-gone, and believe me, I saw ’em all before all the electricity and generators ran out. I know what we human-being creatures thought would happen to us, and we were all really melodramatic about it, tell you that much. Like, you wanna talk ego? Talk human beings. Inflated ego up the wazoo. Who the fuck thinks of that shit? Like, aliens coming down in some parade of spaceships like they actually give a fuck what we think about how they look, to us. To us.
Anyway, these globes? They find you and start rolling in this sloping curve, down and down, until gravity breaks and they hit the dirt, supernatural smooth. Psycho kinds of calm. They’re quiet, too, you never hear them coming. And then they just steamroll over you, single smack of gore, and you’re done. You’re finito. There might be a few hundred human-being creatures left or just me. I romanticize on that sometimes. How nice, y’know? Being just me, all alone.
The wood stopped cranking. I counted the globes and one was missing so I counted again. Thirteen total at all times. That was for the last two days, anyway, thirteen sitting still. One might’ve moved to check on a target but I never saw them dip into the trees. Too humid. The machinery, man, that shit gets slow in the humidity. West coast water does that, slows stuff down.
But goddamn, only twelve now. I must’ve stared at the mountain crests too long. I took my notebook and flipped through for my protocol – ‘scuse me – THE Protocol.
“When a globe disappears and there is complete and tangible silence, be fuckin’ quiet,” I read. “Extinguish fires, lights, anything that will draw attention and be fuckin’ quiet. A breath hitching in the back of your stupid throat could draw attention so hold your breath. Hold. It.”
I closed up the notebook – common sense stuff – and turned off my reading lamp. Evening slurred through my window, covered everything in dank darkness. Chilly, wet darkness. I shivered.
I could hold my breath for 30 seconds now. Well, rounding up from 27 seconds. I tried it now, got to 28. New record. Huh.
Wood still wouldn’t crank. I pressed into it, didn’t make a sound. I shuffled to the soft spot, this little wet mark where the stuff was getting soft and smelly, and punched into it – rough hole around my wrist, the sudden gush of natural air choking on my fist. But no sound.
complete and tangible silence
Couldn’t read my notes anymore so I sort of sat there and stared at the mountains again. Only twelve globes hovering in different spots, different coordinates. I’d tried mapping ’em out once. It all came back to triangles, pyramids. Even if they moved, even if more joined the herd, I’d still get crisscrossing triangles in my doodles. Stuff of Egypt, I s’pose. Those little monsters love Egypt. They fuckin’ love that stuff. Maybe Cleopatra was in one of those globes. Would love to meet that chick, she seemed legit as shit.
I scratched at my head and it didn’t sound like anything. I mean, I felt it. For sure I did. I hope I didn’t make it up, anyway. I tried to hum a bit. I imagine I made a sound but I didn’t hear myself so it felt sort of retarded as hell, humming like that, so I stopped that real fast.
I guess I knew what was coming before it was coming, so don’t think I’m stupid or whatever. I felt it in my essence first. My purest essence, the stuff that makes you feel alive and dead in the space of a nanosecond. Then I saw the eclipse, total eclipse of any shred of light into my little tree house. Silver blinded me, split my brain and sutured it back up in a melted conglomerate of primal reactions like, what the fuck? and, why now? and i shoulda been better.
And, oh, why not the mountains? Fuck, why not take a mountain? I was so little. I was so insignificant and fuck it, man, take a mountain. Please, please, take the mountain –
Kept rising up. The globe kept pushing into the tree house, and I think it was trying a mid-air somersault. Creative extinguishment, I s’pose. Gotta give it credit for that at least. I remember respecting that even as I wanted to tear my eyes off thick, orbital nerves.
I remember the respect. Yeah.
So, anyway, it kept going. It kept rolling. It was really lugging itself like all of it was some sort of struggle, and I screamed a bunch but you know, I couldn’t hear any of it. The globes swallow sound up like a vacuum. Schwaaaap.
I felt my funny bone splinter first. You can laugh about that, it’s whatever. Sort of ironic. Sort of bizarre. Then my shoulder and my spine cracked with that, too, same time. I felt each knub of my spine split to powder and all my muscles fused together before falling into this puddle of muck that suddenly became pretty peaceful. Can you even imagine? Death so painful it’s actually kinda nice. Like, hey, you’re dying. Let’s throw you a bone while all your actual bones smither and splitoon.
I remember the last second. Saw the mountain. Then silver. Another flash of the mountain. My other funny bone broke. I felt okay after that, though. I felt okay.
I think today was my birthday.