We reclined in the soft, dry grass

We reclined in the soft, dry grass, and looked up into the vaulted labyrinth of blonde roots, clustered with mushrooms, edged by emerald-colored moss, and packed with rich, dark earth.  The red cricket emerged from the earth, crawled to a prominent, knotty turn in one of the roots, and stopped, as if surveying us.

The cricket spoke.  Sailor and I lay frozen in awe.

“I shall grant you three questions,” the cricket said.  “What is it you would like to know?”

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rated x, part six

Sailor ran a soft hand down the length of my spine…nestled it where my leg meets my body.  I touched her hair, letting it slip along my hand.  She kissed me, then wrapped my verge securely with her fingers.  Pulling herself toward me, she crawled onto my lap like an animal, facing me, placing my verge between us, relaxing her stomach into mine. I stroked her back softly, and put the palm of my hand over the crown of her head; the warmth  gathered there astonished me.  She kissed me on the lids of my eyes.  I touched my tongue to the under-surface of her upper lip.  She took the tip of my tongue inside her mouth.  We kissed; we sealed our lips together.

I let my hand fall to the back of her neck, and cradled her there.  She arched into my hand.  I kissed her throat.  She hummed with pleasure.  The vibrations of her throat poured into my mouth, my throat, exhilarating me.  She took long breaths; her chest rose and fell against mine.  She grasped my back with her hands.  Again our mouths met, her tongue sought mine.  We kissed in a series of bursts, connecting and letting go, our lips engorged, our eyes closed.

Later we slipped into each other; we fucked.  She glided on me softly, rose and fell steadily, facing me, rocking me, kissing me.

She took a breath in; she paused.  With eyes wide open, like pools of dark color, we stared at each other, as if something were pouring back and forth between us.

What? I asked…not breathing a word.

“Listen,” she said.

The sound of rainfall, hushed and light, gently filled our ears.  It was still raining outside the hollow where we had landed.

I rested, slowed my breathing, listened.  Then she giggled, glided down, contracted. I came, deep inside her; I could not believe how long the moment lasted. She smiled; it was what she had wanted.  Then there was a small, soft burst inside her; I felt its echo through my belly.  Her grip tightened.  She moaned.  I came again, this time with her. Her body turned hard, and then soft again.  Once again we felt that something was pouring back and forth between us.

We kissed again.  We listened to the rain.

 

 

Then again I was screaming

Then again I was screaming.  Fear was pouring up through my throat, up through my mouth and eyes, pouring out of me; it was a white-light fire, streaming across the dark corridor, out of me and into the eye-holes of the ghoul, rending it, destroying it.

N?

I lurched forward and gasped for breath. Sailor sat with me, close to me; she looked into my eyes.  We sat on the dry grass in the warm hollow we had entered to take shelter from the rain.

(Back door: Go back one post to Sideways, or back two posts to We turned.)

Sideways

Now I was inside Sailor.  I walked around the cabin, rail thin, a ragged T-shirt hanging from my bones, my eyes clouded and gaunt, flesh drawn back under my cheekbones.  Through Sailor’s eyes, I saw myself, also in a T-shirt, no underwear, wearing old sneakers, squatting on the back step of the cabin, huffing gas, fingernails long and dirty on the can.

Later I got cold and sick and took to hiding myself under a blanket on our dingy, battered sofa.  I lay in squalor; I didn’t get up to change rooms at bedtime.  Days and nights blurred together.  I only bathed occasionally.  Our hot water heater failed, but I didn’t care if the water was only luke warm.  Old food stank up the kitchen; dirty pots and pans that had been hidden away in cupboards lay untouched, undiscovered.  We didn’t care.  All we wanted to do was huff gas.

Sometimes Sailor would write notes and pass them to me, but the words she wrote were not words at all.  They barely even had discernible letters.  I would stare for hours at the little loops and jots, trying to understand nothing.  Sometimes we would share cigarettes after huffing…hotboxing and blowbacking until we passed out.  We had no idea how close we came to dying in a gas explosion.  We were oblivious, sleeping at all hours of day or night.  Sometimes we would wake up and have intercourse.  Our sex was carnal, mechanical.  We would eat each other until our private parts stank of gas…then we would squat down and connect, popping our crotches together crudely until one of us hunched up with a stiffening, genital orgasm.  Afterwards we would huff more gas.

We grew afraid to go outside, to feel the sun on our skin.  Even when we ran out of cigarettes, we could not bear to go down to the village anymore; we were afraid to show our faces.  We huddled inside.  My hair began to fall out in clumps.  Sailor’s teeth went bad; I could see them when we would try to talk, our mouths moving, our words coming out like sounds from underwater, far away, as if our lips were connected to some other remote brain in some other place…our consciousness witnessing but not comprehending…the words left meaningless, our bodies’ movements and need for more fumes the only thing we could truly feel.

We’d found a cache of gasoline in an old shed near the cabin…and we thought it would be enough for us…enough to last until we were dead.  But it wasn’t; it didn’t.  We ran out of money.  We thought we’d hid some someplace, our money from the time with Harlin Coke, cash we’d hid in the bed, or under the bed…

We took the bed apart, slowly, weakly, desperately, over the course of 8, 10, 12 hours.  No, maybe it was days.  Later we sat listlessly, strung-out, on the yellow grass outside the back door…in the middle of the day.  We didn’t know how we landed there, or whether it was warm or cold outside; we didn’t care.  Then we were walking down into the village…to steal gas, our self consciousness now gone.  We were numb, poisoned animals, walking skeletons.

We had not been able to steal.  We had run out.  We had failed. We had survived.

 

(Back Door: Enter Sicky, Skinny Haley, Haley Minwood, or Guilty Dirty Jesus into the search bar.)

We turned

We have to turn and look back.  We have to face it, I thought.

Sailor pulled on my arm, hard.  We lurched to a stop, whipped around.

The streams of light on either side of us poured down the corridor into the eye-holes of a face; the eyes were twin black holes, whirlpools, pulling everything in.  My body froze.  I tried to open my mouth, but no sound would come out.  My throat was paralyzed.  Sailor lifted her hand, pointing.  Her arm trembled.  I did not need to see her to know her terror, to know the courage it took to call out this face with a gesture of her tiny hand.  I forced a scream.  I looked into the wavering eyes and screamed into them until I poured out of my body and in through the eye holes of the ghoul.  Sailor whispered my name inside my head.  I had gone into the body of the ghoul.

 

 

 

Warped, keening sound

The thrill of forward motion poured through my limbs and spine, but as we sped down the corridor the thrill became fear…a vile, animal fear that something behind us, more terrible than any monster, would overcome us.  Now we ran in terror.  The warped, keening sound of the cricket filled our ears once more.

At this precise moment I realized I could hear Sailor’s thoughts inside my mind.

I’m afraid.

Me too, I thought.

Are we going to die?

Hold my hand.

We held hands.

Be brave, I thought.

The distant core of the tunnel was a pitch black hole.  We ran toward that core, with two bright streams of light speeding past us, terrified of what lay behind.

 

 

 

Cricket and Crow

The sound of wing beats filled the corridor.  A chaotic black shape sped toward us, covering and uncovering the caged lights as it flew.  In a burst of flapping wings, a crow alighted on the floor of the corridor, just short of where the cricket walked ahead of us.  The crow spread its wings low along the floor.  The bright red cricket took hold of a wingtip with its tiny feet, and crawled to the crown of the crow’s head.  The crow took off in a deafening chaos of wing beats, and vanished down the corridor.

“Follow them!” I cried.

We ran.

Just as we had been impelled by the cricket’s song to run up the side of the mountain through inky blackness…now we rushed headlong down the corridor, the lights racing past our eyes, blurring into a bright stream.  Our speed transcended human speed; the tempo of our feet on the concrete became so light and rapid we felt that we could have flown.