On Second Thought

Arrival: Oxygen. Atomic number 8 sucked into lungs feeling the burn of an element plentiful, flawless in its ability to energize them. They draw it in, oblivious to the abundance of life. The chatter is loud between these ones. An angry planet, where I gather the inhabitants believe they will either breathe forever, or they can take greed to the grave. I hate oxygen.

Starlight has come and gone, five. The cool night air is less abominable if surrounded by trees, tall beasts without wicked tongues whose limbs reach for the sky. Darkness is my favorite time since it hides this threat lurking about, anxious to announce breathing on this water-bound sphere is on countdown. One, two, three…although enthusiasm must be silenced.

Moon. Only one, natural satellite for this spinning cyclone of existence. Its rays allow shadows to play against cracked streets and muddied fields where no other light shines. Monsters they are. No, not the shadows; those I prefer. They follow along, loyal to the end. I imagine the gray walkers anticipate moonlight with bliss attached to every single movement. It sets them free for a nighttime fling. The ones obtuse, not affected by light of day or night, do not deserve a shadow by their sides.

Inside minds. Rage is all the rage. Visits into those neural zones is disturbing on levels not felt before. Perpetual as their star and moon, war dominates this realm, so much so— no guilt is manifesting. Ours for the taking, and why not? They breathe life into tyranny. Red rivers flow with an undercurrent of superiority. Be forewarned, if you’re different, prepare to drown many deaths until the final gasp is silenced. Your essence will descend to the bottom of oceans where secrets rest.

Timekeeper. Seven months have died. Seems eons, although that matters not. This mission does not depend on the uncomfortable status of my air sacks. Observations continue as my guts ache from this atomic number 8. It’s everywhere, in all of them. Pain. It’s everywhere, in all of them. Note to self, exception: Some of the young ones have a certain look in their eyes. A few of these creatures have left me without words to describe. More data will be ascertained.

Standing on the rail of a mighty bridge, beautiful and deadly, I looked down into frigid water. Oxygen, there with hydrogen, stuck together and beckoning. All of the citizens, all of their sorrow swelling to the point, I sent the overload below. Gushing, swirling with angst, the water called louder. It’s possible, I slipped. That could be a lie.

This skin I survive in, hit the water. I thought it would swim. I mean they develop in a sea of sorts. Is it not an instinctive thing? Guess not. The wetness pulled, demanded I sink into depths voracious. The weight of this fluidity, the surge of nonexistence as it displaced life, unbearable.  Funny, all I kept thinking…Oxygen is my friend. Reality? I have not one. All my time has been spent in judgement. Details, details! What is the point of breathing at all if not for the sake of others?

A speck of light. How I craved sunlight and to gaze upon the dancing shadows of the night. An urge to scream at the moon remains. Yes. The scents of wild flowers in Namaqualand, to die for. Rephrase…fill a soul with seconds of euphoria. And I would like to investigate, what makes them laugh? Despite all of the agony here in this frayed world, they open eyes wide each day. Seems my optical pursuits should have looked closer, deeper, and beyond the here and now.

I did not hear the splash. His tight grip upon my wrist evoked shock as the dead pool yanked hard, demanded we stay. He looked into my black eyes. Unafraid, this creature held his breath, used every speck of strength. Time lost its grip as I read his mind, felt burdens brought to this man from pestilence spread to his family. Strange. I’d have presumed his ability to give would have been used up. Why did he risk his life?

The shoreline. Pale and shivering, he smiled making sure I survived. Confusion. Chaos met despair since this man, my enemy…this species doomed, beat what they call—death. Update. I’ve lost track of the sun and moon, their comings and goings. This man, far from perfect, issues with procrastination and a temper birthed in their so-called Hell, continues to annoy.

He is my friend who breathes oxygen. Decent sense of humor, though…I must admit. At long last, I’ve come to terms with the fact, laughter is contagious, yet what causes it is all over the place. I like that aspect of this place. Nothing here is as predictable as alleged. Our trackers sent insufficient intel. Please note, it’s a matter of grave importance, this species is lost, but exhibits signs of promise. Delete, cancel all scheduled infringements. I shall stay, embrace the burn inside. Learn.

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author bio:

Nora Weston is a Michigan based writer/artist. Her publishing credits include novels, anthologies, plus fiction and poetry in magazines of various genres, including: Hoboeye, The Harrow, Eye to the Telescope, Calliope on the Web, and Bete Noire. Recent work was posted at Speculative 66 and NewMyths.com. New work has been published by Star*Line and Ramingo’s Porch.