One Final Wish
audio version of One Final Wish
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We weren’t meant to interact so intimately, through the tackiness of deception and riddles or everything feeling like we were walking uphill, were we? Alternatively, there resided in me a deep disturbance that it was possible that the interaction was supposed to secondarily reveal that Friday was only a calendar day bereft of the importance placed upon it by fools who assume that Friday isn’t a day of reckoning, but of celebration. It happened anyway and it was Friday, even though others were dealing with matters of the heart. It tapped into a part of me that undid years of missteps, and reset my course, poisoned like I had been moonstruck to fall prey to my wound. Were the cards loaded from the start?
The day was now phrased too coarsely for a pacifist, even a pacifist who ironically embraces the tones of Dylan and Neil Young. The day shape-shifted into more of a biting my tongue calm. At that moment, the world felt like someone was telling Grace Jones to act more like a lady, then to mind her manners, and, ultimately, not play the part of Zula with such potency.
It was at that moment of unsolicited Dear Abby miss mannerism falling out of the clouds like rum might snake charm a crowd long enough to mask the harms like an inoculation orchestrated by perpetrators of mass iniquitousness, at that very moment, I felt unsuitable wild abandonment. I now know this was what surrender felt like in absurd circumstances. My body buckled and I circled to the ground shaking my hand like an overturned bottle.
Distorting my face, I lay there mere steps inside my home, my black hair indifferently tied up in a pony tail, which was unusual since I liked looking less informal generally. A closer look at my whiskey brown eyes may have revealed tiny happy floaters in the shape of the indigo map I had relentlessly examined. Four days of planned hikes ahead of me sufficed and suddenly hung in the balance.
The air felt like it had of its own volition made a glaring error of judgment and stepped on the torque that reconciled the opposites that attract. The mortally summoned opposites in this circumstance flying at each other at break neck speed were a passive generation and the ambivalent angry generation inheriting the problems determined by the earlier passive attitude.
The sound between the two generations was like a constant misunderstanding where form trumped substance in a repetitive parroted excuse to delay. This came in the form of badgering blended with the product of maddening emotional disconnection. It was a torque that assembled cruel neglect and allocated to the air a surprising feel of gnashing teeth.
Abruptly vanishing, the clement sixty-five beautiful degrees kept the sun in line as it soaked into my skin and tapered the adventurous feeling I was cultivating. It felt like perfect weather for my trip, even though I was backtracking to grab the most essential piece of equipment I needed, my weatherproof purple jacket. I had accidentally left it inside and thankfully remembered only a ten minute drive from home. I’d turned around bothered by my forgetfulness and determined to make up for lost time somehow.
Could the weather change so abruptly? Before I had to return to my house, I had felt the warmth of my neighbor’s curiosity as Don noticed my backpack and hiking boots in the car as I packed them. Don said, “Nadiya, I remember every time you take a trip, because all of a sudden I feel like I’ve got a good reason to come over and try your ice cream machine.” I offered that he finish the cones that I left close to the machine.
It felt nice to talk about ice cream on a sunny day. Now, the temperature must have dropped 40 degrees and I longed for sunniness. Having entered the front door decorated with a violet mix of potpourri and ribbons, the increasingly aggravated air filled with swat teams of stingers. My gaze turned into maligned bitter discontent.
Forty degrees ago, I stood under a perfectly charming sky barely noticing it and its trifling wind and imagined the switchbacks off
. Here, as I
passed through the eddying air of my doorway, I attempted to look through the ceiling
and the floor to whatever extraordinary force was dealing me this blow. Mount
Did it have a shape?
A fierce wind paralyzed my lungs as it raged into my mouth. What came out instead was a muted agony that formed a bellow similar to what I imagined muzzled hounds of Baskerville may have sounded like, except less phantomwise.
Could I be in the midst of sleep? What was I surrendering to?
“She,” the creature which was soon to be understood as the shape of my immediate devastating condition, landed on my hand not unlike what I imagined a pixie might do when it no longer found flying useful. Or was it appropriate to give her a sex? This creature landed aloofly as if the sensation of standing paled in comparison to the elevated feelings brought on by flying.
“She” looked bored frankly. I thought of a pixie, because I had been in a good mood when she first landed running for the front door to retrieve my forgotten jacket. It turned out I should have been in an apprehensive mood, and given “her” a more cautionary fitting name.
This creature, name withheld at the moment as a mere provisional courtesy, took me for a fool and an unsuspecting easy target. A pushover since “she” landed with the type of curiosity that I could relate to. I should have shaken “her” off as I might have taken a cannibal down. Perhaps, “she” was exploiting how humans vacillate about the root of our bad luck.
“She” knew when I reentered the house to fetch my forgotten coat I was vulnerable. Why hadn’t “she” been eaten by a minor carnivore? Although I headed toward my jacket, this pixie crumb held my undivided attention.
As I grew up, my grandmother Antonia often warned me in Ukrainian, “Nadiya, when you leave the coat at home and return for it, it is very bad luck.” I didn’t listen because superstitions were absurd.
Coldness strangled the air unmistakably with stinging punctuality.
My babtsya Antonia, wearing her long braid that she spiraled around her beautiful mind, never elaborated on what form the bad luck might assume. This left me to entertain over the years many simulations of how bad luck would present itself. I imagined it would be trivial, like stubbing my toe, or at most that a reliable rewarding friendship would turn momentarily upside down or slightly undermined, still reconcilable. If I followed the thought to its natural end, I would know that by believing in bad luck, I would suffer from bad luck. Consequently, leaving the coat might not have brought it on. I could blame the thought that it might.
This wasn’t trivial. The moment right after I stepped in with the intention to grab the damning coat I felt stung. I neared the couch to grab it. Something came over me, like a dark menace seeking to impart its condemnation mutely.
Still incredulous, this pixie-like creature sat on my hand as I stared at the Gore-Tex coat. Objects in Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are. My jacket and I were working at cross purposes. Stinging pain coiled through my hand and I lurched forward using every morsel of my receding strength like a corkscrew.
Occam's razor. The simplest explanation would be that I had fallen from fear or was overly excited about the trip and fainted. Something amazing was happening and I wasn’t reacting in fear, I was experiencing unsuitable wild abandonment. Upon closer examination of my stinging hand, the creature sat there looked more realistically like some mutating form of lady bug. I didn’t need to recoil, because it’s impossible for a lady bug to bring you to your knees. Right?
It must be coincidental. I categorize a lady bug as a benevolent bug, because not once had I ever heard of a lady bug becoming aggressive. However, this was an evolving situation as correlation implied causation. The creature landed on me and subsequently I felt like abandoning everything and lying still on the floor in suddenly freezing temperatures trying to make a terrible pain go away.
I disregarded the chance that maybe my knowledge about lady bugs needed updating. Human behavior may be more unpredictable than lady bug behavior. Maybe, my air conditioner was out of control when I walked in. Maybe, my anxiety about the trip somehow made me stop breathing and I was in the process of fainting. Maybe, my hand was just falling asleep very badly and I lost circulation to my brain, making me feel cold.
Lady bugs lacked personality conflicts and moods. Then, as I lay sprawled on the floor between the door and the couch, “she” stared at me with the authority and certainty of a prison custodian. I should have fainted next, but I somehow kept still in my abandoned interruption.
Sitting gracefully on my finger making faces at me, the lady bug opened “her” elytra wings and transformed those wings into one long orange tail as the wings braided together and detached from the top of the lady bug. As the tail grew long and thin, a light began to emit down the middle of the tail just as it tucked below legs that grew taller.
“Her” yellow abdomen amplified into a body pock-marked with protruding venom glands that harbored their contents right under the surface, with elastic ducts that attached on the surface to a series of acupressure-sized needles of varying lengths. Tiny deadly brushes without the protective balls at the end glistened. Muscles interwove the scarlet surface of the mutant. These muscles protruded in and out of the abdomen covered with protective sheaths to protect the glands and muscles where they were exposed. The length of this creature was now an agonizing one and a half inches long, much larger than the lady bug-like shape it previously held. The creature exhibited a short patella and femur, but very long orange pedipalps that she planned to use at the most opportune moment.
As I watched it transform itself, I was motionless like a failed contrarian amassing a mainstream collection of home improvement magazines yielding to self-awareness. It leapt from my hand to into the space underneath my thumbnail as if there were room. It lifted the fingernail off my skin like a trunk of a car with its pedipalps. It entered and shut the fingernail behind itself. It didn’t burrow like a gopher, it just climbed inside.
Horror fell over me and I terrified myself into standing, shaking my hand like I wish I had done in the first place. I struggled to grab my jacket and the creature crawled from under my fingernail and landed on the jacket with glistening bristles jutting in my direction. I recoiled from the jacket and the creature. I ran for the door, locked it and ran toward the car.
Directly between me and the car, I saw a piece of purple chalk on the ground as a beige Great Dane, the Apollo of dogs, ran toward me from across the street as if I was its owner. A car barreled toward the dog driven by an inattentive driver.
The purple chalk brought back a memory of my childhood tenderly and I laughed at the thought. As a child, I used the gritty chalk to draw the hidden rooms I could crawl through on our wooden floors into the crawl space between floors. The memory faded. The dog was gone. I looked everywhere. I didn’t even see the chalk next to me. Had I grabbed the chalk, was it in my hand. No chalk. No dog.
Vertigo set in. I attempted to stand and as I did I saw a gaping hole in the street. I approached it and saw the dog inside safely staring back up at me. The chalk only inches away from his front left paw. I helped the perplexed dog out of the hole mindful of the time I was out on the road, fearing other drivers. We reached the sidewalk and I found his collar with his nametag. Without a leash or a way to keep him safe, I needed to call the dog’s owner immediately. The dog’s name was Tysha and her owners answered on the first ring, clearly worried.
They lived only a few doors down. Soon Tysha was back in the arms of her family. When her owners Oliver and Sevana asked where I found her, I found myself glossing over some of the details. Wouldn’t it be awkward to explain chalk and the rash hole? As they drove off reunited, I ran to the hole and grabbed the chalk, just to make sure it hadn’t been a trick of the eye. I put it in my pocket.
In the bewilderment of finding the dog, I forgot about my neighbor Don checking on my place in my absence. I couldn’t let him risk terror with the audacious creature inside and I still needed my coat. It seemed wrong to just leave suddenly. It was getting the better of me. I could crush a bug, I’d done it before. In any case, I couldn’t just take off for
, even if the
impulse prevailed through my body. Mount
I dashed back inside and grabbed a book to smash it, then thought maybe I should capture it in a cup with a lid instead and preserve it alive. I looked at the coat. The creature was missing. I grabbed my coat. As I walked to the front door, I wondered if I was feverish and questioning whether I should drive. I considered that the possibility did exist that these were all omens. Suddenly, once again, plagued with utter paralysis, I fell to the ground clutching my hand.
“My name is Strazh.” The one and a half inch creature introduced itself, as it hovered in the air. “You are kind enough. You now face a danger on this trip that will strain you, but guard your memories. Your journey will not be lethal. Your deluge will not escape you if you stay here instead. Your strength will be determined in what lies ahead today.”
Strazh pulled a set of smaller tarsal claws off the tip of its long pedipalps and loosened the cuticle of my thumb instantaneously. Strazh lifted the nail laterally and squeezed her body underneath, closing the nail behind her. I hoped that she would once again exit as she had done before. Terrified, I regained my strength and feeling in my hand. I felt a little stiff from stress, but otherwise the weight of abandon had lifted from me and I felt an overwhelming desire to see
I locked the front door. Mount Tedyora
Inserting my car key into the door, I looked down at my jacket tied around my waist and couldn’t remember the last hour or even getting the jacket. I wondered if I had the jacket tied around my waist all along. I’d done that with sunglasses on my head, so it was possible. Don stepped out of his house and wished me a great trip. I struggled to stop myself from explaining why I hadn’t left the first time around. The sun hit my face and it felt so warm and tender to feel its caress. No need to supplement if I could get a bunch of sun in the next few days.
The map in the passenger side of the car glistened in the sun. I headed out of my neighborhood, inspired by the distance between myself and my front door. Rolling along, I considered that the three hour drive to
only gets really
beautiful in the second hour, so I distracted myself by listening to a story. Mount
A few of my friends disapproved of my listening to “The Edge of Dark Water” by Joe R. Lansdale on my way to the mountains. They believed setting the tone for a good trip meant making sure you didn’t fill your head with horrifying scenes. I was actually leaving to think on my own again, so I was prepared for less drama and open to enjoying a spellbinding sinister story.
An hour slipped by quickly. The scenery switched from uneven views of housing communities and houses sticking out like blades of grass between eruptions of trees to uninhabited short hills and finally mountains that absorbed my thoughts. I turned the radio off to enjoy the distance between myself and the inhabited world. Two hours passed.
Every time I headed to
I usually stop in the town of Eardley.
I’ve found that Eardley locals working at the Dorian’s Brim Field, a
oil pool operated by Dorian Gunston, congregated down the road at the Broken
Guitar Strings Bar at dusk, attempting to get their minds off the field and
their drilling units. Dorian’s Brim Field sat in the lower foothills of the
Tedyora range. The main access to the field came from the south, by way of the Yora River Dorian Brim Road,
which also passed through the densely developed Dorian’s Snap Field and ended
up at Dorian’s Brim Field. Dorian’s Brim Field covered a productive area of
4,700 acres. They extracted oil from five pools, according to Dylan who I once
talked to at the Broken Guitar Strings. The sedimentary formations provided
over seventy million barrels of oil.
I got into the town of
Eardley a little earlier
than dusk. I didn’t see anyone who I had previously met at the diner or at the
Broken Guitar Strings Bar.
I passed up the Broken Guitar Strings Bar for a cute house that was converted into a restaurant to enjoy a warm lunch. I figured I’d be cooking for myself for the next several days hiking and camping, or eating uncooked snacks. I parked my car on a residential street with no sidewalk. Across the street, I spotted an overflowing water hose poking out into the street as a couple talked to their neighbor and left suds on their car.
In the restaurant, it felt like I had been transplanted into a Patsy Cline infused movie, although the tree branches syncopated thumps against the windows dusking the music’s beat. There were flowery plates on the walls, old pieces of furniture that evoked a corny farmhouse, with short stacks of pancakes in front of the only person sitting at the counter. A man sat at his own table with a newspaper spread out and enjoyed a burger.
He looked lonely, but only for a minute. As soon as the waitress, Stella, started talking to him, he lit up, feeling indivisible and noticeable.
“Carry a smile on that mug, not on your cup, Paul,” Stella recommended.
I felt the rawness of Paul’s feeling, as I sat down alone to order my meal, uninformed as to how good the food would taste or whether it would energize or expend me. I was an extrovert. This guy’s introvertness oozed out of his baseball cap. It was the kind of isolation that pulled you in like a vortex and made you wonder how many wounds he hid in plain sight.
When Stella turned away from Paul, he left the counter to gaze out the window. He was terribly preoccupied. I felt that he came in here every day for the warmth of a home that he never could recreate. One of his old friends walked through the door. I ordered fried chicken, local beans and a slice of warm apple pie.
“Ringing the bell,” Paul asked. “Don’t you have some food at the card game tonight,
Not too long after I finished my last bite, I noticed Paul at the window again. I walked up to the window. I paused. I remembered that if someone wants to regain the ability to attract the energy of money I needed to stop him from putting his money in his pocket. Paul needed to put his pocket coins that he played with at the window in his wallet and needed to remove the photos from his wallet, because one of those photos was of the man who won a lot of his money the night before. Money’s energy will go to the people on any photos nearest your money and often at your own expense. So, I needed to help him change his relationship with money. But how, so Paul wouldn’t freak out.
I stepped up to the window and gazed out and said quietly, “Even though you lost a lot of money last night, you’d be better off taking that guy’s picture out of your wallet as soon as you can. He might be someone you love, but it doesn’t mean he has to be a drain on your wallet.” I couldn’t believe I was sharing my grandmother’s wisdom with a stranger or for that matter at all.
Paul’s eyes opened widely as he turned to look at me, showing a mixed emotion somewhere between shock and gratitude. This was his second home and I was a stranger in it.
Paul cracked a smile and said, “Thanks Angel, although I don’t believe in that sort of thing. I saw you walk in. But, I don’t mind taking some extra precautions in any case.”
Paul revealed nothing about his previous night playing cards, but that was to be expected. As I looked away from him and out the window, I saw Paul rearrange his wallet and pull out photos out of the corner of my eye. He put his pocketed coins back in his wallet. I paid my bill. Paul walked away from the window as a glare cast light on the floor only as potential calibration for his tattered shoes.
The door opened and in came another local. He walked straight up to the man at the counter and told Stella, “This man’s check is on me!” He put a $20 down on the counter and said, “Don’t stay too long! There’s a big surprise in your truck and I’m liable to change my mind before I make it past the parking lot.” He left. Shortly, so did the window gazer. It was time for me to head out to the mountain and get reenergized. I left a tip from out of my wallet and I walked to my car.
I walked back to my car and was surprised to see the water hose still overflowing and the suds still on the car. A neighbor across the street caught my eye. Drought concerns wafted through the air between us. I felt her endless rage and if I asked, I was certain that I would find out that this neighbor would give a high count on the number of times the over watering already occurred. I only had a minute to inform the concerned neighbor that her phone was ringing. She ran inside.
Ice creates a high pressure zone and heated sand creates a low pressure zone. I understood that I would have to get inside the house or use my limited packages of sodium acetate hand-warmers. If I heated one and kept the other cool, I’d get a strong windstorm going. I considered that I could get a back siphonage going to reverse flow, or walk on the property and turn the hose off, but I didn’t want to get shot.
Best solution? I decided to dip into my pharmaceuticals. I pulled out my pill packet. I cracked the supersaturated sodium acetate pills, poured them into water, shook them and made a liter of super cooled ice water. I cracked another supersaturated sodium acetate pill to release heat. I set them down only an inch away from the front of the water hose as they created a mini high pressure and low pressure system. I checked with a match to see that they were emitting. I confirmed they were. Finally, I cracked my purple pill that contained a self-propelling super-concentrated tropospheric
Neptune atmospheric wind and clouds mix. It emerges
from weather patterns that are driven by the strongest sustained winds of any of
our planets in the solar system.
If I unleashed the wind from the pill packet, it would create at minimum 400 mph delirious trade winds into a targeted wind tunnel creating a rip current forcing the water back into the hose sideways. Its composition was not poisonous and it did not respond to the gravity that affects our atmosphere. It propelled like a rotor might, similar to the way they reversed
river using a pump, minus the pump. As soon as the water reversed, I threw the super
cooled sodium acetate pill into the hose immediately freezing a few inches of
the water closest to the mouth. I determined that there might be some leakage
in about 40 minutes, given that the outside temperature was pretty close to
As I drove away, I watched the neighbor tread outside. She saw the water hose wasn’t spilling anymore. I made my way down an empty stretch of road.
I drove past a large mass of birds walking across a long field. I considered that a strange scenery. I drove a little further and once again saw another large mass of birds, seagulls, wrens, ravens, crows, owls, eagles, vultures, puffins and kookaburras walking closer to the road alongside of it, with nothing scaring them up to fly, not even my car. It made this stretch of the drive uncharacteristically eerie.
Vexed, I paused on the side of the road.
On the horizon, an oil rig vertical drill on Dorian’s Brim Field glitters in the sun. I imagined the top layer right under sedimentary rock layers—trapped gas above impermeable rock layers as icing over the trapped oil stacked on porous sedimentary rock. Since petroleum had so many different types of hydrocarbons in petroleum, I wondered if trace amounts of iron, nickel, copper and vanadium could be found by the trained eye. A trained eye might differentiate paraffins, naphthenes, aromatics, asphaltenes among other variations of compounds.
What I saw then may forever make the land feel like it was being submitted as a test hypothesis to a science fair, because it lost all of its stability and became miniature-sized. Within the blink of an eye, the vertical drill’s derrick, swivel and crown block were sucked under ground. I witnessed the derrick vanish. It left the ground covered up as if handled by a giant swift vacuum pack sealer. There was no sign of where the vertical drill stood. Even the oil well dog house was buried.
I yanked the car to the side of the road, my heart beating a million miles an hour. My blood pressure itself could have repaired flat tires. I asked myself to think hard about whether or not the vertical drill had been there or if I had passed it a while back and was just noticing the distance I had traveled. While I second guessed myself, I sat catching my breath. I didn’t have much time alone to recreate the last few moments of my drive.
A stranger ran down
Dorian Brim Road
about 100 feet ahead of me demanding my help.
“My name is Richard. I work over at Dorian’s Brim Field. There’s been a terrible accident. I can’t find three of my coworkers. Please help me. Drive down the road with me to the field to where the dog house used to be. I don’t have a cell phone and I can’t find Dorian.”
“Hop in! My name is Nadiya and I was heading through town, where do you need to go,” I asked Richard calmly.
“My boss Dorian doesn’t know about this yet. He’s gonna wonder where the derrick is and freak out about the geologist’s last phone message to him. He’s been at the diner in town this afternoon, and I haven’t seen him. Now he’s gonna be a sour man that much I can tell you.”
“You need my cell phone?”
“Yeah, please. Thank you! This can’t be happening!” He called Dorian. Dorian answered. “Dorian, you gotta meet me on
Dorian Brim Road
right away. There’s something I gotta tell you and you gotta see this. No
Dorian sounded stressed and unpleased on the other end. He demanded more details. Richard said little to mask his concerns. He told him, “The geologist and the other two guys are missing. Right before it all happened, I gotta tell you when you see this. I’m sorry. Get over here!”
He hung up.
We pulled up next to where the derrick once stood off of
Brim Road. There was no sign of it. Dorian’s truck
coughed up dust up the road. Richard kept shaking, perplexed, and tongue-twisted
as Dorian faced him. Dorian looked absolutely confounded like some planet had
fallen on his fields and now he was walking on new ground.
He jumped out of the truck, “Mother of God! I can’t see a thing about this making any sort of sense! Where’s the derrick? Where’s the dog house? What in the hell?”
Richard started talking and all the while Dorian moved restlessly staring at me silently requesting an introduction. Richard said, “She’s the first person I saw after the accident. Her name is Nadiya.”
He continued, “The weird thing is that ten minutes beforehand. Fred checked the identified categenesis zone using standard procedures and the area was fine earlier today. We were pumping. Everything was fine. We were pumping good oil from between 3,300 and 9,800 feet.
Next thing you know, he’s getting readings that the temperature is way cooler in the catagenesis zone. I’m talking way cooler. All we got is kerogen and the oil window is closed! None of the temperatures are reading between 120 degrees and 300 degrees. Temperatures are all below 120 degrees and at the correct depth level, I assure you. Never seen oil reverse back into kerogen, but we have no other explanation. That’s what we are getting.”
Petroleum is traced to the burial of marine organisms, mostly prehistoric zooplankton and algae, given the right temperature, pressure and time. Dorian knew a lot about petroleum. Kerogen in the diagenesis layer above the catagenesis layer isn’t valuable to the oil business. Dorian’s fury made destiny hover inches above erosion awaiting its thinning.
Organic matter undergoes changes in composition with deeper burial and temperatures. The organic material breaks down into kerogen and bitumen in the first layer, closest to the ground, which has milder conditions of temperature and pressure. That layer is called the diagenesis. The process of catagenesis begins as temperatures and pressures increase and relies on kerogen to form petroleum. If it’s too cold, and the proper temperatures necessary for the process of catagenesis aren’t achieved, the plankton will remain trapped as kerogen and therefore unsellable and useless. Of course, there’s always a price and labs.
Dorian ran to the location where the derrick stood since he was a child. He dusted the ground with his foot, in a vague attempt at distributing his confusion through his body with some sense of control, as if he might see some fragments of it somewhere. He realized how ridiculous this was, but had no other recourse. His father would have been furious. He stared blankly, anger spilling from him at a quick rate, but he refused to say anything just yet. He looked around and around.
“When I...,” he said, then he stopped. He ran to his truck, “Follow me.” They drove to the other derricks on the fields. They still stood. “If I’d lost all of them, simulating these conditions could cost millions with pyrolysis techniques that are available! I can’t afford this. We’re going to have to redrill back there. We’ve got a huge pool right there that we’ve opened up.”
At the derrick’s dog house, he found a few core samples of the catagenesis and they looked fine. He asked Fred to drop the drill to bring up a sample at the catagenesis depth with a drill-stem test. Fred complied. It appeared from the sample that there was no oil that came up, just kerogen. As he pulled up the sample, Richard, Dorian and I watched. Suddenly, out of the ground, roughly one hundred fifty feet away from the derrick, what appeared to be a lime giant sea creature swam through the soil as comfortably as it would out at sea. Three grown eyewitnesses didn’t rub their eyes for clarity. We panicked. We ran to the vehicles to save our lives.
We drove to the main road that intersects with
Dorian Brim Road
as quickly as possible. I reached the road and saw more packs of birds walking.
Not a single bird flew in the sky. Both Dorian and his worker noticed.
As we drove away, another derrick was pulled under ground. At least three or four of the giant sea creatures transformed the area surrounding the fields into a sandy ocean that had lost all of its waves and water. They drilled with their tails downward, spiraled their bodies high above the hole, and threw sand everywhere in rotations like a water sprinkler. They emerged again and moved backwards only to once again drill with their tails. They disappeared below ground. A swarm of them lived somewhere on or near Dorian Brim Field.
As we neared the closest store we could find, an ambulance and a fire truck appeared down the street. As soon as it parked, Dorian could see that the person they were pulling out was Ralph. Ralph owned the mine down the road from Dorian Brim Field. He’d owned that mine all his life, unsure of what to do otherwise he said, when it came down to it. Ralph was severely hurt. Dorian ran up to a missing coworker, Weyan. He was distraught in his mixed serenity in seeing the ambulance, not injured enough to need it, but gained fortitude from seeing it. The ambulance drivers brought Ralph into the hospital.
Weyan told Dorian, “The strangest thing Dorian. We went to the mines today and all of the machinery broke a foot into the soil. Somehow there’s an indestructible impermeable layer of something between a foot of soil and the resources we’ve been mining. It terrified us. Ralph more than me, although I’m quite shaken I’m realizing as I catch up with myself. I called Ralph’s brother, who owns the mines in
and he had the same problem today. It’s like the mine locked us out!” Brandon County
I felt frantic. I told Dorian and Richard that I needed to go find a bathroom and I would be right back. I walked to the diner where I ate earlier. Inside, I felt safe, sheltered from the folly at the oil fields. I of course knew otherwise, but somehow seeing Stella at the counter made me feel comfortable. She was still on duty, must not have finished her shift yet. The radio streamed today’s news, not Patsy Cline.
Stella reached to change the radio station. I asked her not to change it, because I wanted to hear if there was any news yet about what was happening in town. I hoped I could tell her after we both heard it, since I was having trouble broaching the subject. It didn’t sound like of all the horrifying news that they were reporting, disappearing derricks was breaking news.
I ordered a quick cup of coffee and slipped toward the bathroom trying to decide how to tell her the news about the local oil field. I hesitated, because it wasn’t a time for me to go hide in the bathroom. I needed to tell her. I looked out the window, and could see a gaping hole in the horizon on the oil field. I decided that there was no right way or wrong way to tell Stella to be careful on her way home.
My words had a beseeching tone, warning her, “Not sure if you’ve been outside since I was in here earlier, but I guess, I don’t know how to say this, but there’s some sort of gigantic wild animals attacking the oil fields. It’s hard to believe, I know. Dorian’s aware of it and we’re trying to figure out what to do next. But, if you head that way, you’re better off finding another route home today, if you have one, and getting out of here soon, since there is going to be widespread panic. It seems like Ralph’s mine has been attacked too.”
Stella stood staring at me like I had imagined, incredulously. I told her to look out the window with me to witness some of the destruction with her own eyes. Now, she looked at me with panic. She turned the window shades down and ran to turn off all the appliances and lights. She ran for the door and said, “Come on!” Now we were both terrified. She ran for her car, and I figured I was never going to see her again.
I walked across the parking lot and suddenly spiraled to my knees in agony. My finger nail lifted as Strazh crawled out. She explained to me, “The sea creatures have burroughed aquifer dams deep into the oil fields and pulled out the derricks. Next, you may need to bother Dorian about the water he has reserved for his select friends, because it is now being funneled to those who desperately needed it.”
Strazh lifts my fingernail again, and then decides to let me in on another bit of news, “Close your eyes.”
I wouldn’t, but suddenly it felt like gravity made it happen anyway. I struggled to open them instead. I was suddenly thrust deep underground to observe a thermodynamic experience that pushed me to the brink of inflammation as I felt soil and hypoxia. I fixated on something that was too large to be breathing, given its life form, could it actually be alive?
I recognized that I had never seen bacteria, except in text book photos and online. A team of delirious huge bacteria, from what I could see, used their thermodynamic abilities to cool the air, because I could touch the soil and feel the warmth being depleted. Mist rose from the soil as if it had a mouth.
The bacteria, as explained by Strazh, were called copepods and diatoms, but nowhere near their usual microscopic size. Here they had emerged as giants of their ancestors, unwilling to wait for the bacterial behavior at the microscopic level to make the changes that they so desperately pursued. I witnessed what others could only witness through an instrument, beyond the kerogenic level at the categenesis process.
The anomalies cooled everything at an incredibly fast rate to determine that there was no turning back. Their ten foot tall stature helped them cover a lot of ground. Their skin turned on a freezer setting, these bacteria were preserving everything to make sure that at the cellular level there was no chance of thaw. Their intent was complete and utter frost.
Strazh allowed me to emerge from the categenesis as one of the only humans who would witness actions so far below the ground without the aid of any instruments and digging. I grabbed for the air when Strazh allowed me to emerge, because I felt like I had been submerged for an extended period of time and that oxygen was all I needed, beyond my sight, returning like a lost
lamb in Dixieland.
Suddenly when Strazh decided that I had seen enough, she protruded her tarsal claws once again into my already loosened cuticles and held my nail up, but didn’t crawl back inside, bringing me back into my body certainly.
Strazh warned me, “An impermeable layer is being implanted in every mine between a foot of soil and the resources that humans overuse. Dorian will want revenge for human’s lack of access, but while the lakes are being redistributed across the world, you are the only human we estimate who may not want to offset the balance. You must help us stop Dorian. While sheltered, I have removed your ability to help any more humans and you will feel extremely powerless in the face of all the pain and suffering you will see as they realize that nature is retaking dominion. Your memories of your grandmother will slowly fade.
However, you will not remember that you once knew how to help. This should ease your mind in the meantime. While your grandmother was alive she deemed that her magical gifts be bestowed onto you. We will divide and reproduce these powers within humans that we may allow to stay from among those who will be banished. Your memories of how to live like a human will not be erased if you successfully perform a task when we are ready.”
Strazh crawled back into my thumb and I had no means to reply or resist.
When I found Dorian, he was already on his war path, relying on his prestige to gather people, weapons and artillery. He decided to wage a war on the creatures as they chose her to fight his commitment to do so. As I approached him, Fred, Richard and Weyan, I could see that his preparations were further along. Dorian coordinated a mass turnout of pickup trucks filled with his armies of fighters, ready to attack the creatures at the oil field. They drove past her, unflinchingly.
Dorian stopped his truck to tell her, “They will not take my fields away, not on my watch. You in? We gotta show ‘em they answer to us and put them to work. We’re not interested in a bunch of worm blood messing up our fields. Any ideas on how to capture them so we can retrain them?”
I hesitated, seemingly betraying my fellow human with a blank look on my face in my first act of defiance. Dorian took that as a ‘no’ and drove off.
People ran from their homes to see what the fuss was about and loaded into cars to head to the oil fields, not away from them. Sea creatures obstructed the roads. The sea creatures are part of the Prerygendeya race and are unknown to humankind. They had prevented any assistance to reach Dorian. One by one, the Prerygendeya grabbed each person and placed them into a container to be enslaved. Car ignitions sounded off and then fell silent. The slither of Prerygendeyas filled the air like the sound of trapped bubbles under humongous tongues in slackened jaws, as they humiliated people one by one for overindulging in resources.
The Prerygendeyas propelled a bursting container of humans onto a mountain and forced them to oblige their hosts by opening bags of creatures that looked like Strazh. These bugs flew away ready. They are part of the Sefesckarintay race.
Dorian’s attempts at corralling the Prerygendeyas were essentially futile as they threw trucks into the air and deepened their collection of humans. The bacteria and Prerygendeyas closed off all the oil wells, one at a time. All of the derricks disappeared according to a passerby who told us that there’s going to be hell to pay. I was led to the oil field to answer Dorian’s question. I doubted Strazh suddenly and decided to challenge the notions she planted in my head.
I stood behind a Prerygendeya as it ripped through the land and reopened my pharmaceutical pack to pull out a calcium carbonate pill. I cracked it and immediately formed it into a giant mollusk shell pointed into the ground. It expanded as I added more pills to it, estimating that the congealed pills would require a larger than normal shell for worms I was used to catching. Worms don’t have a sense of smell. How could I attract these wormlike Prerygendeyas to the shell and hold them until they would be safe to get out?
I considered that maybe I could with an extract from its favorite host animal – urocanic acid. It’s found in animal skin. I cracked several pills and poured it all over the shell essentially. I ran behind a tree to watch as one of the worms aimed for the shell. It entered the shell transfixed. Not fatal.
Dorian’s certainty that life would be full of stagnation drove him further into battle against the Prerygendeyas. If he had the means to attack the thermodynamically charged copepods and diatoms underground to intercept them, before they cooled his whole catagenesis layer, he might have purchased every heat flare gun in Eardley. What Dorian didn’t know, is that the bacteria sensed his intention. As he stood there a bacteria decided that it would use Richard’s body as a personal feeding ground, but never had to get close to accomplish its mission. The bacteria projected itself into the body of Richard and heated his brain from inside. Richard stood there melting from the inside out in front of Dorian.
I could have pulled out one of my heating pills, but I had no strength. I was disabled from helping. I lost all ability toward acting on my feelings of altruism. I felt an incurable agony inside as I watched one of my fellow human beings die mercilessly in response to Dorian’s actions. The consequences were inevitable, as I felt, but I could not help in any way. Strazh rendered me obliged to watch and completely powerless. I could not remember how to help and couldn’t remember if I’d ever helped another human being in my life. I stood paralyzed, feeling horrible for Richard, but with no mechanism by which to assist him in any way. His pain was short-lived, but I feared Dorian’s reaction.
I turned away to find Strazh hovering close to my face. My decision to trust this creature was completely based on the significance in what was happening delivered to me by Strazh and that if I chose to abandon Strazh, if that was a choice, I would be punished. There I stood, aware that one of the Prerygendeyas was ultimately caught. What I didn’t know with certainty was what I would do afterwards and Strazh seemed completely at odds with that lack of certainty. Strazh emerged out of my finger, jumped onto the creature and implanted itself. The Prerygendeya shrunk to the size of a small worm and wiggled away.
Strazh came back to me and said, “You are one of us as you prove that you are able to not harm our own. Now you will be able to deliver us from the potential threat of Dorian. You must leave the shell there and I will delegate another of my own kind to watch over it as the Prerygendeyas are caught and I will release them as you have seen.
This will be our first tested partnership in harnessing your knowledge. Dorian continues to try to exploit our creatures to regain his devastated grounds. He will be harmed and the captured humans will be banished forever, all memories erased. You have not used your powers to help your kind who continue to be reckless. You have used your grandmother’s powers to help us. This is the first achievement. I will help you in achieving our next task later. Now, I’m aware that Dorian is considering creating a ring of fire to force all the Prerygendeyas down below only to then blast the entire ground, since he knows that the top surface is irrelevant to him. Before that happens, if we don’t plug his oil field and others that we are attacking from flowing oil, we will have failed in our mission to nurture our creatures that were willing to reclaim the land. We want to lose no one. Do you remember where your grandmother is buried?”
“Yes, I do. It’s on the outskirts of this town. I haven’t visited in a long time. I usually just come through here to go hiking frankly,” I replied.
“You must visit your grandmother’s grave. A small hole was left open there out of which emerges the source of your powers. If you do not close this hole and seal off your magic powers, darkness will overcome our planet and continue to harm all of our existence. Even as we consider where and when we will banish humans for their improper use of our planet, it is still vital that as we decide, we do not harm the planet any further. On your way, I authorize you to approach the dying birds that you saw earlier on your way on the road. You must release them from the human’s spell that has made them subservient to your kind’s whims. You don’t need to tap into your magic abilities.
They will know from our own method. I will share this with you. It may surprise you, but it is similar to the use of uruz by the Norse that restores strength and gives sluggishness a little goodbye. Uruz traditionally comes from a masculine life-force to survive dangers, but we’ve got a talisman that is part rune and part yefgritic landcore. It’s quite lively in order to defy any vapid results of the wearisome fight against humans. We only now have reemerged after years living like locusts. The yefgritic landcore Uruz-like rune also provokes self-reliance and will-power, but it is not language-based, not a word that evokes power. For birds, our Uruz rune comes as a magnetoception refresher spritz. Since birds use magnetoception as a sense to detect a magnetic field to perceive direction, altitude or location, these birds have been systemically beaten down and inhibited their sense. You must spray this on them and they will be free.”
Strazh handed me a large spray bottle filled with the magnetoception refresher. I sprayed the birds. They flew, at first quite sluggishly. Eventually, they realized their new found strength and will-power and flew intensely away from where I stood.
“You are becoming a reliable partner and one that will help us carrying our burden to foster energy for people alongside of us for us and the people who have been left deprived for so long. Your solidarity efforts will help us as we reestablish an earth balance.”
Dorian witnessed this, but didn’t quite understand what he saw. I appeared to be speaking to some sort of grand-scale lady bug in an agreeable way that didn’t meet with his approval. He ran toward me. Strazh vanished.
“What are you doing,” he asked.
I stood stunned for a minute at Dorian’s rage. “I…”
Dorian interrupted, “You are not willfully going to watch as they ruin us are you?”
I said, “No, of course not. Why, what did you see?”
Dorian stumbled on his words, uncertain. He didn’t explain. Instead he just looked at her, penetratingly, delivering a chill and a warning. “I am going to find whatever just killed Richard and turn it into fuel that lasts eternally. That’s what I see.”
Before I had a chance to respond, I screamed. Dorian turned. I pointed to an area where the birds recently moped. A rotating web emerged from the ground surrounding one of the largest spiders I’ve ever seen. I wished for a moment that I hadn’t screamed, especially in the company of Dorian, but that’s not how it happened. It startled me. So I screamed. Dorian turned and saw the wide ranging web spanning at least 300 feet emerge from a hole. They are of the Berehivrichka race, never before seen by humans. We ran in the opposite direction.
The same feeling that came over me before I took off for
bringing him to his knees. He fell to the ground, limply holding onto his hand.
I understood. I ran straight to my car to head to my grandmother’s cemetery. As I ran, I turned back and saw another huge web, but it was blindingly lit up. I noticed light reflecting magnificently from lavish dewy drops. The drops scuttled into a tube, one that was not human made, but made of a material that bulged and expanded into sacs along its long body. The collection of drops appeared to be clear water, but I didn’t have time to check, nor the inclination for the time being.
I reached my car. I drove away from the oil field down
Yora River Road
as quickly as I could to the
where my grandmother was buried only ten years ago. Unaware that Dorian now found
himself in the same place mentally and emotionally that I had been after I
found my jacket wrapped around my waist earlier, I figured I had privacy in the
I hadn’t figured that Dorian might know anything about the cemetery or even wondered about Fred at this point. As it turned out, no more derricks stood in any of the surrounding valleys, extending outward 4,000 miles from Eardley. Mines extending 3,500 miles were impenetrable. The birds on the other hand had been freed from the whims of faulty logic. I ran to my babtsya Antonia’s grave. I hadn’t visited in at least five years. I kneeled and wanted to cry, but I knew this wasn’t a good time for melancholy or nostalgia. Although a wave of memories hit me, I stood gritting my teeth pushing them away.
Confirming Strazh’s observation, I did indeed see that there was a hole in a small section just below the left side headstone marked “Antonia – made it all true. 1916-2000.” I felt overwhelmed for a brief moment as I stepped closer to the hole. I couldn’t reconcile in my mind how my pharmaceutical abilities stemmed from this spot, but often throughout my life, I found that sometimes there are profound understandings that we have tapped into that are not so orderly or easily tagged. Who can explain courage or emotional availability, or why sometimes it is developed and other times it is not? I had never believed in superstitions that my grandmother taught me and look where that took me?
I decided that to cover the hole and lose my powers sounded like desperate measures, but a betrayal would sting too much. I believed that I would eventually be doomed to spend the rest of my life with those who would be banished to unfurl bags of Sefesckarintays to reinforce their land campaign. As I reached to cover the hole with a heavy rock that would seal it, a tremendous burst of energy emerged out of the hole. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a Sefesckarintay four times the size of Strazh, my guide who showed me mercy. All the creatures retaking dominion of the land felt that the grave was still opened. This was construed as an act of defiance that was unacceptable at this stage of their plans.
The colossal Sefesckarintay said, “You have come with understanding and compassion. Life will return back to normal, although you fear losing your power. Still, it will be a greater sense of power. You must trust this to be true. You have held onto this power and much decay and envy has been cast your way. You will be reinforced now, and temporarily have to trust in our ability to rebuild this world. You will earn a position and earn back your power in helping us rebuild, with the trust that has been instilled in us by the Prerygendeyas, the Sefesckarintay and those of your race who have not been banished. This I guarantee.”
A part of me reasoned that I should put it in writing, then another part realized that was something I needed to let go of, although, I asked, “What do you do when you agree amongst the Prerygendeyas and Sefesckarintays to make sure that the agreement is sealed?”
The Sefesckarintay replied with a smile, “You are not to fear, but if you must know, we do not speak unless we mean to agree, our word is what it proposes to be. We burden for energy to make sure of that. If something should come to happen to us before we meet again, then another will decide how to proceed until that time when our arrangement can be honored in the best interest of all involved.”
I understood, temporarily frozen and afraid, unsure of how I could seal the grave. I grabbed the boulder to grab it, and realized I still had a pill that magnified my strength, using an anabolic enhancer amplified hGH with an additive that turned the pill bright green. I popped the pill and within moments was able to place the boulder on the hole. Abruptly, Dorian and Fred threw me to the side, and removed the boulder.
As I decided to trust the creatures, Dorian did not and remained on his war path. He and Fred thwarted my attempt to close the grave and threw the boulder off the hole. Fred helped Dorian find me and he felt betrayed as he believed that I had left humans to become eternally submissive to the creatures that attack. He lost his trust in me, he doesn’t see past his own war path. Fred grabbed me only to find himself flung back against a headstone, nearly toppling someone’s lasting memory engraved into earth’s stone.
Since the boulder was only temporarily over the hole, the amassed powers were vacuumed inside, and when released inundating and consuming me. I was transfixed by the powers that opposed my compulsory vulnerability and my lucidity faded as I felt that I may be being conned and forced to diminish. Dorian grabbed a knife and ran at me. As I was about to be killed, the powers that I absorbed from the hole evoked such a wrath inside of me that I bulldozed Dorian down, grabbed his knife and stabbed the oracle Sefesckarintay with whom I had just made an agreement. I turned to see Dorian. He proceeded to demonstrate that he would take over now and was searching for Strazh.
Strazh witnessed all of this safely. He sent forward a Berehivrichka casting a far-reaching web over the entire cemetery. The Berehivrichka crawled to the stabbed Sefesckarintay to drag it into its web for safety, but I stood up and gently placed the Sefesckarintay into the web for the Berehivrichka. Strazh and the Berehivrichka quickly buried the oracle beside my Grandmother Antonia’s grave. Dorian stood and started shooting at them as they buried their friend. As I fell and hit my head, I noticed that they had left a small opening in the right hand corner of the marked grave of the oracle Sefesckarintay.
I awakened in a hut, alone guarded by a Berehivrichka, although I found myself in an unfamiliar fabric. I had been spun into a web. I could move freely however. I remembered a story that my grandmother Antonia once shared. It was about a spider’s gift.
A very poor mother living in the countryside was devastated that she could not provide a Christmas tree and presents for her family. They found a tree in the forest nearby and dragged it home, only they didn’t have ornaments to decorate the tree. They decided that the tree’s beauty was enough and they fell asleep. However, while they slept, the spiders that were hiding in the tree had dazzled their tree with intricate beautiful webs that wove in various patterns on the tree. The sun illuminated their work, and the spiders were nowhere to be found to receive their gratitude. What could have been a horrible sad time manifested itself as an unforgettable experience.
I lay in webbing, wondering what would become of me. The guarding Berehivrichka drew water from the air with its web, collected it and gave it to me to drink, assuming my thirst needed quenching. I drank plentifully. My fear lifted. It struck me suddenly that I still remembered my grandmother, since Strazh told me that I would lose all my memories of her and her abilities, for the sake of proving my solidarity to them.
A wounded Sefesckarintay entered the room and held up a cup into the air. A small suction cup emerged from within the cup and sucked water out of the air, filling the cup. It handed it to me. A Prerygendeya walked in and Strazh emerged from my thumb, simultaneously.
Strazh confessed that they had erred and both powers were necessary realms to work out their differences and come up with a better way. Humankind would not be banished, but it would be a reconciliation process that would unfold since the Earth had reclaimed itself and reenergized. The bacteria, the Prerygendeya, the Sefesckarintays and Berehivrichkas tired of their constant retrieval of our abusive discoveries, but our time was going to come with a degree of sympathy and edification.
I asked, “Am I enslaved at no fault of my own?”
Strazh replied, “We are not holding you, you are in recovery with our healers.” He crawled down the web from my hand.
“I am glad that we can share,” I said.
Strazh asked, “Have you seen your friend lately?”
“No,” and with Strazh’s guidance I saw Dorian across the hut woven into a web, healing. His Prerygendeya emerged from his thumb. A whispered conversation became a sigh of relief in the room.
Dorian said, “I’ve been asked to inform everyone that the impermeable layers are negotiable.” He walked out of the webbing toward me and handed me a beautiful stone from the earth, placing it in the palm of my hand. I saw my reflection in a water droplet on the webbing. I saw that I am still human and alive, but in a new spiritual realm. I smiled, taking in the beauty of the gem.
Dorian stood in the room, statically, as I handed him a gem made of yefgritic landcore that Strazh had given me as a token of appreciation. It glistened, a bright teal with amber flecks. I placed another piece of the same type of landcore into my pharmaceutical pack.
Strazh said, “We have shared your formulas in your pack with other humans. We figured you wouldn’t mind.”
Dorian and I smiled, both as mortals, and I wearing my forgotten coat. In the distance, two graves, both with slight openings, lay harmlessly bathed in light.