REMEMBER SUMMER PDF File Link
By Cetan Copeland
Pencil pitched, plotted patience playing out. Summer sits silently in the window, golden hair filtering the dust by sunlight. A golden breath, like a gentle fog in the morning's window, dewing with frozen crunches. Summer gazes and grazes the blades of grass unfrosting by the meandering view. Summer stirs, an uncomfort that forces movement, the dress drifts dream-like, Summer sits and waits. Innocent eyes crack at the thin foam film, frothing in anticipation from window to window, spying the silent glade, a shard of glass reflecting serenity.
With slow placement, the old man whisks his brush, back and forth, the stolid fissure forming on the canvas is aching through the sketches. Viscous colors poignant in contrast, everything in gruesome agony. The old man's hat tips from the passage of time, the views, crusting with oversight. His monocle strung down, missing the ear for a mustache, one perfect trim, like a caterpillar, stuck in time, curling around the tips, to point at his closing vision. The canvas crips and cries a sigh of silence to the taut frame; the brush streaks to a rest. The tire glowing under his eyes, reflecting inwards like the monocle. His feet staggered in approach, teeter towards the sloven bed. Its unkempt, slung sidewards, pillowless contractions, and dark incursions hide the turmoiled circles of rest. His push into the unfolds, delicious to the palette of sleep. The old aches stretch into relaxations as Summer looks up from the canvas.
A nut-brown drop blinks for innocent eyes, a careful foot escapes the bounded lines. Summer smiles like a child in a sundress, springing from swing to sky. Summer basks in the bright cascading moon milk, bleeding like the milkweed from a caterpillar's bite, dancing from the wined four-legged stool, straying by the wind with a phantom breeze. Summer races the silence through the halls, the hands of time working the grandfather clock, in which Summer becomes bemused, sitting in a cloud of dust to watch the timeless tick. The pendulum swings, striking out again and again. But Summer still pitches the baked summer gloves and the skinning baseball roll in restless fever. Summer's smile breaks from the tight-lipped grin into beaming enjoyment, standing to leave the grandfather's shadow; Summer darts from wall to wall, touching and searching each plaster for flakes, the dust browning the floor, dripping like a cave ceiling’s dirt. Each hand in synchronous works. Summer cups the age like a pool of youth, discarded as Summer's fancy changes. Through the moonlight halls, Summer finds the sleeping body cracking in archaic pain, sheets strained, ripping, the cloak of slumber is thin, a blanket of missing misery. Summer prods the shadow, the touch piercing with angelic poise, hands reaching deep into the old soul. Summer grasps the thin beating silence, a frown of concentration, a grimace from the pinprick of life. Summer withdraws a tiny bird blue, shivering in the newborn cold. Its eyes wide in adolescence, its head tweaks in and out of understanding, questioning the new hand, holding its feathered beak. It plucks at the silence, a scatter of warmth flutters into the night sky.
The boy awoke in a strange disheveled world, coughing in the burning dust. Dirt drifted upwards like a waltzing flame. He rubs his eyes, trying to clean the sand that sits on each corner, spinning in place as the woven woodwork jitters into movement. Everything crashes in action, like methodical destruction. He stumbles to his feet and catches sight, a distant figure, with golden hair, like the chains of a pocket watch stowed in a pocket, the picture of pure happy love. They spin, a sundress flaring in a medium of solar brilliance, as a wave of a suntanned hand waits by the door. The eyes, a bright brown, cherry-picked from the old tree behind the house, its walnuts thudding with vibrant life, working to stay in the ground. The boy walks, crawling from the bed, a slumber disturbed, in poetic steps, each frolicking from the peace of mind lost behind him.
As feet take to, his body grows, hair springing down his back, legs thickening in vigor; he breaks forward, reaching slowly out, pushing the white tarped objects strewn in his path. He brushes one aside, releasing its memories, a piano with black keys stained in fire, strings frayed from use, the ambient notes play out again. A young boy sits and plays triumphantly, endearing the shadow guests around him, his body wracked with sweat and effort, tossing the electric spark from hand to hand. The boy, now turned man, pitches forward as the ground splits behind him, shafting into the darkness below. He reaches out again, grasping onto a cane, a limp forming in his once complete legs. Each step jars with pain, but forward-moving angst fuels him onwards. Each step, his legs fail him. The waves become cloudy from tears raining down his limbs. A giant tree, cross breached, punctured through the disintegrating house, its hewn limbs massive and swelling in absolute power. The ladder nailed into the wood, now pointless, as its mighty bows touch the forsaken ground, one that feet failed to stray from. A group of children dances along the fringe of leafless strength. They examine each other in impish glee, swinging stick swords, and brandishing fake wounds. Now aged into a wrinkled prune, the man forces his way over but is lost in desolation. Doors shifting and blocking in every direction. The woodwork fails, with rafters tumbling down. A roof laughs in punishment as each step carries on. The doorframe is barred from the other side; he leans close, grasping for breath, straining his lungs against the smokey air. Voices scream, disappointment, anger, and betrayal rain down across the frame. Blow upon blow, like tempered metal from the hammer, the blade now forged strikes out, a gurgle, before everything breaks. The house shatters, a rush from the door, the darkness enters into shadow lit by the moon.
An empty glade of trees linger tall and brimming from springs energy, sunning in power as the day waits beyond the mountains. A young boy lays prone in a field of changeless rule, the tall grass wet with satisfaction from the ongoing clouds. Summer, steps, like stones across a river ford, with grace lighter than a butterfly, balancing on the strands and fronds, its golden hair and frayed dress laughter to echo from peak to peak. The boy does not stir as Summer reaches daintily to close his wide dust-filled eyes.
© 2020 Cetan Copeland
Burnt All the Hands PDF File Link
By Cetan Copeland
Silo turnips pollute the field. A bungee cord's remorse braided in strands on an over-rusted, red-blasted, cast-iron fence. Its flakes baking in the sun with the dust of an empty field. The earth swung apart with every passing, dried to the wind's curvature. A snakey breeze slithers past the dried husks of life, the empty field and token water empty valves. The wagon discarded, bare to its bones, lists heavily to its right side. A massive nail gazes with a burnt eye from the ruffles of dark industrial rubber perpendicular to the wheels' function. The air picks up again, like a haversack stocked with apples from russet trees under a blazing sun, but this sack is full of holes. And the wind seeps out, with a consonant moan, its leakings dropped like an oil drip, starting a fire. The garden's walls revel in the burnout. Sprawling mechanical roots sprinkle phosphoric canopy, shrinking under time's pressure. The gouged openings of their nozzles grated into jagged edges and slit along voiceless smoke. Above the fire, no sky is shining, for there is no fire, only emblazoned embers once paraded as the majesty of life. The dust, already blown out, straddles the wind like a steed, hooking to the barred tavern's post, a tar substance eating the water trough. And dust departs to tomfoolery, never to be seen until the morning rolls it out of beds.
SPACE TORTILLA PDF File Link
By Cetan Copeland
Soot. It is bitter this time, like an empty cigarette. Clinging like a failed refugee, crying as if the world wasn't listening. Heh, I wonder where she is right now. Were children always this damn noisy? How the hell did I grow up... damn you old man, and damn your old ratcheted pilot seat. Damn thing, wobbles like I am dying. Dead huh? I never got around to it before. Guess it is never too late to start. Better have some damn good liquor waiting.
The blatant wailing of machine and child mix as a rugged space drunk pilot plummets in untested skies. His rusted ship smoking like a barrel to the chamber of kings, flames dance from leaking holes, a persuading temptation. The fire sprites seduce untimely failures, slurping fuel for combustion, but now they wail beating against the windows, like banshees groveling before gods, they strain the ship. But gravity does not yield. It never does. Inside the prophet's tomb, the pharaoh closes his eyes, holding tight the smoldering bundle, a child with a head burdened by horned knobs of satanic vexation. Sound could not enter, now one last button, one never pressed but held a thousand times to trigger divine intervention.
A blast of air, a vacuum unlike any space, a pilot escapes the doomed fall, with a defiant grimace plastered like paint that never dries. The seat hangs, and for just one breath, the world opens wide its bright green iridescent hues, and lavish wealth of bountiful greenery, a jungle of livid life, the sound of a million lives mixed by the dense humid dew that wets his tongue. Wet before the inferno below continued. The ejection seat pitched forward, and his grip held tight. The orange recliner caught no air, not since last time, but his grit bore teeth. The last thing he felt was the very hell he damned, the very inferno he eluded all these years.
Blossoming on the other side of what is known, a planet meets for the very first time, a blazing human comet. A curious sapiens eyes follow what the heavens give. Da' Chuuk had seen the sky-star, and he had seen the sky-star drop from the greater-blue. Da' Chuuk knew he was not supposed to go alone, but Da' Chuuk hated the others. They always made Da' Chuuk weak in front of Sha' dee. Da' Chuuk would show them he was better after eating the life-giver. Da' Chuuk would show them that the sky-star was under him. Da' Chuuk, however, was surprised when the pain-hunger appeared, and even more so when he saw a creature lying in the pain-hunger. The green roared with the pain-hunger; it confused him, the stories of old that once confounded him, inkled in his brain. The sky-star of long ago was said to carry a hairless-one, creatures that could use the pain-hunger. Da' Chuuk also knew of the danger they enticed from the sky-father. But Da' Chuuk saw the pain-hunger open, like the great-sun through the blue-fall. The pain-hunger had never been so pleasing, so tempting, Da' Chuuk was not one to think. Da' Chuuk always acted on his tail, and his tail felt good, straight up and good.
"Ave, if you're getting this, I'm already there. I'm sorry I did... did what I had to. I'm going to fix this- what she would've-" Her thin hand contorted around the small device, an archaic receiver of intolerably specific messages. The opal glove crunches through the mechanics. His damned voice was a silent hum. Disgusted, she throws the scraps onto her desk. A massive half arch of polished dragon bone, cluttered by pages, thick obsolete sheets of paper. Ancient guides to electronics and a pile of wasted scraps. His damn voice, all she ever gets from them. She stalks towards the door, her chambers a jumbled mess compared to her perfect composure. The shade, now missing from her brow, the twisted anger voided from her lips. "A captain can't have any blind spots." Or something like that, as her reflection smiles back. The tall mirror dredged from the pits of a golden star, its radioactive tang still imprinted in sheets of glass. She glances back; the clock ticks to 5, looks like sleep wouldn't fit in today either.
The crew clambers loudly, yet perhaps silently. The thuds are resounding but so distant; echoes carry the ghostly reverberation to the Queen's Roost. The slow slink of metal sheets welcomes the familiar stewardess. The slight old lady has aged like burnt parchment curling at the ends, textured by indefinite cuts, so quaint, her smile bursts through, wide eyes and a shaggy mop of hair. She enters quietly but looming against a doors silhouette dressed by business, her eyes wink as she tidies through the pantry door.
"No sleep again?" Her voice coaxes out a sigh, a caregiver's syrup to a coughing child.
"No, none, for now, the Highway rarely opens. The Luscious Dogs are still on our tail... It's about time we docked home. She is still waiting." Olmilla listens, but her face never looks up, fixed on a fading crack in the wall, her hands working with an inspired life. A light spark in the corner of her mouth hints at her disapproval.
"You got his message again, didn't you?" She begins, but the electronic shards lay tomblike as she passes over again, and the black-gloved fist clenches tighter. Something wicked drips from my eyes.
"The only message he ever sent." She growls. Her fuming voice, wavering anger like a tested slack in the storm. "The bastard that took my sister from this world. The bastard's name that stayed on her lips when she died." Olmilla, the babysitter of my mother, the stewardess of the Sky Dragoon, the ancient of life, smiles wide. She always does. Her eyes twinkle like a nursery rhyme. They always seem too deep. But time never lets them stay. There is always much to do.
As she turns back to work, now to seek forward. The exact path, the same steps, but different faces. The open transport line grinds to a halt, a step away, a new conductor today as well. He's short, scrawny, and heavily clothed. A hat droops the corner of his eyes, he looks up expectantly. My feet reach out again and find purchase as the transport begins its instantaneous drop. Thousands of feet in a second, the light buzz rises in my stomach, but we have already reached the main bridge. We always do. Open transport, they said, was far too dangerous. Was, however, works for me. It's time again to set a course. Always another course. At least it's moving forward.
Before her, the massive chamber lightens, a hundred stations waiting for attendants, while the enormous dome breathes space light. The cosmic radiance launders through the main bridge, and it rests on the Captain, Ave Wren, of the Sky Dragoon. She calls herself, quietly proudly, like a silent prayer.
The commanding desk was tall and lonely, a seat she took fondly, a chair that breathed the cosmic dust, the beats in rhythm to the entire ship, like the steps from below. The commanders begin their entrance. Anturro, a tall flabbergasted man who says nothing but has too much to say. Neemad, a blind man that lived past names. Kiss, a sadistic clairvoyant that puts all her force in steps. And Balden, as old as Olmilla, and as wise as the stars. A hurried crew meanders after them.
They congregate together on the veranda beneath Ave's feet. They find their same seats, and their jabber stops.
"Anturro, when are you going to stop by? I've been tireless in the mornings, you know…." Kiss trails her fingers across his chin, her impish tail whips in delight, as his brow furrows, and his eyes hurriedly turn away.
"No, Ma'am… I've got work to attend to…." His body slumps once he finally finds his chair, and he shies away from her coy touch. Kiss's broad lips begin to speak as Balden begins the roll call. A quick attendance of those present, check responsibility and positively know the capability available. The crew perks up as their names are called, but a single absence is silent.
Jargon Cowse, a new straggler. A new trainee, under Balden. Someone was taking their time. Ave needed nothing more than loyalty; Jargon Cowse wouldn't last much longer. The meeting must manifest forward as the drifting air grew restless from the absentee's implication. The sentiment would not settle. Balden checked once more, but the time was up. A sigh and his voice planted the task at hand.
"The Stars have spoken. Can you hear them? They are whispering songs of greatness. Tales like the Atlantis cruiser, the Odyssey's destruction, the myths of Ol', and we hear them, loud and clear. Don't we? The very galaxy tires from its boredom. The very skies tremble in anticipation. Hear them? They beseech us. They look out on a resting universe with contempt. We have begun to churn the gears of our enterprise. The Sky Dragoon has begun. Our next destination is in the Kelper Belt, a simple stint. So simple the money will fill your very bathtub, past the brim, and down your gullet. Can you hear it now? Singing for you? The siren we chase across the cosmos. The Captain has agreed on the path ahead. Kiss's group will take the Sky Dragoon's mother base and hold the position. Anturro's command will be over the main offense with Neemad. The Captain and I will secure the package." A silence hangs as Kiss frowns like wilting grass but brightens before Balden notices. She harbors a passion for destruction, something she had missed out twice on. Something she can't wait on for much longer. Something… that is still murked beneath her flawless fangs.
The news surprised the gathering. The officers had heard nothing of this. They thought the path was straight home to the enclave of the Space Dragoons, Corpse Crater. Yet they still scramble to attention. The few glances they make towards Ave see nothing from the shadows. Old Balden almost peeks upwards. Almost.
Ave is smoking beneath that mindful shade. Burning at the seams. Balden had worked in the family for years. For her lifetime. He had always been genuine and honest and likeminded. Yet now, he spoke against her agreement. The courses they planned through. The debates they had, what happened to them? He had simply decided on his own, without the Captain's consent. He shifted now, awkwardly, clumsily. It was as if he could feel the floor beneath him quake. Yet she remained silent. The Captain can not be weak. Can not falter under pressure. But something must be done, something must always be done.
Jargon Cowse just got his big break in life. His big chance, to get off these dirty skull-ridden, cave-fleshed, space dragon carcasses. He knew he had the looks, the skills, the style. He only needed the money. He held it inevitable that he was a big shot. He had absolute faith. When he got that call from the Sky Dragoon, he knew it had come. A peculiar task, escort some cargo into space that would be picked up by the Sky Dragoon, and he would get his break as a recruit of the legendary marauding spacecraft. His hair slicked back and in his most acceptable slacks, coupled with his smoothest moves.
But it was odd when the unmarked carrier arrived. Stranger still when the pitch-black masked overseers of this operation asked all too forcefully for him to watch the package from the cargo hold. And most odd, when he thought he saw it move. It rasped the tarp so gently, like a footstep on a beach. A slow, methodical push. It was no longer hanging G's from takeoff or random vectors of space travel. Jargon Cowse knew for sure. It had moved. He tried to knock on the cargo hold door, but he couldn't find its side. The ground rolled beneath him, and gravity disappeared. The tarps loosened and wafted a small silver pill body towards him.
Terror enters Jargon Cowse, his face red with blood, his palms white with sweat. He pushed it away. To knock it back. He did not ask for this. A painful wince as they collided, he could not fathom the prick of blood now hiding beneath his hand.
Jargon Cowse, picked up in open space, the doors slide slowly, his spotless chamber now connecting to a larger supply. A much more significant ecosystem, a far greater environment. The pitch-black masks were unfamiliar, but their hands were warm, like a dream in space.
Soot. It is like a home, smells good, hides good, and I will be damned if it is not the only thing that stays around. But for now, it looks like I will have to pardon myself from my crime scene. The soot keeps on coming down harder, like clouds touching down on a runway. It is thick and clammy now, a chowder of burnt past times. That damned Old man, he couldn't stand what he created, couldn't look down at the mess he made. He never could. Maybe that's why I am here in this wagon barrel spaceship. In his stranded rover, in the smack-damn-spot-on-void full-black hole-survivor trainwreck. It was called the Dead Graft, an empty nebula always storming. Always draping sheets of ash across anything that wondered what it contained. And it had one damn thing. One damn thing that brought me here. The Orgellion Cult, a group of shady money-holders, so thick in the sleeves that no one would think twice once the profit comes around. But that's what made her special. Dammit. You should always check the person you're escorting. Always or it kills you. Or the person on your left.
The Orgellion Cult's station was large. Massive in scale, something that could rival the grandest imperial Inquisitors. Its scale, however, was so tightly wound by the spiraling dark powder that its shape was still unrecognizable from up close. Luckily, Borr knew all too well where the maintenance hangar resided. The careful bobbing continued. Beams of light wandered in circles, aimlessly spotting swirls of smoke. Borr's descent was slow and stagnant. A hesitancy behind his calloused fingers. Something he knew he couldn't keep any longer.
He peered out, searching for a tangible response, but nothing moved. Only the endless swirling of dying work. Ever so much closer, his tiny craft glides. Silent as the airless outside. His eyes darted, looking for the entrance, the printed text of hangar 1-B. The old gate, an entry, and exit of simpler times. But his eyes must deceive him. The soot has coated all layers thick, like a residing film in an empty coffee cup. His eyes scowl, but a hint of apprehension starts to weasel its way in. The outside layer had always been cleaned. He'd be damned if he hadn't done it himself. Ever closer, the craft eased next to the station. And finally, the hollow opening caved in. It was almost unnoticeable, with a toneless gray and black drenching the embankment walls. An entrance forever hidden, as a lost opening, were it not for the ripping corpse of a maintenance ship crushed against the walls. Borr moved closer, and a skeleton smiled back.
As he enters the sooted cavernous opening, the fine ash shows its complete encroachment of this lower layer. Completely covering the interior. Borr descends and extends the landing gears. A light jerk as the craft syncs with the space station. Then complete stillness, save for the constant pittering of solid smoke.
Borr reaches back now, his scarred hand fumbling for a smoke. The cockpit was tattered. Had been for quite some time. A lopsided orange high back recliner sat at the controls. They were covered in grime, old molecules of food and smoke. The floor was dirtier, dark from discoloration, like the glass viewer with a hint of brown burnt into it. Borr was tall and muscular, broad in the chest and rough in the face. A straight jawline was it not for the alcohol that ran his system. A wrangled beard that fell beneath his neck complimented the rampant purple beneath his eyes. One with a long scar that happened to miss his sight. The thirsty migraine comes on again, like a roaring canon. It stares Borr down, the fuse whittling away.
Borr stumbles forward, reaching for another drink, something to wet the ignition. But everything's already empty, the cans of beer littered at his feet, the kegs of alcohol, weeping drops of that precious gold. Nothing but the fine wine in the cabinet. A little ways from the cockpit. An oddly exquisite, ornamental cabinet sits waiting, hinges rusting in closed defiance. Borr's eyes are spinning, his legs are weak, his voice is cursing, but the cannon fires, again and again. It is ringing. Like the belt across his back, like the smoking gun in his hand, like the money in his pocket, like the phone by the bed, like the girl before… It's quiet now. The clean crystal glass, polished to a shine, scrawled with an exquisite hand, "To Us! Cheers." while the rest was punished by immolation. The same fire that charred the bottle's bottom. The only dirty thing left behind, as Borr walks forward. It's time to go.
Borr slides into the tight loving grasp of the spacesuit. Its insides are like a snake's coils, twisting with glee as he slides in. His hands reach the end, where the old gloves are waiting. The Mechanical Mech Personnel constricts the helmet shutters above. Darkness, complete and silent, as the droll of logic, works to life. With three beeps, vision is restored. A projection of the outside world laid out within the skull of a durable spacewalker. The pinch of needles, as they connect to his nerves. The decorated past, only a symbol on the corpse.
"Open the exit." His voice hums with power. The sound only to him as space opens wide. The rush of air behind him and the endless soot beneath him. The suit steps forward, connecting with the ground. Again, and again. Its weight is silent before the darkness. As Borr approaches, the old letters 1-B reflect his mechanical light. They rest directly above an entrance. One that takes you right to the lift. A place to reach the deepest bowels of the space station. To resolve the crimes he has committed against himself, the world, and her.
It is always her, huh. She never did like to be left out.
"I will fix this, then I'll go straight to you. I swear. I won't lie this time." His voice is melancholic, resounding in the tight airlocked chamber that's mobility he relies on. He advances slowly, like wading through a river, completely submerged. The entrance to the elevator is bare of life, but not soot. It's like a damn infestation. Everywhere his vision picks up. A hall of gray. He pushes forward, down the long empty hallway. Reaching out with every step, his handprint straining the wall. Yet as he trails dreamlessly along, everything opens up. A massive industrial complex spreads wide. A chamber falls endlessly down and reaches with giant arms to an undisclosed ceiling. Borr pauses as the information registers before kicking off. The entire station's gravity seems to be missing. The spacesuit dives forward. Rising, it floats through a murky water-like sky. Doors and entrances litter the walls, bridges, and paths cross the chasm, and a long central chute that held the elevator disappeared beneath him. Wide and alone, the walls give out, too distant to be seen. Borr floats higher, searching for the command center at the top.
NOTE: More available upon request.
Dialogue Excerpt from Mageseekers - Velorus: Laure PDF file link
By Cetan Copeland
“Time, District covered and rank… miss?”
“... Excuse me, 2:30 8/1/997. Lower shopping district- 7th quadrant, watchmen- 0 marks.”
“Mhm, alright. You are 30 minutes off.” His brow furrows; its unkept rustles bristle at the inaccuracy. He frowns, and his eyes glance over sidelong, but he averts his gaze. “Your reason? Nil rank?”
“Pissed in the woods.” He’s still uncomfortable. Still. Spineless. And he’s part of the magistrate.
“... Alright, don’t do it again.”
How laughable, not even a reprimand. Are you scared of me, blue blood? Can you see the impurities in my blood? Do they scare you? Have you seen-
“Um, next in line, please.”
Hmph, I doubt you’ve seen Noxus, old man, and you never will. Your wings will never be stained by blood.
Laure turns from the counter as the bustling man behind sighs, the next Mageseeker stepping forward. His voice is still strained as he takes a handkerchief to his brow, but Laure has pushed through the dark interior of the small stone outpost. It was nestled on the edge of Velorus, between a residential housing block and an old farmhouse- now vending stall. Its stone is from across Demacia, Evenmoor quarries. The pristine white already dulling from the travel of dust and dirt. The clean line of seekers bobs to the side as Laure’s tall figure bends to exit the door frame. Their masked faces turn away from her as she rights herself. A good head taller than the men, their curt nods fueling her for the day to come.
She exits the cramped alley and reaches the loose cobble of Dane’s road. An old road from Demacia’s early days. Now maintained for travel leading to Velorus’s center of commerce. It leads from the Ironfork river to the old Town center, before connecting to the main road of Velorus and the city center, and then eventually a lengthy road to the homes of the Nobles. Dane’s road would still be bustling in a few hours. It was 7:00 sharp, carts bundled with goods could be seen moving for the market open, farmers further down the road, being helped by the farmhands and stablehands that lived in the stacked housing on the outskirts of Velorus.
Laure tightens her cloak and loosens her mask. Stashing away her greymark in her backpack’s side pocket. As the rolling carts continue, she feels scared eyes from behind, insecure mage seekers burning a hole in her back. Hah. As she waits for an opening into the thorough fair, she spots a struggling donkey and a familiar face. She concealed her backpack once more and fastened the mask.
“Looks like he still does it even now.” She mutters under her breath as she makes her way through the bustling carts.
“Morning seeker.” An elderly fellow bent beyond his days, walking close to his greying donkey, carting a modest set of furniture and woodwork goods. If Laure had cared any for carpentry, she might have been able to admire the rarity and variety this old man carried, but she knew him for other means.
“Morning, Dyl. Headed to the market open again? Started a bit late for your pace.”
“Oh, Laura? By the two wings, you’ve grown!”
Laure pulled her heavy cloak tighter in a quiet motion. Already supporting the cart, she urged the old donkey faster. It sputtered, gasping at the bit but matched her pace. Up this hill, till the crossroad should be plenty. He should make it an hour after if the donkey doesn’t give up. Laure focused her breathing and strength as she held the cart fast. Poor Dyl didn’t see the donkey struggling as Laure pushed the cart forward.
“-and then there you were fit as a fiddle like you didn’t even flinch from a fall of that height. By the two wings, you were a strong one, and your brother too-.”
“Yes, now just a little further. Focus, Old man.”
Laure relaxed her grip, her jaw tense and teeth clenched. This would have to do for today. Past the old farmhouse, and then the following lots, a little bit farther, and he’ll reach the old town center, and someone else can help him. Laure begins to relax the rest of her body; it wasn’t the most she moved this morning, but she had more to do, better to keep it calm. Focus.
“-Now I’ll tell you, you and your older brother were real rascals, never seen a pair like… oh. Uh. Thank you for the help Seeker, Laure. The Protector guides you.”
Laure turned away and took the side road, leading to the gulch of the river, its tributaries reaching all around Velorus, as it does most of the Noble cities. The few townsfolk not already out for work or business idle by the suburban land do not pay her mind. Her mask and cowl are prominent to discourage.
Relax, Laure, you have to breathe. Why did he mention her brother? He was not strong. He was lithe like a cat, she mused, but weak. Worthless. A coward.
“Fuck. I said, relax, Laure. Breathe.” Laure tries to recenter herself. That’s the past; focus on the present. The task at hand.
“The bigger picture.” She mutters, mocking an old teacher. But as the scared eyes of people look quizzically, she hushes. A mother, she assumes, supporting a baby on one hip, turns from a porch side. On the other side, two teenagers from a backyard sit up. All met by a furrowed glare that turns them back.
Fuck off. Laure paces down the uneven road. Trailing to the right side, where the grass is overgrown, trees begin to cover the path. She is approaching the crest of the hill that leads down to the river tributary. But at the top of this hill, she takes a left. Heading out of her assigned district and towards the slums. The worst places in Demacia, but for mageseekers, it was the territory of mages--all cooped up and caged.
View from the Hourglass PDF File Link
by Cetan Copeland
A door flung through space, its hinges thudding as it bounces in places. I sprawled my legs and head further, peeking up from my massive claimed space. My suite-mate held a fury I had never seen. His voice cried not salted tears but fiery unjustifiable anger. We had carved from our long-gone roommates a paradise, in quarantined mazes of empty halls. Our resettling, truly glamorous, made our rooms more us than our homes. We understood the corona pandemic. All four of us, in jokes and quips. "Till they kicked us out… " "Over my dead body… " His anger took the space, more than my own. I could only watch as his groans and yells befell our happy now hell. They gave an ultimatum. And I think they work. We had to leave the dorms by April 13. And then we did.
I didn't pack. Not the day of, nor the day before. Swaddled in lethargy, I leaned further into the depths of my chair. The COVID-19 problem. A disease so impossibly effective. I am under almost no risk. Maybe a bad day or two. At worst, a week. And so tumbling backward in unresolved sadness, those most at threat… my family. My mother, well over 50, the family all into their years. It was a selfless feeling. And despite that, uncomfortable in altruism, a rebellious isolation. Three trips and my stuff settled in the rented car and began the fifteen-hour drive to Austin. The desert was as empty as the roads. My suite-mate's loathing anger spread its feathery wings and settled acrest my head. Forced from comfort, I voluntarily threatened my family's life on the undetectable chance I had Corona. Why, why could I do nothing but comply? Was it for the $1500 back? Would I even get the dorm relief $1200? Would I get anything back? My classes were already shambling. The teachers transitioned like it was their job while a jobless parent and an unemployed America take me down the dust-bitten roads.
My lethargy was the only thing I carried because my luggage rode in white and black plastic trash bags, soaked in two spritzes of bleach. Their red tags look like a bad sale, one on forlorn seas like an odyssey returning home. And so my queried mind stumbles. America, the powerhouse of the 21st century. The leader of our age, mocking itself in the media, as New York reaches complete shutdown. My brother, stuck on the east coast, hopes for reimbursement from the moving company he works for just to pay another month of rent for the home he can't live in. My sister, like many others, holds planless. Despite our massive economy and endless power, we are powerless to prevent the COVID-19 from spreading danger. She planned to check New York, but now she can only see genius in her popcorn ceiling. My other sister is working less, as a member of the event service. America has lost its events. They move online, sure, but like classes, it can only go so far. Both parties require equal engagement to a screen of bits and bytes. The work by a thousand behind-the-scene toilers, that smile knowing what they do is unseen but appreciated, is impossible. No gigs, no birthday parties. America has lost its party.
And sure, people take to the streets. A protest, almost ironically historical. A sign, almost historically ironic, claims, "Social distancing = communism." They stand as if the people require a self-started firefighter. As if we are wronged by hiding in our hobbit holes. Wholly ignorant, or purposefully bliss to the media they gather. Swaggering like a martyr, the rich agree that we can all make it through these "unprecedented times ." Like America in these un-presidented times.
When can we call the shot? Who killed Franz Ferdinand? Do we turn the dial on our hate for China? All the way to 11? Do we blame the unclosed stores? The necessary jobs? The hapless helpless workers? As corporations cut them off like skin tags for their losses? We can't choose. I can't choose. We shall not choose. For no reason, more so than this is America. We do not pin the tail of hate, not again. The donkey is the ass we made of ourselves, and the prick will hurt worse than our crippling depression. So many of us do the thing: right or wrong. We buckle up as times continue, change, and overcome. America is not the next problem we make for ourselves. But the infrastructure and history to never mistake what makes this country worth fighting for. Something we fight for every day, every dollar we spend, and every life we save--by staying indoors.
I am more shut-in now than ever. A change I am never surprised enough by. And so we are isolated, smiling at the idiots, those that oppose science, those that threaten us all. We smile because in our new and old cubbies of life, it's all America can do. While other nations mobilize protection, we horde who knows what, we profiteer on the paranoia of what might happen, and again whom to blame. The government and the people make a nation. One nation indivisible, or so the anthem says. I hold fast to the reality before me. The COVID-19 has impacted my life, but not as hard as others. Not as fierce or deadly. As horribly or cruelly, and yet in isolation, I question why we need a criminal for the crime of dis-ease.
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