The trees press in close.
There is no path anymore.
Roots rise to grab my feet.
Thin and whippy spider branches slap at my face.
Off to the side I can see the lights of civilization…
I can’t go there.
It’s not home.
I need to get home.
Home is behind me but,
It’s also in front.
Always in front.
I don’t care how long the night lasts.
I don’t care about the cold sliding past the skin and
Biting into the bone.
I don’t care about roots,
Or whippy branches,
Or unseen holes,
Or creepy animals in the dark.
I’m going to keep walking.
It’s the only way home.
I need to get home.
In the south, clouds made a cover of milk
Over fields of southern snow
The world was whitewashed but softly so.
In the west,
Dark trees haloed
In pink and purple and red and gold,
In luminescent pastels.
The east was a charcoal drawing
Black outlines in relief
Of shades of gray.
The moment called for movement.
It stirred me,
All my emotions.
It called for dance.
Sad, slow swaying and shuffling,
Point and counterpoint to the evening breeze.
Passioned and zealous leaps and spins
(Jetes and pirouettes, I know the terms)
To the music of the vividly glimmering pastels.
Maybe even frenzied thrashing and pogo-ing
(not for me tonight but maybe for some, I don’t judge).
The heart leads when you dance.
It leads with sadness and sorrow and loneliness,
And with joy, and celebration and exuberant exultation,
And with anger and frustrated fear.
The heart can do all of those at once
And usually does.
It’s a fountain of feeling.
Emotions don’t separate easily.
I’m not saying I actually danced tonight.
I’m not saying I didn’t either.
At that moment,
In the twilight,
My heart definitely danced.
The sky was for dancing.
As the wind stirs the branches they used to live on.
I stand in a leaf-fall
(Like a rainfall but dry and soft as butterfly wings)
That captivates me,
Suspends me in time
So that I only realize I’ve held my breath
When I remember that I haven’t taken one.
High above the branches and the leaf shower,
In shades of gray and granite and silver and smoke.
It’s like looking from the inside of a dark pearl.
The air has a tingling chill,
Hinting of ice to come.
For now the briskness wakes my skin.
Fear caught up to me tonight.
Recollection of the moment in the leaves helps me release it.
Fear will likely catch me again,
The moment in the reds and golds,
That’s life too
I’ll hold on to that.
Knowing his part, Xun gave a low, evil chuckle (it sounded like “hurh, hurh, hurh”) and rubbed his hands together in anticipation.
“This time…Oh this time I’ll triumph. This time there will be no death rays to reflect back at my base, no disaster machines to sabotage. There will be no turning gases back on me. No blackmail. No terrorized populace. No warning at all.” Dr Xamos (blah, blah) noticed the puzzlement on Xun’s face. “Oh I know. I’ll miss all that cool stuff too. But I’m tired of getting beaten by all those various simpletons that call themselved heroes. The Umbra, Major Nation, Ace Speedy (two fisted reporter of justice) and especially The Dark Watchman and Watchboy. I hate them all. And come one, really? Watchboy? How can I keep getting thwarted by a twerp that sounds like he was named after an apprentice clockmaker?”
The Doctor’s (****) voice was rising and becoming less evil and more whiney. That was rarely a good sign in Xun’s experience. He gave a discreet (but evil and thuggish (again, not easy)) cough.
Dr Xamos looked up from the floor with a start and recollected himself. “But no more! No, this time there will be no warning. There will be no devices. There will be no time to thwart me. By the time they could become aware of my plan it will be too late and they will have no power to stop it.” He paused to draw breath. “HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA”
Thunder crashed like an anvil truck wreck.
In the lab, counters and tables were covered with test tubes and beakers and flasks, all connected by mazes of twisting tubing, in which and through which various fluids bubbled and fizzed and churned. Every surface not covered in glass was filled with electronics of various shapes and sizes, all of which beeped or hissed or made other electronic noises. In one corner a two foot jacobs ladder crackled as it churned bolt after bolt of horizontal lighting between its two poles. The lighting overhead, oddly enough, seemed designed to cast weird shadows in some places and shone brilliant spotlights down in others. All in all it was classic.
Except for one small corner of the lab, which was clean, uncluttered and well -lit. Two tables and a counter held a neatly organized array of discreet workstations boasting the latest in scientific instrumentation. It made Xun nervous. When the boss (no suffix needed for “boss”) worked in the main part of the lab it led to predictable results. When the boss really wanted to get serious, though, he worked in, what Xun referred to as the “dangerous lab”. Xun was looking nervously over Dr. Xamos (wmneg) shoulder as the boss typed furiously. On the twenty seven inch flat panel monitor, a chemical formula danced in high definition graphical representation.
“This!” Dr. Xamos (wmneg) gestured at the screen, “this is the instrument of my domination, the weapon with which I shall conquer.”
“Iss iit a viruss, Doctor?” Xun hissed rubbing his hands sinisterly. He spent a lot of time rubbing his hands and between that and the copious amounts of hand sanitizer a person whose job involves regular interaction with genetically altered animals, deadly poisons, strange diseases, and fighting heroes in the middle of thunderstorms might need, Xun found himself needing increasing amounts of hand lotion.
Dr Xamos (wmneg) grinned slyly. “It is indeed, a virus, my brutish henchman, but not like you have encountered before. This virus will not kill two out of three males, it will not mutate the population into an army of thuggish brutes, it will not cause plant life to animate under my direct control. It won’t even give you a cold.” All of those had been actual things and, Xun thought, good riddance to bad rubbish for them. That had been the worst cold he’d ever had.
“This virus is undetectable. I will cause no visible change to the person infected. Everything in their life will be the same. This virus,” he paused for dramatic effect, “is my biological backdoor! HAHAHAHAHA.”
After the thunder subsided Xun asked, “What iss a bioologicall backdooor, Doctor?” He really was puzzled. He didn’t have to pretend.
Doctor Xamos (wmneg) surged to his feet and began to pace and talk. “The human mind, my underling, is very much like a computer. While mine is like a Cray supercomputer and yours is like a commodore 64, they operate under similar principles. Information is uploaded, processed and downloaded. We are all subject to the limits of our biological programming. Do you begin to see? HAHA,” (thunder rolled) “This virus creates a biological access point in that programming. It’s a backdoor into the operating code. THIS virus,” he gestured dramatically at the screen, “will write a command imperative into the brain of every infected subject. When the trigger is presented, any person infected will naturally obey any command given, without doubt or delay. It will be hardwired in, as natural as breathing.”