Lurid, the lumens stream in harsh halos, etching out crop circles in grime and filth, fanning outward, step step step, heel-to-toe silent running. Heart hammering, racing, terrified.
Bricked in, the canyon rises from crazed cracks and uplifts, spiraling upwards, the perspective off, like leaning towers of menace. Shell-shocked, the building festers with ancient toil, its glory days faded into oblivion. The façade oozes pockmarked memories, boarded up to protect the ghosts of broken promises.
Old town. Old times. Old spaces. Older faces.
He waits. In the last circle. The final invitation, the why the hell not, why not, why, why not…
The frantic din wavers and recedes. He stands on the borderline of truth or dare.
I pursue the whisper of his passing, the incidental brush of innuendo, a question, an answer. When he left, I followed.
Shrink-wrapped skin binds the pulse thudding in my throat, disharmonious in defib splendor, beats skipping, beat beat, skipping beats… Disengaging, I withdraw from the cage and watch, dispassionate, the footsteps still stuttering across an uneven surface, each one distancing me from yes, but not from why.
I don’t do this…
I can’t do this.
With perfect control of nothing, my senses reel, heeding naught but a careless advance into a war I can’t possibly win. On a whim I sacrifice my soul in pursuit…
I want… No, I need to feel, to ease the ache in my groin, the ungodly scar of singularity sanitizing and reducing my footprint to a forgotten epitaph of platitudes.
You’ll find someone, dear.
It just takes time.
He’s out there.
He stands steadfast in that circle, that crop circle of suspension of my reason and my dignity and that martyrhood of patience, that fucking patience that’s abandoned me forever to waiting for what I deserve.
Outside the circle it’s oddly blank, Sin City when the lights go out, a pastiche of dirty and pure images. Half-cast light slices and dices his profile, the backdrop harsh and unyielding. Eyes shaded, shades shading dark on dark, a flair flares as he sucks poisoned air, sucks it deep, holds it, holds the poison, exhales—the rise and fall of his chest imagined, only imagined. I can’t see it, him—it, what is it—yet the smoke swirls and twirls, languid and lazy circles adrift. It floats away on invisible currents.
The jawline, strong, square and defiant, outlined in grey haze, prickled, prickly, unkempt—it drew me first. Then the lips, full pout pursed bad boy bad, in careless disregard, the ash clinging to the end, defying gravity, held captive.
As am I.
Sanity was a gossamer thread back in the din. Now, in this place, in this time, with me closing the distance, it severs. I don’t miss it.
The gutters round his mouth shallow out, muscles relaxing, knowing he’s won.
The half, the dark half reaches for the smoldering embers, the movement dissembles, an apparition inhaling in righteous succor. He leans, leans in harsh, the movement spare, too spare, drawing me, inching me, easing me into a corridor of poisonous ash and tendrils of acrid, sharp, piercing scent stings.
Constricting against the onslaught my throat closes, closes as his tongue suckles and teases, and I hold it, hold the poisonous mist deep in my chest.
It hurts, the pain soothes away misgivings. I exhale into ebon night, the shadows have me gripped soft, wearing his skin.
He’s out there.
The blade pricks my throat. Heat pings, a flush of rivulets, sludge meanders amidst the mist, the stinging, stinking acrid mist, eating my flesh, consuming it, consuming me.
The pain in my groin ratchets to an unbearable lightness.
Licking the blade, he nods and turns. The shadows open on a whisper and a promise.
I step through the veil and follow the vapor trail.