|The Null Mage and the Dead Woman
||[Nov. 17th, 2005|09:21 pm]
In the beginning, there existed no gods, no humanity, no universe. There was only chaos.
Swirling, violent and disruptive, it awaited an idea, a beginning, a master to tame it and form it into shape.
And then, erupting from those swirling rivers of change and disruption, came the five pillars of heaven, billowing through the high waters as if on a stormy night. And from those pillars came angels, angels that would tower over planets, but were insectile in size in comparison to the mighty universe they would set out to create...
The monorail sped along quickly enough, the lights of the large dome we lived in switching off, signalling night time. It couldn’t exactly be called a monorail, now that I think about it - the train was suspended in the air, gliding along with the power of electromagnetism, propelled by four plates lying at diagonal corners. It went speedily enough that a man could get somewhere in a relatively short period of time, not that I had much idea for where to go, and slow enough that it didn’t fly off and crash into a building down below.
I hate the trains. You could make the entire bottom of ‘em see-through and not make me more uncomfortable than I was already right then and there. Down below, you had your legs, you could run somewhere and hide when you needed to. Up in the air you lost your power. You’re trapped, you can’t run anywhere except up and down the aisles.
And then there comes my own unique characteristisc into play. There’s a feeling that makes you sweat, like holding a sharp blade to a man’s neck, staring out at the plates passing us by, keeping us in the air. I could dust one of them coming up on us and play hell with the infrastructure, unbalancing the hurtling object and watching us fall, fall all the way down, crashing and dying in a mass of crushed metal and glass.
The feeling of suspension wasn’t the only thing making me nervous. It was the passenger next to me, the girl I got to tag along for my ride to nowhere. She wasn’t a hired consort or nothing like that. The only reason I was interested in her was in how she skipped out on her own funeral... by walking calmly out of the operating room after they pumped her full of embalming fluid.
She’s got no heartbeat. And as the few lights in the air pass us by it highlights the chocolate-brown hair on her head and the makeup on her face shines through. She’s beautiful. They make ‘em beautiful at the funeral just before they throw ‘em at the nearest star. It amazes me how some women don’t get good makeup ‘till they’re dead.
Amazes me how people can’t say they love someone before they’re gone and in a damn casket.
She traces a line with her finger, along the edge of the windows. A book rests on her lap, she’s dressed in something white and clean, like she was about to be laid out in her casket. They must have just finished tidying her up before she started making her own decisions.
Seeing her playing by the windows makes me agitated for some reason, so I figure I should say something.
“You cold?” I asked her, looking at her sidelong from the seat.
Her arms were clutching her elbows, like she were cradling a baby. Her pale, expressionless face and dead blue eyes turned to me, and for a moment I feel a little squeeze in my gut that tells me when something’s wrong. But she doesn’t do anything but shake her head, and reply, “No, I’m not cold.”
I wondered if her skin felt anything at all.
“You gonna read that book I got you?” I asked in the same tone of voice.
“I can’t,” she said simply, looking down at the cover with the same blank expression.
“Why not?” I asked, raising an eyebrow. “You remember words, sentences, stuff like that, right?”
She took her eyes off the cover looked up at me, nodding gently in affirmation.
“Then why can’t you read it?” I asked again, all curious now and frowning.
There was a pause, and the dead woman looked down at her lap again, trying to think of an answer. “Because I don’t understand what it’s saying,” she said, with finality.
The book I got her was an old mystery novel, the musty kind kept preserved by the special stuff they put in the paper these days. Books have been around for ages, and the machines knew better than to take that way. The machines like anything that kept the masses of organics docile and distracted, controlled. Obediant.
I turned away from her again, glancing at my ticket for the first time. I hadn’t even looked at it when I bought it from the ticket booth. I had a bit of trouble getting her out of the sector we left behind in the first place, she had caused quite a stir by walking around all confused as the living dead. Dead people weren’t all that uncommon, now that I think about it - the Keepers, the predominant magic guys out there, can get their freaky vengeful ancestor spirits to inhabit dead bodies lying around. They just get up slowly, cackling wildly, with blood and spirit flame trailing out of their eyeballs, and if that didn’t make you pollute your pants with your own shit then and there, nothing could.
The dead woman beside me was different. It was as if she had died and forgot that it meant you couldn’t move around anymore. Tracing the edge of the window like she was, fingering the glass didn’t make me so agitated anymore. On the contrary, it looked like the most innocent thing in the world.
The ticket told the destination. Dome 9. I had some bad memories left behind back there, but it was better than some other places I could’ve been heading to. Bad memories of a revolution gone bad, a dream turned to ashes by hot-blooded teenage kids who wanted a fight so bad that they spat and pissed on the dreams of their dads to do so.
They were old memories, though. And right now there was weird stuff going around in the present moment, weird enough that dead people could arise on the side and walk about like a human, and strange enough that it’d send ripples through my gut and make it twist around inside me. A blip on the screen against the front of the train told me that we were nearing our destination. I looked back at the girl next to me, startling at the noise and looking around with a confused expression. She wasn’t at the center of the weirdness, I believed. For all I knew she was barely a blip on the periphery, but she was close, close enough for me to have a lead toward the center, where I wanted to be.
And I had another feeling that wherever we were going, Dome 9 was key. There was something there that needed discovering, and I intended to find it.
The train I was on began to slow down, and as it entered the tunnel for disembarking, I grabbed the girl’s hand and led her off. It was my first step back into so-called civilisation but I was beyond caring anymore.