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Jeffrey B. Allen

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Rusting Mammoths
By Jeffrey B. Allen
Monday, September 05, 2011

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Recent stories by Jeffrey B. Allen
· Unus Mundus
· The Nothing Whisper
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           >> View all 8


The end of an age is an ageless process.

 

            As its neck was being crushed by the powerful jaws of its adversary, and it was about to take its final breath, it looked upward to the sky. From deep within its glistening brown eyes, the buck pleaded to a higher power.
            Peter watched the morbid scene with detached curiosity. He was invisible, an omnipotent observer, able to slide from side to side, or soar high into the air.  He noticed a group of workers emerge from a doorway at the rear of the sprawling mill. They wore gray denim clothing that seemed to get heavier as they walked, weighing them down, pushing them along the crushed slate pavement leading to the quarry's main gate. The men’s faces were ashen. Peter was surprised to see them pass the spot of the kill as if nothing of any consequence was happening.
            He watched the moribund men meander down the road to where there was a gathering of women and children. Peter floated closer. He saw the workers wrap their arms around the shoulders of their waiting women and rest their calloused hands upon the heads of their expectant children. The families stood huddled for a while, gazing in silence at the slumbering millworks. Soon, they turned and walked away from the quarry mill that was, for a life’s work, the vestige of their twining bond.
            How strange, thought Peter, dropping down to get a closer look; one of the boys was alone. He was glowing, as if surrounded by a halo of white light. The boy was running alongside the others, calling out for an explanation as to why the deer was being killed by the lion that came down from the mountain, but there was no answer, no explanation for the carnage. Not a single word was spoken.
            Suddenly the boy stopped and turned to view the slaughter. The other children did the same, as if the act had been choreographed and rehearsed. Together they stared at the spastic deer being pulled to pieces by the lion. With strings of flesh dangling from its teeth, the beast raised its head and casually scouted its flank. It felt the children’s eyes upon it. Undaunted, it disappeared into the scrub that bordered the gravel road.
            As soon as the lion had gone, the children rejoined the procession of transparent shadows — except for the one boy — the one who was alone and surrounded by the halo. That one walked to the carcass and knelt within its rack. The buck’s sparkling brown eyes had turned a lifeless shade of white. The boy unsheathed a blade and slowly but deliberately dug the buck’s eyes from their sockets.  He stood and then looked down for several seconds at the dead animal; its eyeballs cradled within his palm.
            Before long, he climbed to the top of a nearby hill. On the other side was the abandoned quarry, the once robust source of gigantic blocks that forever, it seemed, would fill the appetite of the mill.  On the quarry’s bottom, a pond of churning water was being maintained at a constant level by two powerful pumps.
            Peter listened to the echoing whine of the motors while he watched the reflections of the sun splash across the steep rock walls.  He saw the boy bend his body through a break in the chain link fence and step to the edge of the shear drop off.  The glowing boy brought the eyes to his lips and kissed them.
            Their color returned.
            He grinned.
            One at a time he threw the dead buck’s eyeballs toward the center of the quarry where they landed in the water.
            The boy turned and ran back toward the road. He searched for the others, but they were gone. He glanced up the hill from where he had just come and then down the length of the road. His halo went away and his clothing turned the same shadowed grayness worn by the others. The boy gradually disappeared.
            Peter flew over to where the deer had been killed by the lion. The carcass was rotting, and the sockets, empty of their eyes, caused Peter to shiver. He floated the length of the brick factory building that had fallen into disrepair. He could hear the whistle of the wind whipping between the rows of machine mammoths left to rust away. Then, gripped by uneasiness, he soared over the hill to the place where the boy had taken the eyeballs of the buck. The quarry was now two thirds filled with green water. Peter hovered over its center before slowly descending to where he could dip his toes.  The frigid water felt good.  The queasy feeling went away.
            Peter smiled.  He raised his arms above his head and slipped his body through the water’s surface making no splash and no sound. No concentric circles of outward-bound ripples pointed to the spot of his entry.
            Peter couldn’t see himself any longer, yet he felt the glimmer of sunlight piercing the surface of the water, and he could hear the voices of the wind gusts swirling about the quarry walls.
            Peter descended into the blackness.  He would search and search until he came upon the eyes that lay within the muck of the bottomless pit . . . and it would be those eyes reborn that would lead him onto the spiral road and then to its beginning and its end . . . the Cabius Well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reviewed by Jeff Gafford 9/5/2011
Fascinating. Your use of language is terrific. I was drawn into this short vignette and left with so many questions, yet I'm glad I read it. A very good story.
Reviewed by J Howard 9/5/2011
Interesting read with vivid descriptions.

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