"Graveyard" by Georgi Ostashov

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The Streaks in the Sky
by Raymond Towers



Looking upwards into the sky,
one might have wondered,
at the long jagged streaks
which like greedy fingers reached
to touch upon the sleeping earth
and bring forth the kisses of death.

Once, my greatest aspiration had been to become a published poet, but that was a long time ago, perhaps hundreds of years ago. That was before the Nameless Ones came, before Earth-Shatter. Reflectively, I withdrew my pen from the writing pad, and glanced over to the metal desktop, upon which rested many more writing pads, each one innocently blank and waiting for me to reach out and begin scribbling on it. The desk, the pads, me, my chair, and my pen. These were the only objects in the cold gray room.

It was a daunting task, to fill up writing pad after writing pad, but this thought I pushed from my mind, and began jotting down letters again.

Like a recoiling giant,
our earth staggered and stumbled,
but the assault was relentless,
and her pursuers circled in ever closer
each daring further than the next
together closing in for the final kill.
With a thunderous collapse she fell,
never to awaken from her mortal wounds
and through her agonizing demise
the last souls of humanity shed their blood,
which ran through her mountains and valleys
serving to stifle the earth’s last few breaths.
She succumbed to the darkness
and the mass of humanity was doomed.
Like the poisoned bride and her grief-stricken hero,
they died together.

I’d gone out to the desert for inspiration, to a secluded spot high in the mountains northwest of Palm Springs, and that had save my life, sort of. The Nameless Ones had arrived with their sleek ships, bombarding the earth with radiation pulses, and catching our planet’s governments completely unaware. Most of us died passively, but not me. I had several day’s worth of food with me, and when the radio began broadcasting our dire situation, I hid among the shrubs and rocks. Then, my hair started coming off, my teeth began falling out, and I ran out of food. The radio hadn’t said a thing to me almost since the attacks began, and I felt so alone, so repulsively alone, that I felt compelled to leave my refuge and find out if humanity still existed.

Embrace me, o mother earth,
for I have abandoned you,
and now that you are no longer here
I long for your touch and caress.
For as I had left you,
now you also have left me.

It was a hard journey. My car didn’t start,and my only other alternative was my bicycle. I started down the mountainside, but every time I pushed down on the pedals, every couple of feet I neared the mountain base, made me weaker inside. It was the after-effects of the radiation, still lingering on the surface of the world, like a detonated roach bomb. The entire earth had become humanity’s coffin.

Only after suffering through pain and agony,
can we say truly, ‘we have lived’.
For are not complacency and conformity
slower forms of the same, namely death?

I tried to make it to the nearest gas station, hoping to raid it for supplies, but I didn’t quite make it. My skin stung from the poisoned air, and the bottoms of my hiking shoes kept sticking onto the pedals. When the skin from my fingers began peeling off on the handlebars, I left the bike on the side of the road, and continued afoot. Somewhere down the line, I lost an eye. It might have popped out or something, I can’t quite remember. Finally, my body could not take any more, and I collapsed. I thought I was going to die, and I should have died, then.

“Zounds!” Cried the great Norse warrior,
even as the scaly devil rose to its full height.
Dwarfing the man with its enormity.
With a loud gasp, the warrior withdrew his sword,
for the pit of hell continued to widen,
and invite more of the hungry demons to the fray.

That was when they found me, the Nameless Ones.They reconstructed me, awed by my improbable survival, as well as intrigued by the imagery which flashed through my erratic mind. And they kept me, like a pet, telephatically ordering me to write whatever it was that came to mind. Of course, I did it, since I’d finally found the audience I’d always craved, even though it wasn’t exactly in the manner that I’d hoped.

My job was to keep filling up writing pads, and every so often, read them aloud to a group of the aliens. The Nameless Ones would recieve images of the words I spoke, and occasionally, they’d ask me to elaborate a point, or maybe write more poetry in a similar vein. From the size of the crowds that attended, I surmised that I was getting quite popular, perhaps popular enough to ask for a favor in return. I’d love to see the earth one last time, for the sake of posterity. And maybe, I could even ask for a mate, if I could only convince them of the vast spectrum of romantic poetry they were missing out on. I’d work up to it, eventually, but for now, I was quite content providing readings for my otherworldly visitors.

The voice of God rumbled through the valley,
“How far has humanity come, oh Noah?”
And the ark builder quietly lowered his head,
and replied,
“Not far, my Lord. Not far at all.”

Story © 2002 by Raymond Towers monstertako@aol.com

Illustration © 2002 by Georgi Ostashov georgi@home13.net

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