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he had the taste of dust in his mouth. cottonmouth. it was sand in his teeth. he spat himself out in straight lines, clockwork ticks, washboard fluted and frottoir in nature.
he made the same noise every time.
it was like the ridges of his spine rose with the horizon when he pulled his shoulders back.
hard to blink against all that grit.
there were bombshells dessicating his skinwork, indefinite and chaotic. shrapnel fearing folk hid underground. he was not that breed.
he stood with the army. he stood as an army. their syncopated swagger stilted the staccato of their future deaths. they were not one. they were not one.
and he knew that guy to his left would be next to go down. that guy two rows back would die tomorrow. that guy right in front of him was infected. already twitching.
it would spread like a fire.
jhator deserted the looter's skirmish and he survived. it wasn't shame. it was not shame.
remember me. remember, me.
"iio," he said gently, fingers twining in that white hair.
she was terrified of looking at him. for all she knew, he was dead-- and this was his corpse, speaking to her in ashen tongues. these ashes, his ashes
and she was covered in his body.
"look at me. sis..."
"paris," she murmured, still clinging to sleep. this was all she wanted. to lay in his arms. she felt water lapping at her heels. ankles. calves. the water rose and she snapped to.
she was standing, now, on a pyre-- linen figurines peppered the horizon and she balked when she realized she was standing in his coffin. a thousand hands with a million fingers clawed through the rotten bark of the firewood. their decaying fingernails tapped at the sides of the box, like cockroaches. like locusts.
"iio," he said gently, fingers twining in that white hair. "look at me, sis."
"i-- i see you--" she stammered when she saw his body.
these ashes, his ashes
AND SHE WAS COVERED IN HIS BODY.
she felt the flames lapping a
the youthful oracle crept silently. through trees, across streams. from stone to stone, branch to branch, she made her way home.
it was warm, here. warmed by the light of the fires that burned bright. like beacons. like safety.
masozi saw no one-- but it was late. perhaps they'd found sleep and only the tribe's scouts scoured the outskirts of the city of scavenger huts and treehouses that made up the ba'at tribe's central capital.
she needed to find her mother. she needed to call upon her father.
many scouts were out but the one that caught sight of the swift panther was amadi. he watched the encampment with bat eyes; he did not miss anything.
masozi was locked in his line of sight, so he jumped down from his lookout, not touching a single leaf nor shaking the pebbles on the ground as he landed
he waited for her, no smile on his face like a hyena. waiting was enough
did you hear?
i remember back when the machine still breathed. when i close my eyes i can still taste her oil in my teeth.
when she rustled, i heard.
i am a reminder of the old city. common times all commonplace in the rubble of her breast.
i've still got her fight in me.
when the city ceased to be and all the weak were glazed, there was a war. a very small war, but it was war nonetheless. i fought this war. it was all selfish-- every man for himself. flesh versus metal, teeth and bone and blood versus gears and wires and synthetics. everyone was to blame. no one was at fault. it was not a question of who won. everyone lost.
she was hungry, then. a voracious cadaver. there was never enough life to lose.
i was a mercenary, a soldier for hire. a bounty hunter. in this utopia, our utopia, there was an underbelly full of worms, pissoir in colour at its deviate core.
i never disgusted myself before those first days.
scavengers, filter feeders. we spa
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