Storytime: When Day Goes.

March 29th, 2017

Martin was pulled out of the white cold world on the day of his fourteenth first birthday and his first second birthday.
Sound was there again, washing in from above. Shadows and hands and darkened gloves. They’d seen his ski-pole, thrust up from the white into the who-knows-where, and they pulled him loose of the snow and took him away.
They asked him where Louis was.
“Louis?” he asked. And that was their answer, in the soft little whine of air that was all the noise he could raise.
A thought came to him, as he watched the hills roll away below the helicopter. It was why Louis had been there. It was why he had been there.
“It’s my birthday soon,” he whispered to them. And then he learned he was wrong. He’d been under the avalanche for five days.
So Martin was given a little piece of cake and ice cream in his hospital bed, once it was determined it wouldn’t upset his stomach or heart or liver or kidneys or brain or mind.
He didn’t eat it. He was busy watching. Watching the new red world around him. It was crawling into his arm from the IV stand; it was pumping through the halls, it was frozen and locked away downstairs, it was spurting, oozing, clotting, pooling, every minute every moment.
It was like seeing traffic for the first time.
Then he made up his mind, and put the cake and ice cream in the garbage, without spilling a drop.
In the black when the day had gone, he saw Louis again. Louis’s neck was bent. And his eyes were frozen. And he wouldn’t go away.
But Martin could turn away, and he did so.

The scalpel was very light. Its edge was very fine. There was almost no blood, and the little that appeared seemed too surprised to flow properly.
But Martin had the clamps ready anyways, and before anything could happen, it didn’t.
In, in, in. Find the problem. Find the issue. Find the incision. And quick and clean it was gone, in a sing of the blade.
Then came the stitches, inevitably and tediously. And when Martin was done he breathed again, and tied the last knot, without spilling a drop.
He knew he was a surgeon now. Everything after this was formality. It was inside the eyes and minds of the others around him, no matter what the papers and files could speak of.
He was a surgeon. He was the perfect cutter, the relentless hand of excisions. And it was not enough, but it was right, or at least closer to right than wrong.
He still saw Louis, in the space left when the day goes and the emptiness fills up with dark. But he still turned, and he still breathed, and it came again.

The old woman was very small in her coffin.
Death shrinks people, it’s true. But Martin found to his surprise that she’d been that size inside his head for years. A bare mouthful in a wooden maw, lost in the dress.
It made his fingers itch and his teeth ache. He looked out the window and thought until his eyes ran red over the green spring lawn. Grass cropped low by a mechanical chewing, every Thursday. A waste of food.
A friend was telling him respects. His mother’s friend, of course, not his. He didn’t need friends; he had colleagues.
“Thank you,” he said.
“What will you do now?”
Martin thought about green and red and the turning of one to the other.
“Feed the poor,” he said.

Wheat. Greens. Potatoes. All as massed as massed could be, accumulated under fields far and wide by his will and his word and his whim. Ordered and moved. Hectares and miles and millimetres churned and toiled at a command.
The beef was the hard part. It warranted a personal touch.
But not too personal. Martin had people for that.
The sun was so hot it ached, but the herd still shied from his eyes. Heads tossed, eyes rolled. No bawling, though. It was too warm to breathe deeply enough.
Martin patted the side of the animal gently. It vibrated in the hands of his employees, and he felt the flush spread under his palms, damp and thick.
“So, what do you think?” asked the rancher.
The field was more brown than grey. The stream was a trampled puddle. The air was thick and used.
“It’s going perfectly,” said Martin.
And the other end was even better. A scalpel the size of a stadium complex, fueled by arms that never slept while current flowed.
And vats and ponds and puddles and slurries, for disposing of the excess, with no speck wasted, no drop spilled. Shining red.
He shivered in the red world, under the heat.

The ribbon-cutting of the first restaurant had kept the morning fresh.
The final touch-ups on the last leg of the initial marketing campaign had made the afternoon pass swiftly.
But now was what he’d been waiting for.
He put down the folder of perfect pictures of perfect hamburgers from perfect angles onto the Desk. It was most definitely a Desk, deserving of capitalization by dint of capitalisation.
The sun was coming down. The world was red. The day was going. It was time again, for the first time.
Martin stood up and walked the two paces from his Desk to his window. He looked out over the world and knew how much of it was his and how much of what it was done was for him, somewhere under his bones.
He remembered Louis and his frozen face and his bent neck and the terrible hunger and the white cold world and the terrible hunger and the trembling of his teeth and the terrible hunger and the terrible, terrible, endless hunger.

And he opened up his long, lipless jaws into the red light and tipped back his head and he swallowed the thousands of cattle and the millions of acres and the steaming fields and the roaring factories
Without. Spilling. A. Drop.

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