Wednesday, September 21, 2011

you can save her

In the small hours that night I dreamed that four oil company execs were driving a black luxury sedan through the dark roads of wildest Idaho, when their headlights lit upon a naked woman walking down the center of the road. The four suits braked in astonishment, then eased their sedan up close.

The woman stopped walking and turned to face them. She was stunning. Full hipped, full breasted, dark-haired, unafraid. The men lusted instantly and ferociously. They were four. She was alone. But something in her eyes––an agelessness; extreme dignity; the lack of fear––prevented them from even making cracks about what they'd each like to do.

As they silently eye-raped her, another thing changed: they began to notice scrapes and bruises on her body, and an unhealthy pall on some of her skin. Fear of contagion bled into their lust.

The four men climbed out of the sedan and gathered, shoulder to shoulder in their dark suits, white shirts, silk ties. The woman stood across the car from them, totally vulnerable, yet totally calm. The men did not offer help. The woman did not ask for it. But, seeing the way they kept eyeing her injuries, it was she who broke the silence. In a calm low voice, without a hint of accusation, she said, "I am for you, as I am for all living things. All your lives I have moved with you in your every breath, as you have moved through me. From me you arrived, and to me your will return." She looked at her own body slowly, with the detached air of a physician, or mortician. "These wounds," she said, "have been inflicted by you."

That took care of one threat: the execs no longer hoped for sex. They knew too much about what had been done to her. Sex would be far too dangerous.

They decided to see what they could get by bartering. Since she carried nothing and wore nothing, robbery was not going to produce. But oil execs have their methods.

One of them ducked into the car, produced a chessboard, set it on the dark hood of the sedan. They challenged her to a match. When she merely gazed at them in response, it grew clear that she was passive before any human proposal. She had no choice but to play.

The men swiveled the board to give themselves the white pieces, and the first move. She didn't protest. The suits consulted in low whispers. One of them then slid forward a piece that looked like a white drilling platform. The moment the piece moved, a genuine drilling platform appeared in the Gulf––and a multitude of bruises appeared not so much on as under the woman's bard skin. She shuddered. But her voice was calm as she said, "You may do as you wish. And I will do as I must."

She made a counter-move sliding forward a black piece made of countless tiny carved fish, birds, marine mammals. As the piece arrived in position she sent a ray into the minds of the men, giving them a vision of what their move and her counter-move had wrought: in the Gulf, sperm whales, bluefins, dolphins and sea turtles by the thousands, billions of shrimp and fishes, and millions of birds disappeared from the planet in a writhing black mass.

The four men gaped till the vision faded, then looked nervously at her.

She gazed back without expression.

Less sure of themselves, but still determined, the put their heads together. One of them reached for a piece that looked like some kind of steel earth-eating device. When he touched it, and engine audibly started, then rose to a roar. He slid the piece forward into the boreal forest.

The woman reeled slightly, coughed up a little blood, but her face remained calm and her hand steady as she made her counter move. She touched a piece that looked like a black queen. the queen became a small black cloud. The woman slid it forward. Vast tracts of forest vanished, machines and modules roared, smoke spewed, land and lakes were devoured, sludge reservoirs appeared.

The woman coughed more blood, wiped it away, kept sliding the black cloud/queen forward. White pieces flew from the suits' side of the board. Hurricanes and tornadoes spun over the world.

Insane skies rained oil, dying fish, pieces of houses, shattered birds. Pipelines appeared a the speed of thought, ruptured over farmland, ruptured in cities. Earth's Poles turned to slush. Coastlines and islands vanished under rising seas. Refugees from inundated lands swarmed over borders by the millions, overwhelming hard-pressed countries. Glaciers vanished from every mountain range and more millions swarmed down from the highlands. Ocean gyres reversed direction Trees died by the billion. Nations went to war over water, over hunger, over dearth.

The execs gaped till the vision faded, then turned to the naked woman. She was breathing hard. The was blood at her mouth corners. Her body was a mass of contusions and burns. But her eyes were still clear, her expression calm, and her breasts, hips, flesh, at least in patches were still lovely to behold.

The execs put the heads together, preparing the next move.

The woman breathed, and waited, prepared to do as she must.

~David James Duncan The Heart of the Monster

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