Saturday, September 27, 2008


The sun has gone out. It hangs in the heavens like a broken Christmas ornament. The huge, bat-winged creatures slowly flap their way across the darkened sky, lit from beneath by the ubiquitous fires. Screams and sirens echo around the valley beneath the mountain pass where the four young men stand, watching the butchery below.

They are members of a pop group, ALL 4 U; the name is embossed in tiny diamonds on the back of each of their uniquely colored velvet jumpsuits. Every one of them has a distinctively ridiculous haircut. The first, a deep baritone, turns to the others and states flatly, “So this is it. It has fully and truly come down.”

Another, voice much higher, tone much sweeter, responds with a sigh. “It would appear so. The real work begins now.”

The third pats his cornrows, grabs his balls and grunts out of the side of his mouth. “Yo yo yo, this shit is off the hizzy! Fo’shizzle my home nizzles! Niggas be all up in this shit, and shit. What what!”

The second turns to him, his tone scornful. “You don’t have to do that anymore. The end has begun. You can be yourself now.”

The third’s cartoonish grimace fades and he straightens up, embarrassed, rubs his neck. “Yeah. That’s right, isn’t it?”

The fourth, his pronunciation clipped and almost feminine, exclaims and points into the distance. “There! Look there.”

A creature made only of bones strides across the horizon, its four legs hundreds of feet tall. The thing’s body is much smaller, relatively speaking; its ribcage has only the mass of a mid-size automobile. The beast’s skull is long and thin, like that of a great horse. On the bone creature’s back rides a human skeleton of nearly the same proportions, arms and legs at least three times as long as they would be on a normal man. The skeleton holds a great flat sword at the end of his elongated arm and swings it through the open air, cackling. The high-pitched laughter is audible even over the echoing cacophony rising from the valley below.

The fourth purrs with satisfaction: “Bone Lord.” He nearly pronounces each word as a separate sentence for the gravity placed upon them.

The first claps his thighs and responds almost jauntily, “Well, I had better get down there, hadn’t I?”

The second nods, looks to the others. “We had all better. There is much work to be done.”

The third sighs. “I need to get the scales up and running to be able to separate the living remainder. Those bats and the Bone Lord will be done before you know it.”

The fourth smiles his pinched, autocratic smile. “And the concentration camps aren’t going to just fill themselves.”

They all laugh.

“True dat.”

With a small shrug, the first moves towards the pass leading to the valley below. “Wait,” requests the second, raising his hand. The first looks back askance. “Let’s do the hit. Just one more time, the chorus, okay? We might not have another chance.”

The others exchange glances, laugh, nod bashfully. They pull in close, hit C, then fall into their pre-programmed dance steps as they sing their first and biggest hit.

Fighting and fussin’, cheating and cussin’
Days when I was hungry and did not know what to do
Putting up a day’s pay for a bottle of Courvoisier
Girl, you know I’m giving it up a-all for you-u

The step ends with all four crouched in position, making silly ultra-macho faces and they immediately break into hysterics, clapping each other on the back and falling about. The second is the first to stand up, helping the others to their feet.

“That was fun.”

The fourth nods. “It was a good run, wasn’t it?”

“Hells, yes,” punctuates the third.

The first dusts off his knees and spreads his hands wordlessly to the others. They nod and slowly fall into line, walking towards the break in the trees that leads to the pass below. Four horses are tied there, each to its own post, and each with a banner corresponding to its individual rider. One of the bat-things passes close overhead and the ensuing wind ruffles the group members’ jumpsuits, the colors shimmering in the available fire-light: white, red, black and, lastly, a pale, pale green.