I moved through a torment of blackflies, following the pendulum swing of her hips. She was the rebuttal to everything dull, to all meaninglessness. Even amid the world's incoherence.
How I loved her, and yes, in the biblical sense too. We were the last pairing, the omega couple to poor overgrown Eden's alpha duo. She used to laugh and say I wore the Mark of Abel. I'd laugh right back and say, "If that's so, honey, I'm last in a long line." She was a goddamned walking revelation. The fulcrum of her pelvic sway my only true church. Each switch of those exquisite hips a second-by-second countdown to doomsday.
I yearned to be her trickster. A jester for a queen.
The rot of the world became everything. I used matches to cauterize the inside of my nose so I could stop smelling the putrefaction that dripped from the very trees; no more sap, only pus and watery, infected plasma. Everything emitting heat and decay, the glutinous earth waking to a fever dream after an illusory life. Crows with gluey wings plummeted from the pulsating sky; cloud waves throbbed and roiled, dripping black mucous that stank of blighted tarsand and ancient fishguts. And death, of course. Like everything else. A hamstrung carnival, a dark mirage, distorted by heat, hoarse, shimmering, moaning to the horizon, reeking of the looming extinction.
And the machines, skeletal, their last keening forever quieted.
I'd wanted to learn the faces of all the insects. Discover islands that sang. Hunt down the world's most melancholy killer. Share a beach fire with a demon. Vandalize a monument.
What malfeasance brought us here? Spare me a month and fill my belly, friend, and the full story is yours. Courtesy of the world's last wordsmith.
Wading through a river of offal, I caught up to my uncrowned monarch.
"What was the worst thing you ever saw?"
She glanced back, that single arched eyebrow snare-drumming my heart. Saw I was serious as genocide.
"A baby born shrieking in terror." Her serious answer.
"Yeah, okay, works for me."
Somehow we'd found our way into a Scandinavian black metal album, is all I could think. At night, even the wolves and coyotes, blind and emaciated like abandoned lepers, growled and shrieked in guttural orgies of self-mockery and grim maledictions.
"Where now?" I asked.
"All the way to the end," she answered, like she always answered.
Helen. Helen Earth, I called her. Not my best joke, and the truth is she never laughed once. Never with me, although usually at me. At my Mark of Abel blooming like grey cumulus from my ruined head.