The Last Chance


(Inspired by "Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death" by James Tiptree, Jr. (a.k.a. Alice Sheldon), which is of course, far better written.)

The world opens back up. I yawn. Let the world close again. I miss the sea of pictures that comes when the world is away. I miss the not-feeling, the not-thinking. Mother says I go away too much. But mother doesn't know how beautiful my pictures can be.

I stretch muscles. I feel the bright. I feel the red. I feel the sharp. Tonight is good. Tonight is named hunt. Tonight is named kill. Tonight, Mother takes us to the graveyard. Father is there. Father never leaves.

My brothers play-hunt in the tall grass. Mother watches, mother has the bright. I can see it in her eyes. Mother's eyes say proud. Mother's eyes say kill.

I run to them. My brothers urge me to play-hunt, but I say no. I don't like the play-hunt. I don't like the real-hunt. Mother knows. Mother's eyes see me and say fear. Mother's eyes see me and say shame. But I feel the love, anyway.

I tell Mother I feel the bright. I tell Mother I feel the red and the sharp. Mother smiles. Mother's eyes say hope. But Mother's eyes also say last chance. Tonight is named hunt. Tonight is named kill. Tonight I must have the names, too.

Mother runs. My brothers follow. I follow, too. I am the bright and the red and the sharp. I follow. I hunt. I am the last chance.

Mother takes us through the valley, but there is no hunt, no kill. Mother says the valley is the small. Mother says we are the big now and need big things. Mother says tonight we go somewhere new. Mother is taking us to the graveyard.

"Father stays in the graveyard," one of my brothers say. "Will we stay there, too?"

Mother stops and stares. Mother's eyes say silent. Mother's eyes say respect the dead. We continue in quiet.

We reach the graveyard. It is the big, like Mother said. And it is the black. I am the fear. Father became the black and now he stays in the graveyard. I do not want to stay here. I am the last chance.

"Mother, do we hunt?" a brother asks. "Do we kill?"

Mother says to find the big. Mother says to hunt.

My brothers run off into the graveyard. They are the bright. They are the red and the sharp. I am the dim now. I am the fear. I look up to Mother. Mother's eyes remind me. Last chance.

I go into the graveyard.

The black is everywhere. There is no bright here. I wonder if there is any big to hunt, to kill. But I am the last chance. Tonight I must have the names.

I go deeper. The laughter of my brothers echoes in the graveyard. They are the hunt now. They have the names. I look back behind me and see Mother waiting. This is not her night. Mother's eyes say old. Mother's eyes say legacy.

The graveyard is the silent. I wonder how old the graveyard is. I wonder if it has always been the black and the silent. I wonder if the bright was ever here.

I see a cave. It reminds me of a mouth, which reminds me of my picture sea. In the picture sea things can be other things, sometimes. But in the world things stay the same. I smell for the big. The red burns in me. I smell something. Is it the big? I ready myself. I am the hunt now, I tell myself. I am the bright, the red, the sharp. I have all the names. I enter the cave.

The cave is blacker than the black of the graveyard. My eyes are the silent in here. But my nose speaks and tells me hunt, kill. I obey.

In the cave's mouth there are only empty echoes. It is the black in here. It is the cold. I wonder, did Father come here? Is this where Father became the black and the silent? I try to keep the names, but I become the fear again. The last chance is not the names. Not really. The last chance is just the shame.

Loud sounds replace the silent. But I do not welcome them. They sound like the black to me. How can the black make such sounds? I am the fear. I am the dim.

Something's eyes speak in the cave. They are truly the bright. The brightest I've ever seen. The eyes say too many things to me. The eyes are mad.

I do not run. I tell myself I am the names. Each and every one. I am not the fear.

"I am the hunt and the kill!" I shout. "What are you?"

The thing with such bright eyes doesn't answer. Instead of words, there are only the loud sounds. But its eyes... now it's eyes scream.

"I am the hunt and the kill!" I say again. "What are you? Are you the big?"

The thing with such bright eyes runs at me. I stay. I am the names. Even if I become like Father, I shall stay the names.

I feel the cave ground shake. The thing with such bright eyes runs closer. I can feel it. It is the big. It must be.

I will become the black...

No. The thing with such bright eyes... it runs passed me. Out of the cave's mouth. Is it the fear? Because of me?

I run. I am the names! I laugh. I am the hunt and the kill!

I come out of the cave and search the graveyard. The black is there, but I am not the fear. The silent is there, but I stay the names. The big shall be mine. The last chance is...

The loud sounds! The thing with such bright eyes, it is close. But there are new sounds, too. Shrill sounds. Angry sounds.

I run to find it. Oh, Mother's eyes will scream proud!

I stop at the clearing of the graveyard. The thing lies there and it is the big I have been looking for. It is all the same names that I am, but something... something is wrong. It's eyes... it's eyes are the silent. And the red is everywhere.

I near the big thing. "I am the hunt and the kill!" I bellow. "You are mine!" But it doesn't hear me.

I go closer. The big thing... the big thing doesn't move. What is wrong, big thing? Do my names make you the fear? They should, big thing. I am the bright. I am the red. I am the hunt. I am the k...

I see them, not far off. Mother and my brothers. They are lying down, too. I am the fear again suddenly, but I don't know why. I run to them.

"Mother, brothers, I am the names!" I tell them. "I have the big!"

But Mother and my brothers' eyes are the silent, too. Everything is quiet. The red is here, too. I touch them, but they do not move. Why don't they move?

And one by one, I slowly lose the names. No more the bright. No more the red. No more the sharp. No more the hunt and the kill. I am the last chance again. Now more than ever.

They are like Father. They will stay in the graveyard and never leave. The world is closed to them and they will swim in their picture seas. Always the not-feeling, the not-thinking. It is clear to me now. The big is not the thing with such bright eyes. The big cannot be caught. The big catches. It is the everything.

The big is the black and the silent.