hawkeyowa: (At least wait until my eyes are closed.)
[personal profile] hawkeyowa

I was in an angsty mood, I guess? :c

Snow Aflame - Nebojsa (Siberia) x Praskoviya (Chernobyl)

She was hallucinating. Of course, she thought to herself. There was no surprise in what she saw. The snow was aflame, giving off heat waves that twisted in sunlight that looked cold. These were all impossible things, and all it took was the horrible wrenching in her stomach and intestines to affirm that it was not a dream (that would be too kind, wouldn't it, Praskoviya?) but instead just a horrible figment of too many rems that tortured her body.

She dug her fingertips into the snow, since her body felt too hot (explosions and people screaming and alarms and ohgodwhathavewedone?) and perhaps the snow was relief. But the snow--isn't it always the snow--felt like it was burning. Ice and frost and all that made up the world that she had her family were surrounded by was now like still simmering embers of ash and charcoal, scorching at her and tearing into a body that was never made for these conditions. What was it going to take to make it okay again? How much dirt would have to cover the crawling, festering remains of what once was the very symbol of a powerful, venerable age that would turn the Slavic nations into heroes instead of remaining the insane victims of some terrible history? How much more was Praskoviya going to have to sit through until everything would come back into place and she could be the goddess of the snowy lands again, instead of what seemed to be a radioactive Athena, laden with knowledge of things no one should ever learn?

It took a stitched, ice-bound mannequin of a man who she had seen hovering above her in those very hallucinations that seized her and tore at her bones like ravenous wolves. It took his too-cold hands to meet her pyre-bound body to finally cool something down, to begin to clean up the explosive core that had destroyed her. The snow's flame receded. The sunlight became warm again. On her scorched lips, Praskoviya was able to breathe out a name that rattled up from her flame-licked ribs, than cooled down in her throat, and became the final, cleansed product of a name.

"Nebojsa," she said.

He smiled down at her. "Yes. Yes I am, Praskoviya."

Peshtigo - Gabe (Wisconsin)

They were frail, yellow pieces, carefully taped down without so much as a crinkle in the material. The words had become worn through years of calloused fingers running over them. Black ink had turned a dull gray and was smeared in some places. Yet the content was the same: fire, disaster, death toll, accident… There were etchings of images that could hardly convey the true nature of the words. There were statistics, some untrue—underestimating at best. There were stories spoken by burnt mouths and moved to paper, simplifying what was said from a haunting tale to a mere report.

He was angry at what he read, as he had been angry for decades. Sometimes, it took everything he had to keep from ripping the articles out and tearing them to shreds. It wasn’t so much a deal of painful memories but the fact that from what memories there were, few were heeded. So he would often close the book, like turning his back on what once was, like losing his trust in those he thought he knew best.

Once Upon a Time - Cody (Wyoming)

There are situations that call for a ‘once upon a time’ beginning. These situations once refer to a better time—a light before the inevitable darkness. For some, it is of a time not easily remembered, if remembered at all. Perhaps these times were fictional, preserved only in the voices of those who could remember the tales, which in turn were told by people who may have or may not have saw those times.

In that sense, there was a time blurred in Cody’s memory, seemingly fictional. However, in what was visible, it wasn’t a light before the darkness, but a darker time before any enlightenment. There was a feeling of dread present amidst an eternal freezing backdrop. It was a time that she didn’t want to remember.

There were flashes of light, as crimson as blood yet as bright as the sun. Moreover, even the sun during that time was red, falling upon a landscape stained with blood. Soon, the cold winds swept in and covered the blood with snow, only to have that stained as well. There were brief images of gaunt faces, drawn and sickly, eyes hollow sockets in their heads. Their lips were drawn back, teeth showing in a grimace that wouldn’t go away. Who were these people, if they were people at all?

It was this once upon a time that would waken Cody from sleep, that would send cold chills down her back as she breathed in air that didn’t seem to fill her. She would clutch at her blankets, shivering in the night, scared and feeling utterly hopeless. It was during these waking periods that she cursed her solitude, wishing for a certain once upon a time where there was always someone there to go to.

Detroit Book Depository - Tony (Detroit)

The air was a pungent cocktail of any number of scents. Tony could recognize rust and decay the best out of all of them. Among the cocktail was broken concrete, decomposing paper, and a strange, light scent that he couldn't recognize right away, but it seemed awfully familiar. He grumbled a quick, slurred curse as he kicked aside a clump of books stuck together with the dampness that prevailed over the room. Crayons that had been ground into a multi-colored paste stuck to the floor, and for just a moment, the sight was cheerful. But he could only scoff, as he knew the truth of the matter. It was made clear by a paper that was fluttering in the wind, stuck to a lone rebar hanging from a shattered concrete wall.

January 1987
Order for book shipment A-18892
Deliver t--

The rest of the paper was ripped away, but it told the whole story of the place where the city walked. Once, it was a storage of knowledge, giving life to a slowly dying city. It was one of the last mechanisms of vitality in a city where rotten viaducts served as concrete ribs and steaming sewers served as the stinking arteries. But the mechanism had failed, just like everything else in a place where life was just another trash heap in a parking lot. The gray, shuddering landscape was all that was left of a decadent age of prosperity, that was in and out like the icy wind that whirled through the building.

Tony sighed quietly and kicked aside another book, and then stopped dead in his tracks when he saw what was beneath him. Reaching up from a layer of rotten paper was a tiny, emerald-green leaf, fluttering in the wind. Suddenly, he realized what the strange, light scent was that he had smelled before. It was the scent of life.

'Detroit will someday get back on its feet. There's a heartbeat still left in the city, even though you have to give a good effort to hear it. But if you take the time and stop to look around, you can see that someday, it won't be a city of a dead industry, but a city where life resides.'
-TIME article, November 2009

Metallurgy - Yuri (Norilsk) x Mihail (Bucharest)

Mihail felt as if he was two breaths away from being a shivering, sputtering wreck of a man. He could feel his fingertips like ice against his inferno of a palm. He could feel his fingernails crucifying his hands. Just like a sacrifice, the mantra kept repeating in his head. People take, take, take, and maybe you're the only one that gives.

Except now.

Now it was two sides giving, like two horseshoe magnets being pushed together, pole-to-pole. There was repel at first, like an unseen force was pushing them away from each other, even if they did want to be together. And then that force was removed and they seemed to spin and have the opposite poles meet in the middle. Something about it was eerily perfect, yet so botched and butchered and isn't that always how it goes?

No, that wasn't how it always went. Sometimes things like this would end in a horrible crash and burn way that left Mihail sprawling out on his bed, unable to see past the tilting, whirling, green-filtered screen that became his world after seventy percent alcohol would rush into him and seemingly inject itself into his heart, scorching him from the inside out until he felt like he would be his own pyre. During those times, he felt as if he would be reduced to mere charcoal, like buildings during bombings and perhaps someone would leave him instead of recreating him into something different, something better.

But this was how it went now. Yuri had found the immolated wreckage that Mihail felt he was, and somehow found all the bricks and mortar that made him up and began to put him back together, piece by ash-colored piece. He had cleared away his absinthine screen and made him see the world beyond what he believed he always knew. Suddenly, there was clarity, and Yuri was the very first source. It felt strange that way, as Yuri did not seem so different. Except Mihail felt as if where he had been demolished and burnt, Yuri had merely been frozen in place, like a lone town in the tundra. The pieces were there, perfectly preserved and ready for use, but there was a wall of thick, unyielding ice between the creator and the masterpiece. Mihail suddenly wished he could use the fire that had almost destroyed him to melt away what froze Yuri in place and fix what was there.

Now he felt such an urge more than ever. Dark, liquored irises looked Yuri over, peering into strange cobalt-blue pools, metallic and almost toxic as though reflecting his infamous traits. His eyes appeared blank underneath thick strands of dark hair. Mihail had always noted how utterly haunted he looked, as though some ever-present ghost was leaning over his shoulder, hissing doubts and empty promises and reminders that wrenched at his insides but left him somehow grinning on the outside, like some sick joke fate decided to play on him.

"Uh..." Yuri began, his voice careful as though attempting not to move to fast, like Mihail was some sort of wild animal that would dash away at any loud noise. "It was very nice of you to invite me here."

He was met with equally careful silence from Mihail, who was biting at his bottom lip fiercely, as he did when he was nervous. He mused over the feeling of his teeth clenching onto the flesh there, tiny rivulets of blood forming. How many times had he been compared to a vampire, his mind idly wondered. Blood was the life's cocktail of hemoglobin and endless fleshy cells that provided everything the body could ask for. According to legend, blood was what the vampire consumed to keep forever youthful and immortal. Didn't he already have both, as long as his place provided? Was the blood of the city in his mouth and being constantly digested? During all those nameless battles and revolutions, did he drink the blood absorbed into the dirt and concrete? Perhaps the comparisons were not so shallow, and not so far from fact.

"It is nothing," he replied finally, not really realizing anything he was saying. "You are welcome here any time."

There was some strange, translucent conflict that briefly showed in Yuri's eyes and his expression. Mihail could see it plainly, but he could not see the origin. Show me, he inwardly pleaded. Just tell me what's wrong. Stop lying to me. Who are you trying to protect? What are you--?

"Mihail," Yuri suddenly said, interrupting Mihail's own inner strain. His face was as solemn as a sepulcher. His lips drew a firm line, vertical closed doors protecting something Mihail wanted so badly to see, no matter how morbid the contents. The doors remained shut until he drew a deep, hollow breath. "Why are you doing this? Why is it you want to be around me?"

The question hung in the air. It was the most forward Yuri had ever been to Mihail, and it temporarily stole Mihail's breath away. There was no true answer, he knew. There was no answer that couldn't be twisted into another meaning, that could be taken badly or too dramatically. There was too much to give and not enough to take back. His nails bit into his palm again. No verbal answer. No lies. Stop lying.

So he did.

He moved forward, predatory yet gently, and pressed his bloody lips to Yuri's. It was strange, and neither was sure how to react, from the initiator to the victim. Yuri did not want to get away and Mihail did not want to move. Immolated debris on bloody ice. There was metal on metal. A thick coppery flavor mixed with steel, iron, palladium, platinum, and nickel. There was cold, unfeeling metal in their kiss, until Yuri began to respond. He moved his lips against Mihail's, just slight increments in order to register that he was alive (so very alive, for the first time, oh god) and that he knew what was going on (did he?). The fires that had consumed the wreckage suddenly turned all of that metal into a molten concoction, alive and hot between them. They began responding time and time again, keeping a careful and orchestrated balance to slowly and delicately mold the precious metal mixture into something that perhaps could be glorious, or perhaps be ridiculously hideous and useless.

Deep within both, they felt that perhaps the first was the best option. Even as they separated, the taste of metal on either of their tongues, they knew the answer.

The Equality State - Cody (Wyoming)

'He had the smell of Wyoming sagebrush'

Ice seemed to go to every extremity of Cody's body, all rooting from the pit of her stomach. Her throat tightened and her mouth suddenly went dry. The television went mute in her ears, the images on it growing fuzzy and blurry. She brought her hands up to her mouth in horror, a soft, drawn-out choking sound escaping her as tears began to flow down her face.

They were supposed to be equal.

They were supposed to be one of the origins of equality.

Now there was a boy, laying dead somewhere in a Colorado hospital.

One of her boys.

She wondered if this is what it felt like to have a child die. There was a horrible yearning feeling in her chest, where emptiness had replaced a former burning confidence that all was quiet on the western front. But no, now it was all gone, torn away from her in a murderous act that led all eyes to be turned on her and to leave her speechless, completely unable to defend herself. There would be labels, that her state was hateful and spiteful and unequal. She only wished she could have been with him then, holding onto him and showing him that it was just a mistake. But he was far away, only to be put six feet underground in cold, hard soil and made into just another stone on her unforgivable landscape.

Deep down, she wished she could have just died with him.

Even further down, she felt like she already had.
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Jack Ellis

February 2011

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