Work Header

The Remnants of a Ruined Past

Work Text:

Will you become the fuel for sacrifice?

Nickelback − Feed The Machine


Where does the war for survival end and the pointless slaughter, the savagery, the ecstatic insanity begin? And is it really necessary to bath your hands in someone’s blood, or will the motor oil be just enough to make you fall and sink forever in the madness, which the human mind tends towards, so vulnerable and fragile in the days of old, and so worn out now and corroded by the decay of society, like a spark plug is corroded by the lousy, trashy additives?

How else is it possible to realize you’re alive if not by taking away the lives of the others; and if doing so, won’t your living turn into an empty mechanical existence, where the thoughts are the carbon deposits in the engine, the heart is an instable V4, cranky of vibrations, and the scarce food is the diluted gasoline, with dirt and little rocks and shredded bones of insipid lizards? The soul−? There is no soul at all, everything is swept out by gusties and storms, knocked out by the cold lightning bolts, and the body is hollow as a rusted, abandoned carcass, drowned in the dunes.

Why even bother to rush from your place, trying not to make an early ignition, if the following day is indistinguishable from the previous one, as indistinguishable from each other are the fevered and cracked veins of the roads, and the miles of the barren lands, which slump under the wheels, and the faces of those who plead him, and the grins of those who attack?

And when exactly does an attack turn into a self-defense; where does a border lie between the attempts to protect yourself and the others, the strangers, the distant ones, who are so helpless, extending their hands to him, looking right into his eyes to see− what do they want to see? To see the death − and to start back to avoid a punch? To notice his compassion, choked down, blue, curled like an embryo on the bottom of a waterless well, − and to call it, leaning deep to reach? To recognize the loneliness, which is gripping his throat so severely, so familiarly, − and to take its hands off, efface the longstanding hematomas, dark as a tire track on the asphalt canvas?

How close to the edge of the rocky canyon, pitted with the pockmarks of the sulfur mires, will a sabulous wave push him, demolishing everything in its path, knowing no pity for the dying people nor fear of its own end, for there will be more waves, suffocative, biting and infinite, if he doesn’t accept the help? And isn’t he the one who pushes himself to these stony jaws; and isn’t he the one who raises these piercing shafts, the torque of which is much above the four hundred pound-foot, and sets the spin for the entire world?

And if the furrows, left by the abraded tires, and the prints of the worn-out soles, were they to disturb the intact wildness of these lands, are buried at the exact moment of their birth, doesn’t this prove the indisputable nullity of everyone, who hasn’t been devoured by the fluid desert humps yet?

They are stuck in a faceless eternity, in purgatory where no one judges the wicked nor rewards the righteous; and this eternity is as endless for the fated ones, as fugitive and pestilent it is for the rest, like a detonation of a leaking gas tank. His own eternity is like the Plains of Silence, though there’s no deafening silence at all − there’re only the screams, screwing into his smashed conscious like the steel springs of the suspension, uncontrolled to him, ripping the steering wheel from his grip, tearing the brake shoes from the braking system. His eternity is that very moment when a car swerves off the roadside, turns over and freezes in the air for a jiff, before its roof crushing like a paper sheet and the windshield splashing into the cabin with a crunching sound.

He inhales a scent, which is strange and unwanted in a place like this, where only the odors of petroleum, and diesel fuel, and sweat, and corpses, rotting in a brazier of midday heat, can be smelled; the scent which is meandering from the wicks and the wax and is dangerous with its toxic essence, because the steep is too close and his mind is too absent, like a gasoline drop on a water surface. The water was burning through their fault.

He leans towards to dispel this delusion and unclothe the eye sockets, to reassure oneself there is neither wax nor wicks inside of them, nor gleams of the headlamps, arising from a hill, nor flashing lights on a wire− what even were they for back then? What was their meaning? He doesn’t know, and he withdraws his fingers as they sense the living flesh; for the living ones he can only hunt or strike, only push away or destroy. His voice is wary and raucous.

“You are… real?”

“I am more real than many of your fears and beliefs.”

The scratched lenses of the goggles hide the blackness, resembling the color of a grille, harrowing the viscid floods of mud until its copper is barely seen under the anthracite coat of dirt. Griffa squints, as if the dying day is too bright in its agony or Max is just too ridiculous in his hesitant mistrust.

“Then… how do you know? All these things?”

Why do the mirages, wavering over the bleak horizon, find their physical appearances, and why do the reality thin out beyond recognition and wither like a smoke of the extinct ashes?

Like a griffin, a vulture, Griffa follows him on the heels, hovering among the pointy peaks, spying out, searching, waiting. Griffa − a grief, devouring him, blinding him, driving him insane. Griffa stretches his dry lips in a smile and unfolds his knotted fingers, like a bird unfolds its wings, to point at the space, frozen around both of them.

“Griffa listens. People bring me the untold memories and someone’s stories, which no one will ever miss. They are full of water, gun powder, iron, and food − for the mind and the body. Full of victims of the past, monsters of the present and ghosts of the future.”

His swarthy palm paints a circle smoothly, going spirally and finally stopping on Max’s chest, in the very center of it, between the old flashlight and the stuffed cartridge pouch, and Max roughly pushes the hand aside, in a self-protecting move, tightly fastening the wrist, feeling its pulse beating steady like a coordinated work of the engine pistols.

“Your story is known by many, and though no one knows it entirely, every soul owns a tiny piece of it, a grain in the ocean.”

“My story belongs only to me.”

“But you refuse to recall it, and so it wanders off into the Great Whiteness, like a nomad tribe, overruled by madness.”

He steps away from the puffing graphite mist − from the soot of the battered filters, the coal of those combusted in their own houses, the cinder of things bygone and forgotten.

“I’m not mad. Not yet.”

“Then tell me your story.”

But when Max stands up from the ground, there’re just an echoing wind and a fading flavor of the recently burned candles in the evening shadows spilled around him.