An excerpt of the forthcoming book “Transitions” by George Lee Oliver III. More chapters to come.
The winds came early this year, as predicted time quickens to its suicidal leap.
Why do we associate death to falling, I read somewhere earlier less enlightened beings thought of death as a rebirth through pyres of flames that consume, not paralyzing but painfully aware of a perception of your essence being changed much like alloy.
Most people stay inside this time of year, reconciled to familial violence as suggested by the State. I leave our family compounds when I sense the change, accepting my mother’s disappointment that I chose to wander the ruins of the deserted city, located in the nearby valley all compound inhabitants have agreed is off limits for restructuring.
I ran here the summer one of the junior elders in charge of training us to head our own households introduced me to the stream.
I discovered the units on my second trip: mostly smashed, gutted containers that indicated they were the technology long banned in scriptures our local mullahs have declared were the destruction of a distant civilization that landed here escaping their own dying world.
Our scriptures teach us technology was once used as a weapon to enslave the Nowall, those that can fly, much like magic. We cannot be trusted to not destroy another reality; we’re caretakers to our own extinction. I suspect I’m safe as my wings have been stunted from birth, another reason for my batch mates to hate me. Of the two hundred eggs collectively laid by our mothers only twenty of us reached larvae form.
What were these previous beings like, to be able agents of their own destruction and poison the planet in the process?
Acts become milestones, transient moments that create realities for us to continue inhabiting.
There isn’t much growth between crawling and walking, except the ego.
Running towards deceptions, we’re all gods imagined. There is no survival without debasement, fucking love it.
The problem arises when you’re capable of applying critical thought to what you need to consider innate.
What to do when alone with yourself; be honest.
Not everything is a cathartic moment of thought that you end self-content.
All I see is broke beings, attempting to empty themselves in order to be someone’s perceived archetype.
It is the oldest game, be everything to everybody; maybe they will reward your fatalism. Then when that does not work and all that’s left is base concept. You’re licensed to be the next perpetrator.
So we keep on inspiring each other to be forearmed against the perpetual enemy storming the gates; looting altars to hate and sublimating our fear of the unknown with the pain of what to expect.
There is only reciprocity in mutual debasement.
My father’s scream is what woke me. Every winter we huddle together in the compound center, in a room reserved for our annual retreat from the cold. Four days ago the family slowly made their way to the structure, determining on their own instinctual need to hibernate.
Mother was the last to enter; we’ve all come to discover over the years that the demand to escape the cold lessens in her. She’ll never admit it, preferring to silently listen to our father admit that as our leader he requires less sleep than all of us but the elders.
“Stop, I’m sorry!”
Barely making out the words, only hearing sounds in the vacuum of hibernation, I jump up prepared to escape into the bush. I can make out figures braced against the wall strategically edging towards the door; bolted from the inside to protect us from the blizzards.
I track the sound. Most of my batch mates are closer to the door than I am if I have to sacrifice myself to ensure their safety, it’ll be a good death.
When the voices stopped
I imagine my would-be saviors discovering this sentence scribed repeatedly on loosened tree bark, near where our hive stood before the raid. A hidden place in the loosened soil leading under one of the ancient trees, I can only hope there exist some else that lacks reverence towards them.
Instinct and the elements compel me to signal for my batch mates and parents. It’s possible my birth mother has cannibalized as many of my siblings as she could before taking her own life. Since none of my batch were gendered yet, there not likely to be kidnapped and be made a beta queen to breed slaves and low functioning drones.
My own succession goes unchallenged.
There hasn’t been a raid since before my parents were matured; over the past couple of months we have lost contact with the surrounding compounds. The adults have taken to drills and scouting missions, when not reassuring us of our continued safety. Not unusual considering we’re not made relevant until our designation is known, when matured.
I come to. I’ve been humming to myself, the low droning sound that is usually made when one of us needs healing or comfort.
“Calm yourself, your royal”, I wonder if the soldiers have already picked up my scent. Some raiders have been practicing selective breeding for generations now, creating drones with heightened senses and limited intelligence – controllable.
George Lee Oliver III (@undone125) is an aspiring science fiction writer and Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn resident. As a Far Rockaway, Queens’s native he’s always had a keen interest in prose. Writing his first poem in second grade when his mother was hospitalized, George has consistently written works that embody his identity has a black gay male from the projects. Currently working for the City of New York he includes a passion for local government, intersectional analysis and the spoken word in his daily life.