The Thing With Feathers

 

The air is dry, yet the street remains muddy. The chatter and drone of everyday city life spins and moans around the pair of strangers as they move closer to their destination. For one, that destination is to be a beginning. For the other, an ending. Both walk with purpose, their powerful strides immune to the uneven roads and cracked pavement. The crowd seems to part before them, allowing the two to move quickly despite the crush.


The strangers share an expression. Both faces drawn deep with determination, both eyes focused afar, neither noticing their surroundings. They do not see the city. They see not the lives they move among. Not the beauty, not the ugliness, not the pleasure and not the pain. Not the light, nor the darkness. Their focus is elsewhere. For one, that focus is purpose. For the other, finality.


The city wall seems to burst from the ground before them. Before now, the tight streets and tall buildings have concealed the towering monstrosity from view. As the sun disappears behind the looming fortification, the pair turn from the thoroughfare, moving into the city’s winding alleyways. They step into a modest courtyard. A garage squats in a corner, its roller doors lay open.

“Here it is”


One’s sudden statement snaps the other from her contemplation. The response is automatic. A question. Its redundancy serving only to delay the onrushing inevitable.


“So this is it?”


“Yes”


Sirens can be heard. Distant, for now. In response, both quicken their movements. Moving into the garage, they pull at a blue tarpaulin, uncovering the pickup truck residing within. An aluminium toolbox is fastened to the tray behind the cab.

“It’s in there?”


Sharing a glance, they move in unison to either side of the tray-back. Reaching to unlatch the large container, the pair lift the lid and peer into the box to inspect the contents.


After closing and locking the toolbox, they move to the driver’s side. One opens the door while the other clambers into the seat. Locating the keys and checking the dials, the driver reaches out and pulls the door shut. The key twists in the ignition and the engine snarls into life. The driver nods to his associate as the pickup settles into a deep purr.


The sirens grow louder as the pickup rolls from the garage, leaving the courtyard and barely scraping into a narrow alley.


Turning back to the garage as the vehicle disappears from view, the remaining companion walks slowly toward another toolbox. Shrouded in the shadows of the garage’s depths, no lock prevents its opening. Seemingly on its own, her hand moves into the box, grasping at the weight of a world before pulling it forth.


As the blue and red lights of police cars splash across the wall of the courtyard, she grips fate and places her finger on the trigger. As the siren’s scream tears through the garage, she becomes determination and her lips wrap around the barrel.


She realises infinity.