Friday, June 29, 2012

The Pallbearer: Harvests Part 6

Holiday Greetings From Point Heston

Nothing stinks like chicken shit on butchering day.

Nikolas asked if I had ever been to a slaughterhouse. Two years in a row, I was at my cousin's farm when they killed their chickens. Squawking, squeaking, shitting, feathers flapping. They had me picking pinfeathers after the heads were cut off. The first year, I gagged up my breakfast fifteen minutes in.

And it made it smell better.

The next year, I made it twenty-five minutes and my cousin was impressed.

That's what the obese bitch stank like. Bury her, bury the smell.

Alleluia and praise the Lord.

"What, no helloths? I've heard about you Neil Andersthon." The snake tongue slurped across her teeth, mopping up a fountain of slobber.

No banter.
No wit.

Disgust. Rolling waves of disgust. Watching the tongue. The tongue clean the blood and grue from its folds.

An abbatoir, butcher shop, concentration camp. White tile spattered with blood, bodies on hooks, grand conveyors hauling each corpse to their proper machine. Grinding teeth machines, mixing spin machines, packing stuffing plastic tube machines.

I leveled St. George and fired in silence.

The shell careened through the air, and for a moment I truly believed it to be that easy. Mother Butcher stared dully at me, eyes glazed with mortuary wax.

The incediary round sank into Mother Butcher's folds... and was flung back towards me. I lunged aside as my own shell crashed into the wall, exploding in a fountain of flame. I landed on a thick rubber conveyor belt, rolling steadily towards her.

"Didn't like your presthent Mr. Neil. You have it."

I pushed myself up and iced over.

I was staring into non-existant eyes of a Blind Child. He was five, six years old at the most. Blood leaked from his lips. nostrils. eyes. ears.

An overflowing teapot. A meat copy.

I am a real boy, I am a real boy.

"Do you like them? My children. I am a Mother you know. I make them, grow them. From the flessh. Issh why producshun iss up. We growsh our meat here mishter Neil."

A line of never-were children on a conveyor.
A line of never-were children spawned from one dead child.

One dead child too many.

And there were thousands of belts. Hundreds of machines.

She was closing in on me, tongue thrashing happily in the thought of having fresh meat. I pointed St. George at her once more. Again at her grotesque belly.

"Not thish again mishter Neil."

St. George shouted. Twice.

The first shell was fully pressed against her flesh, tensing to rebound as the second struck it. Both exploded, a gout of fireThe flames shone bright as they lit her oily skin.

Mother Butcher squealed, a grease-fire across her lard-built body. She flailed with wobbling arms, cleaving apart the grindery machines. A stray cleaver clove in half a great whirring mixer.

"Hey hottie."

Mother Butcher's head was aflame, even as she still moved. Flesh and fat bubbled and melted. And still the obese beast moved.

Even as her white skull shone through the flames and the lard.

"At least you're skinny somewhere."

St. George howled an armor-piercing agreement, sent to kiss her dissolving lips.

Her tongue lashed around the shell, slamming it into the ground. Her tongue whip-cracked at St. George, but my left hand caught the slimy appendage first. I kicked on my left flamers and blew a gout of flame down her throat.

I stood, stamping on her wrist until her grip on one of the cleavers released. Taking the cleaver in hand, I rested it on my shoulder.

"We thank you for this fine pig roast.
We thank you for the safety of the children.
We thank you for your infinite patience and wisdom.

Why yes St. George, I believe I will make the first cut into the ham."


Few things are as tedious as being lectured by a plant.

"You see, we are something else now. My body changed the soil. Mother Butcher learned that my children, my cousins, my family wanted meat. And she kept us fed.

We're where most of the children go. Mother Butcher grows new ones from sliced off toes and fingers. She can make their flesh sprout like I make my family grow. But we grow best with fresh meat to eat."

Morton towered over me now, a thick plant beast with root legs, stalk body, stick fingers, a crimson blossom crowning his wrinkled scalp. His breath was a green haze, spores fluttering out with every foul gasp of air.

The plants were still lashed to my arms and legs, pulling me down, dragging me into the black dirt.

"We're going to plant you Mr. Czernabog and see what you bloom as."

"No, you aren't I'm afraid."

"Why is that?"

"You're the tallest tree in the forest."


"And I'm lightning."

He blinked those moss green eyes once before it started to sink in, to jump synapses that he knew my suit, that he had seen Conduit before.

As he realized who I was, I turned on the lights.

And I knew why my brother loved his job.

The lightning gushed through my arms and legs, rippling through the vegetation clinging to me. The plants turned orange with heat before smoking black. Tomato plants sizzled before each red bulb exploded, juices spraying across the fields.

Morton was screaming.

"Stop! Stop! You will not hurt my family!"

The plants were whimpering, their tendrils seared off of me, charcoal vines dropping to the ground.

"You're right. I won't hurt them. It's your turn."

He was leaning down, back creaking as his body twisted. My hands were raised and I could feel every part of the suit glow with power. With sweet blue sparkle.

Morton's hand was nearly to me when I loosed the lightning again. It struck him, blackening three fingers, lighting one of them aflame. The fire licked down his arm, spreading along his quickly drying plant flesh.

Again. Boom.
Again. Boom.
Again. Boom.

The ground rocked beneath us, the plants screaming, howling, rebelling, tearing themselves out by the roots. Morton swayed, a willow in the wind, before toppling hard to the ground. He still twitched, even as burned like a yule log, skin flaking away as ashes.

"Hey, Nikolas, you about ready to go?"

I turned and saw Neil, his rifle slung over his shoulder, dragging a body behind him. It reeked of fat drippings on a fire. In his free hand, he held a skull. Blackened.

"I see you found your body."

"Now I just need a burial plot. Think your tree'll mind the company?"

"Not at all little man."

He flung her head into the middle of the field, kicking the body over, leaving in resting on the dirt. He raised St. George at fired at the ceiling three times.

Great chunks of darkened steel tumbled down, jabbing into the field, splitting it open, tumbling to the floors beneath us. There was snow. Thick flakes, flurrying down. Perfect snowman snow.

"Neil, it's snowing out."

"Snowing? It never snows."

"It is now."




"Since everyone's trying to get to sleep here, how about we give them a white blanket to curl up with."

"Now you are talking."

As we aimed at the ceiling, I thanked my brother. Thanked him for supporting me throughout our lives. Thanked him for dying. Thanked him for his suit.

It was the best present I could hope for.

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