Wednesday, July 17, 2013
When the Pharaoh pulled the first lever we knew we were pretty much boned; all we had were small arms and mummies just laugh at that shit. The ancient, man-sized gears of the world-ending clockwork began to turn, a slow rumble more felt than heard, shaking fine veils of sand from the massive stones overhead.
Carmelita gave a warrior's cry and went at him with her tomahawk—the Pharaoh gestured, two fingers and a cocked wrist, summoning a consuming wall of snakes and flame that chewed her from the very fabric of this existence.
Tomás screamed as he emptied three mags into him, each reload a practiced blur, but it was literally just punching paper. The Pharaoh was nothing more than a monstrous piñata, the thinnest of materials containing the mortally corrupted immaterial.
He laid a brown claw upon the final lever and I found myself shouting, unencumbered by thought—fear and the ultimate melancholy at the end of all things pulling the words from me:
"What evil is so powerful that a man can forget the warmth of companionship?"
He seemed to consider this—though his face was locked in a spiced-resin rictus, teeth curled at arid angles—his body language spoke of remembrance, of eons-effaced nights of fragrant curves in a darkness that held no terror. Breath, of all things, rushing at an octave higher than his own; perhaps a soft curtain of hair, cassia and cinnamon on the lips, a damnable clasp giggling and darting from his seeking fingers, a puzzle finally solved in a wave of flesh to the face and the hieroglyph for motorboating.
The Pharaoh paused. "What is that," he croaked, "to Eternity?" But the crack in his voice echoed the flaw in his withered soul, and the end of the lever had already been set into it.
I stood at the lip of the pit containing the hungry machine and bid him come. He hesitated, then took a shuffling step nearer. Then another. Side-by-side we regarded the handiwork of angry gods, vulnerable men, and things without names.
"What is this," I asked, daring to lay a trembling hand upon his weightless chest, "to that?"
He regarded the thundering orrery with paper-thin slits over glinting black and made as if to sigh—and he would have had I not made a fist to grip him by his crackling sternum first. I pivoted and hurled him, lighter than imagination, toward the inconstant maw of machinery. He made no sound beyond the rustle of leaves in the fall, summoned no demons in his surprise, though he did clutch at the my sleeves to reverse the drop and destroy me instead.
Luckily for all of us, I was wearing my macramé vest.