Art: “Dark Eagle Sunset”
She found herself in a department store, like an old 1970s K-Mart or Sears, busy with shoppers and cashiers and merchandise. The overhead lights in the store were off. All the light in the store was provided by floor-to-ceiling glass across the entire front of the building, to her left; to her right the store receded back and into the darkness, until it came to an abrupt end against a dim wall.
Her mother and brother were there, to her right, indistinct figures mingled with other indistinct figures in the muddy darkness. Before her stood her father, clearly illuminated, looking at her.
The family drove home from the dark department store in a brown car, and made a right turn into the driveway of a split-level brown house she’d never seen before. Guarding the front door, in the center of the yard, was a large tree. Perched on the side of the tree was a very large eagle. It was disheveled and broken, its oversized frame crooked from trauma, its colorless feathers wind-blown and crisp with dried blood. It watched the brown car pull into the driveway of the brown house, as if waiting.
Her mother and brother were afraid. They exited the passengers side of the car and disappeared around the back of the house, to her right, to escape the eagle menace.
She exited the passengers side of the car also, while her father stood from behind the steering wheel. He announced that he would take care of the threat and pulled a shotgun from beneath the front seat of the car. As he lifted the weapon’s sights to his eye, she found herself looking — for a tiny nanosecond, mind you — straight down the barrel of the gun, in full eye contact with her father, who was himself looking directly at her face through the rifle’s sights.
Then he suddenly swung the rifle around and shot the eagle. It fell from the side of the tree and landed with a thud.
She walked around the back of the car and stood looking at the eagle from a safe distance. She looked down at her feet and noticed she was standing on a flat, white rock. Between her feet was a black spider. The spider had its attention trained on the eagle.
The spider was important. It was a messenger; the spider had always been the messenger. Every time, without fail, the spider was the messenger. If the spider was paying attention to the eagle, so should she.
She approached the eagle carefully and saw that it was dying, paralyzed save its head. And it had turned its head unnaturally, struggling with all its might to kill a small black snake emerging from beneath its broken body, upon which it had fallen when her father shot it. The eagle was concerned with neither her nor her father; it attempted neither fight nor flight. It wanted that black snake dead, god damn it, and would not give up until it was so. The eagle was consumed like fire with killing that black snake, even as its own life ebbed away.
She did not want the eagle to die. She cradled its magnificent head in her hands and while it still lived, a voice said to her, “Go to the water.” So she went to the water.
She was in a tropical lagoon. Before her, slightly to her right, was a towering cliff. Further around to her right was a white-sand beach and thick forest with one especially tall and prominent tree. Directly in front of her was the sun.
The sun was setting. My god.
She was filled with terror. Existential terror. Dying terror. This was death.
She became aware of a massive shadow under the water to her left. A shark. It circled closer. It raised its head from the water for a brief moment and eyeballed her with a soulless, unconscious, mechanical, predator eye. It then dove beneath the surface and swam down, down, down.
“Follow,” said the voice. The sun was setting and would soon disappear below the watery horizon: death. She followed the shark’s tenebrous form down into the black depths. Down it swam. Down and down and down.
Presently she became aware of a dim, bluish light toward which the shark swam. The light was coming from something like a shipwreck. The shark swam between two long piles of stuff, all kinds of stuff, boxes and jewelry and machines and clothes and old food, piled and rotting at the bottom of the cold sea. The shark swam off into the blackness.
There, in the long pile to her left, she found her four tools, the tools she’d brought from the original place and left with the four guardians before the assembly in the second place. Somehow her tools had made it from the second place to this place, whatever this place was for her. She was astonished. How can this be? How can her tools cross over? Whatever the case, they were hers. She collected her tools and returned to the surface.
The sun had set; death had come while she was far beneath the surface. The shark was gone. In darkness she swam to the beach and used her tools to build herself a warm campfire. She rested there by the campfire, looking out across the lagoon reflecting the stars above, and knew for the first time that she was safe.
It was done. \m/