by Jesse S. Mitchell
Rabbit was getting tired and his skin hurt all over, barely able to contain all those long thin bones clattering. The clinking of the coffee glass, tarnish metal spoons spun, voices howled and chirped in every direction, he was positively surrounded by vivacity. Heroica Veracruz…port of, and it used to be a sunny day and it used to be filled with rich thick air and it used to be so easy to move and breathe and reflect. Used to be. But that was yesterday and yesterday is dead as those eviscerated jungle temples, burned to the ground, paved over. Left for dead. He has left it for dead. Yesterdays don’t exist. They are a myth. His head hurt.
The sunlight that pooled up on the coffeehouse counter like spilled crema was completely left over from the day before because today the sky was clouding up. Today it would rain.
Rabbit mumbled to himself under his breath, so low were there whispers that he could barely understand them. He kept his head low, almost resting on his shoulders, neck disappearing. He could move his glance this way with the barest movement. His fingers, loose, fumbled at his spoon. He was made out of things like this, all fumbles and stumbling tendons attached erratically to bone, clumsy and raw. Short tiny chewed through words congregate around the dead skin that lays over his cracked lips. His gums ache. His fingers pulse with some kind of numb twinge. He cant tell what kind of blood courses through his veins but it is gooey and it is slow and he is pretty sure it isn’t human. Reptilian maybe…making up for the weather, trying to stay abreast of things. Damned fascist survival impulses, damned human senses, damned overexposure. Stay on the sharp bleeding edge of society, of life.
When he close his eyes, even for a second, he falls unconscious. Must be the sleep…lack of, and maybe it is he all over distain for his own body and its quiet requirements.
He glances left, a table of middle aged professionals. They speak softly at first but irritatingly each and every sentence raises into some kind Wagnerian crescendo. They set their glasses on the table loudly, the most loudly. They have a sturdy table beneath them, they have the confidence. They don’t notice him watching them.
He turns his head right and sees an elderly couple in a booth, sipping silently. Their eyes never move, the lids go up and down but the burning milky center of their eyeballs never veers. They have all four of their feet completely on the ugly tiled floor, from toe to heel, flat. Serenity. They don’t notice him watching them.
He takes a drink of his coffee. It burns. But it doesn’t burn because it is hot and it doesn’t burn because it is acidic, it burns because it is something natural, something that belong to this world. Rabbit wars with this world. All food and drink burn him.
Behind him, laying in a booth is teenage boy. Taking up the whole bench, long legs hanging over the edge, a dingy ‘Descendants’ t-shirt pulled over his entirety of his upper body and crests up and waves way down to his thighs, where his bright blue jeans pick up. The boy rolls around and moves constantly. Restless.
There is a sudden glint in the big window of the coffeehouse. A deep flash. Pure white light flooded the street outside the shop. It glowed phosphorous bold. Rabbit’s eye lit up and raced up the length of the flicker. His body rushed, full of excitement. Nerves vapped alive, thrusting emotions and chemical deep into all neglected corners. He jumped up. His loose black jacket flapped behind him as he nearly tripped and crashed on the teenager’s extended feet. He ran over the window and pressed himself against it. He looked around him, into the faces of the other customers, he ran right up to them and stared…he stared because no one moved, no one ceased from their previous endeavors…
Had they not seen? They didn’t even seem to see him, he would yell and flap is arms in front of them. They remained stone-faced…or at least disinterested. He gave up. On them. But not on the light.
He felt warm all over. He felt warm inside. His joints and muscles coordinated themselves. He moved with such grace, My God, it must be some kind of dream. He walked to the door and flung it open. The streets were vacant. He looked down towards the right and then the left. He screamed ’Hello’.
Squinted his eyes and tried to look at the light, which was still blazing away, undiluted now out in the open, no old yellowed coffee hop window to hide it.
It was even more beautiful.
It was even more exhilarating.
He put his hand in it, slowly at first. He let the light fall on his skin. He let go whenever it needed to, he didn’t try to move in any certain way. He tried to clear his whole mind. Or else his whole mind cleared on its own. And he moved by pure instinct. He plunged in, he went completely into the light and let it find its own way around him. It felt like he was expanding. He felt weightless. Filled with nothing but air and electricity, energy trying desperately to escape, coming out in bunches, zig-zagging lightning bolts of thoughts and memories clumped together like hairs in drain pulled out and clean water rushing behind it. A flood. It carried him far away. Years away. Miles. Eons. He felt it pull him apart, atom by atom, molecule by molecule, into gaseous clouds and nebula.
And Rabbit felt himself grin.
And that is how he saw the end of the world
Jesse S. Mitchell writes books, has a wife, kids, and cats, generally watches too much sci fi, and has just released a collection of plays titled, ‘Sea Snakes’ and has finished writing his third novel, ‘Pied-Noirs’.
Illustration: Håkan Eklund