A Third The Seas

They have shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets,
    and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.

Red with blood, the seas, and red the waters that run into and out of it, red and white the delicate lace things that wave in the current, floating ribbons of pink-white flesh in streamers around them, half-hair, half-flesh, half-beast, half-plant. The quiet inhale exhale of the suction, the patient boredom of the samaritan, eyes intent but unworried behind her mask; metal along the ocean floor.

Red and rich the seas, ripe with life, teeming, twitching life, furrowed against the grain, bringing forth every fruit and every fowl, every tree, every leviathan, rising to swallow the land, to make it new, to bring it forth wet and squalling; delicate metal, wash of water in, water out between the stirrups.

Pain enough; the injections the samaritans dispense numb but do not soothe. Flex of muscle beneath the belly, intermittent, unending, pinch of forceps, rod, speculum, suction. Sutures. The light bleeding in around the corner is white, harsh, and dry; it bites at fingers, toes, ears and lips, bare skin. Salty as the sea, as new life, as old; she clenches hands against the table and endures.

Floor It

From the minute he had the wad in his hand, he had thirty minutes to make the drop and no time to waste. He wrapped it up tight and labeled it in his fussy red writing and wedged the bundle into his pocket where it made an awkward lump. Heat was important; it had to be kept close to the skin.

The drive across town was uneventful, though he chafed at every crosswalk and red light, clenched teeth at every cautious driver.

Walking up to the drop he shied away from every set of eyes, the rock burning in his pocket like a coal under his jacket. Paranoid; what could they know?

The drop was a woman in her mid-20s, professionally distant behind a thick layer of hardened plastic. “I’ll take it from here,” she murmured; he slid out with just under two minutes to spare.

Owens Street

They take a time out before they get started and the surgeon reads off the patient’s name, the operation, the time, and the date. She counts everything out loud: thirteen instruments, three sharps, ten gauzes, four tubes, one small dollop of lubricant. I count to myself: one patient, one surgeon, two aides, one witness; two injections, three pills, three blankets.

One of the machines clogs at the beginning and they spend ten minutes troubleshooting; I don’t know what the machine does, exactly, but the rhythm is familiar. They change one of the tubes and try starting it again; no dice. They turn it all the way off and back on again; no good. Finally they replace both tubes and power it off and on again and then it works. “This happens every time one of the tubes is replaced while it’s running,” says the aide standing by the door, not for the first time. She’s the only one not in scrubs.

We watch on the monitor as the surgeon works. It’s a strange, aquatic world, pink and red with blood, flesh waving gently in the current like sea anemones, muscle walls flexing slightly. Her hand is tight on my arm; other than that, the room is quiet, with only the hum of the machine and a slight sound of running water to break the silence.

Welcome to Detroit

So she’s tied to the block with the witch doing some witch shit, and her friend the possessed zombie comes sidling up to her and says, maybe I should kill you, you know, just so the witch doesn’t get your power.

“Excuse me?” says America.

you know, she’s just so powerful, says the possessed zombie, what with the magic and all the knowledge she got from using the evil book, it’d be pretty dangerous if she got your power to hop through dimensions, too. maybe i should just, y’know. kill you.

“Wait, where are you right now?”

oh well, says the possessed zombie, awkwardly, and coughs. in a collapsing dimension where an evil version of me was using the evil book to kill other versions of me across dimensions. we had a magic fight because he wanted to kill me. which i won. obviously

“But the zombie thing?”

well now i mean i couldn’t just leave you here where the witch could eat you, that wouldn’t work, so i uh i mean i used the evil book to cross dimensions and take control of this dead body of the version of me that tried to kill you. so you know i know that letting people hop dimensions is

he pauses

it’s bad i guess is what i’m saying. can’t let the witch do it, that would be

he pauses again

bad. that would be bad. i should probably kill you just to be safe?

Frankly by that point she’s seriously considering letting the witch eat her.

Phylloxera

Born to a mother like our mother before, and hers before her, and so on, generations back and up the spiral twist of the vine, we took to earth and to root when the chill came into the air, the first nip of cold any of us had known after a civilization of summer. Root was safety, root was sleep; the tender flesh of the stock and the sweet sap all we needed to sleep the long winter through.

They knew we were coming, our mothers, planned for the hope of us, though never they’d see us; when we woke again, buoyed up to the sun by the rising tide of the sap, breaking black earth, spreading delicate wings, they were long dead, centuries dead. We have already lived far past our time, cradled in slumber, and wake already gravid, brim-full of portent. Time is short, and the fundatrix yet to be born — we will not live to see her or her impossible bride.

Uprooted once, borne out of our sphere, we found food and safety in alien climes, and spread; they chased us with toads and with poisons but we spread, leaf to root, fatter and more fecund than ever before, till they despaired of us and imported the old stock to keep us at bay. Still we thrive, ground to gall, mother to daughter; daughter to mother; living well is the best revenge.