It is getting dark, and it is damp. The padded wall of clouds remind Laure of old days on Hampstead Heath, but that was another life. This time she doesn’t know where she is, and she is barefoot. She smells earth and feels soil under her feet, surrounded by dewy emerald grass. She could almost touch the painted mist, littering the sky in a dark blue haze. It appears as if she is in a type of glen, deep between uneven hills. She has no idea that she is here, or why. Reminded of how little she appreciates nature, she knows she has no means of survival down here.
Laure walks. She trudges forward, ignoring what is already behind her. There are no paths, no signs, no people. The air is completely still. She smells burning, as if there is a camp nearby, but no sign of it. The soil is turning to mud. Her long, limp knit is draped over her, revealing her shoulders, and her skin is marred from use. Covered in comfortable filth, this ill-fitting, bare-faced peasant chic has a cleansing effect. The breeze tickles her as if there were an ocean nearby.
There is no ocean nearby.
As her left leg slowly aligns with her right, she stops. Finally, she is not alone, but she sees Debris. Laure knows it is him, even if she cannot clearly see his face from here. She fixates on his lengthy, peerless legs, symmetrically straddled on a towering static horse. The elongated charcoal-clad torso is in perfect posture, and his hands are bound behind him. Tin-man shoulders form a heavy wide shelf, and he cannot move. Debris is staring forward, in her exact direction, but she doesn’t think he can see her. His face is stone with dark sticks of stubble, framing the lower lip emerging from wide mandibles. The black discs of his eyes are draining light, and he has a state of motionless panic that only she would recognise. He stares on. There is a crown above his brow which intermingles with the locks of his sinuate chocolate hair. Stretching from it, on each side, are antlers. Long, brooding antlers forming a span from west to east, encompassing his north and south.
At shorter range, she sees uncountable articles hanging on the antler rack. They are heads. Human, beauteous, female heads. Cleanly severed, and placed carefully on each extending stem. There is something sinister about the lack of blood, superb preservation and upright positioning. As if mannequin. But these are genuine individuals, delicate. Their graceful mouths rest with a look of desire, of fulfillment, as if each of their exterminations were consensual. Their ageless skin is luminous, and immaculate. Long patches of brown curls, blonde tresses mesh into a fibrous decor that falls in varying lengths from the steep height. Debris is trapped in a statuesque pillar of blooming obliteration.
Laure studies what she can from her position across. She suspects the horse would soon sprint, sending Debris and his passengers into an unknown, infinite horizon. As if they were being prepared for a ritual, an execution. But it is quiet. So quiet. She affectionately traces him with her eyes, every edge familiar. She wants to see his hands.
She has missed his hands.
Shortly after tender conversation and the fresh uneasiness of meeting someone unrelentlessly handsome, Laure found herself being kissed by perfect lips.
Indiscernible, unpleasant pop music blared in the distance while drunken youths pranced around them. But they weren’t there. They were in this facial embrace, and it was the only natural thing to happen yet. Before, he was conflicted, cryptic, unpredictable. Seductively arrogant. So naturally, she was surprised by the way that he stood up, walked over to sit beside her, placed one of his tree branches around her, and did this. Her right hand rested on his left, and they were faultless.
Soon, he would slowly guide her by her shoulders to his pale blue room. He put on a song, embedded with a sharp repetitive note. It would be the soundtrack to this memory, later to rip at her chest. Laure was memorising the collection of images on his wall, before he reminded her that she should look at them in the morning. There were ships, and death. But first: skin, mouths, teeth. The indefinite, flickering trance. Loud, and light – she was being touched without being touched at all. Only one of them was groping, leaving marks on his flesh before eventual collapse. Resting in his arm, he shyly revealed an ink inscription: Regret. She curled her body, sleepless, breathing in tandem. The only sounds left came from the slow clacking of tongue against her skin, his susceptible whimper. He took her hand and firmly placed it under his warm chest, over his human heart, where it would numb in stasis. As morning seeped in, his entire weight pressed into the entire her, left dead for a time; a welcome monument to the longest search.
Laure resisted, but her arteries had invisibly opened. She kept her head forward, yet it wandered into an inexplicable spell. For days, her neck gladly burned, ached, from his bristle. The trembling started, and never stopped. For months, he became a dark figure pontificating with a cheshire smile, surrounded by smoke and elusive question. He deserted her by kindly walking backwards, swiftly and carefully, with his hands over her eyes.
Stalks of cigarettes were sacrificed to the gods of chance. There were others, faceless others, but this one was full-featured and crawling beneath her skin with no warning. Time could not extricate, weaken the hold. Laure gleaned a counterfeit smile, but he remained within her like a blister on her tongue. One that she would squeeze against her teeth in self-torture.
The horse is alive, this much she could tell, as its tail begins to brush. Something is starting to move on the other side; something startled Debris. Laure knew his weapons were stripped from him, he had told her in another place. His lips began to move, but she is too far away to hear. She wanted to comfort him. To stroke the angles of his face, release his hands from the wires, enable escape. From where Debris stands apart, nothing can be done. Without further movement, he knows she is there now. A black spot on the field, featureless. His eyes never look down. She stays where she is.
Laure hears a deafening sound. Coming from behind her, it quickly pierces both of her lower legs. She falls to her knees, her eyes still sewn to Debris. He mouths: “Ich will nicht anklagen, ich will nicht einmal die Ankläger anklagen.” * The shots must have been fired from where she started here, somewhere back there in the dusky past. She doesn’t bother to turn. There is no one to see, and no prevention. The third bolt arrives at her back, and crackles through her human heart. It punches her front to the ground. She feels her blood seep out, press into the earth, a black-shaped body.
* ”I do not want to accuse, I do not want to even accuse the accuser.”
***Jen Ellerson is a Berlin-based Creative Director, Designer, Promoter, DJ and Writer – and not necessarily in that order. Her 2012 publication, “Modern Movement”, is a document of Berlin subculture. She is currently working on a compendium of short stories. To this date, she maintains a perfect sense of trouble.www.jenellerson.com ***