A Moment on Star-Fall

I held her in the rose-apple summer of another day running from the Hellion assault her lips pressed hard against my ribcage on my startled skin her breath chilled sweat and her hot candle wax face smeared itself into my chest and she tried to crawl inside me where she would be safe from the Hellions swinging through the sky on their blasts of smoke and sparks and ashes where I could shield her from their punch-spike eyes and the cold leather slapping of their raggedy wings I cuddled her nearer into me as she dredged from her guts and her bowels silence when I knew her lips wanted nothing more than to scream the clean pure scream of her failure to me and rattle the teeth of my thinking in their rocking sockets I could measure that stalled scream as she trembled in my arms as a league of fear or ten thousand fathoms of bitterness it was the birth of a new electricity a fusion reactor of potential sound she was pushing back down inside so that she would not be found and she would be safe until the squadron of cinder faced Hellions had passed into the clouds above us the trees too far away to give us cover and if I tried to move us across the plain we would be surely seen and nailed through our bones to the trees as warning totems against our advancing army to show what had become of us and of what would become of them I tried to think about the first moment I had held her like this in those days before she had become the killer before she had turned her hand to judicious murder and the severing of heads for astonishing delight her smile as she brought the axes down on their blind white necks and the eyes she took out with the exactness of a watchmaker making her cruellest creation and before she had stood tall above a world history flowing around her as a river does an island and her howl of triumph and blood across this land could be heard up and down the centuries as pages scribed by historians with pens carved from their own bones and yet here she was reduced to the weight of a petal denounced hunted torn from her diamond throne and forced to run across a world where once she strode as the Queen of the Night and the only true God-Empress of Star-Fall up there in the high galleries of the castle that I could see burning in the blue distance before the last broken treaty with Hellia had silted so much death around her choking fear and I kissed the top of her head and smelt again that first summer where she had courted me to be her consort to sit by her side whilst she took this world by its throat and led her dead fathers armies to the gates of every citadel on Star-fall and I was there the day her battle-coronation tore the cathedral from its stone roots and shook the world I bore her three now dead sons their scorched bodies flung from battlements as we took the last skimmer from the castle leaving behind the only family I had ever known but she took me instead of the children because she know that I would protect her now in this the last hours of Star-Fall beneath the shadow of the Hellion hoards I can shelter her as the one tiny woman she has become and she believes hide her from the several dooms that have her scent and she lifts her head and I can see again those eyes which love me as no other she has loved she would tell me this in the first moments as the court doors closed and we were alone in the great hall she would reach a cool had down from the throne and run it along my cheek along my jaw and sometimes she would press a finger to my lips urging them to part and she would put fingers in my mouth so that I might taste her and she would look at me as if she were bestowing upon me the most precious possession in her gift and I would look back into her eyes and she would nod and smile and I would lower my head and she would ruffle my hair and I would stay like that in silence while she enjoyed the moment and I waited for her to signal when would leave much as I am staring at her now only I am above and she is below subdued and brimmed with fear and I can no longer hear the Hellions above us and now I know that it is time and I smile and I do not blink and I run my hand down from her slick wet hair and trace my finger along the side of her jaw and I see her smiling back and I press my fingertip to her lips and she knows what I want to do and she is happy with the reversal and she smiles and opens her mouth and I slip my finger inside the smile and then it is joined by another and then I curl my other cuddling arm around her and push a third finger into her mouth and I see the smile flicker like a guttering candle and I hold her tighter and start pushing my hand into her mouth and she starts to struggle but she cannot move and her jaw is jammed too wide to bite me and she sees in my punch-spike eyes that this is to be her death and I fancy I feel her acknowledgement and acquiescence as she realises what espionage has been committed and as death opens beneath her the last thing she’ll hear is my face smoke-crackling into cinders and my raggedy wings flapping me into the air on a column of ashes and sparks.

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