4 min
The clock strikes 12. The hour of birth. The hour of candlelight. The dawning of time. The hour of unanswered screams on an empty road. A cold wind whistles through the forest. The unseasonable chill emanating a crisp stillness as I pass. The breath in my lungs freezes as the world holds its breath. I seem to truly exist in these pauses. In these moments of serenity the world feels whole. The cycles of the universe continue, the green life surrounding me exhales and my lungs fill with oxygen once more. There is a change hiding in the air as it dips into my lungs I feel an evil beginning to take root there. The bite in this frost drags across my skin like the blade of a razor, in spite of the stillness the blood will fall soon.
My footsteps fall heavy on the packed earth trail slicing through the center of the village. Silent, yet earthshaking. I know these paths have been walked before me. I know the life of this land has buzzed for millenia. For hundreds of years the disappeared peoples graced these lands. Yet in this moment, I am alone.
The skeletal cousins of the once proud conifers taunt me as I pass. Seemingly entrenching roots and growing for themselves. These man-made homes are unaware of their irony. Their purpose being to provide and to sustain has been stolen from their life and contorted in their death. To never know peace. To be ravaged from their birthplace and purpose distorted in their corpse. More and more of these wooden cribs, carriers, and caskets sprout every day. My feet ache as this path cuts further into what was once an undisturbed Eden. The once soft moss and fauna having been ripped and worn from what is growing into generations. I remember when the first of their kind came to this land. I remember the way my heart began to crumble as I learned firsthand that bloodshed follows humanity like a shadow. The tightly packed earth hums beneath my feet. I can hear her screaming.
Tears fall heavy, dripping from my cheeks, from my lips and making a home of the earth that still manages to peek from between the cobblestones of the street. Milk and honey turned salt and scorched earth. But to be watered again is a blessing. Unaware of the pain and grateful for the nourishment. This earth was meant to give, but was never taught to say no. These skies untouchable, the depths unconquerable, and the dwindling acres of forestry an ancestral manifestation of exploration, and of destiny. Romanticism glazes the eyes of these invaders, burned away only by the furnaces of greed. How can our home be expected to know the truth of our pain as well as carry the responsibility for our healing?
The clip of hoofbeats and the creak of wooden spokes reverberates through the stones beneath my feet and through my spine. My teeth shattering from the unnatural echoes. There is a roar in these streets like I have never heard before. The booming of business, of industry, of loss. More children crawl their way out of the dirt than seeds. From whence we’ve come is where we will end.
A grinding cacophony fills the empty air. Infiltrating my senses. My steps falter and fail. A dread rises in me that I have never experienced before. I choke and sputter collapsing to my knees as black smoke burns through my esophagus and enters my veins. Poison fills the air. The cage that has been built from the hands and hopes of those enslaved has been locked. I wonder in these moments how my feet could bear the softness they were made for.
My head tilts backwards, the sky disappearing from above me. As I release the final breath of a dead world my body relaxes into the street. I pause here. Feeling my fingertips graze asphalt, my kneecaps cracking from the harshness of the street, head hanging limp. Waiting for an executioner. Yet there is no relief, no rest, only a continuation of what has been and what has yet to come. As I open my eyes I am surrounded by a towering grove of steel and smog. The regal pines that once ruled these lands have been dwarfed by towers enshrining the industrial destruction of humanity. The streams that once ran through this city have been paved over, smothered from this plane. The ecosystems this earth fostered driven underground and left to scurry away from the sound of distant footsteps. There is no night here, only a buzzing hazy glow of eternal twilight.
This walk is one that I’ve taken a hundred times before. My footsteps echoing as worn callous caress the tar that has overtaken my home. The soles of my feet burn from the foreign asphalt smothering the voice of the earth beneath. I can see no divergence in the road ahead. Peering into the darkness before me I am overwhelmed by the sense of loss and fear that lies beyond my sight. Yet forward is the only way. Endlessly pushing on. Waiting for no man, onward still I tredge into the abyss, As I continue this ever lonesome march onwards I feel the air around me stir. With no further warning I am soon overwhelmed by a barrage of machines zipping past. A hair’s breadth on either side, yet speeding bullets zip past faster than this path has ever intended. The highway that I find myself on is flooded with light, a hollow yellow glow projecting all light and no warmth. Yet I remain unseen. Without the care for life these machines claim lives as efficiently as they claim the endless miles that lie ahead of them in the dark. Hurtling metal through space seems inherently violent in my mind. I have never understood the human need for speed, for competition, for attempting to escape the inescapable.
There is no life ahead, but there is still this road. Onward, I walk. The air has been poisoned beyond breathing. These lands are reclaiming themselves. The earth is screaming no with the full capacity of her lungs, sending a barrage of endless storms to cleanse herself of this human disease. Water pools at my feet and I smile as they are rinsed clean. The water swells and rushes past my feet, taking with it clumps of earth. Washing the grime from this city and dragging the unbreakable monuments of steel and sweat into the inky blackness of the rising sea. Lifetimes slip slowly forward locked in step as I continue to walk this road ever further. The cycle of the universe begins anew.
How much time has passed? Has any at all?
The clock slips gently forward. 12:01.

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