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pretentioustwnt in dyslexiaed

This is a short story (and a mighty stretch of the meaning, really) that I wrote a while ago. It doesn't really have a point, and was orginally intended to be a fandom-ish ficlet (perhaps it still is) - but this is what I wound up with.

Title: a plastic, brand new army
no fandom, no warnings or pairings or disclaimers.

Kansas is not zion, he thinks, this is not the end of the journey. The sky is above him, the hood of his car is that coldness beneath him, pressing to the spaces where his shirt has ridden up - this is not heaven, there is no utopia in the midwest, there only dust and dead grass that is not green, but an ashen kind of brown.

His name is Gabriel here, and he is never-ending, standing at the edge of the universe.

In his mind, there is a bright light that explodes in oranges and reds and it tastes thick and burnt in is mouth, like a volcano (like not saving yourself, like just letting the world blink, once twice three times away, until you stop breathing). When he opens his eyes, the sky is blue-gray and more black, and he counts the stars in Hebrew, and feels so close to God.

His name is not Daniel here, there is no book to help him understand.


He remembers her hair, like water, like gold in between his fingers (but he didn't love her, there was so much more to it than that). Further away, the Atlantic Ocean stretches on for so long that it might as well go on forever - just an ocean that flows until it drops away from the earth and into the Milky Way. He thinks he'd like to buy a sailboat and take her with him: her skin still pink, her blood still moving underneath. He imagines they could sail forever, measuring their time by how many breaths she takes.

He'd say something like, "Good morning, Janet. It's so nice to see you alive" but even in his dreams she is only a corpse, her skin not rosey with life, but the green and gray of death.

His name is reget here, and he dips his feet into the ocean, but it never sweeps him away.


In Chicago he calls himself a different name in every shop. Sometimes they think they recognize him, but they don't remember how or why or who he is. When they ask, he tells him he is a ghost, an apparition, he is only smoke and mirrors. He is only make-believe.

He places them on three corners, his green plastic soldiers with their guns and their eyes (and how they all watch out for him: one at his back and two keeping his sides) - standing on the fourth corner, he feels unbreakable, he is the most important piece. He shouts across the busy Chicago streets, "Colonel, I'm not going to make it. No-nono, never. It's too much, too big, too wide. I'm sorry, sir." He weeps and falls to the concrete and he shouts, "Just keep going without me, sir. I'm too busted-up to save."

But he is not a solider - his name Doctor, and when he hears it shouted from a taxi, he picks himself off the sidewalk and abandons his plastic army, and never looks back.


He calls from a payphone in Missoula, says nothing feels right anymore and he is thinking about places from myths and legends, places he can go (if he really, really tried) but he's too scared and his feet never stop running. The man on the other line breathes into the receiver, shaking and weary, he says to come home, please, just come on home. But he cannot remember home, not in any way that is real.

Home was: a house that wasn't his, his parents already dead and buried and gone. It was a cold apartment with nothing but his books and his research - a mattress, a lamp, and a coffee machine.

Oh, much later, home was his wife's wild hair, always knotted and his hands would get tangled there, holding her mouth tight against his. He imagines he can remember how hot the sun was on his skin, lying in the sand, her laughing into the hollow of his shoulder - his body vibrating, the feeling of her heart beating against his - oh, Christ, he remembers loving her so fucking much.

His name is not loved here, in this place, and he tells the man on the phone he has no place to go.


A woman in Nevada speaks to him with her hands on his shoulders and her mouth curved in a knowing smile. He thinks maybe he spoke too long in Missoula, they found him, maybe they are following him, maybe she knows him.

He tells her his name is Athio, that it means 'empty' in Greek.

Her pink lips stretch into a frown and she asks if it's true, if he's living up to his name. But he shakes his head in a vague sort of way, his eyes on his feet, and hands her a few crumpled dollar bills, says, "Singnomi, Ma e psihi mou ehi fiyie apo aftin ti yi."


He has scars, and he traces them with his fingers in a dirty motel room outside of Phoenix - so naked and bared and falling apart, standing in front of a cracked mirror. Each has a name, a date, a reason - and some, there are some he is still proud of, even after all this time (bullet wounds and burns and knives, so sharp and hot like fire, searing).

His fingers touch lightly on the scar by his hip, such a simple mark (the one with no story) - and he thinks he should have said yes, right there, with the cameras and the regulations and screw the consquences. Because he had wanted so badly to feel something, then. Wanted someone else's fingers on him, shaping him and reconstructing all the bits of himself that he tried so hard to fix but never could. Or maybe that hadn't been the offer, maybe it was much more pure - no double meanings, no hidden promises.

But he yearns for it, though he knows he shouldn't.

When he sleeps (his bare skin on the filthy blankets) his name is husband and he lives in a castle of sand and his wife, no matter how hard she holds him, she cannot stop him from running away, searching for someone he burns for more than her (someone who never will come back for him).


On the west coast he pictures the blare of sirens from all directions, helicopters and speed boats, coming from the ocean, and there is no escape. He tries to run, but he's caught in a web of reaching arms, men in uniforms with guns, calling him a security risk. They say into their radios that they got him, sir, he's secure and they are headed back now. These men, in his imagination, they do not know his name (they don't care to).

But the truth is there is only one person searching for him, he is only missing to one man (a voice that tastes sweet like honey and, those hands, oh! -)

He calls himself memory in the Pacific air and leans in close to the ocean (breathes in the crisp forgetfulness of it, wasn't there a story of an sea that could swallow up regrets? perhaps he's created that himself) - and to the vast waters he whispers his given name, says it's from the Bible.

He is not surprised when the waters answer.


October 2007

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