Friday, April 20, 2012

the Star Destroyer

he looked like a vagabond on the side of the road, a satchel over his right shoulder and a long staff in his right hand.  he walked with purpose, and he made no small talk -an interesting observation, given that he walked alone.  every so often, he would check the skies for what he was searching for -direction, perhaps? -and he’d check the digital apparatus that he carried in his left hand or in his back left pocket.  maybe it was a compass.  whatever it was, it had worn a pattern in the pocket of his jeans, which seemed themselves to hold together as if by some kind of magic.

she’d been following his progress for quite some time -mostly bored with it -though sometimes she’d perk up when he’d appear to do something interesting, like... stop to eat, or sleep.  he was like some kind of machine.  she wondered at that, how anyone could go on for that long without any seeming need to just... stop.  she also wondered what it was he was looking for.  he clearly hadn’t found it yet.  she blinked behind her binoculars and then set them down.  looking through them all day was worse than staring at a computer screen all day.

she scribbled something in her log, and then looked up.  when she set her sights through the binoculars though, he was gone.  dammit, she cursed herself.  he’d given her the slip once before, and tracking him down again had been a colossal pain in her ass.  resigned but with determination, she strapped on her gear and set her coordinates for his last known location.  there was nowhere to start from but there.

she landed on the ground with a soft plop.  quickly, under the cover of the falling night and the brush by the side of the road, she stowed her parachute into her pack, hoping it hadn’t sustained damage that couldn’t be undone, and then set off.  if only she knew what he was looking for, she could just meet him there.  wouldn’t that be easy?  ...grumble ...grumble, she thought.

*
from the safe camp he’d secured when he’d finally managed to give her the slip, he felt his excitement rise.  a star had fallen nearby and his goal was to reach it and destroy it before she found him again, for that was his singular purpose in life, unless dodging her -his constant shadow -also counted as some sort of purpose.  racing against her was always this dash against time, and it always seemed to be on her side.

he set off in the night, certain in the darkness he could feel her breathing behind him, even though every time he turned around there was no one there.

*
several days later, he stood over the gaping crevasse where the star had fallen -but there was no star; it had gotten away.  he felt impotent in his frustration.  now he would have to track the star, knowing the whole while that she was tracking him too.  if she ever discovered his singular purpose in life, surely she would destroy him, for was that not her singular purpose in life?  it seemed so pointless, this enmity between them, but solipsistic philosophy wasn’t really his area -and he was in a hurry.  very conscious that he was exposed and out in the open, he very quickly took off.

*
she left the binoculars to dangle about her neck.  this was much more interesting than she could have hoped for.  not only had she found him (ha!, she thought triumphantly), but she had also found his singular purpose in life (double ha!):  he was a star destroyer.  that would explain the magic compass he was always checking in his left hand.  it didn’t exactly explain why he was traveling like a hobo, but that was his business.  she figured, if he wanted to die in a questionable pair of blue jeans, then so be it.  that was just fine by her.  she licked the tips of her arrows, and then set off.  she knew exactly where he was going.

*
a few weeks later, she found the star first, dangling from a rope around its neck.  she wondered what had led it to this ignominious end -a bar fight, perhaps? -but she didn’t stop long to ponder.  he would be passing this way soon, and better for her to vanish into the crowd before that happened.

*
by the time he found the runaway star, it was little more than a rotting corpse.  it twinkled in the dark like a toy that had lost most of its glitter.  he covered his nose with his bandana and drew up close enough to prod it with his walking stick.  a few tiny bits of remaining light broke off from the corpse and fell to the ground.  he backed up, not wanting the dull bits to stain him.  it was such a shame, and such a waste.  it had lost all of its luck and its light -and probably in one of the many questionable bars that ringed the infamous cantina.

if he’d gotten to the star first, of course he would have destroyed it, but not like this.  why do they always run?  he shook his head, right as an arrow whizzed by, clipping his ear.  instinctively, he dropped to the ground, but she had anticipated him, and the next arrow nailed him firmly in the back, right at the nape of his neck.  he didn’t even bother trying to move, because he knew that he could not.

*
“Why?” he managed to whisper when she came near.

“I might ask you the same question, but I know your time is wasting very quickly now,” she answered coolly, her voice flat and measured.

A touch of compassion would have been nice, he thought, but with effort.  Already, he could feel the muzzle of death clamping down on his brain.

She knelt beside him, her arrows safely stowed, but a knife at the ready in her hand.  

“You’re a star destroyer,” she mused, her voice now gone soft, “Of course, I didn’t know that at first -that you were an eater of light.”  

Gently, as though she had heard his unspoken desire for compassion, she opened her hand -the one not holding her knife -and brushed the hair on the back of his head.  

“My vendetta was personal.  Don’t you remember me?” she asked him pointedly.

His eyes blinked slowly -twice -but he did not answer.  

“You stole my light,” she whispered, her mouth so close he could feel the faint breath of it in his ear.  “You mistook me for a star and you stole my light.”

When his eyes finally closed, she quickly severed his head from his body and threw it to the waiting crowd.  There would be no momento mori for her.

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