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Reginald Blisterkunst, Ph.D.
Among the Remembered Saints: My Life and Subsequent Death
Pluto Wars

Greg Chandler
"Bee's Tree"
"Local Folk"
"Roland's Feast"
"Pond Story "

Doug Childers
"The Baptism"

Gene Cox
The Sunset Lounge

Clarke Crutchfield
"The Break-In"
"The Canceled Party"
"The Imaginary Bullet"

Jason DeBoer
"The Execution of the Sun"

Deanna Francis Mason
"The Daguerreian Marvel"

Dennis Must

Charlie Onion
"Love Among the Jellyfish"
Pluto Wars
"Feast of the Manfestation"

Chris Orlet
"Romantic Comedy"

Daniel Rosenblum
"A Full Donkey"

Deanna Frances Mason
"The Daguerreian Marvel"

Andrew L. Wilson
"Fat Cake and Double Talk"


Pluto Wars
Charlie Onion & Reginald Blisterkunst, Ph.D.

Editor's Note: This is a sequel to Reginald Blisterkunst's Among the Remembered Saints: My Life and Subsequent Death, which was originally serialized in WAG. Readers who prefer to begin at the beginning may read the first book by clicking here.

Part Six

A Mournful, Empty-Bedded Cry

For an hour, the garden is filled with cops. Lieutenants, homicide detectives, patrolmen looking for a break in the monotony. Then the sun begins to set and the crowd dissipates. The Cindy cop makes a point of shaking my hand and saying she'd enjoyed herself and then I'm left alone in the twilit garden.

As I climb the steps, a large truck pulls up around front and I look down the side of the house. A sizeable portion of the Bare-Ass Rooster Secret Society is staring back at me from the street. Over their heads, I read the truck's gleaming letters: Crime Investigation Unit.

Momentarily, a skeletal man appears in a gray tweed coat that matches what little hair he has left. In his left hand, he carries a large black suitcase which seems to be bending him over with its weight. But as he sets the suitcase down on the freshly turned soil and advances toward me with his hand out, I notice he remains stooped, and in the light coming from the kitchen window, I discover he is sporting a small humpback on the left side of his back.

—Chester Branden, he says, smiling grimly. Crimes Investigation Unit. Sorry I took so long. Nasty multiple shooting on the North Side.

—I'm sorry to hear that, I say.

We shake hands and then he opens the suitcase and begins laying out a series of objects in neat rows. Plastic bags, a tape measure, bright yellow flags shaped like triangles, a Polaroid camera and a pack of film.

—Must be pretty grim work, I say, to fill the void.

—You have no idea, he says, mournfully. Used to work B&E years ago, but the pay is better here. Hardship pay, I suppose you'd call it. So where, he says, standing up, where is the victim?

I lead him to the bones, which he studies for a moment, motionless.

—Not as bad as most of them, he says. Some of them, I tell you...what with all the little bits of flesh still clinging to the bone and all...you've no idea. But these, these look almost cared for.

—I did wash them, actually (thinking, of course, that I'd found a like-minded soul).

—Well, he says, sticking a few yellow flags around the bones, that's better than most people.

He pulls a foot of tape from the tape measure and sets it under the bones. Then, as he loads film into the camera, the mournful cry of a coal train going empty-bedded back into the mountains drifts up the hill below us.

Used to run one of those things, the man says, stopping to listen. Thirty years ago.

—What line?

—C&O. Coal line right there. Used to pass this spot over and over again. East west, east west. You can't imagine the freedom and tranquillity it brought. Paradise itself.

Sighing softly with the retreating train's cry, he crouches over the bones and lifts the camera.

For an instant, the garden is illuminated in a brilliant flash of light, and the bones and the turned-up soil and the yellow markers leap up at us like feral dogs, and then, in a pink afterhaze, it is all gone and the night seems impossibly endless. Then the sounds of the street and the C&O / B&E guy stripping the snapshot from the camera and blowing on it and finally the garden itself, gray-tinged in the dim light like fairy dust: it all comes back around me like a warm bath and I laugh at the foolishness about the empty darkness, forget the steep, jungle-thick plummet to the train tracks below.

—I'll take the bones now, he says, after he has run out of film.

—Of course, I say, bending to help.

—No, I'd better do this myself, sir.

—Right you are.

I watch him gather them up and seal in individual plastic bags, which he then packs into a large black box that the suitcase had previously concealed.

—We never regain paradise, he says, shaking my hand. No matter what they say.

—Quite, I manage.

I stand on the porch and listen to the darkness below me. Then I go inside and lock the door.

A fiery Deluge, fed

Jorge Macienté, Private 1st Class, crouches in the Jeep and waits for the light show to end. It's tapering off now, with just a few flickers to be seen above the canopy of trees—like grenades tossed over the shoulders of a retreating army, he tells himself—and then, after a moment of darkness, they get the signal and he and the other soldiers leap from the various vehicles and plunge into the forest. Shouting and shaking their flashlights at the sky, most of them, if only to stoke up courage.

They'd gotten most of it on tape, for what it was worth. Usually, it was reported back damaged—unusable was the official word—though he had a hard time believing that. You'd think they'd replace the cameras after a while, if their claims were true. Instead, they'd simply replace the men and tell the newcomers to keep quiet and make sure the tape was rolling.

But they'd gotten the works tonight. A whole arsenal of chupas and the sparkly things the peasants call world-enders. Plus the little gray things with the big heads and the fingers that look like half-eaten, microwaved strips of goat meat. Floating wordless between the trees and damn near making the whole platoon wet itself when they'd dart, sightless, at individual gunners, daring them to shoot the undead.

It was, in the end, nothing short of a living nightmare, with the jungle turned into a devil's stage, and as he plunges through the pliant undergrowth and wades through its spines and speary leaves and cold, retracting things, Jorge tells himself:

No more. This is it.

And that's when he finds the first victim, a hunter as always, mumbling nonsense and pointing up at his hammock and then the sky. Jorge radios the victim's location and pushes on through the jungle. Another soldier radios in another victim's location, and then a third and a fourth come in, from the distant edges of the site.

In all, they find twelve victims lying on the wet ground beneath their swaying hammocks. But thirteen chupa attacks had been recorded from the control center, so the soldiers push on with the search. And then, at the uppermost edge of the site, Jorge stumbles over the last victim.

—I've found the last one, he gasps into his radio. Right under the tree, yes sir. Like the others.

—Has [hiss] anythi[hiss]ng been written on—


—What's that—oh. Yes, Jorge says. Yes, there has.

He plays the flashlight beam over the man's narrow, hairless chest.

—It says [scratch wheer hiss] it says...Gone North.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10



About the Authors

The late Reginald Blisterkunst was a college professor whose areas of expertise were Milton and the Metaphysical Poets. Among the Remembered Saints, his first novel, was also serialized on the WAG Web site.

Charlie Onion is a frequent WAG contributor.


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