This one is for Michael Berube's We Are All Giant Nuclear Fireball Now Party, courtesy of Paule Marshall's Merle Kinbona from The Chosen Place, The Timeless People (yes, here at Mostly Harmless, we don't make arbitrary distinctions between high and low culture; so what if literature and academia are relatively unpopular parts of popular culture, I say!):
"Oh, God, to kill the boy one month and shut down Cane Vale the next! They must really be trying to finish us off down here in Bournehills..."
At the thought of that double tragedy, something in her, the last vestige of her reason perhaps, gave way, and a darkness, as complete as on those nights in the village when there's no moon and the over-sized Bournehills stars are hidden by clouds, seemed to close over her mind, over her eyes, snuffing out all the light and sanity there. "Kill! Destroy!" The words issued shrill and incoherent out of the darkness. "That's all your science and big-time technology is good for. Don't think I don't see it for what it is. Why, you've even smashed the rose window in the church. Everything and everybody blown to bits, the whole show up in flames because you couldn't have your own way anymore. Everything flat, flat, flat. No--wait!" She paused, her demented eyes filling with another image. "No, they'll use that other one I read about someplace that they call the neutron or some damn thing, that they say only kills off the people--the people, everybody, just vanish into thin air, but everything else, the buildings and so are left standing right where they are. Yes! That's what the brutes will use. All the buildings will be there but there'll be nobody inside them. Empty. The cars and buses right where they were on the roads when it dropped but not a driver in sight. No passengers. Not even a dead body to be seen in the streets. The houses with the curtains at the windows like people are living in them but not a soul inside. Every living thing gone from the face of the earth. Oh, God, the silence! You can hear a pin drop the world over. Everybody gone. All the poor half-hungry people who never had a chance. The little children. The baby's gone. Everything in place but both of them gone. Oh, how could he have done that to me? I see it, you hear, I see it. The whole world up in smoke and not a fire to be seen anywhere!"
Her eyes were so filled with that apocalyptic vision, her words, reechoing endlessly through the empty building, had made it so vivid, that Saul, struck dumb on the steps, could almost see that flameless fire raging between them on the platform.
Now, I was once a WAAGNFNP heretic, who formed a splinter cell called WAGNFNP (We All Giant Nuclear Fireball Now Party) to appeal, as I put it at the time, "to all those Captain Caveman fans out there." But thanks to the CCST (Chris Clarke Show Trial), I was welcomed back into the Party's blast area. So I also have a special message for a certain ex-fugitive from WAAGNFNP justice, courtesy of Mahasweta Devi's Puran Sahay from "Pterodactyl, Puran Sahay, and Pirtha" in Imaginary Maps:
No, I have no right to touch you. Apparently one can still see prehistoric fish in the sea. But there was, there was a pterodactyl somewhere, the world didn't know, I am silent, I am defeated. I won't go near to see if there are feathers, if the toes and nails of the front feet are truly long.
Puran's eyes put a question.
--What will you eat?
What do its eyes want to tell Puran?
This body made of the grey dusk or this liquid darkness is quite still. Only an unfamiliar smell, sometimes sharp sometimes mild. When Puran or Bikhia stands, the smell becomes mild. Is this the instinctive feeling for self-protection against unknown animals?
There is no communication between eyes.
Only a dusky waiting, without end.
What does it want to tell? We are extinct by the natural geological evolution. You too are endangered. You too will become extinct in nuclear explosions, or in war, or in the aggressive advance of the strong as it obliterates the weak, which finally turns you naked, barbaric, primitive, think if you are going forward or back. Forests are extinct, and animal life is obliterated outside of zoos and protected forest sanctuaries. What will you finally grow in the soil, having murdered nature in the application of man-imposed substitutes? "Deadly DDT greens,/ charnel-house explosive bean-pods, monstrous and misshapen / spastic gourds, eggplants with mobile tails / bloodthirsty octopus creepers, animal blood-filled / tomatoes?"
The collective being of the ancient nations is crushed. Like nature, like the sustaining earth, their sustaining ancient cultures received no honor, they remained unknown, they were only destroyed, they are being destroyed, is this what you are telling us?
The dusky lidless eyes remain unresponsive.
Have you come up from the past to warn us, are you telling us this man-made poverty and famine is a crime, it is a crime to take away the forest and make the forest-dwelling peoples naked and endangered? Are you telling us that it is a crime to grasp in the stranglehold the voice of protest, and the arm of combat?
The eye says nothing.
How grey. What amazing news. It wants to say something, to give some new, Puran does not understand. No point of communication. Nothing can be said or written.
Is there a message in the smell of its body? Why do its eyes remain open? In the inner shrine room (the worshipped and the worshippers are gone) of the family god of a poor tribal (who is dead), you are sitting unmoving, oh ancient one, what do you want us to know?
The grey eye does not respond.
You have come to me for shelter, and I don't know how to save you, is that why I'll see your death? I don't know, if I knew I could have saved you, I don't know, if I knew I could have saved you, you would have left again on your flight, you would have searched out water, food, a resting place. I don't know, if I knew.... In this shrine room of stone and earth in the last years of this century an urgent message like this arrived and the news could not be given because human beings do not know or understand its language.
The grey eye wants to tell Puran something.
Puran shakes and shakes its head.
Don't you go following Berube's example, Myers, is what I'm saying.
[Update (1/21/07): He went and did it. Well, not quite: he's still posting at an insane rate after this announcement. Expect a cold turkey announcement soon.]