The hearts of a lung
THEY had the same eyes, same glow, same way of snoring, they never knew. Nasǖr-Du was maybe a few inches taller, they had the same humour in their centres, and felt the same way about leaving the war to others, enduring their own work diligently, without tire, because nothing followed them, if they made that pact, to do what they were made to do, without restraint.
Their peers made their own assumptions about the similarity, as all will. So when it came to trouble, their dreams were surprised, and their lips didn’t know what to do. The underbase, the scream, and the need to fight while dancing, was their way, as one part of them wakes now.
Callipe walked over to the windows of their apartment naked. The grey silk curtains pulled away from themselves automatically, exposing a wake of floral steam, rushing inhabitants flying past the window, and every type of light, dim within the circuits of the city.
“Jeez… What day is it?” Nasǖr-Du said, as his stomach remembered a cocktail of every name from the night before.
“Feeling rough?” Callipe replied back with a smirk.
Callipe held her arms up watching the numb-mirgae beyond the window, as a dark lining rose up from the marble floor, and dressed her body in her normal skin.
They scanned out the door and drifted down the hallway.
Nasǖr-Du wearing a skin that was slightly darker, and two tone, but still bearing their personal emblem on the chest. And in wearing what was fashionable for most denizens, they had designed their own. Some need animals, some need myths. Others weapons on fire, crowns and crossed knights in heady Mardi Gras. Theirs was simple, for all that, an exclamation tattooed on a vane-cava.
They sped down a few miles in an elevator shaft, nodding politely and jesting with neighbours about last night. They hated explaining it all, but they still stank of the polished wooden floors of the capitals main arena, where they had been performing for the last few days, non-stop.
“Oh good stars! I don’t know how you two do it! You know Frank and I…”
And the light of tomorrow and a scratch past yesterday, made Nasǖr-Du sing something for Callipe under his breath. As the lift shot wildly down, and their neighbours story bounced off the fluorescent glass, against their ears, and sometimes, even itself, feeing mangled by the throat it came from.
“Oh what’s that you’re singing? Is that your next hit? Oh my! OH MAAAHHH!”
Callipe touched Nasǖr-Du’s chest making their colours suddenly exchange, unable even, to not entertain in a cubicle, flooding with nausea.
They made their normal double curtsy and bow at the end of the trial, silently, turning, and departed from the moving room. The street mixed with particle advertisements trying to crawl up their legs from used stim-packets thrown on the floor.
The sun was neither warm nor bright nor moon.
And might as well have still been asleep behind the speed of their walk.
Every now and then a hand would smile and say “Hi can I talk to you today about-”, or “Can I grab you for two seconds guys?”.
“Sure. Always up for a dance mate!”
“Not today my dear man, I’ll see you in space tovarische!”
“**** sake… ha!”
But no-one was really asleep or awake.
They’d chosen not to move to the crystalline country dens like the majority of the performers had. And it took so long to walk where they were going. Refusing to travel by the public transport hive-links and bartering jack-cabs made it longer. Soon, as the breasts of passers-by turned from emblems to skin, into slightly distorted badges made from buggered hands, and then just the bare insane reminding them that the city was like a collection of piano keys. Being struck by reflective fortune against a building made of mirrors. Then a lake strewn with make-shift barges, crying babes wrapped in brown cloth.
“We’re moving.” Callipe said, shaking slightly, her knuckles clenched around Nasǖr-Du’s hand.
“It’s alright. Just around the corner.” He replied.
By the time they arrived at the Bastion Inc offices they were in the full fury of business. Couples passed in and out from the turnstiles as if bullion was being sold for rice prices. And with each one of them, another figure walked slowly behind. Callipe and Nasǖr-Du stopped before entering, unable not watch a particular group as they walked away.
“What in all stars are we doing here?” They both wanted to say.
The being walking behind, hard to say male or female, but hairless, albino with a slight orange tinge, and marked on the neck with three red stripes, turned to look back at the musicians by the entrance. He didn’t stop, he continued walking with his new hosts, but he did stare at Nasǖr-Du and Callipe for a moment. Its face was emotion before emotion: zero. Which, made the expression worse, that it decided to share. Only a hummingbird wing-slowed could have caught it. For a slice of a gesture. Since the being was blank in all other ways. No hair. No Colour. A perfect metronome strole. But the look came, a smile in the corner of a lip of types, just one to bare a few teeth, then gone.
“Did you see that?” Callipe said as they walked into the building.
“See what?” Nasǖr-Du replied.
Yes I did. And I’ll never forget it. It reminded me of a strain of animal I have never seen before, projecting a glower, tight, in a cheek.
And as part of the service no-one ever enters unknown. The receptionist jerked his head up to welcome the couple as they walked towards the desk.
“Ohhh. I’m not even going to try and pretend you guys didn’t kick-ass last night. Nice job!”
“Err thanks…” Nasǖr-Du whispered, looking away.
“We’re here to see-” Callipe tried to say.
“Oh we know why you’re here. And don’t you worry yourself at all. We’re going to get you right fixed up. No-one leaves here alone!”
Okey dokey cappo…
The receptionist kept his smile on them while he walked from around behind the desk to greet them.
They had talked themselves into it. And time’ll drag a hangman to an argument that may only be thought. Destruction in a light made from success, the same as a rats whiskers twitching. Glory bandages required in a handshake made from advice, to unbreak a union, still being distilled by rabid dreams, unsolid but marking. Stinking under love, remarking where pollution does.
The receptionist asked for his palm to be signed. The elevator man asked nothing. But knew one of their dances, and had tuned the elevator buttons to it. Passing a hand up and down, then winking. Sending them up to floor six oh eight.
“That’s good. Ha. Hm.” Nasǖr-Du said gloomily.
And no such pleasantries at the the floors departure. And a room number the same as the skies tone. Just a blur in the corridor, and the knifes hanging from the ceiling. Can a compound night walk among, all romantic unsung.
The door made a knock from two sets of knuckles, as, even where they knew this wasn’t the place to be, too much time at the river bank can make even wolves turn into blurry colours. The doors shifted apart and they passed in.
Islands and an island on each wall. Paintings that hadn’t been seen in reality since the last artists slit their throats in unison. Durable walls that looked a meter thick. Matted in black oak. Their counsellor, behind a desk at the bottom of the hall-like office, awaiting 1,000,001 violas, arms open.
“Come, come, come! Can I offer you a drink?” The counsellor said.
“No no, it’s ok.” They said shaking their heads.
“Cal, I thought we?”
“So we’ll begin here… I believe… Yes. Why do you disagree?”
The counsellor’s eyes were too bright, as if there was nothing but clear azure behind them. His suit hid his age well. He was obviously in his fifties, but pulled off looking younger since his hair was still thick. Pulled back into a raven slick wave.
“We agree on most things… Look,” Nasǖr-Du said, sending the counsellor’s question away, “Is it true what they say about these things? We don’t need the counselling so much, it’s mo-”
The counsellor looked at the two artists at the same time, having some way of splitting his gaze.
“No no, look sorry, we’ve… Been having some problems. And. You were recommended to us…” Callipe said, tapping Nasǖr-Du’s knee for him to shut up.
“Alright,” the counsellor said leaning back, “but I’m interested in what you said Nasǖr-Du, or, nearly said, why are you here exactly?”
And in reply, there was none. He was used to handling the connections at each gig they performed at. Used to the rage and music of it all. Used to Callipe handling the rest. Unless the silhouettes of thrown bottles were shooting up in the crowd, where he stood up and pounded the drums even harder, some madness inside him saying that if he did this every time the night was going well that, no harm would come to his partner. Callipe was the same. Sing me any type of bird. Say that the birds are made from deep and soaring lightening, that catch the air, and un-entwine into so many infinite corals, pump and devour liberty, soak up, and roar across ice-bergs silvering shadows and bodies.
“Ok, we can keep it short if you like. My son’s a big of yours you know? But hey, I’m sure you get that all the time…”
“Hey it’s ok, it’s just been a long two nights you know? We’ve had the bi-bipartite upgrades, so we can go a full week without sleep normally, but, well… I’m sure you’ve heard what it’s like…”
“I have indeed Callipe. Alright. Your remembricant. We can get straight to it. May I ask what you’ve heard yourselves? It’ll make my explanation less wearisome… Haha.”
Exposure to a laughter among truth, always never changing. Always the best way. One of the paintings behind the couple creaked, since, they liked the counsellor less full of chaos too, or at least, at peace with it. Down before the ripe ships, steering in crashing waves outside the building, they all paused, and looked around their company with a little more respite. It became obvious to the eye, as the counsellor tilted his head to the side, and tried to smile, that, his skin was over make-uped, small pearls of unmixed wax sitting still on his cheeks. A pashmina wrapped around his neck that he began to untie, exposing the naked three stripped tattoo on his neck.
The couple looked solemnly up into the remembricants eyes, which were too blue to be blue, and neither smiled, or felt woe for their next questions.
And after a long pause, that lasted until a shrieking jet passed outside.
He blinked a few times.
“I guess… Nasǖr-Du had the dream…”
“Ha!” The remembricant said, making a strange twitch-smirk.
“And hey, is it alright if you don’t do that? Really freaky mate. It’s more like this…”
“But why is my smile not acceptable?” The man said tilting his head to the side, like a hornet inside a human’s face.
And Nasǖr-Du began, “Well we’ve been over all this again and again, and the reason we hooked up is that she thought I was was crazy, so opiate for a dove, you might say, then poison for the doe, you could say, and it’s been like that, I feel good, like each day is Krakatoa, always been like that you know, the gigs calm me down, but then I never come down for weeks, works for the life, but not on the road. Then. Well. Callipe knows I’m damn crazy, I told her that more than ten years ago,” Callipe wept, seeing shadow go, “And, she’s my girl. I’d do things I’d never do otherwise, for her…” He said looking at her.
The remembricant, still sat in the same pose, blue contact lenses on black eyes.
“And we write together. And. The songs work, but, I can see it. All… Before he met me… Last night, when we were leaving the stage, he just walked right by me, as if there was nothing. And, I… This all. Its.”
The shards of the foundations below decided to unravel and grope, where baronets and baronesses are once again suns. And all of their organs were at dismay not to destruct, or perhaps, lend what weather was held within them to each other. Several beings of one, and one from another.
“Love in another word, “ The Remembricant said evenly, “So we begin. We come to artists, eclipsing so, never the dreary, our kind knows ‘dreary’, except that, we know it only as a grunt that will pierce your ear-drums if I emitted it. We know stars as this love of several parts, part our flesh, part your flesh. We come to the artists first, then the scum, then the light, then your work, then your country men, in no discerning order.” The man said, taking the sheaths from his eyes, exposing their true colour, showing a second pupil dropping down from his left eye, where it hung in the bottom corner, where a several black moon droops.
Nasǖr-Du and Callipe stood up immediately, making their seats skid back. They turned around and began to run towards the door, wild in inertia, the doors already lined by five armoured guards at either side, making a sudden shuffle, and drop/turning their rifles towards.
The Remembricant had crossed the fifty meters to where they stood back, in a blink, somehow, and asked them to turn around without speaking.
“Oh. Don’t let the Eye of All Time unsettle you. You’ll get used to it.” He said blankly, “Perhaps we can begin with your dream, like I said, that will make things less unpleasant.”
So like all artists, even when separate, they combined, taking on what they knew – the ten fold guards, the shit they were in, their hearts, the architecture, the day, the sun – and dropping all else, ready for another gig. They walked back to the seats with the being leading them, and relaxed, relaxed where perspiration becomes vitality. Sitting down.
Nasǖr-Du began “Well it was pretty much like this, it’d been long day, I missed every chord by about ten miles. No-one noticed. But I did. I felt like a dog bollocked by his growl, so, applause ended. Walked off stage. And, I always see so little in the darkness, except more song, where I was both without and away from Callipe, as even the animals know where the land begins, and the sea is alone. Three years ago, give or take some pulse, all rage and penumbra, where I tore songs apart so that they could dance, lies on the bulkhead, no breaks, just hell… Then I guess, few nights ago, I had a dream while we were being driven back from the stadium… I saw you, you had abilities similar to ours, and I guess, we dressed it up inbetween as relationship counselling. But I knew from this morning, that nothing from this world acts like we do, and you, even lesser so…”
“That is a good account, if not in anyway accurate, dear Nasǖr-Du. But let us unfold. We decided not to take other routes,” The man said through his eyes, “We decided to come through dream. And we have fought as hard for you as you have for things like love, life, and career, and higher notions. We came in dream, and mean no harm, although, we must come with you.”
“What the hell are you talking about? ‘Come with us’, all we do all day is practice and record, what they hell is this all about? What th-” Callipe said before suddenly frozen, as the being held his palm out.
“My name is with you already, so peculiar you ask.”
All that came next was motion. A dead bullet in the artist’s guts that felt like an answer, and a gravity taking them down towards the lower levels towards the building lobby. They walked ahead, the remembricant behind. There were no incisions or dusk, as the wackos say. Just a meeting in a room. And a couple looking for advice. A form following, white, with stripes on the neck, tattoos, maybe, marked as cattle, as the humans he will now shepard.
The hearts of a lung