Expedition H.

They were sitting together in silence as the birds came to eavesdrop, tweeting up the windless evening to act as if nothing was amiss, to act as if the geomagnetic storms weren’t a sign of the immediate downfall of life on Earth. The tree hard against their backs, the grass soft underneath their feet, with the plain fields stretching out forever these nights. The sky had been lit up by the aurorae ever since they came through, stepping into their new time field, their new lives.

“We still haven’t found anything resembling human life.” She said it as much to herself as to him, looking down at her shoes lying untied and tumbled over next to her bare feet. “No cities, no buildings. Goddamnit, not even a fricking bench to sit on. We might as well be walking on a different planet. I mean…” she knew the hurt she inspired by saying that, and retracted it as soon as it left her mouth, “I know the Time Field Traveler worked, I mean, I know it works. But don’t you think it’s eerie? All this open landscape. All these hills and valleys, rivers, fields. Everything looks exactly like I recall, just with the word “human” scratched out, and all signs of us obliterated.”

He looked at her face from her right-side profile. Even if “human” had been scratched out, he thought, her face was still carving its way through the landscape, etching itself onto whatever memories he’d be having of this place. He looked away as she turned her head, casting a glimpse back on the aurora. It was a sensitive thing, looking at the other person here, now, like this. In such a vacated world with no chance of finding a mirror, you never really knew how you yourself appeared. And every look could be taken the wrong way. It was, he realized, very much a leftover feeling of insecurity from a world where your looks were always up to you to correct and maintain.

Feeling his way through his back, he pulled out a green apple. Now, all that was up to you to maintain seemed to be the lingering hunger. Taking a bite, he offered her the apple. “Even if there’s no trace of human activity here, we can’t be sure there are no humans. I mean, I know we’ve searched a great deal, but still, on the scale of the Earth, we’ve hardly scratched the surface.” His fingers unconsciously digging through the dirt as he said this. “We have to keep an open mindset, stay positive, believe that we’ll find the breakthrough around the next corner.”

“The breakthrough? Stay positive?” she looked at him with mock defeatism on her face, “look, I’m sorry if I’m not overly positive all the time, but I have to admit I’m starting to lose sight of the purpose of our expedition. Are we here to search for humans? Are we here to explore a world without them? And it’s hard to stay positive when we’ve just left everything behind, and getting farther and farther away from the Time Field Traveler with each day’s work. Who knows how long my husband will have to wait before I get back from this land of the past? I’m sorry, but it’s just not quite the mission I expected it to be…” she sighed, picking up her shoe only to throw it away, trying to find some way, any way, to let out a scrap of her anger.

“Do you think we overshot the landing?” she asked him. “Like, maybe we’ve gone further back than Y2K? To a less populated era? And so we’ve just hit on a piece of land that’s not yet in use for human purposes?” Her face expectant, hoping for a positive answer, or any answer, really, that could see them aborting the mission and return home safely.

“Maybe.. yeah, that might be,” his eyes trying to stay on her’s as he answered. Seeing her face calming with the vague reassurance, he felt worse than ever.

Or maybe we’ve gone further ahead, he thought, and this is what the future holds for us. Plain fields and the humans erased by mother nature. Looking over his shoulder he could still see the mountain by which the Time Field Traveler was standing still, waiting. Looking over his shoulder he knew they wouldn’t get it to work again.

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Tracks.

Blue midnight train ride, just for the sake of the line. You ask me where I’ve come from, I ask you where you’re going. The concession stand is empty, it’s been dried out three years. But we still keep on checking it, abandoning our abandoned hope. The world is waking up, sun rising beneath the bridge. It’s dark yellow and crimson, until our windows are under water. My eyes are closed by now. I always sink into myself as we sink down. Trying to remember the last time something happened that I didn’t expect.

Blue midnight train ride, and all the hours that follow. Not a soul on this cart, with all the seats taken. The only ghost I truly know is still standing at the station. Have I gone mad, talking to strangers, when the only stranger here is me? Guessing where everyone is going based on their ticket fee. Looking for signs in this anonymous crowd, one going East, one going South. If life were just a compass, my arrow would finally stop spinning. The only ghost I truly know is still haunting my vacation.

Dakka dakka.

Geneva, Jakarta, Yokohama.

Summer nights can be many things. They can be warm. They can be humid. They can be bright as the winter noon. And they can be full of dreams.

Even as we try to stifle our plans, they only grow stronger in my head. By now they have taken on an almost physical shape, looking like skylines of the cities where we might roam in a month or half a life.

My dreams are of that life, more often than I’m usually willing to admit. At night, when everything can become rational, because all our actions are strong-willed and guiding in dreams, we conquer everything we’ve ever talked of.

Floorboards with our footprints, and smaller footprints next to ours. A garden harvested just this morning. A dining table set for a family. A car that can take us anywhere, the portal we never had.

I know it’s cheesy and romantic to a fault.

But how can we expect love if we don’t dare to act on the instincts of our beating hearts?

Symbolic disorder.

I found a blood-red petal at the foot of my bed, and I judge it either to have flown in through the window on a stray gust of wind, or to have been laid carefully by your wandering ghost that’s still roaming these parts, or to be the simple sign of nascent love so new in existence it’s still too new for me to recognise.

Sometimes explanations are remarkable only in their limitations of explaining.

And sometimes a blood-red petal at the foot of the bed is just a blood-red petal at the foot of the bed.

And sometimes it’s the beginning or the end.

Are you mine, my heart.

More than just a face amongst faces, I’ve come to know this face, and I’ve come to miss your precious heart. Dug deep into the sand, there’s no water for a hungry soul. As the sun sets I cannot keep the night from coming. And I turn my back away. Leaving the horizon to celebrate itself until it loses sight of its boundaries. And I miss your precious heart. Flowers in your hair tied to imagined memories, bells ringing in my ear. Bells ringing forever more. I miss this previous heart, until only there was mine. In trains going in the same direction. In trains going nowhere near. Clutch the broken edges of the picture. All fades. All erodes. Slowly. Clutch a notebook of reminiscences. And I miss your precious heart. It may be madness, but our souls won’t separate. Chained, we’re chained again. We put our hands forward, and we’re chained again. Blind in the future with the comforting weight of each other. You brought me a harp I couldn’t play. I bought you a house, but you couldn’t stay. Inhaling the love you lent me. Restless things on opposite sides. The dusk has a tendency to light little fires. The dawn comes consoling each morning. Mending our wounds with the dew. The sun rises, but the night isn’t over. The night is never over. And I miss your precious heart.