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Symphony's Requiem: Chapter 3.1
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Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 471
Location: San Diego, CA

Posted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:33 pm    Post subject: Symphony's Requiem: Chapter 3.1  

Chapter 3.1

Warning. This story contains strong language, scenes of violence and other matter that may be offensive. For mature readers only.
The blast from the heat of the forge made him squint his mismatched eyes, to most people it would be an uncomfortable heat, but Ignacio loved the way the hot air washed over him and made his dark skin feel tight and alive. His friend and business partner Kumanda, brought the piece of steel to his anvil. The sweat on Kumanda’s ebony colored brow only made a slight sheen as he took out his hammer and began the final strikes that would finish the blade. Ignacio looked over the design he sketched out for Kumanda and he couldn’t help to feel both anticipation and pride in the beauty of it. The hot steel made a satisfying ring with each strike of the hammer. Ignacio envied the way his friend could lose himself in the process, but Kumanda said much the same about when Ignacio picked up his sketching pad or his painting brushes. It’s what drew them together in the first place, Ignacio had been working on painting an urban scene – hours later when he finally came up for air he saw Kumanda standing to the left and behind him. Kumanda had told him later that day as they shared a cup of coffee and life stories, how Kumanda had tried to get his attention but Ignacio never even noticed. A hint of a smile played on the corner of Ignacio’s mouth at the memory of the beginning of their friendship.

“You have to admit at least the guy knew exactly what he wanted, even down to the length of his arms, which hand was dominant, how tall he was and even how much he weighed.” Ignacio yelled over the din.

“That is what makes no sense to me, why bother with all of those specifications when it will do nothing but hang on the wall collecting dust?”

After these years working together his friends broken sentences didn't really affect him, as it was the man spoke 8 other languages, Ignacio didn't think it mattered if his friend spoke perfect English. Kumanda turned the still bright orange length of metal over and repeated the process. Then he it dipped in a trough of water to cool the blade and begin the process again. Ignacio knew how much his friend loved working the forge and also loved making swords of all types. Ignacio could only admire the fact that Kumanda tried to stay as strictly as he could to whichever method was most “traditional” to that type of sword. Ignacio remembered a time when Kumanda tried to explain why he went as far as rebuilding a Cérdcha for traditional Irish weaponry. Ignacio remembered these people, who were in the same business, laugh behind their eyes at him.

“We don’t know that the buyer won’t use it.”

Kumanda rolled his eyes and motioned with the freshly dipped steel at the final specification on the draft. Even Ignacio couldn’t argue with the disheartening detail, the customer wanted the blade to be coated with silver, up to but excluding the temper line.

“Well at least he didn’t want the whole thing coated.” Ignacio said more in hope than as a counterpoint. His friend merely shook his head.

“Probably could not afford, see the order slip on desk. He shipping silver he wants to use, high antimony.”

All Ignacio could do was shrug, he couldn’t really argue the point and he didn’t even know what it meant if silver had “high antimony”. Who was he to complain of or even criticize the buyer, because of him Ignacio was able to make a living out of the one thing he truly loved to do and how many people could say that. He made the designs no matter how plain or extravagant and Kumanda made the blades. The cost of working the silver onto the blade made the already several thousand dollar blade sky rocket up in price so much so that Ignacio would find it hard to believe that he would ever see a contract that reached this level of price and profit. As with all such things, the buyer was always right, even if they are wrong.

₰ ₰ ₴ ₴ ₰ ₰

An odd thought crossed her mind as Wendy and Kern slowed down and readied to attend to the injured bystanders at the far end of the accident scene. She thought that there were very few things as desolate and forlorn as a stretch of freeway, empty of all cars in the middle of rush hour. As Wendy exited the ambulance and walked around the back with her paramedic bag in hand she looked to her left. Just 50 feet away, separated by only a concrete barrier were hundreds and hundreds of motorists that were packed as far as they eye could see. That fact alone just heightened the sense of how abandoned this pocket of concrete and calm seemed. Above the noise of the nearby cars jockeying for every inch that could be stolen, above the sound of radio chatter and the officers and the firemen and the other medics on scene – she could hear her work boots on the dingy road. She could hear birds off in the sparse shrub of the embankment near the emergency shoulder. She could hear the way the wind whispered shyly by her ears lifting the ends of her hair gently.

“Almez, you okay?”

Wendy looked over to Kern and was snapped out of her train of thought. She did her best not to react to the look of concern in Kern’s brown eyes. Nothing was worse than not being able to depend on your partner in a high pressure job like theirs, especially when that person was your in field superior.

“I’m fine Kern, you get us prepped, I’ll go figure out where we’re needed.”

She walked away with a purposeful stride hoping that it was enough to assuage any of Kern’s concerns for now. Wendy couldn’t believe that she let herself get distracted, she had fought long and hard for the reputation she had and little things like that would do more damage than what she had accomplished in her four years as an E.M.T. She kept her eyes forward, where small group of officers and firemen were gathered together. As she closed half of the distance she heard the solitary cry of a hawk somewhere behind her. Its cry seemed to bounce up off the paved ground, ricocheted across empty cars, honing in on her ears to sing out its mournful plea. Alone, no one for thousands of miles, no other human eyes to look up and wonder, does the hawk cry out for companionship? Does it cry out because like her, she was lost, under this blazing sun, surrounded by an endless sea of red sand dunes? Is it just waiting, like her, for the moment what strength is left to her to be sapped away and the only thing left to do would be to close her eyes and let the empty desert swallow her whole?

“… too long you will burn out your retinas, but as a paramedic you probably already know that right?”

The voice boomed out a laugh hard and loud and shook her back to the freeway.

“Why is it so hot?” She didn’t know why, but it was the only thing she could think of to say. It was when the words came out of her mouth that she realized that she was staring up into the sky, right at the sun. She blinked her eyes and looked at the person in front of her. In the center of the yellow fireman's jacket he wore was a large black spot, approximately the shape and size of the sun in the sky.

“Here take this; I always carry water with me. Never know when there might be a really tiny fire I have to put out.” His laugh hurtled at her and she came fully back to herself, how long had she been standing there just looking up at the sun? The fireman handed her the bottle of water and Wendy took it gratefully, taking long draughts off of it. Why was she so thirsty?

“Like I was saying, just set up by that gray Mercedes over there and we will send any of the ‘noncriticals’ to you. Just keep a heads up on the rubberneckers on the other side; chances are that’s where most of your time might be spent.”

Wendy noticed him for the first time, really saw him, it was the oddest thing, how long had she been staring dumbly into the sun, daydreaming about dying in the desert, while he talked to her.

Pull your shit together girl! Wendy reprimanded herself. You haven’t gotten the reputation for being one of the best paramedics in the field by staring like a dumbass at the sun. She couldn’t believe or even understand what was throwing her off so badly, nothing even remotely like this had happened to her before.

“Thanks again.”

She started to walk toward the gray Mercedes. She heard Kern engage the locks of the gurney behind her, so she must not have slipped off into that strange daydream as long as she thought. As she turned to tell Kern where they would be setting up is when she first saw them. Bodies of men and women, all dressed in jeans, white button down shirts with crisp blue ties. All of them dead, their bodies twisted into mockeries of their original shapes from the impact of steel on flesh. Wendy drew nearer to the closest one, it was a man, in his early thirties, on his stomach, face to the side. Despite the condition of his corpse, just on a surface inspection he seemed to have been healthy before he chose to make his kamikaze sprint across a four lane freeway. No blemishes of the skin, clear eyes, neatly dressed – she was assuming a lot from a corpse on the ground but she didn’t think this man was suicidal. But from the way they were all dressed in identical way, she couldn't rule out the possibility of them belonging to a cult.

She heard Kern roll up beside her, “Hey Kern.”

“What a way to go.”

She nodded.

“I heard some of the cops talking, can you believe they ran across the freeway? Just came out of nowhere and started running across the lanes.”

Without looking away she pointed, “They want us to set up over there.”

“You want me to wait?”

That niggle of concern was back in his voice, or perhaps it never left. “No, I’ll catch up. You know what to do.”

She didn’t look at him, but she put enough authority behind her words that he began walking before even responding with, “Got it.”

Once he had gotten a little distance between them, she got closer, something was bugging her but she could put her finger on it. On an instinct she flipped him, every part of her training told her this was wrong, a body could only be moved once the coroner approved it. As the body finished its turn, it eyes staring blankly up at the pristine blue sky; all thoughts of whether or not she would get in trouble fled her mind. Her eyes focused in on his throat, or where his throat used to be. She quickly scanned the rest of the bodies and it was the same for each of the mangled corpses, their throats were not simply crushed or cut or even abraded from extreme “road rash” - they had the look that they were ripped out. As if some beast had come along and ripped out their throats, one by one. She pulled out her phone and took a picture of just the throat. When Wendy was in the motion of putting it away is when she noticed that the throats were burnt also. Charred, black remnants of flesh where voice and wind used to sing. She began to back away as some unknown fear, deep and ancestral began to creep into her chest. A wind picked up and began to blow hard through the nearly empty corridor, movement caught her eye. She saw a small trail of red sand that twined like a snake, connecting one corpse to another. Like some desert snake was following them in their sprint across the highway, then ripped out their throats with a fire filled maw and fangs as hot as stones in a fire pit. Wendy shivered and the wind blew harder, carrying the sand and its existence away on the wind. She heard a sharp whistle and Kern was waving at her. He had a woman on his gurney and a man squatting beside it. She shook her head and jogged over to her partner, it would have to wait, it’s not like the bodies were going anywhere and she had the living to tend to.

Later as Wendy sat on the hard metal bench in the women’s locker room as the fatigue of the long day hit her hard. She idly wondered if she was going to be able to even make it to her car, yet alone, make the long drive home. The image of the multiple fatalities at the freeway still was sticking to her like smoke in a pea coat. Wendy leaned hard against the locker, pretending to fight at getting her shoelaces untied. She noticed for the first time that her hands were shaking ever so slightly. She thought she had seen most of everything and through it all; she was still able to come back, to do her job and to do it well.

Her mind kept going back to the throats of the three corpses. No one could explain how any of this happened or why it happened to all three of them, even if you put aside the fact that all of their throats had the appearance of being ripped out, no one could explain why they had suffered burns as well. None of the cars in the original accident or the subsequent ones had caught on fire; none of the vehicles involved in hitting the men had the bodies jammed underneath their carriages where the heat of the underside of the vehicles could cause such a burn. She didn’t know why, but when no one else was looking she took a picture of one of the victims. She hadn’t dared to look at it yet, she didn’t want to look at it, but she couldn’t bring herself to delete it either.

As Wendy took off the shoe she had been working on getting untied she noticed that there were fine red grains of sand in it. She held the shoe by the front and banged the heel against the bench. Grain after grain of sand fell and collected in the heel, red as rust, red as miniature droplets of blood. Wendy stood up and changed, trying to get lost in the habits of daily routine, but with each article of clothing, with every seam or crease she would find a single grain here, a few grains there. She didn’t know why she was afraid, or where all the sand had come from. As she finished changing and clocked out for her shift she wondered what to do.

In the restructuring of this SG, I'm having trouble finding a place for the scene with Ignacio at Kumanda's forge. I put it in the beginning of this chapter with no other better idea at where to put it, but to me it feels just a little out of place? Any suggestions out there?
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