My Sisters And I

We press together, all of us, my sisters and I, shoulder to shoulder, in the rattling truck. We can’t see where we’re going, only smell the rancid fear on each other, the disquiet of the man driving us, his shoulders hunched up to his ears.

How many times has he made this journey? How much cargo has he shunted from one place to the other, taking the scent of his shame home to his wife?

He doesn’t know our names, for we have none, only numbers. Nor has he looked into our eyes and faces, for it was other men who herded us into our tin prison, other men who closed the doors, and bolted us into the dark.

May they carry our fear with them like a sickness, feel its worms in their minds at night.

We sway together, my sisters and I, sing, and scream, and cry out for those we’ve lost, as well as ourselves, for we know now where the ones they took before have gone to, a thousand steel journeys on the road. Their ghosts stand with us, flank to flank, their breath sour milk, their cold bodies pallid.

Will we become as they are, spirits to comfort the living? Or will we slake the deathless black of what comes after, hungering death making meat of our souls?

None of us know. Our lives have been too short to keep religion, and only through the spoken histories of our mothers and sisters do we know the concept of it, vaguely, as we do so many things. Those who have kept us think us stupid, know not that we have friends, and lovers, and stories they, with their riddled calls, will never know.

This is how they send us away so easily, thinking us simple, flesh born to die.

One by one they take us from the truck through a steel tunnel into quadrate darkness. We all catch the reek of blood at once and scream in psychic terror; there is death for us in this blunt cylinder, crouching, elusive, around some bend or corner. The stench of it opens wings like an eater of carrion, and drives us all mad with our own terror.

We stamp our feet and roll our eyes to a God we never conceived, let alone believed in. It’s worse, somehow, that we’re together; taken up in the red sea of mutual panic we are drowning, gargling on it. Our lungs are pinched thin by its weight. Our hearts are burning.

Men pass by, infrequently. Some have cool eyes, closed over by learned indifference. Some touch their hands to our faces, gently, and speak to us. Their voices are thick with pain and repentance. Their palms taste of sweat, and horror.

None of them are well, this I know. Our deaths are spectres in the hovels of their minds, and we will shake their rafters until their own death comes with its cold scythe.

How do they go, these men? In their sleep, a softness, by disease, a choking rot of cells turned upon themselves, by blade or bullet, as we are, turned over by their own hands to that unknown everlasting? I have long wondered. In the fields our sisters speak of what they have heard from farmhands and passersby, the human terror of mortality.

How afraid they are of dying. How easily they kill.

And yet not so easily; in the whitely rolled eyes of those who come to us we see, here and there, a desperation, and these I know to be the men who will not last. Some of their kind grow numb to wholesale slaughter; not so the young, or the good, who know from our cries that we are people of another breed, with stories, and practices, and kinship.

We call to them most often, for there are folktales amongst our clans of men who set us free. Perhaps these are only dreams, but we starve for hope like water. It’s all we have.

Our sisters file into the steel tomb, into the blood-scented shadows. We guess, from the shame-stench of the men, that one of their kind is our reaper, but we don’t know their method.

Is there pain there, an unearned agony, trawling our siblings through this metal hell? Or is there a suddenness, a shift from breathing to breathlessness we won’t remember, or even know of?

If so, what difference is there between life and a dream, to end so quickly, to mean nothing, even to ourselves?

For we do dream, our people, little though our captors might imagine it. We dream of our mothers, fathers we’ve never seen, pastures we will never glimpse. Our dreams are blue, and green, and beautiful in their momentous glory. They are the jewels in the treasury of our small worlds, for we have little else in this existence that is ours.

I enter the tunnel after my sister, moved forward by the pressure of those behind me. The little light bounced within these silver walls frightens me, but there is nowhere to go; I hurt myself shouldering the wall. I stagger on, and the musk of the dead grows stronger.

How many of us do they bring here? How often? These men are worse than wolves, which, through the stories of our ancestors, we remember. The great dogs picked only a few, when they were hungry, and these skinned apes, it seems, are starving.

I am alone, now, at the end of my path. A moment becomes a century as I meet yet another man’s eyes; they roll over me, a ritual bland unseeing.

Something strikes me on the brow, and I am senseless.

Where are my sisters, in the dark? I cannot find them. My tongue lolls, and I see, vaguely, the broad man crouching.

Metal at my throat. A cut like forked lightning I’d seen in the field, once, that frightened me.

I’m not afraid now, am I? There’s nothing left of me, nothing to fear with.

I smell my own blood

and

I

am

gone

Published by (Not actually a Lady) Ruthless

I'm a 26 year old horror writer! Non binary. Stuck with this domain because I'm lazy

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