She ran until she felt only the deep burn of harshly inhaled and exhaled air raking across the exhausted pathways of her throat and lungs; until she started to see dark spots flitting in and out of her vision and her legs felt like numb pillars of concrete.
She ran on and on with small branches and sharp thistle grabbing at her arms, legs and face, leaving a sense of rubbed sand across her exposed skin.
She pummeled forward, ignoring the death of all feeling in her body, ignoring her heart’s desperate thudding, ignoring the throbbing of blood in her temples screaming, “STOP!” She deafened her ears to her own body and ran on and on, ignoring the dank, putrid mud that kicked up onto her calves and thighs.
She ran and ran and ran until, like a figure underwater, her legs ceased to yield any force against the ground and she sank, floating down, down, down to the black forest floor, first knees, then hands that could not hold her, and finally, her head thudding against the ground with an explosion of stars and the undeniable sense of giving up.
It found her soon enough. Breaking through the thick branches by the old river’s edge, it stood on four trembling legs, panting and salivating. Blood, it smelled blood. The scent was overpowering and beautiful beneath the thin skin of the gaunt little girl. She would be a meager meal, but it was desperate.
Its eyes shone yellow and ravenous through the falling dusk. The others soon followed in a rough pack of visible ribs and gray fur falling out in clumps and eyes dulled from starvation; whimpering and sniffling, too weak to gather their voices in song. The cold night reeked of the memory of wolves once strong enough to howl across the valley, a rising and falling chorus, breaking from the forest to the stars.
Alas, it was all but gone now, along with the morning birds and the great bodies of bears, motionless and decaying like ancient boulders within the belly of the woodlands and the rock-strewn foothills.
The girl was still conscious as the pack began its desperate feasting on barely more than bones. Everything was barely more than bones, and feeble breath now, and the light that dimmed in the girl’s eyes was barely more than the snuffing of a weak candle. Everything was giving up.
All that remained on earth was red. The red. The RED. Across newsfeeds, and newspapers, and on people’s lips and endless posts on Facebook and Twitter: The RED. By the time it flew across the web, across the world, in people’s questions and conversations, it was already inextricable; already incurable. It came bit by bit. It came like venom, or repressed rage, or revenge, or justice, or Holy War. It came barely perceptible or visible, until it was everywhere and in everything, and by then, it was too late. By then, we were unredeemable.
It began with genocide and our blindness to it; the tipping point of humanity, when the sun-clad holy spirit, the Great Spirit in all things, bowed Her head and wept vast galaxies of tears, tears like falling stars, like the sound of space and time collapsing, because She saw. SHE SAW.
She saw little children with broken limbs, with bones jutting from knees, and skulls crushed like shattered, fragile flowers; little children in the arms of screaming mothers, little bodies piled upon bodies, bloodied and battered, and held up for the world to see, as if broadcast across a slideshow in the sky, and SHE SAW,
She saw the Leaders of Great Wealth and Great Power, turn their heads away and feign blindness, and from their lips SHE HEARD THEM SAY, over and over, “collateral damage.”
And She watched as the Great Leaders learned that they could horrifically, indiscriminately, and brutally slaughter the masses of little wealth and little power, as easy as culling stray dogs.
She saw that there would be no CONSEQUENCES, only “consequences;” consequences like the protests of hundreds of thousands of powerless people, or the boycotting of corporations, corporations owned by the Leaders of Great Power and Great Wealth who sat on their fat offshore bank accounts and outlasted the masses.
The masses needed food, the masses needed shelter, the masses needed healthcare, and the corporations controlled IT ALL.
Eventually, the masses would capitulate. Eventually, they would fall in line. Eventually, they did.
And that is how the Great Spirit in all things, the light of all lights, the wind through the stars, the essence of being, the sacred web of all things, began to tremble, to fall apart, to weep, to release the grief we should have ALL felt for our own cruelty, for our own capitulation to darkness.
She did it for us,
Weeping RED, a tinted light, a bitter water. Slowly, we felt it, tasted it, smelled it. We began to watch the slow dissolution of being. Leaves fell and never returned. Fat shrunk on our bodies and snow melted to rock, to pebbles, to sand, to sand in the wind, blowing away. We are called back to the beginning.
Dissolution in the red tears of God.
I watched the desperate wolf eat his very last meal. None of us had very long. He peered at me with hollowing, haunted, yellow eyes, but he had no more will to run, to fight, to ****. The cruelty of his last hunt could not match our own cruelty to one another. One was born of desperation and hunger; the other of greed.
Greed ended our Great Dominion, and it will never return. Now, I lean my head against the giant body of a Ponderosa Pine; a pine that is yellowing and dying. I look out across the wild cliffs into the reddening sky. I have little energy left to stand. We are fading into nothingness. I ask a final question to the void below:
Grandmother, spirit of all things, heart of all hearts, the light of all lights, the wind through the stars, the essence of being, the sacred web of all things, after us, after we are all but a light and scattered dust, is there a bright dawning beyond this dissolution, this nothingness?
The wind carries a gentle voice: