Following Cold Footsteps
(c) 2011 Ted Wilson
Following Cold Footsteps
I thought I saw my brother the other day.
“So?” you say.
“My brother has been dead for four years, or at least I think he has,” I say. No more could have been said, no more words need be spent.
I have been traveling since, following my brother. Crazy I know, but really what choice does one have when his dead sibling comes a calling? Or….at least I think it was him.
“The smart one,” my parents always said.
“Too smart for his own good,” I always said
Not too long before he up and vanished into the vapors that accented the horizon of the wasted lands, my brother got it in his head that the “God” sounds that buzzed and beeped on our sound box were humanity’s salvation. No one knew why he thought this thing. Then again, no one knew why this piece of ancient technology still existed–and worked to boot. And no one knew what the sounds DID mean or how they even came to be. So who can argue with a person who might translate a nonsense staccato buzz and beep as a call to Mankind’s Salvation?
He was gone before anyone woke at next light.
Here I am hunched over a long dead and cold camp fire. I know my brother was hunched over this same pit when embers still drifted off to mingle with the old and new gods that litter the sky.
Here I am carving my name into a tree, a real tree with life flourishing from the peak to the low hanging branches, carving my name under my brother’s initials. Here I am holding a piece of discarded cloth that used to be my brother’s scarf. No doubt left behind as I left behind my own whilst realizing that the air was no longer drenched with the poisons of a lost generation’s war.
Now here I am gazing up at a towering, rusted skeleton. I recognize it from a charcoal sketch my brother left on the floor next to his abandoned nest. His last will and testament left in the form of a scribble on a floor littered with the debris of a scavenger’s life.
A careful walk around the perimeter, I find a hole where I know without evidence that my wayward brother used to explore his hopes of salvation.
It dawns on me that this is the home of the “God” sounds.
“Don’t you see?” My brother glanced at me while tinkering with a found treasure adorned with two mysterious slots filled with what may have been heating wires. “Why else would the sounds still speak to us when all the other Gods have forsaken us?” Whenever he ranted and rambled on this subject, I did now what I had always done: nod my head without commitment of beliefs.
“These Gods are beckoning us to them to bestow all that knowledge that was lost in the great wars.” He said this with hands open and upturned to the heavens. “They are waiting for someone, someone like me to hear them. Someone to be their messenger.”
The gall of his sudden divine take on life worked its way under my skin. My voice quivered with a rage that I couldn’t explain. “Isn’t it that Knowledge that caused the wars that ravaged the land in the first place?” Momentum took me to more personal, more hurtful territory. ”There is no more a “God” on the other end of that sound box then there was when Mom and Dad died of the sores last winter.” I saw the pain blossom across his brow as surely as if I had just struck him.
Those were the last of our words.
I crawl through the tear in the linked fence and emerge not far from the base of the groaning giant sprawling up above me. As I explore the base of the tower, I find a structure hidden under years of growth.
Finding the entrance, I brace myself as I prepare to meet my brother and the Gods he now keeps company with.
All that I find is my brother slumped in a chair with banks of buzzing and beeping boxes and a salvaged pistol laying at his feet.
No Gods. Only Death.