Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer
The porcelain pilot hovers just beneath the artificial swell of the valley lip. Once long ago a dam though now, after the water has long since fled, it is but a hill covered in lush deep grass and bluish grey flowers with petals that purr at the sun.
The days light has folded neatly beneath the horizon and the pilot can all but smell the rich stews being ladled onto famished plates and see the smiles as armour-plated bread struggles and then gives way between cracked dirt riven thumbs.
They’ll be tired. Their guards will be sagging. These whom turn soil that is not their own. They’ll be drinking. The grapes will be massaging the insides of muscle, and eyes will be shining and lids drooping.
Beneath thatched roofs long, tables accommodate ever-multiplying issue. Grubby urchins that will one day too rise to further dilute and molest my sacred home.
The village projects as a simple schematic onto a visor already fogging with the pilot’s ramping breath.
The settlement has but one road and it curves in from the left before cleaving down through the homesteads and then abruptly wearing off to the right. Targeted structures are represented with blue squares and names overlay each to designate ownership.
Bielawski — Barn
PIERZECKI — Barn
The pilot’s teeth grit and ever so slightly chip and she runs ever-long porcelain fingers that are just as delicate as they sound across the under-glaze that covers her body entire. Dipped as a child into a holy greyish-blue tint of her grandmother’s making until all that remained of her pearlescent self was the round of her face.
She traces the bright red rose that blooms between her breasts and the thorn stems that connect to the white petals that adorn her shoulders and arms.
‘North designated division proceed and cleanse at will. South designation seal and eliminate any and all of the detritus rats that shear from this most glorious action.’
Amassing dots surge onto her monitors and she manages a smile as her creations relay the very first screams of the attack. She imagines the re-purposed sickles and pitchforks and hammers that extend from their wrists suckling on blood and spent bone.
“Cut down by the same tools you use to foul my land… war can be such perfect poetry.”
Tools to rip and gouge and the liquid flames that bubble and drip from lips to bawl fury upon the hacked and render all of their hovels to cinder.
Blinking surnames stratify into sub-branches that show each and every family member. As eliminated the names transition to red. Her intelligence has been oh, so precisely thorough.
“Interesting! Appears they’re destroying the children first. Why? I never programmed for this. Kill the children and the adults will remain and fight? Kill the adults and the children scatter as vermin. Such clever weapons you are… I have to see. Must bear witness”, she whispers pulling back on the controls and rising above the crest and at once marvelling at the pulsing beauty of the orange swath below.
The porcelain pilot moves her craft ever closer until she is directly above a very particular barn. She leans across the console and gazes down as her creations close in and herd a manically scampering form inside and out of her view.
“Bastards… I was watching that!”
The form’s blood-clotted screams relay and fill the cockpit and both it and the reflecting flames conspire to fill the pilot with another kind of heat. She shifts and adjusts the harness that rolls gripping at her thighs.
She thinks she may be more than a little sad as she remembers. Long wasted afternoons laying upon the straw-strewn floor now cooking beneath her. Days with nothing but her anxiety and the beautiful flowers beneath her lacquered skin for company and… another.
“Home… where I had a friend that looked just like me.”
Save the barn? No. Nothing good ever came from looking back. Cleanse and rebuild.
The porcelain pilot will never know why she fell. Why her perfect craft suddenly dropped without warning and crashed through and into the blazing barn of her youth. Maybe a long saved and carefully aimed bullet or maybe the gathering thick smoke choked her engines. Whatever the case, as she sits in the wreckage and as the heat enters the gaping jag hole where her shoulder once was, she screams.
A grotesque lost thing grins from the same straw-strewn floor upon which she would lose herself.
She is perhaps the exact same age. Severed clean in half with the soft furl of her tattooed belly rolled back to beneath her bare breasts as if perfectly laid back sheets.
She is smiling though she is not. It is but the fire’s glint on her teeth as now she is without any lips.
“Why did they leave you naked? Why did they defile us in such a way? I never programmed this. Such soul-less little weapons they are… But best that I die knowing full well who I am. To die old and broken and forgotten having only seen my deeds from the sky is such a hollow pointless pantomime. I regret nothing and I will use that lie as a balm as I blister and break and fall into the ash and my flowers bleach to nothing ”, said the porcelain pilot as she cracked and splintered in two.