The Fleeting Suite: Inlanders

by Douglas Cole

originally published by Bending Genres
read the suite from the beginning

Inlanders

They are waiting—they are watching from the lake of the dead.

I dropped off grid, dumped the vehicle, crossed over to Indian land, asked permission to stay

out here (on the edge). They said okay, as long as I didn’t bother anyone and paid rent.

I said that sounds good to me.

The high wire walkers show up when the air is very still and there might be only a few more moments of visibility as the light goes slowly. You can see them between the incoming clouds.

Someone peels out on a road nearby, sending out that gravel-skid sound. And always riding just below the radio broadcast of thoughts, trees maybe swaying and rubbing their limbs together and that warble-tone of bats, you hear the waves of the ocean like breathing, something enormous out there with all the stars inside of it, breathing and dreaming all this.

Can you buy me this medicine, please. I no have doctor. You go to pharmacy? Please buy, please. And you watch the doors of velvet delivery close behind you on a world warping with a Doppler bend to the voice saying, please buy, please, turning to the pool of black rainwater.

Another book arrived. How it got here through the barricades, the piles burning on abandoned streets, double maybe triple run of the engine truck and aid car…it’s chaos here, I tell you, so you can imagine my tears holding it, with shots going off in the dark, and my unbound joy.

Back in the crow’s nest learning the lessons of water levels and balance and equilibrium and bonds and shells and resistances and attractions and corrosives and emoluments, it seems, because all this is in that book in there and I’m out here, that the moon is a shade under full. Inlanders look out over the plains with squint-eyed curiosity and a little fear at what might arrive, the vast mystery of that empty space you can travel through for days only to come to another outlook over valleys and mountains like some threatening, stylized act of stone designing itself as obstacle course—it could take a lifetime to crack—to come at last to that immense void of the sea as if the journey only ever brings you to the threshold of another mystery.




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