From beyond the knowledge of the shell, of even the projectile within, the hammer follows the will of some finger (the appendage to a much larger question atop a question, atop a question ad infinitum, until we reach not some hard wall, not some resolute end, or lowest turtle, or willing mind; rather, it isn’t until we understand the relationship of the whole that we can see the origin to our current path), the path of the physical constraints of the mechanism that delivers the firing pin to the rear of the casing.
Youth, the explosion that first propels us, that first heat and light and fire that seems to tear away the cocoon that was our personal nothing, the fleeting, familiar warmth of a void that delivered us into the world.
Tumbling through the air, spinning, heating with the coarse, rushing air, and, as our trajectory begins to dip, we cool; the energy drains from us, or, becomes manifest in the distance, in our own affectation of the world, of each other.
And then we strike a wall at terminal velocity, perhaps we bury ourselves into the ground, maybe we strike someone in the heart, and the world is forever changed, again, and again, and, well, this is how the world works.
Imagine a world where we do not age as in decline. What if, instead, the older one became, the larger, stronger, more verve-filled one became?
Gone would be the days of sitting by Grandmother’s bedside, waiting for her to lose her local battle to entropy, to the use and re-use of mechanisms ill-equipped for the immortality of the human.
Instead, one would notice Grandpa in the weight room, in the middle of the night, despite his claims that he was tired as the dinner table.
Frozen, from the doorway, Andrew, the youngest of the ten children of the house licked his lips, the dim blue light from the room not yet fallen onto him.
“Grandpa”, he spoke, cautiously, his hand on his hip’s holstered sidearm, “what are you doing up so late, shouldn-”
“I’m only eighty-two”, Bernard interrupted, slowly letting down the combined seven hundred pounds, back onto the rack. The rack sagged under the weight, as Bernard’s giant, bursting muscles relaxed. “My granddaddy lived to be a hundred and forty”, he spoke, taking a swig from his water bottle, still laying, looking up at the ceiling.
Andrew moved his right hand’s middle finger, an inch, just to be touching the leather clasp that held the revolver in place.
As if responding to this unseen motion, immediately, Andrew’s eighty-two year old grandfather ducked his head beneath the bench press bar, leaned forward, as if in one or two, soft, yet quick motions. His head, looking at the floor, slowly tilted up, toward his grandson.
“Now listen, I just want to be healthy, while I’m still here, and there’s–“, he began, before his was cut off by his grandson.
“No, you can’t be doing this; you haven’t been taking your medication, have you?”, Andrew said, his throat in pain from the fear, and of the sadness, a physiological reaction of fight or flight.
The room was silent; though, to the boy, the room was filled with tinnitus, the beating of his heart, his breath. To the man, his highly developed years, his eyes, beyond high definition, could see detail in the moon-cast shadow in the hallway, enough to see, to hear Andrew’s finger pop the little revolver clasp off of its holster.
“NOW LISTEN!”, Bernard shouted, as he stood.
With two loud bangs, Andrew fired two shots into his grandfather’s chest. Bernard lunges at the boy. Another three shots fire off, flashing the room, each time, blinding only the boy. His wrists crushed, Andrew lay on his back in the hallway, his torso unnaturally twisted around, his upper torso flat against the linoleum floor. Andrew looked beyond his mangled hand, the gun deformed, too, covered in red and pink, wet bits of flesh, through the sliding glass door, into the yard.
Andrew could not hear anything, and his vision was failing him, before the draining blood took with it, his consciousness, his life, he saw his grandfather’s 7′ frame, half way to the treeline that stood twenty-five feed from the back of the house.
His grandfather’s body suddenly stiffened, and his white collared shirt began to fly into little pieces, into the air. Out of view, on the deck, and out of the windows on the second floor, all of the children of the family emptied their weapons, filling his back, cutting his head in half with bullets and projectiles of varying caliber. Overkill, always.
Behind Andrew, just as the lights inside, went out, a woman, his aunt, ate quietly at some cheese that she stole from the dinner table. Alice never felt like she was eating enough. She felt old. She felt strong. She ate the cheese. Tensing the muscles in her back, long, thick muscles hidden beneath a dated dress that we wore often, Alice stepped into the night.
Lifting the fingers of her dress with her bloodied hands, she disappeared.
It wouldn’t be for another hour that the family notices that both of Andrew’s hands were missing, not a piece larger than a pea, anywhere to be seen. Not until morning would they find Alice missing.
Following the investigation of a terrible, terrible event that laid waste to two neighboring industrial districts, some years later, the family learned the true age of Alice, not aunt, not mother, but great, great grandmother.