The Fear Of Death/The Fear Of Life



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Scene Title The Fear of Death/The Fear of Life
Synopsis The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. — Mark Twain
Date January 31, 2010

Across the flat, heat-rippling desert a single plume of dust tracks its way along a winding road. There's an urgency to the speed at which the battered pickup truck tears across the road, then goes straight off it into the desert. Onlookers only a few thousand feet away watch the pickup go uncontrolled down an embankment, hit a rock and break an axle, then collide with a butte of sandy stone in a riotous crash. Steam explodes from the grille and the truck has come to a stop. A half dozen young children come running out of simple prefab concrete block houses, squinting against the mid-day sun. Behind them, a surly-looking man with a thick mustache and curly gray hair emerges. He presses one hand to a child's shoulder, quelling his shouts.

The gray-haired old man stays quiet, watching the steam rise from the truck. His eyes narrow, creasing wrinkles deeper into furrows of worry. After a moment, he watches a dark-haired woman stumble out of the wreck, and his back straightens and chin shifts to the side. She's bleeding, he can smell the injury from here, feel where every droplet of blood has landed. Cautiously, the old man looks down to the boy he stopped, giving his shoulder enough of a squeeze to get his attention. The boy looks up, wide-eyed and the older man asks of him a very important task.

"Encuentra a Alejandro."

Ascensión Commune


mourning you


you deserve it

like your son

dig. harder.

like a dog

protect my wife

are you dead mister?

A sudden shock of breath sends an injured woman jolting into an upright position. Dark hair curls across tanned skin, a white bandage stands out against the darker shades, save for the pop or rust red in the middle. She scans the room she's in, a dimly lit basement with gauzy curtains covering concrete walls. Throw pillows line the floor, none of which look alike. A low, round table beside her bed burns with a single oil lamp. Bed. Bed. The woman swings her legs off the side of the low cot she was apparently laying on, stumbling to her feet, wobbling — the world spins. She falls to her knees amid pillows, fingers curl into fabric, she's feels tears on her cheeks. Pain prickles her spine, and then —

The wall cracks beside her, a low harmonic resonance thrumming through the concrete. She looks up, fear in her expression, and the lab starts jittering across the table. The ground vibrates, an earthquake. She can hear footsteps overhead, feel them through the floor, feels people above her, heartbeats and veins snaking under skin. Someone comes running down the stairs, barefoot and shirtless in old jeans. He's her age, dark curls of hair spilling over his shoulders, dark eyes too. She feels his pain.

"Merde," the dark-haired man hisses, then hops down the last few steps and holds out a warning hand to the frightened and injured woman. "Está bien," he urges, "estás seguro." There's not enough recognition in her expression, she's panicking and he can tell her Spanish either isn't there or isn't good. He tries a different tack, taking a knee with a hand still held out as the house shakes. "Easy, easy," he's hoping English does the trick. He sees recognition, still fear, but that's something. "Hey, it's ok. You're safe, alright? You crashed your truck," he motions behind himself abstractly. "We got you somewhere safe, come on calm down." He isn't afraid of the building shaking, the lamp now levitating off of the table, the fire changing colors inside of the glass case.

She stares at him, wide-eyed, but still. Slowly, he creeps over in a crouched position, hand held out in a passive gesture and show of trust. "Take my hand," he urges, "take a breath too." She can feel children, the vivaciousness of youth, and she reaches out to take his hand firmly. There's a moment, a breath, and then he seems to draw her panic and fear away from her. There's calmness, respite, and the quaking stops. The lantern comes to gently settle back on the table and its fire turns from blue to orange again. He squeezes her hand, she can see his fear, but he's reflecting none of it back to her.

"My name's Alejandro," is a soft, casual introduction as he keeps her hand in his. "What's yours?" She hesitates, uncertainly, giving a gentle squeeze back. Her eyes search the room, then finally settle back on Alejandro after several long moments. By then, there's feet on the stairs. Children, entirely, many of whom are watching the scene of she and Alejandro without much fear. There's a young girl, though, coming down the stairs beside them. She can't be older than maybe nine or ten. Too pale to have been out here in the desert for too long.

Alejandro tracks the woman's stare, looks back to the girl and offers her a smile and rewards her curiosity by beckoning her over. "Hey, hey chica, what're you doing down here?" Alejandro looks back to the injured woman, still holding her hand. "This is Natalie," Alejandro explains, looping an arm around the young girl. Natalie looks from Alejandro to the injured woman, head tilting to the side subtly. "We're all friends here, it's ok… you're safe." He waits, again. The children on the stairs wait. Natalie waits, regarding the new arrival with a warm, if not somewhat distant smile.

"Joy," she finally introduces herself.

"My name is Joy."

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