Año Nuevo, Vida Nueva


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Scene Title Año Nuevo, Vida Nueva
Synopsis New year, new life and the gradual realization of an old abscess in Deckard's subconscious.
Date December 8, 2009 - January 1, 2010


Everything out here is brown. Brown and a dry, scrubby green that reads only vaguely as life bristled into coarse grasses and stunted cacti wherever rock is loose enough for roots to buckle through the cracks. Ridged mountains or barren hills break up the blue of the skyline, their prehistoric spines weathered down into rugged shambles by the dust and sand that's everywhere and in everything. It's already worn itself down into the creases around Flint's eyes. It's in the lines drawn clear out across his palms and dusted into grizzled stubble, washing salt and pepper out into bland, dusty grey. It's in his clothes. Even the ones he's not wearing.

The sky, though – the sky's bluer than it ever was in New York, and it still has a tendency to dazzle at his eyes as if someone's turned the saturation up too high. It's for that reason that he finds himself staring blankly a moment once he's clapped the car door shut behind him, suit lapels tagging slow in the same dry wind that sizzles dust up over his boots.

Stone bricking has withstood the test of time in more than one location around the desert, but this is the first jumble of buildings he's found with a well that looks promising. His el camino tick-tick-plinks in tinny relief at his back when he finally crunches off uphill through the sand to investigate.


He'd tried one of the houses, originally. There are a few of them scattered around without any streets to organize their placement. But the first roof he made had blown off when the wind picked up, and within a week, the second one did too. He'd reflected that it was maybe best he never made it through the engineering program after all, and dragged his cot and the rest of his belongings into the bar. There, most of the original roofing was still intact, tin rusted and wood worn hollow and grey with age. His patches held. A ring of industrial strength poison around the door and his bed took out the worst of the spiders, for all that it didn't seem to phase the scorpions.

Now, just as he's placing the last of the amber-filled bottles he picked up in a nearby town to stock the shelves, a shadow falls across the open door at his back. The tatty ginger wad of his cat picks up his tail and wanders that way unconcerned, tufted paws already picking their way across the dirty floor when he spins and draws.

There's a huffed gasp and the kid reaching out for the tom's velvet nose folds in on himself like a dead wolf spider. He bolts in the same jerky start of knees and elbows, leaving Deckard to stare blankly after an empty rectangle of desert for more than a minute before he thinks to give chase.


The horse is something new. For all that Flint has never hated animals, he's never been a lover of them either, and the great seal brown beast plodding around the pen he built up off the side of the bar doesn't look the type to suffer fools gladly. The one they put him on in town to see if he could ride at all was smaller; stockier. It whickered sociably when he brushed it and didn't try to stamp his feet when he went to pick its hooves clean. Alfonzo had laughed when he asked in stumbling Spanish if he could have it instead. He thought he was kidding. Asshole.

Bristled chin rested upon the arms he has folded around one of the mesquite fence posts, he watches it snuff at scrubby grass and prick its ears at the billow and flap of the cover drawn dusty white over the el camino until it's almost dark and the one-eyed cat is politely prickling his talons through his blue jeans one careful claw at a time.


Everything in the city is blue.

Sand clotted cold into snow turns damp under heavy hooves; it clings to ragged hocks and settles in still drifts past the stir of equine breath. Central Park is all around them with its empty archways and lonely statues standing sentinel to the silence.

Beneath an azure sky fixed in permanent, star-dusted twilight, the vivisected corpus of John Logan glistens slick in the gloom. Blood soaked black through the snow around him is no contest for the distraction comprised of tenuous mesentary carefully slit and spread to expose the vile shiver and pump of human organs laid bare but otherwise unscathed.

The partially folded knife in Deckard's hand is still warm, and for a few seconds he looks disconcerted by the weight of it fitted comfortably in his palm. Did he do this?

As the organ peddler watches with rapt fascination, Logan breathes on at a thready wheeze, glassy green eyes blind to all but the cold eating slow into his system. He thumbs the knife closed and tucks it away — nudges a boot into broad ribs enough to walk the horse a few sinking steps closer. Rangy bones bleached spectral blue roll through them both at billowy tumble; x-ray lightning through a black nebula of tendon and muscle and pin strip-ed suit. Sockets swallow gently glowing eyes and joints roll with mechanical precision in an equine shoulder one step; hollow cheeks fill in over naked teeth the next.

John changes too.

Eyebrows thicken with every degree his vantage point changes; chiseled English elegance blends into softer Tennessee teddybear and on into dumb puppy Italy. On the inside they all look the same. The horse's ears lay back flat and Flint allows it to walk on, hooves tramping uneasily onward as eyeliner fades around pale eyes and male muscle gives way to slender bird bones and long black hair already burnished with undertones of familiar red when he forces himself to look forward.

The pond ahead is frozen over. Snow powdered across the surface stands out blue against the black of dirty ice, and there's something scraping at the underside. Clawing. A pale fish belly flash of a small hand; panicked nails bleach white in their futile scrabbling; peeling back away from rough ice and hardened detritus as precious air blanches upward into a mushroomed scream. Flint's breathing quickens before his all-seeing eyes fade dark enough to confirm what he already knows in his gut: blonde hair swirls in a sluggish turn through lightless water. But he can't summon a sense of urgency, and before his legs seize to kick his horse into a gallop, there's someone running past him.

Francois' boots ski and slide over snow and ice, the pick crossed heavily over one shoulder skewing his balance so that it's a labor to turn back – to demand in bitter dismay:

« “What are you doing? We must help them!" »


He hasn't been sleeping well.

The horse's name is Chopazo. He'd remembered to ask last time he made a supply run and Mrs. Alfonzo had said he looked unwell. Flint, that is. Not the horse. Chopazo was fine, according to them. No reason for him not to be eating. Probably nothing a healthy mierda wouldn't clear up. Also, he should shave. He looks nicer without a beard.

They were both healthy in turn. No more cancer.

So here he is now, eating soggy peaches out've a can in front of his firepit while the horse lips half-heartedly at the crisp assortment of apples and carrots and granola bars he'd dumped into its trough and a jack rabbit blackens over the flames, all stringy sinew and splintery bone. The cat rasps scraps of red meat and scarce fat off the loose hide with his tongue as sparks snuff themselves out against the sky, the most content of all of them.


Señor Deckard.

She's dead.

Blue eyes fogged over white under the ice, blonde hair weakened to to straw in its drift with a ghostly current. Her struggle ended days or weeks ago, and a stir at her wrist is merely an illusion. The niggling passage of a curious fish. Abigail is dead and where was he?

A pick stands solid out of the ice, snow settled soft across the handle, no Frenchman in sight.

He was here.

Chopazo is tied off on a statue's sword further ashore, ears laid back and nostrils dished to the stale scent of death that's only just beginning to catch in Deckard's sinuses. Blood spots away in dribbles and starts from the pick's abandoned grip, marking staggered footsteps scraped into wintry blues and greys.

Señor Deckard. Despiértate!

It's Teo rather than Francois who looks on now, squared hands shoved deep down in his pockets at the horse's twitching flank. He's frowning at a distance, snow piled sloppy around his knees, disappointment dark in the shadows spilled across his face…

There's a hand hard at his shoulder, shaking hard and Flint finally startles upright, eyes wild. The same hand catches his wrist before it can wrap around his revolver, familiar in all its knotted knuckles and strips of tendon. Alfonzo stares him in the face, bourbon on his breath to combat tequila and rum in turn. They're both breathing hard; the bar's roof creaks above them. It's still dark and the wind is howling. Sand skims through a worn patch at a wavery trickle.

Leo es disparo.

Cold sweat builds up enough at Flint's brow to grease down into his eyes – he blinks hard and swallows, trying to twist away. Alfonzo doesn't let go.

"El está muriendo!"

“I didn't shoot him,” turns out to be an insufficient argument. Maybe if he'd said it slower, or more loudly.

The Fonz hauls him off his cot with the strength of someone half his age and twice his weight. A ratty grey blanket tangles at his bare ankles and he nearly trips, but his boots are already at the bedside and are quickly joined by a jacket and a more substantial pair of pants. The shirt catches him across the long angles of his face and hangs there until he can summon enough energy to reach up for it.


He says it out loud, but he also says it as he's groggily pulling the shirt on over his sweat-spined hair and dirt-smudged brow. “You better let me have a fucking shower.

No telling if the older man has heard – he's already outside flinging saddles around by the time Flint's scrubbed a shoulder against the damp scuff of his temple and stooped to reach for his pants.


Ever start driving and half an hour later realize you've arrived somewhere with no recollection of having steered?

Flint seems to be suffering from that sensation a lot lately.

But now he's here and there's undoubtedly a reason. There's always been one before. Doesn't matter if he's not positive he even really existed prior to his own arrival. Most that are afflicted with highway hypnosis can at least claim they remember getting in the car.

There is no distinction between sky and earth. No horizon. Everything is the same polished shade of finite obsidian, reflective with nothing to reflect. Even Chopazo's hooves and hide are too dark to render as more than a smudge on the glassy terrain that slides past soundlessly underfoot.

Before them both, an alternate dimension billows and ripples too massive for easy comprehension. No telling from this vantage point if it's measured in miles or hundreds of miles. Mucous rainbows in tenuous whorls around the surface, no more substantial than a bubble of snot at first glance — but when he presses the flat spread of his hand to the cold and wet, he can feel it pushing back. His fingers come away damp, having only made the barest of impressions. Even so, flickers of detail and color have already begun to resolve themselves on the far side. Rickety bars and moldering brothels plunge up away from cramped city streets in tints of asphalt grey and brown; neon lights bray about their wares in waves of hot red and orange mingled with electric blue. There is a sensation of loss, or of being lost. A thread of desperation on the verge of becoming fear.

Flint flicks his knife away from his belt, and then open.

A single quick slash is enough to gain his hand entry.

It pushes through the gel a ways on its own and fails to find open air. Even sunk in to the shoulder, his blunt nails and sharper blade find only more muck to suck deeper into, and he withdraws. Displaced slime slops out after the cold cling of his sleeve — shivers and splashes at Chopazo's hooves and sends nervous tension buckling into the beast's broad shoulders.

Progress is progress.

A wider arc of the knife from astride his horse sends more of the Stuff spilling out in a noxious, clumpy flood of jellyfish viscera. And another, and another. With every stroke they make, the connection intensifies until it feels like they're right up on whoever's world this is — right up on her — and compulsion spurs man and horse to plow through what remains at a slogging, claggy kick and desperate lash of hooves and pounding hearts.


He's wearing the sweater Rosa made for him. Alfonzo's wife. It's green and red and brown and there are reindeer. Christmas was over a week ago, but she had frowned at him yesterday. M'hijo, you haven't worn your sweater! There's nobody around to laugh at him anyway.

They all have sweaters too.

The bartender's is white and gold. She's cute, she has all her teeth and she smiles at him lot. Her name is Mayra. He's been spending more time here in town, away from his place and dreams he can only remember enough to dread them.

Rosa had invited him back out to spend New Years with them (Ah, pobrecito! You are lonely!), but had gotten drunk and fallen asleep around ten. Alfonzo lasted until midnight. He hadn't said much. That was ok. Flint let himself out.

He doesn't push away from the bar until he notices Mayra smiling at him again and he forces himself to smile back at an indirect slant, sincere as ever in polite disinterest. He knows what she does to pick up extra cash when she's not working the bar. She knows he knows.

But it's two in the morning and he isn't feeling well or he hasn't had enough to drink or he's not lonely enough to want her. Most likely all of the above.

« "Maybe next week." »

« "That is what you said last week!" »

He forces another half-smile, long face and blue eyes apologetic this time, and fans his usual tip out next to his glass. Between the sweater and his abstinence, it's probably only a matter of time before the locals come up with theories to explain both. Let them.

The wind is cool on his brow when he steps outside, change light in his pocket and sand still warm under his boots.

It feels like he's been here for longer than a month.

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