The Eskimo stares at his bleeding, hunted prey and wonders. He ponders, as he always does after a successful kill, if the animal was aware of its own destiny, or perhaps the seal just lived blindly through life, unaware of its own fate. He approaches the dead, bloated seal with care because of the blinding darkness around him. The yellow flashlight he carries isn’t strong enough for such a black morning.
He begins skinning the gray animal corpse with the knife his grandfather gave him when he was just a boy. He listens to the silent ocean sway; the white slabs of ice floating in its ancient seas. Even through the shadowed sky, he can see the mammoth pieces of icebergs floating along the black waters, looking like hovering ghosts, watching him as he does his work. A sorrow swells inside of him like an ocean tide as a gnawing hunger forces him to kill such a beautiful living thing in order to survive, but still thankful for its brave sacrifice.
It's then, when the darkness is at its highest peak, as if the land is in a tender sleep, that the sun begins to rise over the horizon like a beacon of the unfamiliar, growing in size and wonder in contrast to the retreating night sky. The Eskimo doesn’t understand. ‘Why is sun rising three months early?’ He asks himself. The searing, burning sun climbs against the stars like a hungry bear rising out of its sleep. The Eskimo begins to feel uneasy. His thick heart starts to pound. A feeling of terror sweeps through his body like tiny pinprick earthquakes trembling along the indented creases of his spine.
“The sun, it’s too hot!” The Eskimo shouts as he chides the land as a parent scolding a rebellious child. The Eskimo is right though, the bright, boiling light is too hot. He can see, with warming eyes, the snow and ice around him dissolving like a red carpet threading apart at the seams. All he can do is to be still and shiver from an aching fear at the disastrous reality that his ground, his home, in a few short minutes will be a wasteland of water. The Eskimo is frantic to understand and too panicked to realize that understanding doesn’t matter.
The ground begins to feel weak under his feet. The heat from the blazing sun burns his clothes into bleeding a white smoke like a pack of lit menthols on a cold day. In the distance, the Eskimo can see holes forming on the arctic floor the size of small houses and spreading wider as each sweltering moment passes. He tries to roll in the snow for shelter from the sun, only to find the snow is inexorably gone, leaving only ice breaching into hairline fractures like weak bones.
The Eskimo has only one choice. Rather than allow the ice to break under him, and send him beneath the remaining ice slabs like a drowning penguin, he jumps into the bitter waters and feels the fast moving freeze crawling its way into his old flesh, as if his body is breaking-up from the inside out. His thoughts grow jumbled and panicked. He tries to breathe, to think, but all he can do is feel the shattering pain across his body as his blood thickens and his fleshy tissue turns blue like the daylight sky above him.
The Eskimo knows that his final moments tweak upon him. He views, with dimming eyes, the exhaustive melting of his empty homeland and the destruction of the mighty Arctic Circle as the icebergs drip away into worthless memory. It’s then when his final thoughts dwell upon his beloved wife and three infant children that he descends into the warming waters and on down into the lonely, black depths as an anchor cut from its ship.
Copyright: © 2009 Michael Kane
Copyright: © 2009 Michael Kane
----------------------------------Michael Kane has been immersing himself in the art of the gothic and the macabre for the better part of a decade and seeks to truly capture what it means to fashion this delicate craft onto paper. He has a short story entitled “The Island” set to be released on sonar4ezine.com in Jan. 2010 and "Black Rising" being released in April 2010. There's also a short story called "Elevator Culture" coming out on deathheadgrin.com in the Fall 2009.