The Black Ribbon

His burden was heavy, but if he could just get to the black ribbon, things would be better. Great things happened on the black ribbon, at least that’s what was promised, and it was time great things happened to him.

With slow and deliberate steps, he eased his way through the underbrush, which snagged and pulled at his bulky body. Everything he owned he bore upon his back, which was not much, and for that, at that moment, he was thankful. And yet, for not having much, he was seduced by discontent, and the ribbon whispered hypnotically to him.

When he pulled his last leg free of the brambles and hooks, he took a deep breath and beheld from a distance the beauty of the ribbon, which slithered across the fields and meadows in opposite directions beyond sight and measure. But his attention was quickly drawn to a disturbance–a black dust devil twisting upon the wind. Propelled by curiosity, he plodded toward it at a brisk pace, though for most it would have appeared to be little more than a lazy crawl, and when he finally got close enough for details, his lungs were in full protest.

To his horror, the vortex was not a dust devil at all but rather a swarm of vultures circling high over the carcass of some unidentifiable creature baking upon the ribbon, the distinguishing features having been picked violently clean from the bones. He shivered at the gruesome sight and shifted his path westward, away from the foul feast.

swarming-vultures

His heartbeat quickened as he neared the black ribbon. He eased up to the edge of it and smiled brightly, greatness right beneath his nose. Even the smell was intoxicating, though slightly caustic.

As he lifted his first leg to step upon the auspicious surface, he heard a rumbling off in the distance. He pulled back and bent his ear toward the curious sound. Louder and louder it got until a shiny object appeared on the horizon moving swiftly in his direction. He backed cautiously away.

The shiny object grew as it approached until it reached a monstrous proportion. It growled and puffed along its way and traveled with such great speed that he tucked his head into his shell in fright. As he plunged into the darkness, the roaring monster stormed past and spun him around on the edge of the black ribbon like a dreidel.

His heartbeat reverberated loudly within the confines of his spinning abode. After finally coming to a rest, he lay panting for several moments, willing his heart to mellow, then heard a similar noise off in the distance. He cracked his shell open slightly, just enough to peer out safely, and observed a second monster galloping toward him. But this one was not so large nor so scary, so he stuck his head out all the way for a better look. As the steely monster passed by, a young human protruded from an opening and stared at him maniacally, his tongue flopping about in the wind in such a manner that he knew it was meant as a taunt. A saliva shower fell before him upon the ribbon, hissing and spitting against the heat.

Thus far, he was not impressed with the black ribbon, but the promise was loud, so he was determined to continue along.

With a quiet distance, he emerged from his shell, stretched his legs, and then slowly inched upon the blackness. He was surprised by the heat rising into the air and sizzling beneath his feet, which, but for his scaly soles, would have cooked him right through without a pot. His burden suddenly felt oppressive as he lumbered toward the yellow divider, his nostrils burning from the acrid odor wafting up with the heat waves.

Was this what greatness felt like? 

And that’s when he heard the scariest sound he had ever heard, an indescribable scourge upon the stifling air. He glanced to his right, and through the spectral waves, a blurry blight appeared, big and gaudy, loud and offensive, rattling and puffing smoke as it billowed toward him recklessly. Without time to move left or right, he squared up and braced himself for the impact.

Just before he tucked his head into his shell, he glimpsed the wild eyes of an orange Orangutan smiling and cackling at the helm of the bulky beast, which had “Greatness” scrawled upon its front. The hair on the Orangutan’s head flew about madly as if it wanted to take flight. What might have been a comical image was tragically real as the beast tilted and careened toward him on two wheels, its driver in ecstasy.

As he retracted into darkness, the beast stole the air from his chest, sent him flying like a meteor, and when he crashed, he skipped along the ribbon like a smoothed stone upon the surface of a glassy sea, coming to rest against the baking carcass of the unidentifiable creature, with a steely-eyed vortex greedily spiraling above him.

When he opened his eyes at last, he was lying in the street looking up into swirling confetti, which littered the streets in piles and drifts like a filthy snow. He sat up with a pounding head, dusted off his torso, and surveyed the chaotic surroundings, trying to restore focus to foggy events of the prior night. Posters of an orange man with “Greatness” emblazoned across them were plastered across every available surface for blocks on end. Intoxicated folks were running through the streets screaming, “Greatness is coming! Greatness is coming. We shall be great once again!”

Dread crept into his bowels. With great effort, he stood in the ankle-deep snow, unsteadily like a fawn, stumbled a few paces, and then stopped to massage his temples. Something at his feet caught his attention. He stooped down and retrieved a trampled and tattered copy of the sonnet, “New Colossus,” and wept as he read it.

“Merciful Father, what have we done?”

new-colossus

© 2016 THEDADDYBLITZ

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3 thoughts on “The Black Ribbon

  1. I love the way you draw the reader into the story at the beginning. That said, I agree with Tanya that I will have to re-read this and I do believe that we have been fast-forwarding toward this disaster for a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

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