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Her back ached as she slithered from beneath the moth-eaten covers on the soft bed. Her delicate feet padded across the creaking wooden floor as she went to the shard of mirror hanging over the basin of water. Aali must have filled it already, she was always doing things like that. She stared into her deep eyes. Eyes that had once seen war. Hands that had tried so hard. Lips that had once kissed a Good Man. Lips that now only caressed those of Aali, and the poison of the creature she had fought against. A creature that desired to possess her entirely. She smelled of the air. She turned her face away from the mirror as tears trickled down her soft white skin. She couldn’t withstand the cramps in her back any longer. She stretched her fetid wings spanning the entire length of her cabin in the trees. She pulled them in and looked at her hateful reflection again. She couldn’t understand “what immortal hand or eye could frame (her) fearful symmetry” (Blake, The Tyger). This hair that had grown so long. These sharp teeth that had ripped the throats from a species she was no longer a part of. This body that no longer belonged to herself. She was a monster, the evil creatures she had fought against. She had fought to protect a family broken long ago. She was estranged by hatred from the family she could no longer be a part of. She turned away from her visage, and walked through the swinging wooden door that led to a balcony looking down the tree that had grown so tall since the downfall of human society. “The sun still rose, and made happy the skies” (Blake, Echoing Green), but no longer herself. She leant on the railing and stared down towards the shed where the one thing she loved was kept. Though others looked at her she looked at no one. Her dress and hair flew on the wind. She heard the beat of powerful wings. She wanted to throw up as his strong hand gripped her slight shoulders.
“Hello darling” his poisonous voice whispered into her sensitive ears. She turned her face away. He grabbed her face and brought it back to meet his. She did not look at him. He stole a kiss from her unwilling lips. She turned her face away forcing the tears not to flow. She couldn’t let him see her weakness, he didn’t need more power over her. Michael, was power enough. Odin bared his teeth at her, the freak of nature he was. “Your old husband would never accept you again, if he still lives. Give yourself to me and be happy.” She spread her wings and tumbled over the balcony. She fell into a dive and was on the ground in a few moments, the air pressing her hair against her back. She knew how to use the powerful leathery wings, and it sickened her. She went through the heavy wooden door of the shed. It was unlocked, there were two of them taunting the little human boy. “Get out!” Zahira screamed with rare strength. The two smiled their teeth at her and let the boy go. He scrambled into the corner behind the old couch. He hid his head of sandy blond hair beneath his arms, he knew they liked to pull at it. They walked past her, running into her shoulders and laughing at her. She shivered. The boy was no more than five years old, abused like nothing more than a pet. Zahira went to the corner and lifted him, he stayed as much in a ball as his strength allowed. She ignored it and held him close to her, wrapping him in her hideous wings. The boy’s position changed. The legs wrapped around her waist, the chubby little arms wound around her neck. He buried his face in her thin blond hair bleached by the sun. He let himself cry for the first time in a long time, he knew she would not hurt him. He knew her caress.
“Michael.” She whispered. The boy didn’t have to know she was his mother. He didn’t have to know he was her last link to humanity, the painful reminder of a happy life with his father who had never seen Michael before. She heard the door open and felt Michael’s muscles tense, he stopped crying mid sob. “The father demands you go north and retrieve food from the coastal farms, no cattle this time, Human flesh, princess.” “Aali.” She said hatefully, turning around. “At your service lady,” she said, bowing, her seductive waves of dark hair falling around her face. She mocked her. “He orders you to go immediately.” “Leave Michael alone.” She said giving him one last squeeze before she let him down. He backed himself into the corner, eyes darting from one to the other. She refused to let him see her face as she turned away. “Of course, babe.” She whispered, seductively laying a kiss on Zahira’s lips. Zahira knew she was lying when she left the shed, but she couldn’t stop it. She was in the air moments later. She flew as high as she could without suffocating. The sound of her breathing and the distant birds her only companions. She flew too high to see her shadow on the ground. Her sharp eyes caught views she once would have adored to see. Visions she would now give up for one last moment with her beloved husband. She flew over mountains, the mountains that had “all opened out themselves, and made a hidden valley of their own” (Wordsworth, Michael), one that the creatures lived in. She saw the once heavily polluted lakes. Rocks that were once cities littered the landscape. Cities full of light and comfort where you didn’t need wings to get a birds eye view. Abandoned homes. Empty roads. Water.
Life. She had “learned to look on nature, not as in the hour of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes the still, sad music of humanity” (Wordsworth, Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey). Humanity had refused to live in harmony with life. Life that created an abomination so that humanity might learn its lesson. An abomination that desired her, and had created her. An abomination she was now a part of. She could fly north to the last city. It would be suicide, even if only in the outskirts, but she could do it. Then Michael would surely die. She lived for Michael. The sounds from a tiny settlement shocked her out of her reverie. She could hear the voices inside. She slowly let herself fall from the high path, circling over her prey. She saw “into the life of things” (Wordsworth, Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey). A woman stepped from the cabin. A young woman, newly married. A couple that had newly reclaimed this abandoned property. The woman was happy, going to gather more wood for the repairs. She saw the shadow and knew in a second what was happening. She let out a scream as she looked up. Zahira came down, her feet on the shoulders of the woman, snapping the woman’s neck as she landed taking the woman down with her. The man ran at her from behind with a hammer. Zahira spun, grabbed his arm, enveloping him in her embrace. Her teeth met his neck, his life’s blood filled her mouth as she swallowed the flesh of his jugular. He was dead. He slipped from her arms to the ground below the shield of her wings, both of them; dead at her feet. The predator, the prey. She stretched her wings, the blood dripping from the brown leather onto the green grass, newly trimmed. She looked at the trimmed vines that had once covered the house, vines that would cover it again. The house belonged to nature again. She lifted the man and wife, one under each arm. She gained her balance and began the long
She flew to Odin’s cabin that encompassed the area between two big trees. It was the largest, his throne. She placed the man and wife on the bower in front of the cabin. She stared at them a moment. They were bloodied but at peace. They would no longer have to find a reason to brave the danger and get out of bed in the morning. They would never have progeny to worry about daily. They would never again have to worry about each other. In death they would always be together. She wished that they who “found death in life, may here find life in death” (Coleridge, Epitaph).
Zahira didn’t notice the two guards as they grabbed her arms and led her into the main room of the cabin. She looked at Odin as he stalked from behind his chair. “Whatever happened to the days where my servants delivered me live prey?” “I can’t carry them while they struggle.” Zahira answered quietly. “Zahira, Zahira, the beautiful specimen of human genetics, blended with my own. If you gave yourself to me you would hunt no more.” “I gave myself once.” “To a man. I am stronger than man. I am more powerful.” “I won’t give myself again.” “You will,” he sneered, “sooner or later.” “No.” she said flatly. He looked down on her. “The pet will go without food and without your visit for a week. You will relinquish your dress as well.” She stared at him and did not cry. She took the punishment, left and slunk back to her “soul’s
haunted cell” (Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgramage). She curled up facing the wall and let her tears come. Night had fallen and the crickets were chirping. The cold seeped through the wooden slots between the walls and floor. The door creaked open. “Go away.” She whispered. “If I did that I wouldn’t have the pleasure of staring at your gorgeous naked body would I?” “Aali.” She stated turning around and welcoming the woman into her arms. She nuzzled between Aali’s breasts. “You can’t have me either you know.” She said. “I know,” Aali whispered in her ears. Zahira abandoned herself to the comforts of Aali’s feminine embrace, the warmth of her wings over her naked body. Sometimes she hated Aali, sometimes Aali was the one she needed, the only one who ever showed her kindness, even if only for selfish purposes. “You’re so fascinating Zahira, and much stronger than you act. Why not give up? Kill the boy and accept your new identity. You’re not human anymore. How long do you think it will take The Father to realize that boy is what keeps you tied to humanity?” “As long as you keep your mouth shut. Michael is my humanity.” “He’ll never accept you as his mother, only the one who does not hurt him.” “He doesn’t need to know more. I loved a man once.” “You still love him.” Zahira said nothing. “You’ll never have him again.” “You’re trying to tell me the best thing I can do for Michael is to kill him.” “Yes.” Aali said nuzzling her and smiling.
“What if I think the best thing I can do is to kill myself?” Aali didn’t say anything, but the smile faded. She stared at Zahira trying to catch anything serious in her expression. She saw nothing. Then she saw as a fire lit her eyes again. The expression The Father had envied in her from the moment he saw her defending her home. Zahira wrestled herself from Aali’s warm embrace, pushing Aali to the floor. “Where are you going Zahira?” Aali asked indignantly. “Someplace to think.” She said, deciding to herself, she would no longer “(eat) the bitter bread of dependence” (Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women).
She found it easily, the cabin in the woods. So like that of the newlyweds, and abandoned. She could smell the scent of someone being here recently. There were fresh flowers on the floor. The scent charmed her and made her long for that moment in the sheets, the sweat upon her, his scent, his love. The “mind-forg’d manacles” (Blake, London) set her free. She knew what she had to do. She found a pen in the desk. She carved more than wrote in the wall a location she should have disclosed long ago. She stayed a moment longer letting the scent surround her, reminiscing in the past. She left, “into the dangerous world (she) leapt, helpless, naked,…a fiend hid in a cloud” (Blake, Infant Sorrow). She headed north.
She sent the city into chaos on her arrival. One assault on a city usually meant more. There was more fear than firearms and she had been cornered quickly on a roof. She listened to their biting insults as she backed into the wall. Afraid of what she was doing and yet recognizing it as the right thing to do. She didn’t mind them, she knew she deserved them. Then she heard wings.
She looked up, the people didn’t hear it. “Look out!” she yelped, too late. Aali was among them, killing them, fighting them. Spoiling her plan, Aali was angry. “Are you crazy! Coming to the city!” Aali shouted at her. “Where’s…” she choked mid-sentence as Odin grabbed her neck from behind. He lifted her from the ground, cutting off her airways. “You dared think you could escape me? I’ll deal with you further when I get back.” Odin hissed. “The people will follow us sir.” Aali complained as Zahira tried to gasp for air. “Then I guess you’ll just have to stay and distract them.” Odin demanded. Aali stared at him with terror as he took off. People were coming armed now. Zahira knew Aali would die there, as well as Aali did. She let a tear fall for Aali, she was the last one who saw Aali’s horrified face. Odin carried her high, too high for her to catch her breath again. She felt and saw things in intervals, she knew they were followed, she heard helicopters, she saw the camp. She could feel him again, the helicopters were down, he had ripped the pilots from their exposed seats. He landed with her, she knew she had started another war. “Now you see what you’ve done!” He yelled, he was stained with blood. She could feel the smoke of the burning helicopters in her lungs. “I want to see Michael” she gasped tears filling her eyes, as he threw her to the ground. Her legs crumpled beneath her. “I know what to do with your precious Michael!” He took off and, stumbling, she attempted her follow, she knew he would kill him.
Odin was in front of the shed, he opened the door. A shotgun barrel faced him. A sandy blond man at the triggers end. One blast. Odin’s head was gone. She was separated from the screams as she stumbled against the door frame. “She look’d a sadness sweeter than her smile” (Byron, Don Juan). She nearly passed out in the position she found, the gun was dropped and the man came to support her. She let herself fall into his arms and she wept, burying her face in his shoulders. He held her in his strong arms. Michael hid in the corner underneath a blanket, his ears covered. She didn’t care, she knew Michael would be safe now. She wound her wings around the man, together at last. “I never stopped hoping” she whispered. “I never stopped looking.” He said with difficulty. Zahira sobbed. “I love you.” “I know.” He lifted her lips to his. So warm, so good. A good man. A pistol. One shot. It was over. She found strength “in what would remain behind” (Wordsworth, Ode: Intimations of Immortality). Michael and his father walked hand in hand out of the chaos and to safety.