Immobility

Immobility by Brian Evenson Read Free Book Online

Book: Immobility by Brian Evenson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Brian Evenson
devastated and semi-collapsed building, roughly in the shape of an X. In front of it, fallen to one side and staring up into the sky, a bronze statue, roughly the same height as his mules. It depicted a man with long hair, clean-shaven and sporting a cravat. He was wearing the bronze equivalent of a heavy old-fashioned coat, a waistcoat beneath, something running over it—the chain of a watch or the strap of a gun holster or the thong of a canteen. In one hand he held a cane, broken halfway down.
    The two mules stopped and knelt before the statue. They reached out to touch the statue’s forehead, muttering something in unison.
    “What is it?” Horkai asked. “Who is he?”
    “The founder,” said the mule he was riding. He gestured all around him. “He made all this,” he said. “The place that this is. Before it was destroyed.”
    “Is he a kind of god to you?” asked Horkai, suddenly nervous.
    “Not a kind of god,” said the mule. “The founder. He’s not a god. He’s not perfect.”
    “He shouldn’t have made these roofs in glass,” said the other mule.
    “He did the best he could,” said the first mule.
    “Why do you touch him? For luck?”
    The first mule shook his head. “Because this is as far as we’ve ever gone. We’ve never gone past him.”
    “You’re kidding,” said Horkai.
    “No,” said the mule. “I am not kidding.”
    “We came into being there,” said the other mule, gesturing behind them. “We have stayed there ever since, studying the maps, waiting for this day. We thank you for making this day possible.”
    “You’re welcome,” said Horkai, not knowing what else to say, as the two mules regained their footing and set off again.

8
    THEY SKIRTED THE RUINED BUILDING, entered a broken expanse of asphalt, the remains of a parking lot dotted with cars, their tires cracked and mostly gone. Some were ruined and at angles, some parked in an orderly fashion, all of them stripped to bare metal by wind and dust, their windshields often blasted opaque. For a moment, a brief flash, he saw the lot as it had been, surrounded by trees, the curving pedestrian bridge leading a few hundred feet or so away to a stadium or coliseum, and then the vision was gone.
    The bridge to the stadium was collapsed now, and the stadium, too, must have fallen, was no longer looming visibly over the road. In the lot, most of the cars were empty, though in a few he thought he saw bodies curled on the seats, long dead. Some cars had their doors open and here and there, where the asphalt was most intact, he saw odd dark stains. Distorted shapes, not unlike human bodies.
    They approached a corner of the lot, beyond which remains of streets ran to the four points of the compass. At the edge of the lot they paused, and the mule walking beside him turned to him. “Does this look familiar?” the mule asked.
    “Some of it,” Horkai admitted.
    “Can you help us know where to go next?” the mule asked.
    “I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll try.”
    He looked out across the intersection, to where on the far side the hill descended into a field of rubble. He tried to remember what had been there. Dormitories, maybe. To his left side a slope upward, with whatever was behind it hidden. To the right it sloped downward, going first east and then south to reveal the dark scar that the valley below had become, the lake far beyond it, a mottled gray on the horizon.
    “Which way?” asked the mule. “We should not waste time.”
    Horkai raised his hands somewhat helplessly, let them fall. “Straight ahead,” he finally said.
    The two mules exchanged glances, though because of their hoods, Horkai had difficulty seeing the expressions on their faces. “Straight ahead we go,” said the mule beneath him, and they started off.
    *   *   *
    A SLOW BUT MILD DESCENT, picking their way through the rubble, then, soon after, an open stretch of dirt and dust. The wind picked up and blew dust everywhere. He began to

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