9 Aug 1914
Outside of Paris
There had been no reason to expect any other people, and for a while that was true. But as they got in range of Paris, something wonderful happened, but truly disturbing in its own way. It happened the night before, probably, when they saw and preparation, which they knew this themselves cast in two light. They knew that they looked to a apparition, as he looked to them. Then the apparition was pale and ghostly, and they realized that they were pale and ghostly to its eyes, while to itself it seemed solid. In other words, a complete reversal. They were on the street, and suddenly it was there, though they could only just see it. Not only was it ghostly, but it seemed as if cold and wet, as if something was wrong with either their eyes, or its.
It wanted off, but they knew it was only the first apparition that they would see. Mayor was the first of a large horde of people, in the last war, in 1871, people piled on to battlefields. Now there was a front line, which stretched endlessly coiled on for steps of the mountain, upon every hill and dale. They had used the railway to find a trammel, really just a board with four wheels running on the railway. She sat along the front wall he applied is muscle to the wheels, and could get it going, even though it was going slowly, it was faster than walking.
“This is nice, pleasant effect. What made you think of it, wasn't something that you did in Baden, or someplace like that?”
“Something like that. My great grand uncle showed me how it worked, and then one day I and a friend used to borrow one, though of course we would put it back. We just went to the end, and then back again.“
She looked surprised, she couldn't help the reaction.
“So you did so many times, thousands?”
“Many times, but not thousands, of few times at best.”
But even a few times was more than she could claim, and for the first time, she was enraptured by his talking. There was a melodic note to it, that harmed in the air for a brief moment, brief moment that she could capture. And that moment made in think that he could like, more than like, the attention that she gave him.
But making this show was beyond him, so he just smiled instead and continued to pump. And pump and pump and pump, until he got his back into it and there was no motion. Just a seamless transfer, smooth motion from is hands and legs, into the machinery that replaced his own natural functions. Then he realized his great grand uncle was new to this thing as well, because originally became from the sea, on drifting waters and times, with many men under his watch. He recalled that as a junior commander one day he just walked off a shift, and never looked back. Everything was then hushed up, as many things were, loose ends and so on. He did not realize this until after the fact, when loose ends came and revealed themselves in quietly minuted ornately signed and documented, but there was an undercurrent that could not be hidden, though it was carefully orchestrated to reveal nothing, but the wafts of odor which if you knew the language of these words was obvious, at least someone who knew what they were talking about.
Such as, not to put too fine a point on it, himself.
Thus he read the papers instantly, pouring over them like they were the Bible. Most of the time they were bland. But unlike most papers, they were not entirely so, and in these cracks and crevices of the story took place that was anything but ordinary, far from it. Of course to you and I it would be humdrum, to younger man maneuvering is way too seduced a far older and wiser woman. There were hints of an affair, though nothing of the kind was spelled out. But in this time, and in this place, that would be enough. And then he bid adieu, in the was that. An order given, an order received, and that was that, his grant uncle was on his way, going in to the country where no one knew him, and no one cared.
It was as if there were something seemingly, in this piece of paper from Franco-Prussian War, but what made it important was he was going to join what would become Germany, though Germany did not quite yet exist. He reported, and conscripted, and changed their name. This was the older brother, actually one of three, and he had admired him, even lauded him, until he found out that wasn't at all what he looked like.
These things, and a few others, were streaming along his mind while she was talking about something, and he realized he needed to respond to it, or admit he wasn't the same. And he wanted to be listening. So inner thoughts were abandoned, and gradually subsided, so as to understand what she was saying. Fortunately he caught just the tail end of the sentence, and could respond adequately. But just barely, and he responded currently, to currently in fact.
“What were you thinking of, I can tell you had something on your mind, even if you are going to tell me good you were a bit late I had pizza muffin and so will I had to because you have that concentrated look on your face.”
Of course this would catch him off guard, indeed it was meant to, she was going in exactly the kind of German, because there were many kinds, and she might have been more fluent that he was.
“I was thinking about my great uncle, who came from the sea. And the road to his brother, telling him that Baden was the place to be.”
“It must have been a wonderful story, I hate to remind you your not of this world.”
He looked down at his boots.
“I keep forgetting, that I will not be going there, at least in this form, ever again. You're sure that there is no going back. We won't be resurrected will we?”
“I do not think so, but you never know. I know that I've seen nothing like it in my experience, but who really knows? I do know, that there is a connection between us, and more than either of us knows.”
“What I have been wondering, is there a God, which we will talk to? Or is there something else here that we have not been privy to.”
“I do know, though I have thought of this many times.”
“It's nice to know that the same things are on our mind.”
She nodded, and bit her lip as if she had something else to say, but repressed.
“You have something to say, I can hear it, in your voice, and your features.”
She stared in to the sky, trying to find words to say. It was different for her, she had many many things to say, but most of them were submerged in her mind, vying for thoughts, but hovering below limits of speech, trying not to be noticed. He had one thing to say, and the question was whether he would say it or not, where as she had innumerable things to say, and how she said it was not clear. It was as if looking upwards could resolve these differences, and with resolution a lower to charge forward with a single purpose. But as you can guess, that was very often.
“I have so many things that I want to say, and I fear that it will be nonsensical, or trite. I really want to please you, and I do not know what could be of interest to you. So I do not say anything at all, even though I would wish I could.”
“Say the first thing that comes into your mind.”
First, before anything else, she blushed, and by that there was understanding between them, she wanted him for the first time, that moment. Or rather, she told him so, though she had really wanted to him, before anything else. There was a magnetic moment, which he had missed, but which had grown into fruition of its own accord. Though secret, it had consumed your, though as yet unexpressed in its range and vivacity. She looked up to him, and their was a blushing at the tips of her cheeks, and finally he grassed the steps of her affection. But still, nothing was spoken. Nor was it going to be if she could help it, nor was it going to be if he could help it, it was as if it was a secret only left in words. In every other respect, it might as well been illuminated.
This left a tension between the to, which had to be broken, or it would become a miasma, that would have broken in half. He realized that this would be his responsibility, because she would be grappling on to whether she would or she wouldn't, on able to grapple with it.
“How are until Paris?”
“How long can you run this?”
She gestured at the rail, and quizzically looked at him.
“I can do this, for a long time. How long to Paris?”
“It is about 60 km or so.”
“So the middle of the next day we should be in Paris.”
She looked back at him, and saw that he was exhausted, the sweat gleaming from all over his face, even she felt tired.
“Are you sure you do not need rest?”
He basically grunted. It was clear he was exhausted, but wasn't going to say so if he did not have to, but her heart was caring, and he knew that he could admit so, and not pay a price for it.
“I would say that I could take a short break, at that town there, it has a side trail.”
So it did. So he slowed down, and attached the lock as they went. He had stopped pedaling along time ago, and that coasting abruptly came to a halt.
They looked around and saw something more than a tiny village, but not much more. It had a few shops, and what looked like a village center contain all of the functions of town center. It wasn't sleepy, exactly, but it was the sort of place where you needed some place it was there, but unlike the village which was compact, there were clearly many things which were not provided, but instead you had to walk to a larger business center, that was clearly to marked.
“It seems there are only the necessities, and very little else.”
“That's because there is only enough to get by, and for everything else, you have to go a little bit further, now we've gotten in to the suburbs.” he knew what she meant, but it wasn't exactly the first word on his fingertips. He was used to a contained village, though he had been around enough to know what she meant, but it was odd none the less.
She saw the contortions, and guest that hadn't seen her real city, not like Paris was, or even Frankfurt, places such as that. Her face slapped in to caring mode, has one might in to a face for a baby, saying it was all right, there was nothing to fear. He in turn scowled, and for a moment got off and created his feet down, with his back towards her and scanned the related buildings. She realized that she had done something wrong, and modified her voice appropriately.
“This is not the main train station, that is a little further on.” she had said this, but she was saying it again, more to unruffled feathers, so to speak, and try and get the main thread reestablished. That thread was inexpressible, but somehow tangible in a way that made it possible to know that she'd gotten off track. And she definitely wanted back on to the track, because there was life there, life the inexpressible.
Each time it was inexpressible, sublime, yet tangible. The more she had, the more she wanted.
They had set off on foot, to find any supplies, because most things were invisible. You see, those things were going to be taken off, and used. Thus they were not visible to them. It was only what was not going to be used that would be visible. Thus the moment it was not going to be used was the moment that it could be seen in this contra world. Then it would become visible, and that meant that something new that it's was going to be unconsumed, and would in time be rotten. Something knew, or was it one of the properties that things had? Either way, it was strange, very strange in fact.
But whatever the case, things that were on the bottom or on top had the best chance of being new but were turning rotten, turning as it were under the state of grace. That meant that they looked under and below for the best material, you would think that people would protect their things so that nothing could go bad, he actually thought it would, but she knew better, sometimes things just went bad and there was nothing you could do about it. Thus she showed him high above, and down below, things which were good, but no one was going to take them. And it seemed they were all fresh, as if something knew that now was the time of freshness, and when it was done and they were going to spoil, poof - they would disappear again, perhaps to another world, or back to this one where they were thrown out as spoiled. Who was going to say?
Thus they had gotten some peaches, from our away in America, one would think that there would be gone, but no there were some left. Probably they were going to go in to peach cobbler, or somesuch. No that couldn't be right because then they would have be consumed, they picked at them and realized these were going to trust be discarded. So they were there just to be eaten, it made him realize that, if she was right about such things, there would not be enough, and so they should stay away from the front lines, and go in la belle a France, and weekly. He realized, if she did not, there would be swarms of people like him, cut down in the prime of youth. So after half an hour, he turned to her and said:
“We have to keep going, I was just the first, but there will be thousands, and I mean that thousands, who will come after me, French, German, Belgian.”
“How many would will there be?”
“To lines of men from the sea to high up in the woods, without a break, without measure.”
“You have to be joking.”
“No, actually, I'm not.”
There was a moment of silence as if to enunciate the point, and for her it was a design, a pattern, that she could not comprehend. At that moment they both ran, and got on to the tramway, and flew as fast as it could do so. All the while she imagined that in a few days, or months, she did not suspect years, there would be many of them where now there were very few.
Somehow the war was real to them, which it had not been before.
So they were on the Tramway, and he was pumping for his very life. He knew that Paris would just be a gateway, because the Parisians would defend to the last bitter breath. He knew that Paris would be gateway and they would resist everything that his German army would throw at it, and then some.
What he did not know, they would hurl back even more of the same. Wars of the 19th century since the Crimean War, which most people had willfully decided to forget, were of short duration. The American Civil War was not on the European continent, so it did not matter, at least to Europeans. Thus the last war in their minds was the Napoleonic wars, and that had ended a century ago.
This came through his mind as he was pumping up and down, a vision if you will, perhaps a delusion, but real nonetheless. He was not able to see that the Napoleonic era was going to be the template for his own age. Only the top people suspected, and they work telling anybody but in whispers. Many miles away in Berlin, the Kaiser suspected this was not going to go as planned, but no one listened to him, because closer to many people the this was going to be the great victory, a great victory that many had dreamed of. In France they dreamed of victory, but the the rude shock was closer at hand for them. It would only take Joffrey's look around, and see that all of his plans for victory were for nothing, nothing and a day, as it were. He would stretch out his hand and find it empty, and then get down to the business of saving France from itself, more than from the Germans. But Joffrey was at that point yet, he like his enemies, saw a glorious triumphant battle crying, blaring on horns, and featuring his name in lights. Joffrey, Joffrey, Joffrey, a name the would being forgotten, forgotten and buried.
Than out of corner of her by, she saw figure, which was, like them, alert and people. He was also French. Though they had seen figures, this was the first time they saw one in the very flesh and blood. Or, so to speak. Neither short nor tall, but wiry and thin, he looked like the part of some crazed man. She froze, and he wrapped him self around her to protect her, and the man? Man just walked, and walked, Pairing down the distance, and tell he was 20 meter away from them, and then he stopped. This meant something, it meant, for example, that he was thinking. There was something alive, he was not just an automata, doing things by rote.
“Who are you?” this was Albert speaking, having regaining his voice.
The Frenchman opened his voice, but for several seconds nothing came out. Then gradually he began to speak. “Are you real? Or is this just another illusion? And where is everyone in this place anyway?” This was confusion, confusion that was felt all the way in.
“Is as real as your, which is only just.” Woman explained. “ what brought you here?” The are as yet were no niceties, no greetings, which was very odd in this time, and this place. But the circumstances allowed for it, because everything was off of kilter.
Before he fast them, he focused his eyes, and walked until he was standing beside. Albert saw something, and behind his back used the hand to signal that something was terribly wrong. What he saw was that much of man's brain was the into pieces, and scattered behind him. The man had gotten focus and replied to the woman.
“I was with some other people, we were going to in front, because no one expects Belgian to stand up to the German onslaught. We were on the back of a there of horse-drawn carriages, and then, I was off the carriage. I was staring into the sky, I do not know how long, them, magically, I got up. There were no people, none at all.” There was a monotonous pace, as if there were something wrong with him. Then he glanced beside, probably to follow a movement, that only the could see. Them a saw what was wrong, a good third of his skull was blowing off. While most of the skull was matted here, there was definitely something ominous about what was underneath. It was torn and shredded, as if it was meant to be that way. The man taking notice this at all, but the pair could not help wearing there eyes. The man taking notice no notice of them at all, and kept talking. Finally Albert could not take it anymore, and slammed his arm against beside of ahead, quite efficiently, as the was a combatant. He was good at what he did. This was not a gunfights, with slapping back and for, instead he picked up his on, slammed it twice in the head, and it was done.
M was taken aback, such violence as she had never imagined it to be, was just played out. She looked down at the body, and it was clear what had happened: more than half of its head had been lost, in fact, losing more each time.
Then man's body was gone, like a dream, or less dream, more than a reality. The body was gone from their sight. Young woman searched around as if to see that it was truly gone, with a man looked at where the body had so recently been. And he knew that it was truly gone.
“Do not you realize, that when I get it, I knew it was going to be gone.”
“No I do not know that, what touched your brain and said this to you? Was it from the inside, or something from the outside that you could explain to me?”
He thought for a minute and then described what he felt.
“I knew, rather in detail mind you, that is head was half missing. I saw it in his eyes, his eyes were dead to me.”
She just nodded at this, intimate sense, in fact why did not she think of it? It must be, she felt herself, that she knew and did not want to express it in so many words.