Always Remember This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Picture this:

The machine, a great and sprawling metal beast, sits in the clean, cold chamber like a mechanical bullet. It waits silently, patiently, for its next victim. Its dials are set, its outlets are prepared for the coming of the boy.

And come he does, through the invisible door on the far side of the room. He looks tired, drained and mind sore. Great purple bruises sag beneath his watery brown eyes. His muddy hair stands in rows of spikes; he has run his blocky hands through it a billion times. A heavy sigh wheezes from him as he passes through the door. He stops once inside and takes in the room for the hundredth time. He doesn't notice anything new, but he still searches nevertheless. His eyes alight on the cold gray of the machine and a shiver slides through his body. He doesn't want this, but knows he dearly needs it. He squares his shoulders, accepting his fate and swearing to defy it all the same, and shuffles toward the enemy. He eases into the molded plastic chair of the great, icy contraption and slowly puts on the headset. He wraps it around his weary mind and hits the switch marked on. A single tear slowly rolls down his smooth cheek.

Heaven is a hell and no sense makes sense. These are the laws of the mind. A beautiful girl-child is slowly slaughtered by three little people in priest's robes. One turns to look at him and he sees the blood in its eyes and the madness on its teeth. His screams match the girl's. Cold stone kisses him, and he waits to be born. His mother is the Earth and she is made of marble. Her milk is the life force of her children, her placenta their hate. Contractions of contradictions engulf him and he is squeezed out onto a dry and dusty plane. There is no matriarch, no patriarch, just his infant self. He is alone. "Go now, my son," the Devil tells him. "Be one with man but be with no one." The confusion creates a soft and silky sandstorm that carries him to Oz. FOLLOW THE PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT! blind children scream at him as he wanders through the streets of their iron city.

"Care to sell your soul?" a tiny one with hooves, horns and an attitude asks from an alley.

"What soul?" he answers, a laugh floating in his voice. Tires screech and a clown's horn honks as he is met by Mr. Ford and carried away from Oz.

He bounces into Camelot just in time to see Lancelot peeking up Gwenivere's skirts. A lecherous grin splits the knight's face while he slowly repeats the phrase "Holy Mary, Mother of God." Arthur is in a corner dealing with Merlin man to man, but they don't seem to be saying much. The boy turns away in disgust as myth shatters and reality becomes legend.

He dreams her icy-smooth face. Her cheeks are still rosy, her lips are still thin and blood-red. He still loves her. He remembers the days when he thought her gone, another part of memory, and gives a dry chuckle to the wind. Her mocking laughter mixes with his and is still ringing in his skull when the headphones slip from his weary dome.

The tears are coming freer now and with more grief behind them. Slowly, wearily, he pushes himself from the plastic seat and shuffles toward the door. As it silently slips open, he turns to look at his daily tormentor. It stares back coldly, silently like a cruel block of granite. The boy shakes his weary head, wipes the tears away with the back of one hand and passes through the portal as it oozes shut behind him and seals the tormentor away from his sight ... until tomorrow. 1


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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