R A E L | Teen Ink


June 7, 2015
By ClaraJoy GOLD, Arlington, Virginia
ClaraJoy GOLD, Arlington, Virginia
17 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"Sometimes I freeze...until the light comes
Sometimes I fly...into the night
Sometimes I fight...against the darkness
Sometimes I'm wrong...sometimes I'm right."
-Geddy Lee sang it, Neil Peart wrote it.

The woman walked alone through the darkened streets, the sound of her boots the only break in the night’s silence.  Her blood boiled and roared in her ears, its violence startling her. 
She shouldn’t have been here.  If they had found her, they surely would have killed her.  She didn’t care.
Roxanne Little, for that was her name, was neither hero nor revolutionary.  She was a psychopath, a calmly amoral robot.  In ordinary circumstances, she would be a villain.  However, in this tale, she is our hero, through no fault of her own. 
She had begun to kill in the winter of 2003, when They had taken her nephews from her.  She had loved them, and They had taken them from her.  It had been deemed that her two boys’ relationship was dangerously codependent.  They were considered at risk for becoming criminals, or worse, rebels.  They younger boy--man, for They had taken him when he was twenty six--hadn’t resisted.  He had died alone, in the dark, without a sound.  His older brother had fought Them, but there were too many, and he died protecting his baby brother.  When she had heard of their murders (murder--the very word was heresy!), a yawning darkness had taken her, and that very night, she had left her house with a butcher’s knife and a paintbrush. 
The next morning, a shocked news anchor had reported that the heroes who had exterminated the murderous brothers in the city of Independence had been found dead.  Someone had removed their hands and painted a name on their walls in blood. 
Not that it matters overly much, but Roxanne Little’s full name was Roxanne Arawan Ellen Little.
Roxanne and her nephews had lived in died in what had once been Topeka.  Long before they had been born, the nukes had fallen and america’s cities--loud, abrasive, angry, and brash, but with a certain panache--had fallen.  Now it was dark, and the skyscrapers had been replaced with fallout shelters and endless radar.  The city had been renamed Independence, in a broken, laughable attempt to capitalize on its survival of the war.  Not all of North America’s megalopoli had.  Because of this, the government had decided it could no longer tolerate dissent, and within a week, there were no communists, journalists, poets, or academics.  Within a month, it seemed as if there never had been.
A spasm passed over Roxanne’s face.  She had loved her boys.  She had loved them, and now she couldn’t remember their names.
Worse, she believed in Heaven and Hell.  Those boys had never hurt a soul.
Roxanne Little was crazy, but she was sane enough to know she was going straight to hell.
“Hello, sister!” sang out a cheerful blond woman from an open doorway.  “Working late?”
“Yes,” Roxanne replied.  Already she was fumbling in her pocket.  “Excuse me.  I’d like to get home for the 10 o'clock news.”
“Of course!  Thank you for your dedication!”  The lady sighed in relief as Roxanne walked into her house.  She’d caught a glimpse of the strange wanderer’s eyes.  They were like blue whirlpools filled with nothingness. 
Roxanne Little’s house was austere in the extreme.  In the place of honor on her table was a bottle of gin; from which she drew herself a drink.  Then, she sat down on the sofa to watch the news.  She could remember her boys sitting on either side of her, arguing about which movie to watch, pelting each other with popcorn, and making fun of each other’s snack preferences. 
She felt like she had swallowed a mouthful of pins.
Without any aid from her, the television flicked on and a neatly dressed man appeared.
“Brothers and sisters, I have terrible news.  Several of the government’s most prized Homeland Security agents have been found dead.  The terrorist serial killer Rael has struck again, this time weaving his name into a web made of his victim’s ligaments.  No fingerprints or other identifying material has been found at the crime scene.”
After this grim pronouncement, Roxanne did not quail or cry, but merely prepared to fall into the exhausted stupor that usually followed one of her killings.  However, her reverie was interrupted by a knock on the door.  Something close to panic flooded her system, causing her to leap soundlessly out of her chair, wrap her fingers around a knife hilt, and creep towards the door. 
Roxanne swept the door open, knife behind her back.  Her body was already in motion, preparing to fillet the intruder from pelvis to throat. 
“No!” squawked the woman at the door, hands up, shaking.  “No, I’m not here to kill you!  I know things!”
Roxanne was a statue, radiation-blue eyes fixed on the woman’s froggy face.  The point of her knife made a sinkhole just below the lady’s belly button. 
“You see, my name is Eloise Finklestein, and I head the Interrogation Department here in Independence.  I was assigned your nephews’ case.”
Roxanne couldn’t decide what to do.  She wanted to paint the walls with Mrs. Finklestein’s blood so badly she would barely see straight, but if there was even the slimmest, wildest chance...
“The interrogations were fairly routine,” Eloise continued.  “The older one--Ian, I believe his name was--”
Yes, thought Roxanne radiantly.  Ian. 
“--Ian refused to talk, even after--well, I suppose you know the nuts and bolts of it.”
Roxanne’s knife sank a few centimeters deeper into the fat coating Eloise’s abdomen.
“Ouch, ouch!  I’m sorry, you b****!  The only reason I’m doing this is because I know I’m next!  Keep pushing and I’ll shoot myself before you get a chance!” screamed the torturer.  “When we got the other one strapped in the chair, Ian talked.  We brokered a plea deal and sent the both of them to an uranium mine in Svalbard!”
It was not, as they say, a very nice place.
Svalbard was one large uranium mine at this point, but it was studded with research centers working on discovering the properties of Transuranium Element 753.  Don’t know what is is?  Neither did the researchers.  All they knew was that is was a lively one, and that it did not like the human skeleton. 
Inwardly, Roxanne’s head exploded.  Half of her cried out in joy.  The other half flailed angrily.  How could she find them? 
Oh, miracle of miracles, where are you, Ian?  Sing to me, Raven, I miss him so much.
Sing to me, Julian, I miss you so much.
A Brief Note on Worlds and Your Narrator
Worlds are not controversial.  There are billions of them, and you pass between them with ease and aplomb every day.  Some, however, are further away than others.  It was one of these faraway worlds that Roxanne’s story transpired.  It was very different from our own, but I cannot delve into the idiosyncrasies of this world now, because time moves fast, and soon you’ll be dead.  Well, not so soon to you, but I’ve been here for eons, and to me, you mortals move through life faster than a blink of an eye.  You blossom and flower like leaves on a tree, and wither and perish, but naught changes me. 
No, I’m not Death, or God either!  You people are so funny.  I am an angel, and this is the story of how my agent got away from me. 
My name is Lucifer.
No, no!  Don’t run away, now!  Even if I was evil, I couldn’t hurt you.  This is just a testament to a woman I thought I had a hold on, but who beat me at my own game.  But you’ll see.  For me, it’s a sad story.  I have few enough people on my side.  But to you, I suppose, it may be uplifting.  But it shouldn’t be.  You’ll see.
This world sits squarely on the blurred line between sleeping and waking, real and imaginary, good and evil, and life and death.  Strange things happen there, but no stranger than those that happen in your world. 
What I’m going to do now is take you about a thousand miles east to meet Roxanne’s nephews, Julian and Ian.  No need to thank me, really.  I’m curious, too.  So let’s fly, over mountains, ’cross the sea, from Topeka to Camp San Lucie, Svalbard, bypassing our heroine’s circituous path.  Hold your breath, breathing in here would be like dipping your lungs into a reactor core.  Mind the bones.  If the overseers here cared much about proper protocol, every miserable political prisoner worked to death here would be buried in a lead coffin.  If I were here, really, here, I mean, I would pick up that humerus, look into the empty eye sockets of that skull, weave my fingers through that intact ribcage, and know those dead ones.  Perhaps I would even recognize their faces.  Many of them, though, still linger here.  I can see them plain as day, but even you can feel them.  They whisper...  Enough, you think, but why?  You are keeping company with an angel, so why not ghosts?  That is an excellent segway, just so you know.  There are two kinds of ghosts: the dead, those who refuse to move on, and the living.  Winterpeople, we call them.  Ghosts with beating hearts.  That’s what Roxanne is.  But that fate isn’t permanent.     
Dead ghosts should be pitied, truly.  Every single one of them wears a pendant around their neck.  When it touches their skin (or rather their phantasmal essence), it shows them what might have been.  People who commit suicide almost always become ghosts.  I have always thought this needlessly cruel--one cage for another--but I don’t run this world.  I was voted off the island, as you people might say.  Are you going to ask me what death is?  Do you really think I can tell you?  I am immortal.  But when I finally fade, as all things do, there will be nothing waiting for me.  That is the trade.  If you really want to know, sometimes ghosts catch glimpses--see?  There’s one!  She says it reminds her of being a little girl, when the world was her kingdom, but she doesn’t know why.  And now she’s crying.
Anyhow, we’re in the mines now, looking at all the terrible wretched people.  Because of the radiation in the food, the liver, stomach, and colon are always the first to go.  Right now, most of the mine looks like the cast of The Simpsons. 
Because of jaundice.
Don’t say I don’t work hard to make this relatable to you.
Anyhow, her boys, who were catching some forbidden sleep right now, didn’t think of Roxanne the way we do.  When I think of her, I see an angry woman whose soul burns blue with a cleansing fire.  When they thought of her, they saw a woman who had done her best to carve out an underground for her family, a place where they could sit in a root cellar, eat chocolate bars, and laugh.  They saw her as a pretty woman with a sole skunk stripe of white in her charcoal hair, barefoot, drinking elderly Vanilla Coke out of a Pyrex measuring cup and wearing her beloved Opus for President t-shirt.  They saw a woman who had a library of poems in her head, who could recite Allan Ginsberg’s Howl from memory, even the footnote
(they broke their backs lifting Moloch to heaven)
and I Am Waiting by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
(I am waiting for the American eagle to straighten up and fly right)
and William Blake’s The Tyger
(in what distant deeps or skies/burnt the fire of thine eyes)
Deeps or skies.  That line always amuses me.  In my case, mine eyes have burnt in both.  Let me be very clear here: that woman still exists.  She has been through the wringer, and is in a great deal of pain and confusion, but she lives only just below the surface of RAEL.  Think of this:
“Life is short,
And pleasures few,
And holed the ship,
And drowned the crew,
But oh! but oh!
How very blue
The sea is!”
And here is the song the prisoners hear when it is time to go.
“O little one,
My little one,
Come with me,
Your life is done,
Forget the future,
Forget the past,
Life is over,
Breathe your last.”
But Julian and Ian weren’t forgetting anything if Roxanne had anything to do with it.  When she came up behind them, this is what they heard:
“‘How lucky I am to have something that hurts this much to lose,’” Roxanne said quietly.  “Leave this place.  Take this with you.  Free the others.”  She raised her voice, fragments of poetry returning to her.  “‘O skinny legions run outside!  O starry-spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is here!  O victory forget your underwear we’re free!’”
“We aren’t leaving you,” whispered Julian. 
“Then we are all going to die,” she responded. 
“Okay,” Julian gasped. 
At this show of human kindness, I shook my head, and sent them home.  How could I not?  Some people deserve to live.  Even I will accede to that.
If you worked your way through Lichtenstein, you would find a small cabin on a mountain, overlooking a deep and thickly wooded valley.  In this cabin lived a woman with black and white hair, and two young men, both handsome and delicate.  The woman was named Roxanne, and in her yard was a grave, and the name engraved on the headstone was RAEL. 
And she killed no more.

The author's comments:

This started out as a much longer piece, but after cutting out huge swaths of useless backstory, it became this.  Julian, the quintessential sweetheart, comes partly because of Juliet's nephew in Lost, and partly because of my friend Julia, the best little sister ever.  Ian, the survivor, comes from Ian McKellan, who just keeps moving.  And Roxanne is, well, Roxanne.  She is one of my most enduring characters and an avatar of my soul.  I dedicate this story to her, and also the the members of Rush.  They come together somehow.   

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