Time goes on
Great cities fall
Decay falls over all
The world a shade of gray
The transients now hold sway
"Traveling through dark dimensions
Racing through the timeless night
Slowing down to one world only
City is within my sight....."
Time is gone
Great cities rust
Tall towers thick with dust
The weeds have overgrown
Now anywhere is home
"City is a barren wasteland
Echoing with empty halls
No one waits for my arrival
Nothing seems alive at all....."
The curtain crumbled in her hand as she pulled it aside.
Gray light shot in through the broken panes.
Down at the end of the empty street stood a man in black.
Their eyes met.
Through endless corridors of murky gray.....
Sound began to reach her ears.....
She was approaching the center of the tower.
Open doors filled with leering faceless hoards
beckoned her to join the fun.....
The screams got closer.....
The corridor ended, followed by the floor.
She stopped at the edge and looked four floors down
At the swirling mass of filth encrusted humanity
They crawled on each other like crabs in a bucket.
But they sought no escape. They liked it here.
She made her way to the remains of the staircase,
Which hung in crooked tatters from the edge of the floor.
In many places, no stairs remained;
In other places, the stairs were blocked off
by walls of garbage,
Packed so tight against the ceiling
that they had to be crawled under.
At last she reached the lobby.
She stepped over two transients
screwing on the floor in front of the staircase
and edged her way around the rest of them.
The screams down here were deafening.
Unable to stand them,
She ran for the lobby doors,
Tripping over a transient
who had been cut to death with a razor.
She stared into his passive, lifeless eyes.
Realizing she was acting foolishly, she got up
And walked safely into the stale night air.
She was safe.
Time is gone
Great cities rust
Tall towers thick with dust
And to this deadly hive
A watcher now arrives
His reasons unknown.
A Watcher. Born alone.
She meets him, they walk together...
She asks him where he came from...
Turns his head and smiles (but briefly)...
Says, "Somewhere out on the dawn".
And they walked far into the night.
She showed him the abandoned theater,
Where once great plays were performed,
And music rang out into the waiting ears of the audience.
Garbage and debris filled the stage
Where once watchers spoke to their kind
And all the statements of current condition
And all the truth left in human relations
What emotion was left at the hour of the fall
Lay in the dust of the abandoned hall.
"Ain't it neat?", she asked him.
He held her, and sensing just what it was she liked,
He threw her to the floor.
They made lust on the empty stage
Their cries like the music, so long ago.
"Take me with you", she sighed to him gently.
"Take me somewhere where I can belong.
I don't know what I'm doing here, really.
Somehow even reality's wrong."
He looked down at her and chose to feel something.....
Things inside...dead for thousands of years.
He looked longer and saw she was crying
So he held her head and wiped off her tears.
"You've got to see the place I'm staying in.
If you could see it then you'd know why I cry.
You've got to take me out, get me away!
If I stay there too long, I'm going to die."
And so he told her that he would take her
She wouldn't know that it could never come true
He hadn't let her know just what he was
And he still wasn't sure what he had come there to do.
They slowly walked towards the doors
Which had been broken so long ago
When from somewhere a gang appeared
And blocked the way in grim tableau.
"What we got here?"
"Don't know. Looks like fun."
"Hey, what you doin' round here anyway?"
"We're gonna poke out your eyes and skullfuck you, bitch!"
"No, no, man. She gotta see what we do to him first!"
The Watcher spoke.
"Do yourselves a favor. Leave."
The gang laughed and advanced on the couple.
She wanted to run, but he waited, and watched.
Just a few of his thoughts in a few of their minds
And they turned on each other,
killing just their own kind.
Switchblades, hammers and hacksaws
Metal met flesh and bare bone.
He turned from the gore, which was part of his job
So long ago he had learned not to feel.
She fell on the floor and laughed at the mob.
So long ago he'd learned nothing was real.
"What makes you laugh?" he wondered aloud.
She rolled in the blood that flooded the aisle.
"Cocksuckers!" she howled, "It serves them right!"
Her laughter gave way to a jubilant smile.
He saw what she was and couldn't help but feel sorry;
Her lunatic world had left its mark.
Children raised in disease cannot help but be sickly;
Children raised in the night learn to live in the dark.
Suddenly, a voice in his head cried
"THE CITY MUST DIE!"
(His orders, coming through at last.)
A thousand times the voice had screamed
A thousand cities burned to ash.
"LET NOTHING LIVE THAT WALKS ERECT.
RAZE ALL THE TOWERS TO THE GROUND.
BE CAREFUL NOT TO LEAVE A TRACE.
THIS TIME MAKE SURE THAT NOTHING'S FOUND."
"Listen to me", he said to her,
"I've just discovered why I'm here."
She looked up from the brains and blood
and suddenly she tasted fear.
Something about him had changed.
She looked into his eyes and saw
the end of everything she'd ever known.
He turned from her and walked out into the night.
She didn't follow.
She heard explosions, screams,
sounds unlike anything she'd ever heard.
Years without fear caught up to her
and she lived them all in one night.
When the first rays of light
appeared through the broken doors,
She cautiously exited the theater.
Everything was gone.
Barren ground stretched onward into the horizon.
The Watcher appeared behind her.
"I thought I owed you an explanation", he said.
"I'm a Watcher; I'm part of you.
I'm not different. I'm in everything you do.
Your own people called me.
I'm their death wish personified.
I'm also your fear; and these must be gratified.
I'm the witness to every society's fall;
I must see all the things that revolt and appall.
Doomed to wander, always out on call;
For I inhabit the vision of all.
Nothing hides from me, nothing is safe
Though you have your illusion of privacy.
All wishes are granted by yourselves, not by fate;
You know all there is, but you don't choose to see."
"Elsewhere on this planet are inhabited places.
Walk east until you find a town
Where you can wear some other faces;
It's there that you can settle down.
Your life is forever your decision.
She reached out to touch him but found the air instead.
She and the theater stood alone.
The Watcher was gone.
And the Watcher still waits
Somewhere out on the dawn
A ubiquitous, timeless, drifting pawn
Still watching those who refuse to see
That their actions reveal their destinies.
To the lone surveyors of distant sights
To the wandering transients, out on the night
To the lost and the fallen
Those deceased and unknown
To those who serve neither the black or white thrones
To the killers repentant, denied of release
To those born out of time
Denied of the feast
The Game will continue
Forever and on
The Watcher still waits
Somewhere out on the dawn.
illustration: GS, 12/31/80 oil pastel. Photo: Ken Zelinka, fall 1980.
Return to Night Circus
Return to the Night Circus Gallery
Return to the main page