Immolare

I was tired. The battery on my phone was dying, cellphone reception was shit. Tell you the truth, I never thought it would end up like this. A bobble-head doll sways on the dashboard of the truck. The radio is on, low. Oldies station. The air is diffuse with stale tobacco.

“They have a tower on the mountain,” the driver explains to me, when I ask about the reception quality. The land we’re driving through is spasmodic. We rise, and fall, and turn at breakneck speeds around bends in the unmaintained roads. The headlights carve incomplete cones out of the darkness we hurtle into.

“Gotta watch out for them moose,” the driver says, driving with his knee. His hands frantically roll cigarettes. His eyes never stray from the blur of the road. “These new moose see, they made ‘em all up in government laboratories. I know a guy whose daughter is a biologist, tells me all kinda stuff you wouldn’t believe.”

My throat is dry from kavalactone aerosol, cheap stuff purchased at a roadside gas-station, “I bet.”

“Tax dollars.”

I think he’s gonna say more, but he stops.

“Yeah?” I ask him.

“What’s that?” He asks me back.

“Tax dollars,” I say.

My driver waves a hand, unlit cigarette between fingers, “At work. Tax dollars at work.”

“Oh. Yeah.”

He fishes a lighter from his pocket, lights up, and relaxes into his seat. The smoke wafts across the dashboard, tinged green. We drive further into the blur.
In the distance, a red eye winks in and out of existence far above the earth. I can see it between the pines, atop the mountain.

My driver attacks the silence, swatting it away with his voice, “Did you hear about the scientists?”

“The scientists?” I ask, indulging him. “Which ones? The biologists?”

“Hmm? Biologists?”

I stare out the window, fighting down a smile, “You know a guy whose daughter is a-”

“Nope, not the biologists. Nothin’ to do with the moose.”

He takes a drag off his cigarette, ashes out the window. Minuscule embers wink out into the blur.

“The ones that set themselves on fire, over in Washington.”

“DC?”

“You betcha. They sat right there, all dressed up in their lab coats and all that. Sat right down a couple of streets away— you can’t get too close these days you know, security and all that— and they dumped gas on their heads. Went up like a bonfire, all twenty of ‘em.”

“Twenty? Really? Jesus!” I swear, sincerely shocked by the news. Twenty scientists?

“Yessah. The radio said twenty. Went up like a goddamn barbecue.”

“Why’d they do that? Does anyone know?” I heard my voice betray an urgency, a naked craving for details.

My driver hemmed and hawed, recollection bleeding over into incoherent mumbling, “You know? I’m not sure. Probably something political.”

I’d learn later that they were climatologists, every last one.

“Yeah, probably.”

Equanimous Rex is a writer,  podcaster, and esotericist. He currently writes non-fiction articles for Disinformation and Modern Mythology. Additionally, he is the creator of The Witch-Doctor serial fiction podcast, which is a part of the Fallen Cycle mythos. Equanimous enjoys wandering verdant forests, playing with dogs, and cascading ontological shock.

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