Chapter Four: Crash
Skin like a rhino, horns like a triceratops. She ran her hand over
its nose and it snorted at her.
"Crash." she said, smiling.
"Yup," Hero said and patted its side. "They're one of the older
animals here." Adore gently ran her hands over the crash's rough skin as
Hero spoke. Not that she needed to be gentle, they were hard-working,
stupid animals that didn't scare easily. She was just somewhat in awe. "I
apologize. I don't know my history as well as Soma. But then again he's
got libraries and libraries of books on everything you can imagine-"
"Well of course." Hero cocked his head. She had an unusual smile on
her face. She didn't look quite as scary and fierce as when he first met
her. She was like a child on Christmas morning petting the crash. She was
especially bewildered about Soma's books. "Ah, Acymera. I imagine they
don't let you read there?"
"Nothing of any substance." In her mind, she was walking down dusty,
drippy, dank halls. A fluorescent light swung over her head. It smelled
like mold and mothballs. In the dim light, she turned to the left to see a
bookcase. She saw her pale hand pull a book out. It was a water-ruined
copy of One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. She flipped it open, then
threw it back on the shelf. It sprawled open pathetically when it landed.
She pulled out the book next to it, called Presidents and Gods. She put
her cigarette out in its pages.
Then she was back petting the crash. "Did they find them here?"
"Oh no, no. Damn, Adore, you have a lot to learn."
She didn't seem to be listening. The crash seemed to be purring as
she pet it and the sound almost made her giggle. A giant, brutish thing
such as that - purring. It was lovely.
"Let us go for a walk. I'll tell you everything. No - better yet,
we'll ride some of our animals. It's a gorgeous day."
She perked up. "More interesting animals?"
"Oh very interesting. Horses. Have you heard of them?"
She rolled her eyes, but much more kindly, as if she was developing a
sense of humor.
The air seemed to be a different color. Green. Blue. It seemed to
blend from the sea right into the air. The horses galloped on the shore
and tossed the water into the air, infecting it with the sea's colors. It
smelled gorgeous. Like stargazer lilies. Like salt. Like a heavy, rainy
day. Like fish. And the wind blew and made Adore's cheeks cold and rosy,
and she stuck her cold nose into the horse's mane and enjoyed the smell.
It smelled like earth. Like land.
They had no destination. They just played in the surf. They raced.
Their horses kicked up water and the riders laughed. They ran around each
other, chased each other, and cut through the blue green air. She galloped
ahead, in love with the feeling of free motion. It was as if she had been
walking in wet concrete every day before and that day was the first day she
moved freely. She let go of the reins as the horse was running and put her
arms out. Running her hands over her head, she closed her eyes and let the
sun cover her face.
And he watched. Just watched her riding ahead, embracing the salty
air with her arms and running it through her non-existent hair. Watched
the movement of her mouth as she laughed. Squishing up her eyes and nose
as she threw her head back to laugh at something really funny.
Eventually their gallops turned to slow trots. The horses carried
their riders to a piece of land with a sheer cliff that dropped into the
water. The riders sat on the edge and stared at the water.
"This road follows the ocean. We are almost always on it, so I have
lots of chances to goof off on the shore. Soma usually comes with me."
"You and Soma are good friends?" Adore asked, laying on her back, her
eyes closed, the sun still covering her cheeks and eyelids.
"Very good. More like brothers." He seemed to speak to himself as
he looked over the ocean. "We're a lot the same. We both come from noble
families. We both desire the restoration of the Iginee rule and the
original capitol of Sparta." He paused. "We're both a bit solitary."
"I don't doubt you are. You offend everyone you meet."
He snapped his head toward her. She was still lying on her back,
rhythmically bringing a cigarette to her lips and taking it away.
"I do not offend everyone I meet."
She said nothing.
"I do not."
She continued to smoke.
Hero pouted in silence.
"You carry yourself like everyone should worship you. Now where do
crashes come from?"
He didn't know how to respond. Irritated, he took a deep breath and
chose to tell the history of crashes. "I don't know when they made them,
but it was after Sparta became a garbage dump. Well, after it became more
than a garbage dump. It was when it became a human garbage dump."
Adore propped herself up on her elbow and listened intently, but
Noticing, Hero elaborated, motioning as he spoke. "Sparta was first
a garbage dump. It was a continent everyone decided to sacrifice so they
could be shameless, wasteful people and not have to look at all the stuff
they used and disposed. I bet Soma didn't mention we are also scavengers
of all the waste, did he? He's not very proud of that."
Adore smiled, slightly amused.
Hero took this smile and ran with it. "Can you imagine Soma? In all
his tall nobility, with a garbage sack and one of those garbage pokers,"
here Hero stood up and began to walk around pompously, gingerly picking up
pretend litter, "walking around the shore line and scavenging? Not Soma."
He pretended to dramatically push his imaginary long blonde hair behind his
shoulder with the back of his hand.
She laughed slightly. He had succeeded.
"I digress," he said, sitting down. "Again, I don't know dates, but
then the countries decided that this continent should be a dump for humans,
also. I'm not sure, but I strongly believe it coincided with Acymera's
turn. But you know all about Acymera's turn. . . "
"You really think I know the truth?"
He realized that was a ridiculous question. "Allright. Y'know
Acymera used to have a different name. Your country was called something
different. But I think they changed their names a few times, during the
war, as they were acquiring all those new countries. But that was when
they went from the light of the world to the . . . the . . . black hole of
the world." He said this part very seriously. "Just devouring everything
like a damn animal. No, animals don't gorge themselves like that."
"Absolute power corrupts absolutely," Adore said, looking down and
nonchalantly twirling the grass with her finger. "Every great and powerful
nation turns. Even a nation like Acymera, a country formed as a sanctuary
from so many other corrupt super powers, becomes evil itself. It is the
story of history."
Hero nodded somberly, her words tipping over the first of many
dominoes in his mind. "But not Sparta. We Spartans are different, you
She said nothing. He was too busy thinking to be offended by her
"There are a lot of historians who hypothesize why Sparta ended up to
be such a prosperous continent. But during the turn, when Sparta became a
place for banished Acymerans, its population changed. Most historians
agree that there were two main classes of people that were being deported
to Sparta at that time: psychopaths and geniuses. Instead of giving the
criminally insane the death penalty, they sent them here. But the
geniuses, they were the people who were too smart for the propaganda and
suppression of the government. They decided not to kill the non-
comformists, but to give them the option of shaping up or shipping out.
Most decided to ship out."
Her view of him was slightly sideways as she leaned on her elbow,
watching his every word. The sun was inching towards the horizon and dusk
was near at hand. She was beginning to be able to stand the sound of his
voice. He, too, had a nice voice. Not as princely as Soma's, but more
like her own. Younger. More lively.
"So the geniuses and the crazies of all of the rest of the world were
dropped off here with billions of pounds of stuff being dropped on the
shores daily. It must have been amazing. If I were a scientist, I should
love to see how they all made it work. What a wonderful experiment in
human nature," he said, staring at the shore.
His excitement at this made her smile. "But how did they find the
"Oh, the crashes. They made them. The rest of the world would be
filled with unimaginable cross-breeds, had they not emptied themselves of
all of their geniuses. Nearly one million 'political dissidents' were
banished here. What do ya know, I guess I do know some history. I digress
again. Crashes are just one of the cross-breeds they created. You won't
find very many pure animals here. They just can't survive. Crashes and
other animals were created out of necessity. The climate here is quite
crazy. The radiation is extreme and we have storms unlike anywhere else in
"Due to the pollution?"
"I would guess so." He noticed she was fascinated. Like a good
storyteller, like an old man around a campfire, he knew how to kick a good
story into high gear. "But if you think crashes are interesting, wait
until we get to the first capitol Sparta. That's where the gills and the
"What are gills and dolphins," she asked excitedly, just like a six-
year-old listening to her grandfather telling a tale.
"I'm not telling. We will get to old Sparta in a few days. Then you
will see for yourself."
"That's terrible! Telling me all these wonderful things and leaving
me hanging! Please, these are the most beautiful stories I've heard since
Momma told me bed-time stories." Hero imagined Oliver Twist looked like
she did then. Small and desperately hungry.
He smiled. "No. It will be a better surprise."
She sighed and rolled on her back. As the sun sank, it smeared
wonderful colors across the sky. Just to look at them was a blessing. "I
She rolled over. "Hero?"
She smiled. "Thank you for today. I can't say I'm happy to be here,
but you are helping to make it less miserable."
They rode home in gorgeous silence, admiring the paint-box sky.