I wandered through the countryside, sleeping in closed wells and bear dens. Still the smell wafted to me from farms and towns, the children with their kites flying, dragging the kids souls up. The smell of teenage boys, their desire unfraught and free. I smelled it on the air and I burrowed into the earth, the smell musty, mineral heavy. Wet dust. Terrible.
Still it was better than the hunger thirst that the human breathed air caused me. After a day, I headed into the woods. Birds twittered into the night, singing some shit about spring time while squirrels ran figure eights in celebration. I growled at them “Go to bed,” but they didn’t seen me.
After seven nights, the hunger was less. I walked back toward the towns. I saw a shockheaded boy with strong shoulders and a perpetual smile, driving his combine through the fields, the cutting head lifted as the dark had fallen. He waved at me and even drove over.
“Need a ride?” he asked.
The brown skin that stretched over his neck sinews reminded me of the sun. Blood can taste sunny. But the odor, I barely smelled it.
He said, “What are you doing out here?”
I laughed. “Getting some space,” I said.
He said, “I’ve had enough of space.” He pointed to the wheat fields. “You going to the city?”
I said that I probably was.
He said, “Can I come with you? We’ll run away.”
I said, “Keep your innocence.”
“I’m not innocent,” he said. The baby-man fury was rippling off him, smelling so good I cold almost taste it, and he was ripe for the taking, asking me to escort him away from home. But I was good.
The thirst hunger died in me, and it didn’t return until I had been without for forty days. At that point, I had no thoughts of drinking. Actually, things passed me in a blur, the trees were painted in Monet brush strokes across the fuzzy purple nights and the people were just pastel dashes, their smell distant, and masked by the mineral truth that reeked in my nostrils.
Then a thin stroke of gray, topped with a triangle of white spoke to me, “Yuri. It is the time to drink your fill.”
My nose was flooded with strains as sweet as the music of the broken hearted. Riding over the top of the woven rainbow of possible savors, was a memory made new, the punkrock nectar of the sixteen year old lover and there he was in front of me, his eyes a bloodshot green, his pulsing neck white.
“Drink,” said the voice, “and be filled.”
The thirsty choked me and I felt my teeth grow long, as I reached out and took the boy by the arm. He looked at me in wonderment. Everywhere his youth, the mix of anger and desire, whirled through the air.
But riding back into my nose came the sting of wet earth, and the voice, “I am earth, and the fire does not burn me.” I fell down and scraped the human soaked dust from between the cobblestones and pushed it into my mouth.
The taste was bitter. Still I was surrounded by the aura of youth, and I looked and though I was seeing again, the boy was still there. This boy was dead.
“How?” I said.
“To the initiated, such things are easy. I can give you the power to recall your kills. The sweetest ones.” I could not see the owner of the voice, it was delicate and cultured, it was wise with years. “You must eat.”
It was no little temptation. So much of humanity is spoiled, the passions convoluted or overindulged, grown fat. The young ones, the innocence they have, this is the flavor I desired. Hope was even better, and ever more rare. And the power over death. I had cheated death, the gaping maw, but to be able to bring others back from it was true power.
“Just eat,” he said.
Just eating was the wheel that crushes, the tiger that takes the deer, the wolf and the rabbit, the eternal cycle. I hate the wheel, I thought. “Always the fear in the little ones, always the hate in the big ones.”
“No,” I said.
He said, “Ah. Do you imagine that there is anything of meaning beyond your thirst? Tell me what it is? You are some agent of good? For what and whom? These ones don’t even want to live,” and I saw them all, their smell as sweet as honeysuckle, and all had the good in them, even the homeless and the old.
“No.” I said. “I am of the earth.”