It was just past dawn but you could already hear it. It started with a single shot, then followed burst after burst, a hollow blare bouncing through the streets, the alleys. The houses and the sheds had spred like a multicolored rash covering the slopes. Far above them the green, timeless mountains with its arched peaks disappearing into a milky morning haze. Far, far behind them a glimpse of the ocean, Rio’s beaches, tall glass towers and other worlds reflected in oceans and stains and membranes. From above, Complexo must have resembled a blanket of dirty patches sewn together. From within it resembled a war. Crumbled concrete foundations with rusty rebar crawling out of every corner, like tentacles from a captured creature. Sheds pieced together by corrugated sheets, alleys so narrow that one’s shoulders barely could squeeze through, thick nodes of black wires hanging across the streets, like swelling snake nests. Here and there large trees casting shadows over the beaten paths between levels divided by fences with or without barbed wire, small spots left open for the children whom did not run with drugs to play football on. But there were also other children. They had already seen one or two of them, prowling around in the crowds, amongst the living. Gaunt, raven-black hair in long locks, brown skin, signs and twiddles from another part of the world and time scribbled with white paint on their faces and torsos, arms and legs. As provoked from the shadows beyond the mountains, brought back, not to life but from the dead, stuffed creatures that someone had blown cold life into, machines of flesh and blood with cloudy eyes, like they suffered from severe glaucoma. Some sewn together with rough stitches. The living saw them clearly in daylight, but none spoke of them, approached them, disturbed them. When the children joined the gangs they left their families. When they died in disputes and overdoses, they left the gangs, left in the streets. Much later, they could be seen between the houses and sheds, but mostly they kept to themselves far up there, towards the edges of the mountains and the forests where few dared to go, least of all the police.
”This is a sick place, but I kind of like it. Reminds me of something old. Cities, I suppose. Have never been here. Have you?
”No. First time. I have never seen this. Not been here before. What do you feel?”
The two figures were gravely misplaced, dressed in old suits, one huge black man, like the river along the delta, eyes like an animal. The other one pale like the driven snow, a relatively small figure with a hat without a tie and a face without a shin and cheeks without blood and a head without shoulders. The dark man in a pin striped suit, a shiny head, huge feet shuffling along in slipers made of twined reeds. The pale, smaller one slightly hare-lipped, one odd red eye and one normal with a large black pupill surrounded by a green-speckled ring, small yellow teeth in his mouth, pestered and stained by coffee, tobacco and centuries of neglect.
”I feel … she is here. Up there. I feel that she has already seen us … Knows we’re coming. Waiting.”
”I have waited for over 200 years”, the dark man replied the pale.
They had since long ago lost the trail. She had left the continent, fled across the ocean to a new world yet without any order. In the jungle, in the harbours, in the towns that took shape and billowed hastily, over flooded with humans, where people died in battles, from starvation and new diseases, traded with slaves and rubber and looked for ancient cities of gold, there she found bodies to blow dead life into, bodies that wandered once again with her voice whispering between their ears. Now she had a horde of them, children in all ages creeping out of the favela’s darkest corners and nooks like stealthy spiders or ghosts; her arms and legs and eyes and ears. Not even the gangs dared to touch them, or her.
They drew their weapons and did so without speaking a word, for between them a breath lingered which forever joined and chained them together and still and to the end branded their task. Both had been carrying revolvers, hidden under their suit jackets, upon the soaking shirts. The sun rose higher and began to boil the city in moist, as if Rio any moment now would start to evaporate into the air and leave behind a dusty field for the jungle to reconquer. People dispersed in front of them. The two of figures looked like preys; beings from the outside world, differently dressed, speaking a foreign language. Yet none approached them. First they passed lively quarters with children playing and elderly watching, people that tried to live their lives. Then blocks with gang members, starring faces covered in scarred tattoos. Then further up while the sun climbed higher over the ocean. Streets where bodies already laid and fumed from small holes, smoke soaring towards a blue sky, shells and blood in the dirt. Then memories from long ago, shadows and shapes provoked in flashing lightning bolts between huge boles and a hollow storm over the jungle. Narrow alleys reeking of spices and urine and feces, sheets of metal shutting out the daylight and the ever soaring eyes in the sky. Sparse with people. All the more desolate the higher and deeper they climbed. They could feel it. Order disturbed, lines broken, boundaries overstept. Suddenly and silently something jumped out of a window or a hole and clung to the dark man’s back, tried to scratch him in the eyes and bite him in the ear, hissing like a scared or angry reptile until the man got a hold of the creatures neck and slammed the tiny body into the wall. A stain. The remains fell lifeless to the ground, cracked open and exposed a dark purple meat. They continued upwards along alleys, winding and curling like brooks, guided by a light that others did not see, strings and threads shot into them, pulling them towards the source of the disturbance. A gentle vibration and a slight buzz awoke, grew in strength the higher and closer they came. More small corpses, brought back from the dead, came running at them with rusty knives or just long dirty finger nails to scratch and sharpened teeth to bite. They came out from behind trash piles, flew like mad monkeys from the roofs. The children stabbed at the men and the bullets from the revolvers left great holes in the children’s heads. The dark man had drawn a broad, bended knife that cut through them like reeds by the river bank and the pale man had drawn a small but sturdy axe that cleaved the brittle skulls as if they had been made of dry branches and burned clay. They were so close, they both could feel it. The sun stinged against the back and neck of the pale man as soon as it flickered and broke in between the ruins and sheds. It smelled of both mountain and city, damp soil and warm garbage mixed with coffee and pollen. They came to a small square, a strange glade in the dense and decayed settlement, and in the middle of the glade stood a distorted tree with thick branches without leaves and twigs, like sickly intestines. The shadow of the tree stretched towards a flight of stairs that led up to a dwelling overlooking the square. Not a house but a pile of concrete and red bricks crested with rusty sheets and tin plates. There she was, inside. They had been waiting for more than 200 years for this, hunted and tracked her in the old country but always to see or feel her disappear, slip away, then like now surrounded with and protected by half naked creatures brought back from the other side. The living dead children poured like rats from every corner and alley and the two companions shot and stabbed their way through the sea of petty bodies with washy eyes and painted signs shining white, circles and strokes and twisting shapes. The pale man lingered in the square. With a knife in one hand and an axe in the other he stabbed and cut, no longer with ease but with all his strength, shed long tears and cracked open skulls. The sound reminded him of eggs being hatched or broken against a frying pan, but nothing oozed out of the heads but rather evaporated; green, flighty puffs with a foul stench in its wakes. The dark, tall man walked the steps up towards the hovel and kicked open a door put together by chicken wire and hoary boards. He entered a room where death and life met and collapsed, where boundaries between worlds was violated and where no order existed. The stench of corpses and corruption and the smell of deep jungles struck him as equally prominent. The air floated with dampness, clutted blood on tables and floor boards. In the meager daylight that siped through slips and cracks he caught glimpses of members and small bodies dangling in ropes. Hung there like necked ducks or skinned monkeys, not as food but experiments, things. Then he saw her, like a shadow in the corner of his right eye, mostly due to the slightly disturbed dust on the walls in the corner where she had been crouching and watching in bundles and rags, steering the children’s hands and feet, seeing what they saw. She was as dark as the night that once had provoked her, not far from where the river began its way towards the ocean. Long before any ivory or jewels allured white men from afar. Eyes yellow and thin, like a lizard’s. Something stung him. The dark man freezed. His revolver fell to the floor and he pulled out a tiny arrow from his neck. Weightless wood with a sharp tip in one end and a feather in the other. He looked at it, tried to find his focus as the walls began to melt, the light fled and the lines dispersed like golden dust in a tub of water. He saw himself as a boy by the river bank, standing with his feet embedded in the muddy bottom, with a spear in his hand, squinting down in the water for a movement or a reflection in a silvery scale. Before he could thrust down his spear into the river he awoke, glanced towards the corner and saw nothing except a grin with rutten teeth, revelied as she took the blowpipe from her mouth. He could hear the jungle, the river. Now the knife fell to the floor and he passed through it all, from the melting room where he was standing to the place where he once hade been born, to the moment where he once had been born. It called him. The hut. The fire. The men with their white paintings, not unlike the children in the alleys. The masks. The darkness that rolled in with the night by the end of the day, where stars were lit, where the forest creaked and buzzed and howled hollow in the far, where the river curled into a deep jungle that never ended but continued in to a deep night and a rain pouring in over the horizon. Roaring thunder, sweltering, like water in the air. Lightening bolts that struck and ghastly lit up the colossal trunks and the water and the distorted configurations and the bodies provoked from eternal rest to walk the earth once more.
Out in the square the stream of living dead had ebbed, then ceased and the little pale man waded through a pile of carcasses. The police would not come here, up here, never witness this. Soon all traces and tracks would be covered and cleaned by a custodian, as if it never had happened and been. Erased. He could still hear bursts echo over the sea of sheet metal, between the concrete walls. He heard helicopters hover, like huge grasshoppers overlooking a wheat field infested with vermin. He walked the stairs, opened something that was supposed to resemble a door. Daylight fell over a large body dressed in a pinstripe suit, curved together in a fetal position, just as the moment before its delivery. A rank bundle sat leaned over the body. The scrawny fingers, dipped in white paint, stroke across the face and scalp, down over the neck, drew signs and figures. He ripped away what was left of the door behind him and the sunlight stormed the room. He raised his axe over the creature on the floor that turned against him and hissed and spat a stinking secretion towards his eyes when he neared her but he managed to protect his eyes with one arm while the other fell and the axe cleaved her head, and he pulled the axe out of the head and raised it once more. From the crack poured lumps and fluid and puffed a dark green smoke, like spores from a trampled mushroom, and he covered his nose and mouth as well as he could while the axe plunged into her head again and again until nothing remained except a grayish mush and he took the broad knife from the floor and cut with one hand and chopped with the other until the companion’s head was severed from its body and he looked at the necromant one last time to be sure that the creature was dead before he sat upon the stinking corpse and raised both hands over the still fuming head and with his fingers sprawled apart he pulled from her a sullen, grey haze, like spider web mingled with gas and ashes that sucked into his hands, right into his pink palms and finger tips. He fell backwards and crawled out of the dwelling, out on the porch and down the flight of stairs before he came to his feet and gasped for air, felt the burning sun against his skin in the square, in the glade. Scenes from his childhood flashed infront of his eyes; the vast wheat fields behind the house that sighed and rolled in the afternoon breeze and burned yellow in the sunset while the father still steered the plow from behind the old horse and the mother sat in her rocking chair and plucked a hen and he returned to Rio and the favelas and saw the feeble tree oddly sprawling from the ground and the pile of small carcases that finally slept forever and in this world their was an order that he was bound to and forced to uphold until he and nobody and nothing longer was. When the order of things that was no longer existed, this world and reality would no longer be. This history. This civilization. He heard the shots and he heard the helicopters and he placed the revolver and the axe in their holsters and buttoned his jacket and peered against the burning sphere that rose higher over the ocean and the people knew nothing of all that he knew when he walked away and silently disappeared into to the alleys. Order was restored.