WE, by Phoenix Alexander

WE, with base of Ornithischia, machine-molded and encasing intelligence, run to keep the beloved ones alive
WE: bird-hipped, yes, bird-fierce, mottle-fleshed, streaks on strips of whirling rubber that are the million treadmills that power this place, a place they thread the words “end-of-life care” through
WE, who run for those above, with the hope that they open their eyes again
WE, who care with every thundering footfall of our herd
WE, life-full, for whom “end-of-life” is now a happy impossibility
WE: the power source and the engine
WE: the remedy for an exhausted planet and the succor for those exhausted with the exhaustion
WE, who are treated kindly, who are given holographic vistas that spin before our camera-eyes (plains, grasslands and, for the human-minded still, cities, farms), who enjoy swift repairs should the fiberglass bones of our limbs give way, or the synthetic fibers that make up our muscles shred
WE: battery-runners, uncomplaining
WE, keepers of the soon-to-die and the not-yet-dead, the ones who do open their eyes after days or months or years of deathless sleep and unwire themselves from the machines that kept their organs moving and that kept the life inside them for all this time
WE, the bioelectric breaths of ventilators
WE, the delicate atmospheres of iron lungs
WE, the motors that keep hearts beating when the body has stopped trying
WE, the lights that light the lamps of loved ones by the beds of the deathless as they read, or perhaps doze a little, or perhaps pass the time crooning little lullabies to “wake up, open your eyes baby, please just open your eyes”
WE, the mourners of the machines that stop, and the bodies that stop with them
WE, the weeping
WE, the always-running
WE, who have chosen this
WE, who are herd, countless, the ones who did not go on ahead but who run for the living, run in these bodies that are made to run faster than death itself
WE, who are infinity and
WE, who are about to be one more:
WE snap our heads up as one, and the lenses in our eyes focus on the bars of lights above as they flicker, as our neural networks receive the image like a collective miracle
WE witness the man dying
WE witness his lover hold his hand (both are old, beautiful, the bodies aching still for one another but the strength of one failing and failing fast)
WE, who trill sadness at the sight of the machines that we power letting him slip away
WE, who have a saurian body waiting for him, because he has chosen to run, and not the other, the great mystery
WE, who know euphoria and sadness in one shattering moment
WE, who see him die, and the mind extracted with wires that, electric, our limbs power
WE, who crow in chorus as the new body, empty and unmoving yet, swings out on a crane as delicate as it is monstrous
WE, the welcoming
WE, the glorifiers of the chip interpolated, of the eyes lighting, of the questing legs pawing the ground and the spirit finding home in a strong body, our body, and making its way out amongst us
WE, Ornithischia, bird-hipped still, minds in metal, the steps of this new one about to join the endless run
WE, the encouraging!
WE, the kind!
WE, the running-together!
WE, the triumphant-in-kind as he takes hatchling-steps, tottering a little, trying a little, and then the muscles remember, and he is running!
WE, who ask his name, chattering greetings
WE, who, yes, are named, and whose names break the natural laws of this universe
WE:         Leaellynasaura, the girl who would christen a dinosaur, and who lay awake
               at night smiling at the brilliance of her parents, dreaming of what she
               would do with her own life
               Indirasaura, the woman who would be a physicist but died too early,
               polypped with cancer, but who is not really dead, not here
              Michaelosaurus, the man who smiled often and started every day with a
              song, strumming strings of a guitar he had gone hungry for weeks to afford
WE, who welcome now Adedayosaura, the joyful, a man who found love late but who lived every second of it without fear
WE, who run
WE, who hope you will join us someday, here in this shining realm in the basement of a building that lets life linger
WE, who smile at the sunfall of your life, when the ionic line wavers on that screen and your breaths grow difficult, and who wait for you to say yes, I will, and for the jewels of your mind to be taken and transferred into a body like ours, one that will never break, that will never grow old
WE, who invite you to run the rubber roads
WE, who invite you to sprint on tireless legs with anything and everything you could possibly want to see unfurled before you like God Itself
WE, the unafraid
WE, the runners
WE, who now, here, add a stroke of streaking life to the tally of infinity.

Phoenix Alexander is a queer, Greek-Cypriot writer and scholar of science fiction, fantasy and horror. He is a librarian in his current incarnation; before that he was an academic, and before that, he was a fashion designer. Anything earlier than that is mercifully hazy. He shares a home with his muses: the two feline brothers Purrince William the Furred and Ridley Scott. Phoenix’s fiction has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, The Dark, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Black Static, among others. More information and links to all of his work can be found at www.phoenixalexanderauthor.com, and you can find him on Twitter @dracopoullos.

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