an oil and flood fairytale
After the land of giants, twenty-two thousand barrels of water inundating a series of platforms and dens, after the world of permafrost and slick, our redhead heroine cocks her 9mm and kicks in the fortress door. She’s coming after Bowser and this time she needs little proof. These are the things she verified during a nine year masterclass on the furtive: a mansized leech, the transmigration of identity, the sureness of excavating the human cavity, the bugs therein. She’s ridden a dinosaur better than any Italian plumber. She’s gobbled mushrooms by the fistful—hard living, playing the game by the facts. She’s changed her clothes in dark clearings. Made light of costumes designed to disguise what could never be disguised. The plot is always the same. Clear the stage of stalking anthropoids. Distill herbs into firepower. Do not fall into the oblivion. If at all possible, do not lose a life. There is a princess, somewhere, who needs saving. She’s in another castle, another level, but this time, it’s different. The whole damn stage is the fortress. One second just inert matter, the next the magic of possibility, and then it takes over. Great canons shoot bullets with toothy grins. Dana leaps over these and stomps them out of the sky. She dodges hammers and blue gusts of flame. The water’s looking oily now, like something that will strangle, as in the oil is a virus and will find its way into your orifices. And then, you’re not who you are. By some dexterity, Dana conquers this, and comes to the final chamber of Hell, and the devil is just some pissed off turtle. Maybe he rides in a hovercraft, maybe he hisses out projectiles. Either way, she knows his weakness: jump on him three times and wake up. There’s nothing inside his shell she hasn’t seen before.
originally published in The Southern Review, volume 47:4, autumn 2011