Demon JapeA bounding sun and caravans in portrait done by the conjecture of sand and hot desert wind, these were the things that foretold of the impending doom the small band of travelers were destined to fulfill. They traveled along dressed in black leather and suede a mixture of modern amenities and old western drama. There weren’t many of them left, in fact they were the last, the last living humans on earth. The sun was 120 degrees in the open and just a touch cooler by the shade of several giant outcroppings of red stone. They had decided that the Demon Jape would leave the desert to it’s own, the killer of mankind, the purveyor of the end; they had been wrong, the Jape had followed them by the heat of the burning sun and by the cold of dark nights.
Crystal Wild and Nod Soul had watched the Jape devour the entire town of South Wash as if it were nothing; 3500 people had died in that town and hundreds of thousands in the more populated areas of New Mexico. Hell, Nod thought to himself, millions have died, billions even! The jape came in a thick black cloak and it settled in on a town like a demon, killing everything that it touched, mothers, babies and old folks as well. They had survived, their tribe had kept ahead of the storm. It had been close in the South Wash but they had gotten out of there the evening before the Jape. They had watched from twenty miles away as the cloud had settled in on the distant horizon, enveloping the Wash with death. Crystal had seen something in the sky over the town, winged like an angel, only it wasn’t an angel it was the Demon Jape, fluttering like a bird in the sky above the civic arena. It was then that they knew and knowing they gathered their courage and headed out into the desert heat.
Soul thought about it for a moment and wondered if it was the devil coming to claim his own. He wasn’t sure, the elders in their group told of a laboratory somewhere in Arizona where they had set this thing free, they said the scientists had found a way to travel through time, but what time had they traveled to? Bob Nesterman had been a research assistant for the Echo Labs Facility and he said that the entire complex disappeared when they opened the portal. He had been on his way in to work when he saw the Demon Jape, it just hovered in the sky above the complex. “What the hell is that?” he had said aloud to himself as it swooped down toward the complex. He had stayed at a comfortable distance knowing that they had unleashed something terrible. The black cloud had followed the Jape and when it dissipated the entire complex was gone. Bob described the Jape this way, “It was all fire engine red with giant wings, it’s hair, if it could be called hair was a long silken tress the length of a kite string and it made a sound, a high pitched scream when it swooped down to the lab, “YYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAA!” then it disappeared, the Demon Jape, the creature they had loosed on the world.
Nod looked at the small caravan and their band of survivors, the Jape hadn’t appeared yet but he knew it would. They ate potato chips and Drank Soda Pop for lunch all the while keeping their eyes to the sky. They had to keep moving, keep ahead of it for as long as they could but the New Mexico desert was unforgiving and hot. Crystal grabbed Nods hand and squeezed it, “We’ll keep ahead of it Nod!” she said with a touch of fear in her voice.
“I hope so honey, I hope so.” he replied as he adjusted his suede jacket. “We’ve gotta go, tell the others we have to head West tonight, maybe there’s something left on the West coast Crystal.” he said hopefully.
The horizon stole the day to twilight and the pink and orange spears of light illuminated the dry desert plains with an ethereal light. They crept along in horse drawn wagons, hoping for the next town, hoping for something different. They moved through the night and shadow quietly praying for an end to their nightmare, humankind’s nightmare.
The night air was cold and filled with the echoes of coyotes, maybe they knew; Nod thought that they were following them across the desert, they had seen the Coyotes in the distance and the buzzards, by the thousands. Maybe they knew, it was probably their extinction as well. The Demon Jape, the Demon Jape, up on us with that big ass mistake he sang to himself in an exhausted singsong that boarded on delirium. He had been awake for nearly three days waiting for the Jape and it was catching up with him. They rested somewhere near four A.M. and Nod fell asleep immediately, and he dreamed of the Jape.
He was alone in the middle of the desert, the wind was howling in a giant arcane darkness as black as ash. The jape stood directly in front of him, it’s long corn silk hair billowing out behind it with a gravity defying ease. The sand was tearing at his skin and the Jape was chuckling in a slightly masculine tone, low and steady like a bear only higher pitched. He realized it was neither female or male it just was what it’s purpose intended and that didn’t include sex, or love or desire or passion only a steady, slow determination; it called each town, each human with a fierce intensity and it left little to bargain with except the inevitable, the final moment of extinction. Nod wondered for a moment, had the dinosaurs gone out like this, he supposed it was possible, insane but possible. This thing, this Demon Jape represented the moment of extinction for man and everything that had vanished before it, the Dinosaurs the great beasts that had come after the dinosaurs, what made them different, why had they survived. The Jape spoke to him in a low hum.
“I will noooooot Commme fer yer spiritssssssssss Nod Soul! The Jape Hissed as he waved away the cloud of darkness around them. A pack of coyotes stood behind Nod and above several dozen buzzards circled, waiting, waiting for the Jape’s decision. The air around the Jape glowed a bright gray and it’s eyes were cast in amber ovals of light. The wings were leathery and veined from the length of it’s arms to it’s mid section; it was a bright phosphorescent red almost painfully bright in substance. The long tresses that trailed out behind it were flaxen and feathery and Nod thought insanely that The Jape would be a perfect Vidal Sassoon commercial.
The Jape continued, “Youuuuuu will be theeeeeeee nexxxxxxttttt generatiooooooon, myyyyyy time isssssss doooonnneee hereee Nod Soul….you willlll beginning againnnnnn andddd thee great cloud shalllll be lifted for yourrrrr generation to prove itselfffffffff Nodddd. Perhapppsss I shall neverrrrrr returnnnnnn!” it said as it’s eyes glowed a bright orange amber hue.
Nod awoke to the sound of coyotes howling in the distance, Crystal was sleeping soundly next to him. He hadn’t smoked in ten years but he grabbed one of Crystals cigarettes from the pack lying next to her and lit it. The cool menthol burn was good and he relaxed for the first time in a year, it had been a year since they had started running, it was strange it seemed much longer, like decades. Maybe they had opened some kind of portal at the Echo labs and maybe they had been in this godforsaken desert for what seemed like an eternity. He would keep them moving to the west, to the ocean; they could live there and start over again, they were the new generation the Demon Jape had said, the new beginning. Nod inhaled and leaned down to crystal, she turned in her sleep and Nod blew a puff of smoke between her lips. She awoke and smiled at him as she exhaled his smoke. He laughed and said, “We’re safe now Crystal.”
“I know I had a dream about the Jape Nod, the new generation!” and they all knew as they moved west to the ocean and a new beginning.