WHAT IS MAPPALUJO?


CHAPTER 22

In the hall of mirrors

night-fallen, amid slow waves of data

crawling shadows, wind-blown, now gather

into clouded shapes;

vibrations in the air, crystal

frequencies, a slow sudden pulse-beat.

Emerging, a drift of tears

multiplied in the one thousand mirrors,

where figures crouch in corners and then

rise to step freely

(as the crane steps)

through liquid soft reflections: where now,

following, the assassin glides

in silk. The one hand, becoming

a thousand; the one gun, a thousand guns.

And a voice that trails away

inside the head. Whispering.

Barely heard now, barely heard.

Silence. A single teardrop

falls on glass. Echoes, magnified.

A skin of silver nitrate that peels itself

away from the mirror,

becoming a likeness. Half man

half woman. A crying apparition that

raises a hand, lightly

revealing the shine of a blade

and plunges forward, howling, toward

the assassin, who moves

in turn, quickly now, raising the gun

even as the blade glistens forth from

one direction, another,

yet another. The trigger is pulled,

and all the shining pathways, broken,

scattering; the noise, the fireæ

a fall of flesh, bone, wetness,

shards of glass. Voices scream out

in relay. Cry, repeat, cry,

repeat, cry, repeat. Gestures, falling.

Gestures. Cry, repeat. And then quiet. Cold.

The agent finds there

only shadows, pale, lingering,

an image held on a splintered mirror;

the princess, fading now,

lingering, fading. Finally, only this:

a smear of blood on the looking glass

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WHAT IS MAPPALUJO?