Don't Lie Down
They never lie down.
White buildings, white streets, whitewhitewhite. The sunlight reflects and crystallizes and fragments, the white so bright that eyes water and people look away, look down. (If they ignore the monsters in their closets and under their beds maybe they will go away).
There are no stains, no ugly splotches of old discarded gum and brightly colored candy wrappers. Even the sky is perfect, blue and cloudless and empty.
This is what civilization should be, what they should all strive for and be proud that they achieved. It's perfection.
Something is wrong. Some of them dream of dirt and mud and disorder, chaos. Imperfection.
It is a dangerous thought, one to be kept at the back of the mind, one to be stored and locked up and peeked at through metal bars.
River dreams with them.
The white is so perfect, unblemished and smooth. They throw paint, buckets of red splattering the buildings and the streets and the people.
River stands among them and helps, red dripping down her front and covering her hands, splashing her face and her hair and her dress.
She stands with them and they laugh, lift their hands to the perfect blue sky and dance and sing, revel in the sheer perfection of it all.
It's an imperfect perfection, the most perfect type of all.
The next morning, the paint is gone like it never existed and whiteblindingbright greets them as they leave their houses.
Tired, so tired. Exhaustion weighs on their minds, curls their shoulders inwards and stoops them over. They move, shuffling slowly to and fro, unhurried, unthinking, unfeeling.
They all lay down. Man, woman, child. They all lay down.
At the office, in the streets, on tile or concrete or carpet.
They all lay down.
But not all. Some scream at them to get up, to move and feel and be. They scream until their voices give out and their vocal chords shatter and still they scream.
River screams with them.
Rage. Blind and bitter and unending rage. Whirlpool and she's caught and can't get out and the rage, it's smothering her.
Once they threw paint on the streets, on the white. Now they throw it at each other, covering their companions from head to toe.
Only it's not paint, it's blood.
They're not real, they're not real, they're not real.
Gone, echoes, memories of things that were, that are but aren't. They live and breathe and the rage takes them, but they are.
They did not give up, did not surrender their soul to the devil when he came knocking. They did not lie down.
And neither will she.
They shove her down, fill her with pain and drugs and needles, but she will not go.
She fights and kicks and hates the white (though now they are blue). Bite scream flail rage.
Don't lie down, don't ever lie down.
She wants to lie down. Black exhaustion fills her and drags her to the floor, whispers of shadows promising never-ending blissful sleep.
But she's the best and she claws her way back up, opening her eyes to blinding lights and cold tables.
She's the best, and they want her to not want to lie down.
She hates them, but she obeys them anyway. For once, their hopes and dreams and wishes are in perfect alignment with hers.
This is called once in a blue moon, though she doesn't understand the symbolism as the only moon here is white and tiny in the sky and the only blue around is the gloves they wear.
She can hear them out there, the red and the rage and the reavers. They are consumed with the anger, blinded by it. They do not see the darkness, do not experience the ever-present weight on her shoulders that drags her downdowndown she won't ever lie down!
They are so simple, their minds.
She studies and dissects and observes, though she never touches. (You're not supposed to touch the animals all lined up in their pretty cages of red and silver).
They fight, they cut, they eat. Simple. They are not governed by anything but the rage, the ever-present need to killdestroybitetear.
Eat and sleep and eat. Little souls, big world. If they were not so angry, she might wish to become one, to be surrounded by people like her, people who will never let her lie down and who rage against the blue and the white. But she hates the violence, the mindless rage and the affinity to killing.
At the beginning, they wondered if they should mold her like them, all rage and red instead of fear and calculations and blue.
But they changed their minds. The original test subjects were unstable, too angry and unwilling to follow orders.
They would give her the killing, but not the disorder. She would have the disorder, but not the killing.
They all wonder about what might have been. Them and her, her and them. They both hope and wish and think maybemaybemaybe, but they hope and wish and think for different things.
There is blood, so much blood.
River stands in the middle of it all, sick and fearful, trembling so hard her teeth are rattling in her skull.
Dead, all dead. Shot dead center in the middle of their foreheads. She looks for the gun, and finds it.
In a hand.
Connected to an arm.
Connected to her.
Her hand. Her gun. Her fault.
She sinks to her knees and throws up acid.
When she stands, her hands are red with blood.
But she still won't lie down.