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|Title: Error final de Lysander||
Broken bottles, sifted red sand and faded, unreadable pieces of paper litter the little alleyway in the old city. The old planet, yet by no means the oldest in this empire. Sun always shining on red sand, humans came here from their own desert lands to grow and flourish as they had there, beautiful instances of intelligence and compassion they arrived and multiplied, loved and fought, built and destroyed; all in accordance with their strangely predictable human nature.
Bleak metropolis, hot and dry always, desert cultures die in rain, death and destruction, the necessary agents of inevitable progress attack these people, this culture, as some sort of humid enlightenment.
An entire world of unceasing light and energy,
never cold, never dark. The world was like this as were most of the souls of its
Within the crevices and dark corners of this fading necropolis sprints the figure of a man with a dark soul, a life that had long ago lost its luster. He ran from what he knew not. Sirens perhaps, echoes, footsteps behind him. Long had he been haunted not only by the ghosts from his own psyche but a specter that had pursued him since the Incident. He could not help but take a look behind him every dozen steps or so, as well as every time he stopped to hide in a dark corner or locked doorway. His body, diseased and weak with age and unfamiliar with the heat and dryness took much damage here, being so accustomed to the cool, permanent temperature of the usual surroundings he was so far from.
Blocks away, two local boys, Ernesto and Diego, were enjoying the aging afternoon and their youth whilst playing ball in the sunset. Kicking the ball between them and laughing while exchanging empty curses the playing on the cracked concrete of a playground deep within the cityís forgotten neighborhoods, the ghetto, the barrio, the gangrenous appendage of the metropolis, there were several names to it though tonight there were few people out and the children were left to play in safe silence in a vecindad typically reputable as being very dangerous.
Tonight it was warm, but not as warm as usual, and the breeze was blowing, and for once the air felt clean and soft, and the children enjoyed the night and each others company.
Clutching his mission, his only valuable possession, the strange man continued his journey through this strange neighborhood on this strange planet. He hadnít seen many of the native inhabitants, though he assumed they were strange as well.
His thin white coat, long and flowing in the breeze had once been pure and virginal white, but was now stained and dusted, defiled and torn, the only reason he continued to wear it was that he had forgotten it was still on him. A cleanly sewed name tag remained on his coat. "Renton".
Rounding a corner into a dim and small alleyway, the man fell to his knees quite suddenly and to his own surprise. He dropped what he had been clutching and held his own chest.
Could it be? Could it be that a man who had accomplished so much should die so simply? That a man who had always been surrounded by the appropriate equipment die of such an easily curable thing? The irony did not have a chance to hit him before his body fell to the ground.
Dust flew around his perspiration coated face and finely-trimmed white facial hair as he breathed his final breath into the ground.
Ernesto looked down upon the corpse silently, regarding the old man before him with silent, childish innocence. He felt bad for this stranger, for though he was just a boy he knew what it was to die in such a place, as here few people have others who love them, let alone wish to care for them.
He looked over to Diego, who was stooped beside a bench tying his worn-out shoes.
"Diego! Aqui! Mira! Viene aqui!"
Hearing the imperativeness in his friends voice, Diego ran quickly to where Ernesto was standing in the small dark alley. He stopped when he saw the form beneath Ernesto but continued walking slowly, gazing at the strange man on the familiar ground.
Diego asked him who the man was. Ernesto told him that he did not know. Should we tell our mothers? Should we alert los administratores? What should we do with him?
The boys had no answers for their questions. Ernesto cleared the black hair hanging from his eyes and slowly kneeled before the man. There was something beneath him.
"Ah-quee-es?" Ernesto asked taking the shiny container in his hand and reading the neat label on it. It was clean and smooth, unrusted and undented, unfaded and new. It was like nothing he was familiar with. It was like nothing he had seen in his short life.
"Que es ĎAh-quee-es'?" he asked his friend.
"No se." Diego replied almost silently, equally enchanted by their discovery.
The alleyway suddenly darkened as a shadow fell upon them. The setting sun was now hidden behind the figure of a large man. The boys looked up with fear, fear of what the implications of their discovery would have on this new stranger, not of the stranger himself. The advantage of living in a dying neighborhood was that there was always somewhere to run.
Yet as the man approached the boys they saw that there was nothing to be afraid of. He had short dark hair, black sunglasses, and the perfect black clothing of a sacerdote, though they did not think he was from the local parish. Perhaps there was a new neighborhood priest? His clothes were perfectly pressed and clean, his skin fair and his collar a pure white. His shoes were shiny and brand new.
"Buena tarde, padre." The boys said in unison, trying to look behind his sunglasses.
He spared them the trouble by removing his eyewear and putting them away. He walked between the boys and knelt before their discovery and laid a hand on each of their shoulders, gazing upon the dead man. The children, mesmerized by the situation, looked upon the man as well, half expecting the presence of this sacerdote nuevo to somehow animate him. But nothing happened.
Eventually the sacerdote spoke, gazing gently upon the boys with his soft green eyes. "Ninos, listen. The barrio is a bad enough place to live, yet an even worse place to die, comprende? This manís soul stands before the Lord now, but his body before you as a warning. There are places beyond this and God has great plans for good children. Vuelva a sus madres, it is nearly dinner time."
Ernesto and Diego nodded, and began walking away slowly, considering the manís words.
"El envase, por favor."
Ernesto noticed the container still in his hands, the property of the dead man.
"Oh, Si padre!," he ran back to the priest, handing the container to him.
"Gracias, miho. Padre Lopez will expect to see your familia in mass this Sunday." The priest said with a light smile.
Ernesto returned the smile. "Si, padre." he replied. He turned to go yet faced the priest again, confusion on his face. "Padre, que es ĎAh-quee-esí?" Ernesto asked, pointing to the container in the manís hand.
The man looked down at the container, and slowly answered the child, "It was this manís pecado peor. His worst sin."
With that, the boy nodded slowly and began walking back to his home, to his mother and father, where dinner was waiting. His only safe haven in his hometown. He did not think to know how the man knew his name.
The priest looked down on the container, reading its clean label:
He read the dead man his final rites:
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