Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 14
Spring, 2014

Featured Novel Excerpt
New Works

Zoltán Komor

Hunters of the Desert

The solitude of the beginning warms itself at the accomplishment. An angel in the desert squats next to a dead horse. Black flies buzz around the wide open eyes of the corpse. The angel is a big, muscular man, his wings are begrimed with blood, as he keeps fumbling in the dead body. A giant scar grows in the horse, it's like a door.
Finally, he finds the heart of the animal, and pulls it out. It is a birdfeeder made of wood. As he turns it in his hands, birds fly out of it, and disappear into the sky.
"Wait for me!" the angel yells after them. "I'm so tired! My wings are too heavy and full of blood! I can't fly!"
But the flock of birds is gone.
The silence shivers at the side of the desert. Young boys are squatting behind small dunes, with rifles in their hands. They are waiting for the arrival of the birds. And when they appear in the sky, the hunt begins. Sharp explosions shake the air.
"So many wedding-presents!" they exult, collecting the dead birds into bags. Later, they pitch a camp and cook a few of them, eating their flesh next to the dancing flames. Then they try to sleep for a few hours. As the cold desert night surrounds them, the boys begin to chatter. Tiny, naked women crawl out from the pages of the magazines hidden under their blankets, discovering and nuzzling the hunters' young bodies with their little hands, trying to warm the boys up. They plug their small, erect nipples between the youngsters' mouths, kissing their foreheads. This is how boys survive the long, cold nights, so they can continue their endless trip. Long carried memories in their skulls—broken mirror-splinters glint—in their dreams the hunters are watching a giant door, which they can't open. Every time they try, the handle catches fire. The stretching flame scorches the small hairs on their hands.
The sun rises. Light balances in the string of the horizon soaking up the sighs. There lies an angel in the desert. He died on the back of the rotting horse, and he looks like someone who tried to ride through the years. There stands a young witch on the brink of the desert, creating men. She shapes their bodies from sand, and the dust-people line up in front of her.
"I almost forgot your testicles!" the woman laughs, roping two heavy stones onto their necks.
Now they are ready—marching in the desert—the rocks becoming heavier and heavier with every step. When they stop to take a rest, the fairies of the desert begin to chuckle: "Oh, look at you, you fools! The only thing you can think about are your balls! Always your damned nuts!"
The boys are heading home, dragging the big sacks filled with dead birds. Leaving red blood-lines in the sand.
"Witches and fairies live in the desert!" their mothers told them when their journey started. "Sometimes they turn into birds, and fly over the yellow wasteland. Be careful not to shoot a witch, because if you do, you are doomed!"
The witches of the desert—who set the door handles on fire—who steal the soul out from the eye—who capture your hopes and turn them into stones, who can palpate the dreams of the young. They can move into horses, and once they are inside, they tangle their bowels.
At this very moment, an evil spirit of this kind, in the shape of a vulture, circles above the hunters.
"What a great wedding-present this is going to be!" one boy shouts, holding up his gun, and before the others can stop him, he fires. The bird falls into the sand.
"You idiot!" his fellows begin to cry. "This ain't a fairy! It's a witch!"
The wounded vulture turns into a beautiful, dark-haired woman, who spits the bullet into the hot sand. She steps over the boys, who begin to shiver.
"Which one of you shot me down?" she asks, but none of them says a word. "I'll let the others go. I just need the one who fired. But if you don't talk, I'll kill you all!"
So the young hunter steps forward: "It was me."
The witch nods, and turns into a huge vulture again. The bird grabs the boy with her sharp claws and flies away with him.
In the middle of the desert the vulture turns back into a woman, and she makes love with the young hunter. While the boy ejaculates into her, he closes his eyes, and sees an open door that someone slowly locks at him. As the key inserts into the lock and turns with a sharp click, the metal handle catches fire.
The boy wakes up later, finding himself alone in the desert, discovering angel wings on his back. He tries to clap with them, but they don't move, they just flag—useless feathery clobbers, he can hardly walk with them.
This is how angels roam in the desert—walking in narrow growing circles—getting thirstier with every step, while his fellows arrive home. Loving girls wave to them, standing in the river, all ready for the wedding ceremony. The hunters get out of their dirty clothes and run into the water, where they hand the dead birds to their lovers. The last drops of blood ooze out from the animals, falling into the waves.
Miles away, the angel-boy can't walk any more. He just lies under the searing sun, looking at the vulture above, who waits for the moment when the soul flies out from the boy's mouth, so she can catch and eat it. Dark flies buzz around the boy's eyes. He thinks about his gorgeous bride, who stands in the river alone, hoping for a wedding present she will never get. She just stands there, knee-deep in the grey water, for eternity—her tiptoes keep scraping the ancient rocks of the river.
Eventually, the rocks hanging on the necks become so heavy that they pull off the wayfarers of the world. The birdfeeders run out of seeds, and blood makes the wings useless. The solitude of the beginning warms itself at the accomplishment.
"I wish I could fly." whispers the boy, and with that last wish, the soul—like a small bird—flies out of his mouth. And the vulture swoops.

Zoltán Komor writes: I'm 27 years old and from Hungary. My first book, a novel titled Mesék Kaptárvárosból (Tales from Hive City) was published in 2010. I am the editor of Katapult Kortárs Alkotói Oldal, a site that focuses on neoavantgarde and postmodern literature, abstract paintings and electronic, mostly experimental music.