Ghost Dancing the Cemetery Mile
by Rudi Dornemann
It was your idea, your concept that started it all. I saw your face as you watched the historical footage. I saw the moment the plan came to you. I didn’t know what it was until you drove us out there, beyond all the walls and shields, the abandoned strip malls and the checkpoints.
You tapped the pad you’d glued to the dash and the old-time music started, so loud and so low our ribs throbbed with the beat and we couldn’t hear the screeching of the harpies. You’d slipped the restraints and slid out the window before we could stop you.
There, under the light of the hololoops of the dearly departed, you danced. And the hover, controlled by that patch pad on the dash, moving in time to the math you’d programmed, danced with you. You leapt and slid and spun, ran or slow-walked, while the hover surged and stopped, fishtailed, hopped up and drifted down. You spun on the roof; you tumbled through the underside jets and came up again, road dust unfolding spookily around you in the holo-light. The mausoleum blocks echoed with laughter and voices singing along to century-old slang.
“Ghost dancing,” you said.
The next week, we cruised the tombs again, and we all took a turn. Under the flickering gaze of beloved husband of, cherished daughter, much-missed brother, we danced. The hover, danced with us; you’d taught us the method of your math, and we’d each programmed our own choreography.
Your math was always the best; your choreography the most perfect. That was why things went wrong — your movements were too true to the beat. The harpies knew exactly when to swoop. They had you off the ground by the time we reached you. You were still twitching to the bass; they knew how to move to hold you tight in their claws.
Now you stay locked indoors, won’t talk to any of us who still go out into the night and the music.
We dance to new tunes, stochastic syncopation that bewilders the harpies, too many rhythms shifting too quickly. We dance for you, much-missed brother, and hope that you’ll join us again, to leap and twist by the light of the dead.