• Published 24th Aug 2016
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Shooting Towards The Moon - Gray Compass



Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. Sometimes you just don't know what the hell is wrong with the world.

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Prologue

When I was young, my universe was small, and for a brief moment I believed that I knew it all.

As I grew up, my world became smaller and smaller; I was forced to accept that the so called universe was no longer mine, and all the things I once knew quite well, were actually huge mysteries.

I ended up understanding very little about myself, and even less about my reality.

Still, the world can be a fascinating place when you stop looking for a meaning.


It was a dense night. A layer of fog hovered above our heads like a floating river of watery fumes. If you were lucky, now and then it was possible to catch a glimpse of the stars, shining at distance, watching the cosmos unfold itself.

There was a rustle beneath the foliage; dead leaves and branches cracked under my brother's boots as he made his way through the woods.

He stopped for a moment and wiped out the humidity from his face with the sleeve of his denim jacket. My denim jacket. He had borrowed it and never returned.

His expression seemed to be a mix of boredom and impatience. But no one could ever figure out what Billy was thinking; not me, not my dad, not his friends. He just had this thick shell around his thoughts, and you couldn't pierce it even if you tried.

"Won't you kill the goddamned thing?" He said. "C'mon Todd, you know that's the only thing we can do — don't you know it?"

"But-"

"There's no 'but'. Just do the freaking thing, will ya? Finish what you started, for God's sake!" He pushed my shoulder. My skeleton felt like rubber. "C'mon boy... You always wanted to bust a cap on its head — whatever it was. I’m talking to ya, boy. You said that, what's the fucking matter now?” He insisted.

"I'm not sure anymore." I muttered. My body trembled as I revised my reasons for being there at night, crawling through the thickets. "I think we should just... just leave it alone, will ya? We can dump her on Heck's sugarcane field, they'll never find out anyway-"

"Her?" He gasped. "This is not a her! God, I don't even... It's a goddamn monster, I tell ya." He shook his head.

"I changed my mind."

"What’s wrong with you? You've dragged me into this, okay? It was your idea kid, and you are messing up again." Billy was getting nervous; he gets all shaky and red before loosing his mind. Under pressure I was a bit like him, but our triggers were in different places. "Those shitheads will find it. You gotta finish this, jungle boy — your words, not mine!"

"I know what I said, for Christ's sake! But I don't feel like doing it anymore, alright? Just leave her alone — please dude — just leave it." I turned around to face him.

"Leave it? Leave it, Todd? You're out of your fucking mind! This thing is a square peg in a round hole! What if the feds find out? What if they do, Todd? We'll become the bad guys, that's it. They’ll take you to Guantanamo and force you to eat your own shit- or something worse." Billy was sweating like a pig, I could barely see his expressions in the dark, but I could definitely feel the heat emanating from his body every time he walked past me.

"They won't do that! We can just leave the thing there for God's sake, and- Billy listen to me!" I yelled, grabbing his arm as he started to walk towards her; the veins in his wrists throbbed.

"Get off me!" He shoved me away, and I fell on the muddy earth."Are you insane? What the hell ya think ya doing?" Billy stuck his hand under his tattered shirt and drew out an old 9mm. "You keep messing up again dammit!" He muttered, shaking like a bunch of leaves as he tried to load the gun. "You promised me Todd, you fucking promised! When we crossed the border into the forest for the first time, you said you'd take care of the thing by yourself." I clenched my fists. "Look at us now! I gotta put an end on your own shitty plan!"

As he struggled with the gun once again, I jumped onto his back and clutched his arm as tightly as I could. Billy pushed me again, but now I had a firm grasp, and I wouldn't let go. He dragged me through vines and dead trees, I felt my shirt being ripped apart as wet chunks of moss splattered on my face. "Billy stop! You ain't killing her!" I yelled. "Please Billy, let's go home, please, just let-"

"I said get off me, asshole!" He grabbed my arm to throw me away, but I latched on his collar. "Get- off!" I felt a punch straight on my stomach; I doubled over breathlessly and fell on my back, curling myself in a ball, desperate for air.

"Look what you made me do to you!" He groaned something about our father, but I couldn’t listen to him. I was tired of always listening to Billy, tired of always doing whatever Billy wanted. As I struggled with the pain, he turned around and walked away, stopping right in front of the unicorn-like creature that I had been tracking down for weeks; she was unconscious, just lying alongside the dusty dirt road.

Her body was covered in a thin coat of velvety fur, a pair of wings were curled around her chest as if trying to protect itself from harm. She had in her flank a very odd color pattern; it looked like a crescent moon insignia engulfed by chunks of darker fur. Her long mane was half-lit by the headlights of our truck, blurred shadows danced on the cornfields as my brother passed in front of the car.

But he noticed none of that. Blinded by his fear and anger Billt was also unable to notice as I rose up from the place he left me and crossed the road.

I crossed, and went towards him...

I never meant it, I swear, but it happened.

I never meant it.

Billy rubbed his neck; he had this nervous habit. I knew he was scared because of it. He was a crude and stubborn guy, but he was scared as hell anyway.

He stared at the creature for what seemed like ages, maybe pondering, maybe deciding where to aim, maybe in a silent fight against his own guts. I never figured out, because right when he was about to fire I jumped on his back again, immediately wrapping my arms around his neck. Taken by surprise, Billt turned on his feet, but his big ass boot got stuck into an exposed root. It all happened very quickly; he stumbled over the root and crashed face down on the road. I landed on top of him, but by the moment we hit the ground a loud gunshot echoed through the fields.

I looked around frantically, afraid someone else had heard our struggle and followed us. Down the road there was nothing but fog. When I turned back to look at Billy he was pale as a ghost; his eyes focusing on something above our heads, mouth half open. “What’s wron-” Then he dropped the gun he had been holding so tightly.

I crawled to the side as he looked down to his chest. A large red blotch covered half of his shirt. In a few seconds, there was blood all around him; it dripped on the ground and the earth swallowed it. I was unresponsive.

On my knees, I stared at the body right in front of me — I don’t know if I said it aloud, or if I merely repeated the thoughts to myself: I didn't meant it – My eyes darted from one place to another, from the truck to the towering crops beside, and the forest edge shrouded in mist. Trying to find something — anything.

Billy stuttered an unintelligible sentence, he coughed two or three times and fell silent. That was all; I was alone.

My brother was dead.


There was something in the air that night.

Something ominous, just lurking around the edges of the map. I felt it as I dragged the body of my brother onto the backseat, I felt it as I drove back home.

I felt it as I looked at the empty windows of the farmhouse.

I felt it as I crouched beside his makeshift grave.

It observed me through the crops — you couldn't see it — but you could feel its presence. It was playing with me, smiling down at the scene as I stood petrified in front of that crooked wooden cross I had pinned on the ground.

Another body remained on the backseat though. And it was still alive, somehow. It woke up frightened, and I wasn't wise enough to predict its reaction.

The marked one, as I called her, burst the door open and galloped away towards the woods. But she didn't knew that buried deep inside the flesh of her hind leg, lied a bullet. Right under the crescent moon.

She collapsed on the grass before reaching the undergrowth.

I could feel her pain as she contorted on the ground. My presence scared her, and it just increased her agony.

In a single day, destiny had ripped apart my family, my home, and my peace. I wouldn't let it take away the marked one as well. She was the only thing that was left for me.

As I approached, she tried to kick me away; one of her hooves missed my face by inches.

"Stop! I'm just trying to help you!" I said, dodging from her kicks. She flapped her wings in vain; they were far too small to lift her body.

"What did you do to me?" She yelled. "What your folk did to me?"

My emotions overflowed, I let myself fall on the grass, in shock, tugging my head between my bruised armpits.

Under the moonlight, the lost unicorn cried in pain. And I cried in sorrow.

"Y-you're a monster." She muttered.

Maybe I was.