“Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.” – Albert Camus

A pyramid of beige flesh oversaw the crater. It was his feeble attempt at building a shelter against the shardstorms. The dead piled on top of each other were the building blocks fused by the mortar of his frozen excrement. With great care, he had situated them with their faces against each other inside the walls. Their backs faced the pale sun.

Without intention, he had created a geometrical orgy of dead embraced in a kiss, a monument to the perverse made through his attempts at revering the deceased while still escaping their judging gaze. It would have been easier to remove their eyes. And at first, he had tried despite the sacrilege. But the laborious task of hollowing them out from their frozen lobes did naught but expand the soulless holes watching him. There he lived for a long time, alone, huddling among the dead as the shardstorms clawed at the outside.

In the cathedral of death, in the faint light of the fire fueled with dung, he sat inspecting a slender bone. Its surface was slick with blood and grease. He put it on the ground and hacked off the joints with a piece of obsidian. Then he picked it up and whittled one end into a bevel. Sharp as could be. He took a coarse stone and filed the other end blunt. Bone dust mixed with blood and grease, forming a pink paste on the surfaces. He held the bone up against the fire. It glistened in the light. He inspected the edges with his thumb, cupped his hand under the beveled end, and blew through the other. A chunk of marrow hit his palm. He ate it and licked his lips, and got up onto his feet with the tool in hand. With the other, he pulled out his penis and urinated on the sizzling fire. A pungent smell filled the room as steam rose from the drowning flames.

The light of the perpetual summer sun hurt his eyes when he exited the shelter, and he turned his face away, letting them adjust to the brighter outside. He took a staff of bound bones from where it leaned against the wall and headed into the crater. Poking the dead in the back as he passed them. He stopped and gave extra attention to those not yet by sun, cold, and drought turned into leather stretched over bone.

Then the stick sunk into the back of a still soft specimen. He flipped it over and pushed the tool through the stomach and into the bladder. A fountain of urine spurted from the blunt end. He caught the stream in his mouth, put his lips around the tool, and drank the contents until the bladder was emptied. Frowning, he flipped over another body, took out his obsidian knife bound with human skin, and sliced open the belly. Alternating between cutting and scraping away the frozen flesh, he made his way deeper into the guts. There he isolated the bladder and took it out, and weighed it in his hand. He brought it with him back to the shelter and put it on the still warm obsidian by the extinguished fire.

He returned into the field searching for sustenance, wandering around with a sack slung over his shoulder, collecting hair from the dead. Long and curly enough hair was a commodity that he had to look for far and wide. He continued down toward the vessel, passing hundreds of corpses, some of which he had already scalped. His gaze fell upon a specimen, and he went there. He bent down, gripped a chunk of hair, put a foot on the neck, and pulled. The strands broke into a fistful that he stuffed into the bag. He continued like that until the individual was bald. There was another further down the crater. He gripped a handful of hair and tore off the scalp by time and exposure turned into brittle parchment. He plucked it clean and threw the flap onto the ground. The wind swept it away. He stuffed three more heads of hair into his sack before he returned home.

As he entered the hut, he stopped for a moment, letting his eyes adjust to the darkness. He flung the skinsack by a heap of other things and went over to the firepit. There was a bone on the floor beside it that he picked up and used to stoke the still smoldering embers hidden under the moist ashes. He took dung from the trove, fed it to the embers, and blew at them until it all burst into flames. The light cast his wraithlike shadow onto the wall of skin behind. He ate a couple of pieces of dried liver from a small basket and reached over for the bladder by the fire. Its innards were liquified and dripped from the urethra as he lifted it to his mouth and drank. He watched the fire dance before him as his eyes glazed over in contemplation.

After a while, he returned to reality and got up and went over to the heap of things by the sack. There was a plethora of bones, skins, assorted shriveled up body parts. He squatted and searched through them. After a while, he pulled out a bone spindle and looked at it. He rose and carried it and the hair-filled sack with him over to the fire. There he put it on the floor and sat down beside it.

He took a handful of hair from the sack and began pulling at it. The strands stretched and aligned. He tied the ends to the spindle and twirled the fibers. They formed a short yarn. He took more hair from the bag and pulled it before conjoining it with the end of the previous. Again, he spun the spindle as the strands twisted and stuck to each other. He repeated the procedure until the spindle was filled with a thick dark brown yarn that he coiled around a bone. Once again, he attempted to use the yarn for weaving textiles on a loom assembled from bones held together by sinews and strips of skin. And again, he failed as the yarn snapped. Like all the times before. He had tried using his technological achievements for making clothes and blankets to no avail. Yet, he continued to try.

Maybe it felt less intrusive in some twisted way to carry the hair of the dead over his back rather than their skin through which their blood had flowed. But with time, the cruder method of saving the scalps with their hair intact and sewing them together with sinews as a patchwork proved to create superior clothes and sleeping bags. Gradually the bodies seized being human remains to him. They were reduced to materials for survival.

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