CHASE BURKE / ALTERNATIVE ENDING
This time, we send the heroes packing. What I used to take for granted—extras—now feels like something vital. Another vein in the body. A necessary windfall. What we have now is better than canon: the fallen bodies of our enemies. I don’t remember what it was like to be ground underfoot, I only know that I was there. I saw the dirt. I was there. This time, they come into the building like a freight train, armored in sheet metal, crashing like hail on high-school bleachers. They’re wet; it’s raining. We’re ready and we rebuff. It’s all the same. I remember flashes from before, literal light pounding, beams, a headache. It’s hard to feel good about yourself in the past, not when you know the results were unfavorable. Why commend what would be an inevitable undoing? Better to demand another opportunity. I’ve never been one for calling cards but this time I yell the name of my brother who perished frames before. We don’t know how to identify the what of the telling—I only know there’s no center to the narrative, just a hole, a space where I wouldn’t have looked for logic. If we’d known to expect irrelevance we might not have wanted the opportunity for a do-over. I might have asked for clarity. This time, like last time, we are meticulous. We are better than before. We earn our keep. The evening is outrageous, and we are worth believing. Our efforts are canon. We’re vital. Of course, it’s not enough for the final cut.
Chase Burke is an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama, where he has worked as the fiction editor of the Black Warrior Review. His fictions appear in Glimmer Train, Salt Hill, Sycamore Review, The Offing, and Electric Literature, among other journals. You can find him on Twitter @cpburkejr. He calls Florida home.