Beyond The Holders
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Be sure to read Initium before this.
Days grow into weeks and months. Gradually I forget about that night, when I found an Object, and my world was torn apart by the words the Holder of Supremacy spoke to me. I can sort of compartmentalize it now; I’ve gotten better at keeping it deep in my mind, where I do not think about it often. It still creeps back on me sometimes, like disgusting tentacles digging into my subconscious, boring inside and infecting it. It used to be worse.
For months after it happened, I had nightmares. I still do, although not as frequently. I dreamt, over and over again, about the Holder. I dream about what it told me. I can see myself facing the thing as it spoke of Their superiority. It told me of the futility of my life personally, and began to expand to the futility of the entire world, and how easily it would be razed and annihilated by Them. I can see the swirling shards and fragments of weapons I cannot imagine slicing into my flesh as it speaks, and I can feel the pain even though I do not seem to be in my own body. The end of its disquisition is punctuated by something unseen shoving a blade into my back, the pain burning and searing inside me. The dream ends as soon as the blade, which I know now to be the Object, slides into my back. I wake up, sweating and breathing heavily. And sometimes… strange things would happen. I woke once to find that I could not move, as if I were physically bound cell by cell in position. I found once that I had carved runes into my fingers, one on every fingertip, that bled profusely for hours. Looking at them made my eyes lose focus and sting.
Throughout those torturous and interminable months, Angela never wavered by my side. She always helped me bandage my fingers, or staunch the flow of blood from whatever excoriations I had inflicted upon myself in the night. She never asked me what happened, what brought on my nightmares. Perhaps she thought that I could eventually internalize it, and forget about my ordeal. But I think the real reason is that, deep inside her, she could sense that I had tampered with things humans were not meant to meddle in. On some level, I think her instincts compelled her to avoid it. Whatever her reasons, I can never thank her enough. She helped me escape from my own memories. Even when she was deathly afraid- of me, of what I’d done- she did everything she could for me. She has helped me forget.
And forget I did. At least, mostly.
I keep the Blade in a locked box, away from any outside intrusions. Away from myself. I threw away the key, making sure I would never touch it again. Sometimes I still miss the feeling of it, even as it slices through my flesh- I miss the feeling of satisfaction, of fulfillment, that it brought. Sometimes, at random moments, while I think or ponder on something, a sort of drive will seize me. A burning desire. A desire to have another. It takes all of my resolve to fight it down again.
I journey now to the Emperor’s city- a trek not terribly long, but at least a day’s walk- in order to pick up more supplies. It is truly a humbling sight- obelisks from forgotten civilizations stand in the squares, vast pantheons and chapels tower over one, seeming to show all who regard them their true insignificance. Eventually, I make it to a marketplace. After buying food, I stay to admire the artwork for sale. Paintings lie out to dry in the sun, while vases and other pottery are arranged, inscriptions emplazoned upon them, polished and bright enough that I can see my own reflection. And the reflection of all that is behind me.
Including a tall figure in a black cloak.
My heartbeat speeds up. I turn in slow motion. Everything around it seems hazy and indistinct, as if the figure were not entirely corporeal. Irrational terror fills me, along with a feeling like despair. The light and color in everything surrounding the figure seems to bleed away, beginning to look dead and grey. My heart continues to speed up, throwing itself against my ribs like a deranged man trying to escape from his prison. And then… it slows. It continues to slow until I can barely hear it, when I suddenly realize- I’m dying. I fall to my knees, trying to stand but finding harder to do so than ever in my life as the thing walks slowly toward me, its cloak flowing in to its left, although I can feel no wind. I can see the grey deadness advancing, people screaming as their very life seems to be leeched from them. I summon all of my strength, and in a feat of will I can myself scarcely believe, I stand.
I tear through the woods with reckless abandon, the trees and branches tearing at my flesh as if some malevolent force possessed them. I pay no heed. I keep running until I am no longer conscious that I am, as if I am a dead man, an automaton. And still I continue. The screaming of my lungs for air becomes white noise as I run still faster, the miles passing without me fully being aware of them, looking back as much as I can to see if the thing is behind me.
I break out into a clearing, seeing my home in the distance. The thing does not seem to be following. Without warning, my legs give out, and I collapse on the ground, shaking. I manage to pick myself up into a crawl, eventually able to stand up as I enter my house. I quickly find Angela, holding her in an embrace for a long moment, trying to make sense of and rationalize what just happened. Tears flow down my cheeks as I feel her warmth. Eventually I pull away-
And stumble back. I back into the wall, sinking to the floor, horror consuming me in a way it never has before.
Her skin is grey, dead.
Her eyes are missing.
To be continued in Calamitas.
Part of the series Ieiunitas, Infectus, Talius.
|Last modified on 2009-07-23 14:43:17Viewed 5926 times|