The truth between the cracks.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

“My nightmare was seeing the purest, kindest and strongest of our kind, falling through the cracks as I had. Instead being corrupted into believing they were nothing more than a waste of breath, as I myself had felt, all these years, being an outsider to their corrupt ways.”

We don’t have illness or decease where we come from, our bodies don’t age with time. But we can wither away, by our own choice, or that of the demons we co-inhabit this world with. I write this story as an historical document displaying the truth of what happened that most tragic of nights. The night I gave up my life willingly.

The day began like any other. I got up, tended to my garden and plucked fruit for breakfast, when I first heard the news. One of our youngest and most promising had been unable to get out of bed and was unable to move her body. She appeared to be in pain and very scared, but no one knew how this was possible. You see.. In our world, we take care of nature as much as nature has always taken care of us. She blesses us with nutrients that render our bodies completely incapable of aging and falling ill. This only works, as long as you are pure of heart and have never done any ill to yourself or others. Once you do, you’ll open your heart to something we call The Nightmare.

Before I forget, my name is Chloë. I’m a bit of an outsider in our community, but I’m well respected for my ability to mentor and teach the young. People describe me as socially awkward and peculiar, I’m very much a loner to the outside eye and just usually take care of my own. The truth however, is a bit more nuanced. I hate being alone and I only feel complete when I’m helping the young grow into the best members our community could wish for. The community was well aware of my mentoring capabilities and would soon come to know how far I would go to protect my own.

As I rushed my way over, I had heard people gossiping all throughout the city. Turns out the girl was none other than Samantha, who last year was voted as purity queen for our harvest festival. An honour only bestowed upon the purest of the pure. But the rumours didn’t stop there, it had to be The Nightmare that took over, which meant Samantha had either given herself willingly, or had done something that allowed The Nightmare to enter her heart.

As I arrived, she was clearly unable to lift a finger, only thing she had control over, were her eyes and they were full of fear, not the eyes of a person who had chosen to let The Nightmare in. The elders were next to her bed, scared of The Nightmare and completely at a loss on what to tell their community. “Get out now! Don’t you dare come back here until you realise that this girl needs us now.” That’s what I wanted to tell them anyway, but being the outsider I am, they would’ve never listened. Instead I just walked over to her bed, took her hand and told her I will get to the bottom of this. While I definitely did see her eyes lighten a little, the elders were none to happy about my presence and immediately left.

As I was alone with Samantha, I opened the bag I had brought with me and took out my blessing, that’s what it came to be known in the village anyway. It’s a mixture of water and fruit that provided us with our immortality, of my own invention. As I slowly poured the mixture into her mouth, I could see no traces of The Nightmare in her system, which was odd, because if she had indeed become impure, the mixture would be met with a darkness emanating from her stomach. In my confusion, I made the choice to do something our ancestors did in the days of old. We have a tree in the centre of our fair city. To us it’s a holy tree and the source of our blessings. In the days of old, in case of an emergency, our elders would perform a ritual to beg the tree for assistance. If the tree deemed their plight worthy, a leaf would fall down.

It’s this leaf that had the power to not only reveal The Nightmare, but combat it in the early stages. It’s been aeons since we’ve had to use this ritual, but the stories depict the fallen leaf as an almost magical pink, with an aura of invisible power around it.

The ritual itself is long forgotten. All we know is that there is a door at the base of the tree and that when you enter, you’re either found worthy, or no one ever sees you again.

I find myself without options and therefor rush past the elders, towards the ancient tree. As they rush behind me, they pressure me into giving this foolishness up, knowing full well my intend on disregarding whatever rules we have, to save Samantha. If you saw what I saw, you would do the same. She was terrified, unable to move yet wide awake and fully aware of what’s happening. Everyone around her had given her up to The Nightmare and said she would wither away soon. I refuse to accept this to be true, unless I have done everything within my power, even if it means becoming impure myself and facing the consequences.

Upon arriving at the tree, I knock over two guards standing in my way and grasp the handle, pulling the door open full force and rushing in without second thought. Immediately as I step in, the door slams closed behind me and I find myself in the grips of the darkest of darkness I have ever seen. There was a sense of weariness about me, not knowing what to expect. I used my hands and feet to touch everything in sight, trying to make a mind map of my whereabouts. I was in a hall way, standing on deep stairs. Each step down felt like the length of my entire body, and I was quite tall, standing at roughly 6.2 ft. I knew right then and there, there would be no going back the way I had come in.

I climbed down the stairs until I stumbled to the ground, after having expected another step, but there being nothing there except the rock hard bottom of wherever I was. Still unable to see anything, I took a moment to calm myself and listen. Maybe I thought at the time that if I could just focus hard enough, it would all become visible and clear to me, but this of course did not happen. As I slowly stepped forward, reaching out all around me to feel my surroundings, I suddenly heard a voice in my head: “Why does it disturb?” After a moment to calm myself, I was thinking of Samantha and the reason I came here, but before I could answer, another voice entered my mind: “So you enter to safe the child? Honourable, yet foolish.. BEGONE!” As these words echoed through my mind, I felt a claw grasp at me. While it had definitely reached me, I wasn’t at all concerned, yelling back all across the room: “What makes you think I care?!? Foolish or not, I will see this child restored or perish trying!” Another swipe of the claw, this time hitting my leg, forcing me on the ground. I did feel the pain from this swipe and felt myself bleeding. The voice once again in my head: “You’ve chosen your fate, suffer from what you call The Nightmare and perish now.” I quickly replied: “If that is the price to be paid, so be it, but I will do so knowing I gave my all to help an innocent.” All turned quiet and it felt as though time had frozen, though the pain continued to take my every breath away.

After what felt like an eternity, the darkness suddenly swept away as though fog was lifted from my very eyes. Before me stood a creature of unimaginable power. Long silver hair, eyes as white as the clouds above and a figure tall and slim as the most elegant of flowers. She said not a word to me, but in her eyes I could see that while she clearly did not appreciate my disturbance and wanted nothing more than to see me removed from her sight instantly, she could not refuse my desire to help the child.

I also instantly understand that while the leaf would have combatting powers, it alone was not enough to rid her of the demons that had taken over. After what felt like only a second, I found myself next to the door again, above the stairs and noticed that was unlocked. Taking a second to contemplate what dream had just befallen me, I gathered my wits and rushed outside only to find the square filled with everyone from within and outside the city walls, shocked at the sight of me, as they noticed a falling leaf, right into my very hands. I can’t very well describe the feeling as the leaf touched me so, but I will try. It felt like in my hands, I held the weight of the entire world and with it an understanding came to my mind. If I misused this power in any way, I would not only fall prey to The Nightmare, but I would not find peace in any life thereafter.

As my peers all came rushing down to congratulate me and meet the person who had made this miracle happen, I felt only pity for their desires to find out what had happened and more importantly, how to do it themselves. Their curiosity did not in the slightest interest me, so I stood up and rushed to Samantha who had since been alone in that room, suffering the worst of fates. Not one of them had even bothered to visit the girl or calm her spirits in my absence, being much more focussed on my actions than hers.

I rushed to her bed, having not a clue what to do when I get there. As I grabbed her hand, the leaf still firmly in my hand, now also touching hers, I felt the strength immediately leave my body. I could not resist as my life drained out of me and soon after crashed my head onto Samantha’s chest, where I slept, or so my peers would later tell each other.

The truth is that as soon as that leaf touched us both, my consciousness was transported to what I can only describe as unexplored land one could not have come across in her own imagination.

I was standing on top of a mountain surrounded by fog and no way of knowing what was below. Above me was a fiery red sky, there were no clouds, nor was there a sign of the moon or the sun anywhere. Quickly realising that all of this, as amazing as it was, meant nothing, as I was not alone, I focused my eyes on the truth that was standing right in front of me. There she was, Samantha, no more than 10 years old, but somehow she no longer had her golden blonde hair, or innocent smile.. No what I saw was the opposite.. Hair that reminded me of the darkness I saw within the sacred tree and only malevolence of the evilest intend. No matter what I saw though, it was clear to me that this was still Samantha, so foolishly I rushed over to hold her and tell her things will be all right, that I’ve come to take her back.

Things however did not work as I envisioned it, as the closer I got, the more the creature transformed, not into Samantha, but into something far, far darker. Before me now stood what I can only describe as evil incarnate. Long claws, clearly able to slice rock and metal in half without effort. Eyes as black as the deepest abyss of the darkest ocean’s depths. A body slender and filled with scars, bruises and blood.

I stood frozen at the sight of what had now appeared before me, realising the leaf had not the power to combat this illness, only the power to show me the cause. As I realised this, the creature spoke to me, revealing that it was not a demon at all, but in fact Samantha and what she had become as a result of the darkness not in her, but around her. To me she revealed the truth of events I had heretofore not in my biggest nightmares believed to be true. You see, while the pure would indeed live life everlasting, The Nightmare would not simply wither away anyone who fell prey to the wickedness inside. No.. The Nightmare would turn their hearts into infectious wicked men, conniving and conspiring to influence the pure into unknowingly forsaking the true ways of our people, therefor becoming one of them.

As they had so done with Samantha, she, being one of the purest that I had known to have ever existed, felt in her heart of hearts that what they wanted of her was wrong and therefor refused to cooperate with whatever task was given to her. As a result, she was not given my mixture of nutrients, but instead had been given fruit from the darkness outside, which had quickly taken hold of her body, paralyzing her, as it started decaying on her from within. She was fully conscious and aware and even showed me the truth of the village. All those peers that had stood outside as I exited the tree and acquired the leaf, were not at all interested in her or me, but simply wanted access into the tree to corrupt the very source of our power. There wasn’t a shred of purity alive in our fair city and as for the being of immense power within the tree.. It was revealed to me that she wasn’t always so dark and unwilling. Once she was indeed out deity and guardian, but as slowly her subjects became infected, the pure neglected her many efforts to warn her, until the darkness simply walked amongst us and we had forgotten our deity and her blessings entirely.

As I realised the truth of it all, I felt once more in my hand, her leaf, with a voice reaching inside my mind: “This leaf can safe her life and reverse the darkness. This child will be the one to lead the remaining few pure into the light as she cleanses the darkness from all the fallen. Or it can take you away from the darkness, into a neutral land where creatures of all species co-exist together to build a better and mortal life. The choice is now yours,”

I knew full well what my choices were as I felt it in my hands. The leaf’s very presence demanded my life essence and the longer I delayed, the weaker I became. I felt no mercy for my peers who had fallen to darkness and harmed this innocent child, but I also knew that this girl wasn’t just pure, she was part of the deity we had long forgotten about.

Before I knew it, I felt the leaf burning itself into my skin, as below me branches burst out of the ground, entangling me and forcing its now growing thorns piercing my skins as every conceivable location. I felt myself grow weaker and weaker, as the leaf had searched deep inside my heart and found that I could not live with the truth and needed salvation from it all. Before I drew my last breath, it granted me two wishes. I got to see the future, as Samantha had indeed taken the pure and cleansed the darkness. Samantha had given birth to a whole new society in which our deity had regained her full power and sheltered the light. I was given a glimpse into the ceremony in which the deity first showed herself and proclaimed her name to hence forth be “Chloë”.

The second wish she granted me, was knowing that if ever The Nightmare would return, I too would be born again to set the balance of all things in order again.

The last thing I remember, as the first signs of the night turning into day, slowly crept into view, was thinking this:

“My nightmare was seeing the purest, kindest and strongest of our kind, falling through the cracks as I had. Instead being corrupted into believing they were nothing more than a waste of breath, as I myself had felt, all these years, being an outsider to their corrupt ways.”

©Raifiku


Submitted: October 09, 2021

© Copyright 2021 raifiku. All rights reserved.

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