Reads: 127

 

I sit on the sand. Unfriendly reminders come to my mind of my best friends lying unconscious, injured, exhausted and even dead. I slowly pick up my bouler as I sit under the sky,

 

21st June 114P.R.

 

What have I done? I abandoned them, alone in the desert.

 

I've met a man. He's like me. He can. See.

 

I can talk also. Seeing and talking. Two skills I've both discovered and rediscovered.

 

But at what cost? The cost of my friends?

 

“Black” I whisper. I follow the words as they leave my mouth and drift backwards,

“Everyone's resting.” Matt walks up to me and puts his hand on my shoulder, “Are you alright?” I put my hand on his slowly hand.

Yes.

“What happened to you? Who is that man?” I feel his breath on my face as he leans in closer.

I. I take a gulp. I panicked, ran away from you and everyone, finding this place and that man.

“Do you know who he is?”

No. I can almost touch the distance between us in the air as I feel him sit down beside me.

“Bit of a mess this isn't it.” I don't answer. Silence fills the air for a moment, “Oh.” Matt says half in surprise, “I brought you this.” Matt hands me a top.

Why?

“Kai?” I pick out the comedic tone in his voice, “you're half naked.” Only realising myself I jerk a hand up to reach and touch my bare chest. Luckily I'm wearing a bra. I put on Matt's large shirt to cover my bare skin.

Thank you.

“You're welcome.” The awkwardness crawled back into the conversation, “Why didn't you come back sooner?”

I was unconscious, the old man was caring for me and when I heard you I came running.

“How did you become unconscious?”

I hit the hut.

 

 

 

“Why...” Matt says smoothly after a moment.

Why? Matt moves his hand away.

 

 

 

“Why didn't you come back?” I take his hand again.

I did.

“No.” This time he jerks his hand away violently. “Why didn't you come back?” I. Did. Matt turned to me, “You ran Kai. You turned your back and you fled. Why!” His anger turns sharply to a short laugh. “Just listen to yourself.”

 

Silence.

 

“You.” Matt's voice is growing louder, “You can't talk, you can't shout, you can't lead, you can't advise, you can't have your say and you can't tell someone they're wrong. And you know why?”

No. Matt's voice chills me to my skeleton, “Because you're a selfish, helpless, lame excuse for a human-being.” The chill runs down my spine, “You abandoned us!” He is shouting now, “You saw your chance and you took it! I don't care about you. People have died. People are still dying and you left us to rot!” He spits beside me. I hear a soft shuffle then the man's voice over the silence,

“I've done all I can. Both wounds are clean but the infection has spread. I don't know how long they can survive out here,”

“Thank you for what you have done.” Matt leaves and I'm left in the darkness.

 

“Black” I whisper.

“What?” the man scuffles closer.

“The air. It's. Black.”

“At the moment yes.”

“It's full of fear.” I am aware now that the old man is standing next to me.

“I heard what he said.” I feel the man's hand reaching down to touch me. I turn away.

 

“How long was I unconscious for?”

“2 days.”

 

Oh God.

 

“Here.” The old man hands me a piece of cloth with what looks like an owl on it. Below the owl in Braille it says, The Watchful Owl.

“What's this?”

“I don't know,”

“Why give it to me then?” I hear an anger undertone in my voice,

“Have you seen it anywhere before?”

“No, why would I?” Doesn't he realise what I've just done to 14 people! Wait. I pause and think about the streets in Kirk. I. See the streets weaving and tucking in and out of each other, I see the 2nd floor weaving between the houses and the Braille signs above the reach of any hand. “Yes”

“What?” Comes the man in surprise, “You know this?”

“I've seen it before, on secondary signs above our reach.”

“Yes, yes!”

“There are streets too, above us.” Were these connected? I gaze back down at the owl in my hands, “The Monarchs,”

“Exactly!” the sharp voice makes me jump. I turn to see the man kneeling on the floor searching through paper. He must've gone back to his hut and got this magnitude of paper, “Here, read these.” I get 2 bits of paper shoved in my face. I frown at that man, I still don't know his name. I pull the paper down off my face and to reading distance. The writing was written in Braille but they had not written them using boulers, the Braille was smoother and joined in places,

 

Dear Lisé,

I hope you are enjoying your time at The Lodge.

 

Their letters. I carry on reading,

 

I've heard that our mother, Teresa, will be returning soon. The blind rabble seem to be a bit lost and day-dreamy without their queen. What are you getting up to these days? I would love to come and share your holiday however someone needs to keep a watchful eye over our rapidly developing Kirk,

 

Your Sister,

 

Emillè.

 

I put the letter behind the other one and start reading it,

 

14th April 3086

 

Hello again my darling sister,

I am looking forward to your return. I got your letter and glad to hear about your paintings at The Lodge. The replacement signs you have done for us around Kirk are wonders to behold. I've never looked at them closely before but I was walking down Sir Walters Street going to get a new dress at Lu Bernadette's but there was a crowd coming out so I waited. During that time I gazed around and saw the detailing on our sign. Is there a golden owl on the top left of every sign?

Anyway, my main reason for writing was that with Teresa Màrrene back as the reigning Monarch, you wrote you feel restless and you feel an atmosphere of tension among the workers. I know you are scared sister but this slave, you say, that's gone missing from The Lodge. You needn’t fear, even if he did make it back to Kirk he would be dead within days, none can survive in the desert for long. Not the blind at any rate.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Emillè.

 

I finish reading and turn to the man,

“Well?” The man's voice is eager.

“The monarchs.” I state.

“Yes, yes. But what does it say to you?” I glance back at the letters.

“It refers to the watchful eye and owls on signs.”

“Yes...” I could see the man's eyes widen along with the tone of his voice at this.

“They can sight and they take pride in see.”

“Other way round.”

“What?”

“They can see and they take pride in sight. Sight is the noun, to see is the verb”

I gasp. “The watchful owl.”

“What?”

“In the streets, in Kirk, there is another floor. Like the whole city is on two levels, one for us and one for the monarchs.” I slow, “A city above a city.” I hear more scuffling of paper behind me.

“Yes. Yes! Here.” I get up and walk over to the man, “Ghost stories. People walking down an empty street in the early morning and hearing voices.” I turn my head to look at the torn and partially burnt Braille.

 

I could hear them, cold whispers like the dead come back to haunt us. I could feel a presence, it was unnatural. I called out. Then the whispers vanished. Like they had never existed.

 

“Whispers, whispers, whispers everywhere. Come and find me, face me if you dare. The dead are coming so say your final prayer. The whispers are ready to snatch you from the air.”

“Where's that from?”

“We used to chant it on Halloween. We thought it was a warning of a sandstorm that could kill us all. But what if. All it really meant was,”

“The watchful owl.” comes the man's voice.

“Whispers, whispers.” I whisper, “Whispers everywhere.” The man takes the letters from me, “They hated us.” I feel the man turn to face me, “Lost and day-dreamy. Lost and day-dreamy.”

“Here. Returning soon could mean that” the man's voice faded as he focuses on another part of the letter and I run the words through my mind. Lost and day-dreamy. Lost and day-dreamy. Lost and day-dreamy. “Not the blind at any rate” Not the blind? The man caught my attention. I open my eyes and snatch the letters back. Running my fingers across the lines I find the one I need,

“I know you are scared sister but this slave, you say, that's gone missing from The Lodge. You needn’t fear, even if he did make it back to Kirk he would be dead within days,” The newest realization went whizzing round my mind. “The revolution.”

“What's the revolution got to do with this?” He asks and I turn to him.

Excitement starts climbing in my voice, “My mother said that the revolution started with a man who appeared out of the desert. He called out and told people of slavery, suffering and violence the monarchs had caused them for over 3,000 years. This must be him. Stephen Blackwood...”

“You're on a roll!” the man exclaimed, “Read this,” another piece of paper was waved in my face,

“Wait.” I glance down at the letters again. The date, 14th April 3086. The year of the revolution. “It is him!”

“3086. Of course” the man joins me. More shuffling of paper, “Look.” from what I can make out he is holding up a time-line, “11th April, he escapes. Then on the 28th he arrives in Kirk, 30th he hires a music hall. Then 1st May he broadcasts his experience over a live performance and the radio's speaking about the truth of the monarchs.”

“Then,” I continue, “Early morning on the 2nd, mobs of the people march down the city with flames, the slave families. Slave families? Attack them back by the order of the monarchs armed with guns.”

“The monarchs retreat, outnumbered, leaving their weaponry behind.” The man continues, “On the 5th Lisé arrives back and is the first to be shot by the mob. Morning of the 6th the Blackwood family make their way into the Grand Palace using the secret door.” The man turns to me quizzically.

“Don't look at me. I don't know of any secret doors...” I reply. I carry on reading, “Emillè is the second of the six to be shot while in the garden mourning her sister. Next is Edmon and Leon on the night of the 6th. The then final day of the revolution. 7Th May 3086, the prince, Perry, is shot followed by the Queen, Teresa. What do they mean a secret door?” I question.

“I was half hoping you could tell me that.” The man replied.

“Well. There are no stories, that I know of, that involve the monarchs coming into people's homes. There are no stories of a palace that belonged to the monarchs and none ever queried it so I guess that people never thought about it.”

“But the Blackwoods found it and found a way in.”

There was a pause and I re-read the letter, “Stephen Blackwood was a slave. He must have known the way in, he would have know where the palace was.”

“And is.”

“What?”

“And is. The revolution was 114 years ago if my mind serves me correctly. A grand palace can't just disappear. It must be somewhere.”

“The rock.” I whisper. My mind fades back to the alien thing 3 days ago. “In the centre of Kirk above the oasis there is another floor, it is surrounded by these weeping shrubs and I am fascinated by it. There's no way in, the streets continue below it and none seems to even know it's there.”

“Here look at this.” Paper flutters in-front of my face and once again I take no notice.

 

 

“What's your name?” I ask turning.

“What?”

“You know my name but I don't know yours.” I stand looking at him. He pauses,

“Alexander.” The words struggle from the man's throat, “It's Alexander.” I blink. Before me he transforms, his old face sharpens, the lines fade from his forehead, his waist narrows and he grows taller. I face a man that I guess is about my age of 18. His eyes fix on me with wonder and sorrow that both paralyses me and transfixes me. The man stands silently still. The hairs on my neck start to rise and I begin to feel uncomfortable. I look away and when I look back the 18 year old was now back to an elderly man.

“I haven't said those words in 54 years.” He says softly. I lift my head and I am about to say something when, “Here.” I take hold of the paper that's now crumpled in his hand and outstretched for me to take it.

 

To whoever reads this. My name is Lisé Màrrene, the year is 3086 and I am 28 years old. I am descendent of the monarchs who have ruled over Kirk and it's surrounding desert for over 3,000 years. I have a sister called Emillè who is 30, 3 brothers: the eldest, 37 named Perry, the youngest, of 18 is Leonand the other, Edmon is the same age as me.

 

I hope you have heard stories about the Seer's Kirk, for it was beautiful with spires reaching up to the skies, marble paths, silver train tracks running over cobblestone, beautiful extensive gardens, bright and vibrant colours everywhere and every street was a feast for the eyes. Our palace is set in centre of this marvellous city with it's magnificent grounds. The seers, what the monarchs were called back then, called in for their people to enter the city, to behold it's charm and elegance but they did not care. The commoners did not see, they took instead to the senses of touch and sound, destroying the sense of sight in the process.

 

The Feast Of Light. The end to the awe-inspiring Kirk that the seers had dreamt and built only 100 years before. After the “feast” all the colour had faded from the city, the streets seemed darker and the relationship between the seers and the common-folk became distant. They had killed Kirk. They had, KILLED. The perfect vision.

 

So we built our own life, above them with our streets paved with marble running across their rooftops, we hand painted our own signs, each generation looking after our Kirk and replacing things if they had turned sour. We have 10 lots of blind families that we use generation after generation for building, constructing and serving. Our personal slaves. But mostly we leave the blind to their own, we watch over them and rule them as expected because they are our empire and our power. However we make sure to be separate from them as we are pure and gifted by the Gods and they are not. Every young monarch that is born is taught that history and taught what the blind can do and will do if they ever get the chance again.

 

So if you can read this then I assume you also have the divine gift therefore you are rare and phenomenal, just like us. Seek us out and you will be welcomed with open arms, Kirk lies to the east of here. You will be able to find us in the Grand Palace.

 

I blink. The Seer's Kirk. I feel my heart start to beat faster. Spires. Marble. Silver. Gardens. Colours. New words. New meanings. New things to discover.

The Grand Palace. It is somewhere! I search my mind trying to find the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. A summer market comes into mind. What would that compare to an ancient city? In all it's charm and elegance. The monarchs, amazing people who knew the world of true beauty.

 

I re-read the bottom of the letter. You also have the divine gift therefore you are rare and phenomenal, just like us. Seek us out and you will be welcomed with open arms.

 

Welcomed.

Not beaten, not frightened, not back-stabbed.

 

Welcomed.

 

 

 

“Kai?” I turn upwards as my shoulder is shook, “Kai.”

“Me? Yeah I'm. I just. Just fine.” My head becomes heavy and I realise how sleepy I am. “I should go to bed.”

“Of course. If you find a bed. There should be some room. Somewhere.” Alex’s voice is unsure but I take no notice. I turn and walk slowly towards the hut, the blackness closing in behind me.

 

 

 

“Why is it that all the answers are always written in plain sight?” Alex whispers to himself. He pauses. Then continues slowly, “Whispers, whispers, whispers everywhere. Come and find me, face me if you dare. The dead are coming so say your final prayer. The whispers are ready to snatch you from the air.” He shuts his eyes violently.


Submitted: May 31, 2015

© Copyright 2022 SE Howie. All rights reserved.

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