Cold Awakenings

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Awaking cold, alone and disconnected, the boy finds himself haunted by a malignancy that feeds on his doubts and shame. But he summoned the corruption to himself, an effort to numb the pain. He must live with the choice he does not know he has made or bring back the pain that drove him to mutilate his own mind.

Submitted: December 09, 2012

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Submitted: December 09, 2012

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Cold Awakenings.

Part 1

Damp earth. Distorted shafts of light. A leaf fell, dancing in the contented sighs of the wind. A bird shrieked it’s joyous song to the never appraising morning. The boy lay on this damp earth, the shafts of light bit into his eyes, leaves caressed his skin. The bird song twanged in his heart. And he recognised none of it. The eternal shifting chorus of the woods meant nothing to his still form, lying awake but not aware, alive but dead. He let out a breath and it instantly contorted and writhed like a spectral hand in the frigid air.

He sat up. Leaves clung to his clothes, his hair. He looked around him and saw the open trees, like sentries, damp stumps like teeth and stubborn bushes fighting for light and life. He knew nature was beautiful but he couldn’t understand why, not anymore. He couldn’t understand why his soggy attire clung to his skin. Why he had awoken. His mind shifted laboriously through answers, it moved as if wading through sludge. The harder he pushed the more he was resisted.

Something tugged at his conscience, compelling him to act. The boy moved, testing aching, cramped muscles in the crisp morning air. He pushed himself up on to unsteady feet despite the weight that tugged his limbs back to the earth and the sick that rose in his stomach and the dizzying disorientation that plagued his perception. For just a moment, his head swimming and his body threatening to collapse, he gained awareness, a sudden flutter of realization followed by a bolt of panic. Why was he here? How did he get here? What had happened to him? And then as quickly as his terror had risen it was smothered and pulled into a deep closet where it was locked from him. With empty eyes and no hesitation he turned and begun to climb up the steep hillside to which the long trees clung.

Slippery earth shifted under his heavy strides, threatening to hinder him, but the boy persevered. He came to the top of the hill to a path he recognised but didn’t know. He followed it with the forested descent to his right and thick shrubbery to his left. The boy didn’t understand why but he was afraid. Afraid to return to the place of his belonging, and as the woods uncurled and opened to reveal to him the rolling valley and the twisting river it sheltered, each step increased his uneasiness and his lack of understanding. The boy felt as if what lay at the end of his road did not belong to him, that it was superficial and suffocating and he was afraid he’d disappoint it. He loved his belonging but didn’t want it to love him. And like the twisting river itself an enshrouding aura of detachment washed all around him, drowning him.

The boy’s mind tried to trace his path. The forest that broke to steep fields in which sheep grazed on his right, it tumbled into the river, splitting the fields from the large, blocky buildings on the other side. And the relentless vegetation which gave away nothing on the boy’s left, from where the shadows reached to the river as the Sun began to focus it’s loving eye on the land. But the boy’s mind could hold onto nothing. The feet moved as if knowing the way but the mind could only trail just behind, fatigued and sluggish. He walked, time passed and the road led on.

The path came to a gate. He paused expecting feelings of anticipation in the change of landscape that lay beyond, but nothing stirred behind the boy’s unknowingly haunted green eyes. Only his body moved in its precious motions that he’d always had but had never practiced and did not recognise.

The road the boy found himself on meandered through avenues of large, relatively old houses that had stood observing the land around for times no one cared to know. He strode with no clear intent up the hill, his face and movements betrayed nothing, his damp, muddy clothes on the other hand spoke of a long, ruthless night. With every breath exhaled his heart drummed louder in his chest and with every sullen footstep his breathing quickened. Street lights were beginning to blink off, relieving the surroundings from their sickening lights. Houses remained silent, sleeping, cold and distant and nought stirred but the occasional whisper of leaves and chorus of birdsong. Walking, slightly breathless and with touches of red fighting past his deathly pale cheeks the boy, dead-eyed, empty headed – hollow, came at last to the house. It sat along the road that had followed the incline up the hill that his initial ascent had. A small, slate roofed, grey stoned terraced cottage with an old, large oak door and a skylight in the slanting, dipping roof.

As the boy approached a feeling of remorse and fear prickled in his veins. A small patch of garden was now all that stood before him and whatever it was he was afraid of about the house. He didn’t understand why he was afraid, just that he was. Hesitantly the boy crept to the front door, across the garden, as if afraid the house might wake up. He looked up at the looming mass of stone before him and laid an unyielding hand on the wood of the heavy door as if searching for an answer in the cold wood. He felt nothing but the same trepidation, only now intensified. He pushed against the door and, breath withheld, felt the tingle of hope and security as he passed the threshold. For a second, like the hum of a familiar song or the feel of your own bed, he felt safe. And then as he came to shiver on the other side of the door the bliss was ripped away and he felt alone again. The boy knew this house, it was his belonging. But as he looked around at the thick stone walls and creaking wooden floor boards and the aged homely furniture of a happy family he felt a tingle up from the base of his spine. The tingling feeling one gets when one enters a place alone that they know they should not be in; half excitement, half fear. Except, for the boy the feeling was far more chilling, the excitement replaced by a cold resentment and once again the boy felt the pang of guilt like a lap of frigid water to the chest. For a while he stood, taking in the smell of a home and watching the patches of golden lights made by the rising sun in the silver of the room before him. Why was he so disconnected?

He walked with the same restraint and formality as he had along the streets, across a living room in which he could feel his childhood jumping and rolling and laughing around him. Passing old sagging sofa’s and yet older bookshelves brimming with everything from books to nick-knacks to photos. The boy came to the twisting staircase half hidden in the wall. The very staircase he had raced down on Christmases on birthdays on snow-days, and felt once again shame pass over him like the shadow of a great bird sweeping overhead. For a while he then stood before the staircase like he had the room itself, afraid to look up and see the path he was engendered to take. He finally resolved and, already sensing what he would see, turned up his head. Eyes, betraying no shock, met the eyes of a hound sitting upon the stairs. A wolf with fur so black that the shadows around him seemed to meld it into the night but with silver, opalescent eyes that shifted with sheens of golden-orange to purple to deep green. The hound stood sentinel and the boy stood obstinant. Neither spoke.


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