Memory At First Light

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man locked in a dungeon cell tries to remember why he was imprisoned and due to be executed

Submitted: November 25, 2007

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Submitted: November 25, 2007



Memory At First Light
Copyright© Michael Sherlock 2007 all rights reserved
 The shivering shell of a man hung from manacles in a gloomy cell within a castle dungeon. His memory of why he was here was jaded by the beatings he had received upon capture; a streak of dried blood on his shoulder was his diary entry for that night. He knew one thing though; he was to be hung at sundown that evening, an evening that approached with quickening pace.
 The smell of death hung in the air, wallowing in the thin mist and clouds of dust that weaved between the rusty bars in the door. Was it murder…was it theft…was it both? Confused and scared, the man writhed in his chains, as if trying to stir the shattered memory in his head. There was a feeling from within the murky deaths of his mind, a feeling of rage.
 The veins in his muscled arms protruded violently as he went crimson with an unprecedented fury. This rush of adrenaline and confusion brought back a small flow of his memory.
 He remembered a rainy night; looking down at the wet mud he saw scarlet traces of blood flowing with the water. There was a sword hanging loosely from his right hand, a trail of blood flowing from its silver surface. He remembered a searing pain in the side of his head, and the fluttering of muffled voices around him, ordering his capture. He was on his knees now; his sword fell from his hand.
 The memory disappeared as quickly as it had come. As he tried to look deeper, more severe questions had arisen, questions that questioned his very existence,
Who am I?
What is my name?
What do I look like?
 The shrunken shadows of patrolling prison guards flickered past his cell every few minutes, reminding him that freedom was no longer his own. The man bore his teeth so hard he could hear them cracking, the deafening scream of his questions clawed at his ears. He began to breath heavily and growl into the silence…trying desperately to drown out his own storm of thought and emotion.
“Why am I here?” the man cried out to the walls around him.
“Quiet in there!” shouted the prison guard, kicking his door “You killed some poor guy then two of our guards…you’re filth”
 That statement silenced the questions and brought a wave of memory into his sore brain. He embraced these memories, searching desperately for the clues they contained.
 In his memories he could feel the ground being beaten under his boots and he sprinted through open fields in the pouring rain. The moon cast a pale glow on the clean blade he held. He saw a figured illuminated in the moonlight; he saw that the figure was fleeing. He could clearly remember it now; he was chasing someone through these fields. The shrill screams of what sounded like a young girl pierced his ears like a banshee’s call.
 The man drew himself back from his memories at stared at the stone floor below him. He heard a young girl’s screams, yet he didn’t not recognise the one screaming. He thought of the figure he had seen in his memory and remembered seeing him holding a small girl in his arms, the same small girl screaming for help.
 Was it a rescue? Was he trying to save the girl? If this was true then he must have been imprisoned during an act of chivalry. This only served to take his anger further; he was to be executed for trying to save the girl. The guard mentioned that he had killed a man. Once again the rush of memory returned to him like a stormy sea.
 Within his dark memory he could see himself chasing the man and getting closer. As he approached within arms length is swung the sword and cut the mans throat from behind, causing him to fall with a mighty splash to the soaking floor. As the girl fell with him, he caught the girl in his arms and set her on the ground. The young girl in his memory held him tight and cried into his shoulder.
“Dad…” she whimpered.
 The man retreated from his memory with a sickening force. His anger was replaced by cold fear and realisation. He remembered his family, and his daughter. He understood now that his daughter had been kidnapped and he was rescuing her. He could not be sure if she was okay now, with or without memory. He knew now that his execution would take away a young girls father.
 This time he returned to memory in search of salvation from his depression. As he hugged the girl, voices shouted from behind.
“Stand away from the girl, give your self up or you will be killed,” said the voice.
 The man wheeled around to see three guards standing with their weapons ready. He turned to his daughter and kissed her gently on the forehead
 “Run away from here, find somewhere safe. I love you,” he said to his daughter.
 The girl departed and the man stood up and faced the guards. The adrenaline still flowed intensely in his blood, causing him to fly into a berserk rage at the guards. He killed one before they could even react. The second kill took a short fight, but eventually he was dead too. One guard remained, fear striking his dark eyes. Suddenly the guard swung his sword and caught the man firmly on the skull, cutting deep into flesh and bone. He fell to his knees, looking at the blood in the water around him, and the blood on his sword.
 He remembered now, he could remember everything. He had been injured to such severity that the trauma caused him to lose his memory. He had been captured protecting his dear daughter from a kidnapper…however, in the guards eyes he was nothing but a murderer.
 When sunset came he was taken from his manacles and marched to the gallows. The sunset cast a broad orange light on the sinister wood ready to take his life. As they strung him up, he couldn’t help but wonder where his daughter was now, whether or not she was alive or dead…or whether or not she was crying for her dad to return.
 The end

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