(Entry 1): I push my way through the last thorny thicket that guards the mouth of the narrow valley. As I take my first steps into the badlands beyond, I think of the forest behind; slashed and burned in my hasty exit. Yet already new life sprouts from the ashes, guarded by the night's shade, nourished by the sun's rays. The beast I am tracking burst through the thicket long ago, the trail has gone cold, but its wake of destruction leads off into the distance. Amidst the acrid smoke and foul vapors I see the pale glow of the sinister city, far to the east. The talismans at my belt won't be enough to protect me, it will take all my strength to cross this wicked karst where danger lurks behind every twisted rock. But I must find the beast and rip its beating heart from its chest to regain my lost memories, my lost soul. I hope to find allies along this path, but in all likelihood, I will only encounter other broken souls, and those who devour them.
I cannot see but am not blind.
I cannot hear but am not deaf.
Thoughts and feelings drift, in shades of formless mist.
Cautiously I tread, on the razor's edge of dreams.
(Entry 2): The broad wasteland is a harsh and unforgiving place, but I have found shelter for the moment. I have been enjoying this respite from my travels, though I had not expected to encounter it so soon. My wounds from crossing the thicket have crusted over and some strength has returned to these weary limbs. I am in strange company, an eclectic group of wanderers; souls brave or foolish enough to leave the safety of the shining citadel. As I sit, watching some of the younger members of the group play at an odd little game, my mind returns to my quest. The beast still awaits me, far in the distance. But for now, I allow myself to pause and reminisce. Some things in this world can never be understood. Chaos does not fit into logic, cause and effect. The ancient cleric Schrodinger (may his cat forever tread the razor!) knew these things. No, Chaos can never be understood, but it can be known. And though I do not understand the path ahead, I know that I must walk it. Though danger is ever present, perhaps there is beauty hiding amongst this barren landscape as well.
(Entry 3): I awake to a pounding in my head and a sharp throbbing pain in my leg. As sensations start to trickle in, I become aware of the overwhelming stench that thickens the air in my lungs. A mixture of gunpowder, burnt metal and charred flesh. My memory suddenly races back, a blinding flash, a deafening roar, an intense pressure on my skin. I try to cough and my chest siezes, a dead weight pressing down on it prevents my aching diaphragm from expanding. I shove the mystery burden off of me onto the ground. It is the tattered body of one of the children I watched playing just moments ago. No, not moments, hours must have passed as I lay there under this once joyful creature. It was late afternoon as I sat reminiscing, and now the landscape is cloaked in night. The pale half moon has risen high in the sky, casting just enough light for me to see the twisted band of metal protruding from the child's chest, just above the heart, probably part of a binding from one of the many wine barrels. It would have been buried in my gut had it not found him first. I try to take a moment to comprehend the scene before me, but the pain in my leg stabs once more. A long jagged gash runs along my thigh, narrowly missing the tendon that would have rendered me helpless if cut. With my apologies and thanks to the child whose death saved my life, I take his clothes and bind the wound. I do not have the tools or the strength to dig proper graves for these kind strange folk who took me in, so I simply say a prayer to the Earth Mother in hopes that she will hear, even in this desolate place, so far from her holy groves. I have no idea what caused the explosion that tore apart our camp, but I feel I should not linger any longer. In this wasteland, bad things come to those who wait. I must press on towards the sinister city. Though the once raucous scene has now become eerily quiet, I can't help but feel as though I am being watched.
(Entry 4): The past two days have been exceedingly difficult. My leg wound has forced me to hobble at a painfully slow pace through the jagged terrain. Thankfully, a light rain has begun to bathe me, washing away the dirt and grime from the inflamed gash. The cool drops on my skin are quite refreshing, and I let myself revel in the sensation for a few moments, until a low noise from behind me snaps me out of the sky's weeping spell. I whirl around as fast as my injured body will allow, just in time to catch a glimpse of an eerie triad of faintly glowing eyes disappear into a swampy pit. I have seen that same triangle of eyes every night since the camp was destroyed, each one a faint greenish orb with a speck at the center darker than any moonless night I have known. This mysterious ever present stalker has compounded the stress and paranoia of recent events. There are no coincidences in this life, and whatever this creature may be, it must have something to do with the attack. But why watch and wait? It could have finished me off as I lay unconscious under that broken child. My weary fearful mind starts to turn to dark thoughts. "What if I'm playing right into their plans?" ... "Whose plans?"... A forceful voice nearly screams back at me inside my head. "THEIR plans! The dark one you seek! The beast you hunt! THE IMAGE YOU DARE NOT IMAGINE!" The voice crescendos into a howling maelstrom, my head throbs with each beat of my racing heart, my vision swims, and the last thing I see before darkness overtakes me is those eyes, rushing towards my face.
(Entry 5): Again I awake to a pounding in my head, like brain imps playing drums against the inside of my skull. I open my eyes and find myself lying in a cave of some sort. The roof of the space, high above me, has odd shimmering growths protruding from cracks amongst the rock. Like wild psychedelic beehives of pulsating jelly, they light the cave in shifting pastel tones of pink, purple and blue. "Is this death?" I whisper to myself. Immediately the glowing blobs begin to quiver and a soft murmur fills the cave, "..he..is awake...let us see.. he lives...we will see.." The shapes begin to morph, elongating down towards the floor, tendrils dripping over themselves like strings of honey. As they reach the ground they begin to coalesce, forming several larger masses each of which take on a surprisingly human-like appearance. They stand on two stalks with two flowing appendages coming out of the upper portion and have a definite head sitting atop a long graceful neck. This is the extent of the resemblance however, the proportions are decidedly inhuman, and there are no facial features whatsoever. The soft murmur fills the cave once more, "..you have awoken...your stalk..was damaged...we..have fixed it.." I suddenly became aware that my leg was indeed healed. The wound that had dogged my steps for days had vanished without a trace. "Thank you" I said as I stood up testing the leg, "Where is this place? How did you bring me here?" A slight shudder went through the group of iridescent beings as they quickly flashed grass green tinged with dandelion fractals. "we..did not.....you..came here..as..you slept...no one..is brought...you came" The confusion and unease that had been growing in my chest suddenly burst forth. "What do you mean I came here?! How could I have? The last thing I remember is blacking out! And those eyes, and that voice screaming in my head!" "VOICE!?!" The creatures flashed angry shades of red, orange and black, and what had been a gentle murmur became a thundering shriek, both high and low at once. "WHAT FILTH HAVE YOU BROUGHT TO THIS PLACE OF REST?! WHY DID YOU COME?! WE WILL DESTROY THE VOICE AND ITS VESSEL!!" The creatures lunge towards me as one amorphous mass of swirling fury, and at that same instant I feel a surge like a lightning bolt swell within me. Lines of electric blue energy quickly trace strange patterns on my arms and palms, and in a blinding blue flash the cave disappears. I am standing back in the badlands, the pit of muck where the mysterious eyes had disappeared before I blacked out is right in front of me. I drop to my knees, shaken to my core and utterly confused. Had it been a dream? A vision? The cave, the creatures, was any of it real? My hand brushes over my torn pants where the wound had been . . . had been. It was truly gone, without so much as a scar. I wasn't sure what to believe, but something had certainly transpired. My leg was healed, I was back on my track to the sinister city, and those eyes were still out there. They might be lurking still in the pit, right in front of me, piercing my fragmented soul with their void-like gaze. I need to keep moving.
© Copyright 2016 Daegon Fawes. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Fantasy
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