The Sound of Light

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Two men are "reborn" in a dead, frightening world. Their sins washed away they're given a second chance at life and human nature is defined.

Submitted: December 09, 2007

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Submitted: December 09, 2007

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Light breaks its silence, emerging on the skyline until the horizon creaks open. That’s what wakes me up, the sound of light.

The air is frozen. I can see my breath dissolve into the breeze but only at a squint; my eyes can barely crack the tight squeeze of its lids; light is almost as blinding as night. With no recollection of how or why I’m here, I lay on the cold earth. Moist, squat weeds randomly protrude the dry soil. Tickling my naked feet and scratching the back of my neck. My hands are so cold and my finger tips are near numb. I clasp my palms together, one rubs the other, until the pain drives me pull them apart. My palms throb, but not from the cold. A glance ahead reveals lumps of shadows drowning in the rising light but it’s still too dark. I can’t make out what these lumps are. I turn and glance back. The faint light of the sunrise swells on something in the murk, gleaming vociferously. I extend my arm slowly, my eyes cringing, and my hand reaches almost blindly for this monopoly of light. A cold breeze hits me and I implode in a fetal manner, again embracing that warmth… that warmth I was holding, obliviously holding. I caress its wintry, yielding exterior, then bear down and feel the warm, firm core. Too dark to distinguish but I curl against its heat. My knees pulled up towards my chest- my head facing down. It’s this warmth that helped me survive the night, a night that I cannot remember.

The light becomes sharper, almost shrieking. My fetal body unfurls. The inside of my legs and arms reach out like petals for the sun. Water from my eyes mimics the morning dew, trickling down my cheeks. I breathe. The air is thin, foul, and static, nothing moves. Only the weeds quiver under my restive body. A greenish fog hovers above me. Daylight cuts through the emerald-lime recipe of color. The smell is unbearable and now that I think about it, every breath feels like something is ravaging my mind- aborting my thoughts. Its difficult to think and impossible to remember.

The soil hugged between my pants and waist trickles further down as I sit up. It’s still cold, still dim, but those dark lumps now show their true colors. Not black but green and gray. To solid and unyielding to be bushes, these lumps don’t even faintly wince for the random and infrequent breezes. One heavy, biting wind pushes me. I flinch at the neck, feeling it slip under my thin shirt and pants. I immediately lay down, roll over, and embrace the warmth again. I squeeze it and clench my eyes shut, shuddering in relief. It shudders back.

The wind picks up slightly, even colder than before. But I don’t budge, blink, and barely breathe. My eyes are the only part of me that move. I just stare at this green and gray lump that I’m clasped to. Gently yet quickly, my arms uncoil from around this warmth. My legs pull away, my elbows and waist silently threading the ground. Then abruptly, it rolls over and reaches for me. Its fingers slipping off my near frost bitten arm. I scramble back with a grunt and my arm waves wildly. I hear it moan and mumble inaudibly under sniffles and wide breaths. Looking from a distance, it seems to be a man, dressed in green and gray camouflage. He has something wrapped around his waist. It looks like a metal shackle, connected to a thick, silver cord. The man barely moves, his arms throttle his chest and his head is nearly tucked into his knees. I can see his breaths slip out his lips in short quick gasps. His eyes are latched shut. The hair on his head is quite short and stained in a crimson crust. One jacket, one pair of pants, and one shoe outfit this man, all camouflaged in green and gray. I almost sit down in respite. Almost. His eyes creep open.

Lines of sunlight pierce the green air at a slant. My shadow exaggerates my height, stretching far into the distance, darker at my feet and at my head fades to light. His shadow extends as well, slightly beyond my feet. I am half garbed in his shadow and half naked in the sun. His eyes are narrowed. The light is too much. About three meters from him now, I begin to parry his line of sight. My feet are so numb I barely feel the ground-- weeds-- pebbles. I shuffle quietly until I am behind him. Crouching down, I shove my hands into the crotch of my pants for warmth. My toes scratch at the crumbling soil, my knees sway in unison, but my eyes are centered on him, unwavering. He stirs. His body unfolds. Propped up on one arm he looks around. The random breeze forces him to cringe as he looks around. His shoulders spring up and his neck narrows, like a turtle that can’t quite fit into his shell. Then he turns back, slowly, one hand hovering over his eyes, the other propping him up. I move to lay down but too late as his irises reach into the corner of his eyes. Then he quickly turns back to rub his tearing eyes. The sun beams boisterously at my back but perhaps not loud enough to drown out the sight of me.

The sunrise is not complete but brilliant. Everything is in full hue. What once seemed to be dark lumps are dead bodies in fatigues, green and gray fatigues, like mine. The bodies encompass a large depression in the ground, like a halo of corpses. Nearly twenty feet behind me, what might have been the belly of a tank lays inside out, its innards lay scattered out of a gaping hole on its side like vomit. Two thick silver cords run from the belly of this tank. One is connected to the waist of that man. The other… is connected to me. How could I have not noticed it before? A thin metal shackle, hidden under my shirt, not heavy but taut. It covers my navel and hugs my spine tightly in the back. I slip my fingers between my shackle and waist, shaking it, squeezing it. Both my palms ache but I persist. I pull the shackle up, battering and wringing it against my rib cage. I pull the shackle down, grading the flesh on my waist. I tear off my shirt, suck in my stomach, slap the shackle, pull on the cord, squirm- jump-shake- groan- breathe. My pores pop. The sensation of sweat tickles my forehead and is chilled by the morning air. I notice bruises and healing abrasions on the palms and blood encrusted on the shackle. I thought something about that struggle felt familiar. I take my eyes off of the shackle for a moment and look at the man again. He’s staring directly back at me.

The wind hits my now, bare chest. The sunlight strokes on my back, yet some light finds its way into my eyes. The man shouts at me full of emotion, on the edge of tears it seems but all I understand is his hand flapping over his bloodshot eyes. I do not recognize his language. I respond with a blank look and cautious steps back. This does nothing to deter him, he continues his foreign spiel, with each progressing word he becomes progressively frustrated. He tries speaking slowly, slaps his head, then gestures enigmatic shapes. I step back. With that light cutting into my eyes I could not see clearly but his expression appears to be one of confusion. He points to the bodies scattered across the ground, pulls on the cord around his waist. He’s suffering from the same amnesia that I am. He staggers up, still talking, but talking to himself now, mumbling, probably putting things together, probably assuming. But assuming what? His feet wobble. His hands, both stretched out on either side, seem to hold onto some invisible crutch. He is taller than I am. His biceps swell with muscles and thick hair. But he’s still woozy. I have the advantage there.

I step back again as he stumbles forward and once more that light finds its way into my eyes. He speaks again, holding out his hand, sauntering towards me with a limp. I step back. The light cuts directly into my eyes then. I drop my head and raise my hand. The sunlight is reflecting off of something in front of me- behind him. The monopoly of light. Difficult to discern because of its shimmering surface but it looks like a gun, a long gun, a machine gun. A black handle and clip, with a silver body. The gleam is so strong it looks as if it burns with ivory flames. From the corner of my eye, I notice that the man had stopped. Swinging my focus back to him, I see his head turned back and his body lurching towards the gun. He sees it too. He turns back to me abruptly, mouth slightly gaping, eyes piercing into mine. It’s like love at first sight. Eyes lock time into the space between them. Everything stops. You can see your reflection in their eyes. Your minds are one. They know your thoughts and you know there’s. There is no free will, you are a slave to instinct and there is only one thing that you can do. I have to kill him.

His eyes roll down to my legs just before my knees crook and hurl me forward. The gun is nothing but four meters behind him, six meters in front of me. Twisting around too fast he stumbles. I step forward. In in panic he trips. I step forward. Attempting to recover he falls. I step forward and leap over his body just before he slams into the dust. With the gun barely a meter ahead of me, I leap forward and my hands are stretched forth. The cord snags; I jerk back. My stomach and chin smash against the dust. I bite my tongue, the dust immediately wafts up and into my eyes but I’m unfazed. I crawl forward, hands and knees pedaling the course terrain. I feel the cord tighten, my hand stretches forward, my dirt crammed fingernails scratching the tip of the gun handle, pulling it closer. I grab the handle- he grabs my leg- the gun slips out of my hand. He pulls me back. The parched soil crumbles under my frantic fingers, reaching- grabbing, digging deep into the earth. A finger nail tears off, two others peel back. My fingers uncoil, palms glide over the dirt, and the gun seems to dissolve into the blur of my tearing eyes. I moan desperately. My feet thrash wildly. I kick him once or twice. Somewhere between tired and exhausted now, my hands reach listlessly, grabbing the fragile, crumbling dust. His hands go from my heels, to knees, to waist, then getting a good grip on the shackle around my stomach.

My eyes swell with tears but not one falls. He swings me around by the waistline once or twice, I lose orientation. As I stumble to my knees and his hands tug the shackle, I feel my waist slip slightly. I quickly leap from the ground and spring forward, my tail bone grinds against the shackle. He pulls me back, I heave- I push, my feet treading the ground to no avail. His finger nails slip off of my back, moist with perspiration, as he uses one hand to reach for my shoulder, the other tightly grasping the shackle. I push forward again. My skin and pants peel back. He yanks me back again as I surge onward and I feel the shackle slip like a deep breathe exhaling and I slither out of the shackle. My pants are torn off and my legs rattle against the inside of the shackle like echoes. Completely naked now I scramble for the gun, paddling the ground as if swimming in dust. I scoop up the gun and a handful of dirt and I’m suddenly engulfed in his shadow as he leaps for me. His hands slap my chest just before he is jerked back and smashed onto the ground. He rolls over and grabs my legs. His eyes protrude from its sockets, watering and he bawls again in his native tongue. This time I understand. My finger embraces the trigger.

Bullets fall from the gun like thunder and rain and splash into his chest. Crimson puddles pop like tiny tsunamis, ejaculating- vaulting towards me. My eyes flutter, I cringe, and click. The gun stops juddering. But my fingers are not convinced, still wrapped tightly around the curves of the handle and trigger, quivering. From the tip of the gun streams smoke. Thicker at the nozzle, the smoke twirls and writhes and pirouettes into oblivion.

I drop the gun next his silent body. He doesn’t move. His eyes stare at the sky and his lips are slightly ajar. The carmine blood slowly dances over the chestnut hue of his face and drip off of his ears. He doesn’t look dead. I kick the gun into a spin and skid and it ends up somewhere in the distance. I search the distance for anything: movement, sound, a reflection of light but everything is at rest. The landscape is so bland. Pale, brittle earth stretching farther than the skyline and blurring into the horizon. The clouds surrounding the sun seem to burn away like paper into an orgy of reds, pinks, and oranges.

A terse, strident snap startles me then. I crouch down, my eyes and neck turning and shifting, my knees bent, my hands dangling- touching the earth, tapping into some primitive form of myself. I sit down in exhaustion. I see nothing in the distance except silence and light. My eyes begin to sag, my head dips, my back begins to hunch. I’m so tired all of a sudden. I fall back and my head slaps the cracking dust. I feel a chill, my finger tips go numb. All feeling is quickly fanning. In the corner of my closing eye I see the man I just killed laying next to me. I wish I curl against his warmth again. Everything is so cold.

I watch my last breathes dissolve into the breeze until my eyes are eclipsed by their lids. Light skips over my eyes like a stone upon a lake, then it freezes. That’s what puts me to sleep, a lullaby of light.


© Copyright 2017 Hei Yun. All rights reserved.

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