What makes the world start and go? Is it the people or the movement of atoms? The clock clicks forward as the soldiers march over a battlefield littered with corpses. A machine made of flesh and bone grinds against the harden earth. Every breath breaks away at the wall that separates today and tomorrow. Caught in the hands of a forsaken man who drives into me the cords of my own defeat like a symphony of strings heard only as a city burns. So why does this keep going?
Circumstance. We live only in an attempt to say we’re not dead. The beauty to be seen is merely an illusion fading away into the endless darkness of the night. A little iris flower sprouting from the flesh of a dead man as if he is only soil. Perhaps that is the reason I seek. All I need is a little reminder that everything is everything. You might ask why. I have no answer to that except a gut feeling. My past is unknown. I am here but without memories so am I truly me?
I awoke in this motionless dream. . . .
The sweet smell of dew covered flowers overwhelms me. My blurry eyes open up, I blink a few times, and look around me. A grassy field stretches far beyond the horizon in every direction. I try standing up but my legs feel so numb. I sit up to get a better idea of my surroundings. Flowers dot the landscape, small plots of wheat sway back and forth against a light gale, and a tree sits a few feet away casting shade over me. I dig my hands into the soil beside me. It’s wet and rich by the way it feels between my fingers like a moist cake.
I expect a bug to crawl up my thigh but never does. I glance around to see if there are birds flying in the sky. None. An eerie silence parades through this place like a chill down my spine. My heart races faster and the scenery starts to spin. A fear, so tangible, grips me by my throat. I struggle to awake from this nightmare. The blue sky darkens to a purple with black clouds drifting slowly on by. My eyes close.
Bustling noise of people brings me back. I look around to see nothing from before except for the tree. Concrete fills the fields, people replace the flowers, and long gorgeous hair flows in the wind. I’m leaning against a wooden pillar holding up the awning to a little wagon showing its wares. A guy perhaps only a year older than me watches me with a charmed expression. I blush at him ever so lightly.
“I see you’re awake! We haven’t had many customers yet. The day is just so beautiful I guess. They all walk on by with smiles. It’s just a part of the trade. How was your sleep? Any dreams?” he eagerly fills me in on what’s going on.
“I uh,” hesitating from the fact I don’t know him, “I did. It was this place but without the town. A beautiful meadow where I couldn’t get up or speak. It was so weird.”
“Dreams do that. Maybe you’ll find some hidden truth in it. Most people move on from their dreams so quickly to live this life but the dreams had something to say. Do you remember our talk three nights ago?”
“I can’t say I do.”
“We’ve grown up a lot in the last two years. We know just who we want to be. I want to follow my father’s footsteps and sell this prdouce to these people. I don’t grow enough for a small militia but enough to sell and eat. When I asked you what you want to be you said you wanted to think on it. Do you know now?”
“Hm I can’t say for sure. I really want only one thing right now.”
“I was going to say I want to know what’s going on.”
“What we do every week?”
“I don’t remember any of this. Do you really know me?”
“Uh yeah? Is something wrong?”
“Oh. Nothing. I guess I’m just really tired or something. Everything feels a little off.”
“Haha, alright. I was scared for a moment. You looked like you were lost.”
“Sorry. I’m thinking out loud don’t mind me.”
“Rae go for a stroll. I can hold the fort down. You just seem like you need some time and space. I’ll be waiting here so try to get back before dusk. I’d hate to not get home before the storm.”
“Alright. What time is it though?”
“A little pass three. If the Sun starts setting just come back. Some people in this town are very weird and I don’t want you to get hurt. Go to the gardens or something. Let go of whatever is bothering you.”
I quickly walk away. My memories don’t exist. I try to recall them but only nothingness is there. I only remember my name of Ilyianna. People wave at me like they know me. I wave back only half heartedly. The sound of my feet tapping on the cobblestone road sounds so unreal. Every step tears me from this reality a little more. Thoughts about the dream circle around in my head adding to the disassociation.
My feet stop for a second as I look at the ground. A little piece of paper sits there with a rock weighing it down. I look around to see if anyone left it but no one did. Most of the people mind their own business and keep to themselves. Nervous hesitation shakes through my arm as I reach down and pick up the paper. Words written in blood seep through reading:
If you can see this you have awoke. Good. My name doesn’t matter. I know of Ilyianna’s secret and I bet you want to know. I can’t write it down. You’ll understand soon. Remember this — The clock strikes the umbral heart at exactly light of dawn before the breath of day.
What is going on? What does that mean? Damn it! I have no clue what to think. I need answers not more questions. Ugh, please something start to make sense. I start running. People look oddly at me making me run faster. My heart beats so fast that it could jump right out of my chest. Someone sneaks up on me and puts a hand around my stomach. I scream but nobody hears me. The person gets right next to my ear.
“Be quiet. Did anyone tell you not to walk to this side of town? Some really unsavory types set up shop here. A pretty girl like you could catch a nice penny. Hell, they don’t mind if you’re used too.”
“Get away from me!” I yell.
“Oh how cute. Men like a woman with a little sass especially in bed. It makes it more worthwhile.”
“You’re a monster.”
“I like to see myself as an entrepreneur. The real monster is all of us. These bodies crave lust. I can’t help but give the masses what they want. Supply and demand.”
An arrow flies pass both of us hitting the ground nearby. The man at the wagon from earlier stands there with a bow. He smiles and walks closer. My captor lets me go to back away from this scene. Another arrow hits him in the shin. He screams loudly then whimpers. I run to my savior and cower by his side.
“Are you hurt Rae?”
“I’m just shaken up. I’ll be okay.”
“So what were you trying to do? I know this is a shady part of town but still. I want an answer.” firmly states the young man.
“I thought she needed help. Some of these unsavory types would violate her. Not I. I would never hurt a woman.”
“What do you do for a living?”
“Really? A man has been accused of helping the slave trade by preying on helpless women and children. A scruffy man who finds the only thing beautiful in the world is money. He couldn’t respect a woman if he saw one.”
“Watch your tongue! This is my district. Stay to your own. Don’t act so high and mighty when you never starve. Do you even know what it takes to stay safe in this world? By being the first one to act.”
“No. If I starved I wouldn’t hurt another just to eat. Fight your own struggle don’t involve others. It’s a test of will. A test you failed. Pick up your stuff, leave those good people be, and get the hell out of my town. Now!”
“And if I don’t?”
“The law doesn’t protect criminals and thieves.”
“It actually does. Until a self-entitled saint swings his morals around like a gavel. I don’t have to listen to you. I’ll be staying here until the end.”
“Rae, please turn away.” as he says that I turn.
A single arrow flies through the air. The tang of the string echoes through the cobblestone streets. People look up at the unfolding scene. I lean my back against the man wondering what he feels deep inside. How do you kill someone so easily? Why would he not back down? I don’t even know you. Why? He places a hand on my shoulder and kisses my cheek.
“We shouldn’t stay here. Come on. Don’t look back whatever you do.”
He drags me up off the ground. I catch my footing and start running to keep up. The gasps of the townsfolk perpetuate the smell of iron in the air. They don’t understand why. I don’t understand either. I just run to keep ahead of my doubts that will surely tear apart this reality. A hundred questions left without answer. I’m the criminal running from a forgotten past.
My heart beat stabilizes with every step away from the blood spill. I can’t fight an urge to look back. I slightly turn my head right before he places a hand over my eyes. He laughs at me and I glare at him angrily. I decide to not look back despite my urge.
“If you look back at the darkness you’ll never escape. Look forward. Do you see the light?” he stretches a hand out towards the setting Sun.
“Stay focus on that. It will be the only way to awake from the darkness. I don’t know if I can take you there. I just hope you hold onto this. Don’t stay too long where you are lost or else you’ll become the reason why you’re lost. Learn to walk towards the light even by yourself. For now, just come with me.”