Not exactly what I was promising, but my project with the game has come back up and I felt like writing this. Hopefully you enjoy this little flash fiction and take something away from it.
11:50 p.m.May 17, 1886.
He listened. Ten minutes. His heart beat to the hand of the clock…his clock.
His name? There was no longer such a thing to him. Long ago had he forgotten that silly little thing. Forgotten to his quest. What quest? Why, to live forever, to find Time and…well…there are some things that can go without being said straight out.
The night air brushed its fingers through the man’s coarse brown hair. His dark eyes took in the scene before him; an old squat shop made of brick and a roof made of wooden shingles. The windows were shuttered on either side of a solid wooden door. No light peeked through the cracks, leaving the store in complete darkness. It gave the illusion that it was vacant, but he knew that people lived in there. His experience told him so.
He shivered with glee, he could hear the ticking from where he stood on the street. His silhouette cast dancing shadows in many directions as he stood in the candle-lit street lamp’s light as if they were mimicking their owner’s feelings.The sound of a man whistling in the distance faded away, lost to the night.
The man took a look at his watch and then buried it in the pocket of his dingy leather trench-coat. 11:51 p.m. May 17 1886. He would have to act quickly.
He listened. Nine Minutes. His heart beat to the hand of the clock…his clock.
Swiftly, like a shadow, he rushed to the door of the small brick shop. He could have easily battered down the door if he had a mind, but no, that would have been too much noise and too much time that he did not have. Soon he would have it. He picked the lock in exactly two heartbeats.
Sound exploded in his ears. The hundreds of clocks within the shop ticked away the seconds. Right in time with the damnable mechanism on his wrist. They were of one mind and he cursed them all.
Closing the door behind him, he rushed upstairs. His fingers itched to wrap themselves around those ticking things and cast them to the ground. For now he had to wait. The stairs were solid as well and he was able to climb up silently, soft as a maiden’s breath. He moved methodically, checking each room for the inhabitants.
The man took another look at his watch.
11:52 p.m. May 17.
He listened. Eight more minutes. His heart beat to the hand of the clock…his clock.
The man opened the door at the end of the hall. There, inside, was another man. A time-worn face drooled quite unceremoniously into the pillow that his long, graying hair had suffered a ruffling from. No clocks dwelt here. The sleeping man must find the silence to be a sacred thing.
A knife was pulled from the man’s old dingy coat. It was long and sharp, the surface unmarred by time, use or rust. It was a sort of ritual. After each kill -yes, he had to kill them, the clock-makers- he would go and make a new blade from the pieces of clocks. Melt them, fuse them, and sharpen them. Each one an atonement for what he did here.
To kill time, he had to -must even- kill them.
The knife slid into the man’s neck without the slightest resistance. The sleeper opened his eyes and locked with the man holding the knife. They held each other’s gaze and then as if resigning, the sleeper slowly closed his eyes and went without uttering a noise, the knife left in his throat, blood spilling and collecting in the sheets of the bed.
The sleeper would be better for this. Everyone would.
The man looked at his watch again.
He listened. Seven more minutes.His heart beat to the hand of the clock…his clock.
Once downstairs again, the sounds of ticking and gonging and tweeting was deafening. Each a resonator, a counter of seconds. Constantly reminding, reminding, reminding that he was running out of time, time, time.
Rage, pure filthy rage enveloped the man. His dark eyes grew wet with tears. The absurdity, the fact that a mere object could cause him so much pain, pain, pain, pain, pain.
He shakes his head. His heart is still beating, he is still alive.
He does not need to look back down at his watch.
Listening, ooh listening. Six more minutes. His heart beat, beat, beat to the damn hand of the clock…his damn clock.
Hungry fingers, long awaiting this moment, grab the first contraption and cast it to the floor. Then the next, the next and the next. Each losing its parts, each falling to the ground. This was merely procedure now. He knew how they all worked, all counted, and how they could be stopped. Time was desperate. Some of these were harder to destroy than most, he knew that he was close to victory. He could live, would live. He laughed as he worked.
Listening, listening, that’s all he could do was listen. Five minutes, more clocks. His heart beat to the clock…his clock, the one tied to his wrist, counting away ‘till his time was to close.
More and more clocks fell victim. Silenced forever, never to tell others just how much time they had left. He would escape time, outsmart it. Time had enslaved humanity, all they could think of was just how much time they did not have.
Listening.Four more minutes.
More clocks thrown to the ground.
Two minutes left.He had even destroyed the watch that had sat on his wrist. The store was a mess with pieces of clocks lying on the floor, certainly a scene to behold. However, it was beautiful. The most beautiful thing that the man had ever experienced. Thump…
And then frowned.
His heart. It still beat…beat…beat…beat…
Time was still very much alive. He was alive, therefore time was alive.
“NO!” He shouts the word, as surely causing the silence to flee into recesses unknown as if he had poured a bucket of water over fire.
11:59 p.m. May 17, 1886.
He knew exactly when he was. His heart, his damned thumping, ticking heart. Keeping time, reminding him of just how much time was left. A single, solitary minute was left.
He fell to his knees, feeling about for something, anything. He sobbed, tears blinding him, making him curse. It was unfair. Here he was, trying so hard to help, but time would not let him. If only he had more time!
He stopped. More time. He needed…more.
“No escape.” The words barely escaped from between clenched teeth. His shaking hand furiously cleared tears from his eyes and then fell onto the hand of a clock.
Cleverly carved into the shape of a pointing finger.
He could not escape.
He glanced down at the hand, the one that pointed.
Picked up the piece.
And drove the piece into his damned, ticking,thumping, counting, laughing heart.
12:00 a.m. May 18, 1886.
He fell forward and instead of silence greeting the new coming day, or the gong from a clock, it was the passing breath of a man who only wanted to live forever. Time counted on…on…on…
I want to go ahead and apologize for the length of this post because I don’t have time to go back and edit it to a more manageable/bite-sized length. Also, because of school and work, as well as a new writing project that came up, the posts of my book will slow even further. This may be the last post for a long time until I finish school for the year and figure out a schedule for my other project. Anyway, I really hope that you enjoy this one and don’t worry, I will finish the book.
The sudden voice from behind pulled Wrath out of his reverie, tearing the old feeling out of his chest.
“What if I told you they were no longer here?”
Wrath turned slowly, trying to keep from exploding at the man in front of his family.
“I beg your pardon?” A nasty smile spread slowly over his features.
The man repeated himself without a skip, “What if I told you they were no longer here?”
“I still don’t understand your meaning.” Wrath felt his anger flair back up, warming his stomach and quickening his breath.
“Just look.” The man gestured.
Wrath did not want to, but he felt the glow in his stomach turn cold and become a dull throb. Slowly he turned back, trying to keep the smile on his face.
His smile turned into a snarl when he turned. Nothing. He saw nothing! His family had disappeared!
Wrath whipped back around and lashed out at where the man stood. He curled his fingers ever so slightly to make an imitation of a claw, ready to gouge the man’s eyes out. But instead of feeling skin gather under his nails, his hand flew through thin air. That did not stop Wrath’s attack, however, and instead he carried on his momentum and swung his sword with the other hand in an attempt to severe the neck of the man. Still, Wrath felt no impact of any sort and was forced to stop in shock, not quite sure what was happening. The man stood calmly, smiling and holding his hands behind his back.
“Oh this is fun! I knew I had picked a good one!” Wrath was further surprised by a tone in the man’s voice that he thought sounded giddy with excitement. The man laughed.
“What did you do with my family?” Wrath demanded.
“What do you mean?” The man splayed his hands and shrugged his shoulders in an exaggerated manner, acting the perfect innocent.
“Where are they?” He bit off each word, making each a separate statement.
“I didn’t do anything to them, and I haven’t the slightest notion as to where they could possibly be.” The man shrugged again. “Honest!”
Wrath was not pleased and he gripped his sword even more tightly. “They were there. You and I both saw them. Heard them. Where are they?”
The man smiled and put on a face that screamed of a mock sympathy. It was infuriating.
“Where are they? Tell me or I’ll gut you right here on my floors!” Wrath’s voice was thick with hate.
“Aye? And how did that work for you just a moment ago? Honestly Wrath, what on earth do you think is going on here?” The face of mock sympathy became angry. “Don’t you see what has happened to the world out there? How can you talk of building walls for a society that no longer exists? How can you be standing here inside with your family while the society that you were suppose to help is outside tearing itself apart. Come to think of it, there is no more society, just creatures. Well, human, but more creature than not, all given into desire. What about helping them?”
Wrath stood, letting the man talk, still not trusting, but becoming confused once again. How did this man know about the argument that he and Randyl had? What did he mean by society being ruined? He obviously still had a home here, with his family. The man continued.
“This society has been long dead. You are the last. You and I, actually. Leave behind these fantasies and I can give you real death. Real peace. An end. No longer will memories like this haunt you. Don’t you want that? You told me earlier that you did. Would you give it up for something as feeble as memories like this?” The man stopped speaking, giving Wrath a chance to answer.
Wrath thought. And instead of the calm that the man was no doubt expecting of Wrath, he instead felt his anger coming back in waves.
“How can you say that? How can you say that my family is not important, that everyone I used to know is now dead? I’m trying my best to stay alive, to make a bad situation into a good one. I know that there are monsters out there, but I refuse to believe that everyone is dead. I talked with Randyl. We are still working on the wall. Just a part of the city was invaded by the creatures that walked the forest around the city and we were working on that!” Wrath fought tears. “How can you say any of this?”
“Memories, Wrath. That’s all these are. The wall was left unfinished hundreds of years ago. Your society is no longer there and those people that you talk to? You are imagining them.”
“How can you say that?” Wrath was shouting now, tears streamed down his face.
“Wrath.” The man tried to get his attention, but Wrath was not listening. All the pain, frustration, fear and helplessness that he had been feeling for years was suddenly becoming too much for him. His breath became short and his vision faded. There was nothing fair in this world left. Everything was being taken away from him, and there was nothing that he could do.
Then everything went dark. Time passed as he tried to reason with himself, with the way that things were. Wrath felt cold again. So cold that he felt that even had he been sitting in the middle of a blazing fire could his bones be warm again. Nothing in the world could dispel the cold and deep sorrow that permeated his soul in that moment. It was all becoming too much. He wanted to die. This man promised death…but at what cost?
Still, the voice was with him; faint but ever present. “Wrath. All is not lost. You can still join your family, but you must do something. Your family has been gone for a long time. What you have been seeing was your mind coping-”
“Then why did you not leave me to my fantasy?Let me cope, don’t tear it all away.” Wrath interrupted, his voice bitter.
“Because there is a plan.” The voice said.
“I never volunteered.”
“No. But you were chosen. And I beg you to comply with your calling. There is no one else who can do what I am asking.” The voice said, pleading.
Wrath was silent for a while, then, “Convince me since I see no reason.”
“The only reason you need is my word.” The voice said, “However, if you seek more than my word, know that you would die eventually if you kept up this fairy tale that you try to live. A single person in a world of creatures that once use to be family, friends, merchants, kings, princes, paupers, writers, singers, beggars, men, women and children cannot stand alone and live. For you are alone. If you do not act, the world will plunge into oblivion. The exception is that the souls that are in the animate and dead bodies, your soul, will remain. The god that created you would leave and you would be left conscious and aware and alone.” The voice seemed to run out of reasons, but instead finished, “ If anything, I know and you have said, you do not wish that upon yourself. That is why you have fought. That is why you have not thrown yourself on your sword. I am merely pushing you along on the journey that you were suppose to do yourself.”
“Why me?” Wrath asked.
“Why? Every being has a right to self-preservation and you are a part of that plan to it. Do not ask again, push the question out of your mind. It has been asked by every being in existence, all for different reasons. Don’t ask, just do you calling. The answers will come.”
“Fine. You have convinced me, even if it is for self-preservation. I do not understand, but I am beginning to realize that understanding will not come by sitting here.” Wrath said, “I think that I am ready. I do ask, though, to not ask me to give up any memories of my family. Those are the only things that keep me from giving in.”
“I understand.” The voice said.
“I am curious, though.” Wrath began, “Do you have a name?”
“You ask for something that is never freely given.” The voice paused, “But for you, for the sake of trust, I will give it to you. It is Relance. Not my true name, but close to it. I do not give you my real name for fear that it would kill you.”
Odd though it seemed to think that a name would kill a person, Wrath thought that he could understand why Relance would say such a thing. A feeling of immense ecstasy shook his limbs, making him shudder violently. In a flash, it disappeared. The feeling lasting only as long as it took for the name to pass over the tongue. Had a true name been spoken, Wrath would surely quit existence.
“Relance.” Wrath whispered, musing, again feeling the warm shudder, though his tongue seemed unable to say the name with sufficient grace and power, thus making the effect weaker.
The dark that shadowed Wrath’s eyes faded and Wrath saw the man’s face in front of his own. Instead of lashing out to hurt the man, Wrath only said, “Thank you.”
The man named Relance smiled.
That entry that I promised more than a month ago. Apologies, but schooling has been keeping me under its heel. That, and I purchased a new computer, so I’ve been playing with that for a bit. Enjoy and please let me know what your initial reaction is. Coming slowly but surely.
The first thought that came to Wrath’s mind, was his family’s safety. This strange man with strange powers was scary and could not be trusted. If he could duplicate objects and merge them back together and then sit on a dusty chair and leave the dust undisturbed, what else was he capable of?
Obviously the man couldn’t be trusted, that much was apparent. Those who dabbled in the dark arts should never be trusted. They were necromancers, and those who cavorted with that sort were always dead in the end. Wrath tried to think of any possible reason why this man – if man he be- would want to target his family. Money, obviously being the first reason. However, sometimes these kinds of men were after something darker. The blood of a child, a dear wife, or even the whole family. Always to worship the evil Dark. Yes, Wrath had to destroy this man. This…necromancer.
Wrath bolted out of his room with the force of a thousand stampeding horses 8, breaking a hinge on his way out. The halls were a blur, his hair flying about in his eyes. His feet stomped, not caring how much noise they produced. His family would be in the dining hall eating like they had said. Inside his chest, he felt a scream of frustration welling up and forcing its way out. Eventually it came, and it echoed off the walls and marble floor. He screamed and screamed and screamed. Madness, anger. Hundreds of years of fear was pouring out of his throat as if he were on the front lines of an army. A thousand souls outside screamed with him, sharing his frustration.
The necromancer could not kill his family, must not. They were his happiness, his joy. A scum of society, a demon, was not about to take that away. Else he would die. He would burn the city, kill his god and bring about a new kind of pain to the world if that happened.
Wrath pushed his legs harder, screaming all the louder, cursing them for not being able to go faster. The palace was too damn big!
There! The dining hall. He could hear his family laughing, oblivious to the danger that they were in. He stumbled into the dining hall and was greeted by a wonderful, if surprising, sight. Relief flooded and Wrath felt himself grow weak with it. No one was being butchered, everyone was safe. It was a sight of his family happily spending time together. Let the strange man steal his gold, his jewels. He could get those back if that was really what the man was after, it was his family that was irreplaceable. His wife was spooning pudding generously into each child’s bowl. All were smiling and laughing, and a fire burned merrily in the enormous hearth. Servants stood by the doors, straight faces all with laughter flowing in their eyes.
Yes. They were safe. All safe. No blood magic here. No one was lying on the floor with their throat slashed open like some goat.
Wrath watched them. A smile spread on his lips. Happiness, yes. This was why he continued to dwell. Did not turn to the madness that lurked in the streets of the city. Did not give himself up.
A while passed. Maybe even days, again, time here did not matter very much. Wrath thought of it as both blessing and curse. The children played, their mother bouncing their youngest on her knee and singing over and over to the giggling child:
Come sweet Mocking Jay.
Do not be shy.
We want to see thou play
And listen to thee sing to the sky.
Come sweet Laustic.
Do not be shy.
We wish to hear music from thine beak
Until dawn dost fly.
The child would sing the words back, often putting his hands to his face, making a beak and then laughing afterward at his own cleverness. Servants stood diligently, never blinking, but watching their masters play with enthusiasm. The hearth burned eternally, always bright, cheerful. If Wrath could ask for heaven, this would be it. Now he remembered happiness.
(Here is the last part of chapter 2. Again, I apologize for the errors that you may find. Thus is the nature of drafts. Enjoy.)
Wrath did not bother undressing, nor washing himself. There was no clean water, and his clothes might as well have been a part of him. He needed new ones that did not have holes or smell so ghastly. Maybe on the morrow he could find some more. The thought of going out now even flashed across his mind, but he decided against it and instead sat down on the bed, crossing his knees and folding his hands, as if in prayer. He lifted his chin, as if he were about to speak, but he did not and instead stared straight ahead. He did not close his eyes, nor slow his breathing, but stared at a peeling wall. He turned inward and closed out the world around him, giving himself a refuge to hide inside to heal his mind.
He did not move a muscle, nor bat an eye. It served as an escape from the world, a place where he could collect himself, and figure out what it was he wanted to do. He now remembered that sleep brought horrific nightmares. So, instead of sleeping, he substituted it by doing nothing, shutting himself down, and becoming distant in his thoughts.
I feel so lost. Wrath said mentally. It was a thought that continued to come to him over time. He tried to keep that kind of thinking away, and instead focus on his family; happy thoughts. But the thought of being lost kept returning, begging for his attention with a calloused palm. It bothered him, and he wanted it to leave, but return it would. Maybe, he thought, if he were to think it through, it would go away.
“Who says that you are?” A voice says, “You could be making it all up. The world is not a friendly place, so who is to say that this isn’t normal?”
“It is normal.” Wrath said to himself.
“Now it is?” The voice asked Chidingly, almost as if it had been expecting a different answer.
Wrath shuddered mentally. If the world was always this cold, then what was the point of going on? He knew that he wanted an escape. Some kind of release.
“Give me death.” Wrath whispered, barely letting the air past his lips.
“I can not grant it. I am merely a voice, one that you yourself created.” It said, “Death will have to come to you by your own hand.”
“I can not, though. I will become what crawls through the streets and the sewers, licking blood off the walls of old homes. Never still, always hungry, killing because it can not die itself. I do not want that kind of fate.”
“Would it not be easier to live?” The voice became deathly quiet, “Who says that those creatures out there aren’t happy?”
Happy? What was happy? Some long forgotten memories tugged at his mind, bringing into focus his family, his friends…even his duty to the city. They passed back into whatever dark recess they had come from, taking any old feeling of warmth with them.
“They are not happy.” Wrath felt himself saying, “Even in death they scream in pain. Watching me with hateful eyes. I hear no laughter from their severed throats, no mirth shining in dim eyes. There is nothing from them. They envy my life, and I envy their death. They are not happy, I do not want that fate.”
“But you don’t know for sure, do you?”
“No, I suppose that I don’t.” He sighed, “But I have seen, and I am afraid. Give me real death, and I will embrace it warmly. Darkness; unconsciousness is what I want.” Wrath’s voice broke slightly, “I haven’t seen real darkness in so long.”
The voice that was speaking to him went silent and Wrath reflected on what he had been given.
After a time, the voice came back saying, “Do you want to see it? Do you wish to see Death?”
“Gods yes!” Wrath was able to pull himself out of his “slumber” and instead of hearing a hollow voice in his head, now saw a man standing in front of him, arms crossed. Dark hair billowed down over black eyes and black skin. The man was like a shadow, yet he stood there in flesh, a single piece of red cloth covering his chest, back and thighs.
Wrath jumped up and reached for a sword that was no longer there, falling backwards over the bed in his surprise, causing it to groan horribly, as if it were about to break.
The man waited for Wrath to collect himself both physically and mentally. When he did, Wrath stood in a stooped position on top of the bed, arms held up as if he were about to grapple with the man. He stood tensely, waiting for the man in front of him to do something.
The man smiled when he saw that Wrath had finished flailing in surprise, “Hello. You seem quite blind when you gaze off at that wall.”
Wrath did not say anything. What was there to say? This man had entered his home without his permission. And while he was ‘sleeping’ to boot!
The man continued smiling, as if deeply entertained by Wrath and what he seemed to think of as antics.
“I suppose that you will want to know who I am and what I can offer.” The man turned and walked to the opposite side of the room and seated himself in a chair. “Don’t worry. I can’t harm you. See?” To prove his point, he grabbed at a broken cup on an end table. The cup, unsurprisingly, left it’s place, tightly in the grip of the man sitting before him. However, when Wrath looked closely, he saw that there were two cups now. One in the man’s hand, and the other sitting on the end table exactly where the cup in the man’s hand had left its place.
“How did you do that?” Wrath demanded feeling a little frightened by what he was seeing and if he was completely honest with himself, of the man as well.
“Exactly what you imagine me to.” The man smiled, setting the cup back to where it had been, merging the two cups together.
Wrath did not know what to say. He stared at the cups dumbfounded and completely baffled to how such a feat was possible. His mouth opened and closed, and he tried to get the words to come out, but finding that they were no longer there. The man held Wrath’s face in his gaze, watching with apparent amusement at the reaction that he was getting. Wrath noticed that there was even a slight smirk!
Finally, the man seemed to take pity on Wrath and said, “This world is not everything that you would imagine. For instance, this cup!” He gestured at the mostly complete cup beside him, palm upward. His black eyes bored into Wrath’s own. “I picked it up, yes?”
Wrath nodded dumbly.
“And what did it do?”
Wrath struggled to force words out, still trying to figure out exactly what it had been that he had seen! The words came out haltingly, “You…duplicated them!”
The man actually laughed this time, rich and charming. Wrath felt a sensation rush through him, and when the man stopped, the feeling passed.
“No.” The man was still smiling and chuckling, “Not duplicating. In fact, I didn’t pick it up at all! You only expected me to, so that’s what you saw. Except, you also saw the reality and realized that it conflicted with what you thought you were seeing.”
“But…I saw you pick it up!” Wrath flushed indignantly and he felt his face getting warm, “I know what I saw!” The absurdity of it all came to Wrath and he no longer felt afraid, but instead, angry. How dare this man tell him that he did not know what his own eyes told him! This trespasser was playing tricks, trying, no doubt, to rob him of his wealth! What of the children? Where was his wife? This thief was merely a distraction!
Wrath did not wait for the man to say anything else and shouted at him, “Out! How dare you walk into my home without my permission! How did you get past the guard?” The man sat firmly in his chair, again with that little self-satisfied smile on his face, as if watching a monkey in some circus! How dare he?
The anger flooded Wrath and he felt a new well of energy open up inside of him. He jumped down off of the bed and grabbed his sword, wishing the rid himself of the intruder and his infuriating smile. He would save his family, and the world would be rid of yet another necromancer! Never to bother another soul!
But when Wrath looked to where the man had been sitting, he was stunned to find that there was no longer anyone sitting there. The chair remained as it had been all along, as if no one had sat there at all. A thick layer of dust remained undisturbed on the padded seat.
What is happening? Wrath wondered. He twirled around, glancing this way and that, trying to see if he could find the man, but was met by an empty room. The room was hushed, and an open breeze rolled through the window, making the silken blinds wave in the wind. All Wrath could hear was his breathing come out in anxious spurts. Where is he?
Well, I finally finished the second chapter in Shattered! I was able to squeeze the last few words out between classes and the many papers that English classes require you to pump out. I am going to apologize for any grammatical errors, as I did minimal editing. This is only the second draft, and is actually written from scratch, so bear with me! I’m going to break it up into two parts so that it’s not too much to read all at once. I know how hard it is to stick through a long post on the internet, so I’ll keep them short and sweet. Enjoy! :)
Day came, throwing new shadows on the city. The sky stayed a murky gray, covering the otherwise cheerful face of the sun with a stubborn curtain. That, though, was nothing new. Ever since the city had fallen into what Wrath could only call hell, there had been no real sunlight to speak of, only the dark dream-light of a deep winter.
From Wrath’s standpoint in the balcony of the central tower in the palace, he could view the expanse of the city. His eyes flicked from ruined square to ruined square, keeping an eye out for once-men. He had no need for sleep, so he kept watch during the day. The daylight was far more dangerous than the night. Why? Things were awake during the day, and they were things that a man did well to leave alone. The city lay still and the bodies of old victims from both the war and Wrath lay scattered in the street, rotting. The small homes and markets were in ruin. Remnants from old battles and assaults on the people that had once lived there. To the north, Wrath’s right, a monstrous mountain rose into the sky with everything above the mid-section hidden behind a layer of clouds. Wrath recalled that the truly wealthy men of the city had lived further up the mountain in palaces like kings during the Elder Days. There was no longer a path leading up there, but it had been a very prestigious place to live in, had you had the coin to live there of course.
A scream, if it could be called that, echoed through the streets, most likely from the throat of a once-man. What it was fighting, Wrath could not tell. There were no other sounds but that of the creature having its insides spilled. Wrath was beyond cringing at such sounds. For whatever reason, the things that hunted the once-men did not like entering buildings, so he had heard plenty of these slaughters in his time whilst living in this hellish city. Most once-men seemed to go into hiding like Wrath during the day, yet there were a few stupid ones that would chance the occasional trip out of doors, often finding that their decision would, in fact, be their last.
So far, Wrath’s little home here in the palace was safe. No unwelcome creatures had wandered in as of yet and he was happy to keep it that way. The reason for his watchfulness during the day. Some days he would stand until night time came, to pick his sword back up and head out into the streets to shorten the population count of these monsters. Others, he would sit in his room quietly, dreaming of older memories, hiding from the world. He was safe here, but this had not been his first sanctuary. In fact, he had been through dozens before coming to this one. He did not know how long he had been here, but he did know that it was far longer than he had been with past locations. There was something about it that made creatures and unwelcome spirits from passing through its doors.
Wrath turned to face his wife. She was dressed in the same white gown that he had seen her in earlier. He momentarily forgot about the killings outside and smiled, his arms outstretched, ready to embrace her. Rachel did not return the gesture, but instead continued with her face blank, “Where are the children?”
Wrath looked at her as if in confusion, but then snapped out of it, smiling all the wider.
“They are right here, love.” He said, moving one arm to his left to indicate the children standing there. Four in all, two boys and two girls. Rachel, who was named after her mother, Bethany, Theo, and Tyron. They all stood next to him, oldest to youngest, their beautiful faces were glowing with smiles at the sight of their mother. They rushed to her and embraced her around the waist shouting in unison, “You’re back mother!”
“Did you enjoy the ball?” Tyron asked, his blue eyes gleaming.
“Were all the ladies as beautiful as you said?” Rachel said at the same time. She seemed to have trouble keeping her hair out of her eyes as usual, constantly brushing it aside.
“How pretty you look, mother!” Bethany laughed.
Theo merely laughed and tugged at the hem of his mother’s dress, jumping up and down excitedly.
Wrath watched them all embrace each other, none of them paying him the slightest attention. He did not mind, though. They were happy, he could see it in their faces and their eyes. He laughed along with them, heartily.
Rachel looked back up at Wrath, smiling. “I’m glad to see that they are safe, darling. Did you have any troubles watching them?”
Wrath shook his head, no.
She clapped once, hands over her head, “Good! How about we get you all ready for dinner? Though not a drip of the healthy stuff tonight! How does a full course of desserts sound?”
All the children cheered at this news, jumping up and down with the folds of their mother’s dress in their small hands. Their faces were pure excitement, smiles dominating their features.
Rachel turned and led the children out of the bedroom toward the dining room in the palace, leaving Wrath alone, smiling.
He was left alone, chuckling to himself, happy to see the children laughing. They did not often, not with him and Rachel being so busy all the time. It was a hard life, but it had established a living. A good one at that, too.
The laughter of the children echoed from the hall like birds in a tree. So young. Being their father, he decided that he should share the course of deserts that the children were looking forward to so eagerly. After all, this was such a rare evening where both mother and father were home.
However, he never left his place. He felt his body tense, he stood straighter and focused his attention on a person standing in front of him. Randyl, was his name, and a dear friend.
Gold hair fell in thick curls over a broad forehead and blue eyes blinked furiously, something that he did when irritated. A thick beard made his face seem more fierce than comely, even though the spirit behind the eyes was nothing short of compassionate. Now, however, compassion was not something that he was feeling. His broad shoulders were lifting and his thick arms were flailing around in front of Wrath, making it known that he was not happy.
“We can’t keep doing this, Wrath! The wall is taking far too long to complete and the council is getting restless. They need this finished. The population of the city is getting too large for the city to sustain! They need some place to move!” He complained, straining to keep his voice level and composed, “ We are suppose to finish in six months. At the rate that we are going, we won’t finish for another three years!”
“It will hold, and we will finish on time.” Wrath said, “ Have I failed this job yet? I may be hardheaded, but that does not mean that I won’t finish what I need to do. Trust me.”
“I already do trust you.” Randyl said, though without calming, “But tell me this: Where are you going to get the rest of the funds? You said that investing in a stronger stone would help, but our funds are running dry. What do you plan to do about the growing population?”
“Maybe the city would like to donate. If they are so desperate to get out of each other’s squares, then maybe they would like to help. The population will even out like it always does. Babies are born, the elderly die. Maybe we can expand on the volunteer military that we have. That will exterminate a few more mouths.”
“Everyone pays enough already. We just need to finish! Not to mention the soldiers are tired of fighting the monsters in the forest. We lose plenty of men already, we don’t need our volunteers to die as well. You sound cold!”
“They will hold.” Wrath sighed. “Please, let me have my evening. We shall get it figured out. What can be the harm of a few young, overly eager fellows getting snuffed? Maybe it will make people respect what we do more. As I said, we shall get this figured out.”
“For our sakes, I hope that you do. There is nothing I despise more than a man who can not handle his own work.” Randyl’s hands curled, almost as if he was going to say something further, but instead he turned and left, taking the tension in the room with him.
Wrath relaxed when the man left. The last thing that he wanted to deal with was another issue with that damn wall. If there was something that he resented about his father, it was the position of authority that he had left behind. There was always something needing to be done yesterday. It was enough to make him turn gray at thirty.
But right now, he wanted sleep. He was sure that he had been about to do something before Randyl had interrupted. Wrath shook his head, and pressed a palm to his forehead gingerly. He was so tired. So, very tired. He wished that he could sleep forever, never to waken. That was impossible, however. Something told him that it was so, though he wasn’t sure what it was. For now, he would have to make do with the temporary sleep that came so much easier these days. After all, it was an escape.
(This is a class project that I am doing. The purpose of the assignment is to show that the students in the class know how to communicate via modern technology. We had a choice between making a Youtube Video or a Blog Post. I chose the latter. This post focuses on the concept of external communication which is shown in a scene of my friend and I talking about our different levels of interest in a girl. While there are other concepts here such as internal or non-verbal communication, it’s the external concept that I was wanting to focus on because it is, by far, the one that is implemented the most. Here we go.)
“Dude! You see her?” Joe pointed her out to me, a girl walking down one of the paths leading between campus buildings. I nodded, eyeing her dark hair and thin frame. Definitely beautiful, but not someone I was really interested in. Girls were not something that I wanted to deal with right now.
Joe glanced at me with a thoughtful eye, a slight smirk on his fair face, “You wanna talk to her?”
“No, not really.” I shook my head, sighing sharply, feeling slightly apprehensive. I had always hated being pushed to do something, always wanting to do it in my own time. Joe never seemed to have understood that, even after knowing me for about 3 years.
“Dude, come on, really?” He put a firm hand on my shoulder and faced me, “She’s gorgeous! Look, she’s getting away!” He flipped a palm in her direction.
I watched as she disappeared into a building, dark hair rippling in the air like ribbons caught in a breeze.
“It doesn’t matter Joe, it wouldn’t have worked out anyway.”
“Who said anything about anything working out? I was just saying that you should get to know her!” He paused, “Do you think I should talk to her if we see her again?”
“Sure, I don’t care.” I shrugged and smiled lightly, “You can have any girl you want right now. I’m not really looking.”
“Is this about that last girl, dude?” He still faced me and looked me deeply in the eye, trying to see if he can catch me in a lie.
I told the truth, “No, Joe. It’s not her. Don’t worry about it. That girl just didn’t look my type.”
“Whatever, man. Your loss.” He finally turns away and looks back to the door where the girl walked through.
I sit next to him awkwardly, finally asking, “So, you wanna get some lunch?”
“Yeah, man, thought you wouldn’t ask.” He smiles and claps me on the back with a warm hand, “We’ll find you someone.”
“Sure, dude. We’ll see.” I punch him in the arm, and we walk.
(While a short exchange, I think that it conveys a lot of meaning about us. It’s us exchanging messages between each other, and we get to share some of what we are thinking. I wasn’t really keen on approaching the girl, and I let him know it. At the same time, he lets me know that he is really attracted to the girl and wants me to share that sentiment. Most of these messages are shared verbally.)
Shattered is the title of my book. It’s a kind of post-apocalyptic Fantasy novel that will be split into four parts. I will not be revealing any of the plot here, but I am going to post the first chapter. It’s the second draft, and while I’m still not completely happy with it and the plot is still under development, I know enough to where I have started writing with some confidence. You will meet Wrath, one of my main characters and while he may not yet be all there mentally, I think he will be a character that some people will be able to sympathize with. I hope that this first chapter draws the reader in and makes them ask questions. That’s the main point of the first chapter, right?
Anyway, I hope you all enjoy it. If you do, let me know, if not, let me know. I’m just trying to get a feel for this. Here goes:
“Do me a favor and die would you?” Wrath looked down at his battered hands, his coarse voice rasping in disgust. “Nothing ever seems to come with you. You go on and on and on, never quite letting go.” Anger crept into his voice and spittle flew from his cracked lips. Black hair fell over blue eyes that brimmed with tears in frustration. Shivers took a hold of his body and he fell down to one knee, catching himself with his left hand.
“Die!” His mouth turned into a snarl as he scratched the cobblestones with his nails as if to make them bleed.
“Darling…why do you weep?” A soft voice asked. “Isn’t it enough that you live a hard life without wishing death upon yourself?”
Wrath’s eyes found the voice’s own and he gazed into them. Warm and vibrant they were; green pastures within a round face, pale as the moon and surrounded by gold fibers. Red lips puckered into a smile, and a hint of teeth showed between the gap.
“Rachel. You are not suppose to be here.” The shakes had ceased. “You are suppose to be with the children!”
Rachel reached down to Wrath and lifted him to his feet, saying, “No, you are suppose to be with them remember? I am with others right now and later we are going to a ball!” She smiled wider, cocking her head ever so slightly. “Or did you forget again?” And she embraced him.
She was cold, and her fingers held none of the warmth that her eyes did. That, however, was normal. She had always been cold to the touch. Cold, but beautiful. And Wrath suddenly did remember.
“Silly of me, Love. I had completely forgotten. I shall go to them right away and see that they are safe!”
Rachel smiled at him and said, “Thank you. I have to run now, I will see you later in the eve.”
And she walked away, her hips swaying in the milky white dress that she wore upon her slender form; leaving Wrath to himself.
The snarl returned, and the children forgotten immediately.
Wrath turned his eyes to the cobbled streets and ruined buildings. The moon waxed in the sky, casting deep shadows over the metropolis like spilled ink. He found himself standing alone in one of the old courtyards in the city, heaps of stones surrounded him. Windows lay barren and old doorways were barricaded with the dead bodies of ancient civilians. However, it wasn’t the dead that bothered Wrath here. It was the eyes that he could not see, staring down at him, accusing and hurtful.
He shoved a hand into one of his eyes and rubbed hard, causing it to tear up. “I can’t do this. I can not.”
Yet somehow, he did. Wrath shifted the sword that he held over one shoulder and carried on. Through more deserted streets and courtyards he passed. He never felt alone, though, as the eyes that watched him never left.
Did he just speak with someone? Was it Rachel? He could not remember.
No matter, he had to keep his eyes open for their eyes. The evil ones.
His snarl passed like it had never been, and he drew his sword. There was the feeling of real eyes upon him, he was sure. Animal instinct bounded to the forefront of his mind, eradicating any thoughts of Rachel or…whatever it was she had said, if she had said anything at all.
He focused on what was in front of him, peering into shadows that were created by the buildings surrounding him. He knew that there would be no warning if he were attacked. It had happened before, many times, but he was not going to ignore his instincts because of an ego that had built up over time.
“Come here you slimy bastards!” Wrath shouted into the night’s air. Oh how badly he wanted them to come to him so that he could slide his sword into their pale skin. He wanted to see the blood run thick and watch their peering peepers go dim!
Come they did. Bounding toward him from their hiding places in fact. The shouting had alerted them and now they were on the run, to kill whatever had made the disruption. Wrath’s pulse escalated to a frenzy and he found it hard to breath or to see, yet his mind had never been clearer. It was this feeling that he lived for now. Nothing could destroy the rush that he felt, it was in him, and it ran through his veins.
The first of the creatures jumped over a mount of stones that sat in an alley to Wrath’s right. The street was tight, much to Wrath’s pleasure, the killing would be easy this way.
Human in form and much emaciated; the creature’s pale skin shone like a beacon in the dark. The moon wrapped its naked body in light far brighter than it did Wrath. The eyes that Wrath so vehemently abhorred were sunken into a balding elongated skull. It’s teeth were the only clean thing about it, and they shone brightly in a perfect smile. He, and it was a male, was a skeleton wrapped in too little skin, ready for some blood.
Of course, Wrath thought, it would be the humanoid’s blood on the stones, not Wrath’s this night.
Wrath took a sideways stance and nodded to the man in front of him, his sword poised above his head. A breath seemed to sigh through the streets before the two rushed at each other, humanoid screaming and flailing, Wrath gliding through the arms of the beast and practically dancing with his sword.
And a dance it was, though of night and day, dark against light, one savage, the other a leaf in the breeze. Steel glinted in the moon’s radiance only darkened by the blood of its victim. Other shadowed humanoids watched from alleyways and rooftops, waiting to see what would become of their potential victim. They watched as the steel glittered and the nails of the man Wrath was fighting became covered in blood. Soon, too soon for Wrath’s taste, the dance was over. Wrath stood over his assaulter, staring in victory as rivers of blood ran between the cobblestones in the street.
Then he turned to face his next opponent, his breathing turned heavy and once again, the blood lust overcame him. Two, this time, rushed at him, crying out in harsh voices. Once again the night became a stage as the man and once-men danced their symphonic promenade.
The night rained red and buildings were coated once again in a curtain of wolf’s bounty. The dead in the street watched the fight, envy building inside of them, as the three clashed at each other without any thought of what they desired most.
Wrath had lost himself in the old ways of his love to fight. Power, strength, and savage cunning were what kept him alive and they had served him far better than virtue, patience, and loyalty. His old sword’s-master had taught him wrongly he long realized. For when on the battlefield, nothing else mattered but the strongest. Weak against strong, and it never paid to be weak.
At last, the fight was over, and any other once-men that had been lurking during the fight had disappeared. They would try again, Wrath knew. They always did.
A sudden clapping snapped Wrath out of his rage making him swing his sword toward the sound. Instead, a familiar face greeted him.
“That was wonderful, Aron! Your father would be proud of you! How about you go at it again, only this time, more flair! It is dreadfully dull if you dispose of all your opponents in the same manner.” Wrath’s sword’s-master was standing over one of the once-men’s body. It had been he who had made the clapping, and a wide smile was plastered on his face in open admiration.
“Da’Aron!” Wrath did not return the smile. “It was perfect! Flawless! You can’t mean that I wasn’t good enough again, and you got my name wrong. I go by Wrath, remember?”
Da’Aron flapped his hand in Wrath’s direction in a dismissive way, sending a flood of rage through Wrath. “Close, but not perfect. Try again! When I return from the others, I expect perfection. Just killing your enemy is not enough, anyone can kill someone, but it takes a real master to kill someone beautifully!” He smiled even wider at Wrath through a dark beard, “When I return.” And faded into the night.
Wrath knew what happened now, however. Da’Aron would not return, and Wrath would not live up to the man’s expectations. He was dead, Wrath remembered now, and that made him angry. How could someone who was dead, who had not been good enough, admonish someone who was alive for the skills that had kept Wrath alive for so long. His old sword’s-master had been too far into the beauty of the way a sword was swung than the actual killing.
Oh how Wrath wished that he was dead now. A normal death would be acceptable to him. Living for an eternity did things to a man and when a man lived in a hell like this, it was hard to want to continue living. However, a normal death was not possible any more than grass growing within fire here. The body could die, but the spirit continued on living, watching in envy of those who were still alive. Wrath did not want that kind of fate. He wanted to lie down and let his spirit pass on to those whom he loved a millennium ago.
Wrath rubbed his eye by pressing his left palm into it, trying to clear the tears that were threatening to fall. All of them, passed on, long before the world had turned into what it was now. He wished that the men that attacked him now would go back to their old jobs as merchants, peddlers, and smiths. The courtyards and streets had been filled with laughter and singing, the sun shining down on people’s faces as they did business and bantered with each other. People passed into the clouds with loved ones staring into a pale face, waiting their turn further along to join the one that had preceded them. Things were normal and Wrath missed the normal. If the war that the gods had waged hadn’t happened, he would be about four hundred years gone with his wife and four children. But no, they had to be slaughtered and he had to be the one that went on living.
Wrath began to walk, trying to force his mind from the sadness that was building in him. He was here, and he had to deal with it the only way that he knew. Violence had brought him this far, and it would keep him alive. Soon enough the city would run out of these once-men, and when it did, maybe he would be able to die normally. Whoever said that immortality was a good thing, Wrath wanted nothing more than to punch them in the jaw and shove their idea down their throat.
The moon was starting to set and Wrath could now see the first signs of dawn coming over the horizon.
“Time to move on home. I wonder if any of the kids are there.” He turned and walked toward one of the many palaces that littered the lower levels of the city that he called…home.
Copyright: Ben Smith Aug. 13, 2012
The writer starts as a dreamer. Stuck within his own head, his own imagination, acting out the greatest feats that his dreams dare show him. And dare they do. Each Dreamer is sitting within his class-room, the teacher writing on the board while the dreamer is somewhere of his own making, doing things that he wished that he was doing. Castles, wars, espionage, and mystical lands create endless stories and fantasies within his head. One day, he will be in love with a fiery woman with a body that would melt a man’s heart, the next, he will be living on the streets as the local drunk. Every action, every day, is an adventure to this dreamer.
But, as with every hero, there is always the battle. The teacher, the parents, all look down upon his heinous act, frowning in disapproval, their mouths moving in disgust as they scold his longing.
“Nothing will come of this!” They say, “It will only ruin you! Learn your numbers, learn your charts and figures, learn about those important things!”
The dreamer is ashamed, he casts his eyes down and twiddles his thumbs behind his back, thinking about this atrocious act that he has done. Guilt burdens him, and soon, he quits his imagination as best as he can, now determined to do what he has been told. To learn to parrot what They say, always waiting for that pat on the head and nod of approval.
“Good!” They say, “This is what you should have been doing! Isn’t it magnificent?”
“Yes.” The Dreamer mumbles, doing and acting as he is told.
Years pass, he grows from a young boy, soaking in the dull, the morose, and the tainted, to a young man. He repeats what he is told, becoming the perfect example of what they wish him to be.
“Now you will be set!” They say, “Doesn’t it feel fantastic?”
“Yes.” The Dreamer says.
But it is not so wonderful. Over the years the Dreamer has kept a secret. One, that would surely ruin him, just like they said, but one that called to him, wooed him. It is his secret affair, his little skeleton kept within his closet. The world that he use to explore so openly, the one that he would tell others about in a sing-song voice, had been kept within his heart. It was that what helped him get through the Success that They told him to pay attention to. He had married what they had wished him to, an arrangement. But his true love waited in that lost tower, kept in some long distant and forgotten valley. But, despite what they wished he would visit her everyday, climb that tower and make love to her.
“I love you more.” He would whisper into her ear.
“I love you too.” She would whisper back, batting her lustrous lashes.
Everyday, he made love to Success, as he was told, but his heart was not in it. She destroyed him, telling him horrible secrets, feeding him a slow poison while she took him in.
Then, one day, he was found out.
They found him in his tower, found him making sweet, sweet, love to Passion.
“What are you doing?” They demanded, looking at him with incredulous eyes, “You have betrayed the love of Success, how could you do something so terrible? We warned you that she would destroy you!”
Guilt fights with anger inside, waging a terrible battle that leaves a torn heart within his chest.
“But I do not love Success, you have only shown me what you wish me to see.” He mutters, anger the victor, “I love Passion, she does not poison my mind, she is a true lover.”
In a flash They have out their weapons, “Ridicule”, “Judgement”, and “Hatred”. Their eyes flash and a fire burns within their chests, hot air comes from Their mouths and a voice shatters the heavens in an attempt the frighten the Dreamer.
“NO LOVE!” They shout.
“Pen”, “Paper”, the Dreamer takes them out, weapons of his own, and with Passion by his side, he writes a symphony that breaks through the barriers of their voices. “Ridicule”, “Judgement”, and “Hatred” are consumed in inferno and They are brought to their knees in a clap of thunder. Success weeps tears of blood, fighting for control on her lost love, her adulterer.
“I love Passion.” He says and leaves Success.
The Dreamer looks to his lover at his side and gives her a tender kiss. She grabs a hold of his hand and closes his fingers around the Pen.
“You used it to fight your enemies, now, use it to make friends, to inspire hearts, and together, you and I will create a whole new world. Dream, be free.” She kisses him, and the words pour from his mouth, scrawling themselves on the paper, showing him the world that he had seen in that classroom, long, long ago.