Cold metal. It stings your skin. You see in dazzled, iridescent blurs, scattered like forgotten pictures strewn at a wall in frustration. They injected you, didn’t they? Another supplement, perhaps? You feel the sluggishness of your thought – it is a burden you no longer want to carry.
You hear a voice – but it seems distant, far away. “They call him Chronos? Why?” the voice asks. You want to answer him, to tell him that they call you Chronos because you are the creator – you made everything tick, that you are the only one – but you can’t. You try to see the voice, to feel it’s silky texture – but alas, you are enclosed in your little ball. Forgotten, as not.
“He’s well known for his exploits,” another voice replies candidly. “Although now, he’s starting to go.” You feel your wrists being strapped down – it feels like leather – like brown leather. It’s tight, and your fingers start to feel prickly and tangy.
Those dirty bastards, you think. They are screwing you over. You are right – why are they doing this? Lost in a delirium of disconnected and nonlinear memory sequences, you begin to stop caring. The injection is doing its job. You feel a pinprick – another needle, perhaps?
“You know,” the other voice says. It’s more distant now – you can barely make it out – darkness clouds…clouds what? Your senses are scrambled. Are you hearing him, or seeing him? No matter, he continues nonetheless – as if you have no control over him whatsoever. “They say that when the mind starts to fail, it turns inwards – into itself…”
The shroud closes around you violently, tugging you with torrents of incredible force away from logic, away from reason. Where are you?
He’s going to have one hell of a ride, then. Tugging. And then you let go. Swallowed.
Part 1: [Insert name here]
It’s been almost a week since he left, and already I miss his weirdness. My brother, I mean. You see, a week ago the man came from the Academia in the south, looking for one person from each village to go there for four years.
Four years! I can’t even imagine it. Anyway, there was no real test or anything, they just came in, asked for him, and he, overjoyed, ran for the hills with them. Just like that! I wonder if I’ll ever see him again…
Now, before you judge me, let me explain. He was always the weird one. While everyone else played games like kickball and what have you, he would hide off in the woods, doing what ever he does in there.
No one ever asked questions about it, we just ignored him – I mostly denied his existence. Bad for the image. He always treated me nice, though. So the point of this is, after he left, I got curious. Now, me and this boy, Jacen, are walking up the dirt path that leads to the woods. We’re about two minutes away, and let me tell you: I didn’t bring him back here because I like him…I brung him back here because I needed bait to throw to the bears just in case. He is cute, though. Maybe my reasons aren’t so pure, but again, we’re back here because me and him both want to know what he did up here. Well, maybe just me. Now that my brother’s gone, I don’t think it’ll matter much.
We reach the edge of the forest, and the trees seem to stick out at me, menacing. I’m only fifteen, after all – I just got my boobs a winter ago! It would suck to die here, now, so young. But I squeeze Jacen’s hand tight, and trudge on anyways. I guess I’m persistent like that. My brother is the same way. I guess that’s what kept him coming back here – he had to have been brave to do it every single day.
It’s noticably chillier in here, I can feel Goosebumps perk up on my skin. Jacen begins to walk closer to me, almost rubbing against my side. The trail is wide, though – I guess he’s doing it because he’s afraid. Well, what do you expect? All boys are afraid of the dark. But so am I, so I’m fine with it. The path winds back and forth along the woods, thinning and widening, then thinning again, the branches seeming to close in more and more on us from on high, gigantic knobbed arms reaching down to pluck us from the land.
I’m starting to think of turning back when we come to a clearing. I walk out, leaving Jacen at the edge of the trail, and notice that the sun is directly over head, creating a perfect circle of light, leaving no shadows in this opening. I don’t know what in me is saying this, but I just know that this is the right place. Where else would he go?
“Come on,” I say playfully, turning and reaching out my hands to Jacen.
He steps out, clearly uncertain. “Are you sure we should be here?” He asks in a soft, prudent tone.
Up till now, this had all seemed too natural. The uneasiness had worn off – but now it came back in full, pounding on the doors of my careful sanity, driving me to see lurking eyes in the shadows, waiting to spring. He’s right, I realize. Something is wrong about this place, and now I want to leave. I tell him this, and he comes and holds my hand again. Stupid boys.
I turn in a complete circle, looking for the trail that takes us out. I can’t find it. I don’t tell him this – he looks about to break as it is – instead I just pick a direction and head off with him in tow.
“This isn’t the way we came in,” he comments uselessly.
I tell him it’s all right, I know my way, and that we’ll be out of these woods soon, but he doesn’t quite believe me. I don’t blame him. I’m a bad actor. So anyways, we keep on walking – maybe for another ten minutes, and instead of it getting darker and scarier, like in the fables where people get lost and get eaten, it gets lighter and lighter until we reach the edge of the woods. There, leading off into the pretty blue-and-white horizon, is a field of bright white lillies.
I step out from cover, and I can feel a slight breeze from my right, coming from the Cantos mountains nearby. I look for my town in the distance, but I can’t see any signs of civilization. Just endless white seemingly leading off into a piercing, yellow sun. I realize now that it’s beginning to set, because the clouds around it are starting to turn different colors, creating a mosaic of fantastical, swirling funnels of oranges and pinks. It’s quite beautiful, until my blonde, knotty hair gets in the way. Frustratingly, I pull it back. I want to cut it but Mother won’t let me. I turn, my little moment over, and motion for that shy boy to come out from cover. God, he’s so scared! Of Lillies! Uhg. Anyways. He comes out, timidly, but then I grab his hand and launch off into the field, dragging him along clumsily, screaming all the while. It feels exciting and I feel free from all those problems back at the village – in fact, I don’t even care to find it right now.
Eventually, I get tired and let go of Jacen’s hand. I leap forward and let the lillies break my fall, curling up into a ball as I roll and lose speed. I uncurl and look up to see Jacen standing over me. He holds out his hand. I giggle and pull him down, right on top of me. And then, before he can pull away, I plant a kiss right smack on the lips. I can see his eyes widen with surprise, but before he can do anything I’ve already done it. Ha! My first kiss, taken by ambush! I’m so good. He pulls back and sits up, rubbing his chin awkwardly.
It looks like he’s about to say something – he even tilts his head and opens his mouth – but then he slacks, and keeps on rubbing his chin. I sit up and smile at him, a big, nice teethy one. He smiles weakly back, and then looks away.
“What’s the matter?” I ask, but he just nods and gives one of those long, drawn out, overkill “Oh…nothings” that your friends usually give you to get you to stop asking questions because you’re annoying them. I give a frustrated humph, fold my arms, and say, “Well, if you didn’t like it, then you’ll never get another.” And then I bolt. I run on down the field like a beautiful horse, galloping in the wind towards the setting sun, as if the very existence of my soul grants me the power to do so. I don’t even doubt a second that he’s following me: I’m a master at controlling boys. They think they’re so tough and so big but really, in the end, they’re just scared little babies who want nothing more than to suck on their mommy’s tit. You know. You saw how he acted! Why did I kiss him, then, you ask? Well, he’s still cute. I guess I like them that way.
Anyways, after a minute or two, I look back to see if he is still following. Indeed he is, with his arms out stretched, like a bird. A bird trying to capture a horse? No way. I run harder and when I look back he’s now huffing and puffing, and I start to feel bad. So I slow down, and let him overtake me, wrapping his arms about me and tackling me to the ground. It’s a fun game, and I wrestle with him till we’re both huffing and puffing in each other’s arms. It’s very romantic. I guess you could say the whole reason I came out here wasn’t so much my brother’s absence as the idea of going somewhere “forbidden” and doing something that fell into the same category. We kiss again, this time it’s a sweaty slopper of a kiss, and at one point his tongue enters my mouth. I cradle it gently, sucking on it, then swirling around it with mine. It comes naturally, and we go on like this for an interminable period of time. It seems like eternity, and I revel in it as I would a sea of perfection – even though I don’t know what that’d look like.
I guess at one point, I fell asleep, because when I look up again the stars are out, glittering. I stand up and look down to see Jacen sleeping, cradling his arms as if I’m still in them. The full moon is out, which is good, because I can see everything. It looks like day, but also night, almost like it is right before sunrise, but not completely.
Well, now that I’ve satisfied my “carnal longings,” as Mother puts it, I need to find out where home is. I can see my breath, and am worried about how long I have till I freeze to death. Will I freeze to death? I hope not. I can get back to the woods, I see, and follow the impromptu path we took back to the clearing – but then what? Mother always said that “She may seem like a ditz, but she’ll have her moments.” She always says that about me, when I’m not around! As if I need explaining! Anyways, back to the important task. I kick Jacen in the rib, and he stirs, moaning heavily.
I tell him to get up, and that it’s nighttime now. This wakes him up, and instantly he is next to me, looking pale as a ghost. I clasp his hand in mine, and begin to trudge up the hill towards the woods. He resists, and tells me that he doesn’t want to go back in there, not at night, but I then tell him that if he doesn’t, he won’t be getting back to town – ever. This leaves him sort of limp, making it easy for me to lead him back into the little trail we made.
So we walk for a few minutes, and the light from the moon begins to penetrate the canopy less and less. I feel scared, as if I am surrounded by monsters, and they’re all watching me, waiting to spring – but I go onwards, because I know Jacen sure as hell won’t, and I want to get home tonight. He starts to murmur weakly to himself, and I let out a “hmph!” to let him know I don’t approve. He stops.
Eventually, we reach the edge of what I believe to be the clearing we started this little romp at. It looks eerie in the moonlight, and is literally drenched with fog – I can’t see to any other side. So I just close my eyes, breathe in deeply, and force myself to walk on out towards the other side. I can feel Jacen’s hand close tightly around mine – his palms are sweaty despite the cool weather. I’m determined not to open my eyes till I feel the soft scrunch of twigs beneath my feet again but I hear a distinct buzzing noise, but not like a bee. I open my eyes and see a cloaked figure wading through the fog a few feet in front of me – and then he is gone. I choke up, then straighten my back as every hair on my body raises in fear.
“Why did you stop?” Jacen asks me, fear lacing his voice like fine trim.
I can’t find words to speak. I’m afraid to step forward, afraid to go back. Afraid to close my eyes, afraid to keep them open. I want to tell him that someone…or something is in here with us, but…my tongue feels too big for my mouth. I begin to feel lightheaded, and my grip with Jacen weakens. He lets go. I slowly turn my head, trying to find him. But I can’t – the fog’s too thick. I hear a twig snap about five feet away from me – and I bolt – straight in the forward direction. I soon feel branches whipping at my face and the soft multiple crunching of pine needles underfoot. I think I hear Jacen screaming my name, but it’s so distant now that I cannot really tell.
I see her screaming. Screaming with joy.
She bounds down the dirt path, ecstatic, and I am pleased for her. Such as her is rare, so I let her pass. Next comes her suitor: Unlike her, he is still saddened, as before. I know why: They have got to him. I watched it go on all night – it was slow at first, but in the fields I saw them – they can’t hide from me. The scoundrels. He is laughing maniacally, driven mad by their evil.
“Wait up!” He shouts to the girl, “It was just a deer!”
I must end his pain. Can’t you see? He’s suffering. I reach out from the shadows and grab his shirttail as he passes, whirling him about and into me so that I can see his unhappy, infiltrated irises. They stare back at me in abject pleasure. He has been hoping for me, I can see, wishing for me to catch him – to make the pain go away.
And I will.
Tick. Merging. Tick.
I burst out of the underbrush and I can feel the pricklies bite at my legs, sending up a lot of burning pain. I stop in the middle of the dirt road, and bend over, catching my breath. I brush myself off and stare up at the full moon – except – it isn’t full anymore. It’s half. How the hell did that happen? I’ve no idea. It hits me: Jacen is still in the woods.
I turn back, peering into the darkness, searching for any sign of him. He’s definitely not near me – and I’m definitely not going in there. Now, if I was in there, I’d want him to come looking for me – and I’m sure he would – but I don’t want to go back in there at night. It’s dangerous! I’m sure he’ll understand if I just go home, and let him wait till morning to seek his way out. If he’s not back by noon, I’ll simply tell the elders about it. They won’t understand, but they’ll help.
So I head on down the road, my arms folded, rubbing absently at my biceps. It doesn’t help. For some reason, I feel I should run, but I don’t – I walk, and I don’t know why. It calms me down, my adrenaline departing. I guess, now that I’m “out of the woods,” literally and figuratively, nothing else bad will happen tonight. Wrong. It run my hands through my hair and find it filled with twigs and dirt and what not. After further searching, I find one caterpillar. God Fucking Damnit! I love saying that…but why!? Why did it have to be my hair! I’ll never hear the end of this.
Curse you, Jacen – you conned me into making out with you! Uhg…I can’t believe I…
I can’t stay mad. It’s pointless. But I’ve got to act the part, now don’t I? If I act like I feel, which is uncaring, then I’ll be made even more fun of. I spend the rest of the walk home picking at my head, finding new pockets of twigs and stuff in the many folds. God damned forest.
How is it that my brother never had these sorts of problems? You know what, I bet it’s because he was so good and perfect that he never once tripped up, and even if he did, I’m sure the trees would lend a supporting hand to keep his holy anus from touching the ground.
Suddenly, a wave of severity washes over me as I walk into the door of my house. I left with Jacen, but didn’t come home with him. I think the consequences of this night may be serious – but they may not be, as long as I don’t make a big deal of it till the proper time, which is tomorrow. I make my way up our cobbled wooden steps, across the hall and into the bedroom that I now have all to myself.
That bastard better come back.