You should have heard his cries of joy as I slowly let it all out. It had to be slow; can’t you see? If I end it all at once the evil will stay with him, moving on with to the afterlife with him. So I had to keep the poor thing alive, and slowly, but surely, cut the evil out. The whole time he was crying out to me with such fervor – at one point the ecstasy was so great he passed out. I was glad for him.
When he awoke once more, I told him that the process was almost complete – now I had to remove the face they had put on him.
“No,” he cried, “Please…just kill me!” He pleaded like this for another few seconds – and I emphasize with him, I wanted to help him, but I had to hold back till the end. I took my knife too that joyous smile of his, and carved around the outline of his features, slowly and deeply. He howled with pleasure, anticipating the end of the pain. And then, with one pluck, it came off. He let out one final shriek, then fell silent. My work was done – for him, that is. Now I must carry his pain. For that is my lot.
Another soul saved from them.
I awake the next morning to a scene of utter turmoil. As I look out my window to the town below, many people are running about, whispering in ears, as it were, causing all sorts of ruckus. I can’t see why it’s such a big deal – and yes, I know what I’m talking about. I dress, and go downstairs. Both my parents are in hysterics – apparently, no one knows that I left with Jacen last night. I decide to keep quiet about it.
The trouble escalates to a town meeting at the center of the main street. The crowd is thick and I have trouble finding my way through. Why do people have to be so stupid about things? Obviously, crowding up against the stage where the man is trying to speak to you isn’t smart, just like…sit back and enjoy the show – it’s not like a first-come-first-serve deal, the sound travels to every ear! Uhg.
So I’m in the back, and I’m trying to fight through the crowds to the front. My parents hold back, and call for me, but I ignore them. This is too important for that. Now this was supposed to go the way I planned it, with me letting the elders know at around noon. But no, Jacen’s parents have to go and get all worried and start this crud.
The Elected Elder is standing at the front of the stage, waving his stupid knobby cane at the crowd, shouting for them to be quiet. I just wait for it all to simmer down, as per the usual in these types of things. By now I’m about ten yards from the stage – the damn crowd is too thick here to wade through. So I just listen as he starts.
He basically outlines to us all that the boy Jacen has gone missing blah blah blah and tells us all to meet here in two hours for a search of the surrounding area. A mob in disguise as a search party. I think this is pretty stupid because it leaves the town unguarded. But if I were to say something like that I’d probably be whipped for insensitivity. It’s called logic! I could loot every house on this street when they pull this garbage. So anyways, I push my way back out and can’t find my parents. I return home, and they are waiting for me, exasperated. They say nothing about my running off, instead preparing their torches and pitchforks. Why you need a torch on a sunny day? Beats me. I ask them and they say that they are joining the Forest search party.
As I need to keep a check on this whole thing, and partly because I feel guilty, I join in too, preparing for the meeting two hours from now.
I can see them now, scurrying like little ants. Watching from afar, this is the first time that I’ve seen everyone in that horrible place happy. Why are they so overjoyed? My guess is because I finally helped one of them free. It looks as if they are getting a celebration ready. Perhaps they should, it’s something worth celebrating.
I withdraw back into the forest. I should probably move on, now, it is hopeless for me to try to save this whole town – better to go back to the countryside, where I can help wayward sufferers wandering aimlessly from place to place, looking for someone like me. It’s best to be a miracle. One more night and then I’ll go.
You see it all shaking crazily, like a thousand tiny twigs attempting to hold up the world – it’s all about to snap. What will happen, do you think?
But you already know the answer to that question.
We all gather at the town square at the appointed time, and after about thirty minutes the town is equally divided into groups. The torches are lit, and our group takes off up the path to the forest. The others head off in different directions about the countryside. I wish I could tell them that that is probably a stupid thing to do, but that’d implicate me – and I don’t want any of that.
You know what, this is probably more than all the people combined who have taken this dirt path before. I think about my brother as we walk up this path, how disappointed he’d be. I only wish he were here to help, and maybe stave off this stampede of stinking humanity.
We don’t really enter the forest in any real order, we all just sort of reach a point in the road, and then turn to the side and start marching that way. I tell my parents that we should probably spread out but they just tell me to be quiet, and so I do, wandering off on a different path, tracing around the outskirts of the party and eventually deeper into the woods away from them on a sort of diagonal path.
I start to call out his name, worried, as I walk on. I know I should probably be scared out of my mind, but it is day-time, and even though it is dim in here, it isn’t as bad because I know the sun is really truly out.
I walk for a few more minutes, calling his name less and less, until I come to a place where a tree has fallen against another, creating a weird triangle shaped formation. And there, standing upright in between the trees…is Jacen! Only…hold on.
His face looks contorted into some sort of weird grimace, and his eyes are a different color, the sockets pulled to the sides to such an extreme as to look stretched. Same with the lips, they are nearly white with the pressure of being pulled back so far. The cheeks are completely flat, and his ears are a bit farther back then usual. His whole face seems a tad…off center – and then I look at his body. Except…it’s built like a man’s, not a boys. His sack-like garb is covered with dried blood. It’s only then I realize that…the horror…it is a man…wearing the boy I just made out with last night…wearing…his…
I see his woman, standing there, in front of me. The expression on her face was priceless: She was so overwhelmed, she couldn’t find it in herself to thank me. She fainted. I smile from behind my mask of pain and walk over to her, comforting her in her sleep. It is then I realize that the process is complete: What they have done to this poor boy is now gone, dust as it were. So I remove the effigy of his pain, and lay it on the ground beside her, something for her to remember him by – and as a reminder to not let them get to her. She will know what I am saying by this gesture, so I do not stay to wait for her to wake up.
I don’t like crowds, and while I do realize now that they are looking for me to thank me, I’d rather not be known. A good deed doesn’t count if all the people know about it – and so I make my way towards the other end of the forest, taking one of the paved roads nearby just outside it and following that towards the sun.
I believe I’ll camp on the road, tonight – they won’t find me there.