They called her a friend, an ally, but she just watched as they burned. The flames surrounded them; screams were caught short as the heat blistered and tore through them with an appetite worthy of a thousand days spent in hell. They were helpless but she looked right through them, past them, almost as though she only wished to catch a glimpse of her reflection in the slowly bronzing moonlight.
It was supposed to have been God that taught me to love my neighbour, but as the light fell dark upon Damascus all I saw before me were the flames of hell, burning bright beneath his holy banner, blocking out the sun that shone with the curve of a Saracen blade. I was wrong; God wasn’t in the Holy Land.
As I walked through the valley of the shadow of death I glimpsed before me a shroud of impenetrable mist that fell upon me quite suddenly. My vision was obscured so quickly that it was almost as though my ears were aflame, blow out on a sudden by an unbreakable breeze. The veil altered my perception in such a way that I swear I could see right through the folds of time into an unparraled tomorrow; a performance of my own violent demise.
Impending doom, the sensation that comes upon you before something terrible happens; the calm before the storm. Your nerves shatter, you lose control and fall victim to fear. You freeze, stare ahead, breathless, silent.
All of a sudden my delicate ears were split in two by a sound, one not unlike the demonic shattering of thunder. Close by me, near me, and all around me there came the sound of rushing, falling water. For the life of me I couldn’t see where it was coming from, but the way it shook the ground beneath me was akin to the devastating pulsation of a seizure, for that I knew the sound was real. To describe the rumbling would be to try and explain the very nature of life and death; damn near absurd. It was unlike anything I had ever imagined let alone heard for myself. Perhaps some titan, some colossus whose might was herculean, had taken the entire seven seas inside a simple wooden bowl, and was slowly, deliberately, pouring it out, sending the torrent cascading into an abyss of ten million fathoms, its darkness almost shining with the colour of death.
It was bewildering; the feeling of bitter isolation had become me, taking my sleep and breaking my previously resilient composure leaving me a blithering wreck with no room for rational thought. I was constantly losing control of the words I would scream out in a solitary induced panic as they burnt to naught on the tip of my tongue.
He was empty of all that could be considered sacred; twisted and malicious, devoid of all love but rich in apathy. Across his face ran a gouged out jagged smile, curved at both ends and keen like a sabre, eternally waiting to bite down on a victim and sever its soul in two, never fading, growing stronger with every drop of innocent blood.
I had a chance of a regular life now that the troubles I had suffered were coming to a long overdue end, but I couldn’t face the one thing I had been longing for for as long as I then remembered. As I stared into the eye of the reality I had been crying out for I felt nothing, it had become alien to me and I wasn’t ready for more of the unknown. I had morphed into another child of darkness, fallen prey to whatever had taken hold of those I had been fighting. Now it was only misery that felt like home to me.
She moved in romantic sepia, the tragic colour of passé amore, a flickering ghost whose image was akin to the wonder of old Hollywood and whose starling beauty would’ve made the face of many a renaissance muse turn away in a blushing shame.
Her past was bestial, barbaric. Still she was harassed by the ghostly projection of memory, desperately clinging on to her subconscious as it acted out a macabre display of her past torment. At night she cowered beneath age afflicted sheets, unable to sleep as she waited for her dear departed tormenter to be resurrected from his grave beneath the yew. Crawling forth on fractured arm and rotten leg only to remind her of the evil that men do; a brand upon the face of lost perfection. To her he had been the Devil, and she his battered whore.
His fur coat was bound tight with sinew and coated from snow from the night’s heavy fall. His breath came thick, fast, like mist in the cold night air. His eyes were wide and panicked. He was searching for something, searching for the voice in the dark.
Outside it was quiet and still, but in my mind the whole world was singing about her. I had my eyes upon an angel, one who barely knew she held such beauty. I was captivated, my feet caught in a spectral concrete block, unable to speak or move as her eyes met mine. All of a sudden, as if by magic, imaginary or otherwise, I felt, if only for a moment, as if I was slowly rising from the ground. With those eyes, like none I had seen before, she held me there. I was helpless, enchanted but not afraid. I wanted to reach out and touch her, as her eyes, like two sparkling jewels from beneath the waves, silently glistened in the radiant light of the moon.
The sands of time fall slowly in want, but in possession they cascade in a torrent that pulls its victims deep into the pains of age. Love brings us close to death, but to live a life without it is to live a life that’s not.
Twilight. Silhouettes softly drifting, spectral figures dancing as the wind moves the trees. Silence. Echoes of the day lost in but one moment, souls patiently waiting for the coming of the night. Soft. Feet soundlessly gliding through blades of emerald grass, address floating like smoke in the moonlight. Still. An absent heart beating beneath unheaving bosom, day’s dying revealing the beauty of this angel; Queen of the night.
The chorus ran like fire across the land, its notes humming delicately as they beat the drums of open ears. The song was a welcome one desperately needed in a lost land without hope. It told of victory, a victory that would prevail despite the lapse in moral, despite the iron grip that terror held in all hearts. Its melody stirred all who heard it and its words burnt on her tongue as Aralin sung them from deep within her refuge, her escape from tyranny.
The daggers of draught starved and cut down all life. Nothingness was set to reign as leader of an empty kingdom, a soulless purgatory on a red earth, saturated with the blood of the fallen; a crimson river flowing atop the soil.
A blanket of thick snow fell slowly, an unfamiliar addition to the recently amber ground littered with the corpses of summer’s green children. The years yielding summoning with it the expectation of death through chastity. Many would succumb to the frozen heart attack, so deadly and yet so quiet that wouldn’t even hear its approach. Spring would come, the dance life would continue, but until then, in this darkest of all production, cold would pay the part of the reaper.
From deep within my throat a scream was attempting a secondary assault on the silence. Again I tried to force it down, swallowing hard as though it were a foul tasting gruel from the kitchen of a workhouse refectory. Upon my defeat the room was poisoned by failure as my sirenical outcry tore itself from me, quickly joined by sibling after sibling after sibling as the room rattled with an unrelenting requiem performed with demonic intent by fear’s philharmonic orchestra.