Everything Is Darkness

The Elders look to each other in panic and then to Ruth to find her captivated, her eyes dance across the page of nothingness, a furrow on her brow and the Elders sign a sign and drag her from the book. What do you see?

Everything is darkness. Ruth signs, blinking. Words so dense, they’re like a flood in my head that blind everything else out.

What do they say?

I don’t know.

Draw them, child! Draw the words!

The Elders scrabble with a feeble desperation to hand her a stick to scratch in the dirt. Out pours symbols rendered in soil and dust, symbols that have only ever been seen in one other place on Earth: the hearts of the enemy. The Elders chatter like frightened animals as the realisation hits them. If they are to understand the word of god, they need to make a deal with a devil. An angel must fall, and soon, for who knows when the Host will come send them to a fate worse than death?

Ruth tries to tear herself away from the book as it lays open, discarded but the words are crawling under her skin, eating her up from the inside and setting down roots inside her head. She feels the words pushing her out of her own head to make room and frightened, she runs, runs as far as she can, out of the Garden, beyond the Sanctuary towards the ruins that serve as home. Henry bobs after, a concerned glyph blinks on his face.

The thoughts of running consume her but the wagging tongues of the angels lap at her heels, whispering the words of the books in their secret, sacred language. Over broken grey stone and under metal sheets she slides, desperate to escape from the book but she can feel it still, like mold spreading over rotting meat, the words in her brain like a holy cancer. She stops, exhausted, hidden in a secret space amongst the rubble and rocks herself back and forth, huddled on the balls of her feet. She knows what’s coming, and when Henry pries open her hiding place like a spoiled fruit, and signs words of comfort she just nods and takes his hand. She has to finish it, she has to read.

Henry takes her back to the Garden and the priest watch silently as she enters the church, their eyes at once fear and retribution, guilt and need and hope. They part as she takes her place before the blank white pages and then it hits her, the words tunnelling through her innocence like mites, eating their way through her brain as she acts the conduit for the words to scratch themselves in the dirt.

Everything is light, her inner eye blinded by the beauty of it, the horror as she scribbles faster and the priests, still not understanding but finally seeing scrabble to record the words they were not worthy to behold. In hours, days, weeks, years, the minutes pass and Ruth collapses, the words buzzing in her head even as that all-encompassing light is swallowed by the darkness.

While Ruth sleeps, the priests lay their plans. To catch an angel and learn from it the language of Heaven. Henry, the machine, immune and built for knowledge - the plans are laid and he shall be the engine of their salvation, the priests sign, their crucible of truth.

The End

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