24 June 2017
Seasonal hums crept over the blurry dawn sky. Cooled blood streaked the clouds alongside the warmth of the sun. Creature fought against the stinging white light, as golden rays unsurely replaced the silver.
It longed for the comfort of the womb.
A biting gust of wind nudged Creature to the earth, shedding it of its bedridden sheen. Reluctantly, it took a step forward—and was soon curiously traveling away from the cocoon. Slight breezes continued to usher it across the ground. Quickly enough, Creature absorbed its surroundings.
It beheld tall, ghostly figures emerging from the horizon. Their faces were drooping and solemn, countenances bearing a deep sense of dread. Creature felt their melancholy, and offered smiles to the strangers that walked briskly past. Then suddenly, Creature paused.
It had stepped into the looming shadow of a doorway.
Creature found itself being wrestled through the entrance onto a hard, flat surface, before a hard, flat surface. Confused, its eyes scanned the ground, now a hard, flat surface, up to the glistening white wall—a hard, flat surface. To its side, the sole sheet of glass cast soft lines of light through the air. The view beyond seemed tinted with unnatural hues of gray.
Creature looked away from the window, and recognized more of the wispy figures materializing into the other seats. Relieved to be in familiar company, Creature ventured to offer another smile—a harsh blow to the side of its face interrupted the friendly experiment.
This is the world.
As if some invisible force took hold, Creature’s gaze was strung tight to the shining white wall. Faster than it could comprehend, a thousand black etchings were drawn in a fierce wake across the white surface, and Creature’s hand suddenly slammed onto the table. A slight jolt of pain punctured its vein, and then—slivers of flesh unwound from bone. The wind, carving words into Creature’s fragile pink skin.
This is the world.
“No!” It wrenched its hand from the wind’s grasp. “That is the world! Out there!”
The wind tossed another blow to Creature. It went stumbling out of its seat, blots of red squelching from its freshly-traced hand. A torrent of anger and confusion overwhelmed Creature’s body. Within a fractured moment, the table was knocked to the ground, black etchings stalking down the coils of metal.
Creature threw itself at the window, pressing its face against the foggy glass. But before the wind could tug it back, Creature’s gaze locked onto a petrifying sight. Eagerly, it gestured past the window, having never witnessed something so dazzling and true.
In the distance, a ghost-like figure was marching towards them. Plumes of dust rose before their steps as a path of coppery light. A broad banner was being hoisted up to the sun, golden rays reverently coaxing the ebony tassels into the clouds.
“Look!” Creature turned back to the ghosts, beaming. “The world is out there! It’s happening! Come, look for yourselves!”
It immediately received an invisible blade to its palm. The wind trembled with laughter as Creature bit back tears. Do you wish to die?
Creature was being nudged back out the door. Then you need to prepare.
“No!” Creature repeated, not fully knowing what the wind implied. It stumbled back out onto the warm earth, raising its gaze to find its dark reflection staring back. With an inquisitive nature, Creature circled round the glossy rectangle, and eventually sat still—poring over floods of glowing black etchings.
“Why?” Creature was mesmerized by the glowing icons. They spun across the screen, then away, to be replaced with more dark lines. “Is this my preparation?”
This is your life. The clouds chuckled. This is where it all begins.
Hours slunk beneath Creature’s growing shadow, eyes rarely leaving the glow of the rectangle. Whenever the thought passed its mind, a whiff of fear would leak down from the clouds, and prevent any shift in view. Its hands would curl and shake in rebellion, but—the sky knew better.
“I must prepare,” Creature would reassure itself. “I must prepare for the world.”
It continued on in this way for some interminable minutes until, at last—there came the wind brushing past, familiar as the words grafted into its skin.
Seconds crept on by. The air numbed to complete stillness. No anxious shake from the wind, nor word from the sky, was inflicted. With a faint glimmer of hope, Creature peeled its gaze from the now-blackened rectangle. A dash of freedom is what was felt, as Creature realized that it was alone.
Only—this revelation came too soon.
A patch of sky thundered crimson. Without warning, a pair of pink creatures were lying, limbs tangled between red-threaded tears, at Creature’s feet.
An emotion, something so strong, overpowered Creature’s senses. No time passed before it was kneeling beside the helpless things, coaxing them into its arms. A kind of familiarity possessed Creature, as it cradled each rosy infant closely to its chest. It was a sensation that caused Creature to gaze up at the horizon for the first time in many, many hours.
A terrible panic plunged into its chest.
The sun. It was hanging beneath a murky pit of navy. Stars were clawing their way through the equinoctial film. Half the sky was jet, the other half aslant in a yellowish haze. The afterglow sent shivers through Creature’s bones—shadows twisting about the warm breezes, air tinged with a sickly, alluring scent. Inhale, and it teased the mind into accepting a single, grave statement.
“Time,” Creature sighed, gazing down at its children. The little pink faces had matured over the ages of a moment. Creature’s heart swelled with maternal fear, as it turned to face the doorway. “Time to prepare.”
Creature smiled fondly after the little pink buds as they went stumbling past the entrance. A moment after they entered the Cinderblock, another couple of quivering figures shot out from the door. They just barely skidded to a halt in front of Creature, blinking in surprise before being whisked off to an unknowable destination.
Creature frowned. It had noticed something peculiar about the pair. Upon first glimpsing the little things, their coloring had been youthful, robust. Now—where was that sheen? Their skin had evaporated into little more than stitched fragments of tired light.
Sighing, Creature tilted its head up, and found that the sky was holding on to a final sliver of golden light. The horizon was blazing, closer to Creature than ever before. As the darkness weighed down on its body, it felt the strong urge to travel onwards—towards the horizon. Towards light.
Your time has come.
With heavy eyes, Creature lowered its gaze, continuing to bow its head until it could see the opaque outlines of its feet. At the sight of this, Creature felt a downpour of sorrow—squeezing to suffocation. The truth was all too plain. The few small traces in its palm were no longer the only trenches buried within its skin. Its flesh.
All was withered.
Just as Creature was about to turn away from the light, it heard something. Its spirits rose, whirling around to face an old, sweet sight.
Clouds of dust were towering miles above the ground, golden ridges merging with dark swirls of inky dusk. The humming rose up from the earth, sonorous tones an explosion of flames amidst a dreary tundra. The spectacle rumbled closer, and closer—soon, gallant waves of black tore down through the clouds, a shimmering ghost wrenching it through the hostile thrusts of wind.
Your time has come.
With a frozen shove, Creature was spun around—to stare down into a vast, gaping black hole. Step an inch beyond, and darkness would swallow whole.
“But, the world…” Creature wheezed. “It’s waiting for me. My life has just begun!”
Your time has come.
It closed its eyes, fighting desperately against the desire to turn, to face that chilling flag—just once more. But the day was nearly dried up, blood scarcely trickling over the horizon. The sound of shrill laughter climbed over the static humming in the distance.
Do you wish to die?
Words slunk up from the cracks in the hard dust, pooling to mirror the sky’s cryptic aurora. Creature’s eyes fluttered as it drank in the whirlpool of shadows. Trembling, it lifted its foot, dangling it over the edge of the cliff.
Do you wish—