The Statue: Part Two

At first I didn’t fully comprehend what they were. In the distance it could’ve been debris from a fallen building or tree, or perhaps something dragged from the wreckage of a building by wild dogs and left on the street. But, as I rubbed my tires eyes and focused, I knew there was more to it than that. The way the shapes lay, it was too human to be anything else, but too far away to be sure.
I sat back in the corner by the heavy wooden gate and took a breath. The steady beat of my heart began to increase as I realized what I had to do. I would have to send out my “seeing”.

I settled into my training with a series of slow steady breaths. I first cleared my mind, seeing only darkness in the eye of my mind. The darkness became thicker and thicker until it almost drowned out the memory of sight. It threatened to waiver, becoming shaky and unstable. Light and memory tried to creep back and reclaim my mind. I tensed instinctively to fight it, but forced calm, calling instead on the slow chant I had memorized months ago. It was a rythmic melody of Latin words I didn’t understand, but the effect was soothing. I sank deeper into the darkness. Then, at that moment, relaxed and embraced by the void, I sent out my sight.

With both eyes still closed tight, I pushed out my seeing. At first it was still dark, but the further I pushed the thinner the darkness became. I released my sight and with an almost palpable pop, I could now see, outside of myself. I can barely describe it to one who has never “seen” but I would describe it as a memory that is happening right now. You see it with your mind and have to focus to hold on. As my sight drifted out, it past beyond the gate, squeezing through the cracks of solid oak. It passed into the courtyard, and felt its way toward the statue. I had never asked the others if their sight moved as mine, but it felt as if it staggered like an old man, feeling it’s way through the air. I could sense the textures somehow, the rough pitted stone and the soft patches of deep green moss. I could sense something else as well, beneath the stone, lurking, waiting patiently as if holding in a breath. 

I had sent my sight out before, to study the unnamed hero, but still had no evidence to confirm my suspicions. Until today. I pushed ahead, feeling the resistance of the air thicken the further away it moved. My sight wound around the statue, crawling over its shoulder to perch and survey the courtyard beyond.

I glanced around the courtyard. Although no one could see my “sight”, as far as I knew, my prey instinct was to check surroundings for danger. On the North side the square was open to the river. The remnant of a once great bridge peeked out from beneath the steady flow. Across the river our enemy would be waiting, growing their number and hunting down any of our kind they came across. In time they would cross the river in force, and end this months long war.

To the East the old parliament building, its once grand columns a crumbling heap, the building so unstable now that no one dared enter. To the South stood the old courthouse, less elaborate but no less grand. It stood looming over the square with its leaning clock tower like a single eye watching in judgment. Although who it might be judging I had no clue, as most of us are lost now, and our enemy across the river seemingly beyond judgement or law. To the west, our home of late. Our prison that was once a bank. The treasury, long since looted by friend and foe alike. Now locked and boarded up, holding the last of us and our dwindling supply of food. The building stood tall, though the top few floors had collapsed. The heavy gate barred and all windows covered, it had room enough for many times our number and vaults hidden throughout. It had been our savior on several occasions, when the enemy swept through, seeking to scour us from the face of the earth. We survived, for now.

I saw nothing suspicious but the two heaps on the ground below. From up here they seemed so harmless. I swept down with my sight, ready to study and see my enemy helpless before me. The clothes were foreign, made of whatever metal or stone they had mastered. We had no such skill. They molded it to their bodies so seemlessly we could find no weakness. That was one of the reasons they won. Their faces were covered too, helmets and face plates so smooth there were no joints. I could see no damage to the armor, nothing from bullets or blades. But, the way they lay was awkward, angled and contorted beyond the normal range of a man. Whatever broke them had been strong. I glanced up at the statue. He continued to mock me by not looking back. I needed more proof.

I wished I could look closer, remove their face mask and see what looked back at me. We had never seen their faces. If I could bring one into our compound and show how he or it had been killed, it might help my theory. But the only way to do that would be to actually go out there.

But how? The building was locked down. No one went out during the day. Few went out at night any more, and only then with approval from the Hearthmaster.

I pulled back my seeing with a snap. It jolted me like a shock of cold water, and took several seconds to reorient myself. As I waited for my vision to clear I leant back against the stone and ran through my options. There were gaps, here and there on the second floor. Not much but enough that I might slip through, small as I was. But the Daywatchers would see me and if I was spotted, they may be forced to take me down to preserve the secrecy of our compound. The enemy had done sweeps before, but we always managed to hide in the heavy steel bunkers deep within the building. We hadn’t lost a soul in the last three weeks, and I didn’t think anyone would hesitate to sacrifice me for the common good. I could perhaps make a gap beneath the gate, in the corner where it was more mud than stone. But if I was caught, or worse yet, if the gap was found by wild dogs or by the enemy, I could put everyone at risk.

The question then became, why would I risk my life and the thirty lives of those here, the last ragged troupe of survivors from Le Orleon? Was there a reason, beyond stubborn curiosity? Was there a purpose beyond my own?

As my thoughts wandered, my hands seemed to decide all by themselves. I began to pull absently at the dirt under the gate. My nails dug into the mud, soft from the days of rain. Perhaps, I thought, I could push back the mud to cover my tracks and find another way to return. Or perhaps, I was tired of life inside this prison, and I should take my chances out there.

“Arie?”

The whisper travelled through the air with alarming volume, carrying my name like an accusation. I hunched up and pressed back into the shadows, turning away to hide my hands and arms caked in mud.

“I know you are there. I can hear you.” Another whisper found me. I looked around and saw a subtle twitch in the air as the sound waves shivered. I tried to identify the voice but a whisper seems to carry no accent somehow, unless you are attuned to hear it.

All I knew for certain was, someone knew where I was, and that meant whoever sent out the whisper may know what I was about to do. If I wanted to leave unobstructed, they would be no better time than now.

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The Statue: Part one

I haven’t written any fiction this for a while and I wanted to write something so here goes.
The Statue: Part One

The statue stood in the middle of the square, staring back at me with one stony eye. Between the narrow slats of the boarded window I watched him, waiting for a sign of movement. In the darkness it was hard to tell but I was determined to catch him in the act.

It had become a game between us. I first noticed it a few weeks ago. The statue of the Unnamed Hero, worn and cracked, mossy and stained by the char of battle, had been taunting me. It knew I was a watcher. It was my job to stare into the darkness and keep the monsters at bay with my ever vigilant eye. I was a good watcher, maybe even the best, they said. I could stay focused and alert for hours. 

But the statue mocked me. I had memorized its features and posture. So when it moved, I knew.

It was tall and broad, covered in a stone approximation of metal plated armor. The head was uncovered. Long hair fell down the shoulders and partially covered the face. Except for the one eye. It squinted, staring right at my watching spot. The face was battered and scarred, pitted with bullet holes and riven by age. But the eye seemed untouched.

It crouched, with a sword reared back in one hand and a pistol in the other, aimed and ready to spring into action. The long cloak on his back was chipped in places, but mostly in tact, swooshing around over his extended pistol arm as if in motion. It wasn’t until you looked close that it became clear, the pistol and sword were not held by stone hands, they were a part of him. His armor too, was a part of him, bolted on to his body. The unnamed hero was not human, or at least not entirely.

At first I would watch him out of idle curiosity and boredom. Staring into the darkness night after night you have y find something to occupy your mind. So, in an effort to stay watchful I memorized each detail of the statue outside. Even as I scanned the square for signs of the enemy, my attention would return to the statue. It was a week ago I think, that I first noticed the movement. I did not see it move, as such, but I noticed the change in the stone folds of its cloak.

The picture I had painted in my mind was very specific. It did not matched what I saw outside. The difference was subtle but it was there. The next day was even more peculiar. I noticed an odd black mark along the edge of the stone blade. The statue, as aged as it was, had stains and marks all over it, but this one was new. The posture of the statue had now been corrected, even to the exact folds of the cloak.

I tried to bring it to the attention of the Watchmaster, a stern fellow by the name of Cabberaeux, but he, ill-tempered at the best of times, brushed off my claims like dust from his boots.

Over the next few days the signs became more obvious, to me at least. I tried to tell other watchers but none of them could see. I told Archeleus, the day-watchman who relieved me each morning. He squinted and pressed his face to the wooden slats and gave it his best, but noticed nothing out of the ordinary.

I had begun to think that the cold watches of the night were claiming me. Perhaps the shadows were tinkering with my mind, pulling at the sane parts and twisting them to distort reality.

It was then I found confirmation. I had determined to find an answer once and for all. I had watched all night, three hours before and three hours after my assigned watch. I lay flat on the cold stone on the ground floor with my eye pressed against the heavy gate. If I angle my head just right I could see beneath the gate. It was awkward and uncomfortable, but no one came down here any more, so there was little risk of discovery. I stayed vigilant by humming under my breath, the battle hymn of the resistance, until my mouth became so dry and scratchy I had to stop. I made it until the fifth hour after midden night, when I dropped off.

My eyes were only closed for a few moments, it seemed. But when I opened them, I saw it, the proof I had been waiting for.
See part two later this week.

If you read part one, let me know what you thought.

A Soul unfurled

Mind wandering, pulled moment to moment, here to there, without order or reason. Reality tries to assert itself but is bowled over by the torrent of ideas. What if? I have an idea and I must pursue it until my legs are weak and I collapse, bereft of breath… but wait what’s that? What if? This is in complete contrast, not connected but totally misdirecting my mind. Now I run the other way, energy exerted on the broken story, left on the floor to gather dust, while this new thought, so new, so shiny it will blot out the sun. Now the shadows come. In the darkness my thought faded, it was not yet made and now it never will be, but I left a part of my mind behind, never to be returned. Will it die, alone without my head to call its home? Perhaps it, unlike me can rest. Where was I? Ah yes… the man on the bus, the homeless guy, always asking why, no the warrior, the quiet one, so meek, so shy… where was I? Oh yes the future where the world is light and everything beyond denied, no the other one the world in ruin, the monsters come to devour it all, the fall of man while the cities rise into the sky… but why? What’s the motive? Do he live or die and will the reader wonder why? It’s late. How many words did I write? Were they bad or were they great? Does it matter now, as a thousand thoughts are lost in an infinite sea, never to be seen or read of known beyond my mind, outside of me…. stop… breathe, take a moment here and revel in the peace, take relief in knowing now that every thought you thought was best is sleeping and has come to rest… so sleep and let your mind shut down, wipe away the thoughts and fears, renew yourself to wake refreshed… but wait… what is that? The shadowed shapes behind the door, what could that be if fully formed, crafted from a dark unknown and grafted to a world I’ve sown… let us sink, into a dream of sorts, a writers mind, fractured, muddled, all befuddled by the slivers of a half formed thought, imagined as a last resort then inked into reality. There it is. A story told. My head. My mind. My heart and world, left hear to read, my soul unfurled.

The Warrior

A short… about the mess of life and the importance of pursuing a higher call beyond the greedy and conflicting desires of men

Standing tall amid the chaos of other men, I saw The Warrior. The night air was packed with screams scrambling over each other to be heard. The wailing of the dead and dying, the panicked muttering of those afraid to be next and the wild, bloodcurdling howls of those too insane to care.

But from The Warrior there came no sound at all. He stood tall amidst the blood and sweat. His gaze swept across the battlefield and pierced the hearts of all who caught his eye. 

Other men charged and flailed around with blades or spears, and made of flesh and bone, they crumbled when cut or pierced. Their bodies gave way to sharp edged iron, falling to the grave of crimson mud beneath their feet.

But not the Warrior. His bones were steel, his skin so seasoned by sun and scars that it appeared more like leather, a carapace to turn aside all but the most determine blows. He strode forward into the fray, sword wide and straight, each swing measured by experience, backed by the accumulated muscle of a hundred such battles.

Other men, clad in rings of rusted iron or patchwork plates of muddied steel, rallied to the ragged flag and the tired, tinny call of the trumpet. While unsoiled men on horseback waived stainless swords and shouted words without meaning to drive the masses forward, the Warrior maintained his own relentless pace.

When the enemy, as bloodied and reckless as his allies, formed a line before him, he did not waiver. When they pressed in to surround him, cutting off retreat or hope of rescue, he did not falter.

His eyes, so full of pain, still looked upon his foes with fondness. They held no hatred, but poured out a tale of hope and grace. Even as his allies fell, as the tide turned and the darkness grew darker, as spear and sword rose up around him so thick as to appear as the spines of a single monster, the Warrior continued on. As his skin was pierced, as his blood began to flow. As the weight of those against him became a tidal wave of men to rival an ocean. As the cries of his fallen friends called out, turn back, the way is too hard, the battle too fierce and the enemy too strong, The Warrior set his jaw and set his eyes ahead.

I lost him then, his silhouette passed over the horizon and into the shadow of oblivion. While others fled, the battle lost, while grown men wept bitter tears of loss and pain, lamenting still what might have been, I stood watching for the Warrior. While the enemy swarmed and raged with threats and swallowed us with doubt, I watched for the Warrior.

When hope was just the lonely flicker of a single candle amidst this raging storm, a thousand voices begged me, put it out, the time has passed, the Warrior is lost. When I stood, readying my last breath before I would be swept away by death, I saw it… His light. I heard the wails of the afflicted and they rose in chorus through my bones.

There was a shiver in the darkness. The shadows, woven by the frigid fear of the enemy, shuddered. As the light grew in the distance I could just make out the pale white faces of the lost. Those who had fallen, those who had given up before the end and those who never had the heart to fight. In the growing light they saw me smile and I saw them rise. In the growing light I felt their wonder as the weight of fear upon them turned from despair. 

The Warrior returned. He walked in boldness across that devastation. His sword no longer held, his hands bare, open wide and in his stride a confidence that no one should possess. And with each step the shadows withered, within each moment came a thousand tiny lights of truth to melt away the lies.

As he approached, The Warrior of light, I asked, “Did you find the enemy? Did you defeat him?”

His voice reached out with a gentleness he could not possibly possess. “It is finished.” He said.

“The enemy has been killed.” I called out and rejoiced, helping up the fallen men at my feet.

The Warrior stood in silence. 

“The enemy is dead?” I asked.

“I did not spill his blood.” He responded. “But it is finished.”

“Tell me what happened.” I asked.

“The enemy was many. The enemy raged and sought to overwhelm me. As I fought and persevered, as I bled and suffered wounds through my trials, the enemy taunted and disparaged. But I fought on. When I reached the end my sword was broken. I stood face to face with anger, hatred, greed, misery and fear. When I stared them in the eye, the hunters and betrayers, the enemies of man, they asked why I had come to destroy them.”

The Warrior paused. All eyes were on Him now. 

“What did you say?” I asked, breaking the moment.

“I did not come to destroy you,” The Warrior said. “I came to find you, to save you and to free you.”

“What could those wretched beasts need freedom from, they harry and oppress us at every turn.” I said, heavy in my ignorance.

“They asked the same.” The Warrior said. “What do we need freedom from, we who are the lords of men? They laughed and they threatened me, they brought me low with their taunts. So I looked up to my Father. I asked His forgiveness for the enemies of man and I gave them what they needed. I gave myself too them, my love, my peace, my truth, and I freed them, from themselves.”

This story is dedicated to the glory of God and to His son who gave Himself to us and for us.

Please let me know what you think, either good or bad, in the comments below.