Empty #writephoto

empty

Inspired by Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo prompt, 23rd March

I woke up in the open: behind me the sun was setting, and I could see, on the ground ahead of me, the shadow of a large tree. Some old wreckage appeared half buried, atop a small tumulus, and beyond it I could see the reflecting mirror of an estuary. In my mind some vague memory was floating, telling me that I knew this place, and I knew its significance. But I had forgotten what that was, who I was, and where I was.

Images were flashing in front of my eyes: a beach, a river, a bridge, a garden, a stream… Then there was the cave, something had happened there. When? I did not know; what? I did not want to know. Was I still in the same time, in the same world? Was I supposed to be looking for someone? Was I a fugitive, or a predator?

Once I had read a novel, a story about a non-Aristotelian world. There, time had another meaning, the hero was killed, was reborn, and killed again. The forces against him seemed invincible, and yet he kept coming back, brought back to suffer another death. Was I caught up in one of these loops, surfacing in another place, not knowing for what reason, or for what purpose: was I being manipulated, or was I the manipulator?

I looked around: I was on the edge of what may have been a cultivated field, some time back, but now, there was no trace of whoever had lived and worked here. When did I have last seen another human being? Then, it struck me: was I still human?

Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words

Emptiness

Photo: by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Story inspired by Cheri’s picture, and an episode of Infinity Blade III.

Emptiness Cautiously they move along the vaulted corridor, to their left the late sunlight breaking through the high inaccessible windows, to their right the ancient wall, in front of them the increasing darkness. An icy air is blowing towards them from the depths, at times punctuated with powdery red-hot ashes.

Patterns on the grey granite of the floor remain unreadable, perhaps the guiding marks of some ceremony. They know so little about the deathless: here is their kingdom, and there is no doubt they will resent the intrusion, the violation of their domain.

A piercing shriek resonates through the arches: Isa and Siris stop, silent, frozen in the crouching position, swords drawn. There is now no other sound than their breathing, nothing moves other than, slowly, the slight mist coming out of their lungs.

The air is now colder, as they resume their march, and get closer to the obscurity…

Just as they reach the last arch, still lit by the declining rays of the sun, they see an opening on the wall, away from the light. The bricks disappear, replaced by older stones: fearless, they chose to walk in that direction.

“There is still some light,” says Isa, “it must be coming from somewhere…”

The floor is now uneven, and to the geometry of the bricked arches has succeeded the irregular surfaces of an ancient tunnel. They realise that the floor is gradually edging down, a slow gradient which means they are leaving the upper structure of the castle to enter the subterranean world of the deathless.

Isa’s foot hits a light object on the floor: it’s a bone. Soon they walk through layers of bones of all sizes and evidently human. “Here we come”, says Siris, as they reach a circular space, with multiple corridors branching out of it. In its centre is a small platform, anchored on a metallic pole which rises through the ceiling. “We’ll have to wait,” says Isa, “that’s a lift, I expect one of them to come down just there, and others to appear from those corners.”

Siris smiles. Swords in hand, they wait, back to back, the way of the Samurais.

As the first Titan appears, they kiss – and holding their blades low, they wait for the first blow. Soon they are surrounded. Soon the old stones are covered with the dark blood of the slain Titans. Again and again the monsters try to separate them, and fail. More Titans are disgorged from the corridors, but as the space is too narrow, only a handful of them at a time can face the couple.

So it comes that Isa and Siris are surrounded by the bodies of the Titans. Their only way out is the lift. They edge their way toward it: they are now standing on it, keeping the nearest monsters at bay. Obediently the small platform rises up: through a narrow opening of the high ceiling they reach a vertical column. It leads to the Worker’s room.  And there he is, flanked by Raidriar.

“Welcome to my humble dwelling”, he says with a snarl. Silently Isa and Siris take their positions: Isa will deal with Raidriar, and Siris with the Worker. If one of them fails, they will have to do the journey again through those empty corridors…