Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chapter Eighty-Five

How do you sleep next to a corpse and not know it?

For two days I've slept the day away and done my best to travel at night.  But during last night clouds began to obscure the sky and I was forced to stop traveling as I could not even see my own hand in front of my face.  I felt my way to a rocky alcove of some type and tried to fix myself a place to wait out whatever oppressive presence I felt coming.

There was no light and even was less sound.  My hearing was another stolen sense that I normally relied on and I hated the feeling at least as greatly as not being able to see.  Even the scuffing of my boots upon the sand was muffled to nothing as if some great something was bleeding off all signs of life; sucking everything away into an abyss.  There was this feeling that something was getting closer, something I did not wish to be found by.  I began to feel like a small rodent trying to escape a great forest cat.  I sensed it was hunting me but I just couldn't see it; knew that whatever it was it was so horrible that I did not wish to see it.  I've never been this fearful even during the worst I experienced at Ceena and Tonya's hands.

I hid the best I could and said my prayers over and over.  I wrapped them around me like a blanket, like a shield, like security walls, building layer upon layer.  It was the only thing that came close to calming me, preventing me from run shrieking into the night.  Amazingly the pressure built and built and built and then, right as dawn broke and the sun came out, it simply vanished.  It was there one moment and gone the next, like a physical presence that ceased to exist and all collapsed around the vacuum it left behind from its disappearance.  I was nearly sick with relief and must have actually fainted because the next thing I knew I was awakening with the fierce noon day sun in my face.

I have no idea what it was, do not know if I wish to know with certainty; my imagination is quite vivid enough.  I do know that whatever it was it was real, but I cannot say with absolute certainty that is was corporeal.  And yes I am willing to admit that perhaps I was not hiding from flesh but from spirit.  Amongst these rocks anything seems possible.  But my prayers ... or should I say Who I prayed to ... proved more than a match for whatever the nightmare was.  I will leave it as it is and keep it to myself.  There is no need to make others believe that I suffered some delusion or other out here in this desolate landscape.

It was upon waking that I spotted a curious sight which took a moment to connect into any kind of logic.  But once my brain puzzled out a solution it only left a greater puzzle behind.

What I at first took to be a pile of rocks was in truth leather fashioned into a ... well a costume.  I assume such a costume is meant for both protection from the environment and camouflage as it blended in too well with the surroundings not to be an intentional choice.  Upon closer inspection I saw a small pack and walking staff sitting to the side.

"Ex ... excuse me?"

I needn't have bothered.  The person within the leathers existed on this plane no longer.  Strangely, though it was obvious his leave-taking was recent there was no odor of decay.  It was like he had simply mummified in place.  Or perhaps, upon deeper reflection, he was already so far gone in body that when death did come and his spirit escaped his twisted body, there was nothing but a dried out husk remaining.

The death depresses me yet gives me a peculiar hope as well.  The old Borderlander.  Ceena and Tonya's grandfather.  Poor man.  How he came to this place I do not know.  He had alluded to a journey but had not explained himself as it was a private matter.  Neither do I know how he died once he did reach this place.  The only marks upon his body were those inflicted by his corruption.  I do know that his physical leave taking must have been a wondrous event for him if the look upon his face was any indication.  His face sought the light and I've rarely seen such a smile.  Even in the repose of death and shrunken features, it radiated a nearly manic joy, as if whatever he saw was so wondrous, so pleasing, that he could not believe his good fortune to even have a glimpse of it.

Whatever his disposition, where ever his soul resides, I hope he has found peace.  Or should I say Peace.  I think that is what he sought even if he did not call it such.  He seemed at odds with his own being, tormented by a past that I cannot even imagine having survived.  And forgiveness.  I hope he found forgiveness.  For if such as he did, then there is hope for me as well.

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