I figured it’s been a while since I posted a snippet of what I’m working on, so here you go. 🙂 As always, this is pretty much unedited.
This is from NOTTE, and it’s… a little dark. You’ve been warned.
Life, in time, moves.
We weep until nothing is left; we gasp, vomit, curl up, grieve, cramp.
Three days passed before my hunger drove me to leave her place of ash and shreds. Three days, and in that time I rubbed her ashes on myself and gathered every last piece of her gown to keep as a ruined memento. I knew she would not come back. I knew death, had caused it, had learned that dead was dead and gone was gone forever.
I did not know where to go. She had led us, made the decisions; here I lay, naked, without one to follow.
I will say this once, and once more again: I was a child. I had known pleasures of the flesh, and I had killed more than all but the worst diseases, but I was a child. Death gave to me his knowledge of language; all speak Death, and Death understands all tongues; but he did not give me experience, and my broken brain had held on to so very little.
It was broken no longer. It seemed to me that time had slowed to an agonizing crawl, cruel in its deliberation, but that was not it.
I was aware now of its passing.
Chronologically. One second after another, plodding on without permission or excuse, unstoppable. Now, I heard those steps.
I wandered. Whining, hugging myself, clutching that filthy little ball of torn fabric. I was aware, suddenly, that I was very alone here: no heartbeats anywhere near, no animals, no settlements, no people at all.
The sky above whirlpooled and spat out frozen ash, and that stung when it touched my skin or I breathed it in. The sting did not last; my children and I simply do not take illness, though I do not know why. Even the plants could not survive this, however, and those frozen pathogens mixed with the rising ash of distant fires to create toxic air.
I could breathe, though I didn’t enjoy it. I felt I needed to continue. I deserved to hurt, to burn.
I walked, and walked. My feet left prints in undisturbed ash. Sometimes there was nothing, ground blasted to smooth rock by wind or some catastrophe.
Sometimes, I was sure I heard distant war cries and the teeth-jarring clang of metal, but these sounds drifted on the wind like feathers, coming from nowhere, going to nowhere. I never found their sources.
What more could I do but walk?
Long I wandered, and long I wept, and long I hungered without end or hint of solace. The strangeness of words still lay upon me, unremarked, like a blanket, covering everything in a new way – providing some barrier between me and the cold, cruel world. If I focused on the hundreds of words for bones, I was not as bothered by the fields of skeletons I walked across, feet bleeding, accepting every wound as due, for I had lost my child.
If I focused on all the words for effluvium and stench and rot, I could feel less disturbed by the swollen horses and goats and mules by the road, less disgusted by the bloat and running eyes of things so long dead their tongues had swollen far too large to fit in their mouths.
If I focused on all the words for alone…
I was alone. I’d been alone before her, but I hadn’t known that I was without anything to compare this to.
I could cry no more. My throat was dry, my tongue like a leather roll in my mouth. My hunger burned in my stomach like a fire, burning my flesh, burning my blood, and this circle of hungry heat grew and grew until I could think of almost nothing else.