Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Shattered Reign - part 1
Shadows materialized and vanished one after the other, ephemeral yet memorable.
The world seemed heavy, reality a haze completely impenetrable, the black air itself fighting to extinguish him.
Suddenly he coughed, his lungs realizing the toxins being breathed needed to be expelled. The boy fell to the ground, not realizing he had even stood in the first place. Distant pain shot through his knees, almost like he was watching it happen to another. Yet here was oxygen, certainly more than just a few feet up. What was happening?
Was it reality that wanted to crush him? Perhaps. He felt on the verge of something, his mind racing as a great chasm was on the brink of being crossed, but then it was gone as the boy's left side was suddenly crushed by falling rubble from above.
It was from the ceiling. He was inside. Heaving with a great effort he forced himself out from under the debris, rolling over. This pain did not feel distant, it screamed at him, threatened to overwhelm him with its need to be acknowledged, its sudden birth requiring an immense fee upon him. But that would come later. For now, he contained it somewhere.
Odd, the ability to contain such incredible agony should have been a miracle in itself, yet he did it without hesitation. Why couldn't he think? What was - the floor started to fly up until he realized he was falling in just a moment. It was his turn to crash down below. His body was emptied of air upon the impact with the ground below him and he felt himself bounce several inches up and come down once more. He heard cracks and was sure his ribs had been broken by this fall.
Time. He had none of it. Nothing to waste. What could he do? Danger. It was everywhere. Staying was not an option. But what could he do?
A voice in his head spoke to him. Of course. That was the only thing he could do. He could feel his throat clawing at the air for something, anything to sustain it.
Rolling over took everything he had, but it was not enough. Once he turned. Twice. Three times. More was needed. This was a simple battle of survival, one he could not lose. He trembled as he rose onto his knees, gasping for breath. A way out.
A way out of what?
The thought startled him. No time to acknowledge it. The building. Needed to escape - a fire. That was what had caused all this. That was smoke. He realized now why he could not think, could not breath. There was no oxygen.
Coughing, desperately attempting to find air where none could be found he forced himself up and stumbled forward, completely blind in the smoke. He raised an arm to guide himself, but still slammed into a wall unable to stop what little momentum he had. His skin exploded in sensation. He was burnt all over, the fire had been raging all around him and he hadn't even realized it yet. Charred clothing fell to ash as it rubbed against the wall.
Rest. He needed to rest, just a moment to recover - that meant death. He couldn’t afford to die, not yet. Colossal willpower brought him once more to his feet. He felt along the wall for the end, unable to breath. He knew he couldn't last more than 10 seconds.
Please. A way out. Someone help me?
He suddenly pitched forward as the wall ended, and he felt himself falling through the air. Sweet, open, healthy air. And then the earth pounded him in the gut, the weight of a planet behind the blow. At least it felt like that. The force of the blow must have sent him back into the air - for the second time in such a short time - for he felt its swing again. The dirt was so dry out here, outside the building he had just been in.
What color was the dirt? Can't see, too dark. A flaming beam fell several feet away, saving him from falling into unconsciousness where he was laying. That would be an end to his life, as surely as if he had stayed inside the burning building.
He crawled forward as best he could. After several attempts he stopped trying to use his left arm, the explosion of pain it brought was too much to take and almost caused him to black out. So he relied on his right side and his legs as best he could. He felt himself leaving the very essence of his life as he dragged himself on, the wounds cauterized by the fire opened anew by this insane flight from the raging inferno behind.
Who knows how long he struggled, his battle against the ground tremendous, yet not even a tenth as great as the duel against death itself he fought, knowing that should he lose his concentration for but one moment everything would have been wasted, all that effort. Wielding nothing but his strength of mind and his conviction he held the reaper at bay. The end of his time had not come.
He had time once more. And then there was only black, exhaustion overtaking him. He could only pray that death would not strike again.