As I stare into the flames, I can see how I am going to die. I feel sad for them now. I have never imagined this would happen. Where have the king and queen gone, there is only the burning throne left in this forsaken realm. I have wandered here for weeks now, the looming darkness creeping at my heels and now there is no place to hide.
I want to be there again. Everything is so beautiful in that place, or it was until the dark hands came from the shadow and took everyone away. It had not been the same for a long time. I still remember years ago. We were so happy back at our house. Days were warm and cozy and at night I dreamt myself into a wonderful world of knights and dragons, fighting valorously on the mountain tops for their treasure and large stock of fair maidens.
Dad and I use to make fun of the dragons, having a princess farm where they came and picked them up when a knight ran away with one of their livestock. Mom disapproves of such a silly thought. She said that the knights were unable to keep their maidens because they were always out looking for more.
I sat and watched them argue that Maidens were expensive to have and that knights were pompous cretins who only knew how to fight and yell. After they had argued they would usually stop speaking to each other for a couple of days, but they thawed quick enough.
Our house was on a lustrous ground filled with grass and trees. It wasn’t a big yard, but there was still room for a sandbox in the back for me to play in. Dads even build me a tree house where I could scout for dragons, keeping the world rid of those pesky lizards. I never had any friends. The place was sparse of children and the few around were avoiding me if possible.
It still hurts when I think about that day. It was early morning when I got up. I wanted dad to fill the pool he had bought me. There was no one in the bedroom. I searched the house for them both and found dad digging in the yard. He told me that mom had gone to town to get dinner. We were going to have my favorite.
I should have seen something was amiss. Dad promised me everything I asked him for. He had a hoarse voice as he told me that we were going inside to get pancakes for breakfast. I was happy that morning.
Inside we made them together and dad served me pancakes in the TV chair. He was shivering slightly, but I didn’t care at that time. He was probably just tired of cleaning the garden. He gave me all the pancakes, saying that he wanted to see my smiling face.
He didn’t sit in the couch like me and mom did, he took a kitchen chair and sat down beside me. We talked about my dream realm again. I had been there last night. The king and queen had told me that I could move in with them and become a knight whenever I wished. Dad told me that it would be an honor to live in a castle like that. He grinned nervously as he sat tying a knot on a hemp rope.
I still remember that smell, the rope was dry and dusty. I asked him what he was doing and said he wanted to hang something from the ceiling today.
He sat with me. He asked me about wizards in my world. He was curious if there was anyone who had some magic tomes that could help me.
I had never seen a wizard there, it was only dragons that could do magic in my world.
Dad told me about a young wizard just around my age, with a tome of wisdom. The wizard knew all the wrong things and I should not listen. By doing the opposite of the wizard I would always do the right thing is still ringing in my ears. I asked dad if he had seen the wizard before, but he never responded. He just looked at me with his stern eyes and took deep breaths.
As he got up he crawled onto the chair and asked me to smile for him.
I will never forget those 5 seconds ever again. Burned into my skull like whiplashes they bring me to my knees even years later.
I’m older now I guess. I cannot stay with the past forever and the world around me has moved on with and without me. I have tendencies to box myself in when it becomes too much, but my foster family has begun to treat me like everyone else. I am not the little silent child anymore; they have made it a routine to ask me about everything I do. I try to have quiet moments for myself and they won’t let me.
Only in my dreams am I truly alone. The blissful comfort of hearing my own thoughts are like music for me. No one asks what I am thinking about. No one demands indirectly to hear how my day has gone or how school was; here in my secret dream world I am all alone.
No one alive knows about this world of mine. The thought of keeping it a secret is like butterflies in my stomach. They don’t expect me to be happy and smile all the time, and I am not smiling unless forced in social forums. But in my bed at night I am smiling. I embrace the dark veil that hides my silent victory, an entire world of knights and dragons they will never know about!
Or so I thought…
Signs started showing up after I had turned 15. I was getting up one night to have a glass of water, when I heard someone talk in the kitchen. It was nearly 3am and everyone usually went to bed at midnight.
Moving closer I realized they were talking about me. Someone I have never heard before was talking in hushed voices with my foster parents. They were fidgeting with a voice recorder. I could barely sneak a peek at the kitchen door into the hallway without getting noticed.
I sat for minutes listening in on their conversations. First I didn’t understand what the issue was, they were talking about my parents and to some extend… me?
My senses sharpened as they mentioned murder, someone had been killed apparently and I were involved somehow.
My heart pounded and I was breathing irregularly, they were talking as if I was an object of their investigation. A mere piece in the puzzle for them to solve… feelings completely disregarded.
How were they investigating me? I have never seen anyone or talked to anyone except my foster parents?
I held my breath to hear how they discussed me and my behavior. They said I was antisocial and depressed. How I wonder what they will gain from that?
In a second they turned the recorder on and we all sat breathlessly listening to my voice? It was me! They had recorded me while I slept and to my surprise I talked in my sleep. From their rapidly increasing speed in the conversation I hear they were afraid that I would do something rash like kill myself. I never thought of that until now. I have always cursed my parents for their cowardice!
I held my breath again as the talked turned to me. They were trying to express how worried they were for my health and social abilities. They talked about a psychiatrist, but it was expensive with the medication they were giving me… WHAT?
I have never received any medication?
What is happening in this house?
My foster parents told this stranger about the hard work they had tricking me to eat antidepressants and pain killers!? How can they tell a stranger about something that sensitive? I didn’t even know they were drugging me?
It was becoming unbearable to listen too. My life was a façade with happy pills and espionage. How could my own two parents, my foster parents who are in charge of my upbringing be so cruel?
They are making me into something I am not. They are stealing my identity!
How dare they take my life away from me, it is so hard to remember the happy days with my real parents, especially when that day comes up every time I think of them.
Sitting in the hallway, I didn’t want to be there or anywhere else. I crawled slowly back to my bedroom and slipped into bed again. I searched for the tape recorder and found it in my bed frame. I turned it off and tried to fall asleep.
It was a dreamless sleep for once.
I woke up next morning when the alarm clock buzzed like a maniac. I punched it like I had always done and crawled out of bed.
Everything in the house was still calm and quiet when I walked downstairs. I stepped into the kitchen where they had been talking to that stranger last night, but everything was clean. There was no sign of anyone having been there. I opened the cupboard to see my breakfast stand alone like it had always done.
I never saw any of my “parents” eat of this. Is this one of the ways they drug me?
Closing the cupboard I took out a piece of toast instead and sat down in the living room, turning the television on. The news was usual, bad weather and the threat of terror to keep us all scared, as my foster father always complained about. There was no real reason to be scared, since even our mailman couldn’t find this remote village I live in now.
I sat quietly starring at the reports about Middle East; it hadn’t been resolved yet… like it ever would. Too many people don’t want peace there, they are just blowing the fire and it occasionally leads outside their borders in fear of being forgotten. If they would just kill themselves so we didn’t have to waste good people on their problems, even “dad” lost track of their reasons to fight. Someone gets oppressed and begs for help and rises to abuse their power before the same nation waste men and money on stopping what they started. Retards the lot of them!
I had to turn off the television; I was getting agitated watching their endless stream of misery and fake hopes hidden behind fake smiles. We only know one thing for certain in this life… so they can’t promise us shit!
I went into the kitchen to turn on the radio instead; maybe some music could change the mood? It was a fine morning. The sun was gleaming over the trees out back. I opened the backdoor and stepped outside to se e the lawn wet and the raindrops falling gently off the oak tree.
I could vaguely hear the radio, just my luck. I had run into the nine o’clock news. The same stupid stories now without the visual media, made it worse in my head. I not only imagined what I had seen on TV, but how annoyed I felt when I saw it. Stepping inside I rummaged around the channels to find something worth listening too, but it was a mix of bad news and frustrating music.
Turning off the radio, I was getting a feeling of annoyance. I wanted something to take my mind off the world around me, but everything drew me in faster. It was mocking me and trying to destroy my good mood. They wanted me to be one of their scared masses that shook at every rustle of the wind and hid inside my house as soon as the light seemed to dim.
“What is happening, what are you doing?” a voice yelled behind me. I had been so swallowed by the oppressing masses that I had not noticed my attempt to turn off the radio had led to me snapping it in two and cut my palm.
My foster mother stormed over to me like a panic-stricken chicken and pushed the radio out of my hands. She jerks me under the tap and rinsed my hands before bandaging me. She yelled at me for ten minutes straight. There was a clock on the wall over the living room door and I watched how long she could keep up her monologue or be interrupted by “dad” starting all over.
“Haven’t you had your breakfast yet?” she asked when she had calmed down. I told her I wanted toast instead and she flinched for a second. Any other day I wouldn’t have noticed, but I knew better now. My guess was right on the nose, they were spiking my food with antidepressants to keep me artificially calm. I told her I was in the mood for toast and water today. I lied about my stomach feeling soar for unknown reasons, to throw her off all suspicion.
“I have some pills for stomach aches, let mom take care of that dear!” she said in her motherly voice. I reeked of panic. She retrieved two orange pills and a glass of water and told me that it would set my stomach straight.
I didn’t want to take them. She looked worried at me. I felt something was wrong, her diplomacy dyke was cracking and her smile faded slowly. She insisted in me taking the pills to help me and stopped referencing my stomach. I asked her what they were for and she kept saying “It is for your health and wellbeing!”
I still refused and kept asking me what the pills were for. Our voices were getting louder and she was getting angry. In the end we were yelling at each other and when I picked up the pills and threw them at her, she knew that I had figured it out. “Dad” had come downstairs to see what the fighting was about; he looked from me to “mom” to the pills on the floor.
“He refuses to take them, something is wrong!” she said in a scared voice.
“He will eat his medicine now!” he said grabbing me and wrestled me to the ground. I was shocked and distorted by his sudden change in behavior. Why was he attacking me like that? Struggling on the floor he and “mom” got a bottle with the pills open and he grabbed a handful.
I spat them out at him when he pushed them inside my mouth. He hit me on the side of the head stunning me for a second and I felt how his large hand pushed some inside my mouth while holding my mouth and nose until I involuntarily swallowed.
It didn’t take long before I felt a reaction. My elevated pulse and racing heart pushed the drugs through my system in minutes. He held me like a vice as I lay swirling on the floor. My fingers and toes were feeling weird.
“How many pills did you give him?” I heard “mom” ask and “dad” said bluntly “I don’t know, I just shoved them down; I didn’t see how many I had!” Their voices were starting to sound mechanical; there was a weird delay that made every sound echo in my head. I couldn’t feel my hands and legs anymore; even “dad” sitting on top of me was fading away. “He is tripping, call the doctor!” he yelled at “mom” before I passed out.
I woke up in the castle. It was dark and cold in the kitchen hall. I sat up and starred around the huge room filled with stone stoves and aches of tables to prepare the food for the vast royal assemble.
No one was there, it was empty. There were usually at least five people working at the slowest hours. Not a single noise was brought with the draft running down the stairs. I stepped up to the large stairs, where hundreds of people would run when they were making a feast for visitors of other kingdoms.
My steps echoed with every second step. I ascended the large stairway and opened the doors into the gigantic dining hall. Five hundred chairs. Half the town could eat there at the same time, but it often stood empty. The maidens hated cleaning the place up and had persuaded the king to have his meals in a smaller dining room since it would take forever to heat the hall up.
Chairs and tables were knocked over. I could barely see what was on the table in this dim light. I reached for a candle I found on the floor and searched for a way to turn it on. I remembered the fireplace, a large hole in the wall where wood was stacked high. At the side were the tin and flint I was looking. It took me a few tries to make sparks and finally got a tiny fire going in the corner of the fireplace. Lighting my candle I saw to my horror that the dining hall was covered in red and brown blood. There was not a single person or a severed limb. Only blood showed a path of terrible destruction.
I stepped around the hall to see if there was any sign of life, but not a single piece of clothes or a single nail was to be found. I found a table where someone had tried to write something in blood, but it seemed incoherent at first. “Did you see?”
On the wall someone had scribbled “Abandon…” making a long trail of blood run off the “n”, but there was still no sign of any people.
I walked past the thrones and out into the hall where large armor is used to salute everyone passing by. Nothing left. No shield, nor weapons… no armor. The long hallway was completely empty.
As I searched the castle, I kept feeling that the shadows were moving. Something was just outside my sight sliding in and out of the shadows, cast by the large furniture. In one of the bedrooms, a bed was made. It looked like someone was sleeping in it. I had to look. I didn’t want to speak out, since the shadows were following me. There was no sound at all and the lump in the bed wasn’t moving.
Slow and carefully, I stood beside the bed and pulled the sheet off revealing a black hole. The bed had a dark hole covered in blood. As I stepped back from the horrid scene, half terrified of what had happened there and half relieved not to find a corpse; I felt the air growing tense. Nothing but my footsteps echoed. I felt the shadows shiver along the walls; I heard the beating of my heart pound in my ears.
Stepping back towards the bed, feeling myself move automatically, as if the shadows themselves pushed me towards that reeking well of black and blood. It smelled of iron. My heart was racing and my stomach was suppressing my breakfast. I leaned over the bed to see if I could see anything that would answer the questions that had build in my scattered brain.
I starred for minutes into the black void without any result, it was completely silent still, my heart pounding like it was going to burst when a shrilling voice made it echo all the way down the hall, “Do not hang yourself in details… use hemp!”
Hundreds of black hands shot up at me. They had only waited for the second I was off my guard. I dropped my light and was engulfed in arms, pulling me down into the deep, ripping my hair and choking me until I passed out of exhaustion.
Was this the hands that took all the other people too?
I woke up on the dark floor. I was in one of the large cellars; I could hear the echoes of dripping water. Sitting up I felt around for anything that could be people. I wanted an explanation on the dark hands, but there was nothing.
Getting up I staggered around in the darkness for a wall or something that would indicate an edge. I found nothing.
I wandered for hours in that cold hell staring into nothingness. I thought about the times with my foster parents where they taught me that there was nothing in the darkness to be afraid off. No one can see anything in that thick darkness so it’s easier to hide than harm someone.
As the sound of my feet grew fainter I suddenly stumbled upon something on the ground. It wasn’t a person, it was something square… or close to square. I knelt down and felt a rock surface. A box, no but it could open. It was a book… a strange hard cover though, but I’m certain it was a book.
Picking up the heavy object, I ran my hands over the front and opened it to get a grasp on the paper inside. The cover was cold and hard but the paper inside was warm and slightly sticky. Closing it I felt that I needed to see this in daylight.
I started running now. It couldn’t go on forever. I know that building is big, but this was getting ridicules. I stopped after a long while; I took a deep breath and turned around so I could head back towards place I had gone. I must have gone in the wrong direction from the beginning.
The second I turned two pale eyes stood right behind me. With a shock I threw the book at them and grabbed around the throat of this dark being following me. I kept squeezing until it felt limp in my hands and I let go.
I was lucky that it had been there. I could have grabbed air. I could have misjudged my timing and it would have caught me. It caught me… out of the darkness hundreds of hands pushed me to the ground. I couldn’t see them; I could only feel how they squeezed me towards the floor. The pain was terrible… I passed out again.
Future ambitions… did I have any? What was I going to be when I grow up? Did my parents leave a legacy behind or am I truly alone?
This time I woke up in broad daylight. I was in the hospital… in a modern hospital. My arms were tied to the bed and the machine next to me was beeping immensely. Three nurses came into the room at the same time.
“He is awake, what should we do now?” one of them said starring at me like a gorilla in a zoo. “Check his vital signs, we are obliged to make sure he is healthy!” the older nurse said her hands in her side.
“What is going on?” I asked giving them a strained expression as they ignored me completely. It created the worst and most embarrassing silence I have ever witnessed.
“His vital signs are normal, his bruises are healing fine!” the first nurse said and they left the room again as quickly as they entered.
I watched them leave and lock the door. A letter was lying in my lap… had it always been there?
I didn’t seem to remember starring at my lap until now, why didn’t the nurses react on something like that? It was a yellow parchment with a black spot on the front.
I fought against my restraints to get to the letter, but it was just out of my reach. The leather strap on my right side was a little old, withering away like musty old hemp rope. I could wrestle myself free, but it cost me some bloody bruises as my wrist got torn from the struggle.
Loosening the other strap, which was an entirely new and smooth leather strap; I grabbed the letter and pulled it open.
In my restless dreams.
I see that town.
Turn the paper over you barmpot!
I flipped the page after reading the three lines over and over… There had been a meaning there once… I guess it’s gone now?
Do you think you were born for your reason?
What did you tell dad about the wizard?
Where is my book?
She approaches children more than adults… have she given you anything?
Where is my book?
I looked up from the letter as I heard a noise. People were screaming and smoke was entering the room under the door. A yellow glow flickered in the small window in the door. Someone had set the hospital on fire… The window!