Waking Other Lives

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Chapter 47: Darkness

I opened my eyes, where was I? It was all dark and extremely cold outside. I couldn’t see a thing which was weird since neither the moon, nor the stars were high up in the sky, there was not a sound to be heard, a thick cloak of silence lay heavy all around me, like an omen of an invisible life, and there was not a soul around. I suddenly remembered, my death, Seth’s death, and all the others’ death. The tears were still wet on my face from our last goodbye. And, my body started to shake uncontrollably, I huddled on the ground trying to calm myself, breathing deeply.

The pain of losing Seth, and knowing he died alone in that cave because of me was so deep, so excruciating that my heart seemed to be bursting into little pieces. I would see him again, I reminded myself, even in this universe though he would not remember me. That thought energized me, and I got up to my feet, but it was like walking in the dark ages, I literally could not see a thing, and I almost fell tripping over something I could not identify. What was this place, what was going on? Where was everybody, and most importantly where was the moon and the damn stars? I sat down, walking was impossible, I would wait for the sun to arise. I closed my eyes, letting my dream be filled with the images of Seth, and I slept with a smile on my face.

What seemed like hours later, I woke up, my teeth literally chattering, my body was almost frozen, I had a hard time uncurling my clenched fingers. What was worse though that it was still dark outside, it was pitch dark, not even the first streaks of dawn had emerged, how was that possible? Where was the sun? This was beginning to freak me out. “Hello, is there anybody around?” I shouted, this time getting utterly scared. The pulse in the center of my heart started to beat fast. My goodness, that hurt. “Can you stop, please? I’m deep over my head in this shit, and I’m mightily scared. I can’t believe you didn’t warn me of this, how could you not for, God’s sake? What kind of a universe is this?” I said, slapping my palm, angrily.

And, of course Rawonia’s heart was silent. How stupid was I to think I could get some guidance from her, she had nothing but an idiotic painful beat in the center of my palm. Shit, shit, shit...Where do I go, what do I do? I was almost hyperventilating, I could feel a sheen of sweat cover my body, my breathing was short, fast. First, I needed to calm down. Breathe in, breathe out Sierra. Everything is alright, you can do this. Calm down, for Seth. He needs you, the world needs you. Breathe in, breathe out. There you go, you are doing wonderful. I talked to myself over and over again, regulating my breathing through the meditation techniques I had learned from the few yoga classes I had attended back at college.

When I was myself again, I began to think. I needed some light here, that was the number one thing on my priority list. For that, I needed to find some people, they would know what to do in this dark place. Since I couldn’t see a damn thing, I had to be vocal.

“Hello,” I shouted, again. “Is there anyone around?” The beat in my palm sped up, damn she was hurting me, it felt as though there was a small ball squeezed in the middle of my palm, bouncing up and down beneath my skin. Why was she doing this? Was it involuntary, or was she perhaps communicating with me? “You don’t want me to shout?” I asked, as if she could answer me, but the beat had slowed down. Okay, that was something I guess, she could communicate a simple yes or no through the beat. I would have much preferred a normal conversation, of course. This was all so irritating. How else did she expect me to find people in this universe?

I got up, taking baby steps like a blind person which was scary. My foot came across a solid thing, I nudged it with my shoe, it was big, it felt like, like ...what the hell, it felt like a body. I stopped. I knelt down slowly, trying to feel it with my hands, and I gasped, when my fingers came across legs, a chest, a face and hair. It was a female, a dead female lying in the middle of whatever this place was. I drew back my hand immediately, I was losing it. What was going on in here?

I forced my hand back towards her, I had to search her pockets to find something, anything. I was about to shout in joy, hadn’t not been for the fear of the beat, when I came across a lighter. I lit it, and almost dropped it on the ground, the ground was littered with many dead bodies scattered here and there, but it was the burn in some of them which alerted me to what might be happening here. Was it the Drakons? This universe was in far worse shape than in Rawonia if this was the state of things. And worse still, I was yet to come across a living soul, or any explanation as to why it was dark. Hating myself, I also stripped her of her coat, and sweater, and her half-gloves all of which I needed to survive the cold. The warmth enveloped me immediately, and I sighed in relief.

I heard boastful roars, and the footsteps of giant bodies, and I turned off the lighter, I lay next to the dead body of the female, not moving. They were soon upon me, their hot bursts of fire illuminating the bloody massacre on the ground, and the stomp stomp of their giant footsteps moving slowly among the dead bodies, looking for survivors. I saw one stomp on the body and face of a motionless body, turning it into a bloody mass. It roared in joy, lifting its jaw in the air, and spurting waves of fire into the sky. I gasped in shock. I saw its head turn towards me, and I froze in my place, shutting down my eyes, and started praying. I heard it run towards me, its foot stopping right next to my face. Holy shit, it was going to trample me to death, the pulse was going nuts now, I saw the foot go up, and I rolled over before it came down. It had missed me by seconds.

The dragon went mad, emitting angry sounds, it raised its foot again, the pulse was beating as if the heart was going to come out of my palm, I was in pain, I was damn scared, I was going to die. I felt the heart push my hand forward, until I touched the foot of the dragon right before it smashed my face. Light erupted all around me, and I felt the familiar feeling, and the surge of energy just before I had pulled Rocco’s light, or Nicole’s or her guards’ for that matter, right out of their bodies. But, this Drakon was not in his human form, I was looking at a live dragon in the flesh, and I had no idea what I was doing. My heart pounded in my rib cage expecting the foot to come down any second. Was this it, the moment of my death? Would I ever see Seth again? I wish I had never accepted the challenge, we’d have the life in Rawonia, Seth and I together, as little as it lasted. But, the foot never came down, the dragon fell backwards like a giant building, stirring the particles on the ground which powdered the corpses in layers of dirt and dust.

Holy crap, what had just happened? Had I killed it? But, I didn’t have any time to find out, others had noticed me, and were coming right after me, their fire showing me the path. Their one step amounted to my three, I could feel them breathing on my neck. But, then they stopped, and turned back, answering to another dragon’s cry in the back. Whatever made them stop, that was my miracle right there, I couldn’t stop, I had to get away before they changed their minds. Damn the darkness, I was not able to see in front of me now that they had taken away their fire. I lit the lighter, and continued in the flickering dim light it provided, half running, half walking among the multiple corpses.

I stopped and looked around, I had to make a torch before the lighter ran out of gas, and I was in darkness once more. I found some dry pine needles on the ground fallen from trees that did not look too healthy. I bound the needles tightly to a stick with a split withe, all information I had gathered from watching Man vs. Wild. I made several of these to carry with me, I’d switch just before the torch burnt out. I continued walking with the torch in my hand, trying to find a living soul in this land. I walked nonstop, mostly because walking kept me warmer, and Rawonia’s heart didn’t object. Her silence was of her way of showing approval. I came across them unexpectedly, a group of people gathered around a fire, eating an animal they had probably hunted, which reminded me of how starved I was. I approached carefully, trying not to scare them. They stopped what they were doing, and all seized their guns, pointing them at me at once.

“Whoa, I mean no harm,” I said. “I need help.”

“Help with what?” asked a man. “Who are you?”

“My name is Sierra, but apart from that I do not remember a thing, I must have fallen, and hit my head as I was running away from the Drakons,” I explained.

“Drakons? Oh, you mean the dragons.”

I nodded. “Why is this so dark in here? What happened to the sun?” I asked, hoping to get some answers.

“Oh, you poor thing. You must have hit your head badly,” an older woman said. “This is not the day of the sun,” the woman said.

“The day of the sun, what do you mean?”

“The sun is disappearing, child. It appears every three days now, but then when it disappears completely, we will all die.”

My God, what was this? I felt sitting on a ticking bomb, how much time did I even have to complete the mission here?

“How long has it been like this?” I asked.

“For a while, now. Maybe six months, right George?”

“Yes”, the man said, taking a huge bite out of the meat in his hand. My stomach grumbled loudly.

“You hungry, darling?” the woman asked. “Here, you take some of this,” she said giving me a piece of the meat. I munched on it hungrily.

“Aren’t you scared the dragons will come to the fire?” I asked.

“Dear, after some point, you just don’t care how you die. We are so damn bored of freezing, starving, running away. I seek death.”

“Don’t say that mother,” said George.

“It’s the truth, the dragons have killed most humankind anyway, we are one of the few remaining.”

“I saw bodies way back as I was walking here. Who were they?”

“Common people, of course, those who came out to hunt, not that there is much to hunt nowadays. The animals are dying. The vegetation is dying. This universe is dying,” she said laughing.

What was there to laugh about, holy shit!

“What happened here, why did it happen?” I asked.

“The sun is running out of fuel, it is exploding in a series of pulses, so to speak. It is what it is.”

Okay, get out of this universe before it explodes, got it! So, I had to complete the mission asap, circumstances were trying in here, and I needed to get to it.

“I see, if you could only guide me to the Palace, I’d be grateful,” I said, taking another bite of the meat.

“Palace? What palace?” George said, perplexed.

“The Palace of the Drakons,” I replied.

“The Palace of what? What are you talking about, there are no palaces here, or Drakons. Do you mean dragons, again? Why would they have a palace, you mean their dwelling?”

“Where do the dragons live in human form, don’t they rule this universe, aren’t they in charge?”

“Yes, they are in charge all right. But, human form? Girl, you must have hit your head pretty hard. Dragons are monsters, they are fire breathing animals, they are anything but humans.”

“You mean they don’t shift to human form in here?” I asked, in panic.

“What nonsense! Of course they don’t, have you been drinking?” exclaimed George, impatiently.

Now, I was doomed, how would I fulfill the mission, how would I even find and communicate with Seth, if there was no Seth in the first place, but only his green giant dragon to find?

“You’ve tricked me,” I said, to the pulse which was beating quite regularly in my palm, it was obvious the news had not been a shocker to her, who seemed to know it all, right from the beginning.

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