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Raspberry Snowflakes

By CaitGrey All Rights Reserved ©

Poetry / Fantasy

Chapter 1

Raspberry Snowflakes~

Eighty years ago, Lucius Graham made a mistake. There were birds once. Flapping, fluttering little things that pecked at his shoulders. They were all gone now. He made a mistake and was reaping the consequences. Lucius Graham made a mistake. 

At one point, he walked because he'd wanted to. Now, he walked to continue. All he knew was that things had to continue. His watch had no numbers, but the hands pointed upward at a never ending 12 o'clock. He'd tried turning the hands multiple times, but he knew he'd broken it. His journal told him so. In fact, his journal told him everything he needed to know. And, in three hundred and sixty-five steps, he would forget everything and find his journal all over again. 

He had to keep counting. 

There were two traceable sounds—crunching footfalls of snow and a single heartbeat. 

His own.

Much like the drawings in his journal, Lucius walked about in a wasteland of gray. Shoots of dead trees stuck up from the ground, like twisted limbs reaching for the sun-less sky. Ash fell like snowflakes, but they never touched his body. It coated the ground around him, though, mixing ash with snow.

According to his journal, twenty years ago, there were birds. Lucius had drawn them; shrieking crows that cackled at his endless pace. Pages illustrated images of them, perched on trees and flying across the sky. Lucius hadn't seen one since a journal entry twenty years ago. 

Ten years ago there were snakes. Five years ago there were beetles. Now, there was nothing. Lucius checked his journal every time he remembered he was carrying it. He kept it in his hands, so when he forgot again, he'd still be able to find it. The first entry was dated roughly eighty years back. He had a system. Every time he counted three-hundred and sixty-five steps, he'd etch a line in the back of his journal. For every line, he counted one year. There were eighty lines total.

He hung the watch around his throat, kept the journal in his hand, and walked on, one step at a time, counting along in his head. Checking the journal, Lucius realized that before the birds, there were cats, then dogs, then horses, and then someone named Charlotte. There wasn't very much about Charlotte. Only a few sentences Lucius couldn't begin to try and remember writing. 

'She was right all along. I've lost her because she was right. I have to find her again. I can't remember what she looks like.'

All he knew was that he never found or wrote about Charlotte again. 

But if Charlotte, the horses, the dogs, the cats, the birds, the snakes, and the beetles were gone, then what came next? If his journal was correct, then there had to be something, right? Lucius wanted to draw again, but the ash and trees were lackluster in design. He grew weary of them. Walking, forgetting, and remembering was all that he did anymore. He wanted to draw again. 

In his hands was a journal. It was leather bound and thick with white pages. As he flipped to the beginning, he read the first entry. It was titled 'Charlotte.'

'She was right all along. I've lost her because she was right. I have to find her again. I can't remember what she looks like.'

By flipping further through the pages, past countless illustrations of creatures, he noticed a note in the back. 

'My name is Lucius Graham. I'm counting my steps. Three-hundred and sixty-five. If you're reading this, keep continuing. Never look back. Find Charlotte.' 

The ground was covered in snow. Ash fell from the sun-less sky. Dead trees clawed upward. Lucius began counting his steps, drawing a notch in the back of his notebook. He continued on. That was all he could do. 

"Lucius."

His ears rang. He stopped continuing. The voice had come from behind him, but he recalled the journal entry. He could not turn back.
    "Lucius." 
    He recorded the instance in his journal, pen scratching over the pages. He wrote feverishly, like a man at his death. 'I hear my name. Who am I? I hear my name.' 

"Lucius."

He couldn't turn around. He couldn't. But the voice wouldn't cease. He hadn't heard his name in so long. Noises other than footsteps and heartbeats were unfamiliar to him. But did the voice know where Charlotte was? 

Lucius turned around. 

The creature behind him stood on two legs. It wore a long, black cloak that fell down its shoulders, brushing against the snow. Where its face would have been, a goat skull hung, huge ram horns curling downward. Lucius heard its voice in his mind. 

"You do not belong here, Lucius. You have out-walked life."

Lucius didn't know if he could speak. He couldn't remember the last time he tried. Parting his lips, a choked wheeze erupted from his throat. He'd forgotten words. 

"Your memory withers. You're losing count of your steps. I've chased you for many years, but you've managed to elude me. You've reached the end, Lucius. You will continue no more."

Lucius shook his head. The journal told him all he needed to know. He turned around to run, but the creature spoke again. 

"There is nothing left. You and I continue alone. All else has withered away. Your memory will, too. Those pages in your journal will rot. Your body will crumble, and only I will remain." 

"Who are you?" His vocal chords burned. It seemed that with the words came unrelenting exhaustion. He couldn't move.

"I am Death. I'm all that remains till life lives no more. Your presence holds together the last thread of existence. You've reached the end of the beginning."

The last of Lucius's tongue began to crumble away. But before it did, he managed a final rasp, "Where's Charlotte?"

Death moved closer, leaving no footsteps. "Charlotte lost her life long ago. It is time to join her." 

Lucius could do no more than shake his head. 

"You do not have to continue anymore." 

The journal hit the snow first, and then his knees. He couldn't remember who he was. He couldn't remember anything. The watch hit the snow next, and he picked it up. His fingers turned black, but he clutched the mechanical sphere with all his might. The hands pointed upward. Where were the numbers? 

"Time died long ago. You should not have forced yourself so far into it. For it, you have lost all that is living. Your pride died first, and Charlotte did follow. You made a mistake. You will reap all that you sow." 

And Lucius turned to ash. 

Eighty years earlier, Lucius clutched his watch, stuffing the journal into his pants. Charlotte grabbed for her purse, but Lucius stopped her, his hand falling on hers. 

"We won't need your purse. It's okay. Where we'll go, we won't need money. I promise. We'll show them I'm not crazy." He wanted to tell her he loved her, but he wanted to escape first. In his shaking hands, he clutched the watch. It was midnight, on the dot. And, before he could change his mind, he turned the hands forward. They spun faster and faster until all of time unraveled. 

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