I came to be in a place of light. The movement of the world around me was masked with shadow, forms as dark as pitch made middle ground shapes a velvety blue while they writhed as barely intelligibly composed configurations.
I lay prone, limbs stretched to my sides and bound together with tight bands. The ground was frozen, hard as the glint of steel beneath the shivers bristling from the center of my being.
Light poured over me, I saw this only because I realized I rested upon snow-sifted hoarfrost and the light was blinding, further exaggerating the contrast between bright and dark. Shapes danced within the blackness all around and I was wrested upright, hoisted by large, unseen hands in a strength that brought shudders, inadvertently brushing away bits of sawdust, dirt, and flakes of ice. Leaned against a wooden shadow, I saw the illumination hadn’t come from a void but spilled from tall floodlights, two of which had been pointed directly at me as I had lain within their merciful beams. Hundreds, perhaps even thousands of others were strewn all over. They were mute, in stasis. Silent as the chill of the air. I knew this would only be a temporary place. This darkness, my bindings, it all felt oddly impermanent, as if I could make out the faint suggestion of possibility contained within the darkest shadows encircling me.
There were also signs written upon the flesh of the others that had expired before they had even reached the area. I couldn’t understand what symbols were scrawled on them in a dried drip of red paint. Incapable of all action but for leaden surveillance, I watched for a change that differed from monotonous shuffling and the repositioning of inert forms nearest to me.
A figure with features rendered morbid by the glare produced by the floodlights approached, leading two others, one grown and one small, to a patch of dirt some distance away. The smaller one burbled, ruddy face shiny from the cold, clinging to the taller as they examined me with great interest. I lay still. I could do nothing more. After some time, I was hoisted by their leader, cloth adorned musculature gripped and placed me in a compartment, shutting me in nothingness as the sharp sting of the floodlights disappeared from existence.
In this shade, I saw no other movement and felt nothing, except for the steady vibrations of the compartment surrounding me, my limbs may as well have been fused. I longed for the expanse of a river, smooth stones slick with rain, and the dull comfort of sunlight. The warmth of a season eighty years ago, all but forgotten and only present within the cracked grooves of useless appendages.
A small lifetime later, I was released from the compartment.
Shortly, another burst of light washed over me, variegated hues performed a dance for me, or so I thought, at the time, unsure of why the notion had crossed my mind. These things that happened continued on their own, and I remained in my position, mute and without the power for anything aside from observation. The others, those scattered and piled across that dark place of hardness and cold light, they may have been as I was, but I could gauge no other possibility of what was to come.
My limbs remained pressed together as a pair of inky arms lifted me, soft and crisscrossed fabric cushioned against me in the only embrace I had come to know. It was temporary, like the lights and the cold. The next place contained less of a glare, this time the lights were softer and slower in their flickering. Not as many colours, this time. A small contraption stood in the centre of the room, sleek floors visibly echoed various small dazzles.
Amazed at this place, I barely felt as I was tilted back upright, with four small devices pressed into my chassis, and they tightened until I could stand without the help of the fabric-covered strength that had put me in this position. Frost broke free from my form, dripping to the ground silently as I watched.
Another figure came into the room alongside the other who had changed out of the layering of crosshatched material, looking strangely thinner than before. The smallest one accompanied them both, carrying a box filled with spherical devices they strung all over me, as well as bands of soft material draping my form almost as if they were meant to be bandages. Heat burst into existence, ebbing as the glow from the fire in a nook within the wall warmed the room. At last.
More tinkling, a gentle glow, colours clustered before my eyes, I stood. Weary, my limbs spread hungrily, stretched out to warmth. I was draped in a material that, strangely, did nothing to warm me further. The figures approached again, hasty, the face of the small one wore an excited grimace with its small, sharp teeth glinting, slick in the light of the fire.
A murmur began to swell, at first, it came as a near whisper, then it rose to an easily distinguishable tone I had heard somewhere before. Somewhere, long ago. The voices lifted, gaining in strength and volume until the words rang clear. The first utterances escaped my understanding, lost in the flurry of deliberate movement, hands brushing my extremities in approval. The rest I heard more clearly, verses of a song. They sang a song.
How oft at Christmas tide the sight,
O green fir tree, gives us delight!
Their eyes swept across the room, resting on one another for a moment, reverent and nostalgic in performing the ritual. It wasn’t long until they refocused on me. My decorations shimmered in fire and candlelight.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
You give us so much pleasure!
A time later there was nothing. I held their memories decoratively, baubles resting comfortably upon my limbs. My dried out husk lighter than it had been than when I arrived. I shed my needles once they had faded to a sickly orange, inert and rapidly losing awareness as more time passed following that fateful, final rite.
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