He was used
to it by now, being alone as he trudged through drifts of snow. His silver
cloak waved tattered and torn. He gaze often drifted towards the trees. In dawn
their white blankets glistened like fragments of quartz.
“I wonder if it’s always been this beautiful.” His voice monotone as he brushed through low branches.
There were many things that caught his eye: near frozen dams, snow grazing cattle, even deserted cars. At one point he passed a murky old barn, its red paint faded on rotten timber. But none of this was useful to him; his long felt desire lay elsewhere in the mountains. It didn’t take long before he paused momentarily, a sign post. Most likely blown over or knocked down by rebellious teenagers. He knelt down to read it, clearing away excess snow with pale hands. It was a minty green with the words ‘Welcome to Azrael’ in bold black letters.
“Azrael huh, such an odd name yet why does it feel so…gah.” A sudden agony coursed through him as he clutched his chest. Foreign images circled his mind.
A brown haired woman perched in a
rocking chair, the room dark with dust covered furniture. There’s no static
television or blaring radio. Her only company, the dying fireplace…
An older boy with slicked black hair leaned on the rusty axe; beads of sweat trailed down his face as he admired his handiwork. In the place of mismatched logs lied neat rows of wooden blocks...
He gasped as
the sudden pain subsided, now on his hands to regain stability.
“Agh that hurt like a bitch, I thought finding it would be a lot easier,” he grumbled. He rose quickly to his feet as he glanced ahead. The trees appeared to part into open landscape, signs of houses stuck out in the snow.
“Azrael, just what are you hiding from me?” Curiosity got the better of him as he advanced forward.
As he entered the town gate it didn’t look like much. A majority of the townsfolk weren’t up at this hour; some had lit their morning fires. Most of the buildings followed the same structure, timber paneling with burgundy roof iron. Just to be on the safe side, the cloaked boy avoided the main street and kept to the sidewalk. He disliked running into people, especially since he’d been alone for so long.
“Ah Mother Nature, you’ve blessed us with another beautiful day.” The sudden voice startled him; he jerked his head toward the source. A middle aged man walked cheerily down the opposing sidewalk. His dark brown hair already had visible signs of greying. The cloaked boy couldn’t help but feel angry at the man. Had he done something? Pissed him off one day or harmed him in some way?
“Geez you’d have to be real dumb to believe that face,” he snarled from under his hood at the man’s fake smile. The man didn’t take any notice; he headed up a small set of stairs to a building with ‘Sheriff’s Office’ on the door.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me, he’s a policeman…agh not again.”
A sharp pain sprung from his chest as he struggled to stand. His vision began to blur as subtle images played his mind…
A younger version of the man slouched
on the sofa. There’s a police badge thrown carelessly on the floor, and a
bottle of liquor in his left hand.
“Oi give us another one Marley, it’s stinking hot in here.” The man’s voice was slurred and unorthodox as he threw the bottle into the fireplace. Its shattered remains fizzled out the flames.
“I’d just lit that.” A black haired boy murmured across the room; his hands curled into shaking fists.
“Well I don’t like it on…it’s too hot outside to be blaring that thing,” he vaguely replied.
“Why you son of a...”
“Blake that’s enough!” The brown haired woman ‘Marley’ shushed her son as she walked in. She unwillingly held a beverage in her hand, which the slouch gladly snatched from her grasp. A small boy poked his head around Marley’s legs, clinging to her dress and lip trembling. The man watched him back away as he twisted the bottle cap…
eyes shot open, he found himself face-down on the pavement. He must have passed
out from another…whatever that was and simply laid there.
“Ow, how long was I out?" He slowly blinked away the haziness and pushed himself up.
Rays of sunlight poured through mountainous gaps, almost midday, and the townsfolk ran their morning errands. Surprisingly no one bothered to help him; they all pondered past as if he were drunken astray. Though he wasn’t exactly people friendly, his whole self-esteem had changed after that day.
As he dusted
himself off from the fall, he couldn’t help but notice the window to his left.
The lights inside hadn’t been turned on, therefore its contents seemed rather
abstract in darkness. But something stood out in that darkened display; as if
the room’s remaining light leeched onto it. A glass case sat untouched on a
wooden stand, it had a bluish tint and scratches on the surface. Within it, a
silver spyglass polished to perfection. He arched a curious eyebrow.
“I’ve seen that before, yes, it’s just like the one I had. Then I gave it to her...,” he stopped mid-thought.
Who was her? He remembered owning a spyglass as a child, yet there’s no recollection of giving it away. His patience begun to thin as he stormed off, loose pavement kicked away from frustration.
found himself in the town square. Much like everything else, it was plain and
simple: assorted garden beds, patchy lawn, and a cement spire for war
memorabilia. He’d taken a seat on one of the benches; it was still wet from the
snow earlier on. The boy ignored the wetness and lowered his hood; brown hair
fell to his shoulders. Across from him a group of children had sculptured a
snow man. The looked in his direction and he forced a smile, but they didn’t
“I don’t look that scary do I?” He diverted his eyes to the spire, and then he saw her.
A beautiful woman in her late twenties walked through the square. The navy coat concealed her bust, and a white skirt trailed to her knees. But her hair…an unusual shade of rose pink.
He’d practically flown from his seat, nearly leaped at her in the process. He knew this woman, or at least someone like her, the pink hair was an uncanny resemblance. The woman stopped to check her basket; she smiled at it before closing the lid. The boy couldn’t doubt himself, he quietly followed.
their path changed from pavement to dirt. The timber houses morphed into
twisted brambles as he tailed the woman.
“What the hell is she doing out here?” he muttered whilst the woman weaved through the hedge.
He nimbly mimicked her actions; harsh sunlight greeted him on the other side. Once his eyes adjusted he took in the sight. A large river descended from the peaks, gushing with icy water. The woman was kneeled before it, she was tending something on the riverbed.
“Umm, excuse me ma’am do you have a moment?” The boy asked.
“Ugh, my name is Rize Elias and I believe we’ve met before?” He stuttered meekly.
“Hey I know this sounds crazy, but could you please answer me?” He pleaded rather loud.
She started to hum.
“Why are you ignoring me like everyone else!!!?” His own outburst startled him.
The woman silenced her tune and stood, turning to face him. That’s when he noticed it. Even though she stared right at him, her eyes weren’t level with his; like she could see straight through him. Those kids were the same, the policeman, and everyone else. He stepped to the side as the woman headed back; she smelled like lavender. Suddenly his body lurched forward, toppling toward the woman’s previous position. His chest pain became unbearable as he lied before it, eyes wide with realization.
A stone plaque sat on the river bed, its words a struggle to comprehend.
In Loving Memory of Rize Elias…
Written by Jaiden Berger