...The great white took nearly all life from motherland. When at last past the ultimate test, few remained--fewer who were born with thick-water-eyed. Responsibility to lead, from a world decimated and yet the same were left in the darkness they pushed others from. It was of no importance, only to protect, a single line took this responsibility before the others, not the first to rise, the first to strive. A line of six to become five; prowess of a god’s breath, yet the weakness of one another. What is a mob to a king? What is a king to a god? What is a god to a non-believer?--Book of the Moon
The darkness was welcomed as an old friend. It was comforting, endearing for the sun was burning and frightening. In this cell, this place that is the only world known, a tiny flicker of ‘life’ exists. Seven years this flicker has lived here, seven years being a slave to the will of others, seven years of knowing no value in this thing called ‘existing’. Slave Number 276 was what they said and according to fellow slaves that knew ‘their language ’ it was the only thing that belongs to the her.
Every few days the ‘masters’ would come and stab sharp needles in their necks and drain the week’s quota. Slave Number 276 was the least lucky of them--she was young and could have more red water taken, more often and due to her youth, many craved her flesh. Red-eyed beasts in human form, she knew nothing of them aside from their lust for red water. It was a vicious cycle, but it was the only life she knew. Cursing her fate, cursing her life she claws into her neck where the beasts have taken the red water. Again, and again and again Slave 276 rips her nails into her own flesh, desperate to force the strange feeling to become pain. Red water streamed from her neck and soaked into her tattered cloth, which was meant to be a shirt. Why is she cursed to exist this way?
“Stop!” A voice shouted from the moving wall.
Her hand was seized, pulled away to the side of her head as something soft presses against her neck. Their eyes met; purest of red that broke the darkness that comforted her, creating a tightness in the slave’s chest. From a single square hole, the fuzzy crescent gleamed, illuminating the woman’s long blonde hair. Slave 276 tilted her head curiously for why is there water coming from this person’s eyes? Something with an odd touch is pulled from the girl’s neck and pressed against the slave’s. What is ‘stop’? This person is a beast in human form and yet speaks the words of the slaves.
The beast looked and sounded with plea in her words, “You shouldn’t do this to yourself...”
Slave 276 looks at her with aw, a beast that does not take the red water. Was there such a thing? This person looked bigger than her, but not like the big scary beasts that have always been here--she has never seen this person before. This beast continues to press on her neck, but unlike the others there is a warmth, a different feeling other than pain. The slave did not know what to do.
The big beasts entered the room, speaking fast, but they acted in a very unusual way that was not seen before. Naturally the slave drew back, recoiling in fear and away from the person--that person did not proceed closer and released the strange rags that were used to stop the red water. The foreign impression of this girl was changed when she spoke ‘their’ language and when the big beasts also did not step forward, but rather spoke to the girl.
‘Lady Eona, please do not soil yourself with a lowly slave. We can provide the highest quality of blood further down.’
The slave looked down, recognizing her name and remember the difference between them: she is ‘food’. For a while the young girl stares at the bleeding slave, at her short, rough, black hair; skeletal features; the rags that were clothes—her eyes glow brighter at the blood on her fingers. What a sweet smell...like cherry blossoms.
The woman bent down, taking the slave’s hand in her own, “Please don’t die.”
The girl spoke again in another tongue then left the dirtied cell. Slave 276 felt their eyes on her, there would be more hurt soon. Leaning against the cold stone; the door is shut and the comfort of darkness is reborn by the shadow of the wall. The slave presses harder on her neck--what does it mean to die? Is it better than this existence; this cell that is the world to her, does something else lie beyond it? A sense of curiosity, never known before, is found after their encounter. Slave 276 wanted to know what was meant by ‘please don’t die’ because it had never been said. There was, however, a problem: at seven years in age as a slave she did not know how to speak and understood only a few words.
To the beasts, she was food in a cage and that is how she felt, not until she began to question her world, and grow to know more about the world of light. Slave 276 became a quick listener, but the only thing she wanted was to show her happiness to the kind beast. The other slaves were not like her, they always hated and talked like there was another way, that the slaves were to be the masters.
For weeks she searched for those words, something to express to the kind beast, but she had yet to return. The strange, long, rag with a bright color to it was cleaned (as best as an inhuman slave knew to clean) with no spec of her red water. She kept it close, hidden cleverly from the big beasts and her own cleverness would not be expected of one so young. Nonetheless every night when complete darkness wrapped its welcoming hands, Slave 276 knew every inch of her world and easily navigated to the hidden location under a broken brick that was impossible to see with ill light and hardly so with it (not that there was ever enough light in her cell anyway). Carefully she touched its soft cloth, the same color as her water, yet lighter and purer it seemed. Once she finished tracing its boarders with her fingertips it was folded with care and hidden once more.
After a long time, the slave began to lose hope that the kind beast would return again...just as she had learned those two words. As always, the big beast come to take her red water—they stood at the cell door with it wide open. No one moved. She recognized her name in their words but could not understand the rest. Another big beast came, but he had no been here before either. Slave 276 pressed against her world’s walls and had little energy to do else. He was tall and slender for a beast; neat in appearance this man wore rags that seemed to be identical to the kind beast. A flicker of hope sparked in her chest. The slender beast had a mean expression, worse than what the ones here wore. The beast huffed, annoyed at this confrontation and extended his gloved hand to the little slave.
“I have been sent to collect you.” He said in words that Slave 276 would understand.
The slave did nothing. The beast was further annoyed and soon it would turn to anger at the arrogance of this slave—he hesitated, the look in her eyes...she ‘did not’ understand him. Heavily he sighed, like the others his features were flawless, but its obvious of his experience and therefore irritation at being sent on such an errand. What is the lady thinking? He reached for the slave and tapped her neck—she recognized the idea when the beast pointed to a long piece of rag around his neck. Quickly she went for the carefully selected spot and removed the red water-colored one that was left. The beast chuckles as it was offered to him.
“That’s right, Lady Eona has asked me to take you away.”
This was amusing in some way, but the time for that would be later and his lady does not like to be kept waiting. The chains around her ankles were removed and with her hand in his, the slave followed the beast outside her world.
It was bright out, so much that the tiny girl froze before the border of her world of comforting darkness and this new horizon. The car lies just twenty feet from the building, but she would not move. The elder was both intrigued and confused--a human afraid of sunlight. From the car she came, clothed in a summer dress, despite the winter breeze which never bothered her, wearing a wide sunhat. Against his request she came closer to the shaking child and bent down to her level.
Tightly at first Slave 276 held the long rag, then courageously she extended it in hand to the kind beast. The young woman smiles, lifting her hat off her own and placing it on the slave’s head. This was it, the only chance to say those words which were the first she could speak and understand to the only person who asked for her to live.