Aretherra Volume One | Aerosus And That Fateful Night V2

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Throughout the ages, experienced explorers, seeking ancient mysteries and storied fortunes, have entered the Forest, never to be seen again. Soon I would disappear into the wall of trees, the gateway to the vast wilderness beyond. I was entering another world, the Forest of Erebus.

Wispy clouds swam the invisible currents of winds, suspended in the ebony sky that surrounded my home and extended until it faded to grey over the distant capital city. Stars announced their celestial presence as they glimmered throughout the vast sea of darkness, anchored in each of their distant homes.

Copyright Eric L Gardner © 2021
Aretherra Vol I – Chapter: Aerosus And That Fateful Night
Created: 04.03.16
Updated: 02.28.2017 : 6185
New Revision: 11.08.18
Latest Update: 09.19.19

CHAPTER
Aerosus And That Fateful Night

I watched helplessly as my mother fell to the floor of our living room. White-hot bolts of energy surged through her entire body. As the energy and fire consumed her, my Mother’s body shook uncontrollably, I wanted to look away, but I wouldn’t. Forcing myself to watch my Mother’s death allowed me to fully see the man who killed her. Someday, I will find him and get justice for her. I kept my hands firmly over my ears long after I knew her screaming had ended and with it her life. Even after this time, I could hear the crackle of tiny sparks that danced along her exposed skin, until it reached her fingertips. I could even smell the scent of burnt hair, all the way up in my secret hiding place, high above the living room. I watched, no, I studied, the evil man who killed my mother, as he stood over her lifeless body. Her body twitched one last time and then it was over. My mother was dead.

I cupped my hands over my mouth to stop my scream of anguish. My father kneeled before her lifeless body, his hands locked behind his back. He let out a guttural scream of rage and anguish. His wail was loud enough to pour out through the raised windows of our living room, rebound off of nearby houses and echo back to me through the small closed escape window at the other end of my hiding place.

The evil man just stood there completely unphased by my Father’s abject sorrow, uncaring of his role in destroying this man’s life by taking the love of his life. In fact, he seemed almost amused by the catastrophic wreckage he brought to our world. He stepped over my Mother like she was roadkill and stood before my kneeling Father, who was still quietly crying and looking only at my Mother.

Suddenly it struck me, like a flash of rational thought forcing it’s way past the blanket of anguish and torment to the forefront of my mind. Why did my mother have to defend our family, our home, me? Why did she try to attack this man when he first arrived? Did she know him? Did she know how dangerous he was? My mom is the bravest woman I will ever know.

Standing arm’s length in front of my Father, he held up his bare forearms, smiled and made everyone watch as thin white ribbons of energy crackled and popped, running along the skin of his forearm. He then made it stop at will and the energy ribbons faded until they dissipated near his palms. I’m not sure why he insisted on giving this display of ability to the room, because it was obvious that he was a Phyrroan. Unless it’s like my Father has told me before, ‘Some people can’t stop themselves from showing off; especially bad people, who find great satisfaction in showing everyone else the bad things they can do to hurt other people.’

He’s also threatening my Father by showing off his Phyrroan power. If my Father doesn’t give me up and tell them where I am, he’ll meet the same fate like my Mother. But Mr. Evil Phyrroan guy is too arrogant to realize that my Dad doesn’t want to live anymore, not without my Mother. All of this happened so fast, and was so surreal that I could not, I did not want any of this to be real. But when I saw Mr. Evil smile at my Father, after killing my Mother, while so proud of his monstrous ability; I knew at that moment, I may not see either of my parents again after tonight.

In all of my 12 years, I had never seen my father lose his temper, raise his voice or utter an angry word, until that night. Nothing prepared me for the onslaught of profanity that was mingled with my father’s moans and cries of abject sadness. My mother really was dead!

My father was the strongest man I have ever known. Yet, even fueled by passion and rage, he could not escape the towering men that held him. My father was powerless against their strength and fell to his knees in a feeble effort to get closer to my Mother, his one true love; who was now smoldering before him on the floor. After being beaten down by his captors, my father appeared to be bowing his head in defeat, but I knew he was looking at her through blurry wet eyes.

My Mother’s killer stood silent and still, like a marble statue, unspeaking and unmoving. He slowly shook his head and lowered his arms to his side. Wisps of black smoke slithered away from her body far above her killer’s head before a slight breeze caught and carried the smoke and tiny ashes through the skylight up into the atmosphere above our home.

Perched high above this grotesque scene, I knelt, completely frozen, mind, body, and soul, save my tears, now cascading off my chin and onto my knees. My mind’s eye kept forcing me to relive the final few moments of my mother’s life. In an instant, I transitioned from nausea to infinite sadness, and finally to rage on the edge of eruption.

Shaking me from my internal wellspring of rage, the deep-voiced man continued.

“As you see, trying to resist us has consequences. You will soon gain the proper perspective with regard to these matters; she was a Lege,” he motioned toward my mother’s body, “and had you followed the proper channels, by registering your Lege and Ariya, it is possible that this could have been avoided. I then noticed how low and resident his voice was, and easily understandable up here in my hiding place, behind a wall.

My father remained silent and still, looking only at my mother, still lying on the floor at his feet. I closed my eyes and instead pictured her smiling at me, as she used to whenever she saw me or told me she loved me.

The deep-voiced man, or as I prefer, my mother’s killer, continued speaking to my father in a measured authoritative and calm manner. Although I could not make out what he was saying, as I was desperately trying to hear the sounds from every other part of our home. I could be minutes away from being discovered and captured.

I could hear the searchers scattered throughout our home, checking every room, every dark corner, every possible place where a hiding place could possibly exist. I could hear the upstairs floorboards creak under the heavy, yet precise and measured footsteps of the search troopers as they poured over every inch of our second floor. I knew it was only a matter of time before they found my special place. My hiding place has been a sanctuary and room of solace and protection for my entire life. Since I was a child, the searching parties came to our home in the dead of night to harass my family and accuse my parents of crimes against the Union. Never have they found me and my hiding place, which is a dark, narrow room, with a slanted ceiling that mirrors our roofline. There was always enough room for me when I was a small child.

Stacks of old books line the walls of my secret sanctuary, each taken or given from my father’s library. As I completed each book, I carefully and neatly stacked them. Many of these I’ve read two or three times, especially the ones that taught me about the different and strange people from other lands, often wondering if I could ever see these people or visit these places.

I am fascinated by the histories of the great kingdoms of our world; influential people and the families that came before down through the ages. I would spend hours pouring over books filled with images of places beyond imagining and the even more bizarre people who lived there. To this day, I close my eyes at night and in those fleeting moments before I’m taken away to dream of the world beyond my little room, I try to imagine myself traveling across the sea to a far off land, where the new and the fantastic wait for me. I never get off the boat. I either fall asleep or I am distracted by an incoming thought.

With my Mother and father’s guidance, they provided a big picture, a vast vista of the history of our world and how all of the pieces of it fit together. I’ve recently come to realize how important their gift of knowledge has been and will be for the remainder of my life, even if it ends today. My parents gave me more than just the words, scrolled across the hundred-plus books crammed in this little room, they gave me the gift of education like no other. It might take some people a lifetime to learn what they have taught me in twelve short years.

I realized just how far away my daydreams had carried me from the here and now when his deep voice brought me back to reality. His voice quaked our walls and quivered our floors, registering a full octave lower than most normal men’s voices. This man’s voice may be deeper than most, but this is the voice of the coward who killed my mother!

“We know your son is an Ariya. We took a random scan of his blood at the local market yesterday”, he mentioned proudly, as he walked back to my kneeling father, reached down and clenched my father’s chin tightly in the grasp of his black glove. He pulled my father’s face up towards his cold stare. My father remained strong and continued to cast his gaze down towards the floor, and would not give his eyes to the evil man. The man continued, “You have lost your wife. Please don’t make me kill you too. If you tell us where your boy is, our young Ariya, I’ll let you come with us and I promise that we will keep you both safe.” My Dad remained still and calm, unaffected by the clenching grip his captor held upon his face. “What happens now is up to you. It would be a shame if we found your son and had to kill him in front of you before we kill you anyway. If your sense of self-preservation is intact, you’ll tell us where the boy is hiding and you both get to live.”

I finally realized that my father was not looking at the floor after all; he was always looking at my mother’s face. My father loved my mother more than his own life. I had to look away. I closed my eyes tight, trying to instantly forget the sight of my mother’s dead body, her face, still beautiful, even in death. I tried to remember her smiling at me this morning when I told her a funny story, but somehow the image of her smile faded as fast as I could recall it from my memory, now replaced by my mother, in death.

BANG!

The door to my father’s study slammed against the wall. Inches away in my secret hiding place, I knelt, my body shaking, as tears dripped from my chin. All preconceptions of safety were shattered at that moment; I was moments away from being discovered! The searchers were literally inches away from where I knelt, from finding me!

The searchers finally left my father’s office and reported all clear to their superior officers downstairs. I stayed frozen, wrapped in a ball, with my arms around my legs and my head between my knees, just praying for all of this to go away. But after several minutes of eerie silence that seemed to fill the house with its own tension, I lifted my head and knew that everything was still the same. My mother was still, dead. My father was still being held by that psychopath who killed my mother and my home is filled with a bunch of searchers, who would kill me, as much as look at me. Footsteps creaked at the seemed to This time there was finality in his spoken word.

“Tell me now or join your wife.”

My father broke his stare and slowly looked up at the deep-voiced killer. Glaring, my father’s eyes met his as if marking him for death. I knew then that I had been thinking similar thoughts as my father. My parents and I always had a plan in place for this day. It was remote, yet inevitable that I would be found by the radicals in our government, those who would mean to control every facet of our lives, from birth to death with an iron fist.

Closing his eyes, my father finally broke his silence and said the words that I was waiting for and at the same time never wanted to hear. With these four simple words, my father was also saying “goodbye”. I may never see him or my mother again after this declaration. If my father is killed, I will be alone.

My father said them slowly, calmly and with each word, his voice raised like a crescendo until he was yelling.

“Aerosus, RUN! NOW Son! RUN!”

My Father knew that I was watching, listening, and waiting upstairs in my hiding spot. He knew that I stood at attention with my eyes closed, waiting for my orders, to carry out and execute his commands. My parents spent the last twelve years hiding me away from the world, keeping me safe from those who would enslave, torture, or persecute me, all in the name of the “greater good.” But then suddenly, in the context of that moment, I was questioning my entire life. What should I do? The preparation and knowledge my parents gave me, have all lead to this very moment. They knew that this day would come. Somehow they knew that I would have to make a choice. I would have to either choose to stay and die with them, or run and be free.

But freedom always has a cost. Sometimes, the cost of freedom is far too high for some people to pay. The people that I will face in the days and years to come are of the most sinister and evil sort. If the people out there running the world are associated with the man who killed my mother, then they are EVIL. This is all I need to know. Someday, when I am grown, when I am stronger and more powerful, I will find the deep-voiced man, and all men like him, and I will kill them all! I opened my eyes and knew what I had to do.

In a fluid motion, I turned, stood and ran through the long, book-filled hiding place, skimming along the wall in sections as to not knock over towers of neatly stacked books. I race to the escape hatch and open the little window that leads outside onto the back roof of our home. At that moment I did not consider how monumental this moment was in my life. Once I stole away from my secret hiding place, I was forever leaving behind my books, all of the years of hiding, my home, years of memories, and most of all, my parents. As of that moment, alive or dead, I would never see my parents ever again.

My Father made me practice my escape sequence many times over the years. A black coat and hat hang on a peg next to my “run bag” beside the escape hatch. In a single, rehearsed motion, I swung on my coat, crammed the hat in the right pocket and snatched up the bag. I flung open the door to the crisp night air. Freedom?

A brisk breeze of night air swept over me as I peered from the threshold of my escape hatch. Across my back lawn, far below, I could barely make out the trees that boarded the far side of our property. I took one hurried step through the window and looked down. I stopped immediately, frozen by my own emotions and stunned by what I saw.

There on the windowsill sat my father’s broken pocket watch. It was an heirloom that has been passed down in our family, from father to son, generation to generation, for hundreds of years. The watch had been broken for the past several generations, however, at one time it was a beautiful piece of precision craftsmanship. My father told me a few years ago that the watch’s design and internal mechanics had no equal. The watch had a cracked face glass, missing second-hand scratches on the back that messed up the letters of the engraving and the metal was highly tarnished.

My father told me that the watch was priceless and very special. But for a young boy, that sounded like a tall tale and the watch looked like something he might have found in a junk pile, or on the side of the road. I hadn’t seen the watch since the day he showed it to me a few years ago. I figured that he had lost or sold the watch since that day. However, as I looked down and saw its cracked face staring back at me, I knew that he was right all along, it was priceless. I grabbed the pocket watch, slid it into my pants pocket and carefully climbed out onto the wet tiled roof.

It was raining and as I dragged my second leg out of the window, I tried not to lose my footing on the moist surface of the tiles as I closed the hatch behind me. With my head spinning and my feet unsure, I summoned the inner strength to slowly creep down the roof toward the edge, where the roof meets the sky – far above the ground below.

For a moment I paused and sat on the roof looking at the night sky, silhouette of the trees that dotted the rolling hills between our home and the glow of the capital city in the distance. I’ve always found comfort and peace at night, from the darkness it brings. The beauty of that night was no exception to the rule, however, I found no comfort, no peace.

Wispy clouds swam the invisible currents of winds, suspended in the ebony sky that surrounded my home and extended until it faded to grey over the distant capital city. Stars announced their celestial presence as they glimmered throughout the vast sea of darkness, anchored in each of their distant homes.

My Father’s words hastened me back to reality and I felt them push me forward, or more aptly downward. I had to make it to the roof’s edge, which I guessed was (about 12 feet) away. Much to my disadvantage, I had never navigated my roof escape at night and in the pouring rain!

Was I really doing this? Can I run away and leave my home, my Father, my Moth…I couldn’t finish that thought! I cannot think of her now, not like that, not like this, this damn mess! If I ever find that man, someday, somehow, he will pay!

“Run Aero! Run!” Over and over his words culled from my mind and rang in my ears. I took one last breath, long and deep, holding the cool, damp evening air that filled my chest. I then set my jaw with my mouth tightly clenched, and with a fierce new resolve, I lunged into the night.

My bag was the first to roll down the toppling off the edge of the roof, before finally making a dull thud on the ground, two stories below. I was next. My shoe slipped and down I went, closer and closer to the edge of the roofline I went, twisting around, then rolling the arm over arm, left, chest, right, back, repeat. I dug my right hand into the roof tiles as I continued to slide towards the inevitable fall and subsequent injury, or death. But at the moment, I didn’t think of hitting the ground, I was only driven by instinct. I dug my fingernails into the roof tiles which caused my body to pivot enough to now be heading face first towards the roof’s edge. Everything happened in slow motion somehow. I had no control of my body, as gravity was my master and I was its slave. I was going to sail right off the roof headfirst and probably break my neck in the process, or worse.

I was mentally prepared to fall off the roof. During the slide, the tumbling, the pivot and the final slide toward the edge, grisly thoughts of pain and torment from hitting the ground flashed before my mind’s eye. I was NOT prepared for what would actually happen next!

Instinct continued to drive my actions, so I readied my arms and hands for the edge of the roof, knowing I had to feel the edge tiles as it was too dark and too wet to see them coming toward me at that velocity. In any case, I’m pretty sure my eyes were tightly shut, fearing, anticipating my coming demise.

At the very edge of the roof, I pushed off with my arms, with all the strength that I could muster. It was as if I was performing a strange circus stunt like some crazed, adrenaline-fueled push up on the edge of a roof. After I pushed away with my arms, I dug my feet against the roofline and pushed off with my legs as well. In that moment between moments, where time is split into infinitesimal increments, all that I could see, hear, smell, and feel poured into my mind in rapid filmstrips of sequential motion. An onslaught of data as comprehensive as the world was funneled into my fertile consciousness and to my surprise, everything was fluid and clearly defined in every possible way. At that very same moment, I thought of the many ideas for my roof edge push off to end. Each of my aerial-gymnast fantasies was more elaborate than the next. But only one romance ended in my fall from grace.

Then it happened.

I shot up into the air far above the roof and ground! I kept going up, further and further, easily doubling the highest point of our two-level home. I began to wave my arms frantically in circles, hoping to find a way to stop my ascent into the night sky. I finally rested my arms pointed toward the ground below to stop my rise. By now, I was so high up that my home could visually fit between two of my fingers. My heart pounded relentlessly in my chest, what was this madness!?

Was I a Xuvi? My parents were not Xuvi and couldn’t fly. Could this be a fluke? All this time, all of these years with no powers, no abilities and tonight of all nights, now something manifests?

My mind continued to race. I closed my eyes and continued to think about this absurdity. I was so concerned with my life and my lifelong lack of abilities that I had not noticed I had closed half my distance and was much closer to the yard behind our home…where three large men from the searching party were posted.

Then I noticed my bag, not far from where they stood. They must not have heard my backpack hit the ground behind them and even better, they never saw me fly up from the roof over their heads. However, it was only a matter of time before I was seen, and I was captured.

I sighed with relief. Then my heart sank as I saw all three of them look up at me at once. How could they know I’m up here? It’s not like, and then I saw it, the massive shadow cast on the lawn by my floating body from Lhunoz. What now?

All I could do was a watch, as it is evident that these three searchers were all Xuvian and they were coming to get me! Up they flew, again in unison, until two searchers flanked each side of me while the third one gracefully stopped his ascent directly in front of me. I was surrounded. All three searchers floated around me, forming a perfect triangle, each at an arm’s length.

I closed my eyes, thinking of a way, any way to escape. No matter what, they would catch me. If I attempted to fly higher, they would too. If I could elude their grasp and head for the roof or ground, I was very sure this also was impossible, and I would be caught the second any attempt of escape was made. They had me surrounded. I was done!

I winced and opened my eyes when the two searchers each grabbed one of my arms with an iron grip. With a grin and a sharp nod from the searcher floating in front of me, down we went. A few seconds later, we were all standing on the ground, a ways off from the back of my home.

I think I was still floating between the two broad searchers, anchored only by their fierce grip on each of my arms. The third searcher was much shorter than his subordinates. If I was standing on the ground, I was pretty sure that I was taller than him; still, he was something of a leader or captain, outranking the two mussel head searchers currently cutting off circulation in my arms. He marched in front of us with military precision. With each step, he dictated the pace and order of the actions made by the massive searchers at my side. Watching the little captain march in front of us made it clear that his size had no bearing on his ability to lead. I remembered what my father once told me; “It’s just extra leg bone Aero.”

Our professional suddenly stopped. Still a couple of paces from the back steps to our home. The little captain spun around and addressed his two searchers, or more accurately “grabbers.”

“Wait here. Don’t let him go. I will inform the commander of our triumph and await our next orders.”

In unison, the two grabbers replied, “Yes, sir!”

With that, the little captain spun around once again toward my home, up the stairs and went inside.

My two captors remained at attention, seemingly undaunted by what felt like forever, waiting for the little captain’s return. I, on the other hand, was growing more anxious with every passing moment. I found myself getting lost in my thoughts, dark thoughts, my mother, my father, running away, being captured, flying! I quickly shook my head, trying to break from this spiral of doubt and grief. It didn’t work.

Suddenly I was being pulled up the steps, my feet now dragging on each level and then across the tiles on our back porch. They halted between two of the massive columns that suspend the overhang. What were they waiting for? Was this it? Am I about to be executed? Or worse, watch my father meet the same demise as my mother, quickly followed by my execution? But wait, didn’t they say I was talented? Was I important enough to capture or essential sufficient to kill on-site?

Out of nowhere, the little captain was standing in front of me, just beyond arm’s length again.

“Upon his signal, the commander wants the boy inside. He will sort this out personally.” With these words, the little captain smiled and stared into my eyes.

I wouldn’t give him the pleasure of looking anxious or scared, but I was. I sneered at him silently; my heart beats ever faster, my hands now clenched into fists of rage. My mother gave her life so that I could live. I don’t know where my father is or if he’s still alive, but I know that he too would give his life for mine a million times over again so that I could live so that I could escape these oppressive, traitorous, and treacherous villains.

My parents have prepared me for this moment for my entire life. They knew that someday, this might happen. I cannot betray their love of me, and their lives were given to me. I cannot let these evil men take me to my capture, or worse take me to my death!

With these powerful thoughts coursing through my mind, I suddenly felt a surge of power coursed through my body. At that moment, I felt my entire being change. My whole body tingled, and the air against my skin sizzled with a sense of energy. For the first time that night, for the first time in my life, I felt powerful! My spine blazed with heat, all at once, it tingled and burned at the same time. The pain from the heat surged up through my neck and into my head, all-consuming grief. I felt like passing out. I felt like throwing up.

None one of my captors noticed me wincing in pain. The little captain was still standing at attention, and the two huge searchers still had me clenched in a vice grip on each arm.

Suddenly I could feel the only energy, the fire in my body burned off and the pain subsided; and then it happened. A surge of energy surged from the bottom of my spine to the top and then out through my now outstretched arms! My two flanking captors exploded away from me, hurtling through space until they each were slammed against nearby columns. They didn’t get up.

The little captain spun around with utter disbelief on his once smug face. Instinctively, I cast my arms in front of me and bolts of energy exploded through from my hands again, throwing the little captain back through the air and slamming him against the side of the house.

Now I stood stunned in disbelief, and then I smiled. None of these creeps were getting up. My fingertips still felt tingly and with good reason. I looked down at my hands and watched sizzling serpents of light, sparks of residual energy dance on my skin. What a weird and pleasant sensation. The sickening irony struck me. I had just manifested the same ability to save my life, that earlier had killed my mother. But how could I fly like a Xuvi and shoot energy like a Phyrroan? Nobody has more than one power anymore.

I could hear the deep voice of my mother’s killer in our home and the faint sound of shallow breathing from the three unconscious men that lay nearby. I frantically spun around to look for my bag and found it nearby on the ground. I ran down the steps, snatched my pocket as I ran and continued running through our backyard. As I put more and more distance between me and my home, a chill went down my spine when I heard what may have been my father’s last words.

Behind me, deep inside our home, I could hear the Phyrroan evil man shouting at my Father, and finally, my father cries out, “Aero, if you’re out there, run. NOW!” my father then screamed out in pain and was silenced. I stopped in my tracks for a brief moment and turned to the house. I could have sworn I saw a flash of white light shine out through two of the windows for a moment after my Father yelled that to me. As fresh tears welled in my eyes, I whispered towards the house, “I love you, Dad. I love you, Mom.” And with that, I clenched the strap of my bag, turned away from our home for the last time and sprinted into the night.

The night swallowed me, and the cold night air felt invigorating, while it stung my lungs breathe in so deeply. I was leaving behind the lights from our home and the lamps that light our once peaceful little lane. Making matters worse, heavy, thick clouds still ruled the sky kingdom after the recent storm and they obscured any of the reflected light that our moon, Lhunoz, might usually give me to guide my way. By this point, the rain had ceased, but the evening’s downfall left the ground soft and muddy, with scattered puddles everywhere. Even so, I ran faster than I had ever run in my life. With each step, I was further away from my parents, my home, and my past. I was drawing ever closer to the capital city, Sutekh-Navois, ever closer to my future.

As I sprinted and sloshed my way across the field behind our property, my eyes fully adjusted as I became sheathed by the immense darkness of the night. As I ran to the edge of the area before me, I would soon disappear into the wall of trees, the gateway of the vast forest beyond. I was entering another world, avoid and place of its own, the Forest of Erebus.

My parents told me tales of this ancient wood. Of the explorations and adventures of inquisitive men through the ages, of the battles waged by Kings and Queens of old, and the mysteries discovered and the secrets still held by The Forest of Erebus.

The Forest of Erebus was dark, dense, and dangerous. Towering trees shielded the night sky from me, which was my only source of light and sight. My father used to read to me, tales of old which warned that even with clear skies at night, “light from Lhunoz and of the stars would not show the way home.”

I wasn’t going home was I? I could never go back again. Why would I want to? There was nothing for me there. They took that from me. He decided that from me. Where am I? Why did I come here? I have to go back. I can’t. This forest, if you can call it that, more like a living creature, is going to kill me. Why not? My parents are dead. I’m sure I’m next. Those don’t even look like trees. Aero, stop. OK, alright. You’re alright.

No, you’re not. At least you’re talking to yourself, that’s healthy. The looming limbs, full of foliage, reaching out from distant towering trunks of enormous trees imposed a frightening sense of desolation and loneliness. I was alone. Not just here, in the immense forest, but my own shaken reality. Alone, here among so much life, yet surrounded by death, in my thoughts, deep within my soul, alone.

Lost. In my thoughts. In this place. Spinning, searching, aimlessly wandering through the darkness. Pain, wet, from my fingers and palms, and up my arms. It’s got to be blood; I’m bleeding. I must have fallen into a bush or tree covered with sharp needles. I don’t remember what happened; how I fell into the jagged needles, or how I got out, and how I ended up covered with leaves in this hole and I didn’t care!

For once, since my parents died, I felt a minuscule fraction of comfort. Sure, I was bleeding. Yes, and it’s warm, that’s a lot of blood. I’m sure my flesh is torn from my palms to biceps, all cut up into pieces, but I don’t care. I feel warm for the first time since I jumped from the window. I’m at least covered from the elements and harshness of the forest for the time being. If you call wet, partially decomposed leaves a temporary covering, sure, that’ll work. This is enough, at this time and place and in the shadow of my living Hell and the trees of Erebus to finally sleep.

***

As Aerosus closes his eyes, the discomfort and pain that he felt throughout his body made him feel nauseous. Aero’s stomach growled, reminding him that he had not eaten anything since he had lunch with his parents earlier that day. How insanely different, how drastically and forever altered his life would be from now on. All he could do now was to hope and pray for sleep. If he could sleep, he could escape the excruciating pain he feels in his heart, body, and soul. The raindrops continued to filter through the canopy of leaves, slicing a darting against his exposed skin. Even in the darkness, Aero could see that the water was washing away the pooling blood in his wounds and the dark crimson stains from his clothes. As Aero falls into a deep slash whisked away to a far-off place, that can and should only exist in his dreams. He will not awake until three days from now.

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