Here is the second half of the the edited version of my first chapter. There are links to all my work at the bottom of this post. Thanks again everyone and I sincerely hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
Also, be sure to check out @rhondak 's post here if you would like more info regarding the MSP (Minnow Support Project) and our Fiction Workshop Discord Channel. It is through their efforts that I have been able to provide this polished version.
A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 1 PART 2 Edited Version
A great battle waged within him.
Selfishly, he desired the gem and what it promised. However, something restrained him. His thoughts cried out in desperation—did he have the right to act? The failure within him slowly reared its misshapen head.
The light had nearly banished the ever-present stain within him, or at least caused him to forget momentarily. Once again, however, the scar within him proved its superiority. This was his punishment, born from his past.
He knew what would happen if he dared grasp such purity, lest he only spread his contagion. He wanted it, yes, but that was nothing but selfishness and arrogance. He didn’t need his mind to know that he had nothing to offer the sapphire.
Thus, gazing up at the sapphire, for his eyes had never left its radiance, Riggs urged it to flee.
“Go, whatever you are, go. Find someone else worthy of your gift, before my presence ruins it.”
The creature did nothing, at first, as if not hearing his words. Then, ever so gently, the light pulled at something within him. As if saying, Are you certain? Another emotion emanated from the orb—sympathy. After all this, it pitied him.
Riggs didn’t know how he felt about that. It didn’t matter though, the gem’s power was waning, heeding his words. Time seemed to shift back into its destined path as the azure rays retracted once again within the gem. The glass cage that surrounded his body gave little resistance as the sapphire slowly glided through. Then with another dazzling arc of energy, the creature disappeared.
The darkness that followed left Riggs with more than just the absence of light. Despair rippled through him, filling the vacuum the gem had left in its wake. Yet, he refrained from calling for the creature to return. His chance at escape had slipped through his fingers. Inaction had failed him again. No, not inaction—he had made the choice to remain in this vile pit. He nearly broke.
Riggs took a modicum of solace, though, from the fact that he’d resisted the gem’s temptation. It would remain pure. He almost chuckled at the irony. In refusing the gem’s offer, he had truly done it the best aid he could muster. Not that such a creature would get very far in the current state of the world. An aura that bright would make a feast for a legion of them. His prison was well hidden, but he doubted that even the wards could conceal such a lifeforce from hungry eyes for long.
“Your opinion is needed, Riggs.”
In his despair, Riggs hadn’t noticed the chamber’s gradual return to normalcy. His captor’s voices had returned to the grating intensity he remembered. Long ago, he discovered the futility of refusing the bugs. They would have their answers, as they had countless times before. Something odd about the question though. Opinion? The bugs rarely required his opinion, if ever.
Every few years or so, the bugs would wake him, ask several pointless questions regarding humanity, then force him back into the void of dreamless sleep. Now they want opinions? Maybe they feel they know my history better than I do now, and opinions are all I can give them.
“Leave me be. I’m not in the mood…”
In response, a device of some malignant design, droned to life outside his tank. It added more of the blinking, wicked green light to the other mechanisms strewn throughout the chamber. Tubes ran from device to device, filling the chamber with what appeared to be dark, ribbed tentacles.
The green light grew in intensity.
“No!” was all Riggs had time to scream.
Flowing through the tubes, the foul energy filled his prison, racking his body with shocking agony. Although brief, the pain left him breathless.
“Curse your kind and their damned machines!”
Machines. It was a word they had taught him years ago. Wicked and unholy things. Several moments passed while his anger smoldered.
“We apologize for the pain, Riggs, but there is no time for stubbornness.”
The lack of emotion in their voices always infuriated him. They toyed with life and death, yet never seemed to grasp its real meaning. He sighed. The bugs would have their answers, even if they had to rip them from his mind directly.
“What is it then?”
“How do you feel?”
The question confused him at first, but his anger swallowed any growing bewilderment.
“Feel! How do you think I feel? You’ve taken everything from me, my life, my mind! And now you have the balls to ask how I feel?”
“Riggs, please, there is little time.”
He had grown used to their heartless attitude, but their false attempt at being courteous now infuriated him further. He screamed, long and hard, beating his emaciated hands against the glass coffin.
The strain of the situation pressed down upon him, unbearable. The voices, the forced air, the constant golden blur, losing the gem, and his own internal loathing inundated him in sensory overload.
His body began to thrash, his hands searched the walls of the prison. Finding nothing, they wrenched the device that thrust the continuous musty air into his face and lungs. His eyes searched again for something of use, but shut them again. Nothing to see in the sickly, golden hue. He needed air, real, clean air. His fingers scoured the mask-like apparatus for weakness, pulling and prodding to no effect.
Another scream of frustration left his body—it was the only part of him that ever left his tank. He watched as goblets of air attempted to mix with the viscous liquid surrounding him, slowly ascending to eventually break in ripples of gold and grey. Yet, even his breath would be recycled and forced back upon him. The notion made him sick and claustrophobic. He quieted, letting his body sink to the bottom of the cylinder. His hands drew his knees close to his chest, a feeble attempt to shield himself from the outside world, if not the inside one.
“He is no good to us in this condition. His memory has failed him. He believes we took his mind.”
Another slightly less rasping voice joined the others, “Riggs, although you may view it as contrary to our nature, we do understand your confusion. It was not our intention for your memory to fail. In fact, it is a most unfortunate turn of events. We fear that it may be a result of your stasis here. Coupled with the current situation, it is not surprising that you may experience some memory loss.”
Riggs wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of knowing whether he heard their words or not.
“Without his mind, he will not survive, we will not survive. We must reintegrate his memories from the database.”
“That will take too much time, and it is unlikely we have enough remaining power to complete the process, that is if we intend to—.”
“That is unavoidable, without his mind complete, his chances of success drop significantly,” another voice echoed.
“That would mean the loss of our entire research.”
“If he fails, all will be lost.”
“Very well, but he may need more than his own experiences if he is to succeed. Shall we integrate the other research as well?”
“Yes, that may give him the advantage he needs.”
“And what of the anomaly that entered the complex, breaching our defenses? Were we detected?”
“Unlikely, emergency backup power systems were unaffected. However, judging from the time the anomaly entered the complex and Auryn’s elevated bodily readings after restoring power, the creature may have made contact. I can detect no residual aura fragments,” the slightly gentler voice answered.
“How unusual, under more suitable circumstances, I would recommend further study. However, we must make the memory reintegration our priority. Recalibrate the wards to prevent further entry and begin the reintegration process.”
Copyright © 2017 by David Kottas. All rights reserved
- A World Long Sundered -- A Description of My Novel In Progress
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 1 PART 1 Edited Version
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 1 Original Version (for those of you who would like to compare)
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 2 Original Version
- My Other Works