A World Long Sundered – Chapter 5 PART 1
Auryn would later be found curled into a ball, still naked and deep in shock.
From the way Kyndra had stormed into the farm in tears and rambling about a fall, Lucia had thought her son had already perished. The journey to the Bo had been one of frantic and focused confusion that only a desperate parent can understand. Finding her son streaked with blood, but otherwise whole, only combined her confusion with panicky relief. If not for the fearsome amount of blood upon his body and surroundings, she would have questioned whether her son had taken the fall at all.
There were other unexplainable things as well.
Auryn’s blood streaked nakedness was only one. The wind. She had never felt such an evening gust in the tree’s presence before. It signaled a coming storm, another rarity in this area. Even more alarming was the entire canopy of the R’leigh Bo had disappeared. Well, disappeared was the wrong word, for it was still there, just no longer above where it should be. Every single leaf or blossom or new year’s growth was dead. All of it had fallen to the ground in shriveled brownish-red husks, shadows of their former glory. Not a single leaf held the vibrant green of its usual self. If she had not seen the Bo only days ago, she would have thought the leaves fallen and dead over a month from their decay.
In all her years in the valley, she had never seen the Bo drop so much as a single leaf from its branches other than the ones her children and picked themselves. The blossoms, yes, but never a leaf. Nor had the tree ever shown the signs of the season, it had always been in a perpetual state of spring and summer. The tree had seemed nearly eternal. Now, to see it in this skeletal form disturbed her almost as much as what came next.
She wrapped her shivering and naked child her own cloak and began to lift him into her arms causing Auryn to jerk his eyes open in half consciousness. It was then she first saw the change. No longer did her son have the dark eyes of his father. Where nearly black irises had been, eyes of such an unnatural green now replaced them. She stumbled when she saw them, for they almost glowed. In fact, she was sure they had glowed. When Auryn realized who it was that now held him, his body fell limp in unconsciousness.
She would have to worry about that later she told herself, she needed to get him home and warm. A rustle from some unknown animal rummaging in the distant clearing’s edge accentuated her thought further, and together with her daughter’s help, she begun the journey home as quick as they could manage.
Riggs saw all of this of course, a specter in this recreation. What he’d just seen still held him a state of awe. He’d not expected such a turn of events. It was pretty hard to believe. Then again, it was also hard not to believe. Unlikely the bugs would fabricate such a story; creativity was not their strong point. He didn’t know how he knew this, he just did. There was also still the matter of how they knew all this in the first place. And the girl… He decided he would watch the story a while longer and followed after them.
Kyndra seemed even more confused than her mother. Although obviously relieved her brother still lived, she was having difficulty correlating what she had seen with what she was seeing. As they marched hurriedly from Bo’s clearing, Riggs noticed Kyndra glimpse back several times towards the remains of the great tree as if searching for something unseen.
“Do you recall what came next Riggs?” came the familiar buzz.
The recreation had ended, only blackness surrounded Riggs consciousness now.
“Where am I?” he said more out of habit than for any real desire for explanation. His captors offered none and pressed him further.
“It would be beneficial if this reproduction was no longer required. Time is running short Riggs. Do you remember anything after the fall?”
Memories bubbled up from somewhere within. His mother sometimes spoke of The Fall.
The light of the lamp upon the corner table cast his mother’s shadow against the far wall and window. Light and shadow played with the wind and rain-blown branches directly outside the glass. Auryn’s mother usually tucked Kyndra into bed first, but tonight had been different.
An unusual thunderstorm had kept both children up later than usual. They had sat upon the porch heads turned to the boiling sky above. Every time lightning would snake its way through the clouds, the children would jump up and down pointing and yelling something to the effect of, “Did you see that one?”, or “Mama, look!” or “That one was close!” Often, they both simply squealed with the excitement of the storm.
Riggs remembered that night the lightning had never touched the ground, it only snaked, arced and forked amidst the clouds above. Sometimes, a single bolt would fork multiple times and start a chain reaction above so that the whole sky lit up like a fiery spider web made of white gold.
The lightning had subsided somewhat but the rain still pelted the ground outside. Auryn lay in bed still very much awake. Storms like this, although rare, always woke something wild inside them.
“I’m not sure that’s really bedtime story material Auryn.” His mother usually stated something to this effect, but only a few urges from Auryn were needed to encourage her to continue.
“Dad would always tell us stories about The Fall!”
“I know, your father knew more about those old stories than I ever did you know,” she replied without hesitation.
“I know! And when he gets back he’ll have even more tales to tell us!”
“Auryn…” she sighed.
He paused seeing the sudden change in his mother’s countenance.
“Don’t worry mother, I’m sure he’ll be back soon. Kyndra says the Bo told her so.”
Her face brightened somewhat at the thought, followed by a chuckle.
“Is that so?” She finished tucking a scratchy yet comforting blanket up to Auryn’s chin. “Well, I think that old tree may look at time a little differently than we do, love, considering how ancient she is. We would do well to remind Kyndra of that.”
“It’s true! Kyndra says the rain makes Bo extra talkative,” he continued, “Just how old is the Bo mom?”
She paused, “Hmm, well no one’s certain, but I imagine what we consider to be just stories could very well be her memories.” She gently put her hand on Auryn’s chest signaling she was nearly ready to attend his sister.
“Do you really think Bo was alive before The Fall?” he interjected, hoping to keep his mother just a bit longer.
Picking up the oil lamp, she stood. With a grand smile and a vast sweep of her hand she summoned her majestic voice, the one she usually reserved for the kings and queens of playtime, “The R’leigh Bo has seen kingdoms rise and fall, gods begin and end!” Auryn laughed. She paused a moment, bringing herself back to mock sincerity as she bent over and whispered. “I would be very surprised if the Bo had not been there. Now get some sleep, love.” With the lamp in hand, a kiss to his forehead, and an over exaggerated twirl, she was out the door off to his sister’s room.
It was some time before sleep came that night, Auryn’s head filled with all the possible wondrous stories that a tree might possess, especially a tree like the Bo. Kyndra had long been tucked in and sleeping soundly in the next room. Finally, when sleep was just about to win its nightly crusade over him, Auryn heard a sound ever so faintly from his mother’s room. It was difficult to hear over the rain and it caused him to pull the bristly blanket even closer to his chin and face. Although muffled, his mother’s soft weeping cut through his sleepiness like the lightning above.
After that night, he decided to never talk to his mother about his father again.
Riggs’ hand had found its way up to his chin remembering the feel of the prickly bedtime covering. How long ago had that been? It couldn’t have been more than a couple of years before his fall from the tree. Kyndra had been so much smaller. He remembered how sure he was that father would be coming home soon.
“The recreation is working, he is remembering,” the friendlier voice broke through Riggs reverie.
“Nothing useful. This is taking far too long. Perhaps his mind is too far gone. If we return him to stasis, he may still provide enough energy and give us the time we need to find another source,” interjected another monotone voice.
Riggs didn’t like the sound of that, but this was the voice of the bugs he remembered: efficient, emotionless, inhuman. At least he thought he remembered, it was more like a memory of a memory. This first voice was different though, just like before. It almost sounded concerned for his interest.
“Improbable. His body has grown too weak, and we no longer have the energy to sustain him.”
“Neither has another suitable source been detected in this hemisphere for centuries. This world is dead.”
The last words should have shocked him, but instead they seemed to confirm something he had already known. So, it really has been that long.
“Perhaps if we force direct memory reintegration; it would be much more efficient.”
“Enough! You are all merely confusing him further and wasting what little time we have left. No, he must remember for himself. Physically, it is unlikely he would survive memory reintegration, and emotionally it would…,” the voice paused, “…he is unstable. Besides, much of the information we possess is inferred. It would be far more beneficial for him to remember as much as possible from his own perspective.”
Riggs had grown used to the bugs conversing as if he wasn’t present, and even though their internal dialogue created more questions in his mind, he thought that now may not be the best time to press them. He figured it was probably a good idea to avoid that whole “memory reintegration” thing anyway.
The voices were quiet for some time. Their silence almost made Riggs remember a time where he could be alone with his own thoughts, or at least imagine the luxury. Had he ever really been by himself? Remembering his time on the farm, he knew he must have, but he couldn’t imagine the feeling of it anymore.
Now, even in momentary silence, there was always a connection in the back of his mind to his captors. It was not unlike a faint vibration or humming to a song you’d forgotten and just now returned to the tip of your tongue. Ever present, the connection never let him forget it was there.
Riggs did not get the chance to enjoy his pseudo-silence for long. It seemed the bugs had come to a consensus. Abruptly and without warning, Riggs found himself thrust forward into the next chapter of his captor’s recreation.
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
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 1 PART 2
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 2
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 3
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 4 PART 1
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 4 PART 2
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 4 PART 3
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 5 PART 1
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 5 PART 2
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 5 PART 3
- My Other Works
- A World Long Sundered -- Chapter 1 Original Version -- Note: This version was edited and broken into the 2 parts of chapter 1 above. Some might like to compare.