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Snippet #4158

located in Life, a part of Almost an Allegory, one of the many universes on RPG.

Life

The container of experiences that a living creature goes through, whether asleep or awake.

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“Wake up” a familiar, unwelcome voice snarls in Sod’s left ear.

A sharp boot to his ribs emphasizes the command.

Cracking open his eyes to permit a sliver of light the penetration of his weariness, Sod examines the shadow on the ground. Stout, with a mess of spiky hair made hard with lime. A battle hatchet dangling from a broad belt. Yes, he does know this fool.

“Hello, Kylun,” he acknowledges unhappily, dragging his chest out of the mud and adjusting his view to take in the angry, red, bulging silhouette. Wiping the front of his tunic off, he observes that the rain was not entirely his imagination. The mice are gone, but the pine stakes outlining the perimeter of the compound remain, and the time is—ah, who knows or cares of that triviality anymore? It is light, which means it is day, which means there is drudgery to endure.

“Aye, and to you, he who cannot settle on a name, and instead identifies himself with his role. When you left us, you were Scout. Then we called you Traitor. Well, now you are Prisoner. It suits you, don’t you think?” he hears Kylun inelegantly boast.

“I suppose it does,” Prisoner humbly replies.

“Hah! It certainly does. Well, Prisoner, you thought you could just defect and get away with it, eh?” Kylun asks of him, but—without the courtesy of awaiting a response—grips the scruff of Prisoner’s neck and compels him to his feet. His strong hand fills with the wooden haft of a short sword, the blade rusty and dull. “We’re marching, and if you don’t fight and die, we’ll kill you like the traitor you are.”

“Who are we fighting?” Prisoner asks.

“You damn well know who. We’re fighting the City.”

“Why?” Prisoner almost presses while automatically tucking the gladius into his belt, but stops short. Kylun will have no information as to the real purpose behind these conflicts; instead, he will vomit some nonsense about fighting because they are told to by their betters. Instead, Prisoner satisfies himself by declaring, “Something is terribly amiss.”

“Nevermind that,” Kylun answers with disinterest, “we’re moving out now.”

Indeed, Prisoner is not alone, nor had he been. Eyes of terror and resignation gaze up at him from pits in the ground, from which they cannot escape due to the seal. Other eyes, wide with horror and rage, but long since dead from impalement, peer skyward in a plea to any benevolent force capable of guaranteeing salvation—if not in this life, than in the next.

He cannot decide who are less fortunate, but his pity extends to those whose doom is a slow death by starvation.

Further away, beyond the fence, a body of soldiers is decamping. The trail of his boot prints matures toward that formation, beside which are those of Kylun. It is a mangy sort of assemblage, half nomad and half marauder, wearing inexpertly skinned and tanned animal pelts—still bloody—, belts of chain-link, and colorful wool—all held together with gristly pins of bone. Not out of necessity, but choice. To think these are businessmen, pastors, musicians, and politicians who deign to embrace this special degradation. Yet here, without absolutes, they choose to urinate, defecate, and spit tobacco openly before their comrades, male and female alike. Prisoner has no doubt the meat they engorge on as they secure their trappings may very well be what remains of some of their less fortunate captives.

“Why do I yet live?” Prisoner demands, not arrogantly, but necessarily.

He watches Kylun shrug absently, as if trying to recall an esoteric peculiar, then the rogue finally answers, “That”—there is a gesture toward the corpse-heavy stakes—“abuse means nothing when done to you. You delight in it, as though through the pain you might find redemption. Hah! You are an imbecile, I say, but one without will. Better to force you—but nevermind that! Did you hear, he was executed?”

“He who?” Prisoner instantly questions, his words reeling with an unnameable perturbation.

“Professor Cimerreau,” Kylun laughs.

Prisoner suddenly ejaculates “No!” and does not hear or say anything for a long while.

When he sees again, the daystar is burning hot against his neck, bodies are marching thick around him, the air is putrid, and a newsprint is in his hands. Kylun is saying, “It is gibberish, I dare say, but read it anyway and curse your life. Hah!”

He reads:

“The last words of Professor Arties Cimerreau, prior to his execution, follow.

‘Metaphoric of a parent deceiving a child to the belief that they may exceed their highest expectations in life, this world turns to a variety of Gods and prays its hollow petitions for perfection; a goal only resulting in the decimation of entire cultures, where hopes are dashed, spirits dwindle to ghoulish memorandum, and backs are stained with the vitae of a best friend’s melancholy betrayal. Emotional and spiritual genocide sweep the globe: a sphere menacingly turning on a spindle of hate. Created Gods, insinuated Gods, Gods cast into the abyss of fallacious denial, and wraiths echoing behind the footsteps of prospect, ever holding us back, pushing us forward, and casting us aside like rags. This is Mortal mind.

Where is the line drawn between possibility and insanity, crushed spirits and bruised knees? Foolishly leaping off cliffs with dreams of flight when walking has only recently been mastered, our aspirations are set far too high. Death or insanity are the only possible culminations of such extravagant goals. To dream, and to believe the dream, are two entirely separate realities. Mortality has suffered the consequences of such fool-hearty notions. Again, our goals are set to high. The result will be chaos, painful defeat, and in the end the clutch of darkness.

A deadly rift opens beneath our feet, subjecting us to an unbearable decision: shall we lower the bar or raise it? One hand is blackened with the lie that we can surpass our prior goals; goals we could not touch the heels of. The other holds a hammer yearning to descend on our unsuspecting forms, and dash us to pieces with the bitter reality of failure. Balance was lost when Justice removed her blindfold, when truth became subordinate to desire, when dust became flesh and flesh became lightning. So now, faced with this plight, where do our actions lead us? Into denials and distractions—anything to prolong the eulogy that keeps open our tomb.

Now standing a hairs-breadth away from the void of reason, the edge of a knife under our feet, and nothing preventing us from plummeting downward, the collective folly is realized. All the lies fed compulsively to one another lifetime after lifetime have ceased. Silence, prolonged and agonizing silence, holds the floor. We have fallen.’”


Prisoner gulps, and a tear inexplicably traces the pallid contour of his cheekbone. Yet, with an air of ignorance, despite the hole in his throat, he betrays, “What of it?”

Kylun, with great oratory dexterity, stemming from his acquisition of authority over Prisoner, confides, “Nobody knows! Devil take him, but he was nevertheless executed for it in the same clinical manner that he euthanized countless others for the glory of the City!”

“Something is terribly amiss,” Prisoner repeats.

“Nevermind that, I said!” Kylun spurts. “We’re almost there. See the lights? Those monstrosities of nature looming ahead of us?”

“You’re insane!” Prisoner gasps, realizing where they are and their intentions.

“There are thousands of us, trust us, Prisoner, we will make a dent in their pride,” Kylun asserts, his tone stern and for once actually threatening, a departure from its typical mirthful vulgarity. Certainly, their numbers are greater than before, and a swarm of brown, green, crimson, and pale yellow stretches out around him.

“This isn’t real,” Prisoner reassures himself, turning aside so as not to be heard.


* * *


‘Cooperation, but there is something creepy about this guy,’ Torres determines, securing the rear passenger door behind her lead. No cuffs, but the security cage is sufficient to keep him from pulling a reckless stunt. At the very least, it will keep her safe from him during the commute to the police station a few minutes downtown.

“Is it necessary to lock me up back here, lady?” he asks, just as every other civilian had, for the last fifteen years, inquired of her on the event their of first time in the back of a police car for non-recreational purposes.

Brief, sharp eye contact hammers her canned response home: “It is for your own safety.”

He rolls his eyes, and she makes a mental note of it.

After locking the passenger door, Torres walks behind the vehicle to the driver’s side, visually scanning for any inconsistencies. Nothing is out of place. Sliding in, she adjusts her rear view mirror so she can observe him and the road simultaneously. The compartment smells of cleaning product and is pristine; there are no food wrappings or bits of dust desecrating the hard plastic dash and fake leather bucket seats. No excess baggage, like the string of partners and relationships she had left behind the day she made detective. She stands tall on her own merits, now. The ridge between her eyes crinkles in a bizarre substitution for a smile, and she turns the key and starts the engine.

A sigh of satisfaction wouldn’t be unearned, but she settles for tensing the muscles of her jaw.

‘Best not to let him think I’m a pushover,’ she muses to herself; ‘It is better to appear hard than weak.’

Traffic is uneventful, and the red lights are less temperamental than usual. Most people are already where they aught to be at this hour of the morning, she realizes. Half past nine. The sky is overcast, threatening rain.

He asks a few questions on the way to the department, but she remains as grim as possible, expertly deflecting his curiosities with noncommittal verbiage. If he is guilty, let him sweat it out with worry; otherwise, if he isn’t, he has nothing to worry about, and this is just a minor inconvenience from whatever boring ritual he no doubt calls a life.

Six minutes later, she pulls to a stop in the parking lot behind the police station: an old, deteriorating, three story relic of grander times with red—some darker than others—brick construction, concrete reinforcement around the windows and atop the turrets at its four corners; the town’s initial armory and militia headquarters, when such concepts were necessary. For those not familiar with the building, it stands as a brutal fortification recalling to mind those ancient times when castles were red with the blood of opposing serf and yoemen armies and the shrieks of political opposition rang shrill in unsanitary dungeons.

To her, it is an immovable symbol of justice; a monument to security in uncertain, modern times.

Torres lets her charge out of the vehicle and escorts him beneath the keystone with the nigh-indistinguishable engraving St. Glears, 153rd Militia. She signs in, drops him off in an observation room, and promises to be back soon.