The Traveler (Part 1)

Posted: September 20, 2013 in Stories
Tags: , , ,

He awoke to a too bright room where everything was white.  Columns stood, in ruins, but the dais in the center of the open arena was intact, and occupied. He couldn’t see through the brightness, as if someone was shining the sun into his eyes. He felt pulled into the glare, and towards the living statue before him. When he was close enough that he could touch her she blinked at him, her eyes a glowing shade of mossy grey, they were as blinding as the white glow enveloping him. Her hair and skin were marbled white and grey, with veins of jade. She wore only masses of coiled, brilliant white hair. Her eyelashes were inhumanely long and fluttered like albino butterflies every time the statue woman blinked. When she spoke her voice was inside his head and sounded a like a thousand whispers and growls wrapped around a purr.

“I know why you’re here…”

He started, looking closer at her. She leaned towards him and opened her mouth, exposing white fangs and tongue stained with blood. A clot of it dripped down her pristine white chin and stained her sharp teeth, all the more stark against her unnaturally white stone flesh. He jerked back in horror.

“Why…”

She held up a finger, pressing a surprisingly sharp talon over his lips.

“Don’t talk with your mouth, or didn’t see my ears are made of stone…?”

He opened, and then rapidly snapped his mouth shut, trying to concentrate his thoughts.

“Who are you?”

“I am the Door.”

His confusion showed on his face, and she laughed, the sound a bit too sharp, and echoing off of walls that didn’t exist.

“You are looking for answers, aren’t you?”

He nodded, and watched her close her eyes. She brought up her hands as if in prayer, her white nails glittering in the otherworldly bright. Bright blue-white light poured out of her fingers right as the wind kicked up, whipping about them with tornado like frenzy. When she opened her eyes again, they were as black as onyx and she fixed them on him, opening her clasped hand to show him a miniature of himself standing on the balls of her palms. Not waiting to gauge his shock, she sliced his miniature down the middle.

“Your answers are inside… just reach into your heart…”

His hand moved on its own, and with a roar he was swallowed in blackness. When he awoke, he was on a plain with what looked very much like his own corpse, but it was a rag doll now, with a comically scripted sign in his straw stuffed hands.

“The answer is in You…”

Thunder distracted him, and the statue woman was hovering over him like a bad hallucination. Her voice was everywhere, terrifying and soothing simultaneously.

“You must look inside, and when you find it, then I will let you out of here, but not a minute before… Happy hunting!”

She laughed and faded away, leaving him alone with his own scarecrow. He wasted no time, and tore into the stuffed doppelganger furiously. In the middle, amongst straw and rancid cotton, was a box, simple, silver, and with an easy little latch.

He popped it open and pulled out a piece of paper that said simply, “Wrong you, silly. Oh, and Eat Me…”

A little black thing with the word ‘Me’ scrawled on it fell into his lap. It felt organic, and smelled like shit. He looked around at the desolate and cold landscape around him. Not knowing any other way out, he popped the little black button into his mouth and swallowed it whole, trying not to gag on the taste. He waited…and waited, and waited. Suddenly, the world was swallowed up in blackness, and he felt himself sliding downward. He felt smothered, but not unable to move or breathe, like he was being hugged by honey. Down, down, down. A shriek greeted him as he reached the bottom of the hole. It grew louder and louder until it simply stopped, and he was still, and no longer covered in intangible honey.

He dared open his eyes and chance a look around. He was in a clearing, where clover and dandelions grew wild. It looked like something out of a fairy tale. Butterflies glistened in the soft golden light of dusk. He heard laughter, and saw a woman dancing in a field, glittering like she was coated in diamonds. He heard her singing, but couldn’t make out the words from this distance, so he crept cautiously towards her. She twirled closer and closer to him, laughing and out of breath. When she reached him, she stopped abruptly.

“Have you seen the Captain?”

“The Captain?”

She laughed, twirling again, and now he could see the madness in her blue eyes.

“Yes, dear, the CAPTAIN! I’ve got his MONKEY!!”

She laughed, slapped him, and ran off, lifting her skirts and petticoats, before disappearing into the woods. When she disappeared, so did the sun. Like someone flicked a switch, the moon was high in the sky and huge. He heard leaves rustling, and turned to see yet another strange female behind him. This one was tall, pale, and had hair darker than the night sky, eyes the color of the tree canopy at night, and wore nothing but vines and far too much intelligence in such young looking eyes. She reached a hand out to him and he drew back, expecting to be slapped again, but when he pulled back, so did she, clutching her hand as it sprouted blood from the palm like he’d stabbed her. She let out an inhuman wail of pain and flickered out of existence. His heart started pounding, and things calmed down for a second or two, long enough for him to wonder what the hell was going on, and how he was supposed to get out of here. He didn’t know why, but that last encounter really bothered him, even more than the bloody mouthed statue woman. Genuine fear crept up his spine, and the dark haired woman’s face flickered into view long enough for her to whisper in his ear,

“It’s alright, I’m going to guide you out of here, just trust me…”

She disappeared as soon as the last word left her lips. He roared in sheer frustration, tearing off into the clearing at a lung-bursting gallop. He heard the ghost woman’s voice again, ‘That’s the wrong way, Traveler…you must always go to the left…’

“Oh, MUST I?? And WHY IS THAT??”

He didn’t bother to stop running, or to listen for any further ghostly commands, and ran full bore until he reached an ocean made of stars. He skittered to a stop just before going over the edge. It only looked like an ocean, with its waves and pulses, but it was the universe over the edge of that sand. He heard the woman who was supposed to be his guide speak, directly behind him, and to his dismay, she was tangible this time.

“If you venture into the Black Ocean, you commit yourself to this limbo and I cannot guide you. I cannot cross these sands.”

She touched a bare toe into the sand from her safe grassy perch and her toe burst into flames, going out just as quickly when she removed it from the sand. He hesitated, then sighed and returned to her side, determined to get answers. He stood beside her, and without thinking, grabbed her arms so she wouldn’t run. He was about to ask her who she was, where he was, and fucking WHY it all was when she let out another scream. Her skin melted onto his hands and he immediately let go, she blinked out of existence as fast as he let go. Her voice, however, stuck around.

“Maybe now is the right time to tell you that as long as you are trapped here, every time you touch me, I burn. You have to come out the other side before you can touch me.”

Exhausted, tired, and not willing to wonder about the wrongness of this place, he said only one word, wearily.

“Why?”

“You will understand when you wake, if I tell you, it’s the same as throwing you into the Black Ocean. Now, will you please take the path to the left, to the mountains, and look for the arena where the Queen of Stone lives? She’s your way back home.”

The woman didn’t give him time to answer before her face, and voice, faded from view and he felt a not so gentle shove toward the path. Wearily, he resigned himself to the trip ahead. All semblance of how weird it all was became lost in weariness and resignation. He walked heavily to the mountains, all the while feeling the eyes of his guide upon him, nudging him here and there, but not uttering a word for 8 miles or so. He wondered offhandedly why his feet didn’t hurt…

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