This story is essentially a display of me blowing off frustration during a very dark point in my life (those who know me have ideas of the details, but I’ll spare the rest of you). It started off simply with the first image of the story—it ran through my head for almost three days straight, then I finally gave in and wrote it out assuming I would use it for something later… next thing I knew, there was a completed story in front of me. The name is another of my joyful plays with the letter ‘y,’ similar to Syn, it was something that I thought up a bit ago with little idea what it would be used for, but kept it around anyway. In addition, you will also get an extract from the novella version of this (yep, there’s one for this too… it starts with a short-story, then my brain just wants to see where else it can go).
Red Stream, Wet Dirt, and Scars
Red stream (Photo credit: Tim Green aka atoach)
I watch as the glistening of a red stream flows, merging into the horizon. I lay in the cold wet dirt—unblinking, hypnotized, I watch the stream of red until it appears as an ocean flowing on forever.
My daze is wavered by the stinging of my eyes—the sweat tainted with my filth pooling and dripping like tears, falling and disappearing into the wet dirt—into the red stream.
My body resists as I command it to rise. Every muscle flames as if to tear through my flesh, but I plant my hands into the wet dirt—into the red stream. I claw my fingers, stabbing deep—so deep, I can feel the squirming life below, crawling and exploring their way through my fingers. I push myself to my knees, my spine ripping with pain through my body. I slip to my elbows, drunken by the sudden erection of my head and the over-flow of endorphins—my body’s own battle to fight against the pain.
I push myself back up. I feel the handle of my blade still beneath my palm pushing against my hand until I am forced to grip my fingers around its leather wrap—a feeling so natural and familiar that I react to it by almost complete reflex. With my sword in hand, I rise to my feet as if powered by the feel of the cold steel as I clench it tighter, turning my knuckles to glow red to white to red.
I raise my eyes and gaze upon the man who stares down to me with such arrogance—as if he believed he had won before his sword was ever drawn. How long was I lying there since his last devastating blow—how long has he been standing there waiting for me to get back up—was he waiting for the sake of honor, or because of his own swelling arrogance.
His bare sun-darkened chest, covered in thousands of scars of random ages and depths—as if he had been fighting endlessly since the beginning of time without a moment of peace. So many battles that he must have won, even if at the edge of his own death, he came out with some deciding trait above his opponents that declared him victor—be it skill, speed, strength, or just constant luck. How many of those faces could he still have in his head—if I fall, will he remember me, or will I just be another unnamed blood-stain splattered on his sword and clothes.
The sun gleams off the steel of my blade forcing me to squint my eyes to focus. Staring my opponent dead in the eye until all I see is him—his every movement, the slight involuntary twitching of a muscle, the slow rise and fall of his chest, the blade of his sword gleaming as if in response to my own—two swords signaling each other with their secret language, screaming for their craving to meet with flesh and blood.
The sweat of my flesh turns to vapor as the noon sun stabs into me. The sensation of the heat tries to make me lazy, and force me to surrender to my wounds. I force away the cloud in my head, and feel the sudden coolness of a breeze that seemed to come out of nowhere, as if sent by the gods themselves as a sign—a sign to begin attack. And so I brace the balls of my feet deep into the wet dirt—into the red stream—and I lung forward in a swift charge.
I hold my sword across me in guard, prepared for any move he could make against me as I charge. He’s not moving—he’s still standing there with the same look of arrogance—is he really so confident in his ability to counter whatever I throw at him that he would just stand there unphased and wait for it to come—have those scars brought such experience; such sense of immortality—or does he wait for my own death dealing strike to end his life of steel, blood, and war.
It’s too late to change my attack now, it would risk putting me off balance, leaving me open for even the simplest of blows to become deadly—is that his plan, to throw me off, to force me into his game so that he can defeat me as easily as a three year old child. No, I can not falter my own strategy, I must force him into my game if I am to win.
I reach him in range of my blade, and I raise my sword swiping for his exposed neck. It was so sudden—a flash of light, and a split second of a sharp pain that throws me to my side. I look up at him from behind—he never moved, he still stands as he did before. And the sharp pain returns—I look down to see a red stream flowing into the wet dirt—slashed deep across my body from collar bone to my waist, tearing apart the more I twitch in response to the pain as the red stream flows into the wet dirt.
He finally turns and looks down at me, I look up at him and strainfully force out my words that tear at me with each breath, “How… you never moved… how…?”
He holds up his sword against the light of the sun, and a red stream flows from it raining into the wet dirt—as if to respond showing that he must have obviously somehow… moved—moved with the swiftness of the flashing lightning—there was never any thunder to follow but the sharp pain.
I stare into his eyes and see what I thought was arrogance. I stare until his face begins to haze and separate into distorted shapes, “Who… are you…?”
He crouches down, his sword held behind him—his movement so sudden, so fluid… or is it in my head. His lips move, but the words seem to take extra seconds to reach me, “I am the one who has sent you to the next life—you have no use of my name…”
“Your name… as I lye waiting for my end… as it is creeping unto me… please… tell me your name… so I may warn the spirits of my next kin…”
He simply smiles with a smirk of what I thought was arrogance. I see him move his hand to me—I think he laid it on my shoulder, but I can only barely feel the foreign pressure to indicate his touch. His hot breath blows across my ear and my mind slowly translates the vibrations in the air, “The spirits of your kin are soon to be gone from the world, for you are now the last… I am Cÿd… … …” His presents seems to simply fade away… or I never saw his movements.
His words echo in my head, “…the spirits of your kin are soon to be gone from the world…”—my eyes stinging as the sweat tainted with my filth pools and drips like tears, falling and disappearing into the wet dirt—into the red stream, “…for you are now the last…”
I watch as the glistening of the red stream flows, and merges into the horizon, “…I am Cÿd…” I lay in the cold wet dirt—unblinking, hypnotized, I watch the stream of red until it appears as an ocean flowing on forever… … … “…Cÿd…” … … …
Prologue: Red Stream, Wet Dirt, and Scars
Scars (Photo credit: svimes)
I remember it every time I close my eyes. The hot stink of the mid-summer sun burning down, casting gleaming rays through the dark smoke-filled clouds as they blanketed over the sky and burrowed through our farm.
I watched as a stream of the reddest blood I have ever seen flow in front of me, the sun gleamed off it in a way that made it appear somehow infinite—infinitely deep, and flowing on forever like a great red ocean.
I sat there under our table huddled with my knees as tightly to my chest as I could get them as I looked through the legs of a chair like the bars of a cage, and stared out our front doorway. The red stream branched slightly towards me as I watched it creep through the crevasses in the cold ground. I just sat there hypnotized by it, it was the only thing I could see, it’s the only sign of anything since I heard my father’s scream.
I’ve never heard such a sound from any man before. It took me a few seconds to even realize that it was human, then only to somehow recognize it as my father’s voice. The horrifying sound echoed through my head as I watched the red stream flowing through the cold wet dirt.
Where’s Mother—she went out after Father and my brothers… after the yelling and screaming started. Why didn’t she come back—why isn’t she saving me—why isn’t she coming and picking me up before the red stream reaches me?
As I was about to push out the struggling breath to cry out for her, I was instantly silenced by a sudden crash against the outer wall. A brief instant later, I saw a hand before the doorway falling limp—somehow falling with the grace of a dead leaf from an autumn tree. Slowly, I crawled from my sanctuary under the table with the sluggishness of a thousand hands holding me back—but I had to see, I had to see who’s hand lay lifeless before my eyes—I had to know.
I reached out my small hand to touch the large fingers covered with sprinkles of blood, and even before I could see around the corner of the frame, I already knew—I knew that gentle but somehow strong hand almost better than I ever knew my own. The hands that I saw throughout every day from my very first day of life—as they cleaned me, clothed me, fed me, and held me.
I crawled to see her face, her eyes still staring, struggling to cling to life. Her gaze suddenly jumped its focus over to me, and almost frightened me enough to fall back, but I resisted, She isn’t gone, she’s still going to get up and save me—I will still have her gentle touch to nurture me—she’s not gone.
I put my small hand into her hand that always seemed so large and gentle—so strong. I could feel the muscles of her hand as they struggled to move, but allowing her fingers to only barely twitch. As I stared into her eyes as they stared into me as I wished for her to take my small hand in hers, I heard myself crying out with partial words through my tears, “Mother, get up, get up! Why aren’t you holding my hand? Get up!” I order her with anger and tears over and over, “Mother, get up! Hold me!”
Her fingers still twitching in timid struggle, her eyes begin to pool with tears, filling until almost her entire eye was blurred with water. Spilling over, across her nose, and down her cheeks and streaming along the detailed lines of her lips until the stream found its way to open air. It fell in glimmering drops that seemed so small, but seemed so very big as they splashed into the cold ground, disappearing as the dirt soaked them in.
I watched her tears as they fell with my own until the ground turned to mud. I watched as her eyes stared into me—I watched as her twitching fingers stopped twitching—her eyes still staring into me, but somehow different… as if there were some candle burning somewhere inside them that was suddenly blown-out by a breeze. I knew… it took time for it to really hit me, for it to tell my mind to react, time that could have been a mere second, or several hours—I couldn’t tell. But still, from the very moment that I saw the light leave her tear filled eyes, I knew that she was gone. My small, frail hand still grasping at her lifeless fingers, pulling and nudging her as if to some how wake her, but I already knew it was useless. They say a child so young can’t possibly understand death, but I know that I somehow understood it in every detail from that very moment.
I sat there on my knees staring into her lifelessness until my tears turned hot—so hot I almost thought they’d burn my face. As my tears burned I clenched my small hands into fists—fists so tight that I could have pushed my fingers through my palms. That’s when I could somehow feel him there—feel his presence as if I could feel the weight of his shadow blanketed over me.
I turned behind me to see in the distance through all the mist of the smoke-filled darkness, the silhouette of a figure clenching a gleaming steal blade. I stared until my eyes focused and the smoke cleared, and I saw a man staring down to me with the coldest dark eyes I have ever seen. His bare sun-darkened chest completely covered in thousands of scars of random ages and depths. His sword and hands dripped with streaming rains of blood.
I saw laying around him, the edges and silhouettes of more bodies that I already knew before I ever checked them were the bodies of my father and brothers—their screams from before still echoing in my head.
If I told you I wasn’t afraid, you’d know I would be lying, but as I stared into those cold dark eyes, my anger rose to completely overshadow any sign of fear. The tears covered my face, burning even more into my soft cheeks, my fists clenched so tight that I could feel small streams of blood trickling off the sides as my nails stabbed into my palms so deep that when I later pried them open I found that I had my own blood-dabbed skin stuck beneath my tiny nails.
I stared into those eyes unblinking, ignoring the dry burning, waiting—waiting for him to come for me and take my life as he did my mother’s. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to hopelessly fight him with my rage, with my only weapons being my small infant hands, allowing me to add to his collection of scars with tiny specks. Or if I wanted to simply lye down and let him plunge his blade into me like a skewered pig so that I could be released from this world and see my mother’s light-filled eyes again—feel her gentle hands again.
Just as my anger caused me to loose patience and I was about to yell out to the man covered in scars, a sudden gust of wind blew, bellowing a ball of curtaining smoke so thick that the scarred man became completely engulfed. His silhouette merged and faded into the cloud, and when the wind finally broke it up and blew it to mist, the scarred man was nowhere to be seen.
I looked around everywhere I could see, he couldn’t have possibly left sight completely in that short of time. Even if he was as fast a runner as my brothers, there was nowhere he could have hidden—he was just… gone.
And I was left sitting there, my rage returned to grief as I looked down at my mother’s lifeless eyes. Sitting there in the red stream—in the wet dirt—the image in my head of the man covered with scars.