Trying To Sleep, Honest

January 31st, 2006 by Potato

I’ve been walking for days, and I can still hear the commotion raised from the stinking pit behind me. I cast a fearful glance behind me, and still faintly see the orange glow diffused through the ever present fog. It’s the one source of direction I have, as the cloud roil so thick that it’s difficult to tell night from day, let alone which side of the sky the sun rises in.

Time for a break I decide. The dirt is less parched, almost like soil now, rather than gravelly sand. But still nothing grows for me to forrage. I check my stomach, and decide that I can do without a meal at this time. No sense using up what few consumables I carry, since breakfast might be growing just a few hours walk further forward.

An ambiguous high-pitched noise pierces the dull throbbing that fills the air. My hands reach for my knife, only to find that it’s already held tightly. I look down at my left arm, while my right holds the knife just above the skin. I slide it gently towards me, but don’t even leave a mark.

It’s amazing how many cuts and bruises I’ve accumulated all over my body, how easy it seems to tear the skin accidentally. Yet, when the morose mood takes me and I reflect on how I’ve left behind the constant tooth-and-nail struggle for survival of the pit for this slow, choking, wasting death on the plains, I can’t help but take out my best knife and just test the skin. It never breaks, even when the knife is freshly sharpened.

There’s a tradition, of sorts, amongst my people to perform such unsavory last rites on the wrists. Yet for me, there’s a spot on my left arm just below the elbow that practically cries out for the knife. Just a taste, just to see how sharp it really is.

How quickly the elation of the climb left me, here in this no-place. The slower pace and lack of conflict simply served to give me time to reflect, to regret, to despair. It’s at this moment that she returns to me, and whispers in my ear. I’m so overjoyed just to hear her voice that I almost miss what she says. More signs and portents: destined for good things, important part of the plan and all that. I dare not turn to face her, fearing and somehow knowing that I won’t see a thing.

I mumble “but I’ve done nothing of importance, and in this state seem ill-suited to perform any in the future.”

Softly, she whispers in my ear “Good deeds are not necessarily great; great works are not necessarily Good.” I think her lips brushed my ear. I know they did, it tingles.

“Do not despair, you’re doing so well. Be brave.” And with that, she’s gone.

I lie there a while longer, listening to my heartbeat and the indistinct thrums of the distant pit. I reach up to touch my ear, and the movement wakes me. I try to think about how long I managed to sleep. I can’t be sure, but there’s a wet pool of drool on my shoulder. Gross.

Did I dream her, or did she whisper sweet nothings in my ear until I fell asleep?

That high pitched noise again, closer this time. I snap to attention: time to move on again. No rest for the weary. I think I’m being followed.

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