Tags: short story, short fiction, horror, fiction, thriller, creepy, dark, horror flash fiction, dystopia, utopia, identity, delusion
|Author||Michael K. Trott|
|Publication Date||June 18, 2017|
|BCRS ratings?Learn more|
By Michael K. Trott
Published by Smashwords
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to anything real is entirely coincidental.
It was the fourth day of the sixth month of my eighteenth year, the day I would discover my true happiness.
I woke from the most pleasant of dreams. An angel had led me across a decaying land to a pool of water that the gods had poured into the earth when the world was born. I was angry that the dream had ended.
The laughter of my neighbors, who were playing outside, woke me. Right then I decided I wanted to return to that dream world, to stay there forever. But dreams do not last forever. I wanted that life again: the life of a being unburdened by the needs of my physical body. Nothing could emulate the emotions I felt during my dream, but perhaps I could find some resemblance through creativity, through art.
Outside, the gardens woke with me. Flowers opened with the sun, the trees shone green under the sunlight, and the birds played their aerial games. In this perfect world, given to us by the gods, created for us many years after demons, enemies of the gods that had forever fought amongst themselves and destroyed each other all over the world, everyone wanted for nothing, except for me. I looked down from my window overlooking the city to gaze upon the great, vast jungle at the base of our mountain. The jungle was as silent as ever, but I suddenly knew that it was just asleep and dreaming. I smiled.
I walked through the busy city filled with my neighbors, all friends as well as lovers, as they played and danced as wildly and energetically as the children. I wanted to join them in their fun, but I had something more important to do. Perhaps I could partake in games the following day. I made my way past a kitchen. It took all my strength to remove myself from the binding fumes of cakes, crumpets, and other sweets. How sad that I had to force myself away from such delights, delights that would never give me the sensations they used to. But I would not be deterred from my new venture.
The cool breeze lifted my hair from my shoulders and my caftan from my skin, and soon I was away from the distractions of the city. I had found the place where I would begin my activities; a great balcony perched atop a cliff overlooking the jungle. The balcony was made of marble and was sculpted into various animals joined by tails, claws, beaks, and fangs. On this marble masterpiece, I would recreate my own enlightened vision.
Then I thought, just for a moment, wondering if attempting to give my dream some physical form in this life was what I really wanted. The dream was too perfect and unworthy of corruption. But then the moment passed. I was intent on living my dream once again.
I stood and I sang. I chose to start with my favorite, Romeo’s Embrace, but it wasn’t right. Then I sang Watering Hole, but it wasn’t right either. Lastly, I decided to sing Sunlight, and I was both surprised and saddened when I felt nothing like I did while I dreamt the previous night.
With leaves as my thread and flower petals as my jewels, I sat on the balcony and made bracelets and rings of different sizes and colors; my favorite was the green leaf bracelet with a purple flower as its single gem. It didn’t take long before I began to feel overworked and tired. I bound sticks together to make the shape of a man and I tied him to the last animal sculpted into the balcony. I couldn’t stop myself from laughing at the little man walking with animals, but I was still unsatisfied.
I peeled the bark from a nearby tree and on the bare tree, I used a knife to carve the image of stars and the sun. Underneath the stars I created waves and a mountain in the distance. I was disturbed by the lack of grace my image portrayed and decided never to carve anything again.
After some time spent pondering which art to pursue next, I thought it obvious to perform a free form dance; no structure, limitations or rules, or an omnipresent score of music directing me and forcing me to perform the next step. I danced for at least an hour before I was exhausted.
Still unsatisfied, I walked back through the city, each step weighed down by the burdens of sadness. I was sure dance was the key. Then I saw Lily, the young woman who gave birth to my youngest child just a year after she bore Connor’s boy. Her eyes were closed and she spread her arms wide as if giving the breeze a loving hug for the joy it brings her, her naked body no doubt tingling in the wind.
“Hello, Lily,” I said.
“Are you busy right now?”
“Siegfried and I are to make a child tonight. That reminds me; Trisha said she’ll receive you in two days’ time. Her body will be more accepting of a child then.”
“Okay. Perhaps tomorrow you can help me with something?”
“Of course,” she replied, and I felt enthusiasm return.
“Meet me on the balcony on the cliff in the morning.”
“Goodbye. Thank you.” I skipped down the street towards home.
That night, I dreamt the same dream, only this time it seemed longer. The angel took my hand and I followed it into the pool’s black water. The angel looked like someone I knew, but different, more divine. The water turned white and with the water’s surface level with our chests, I took the angel in an embrace. Then I woke.
I leapt out of bed, accepting my dream as a sign from the gods that I am on the right path to living my dream. I realized that I had left my home without breakfast and without brushing my hair; I felt so bad, and yet so good. On my way to the balcony, I once again ignored the city’s pleasurable delight. Its sights and sounds lacked the power they wielded yesterday and all days before.
Lily was waiting for me, looking over the endless jungle underneath our elevated city. She turned to face me. I walked to her.
“What can I do to help you?” she asked.
“I’m trying to create something… Something I discovered in another world.”
“How would we do that?” she said eagerly.
“I was experimenting yesterday and I think that dance is the key. I failed on my own, but I think a partner is the missing piece.”
“I’d be happy to help, Martin. Shall we start?”
Together we danced something that would make the gods weep. I moved with Lily, and I knew our dance was perfect. I couldn’t hear any sounds from the city, only the wind through the trees in the jungle like it was giving us music to dance to, free and unlimited, like us. I knew this is what art was supposed to be. No, not what it was supposed to be, but what it strived to be, what it longed to be. And then it was over. Lily smiled and laughed, as she was filled with a sense of joy. It was then that I felt my heart break. Despite the beauty of our dance, it did not come close to capturing the emotion I had felt in my dream.
Lily rested her elbows upon the marble animals, gazing down at the wild world beneath her.
“Have you ever been down there?” she asked.
“No, of course not. Nobody goes down there.”
“I’ve been there,” she said smiling at me. “I like to explore,” she said. “Sometimes I wander off into the jungle.”
“Lily, that isn’t safe. People don’t leave the city. This is our place and we must never leave it.”
“I don’t go very far or stay out for long. I know you’re sad, Martin, so I want to show you something that will make you happy. Will you follow me?”
I nodded. And then I followed her. Lily’s urging was my only reason to walk anywhere but home. Or perhaps it was simply that the rules of the city meant nothing to me anymore. I was in a daze, tired and sad, because I knew I had lost my dream forever.
We walked through the city, past the kitchens, past the gardens, past the houses, and past the parks. When we came to the edge of the city, we steadily climbed down a near-vertical row of stones on the side of the mountain. We walked through a dense thicket until we came to a corridor made by interlocking branches of trees that mimicked walls. The flora was so thick that sunlight couldn’t penetrate the tangle of leaves. It was cold and dark… I was forced to fold my arms across my chest to warm my blood.
After walking for some time, we came to the end of nature’s hallway and stepped into the open jungle. I was surprised by the plant life; it wasn’t green or vibrant like that of the city gardens. The trees were twisted and peeling, and ugly demon-like creatures with huge claws crawled upon every surface. Sharp sticks and stones threatened my flesh and parts of the earth opened up like giant mouths, as if the world were trying to chew me up with its pointed teeth. My knees locked in place, my hands shook, and my heart raced. “Are you not afraid?” I asked. “We should turn back.”
Without a word, Lily took my hand and walked me through the wild landscape, at times turning back to smile at me. Finally, she took me to a place that was hidden behind a huge black tree. It was the place she believed would make me happy. She was right. I was speechless. The pool’s water was clear, and like my dream I was lead into it by the hand of someone beautiful. Lily smiled and laughed as she stepped deeper into the water. It stopped just below her neck.
It was my dream. I was living it, but something wasn’t right. I wrapped my arms around Lily, as I did the angel in my dream. I embraced her with all the love I had for her, as well as the love I longed for. She rested her head on my chest, her fingertips on my shoulders. But something wasn’t right.
My body began to shake as I felt emotions so new to me I couldn’t describe the feeling. Lily tried to pull away, but for a reason unknown to me, I wouldn’t let her go. She pushed harder. That’s when I thrust her head under the water’s surface. She tried to stand up, to push me away. I kept her there. I felt it, the feeling I had in my dreams. That was my calling. Nothing I had ever done or felt compared to what I was doing to Lily. Nothing.
When night fell, I could still see her face under the surface of the black water. She was more beautiful than ever.
Whom shall I bring here tomorrow?