W.O.R. Part 1
It was a rather quiet winter day on the path into the city; only the trickle of raindrops and the occasional cough produced much sound. The trees that lined the road stood barren but proud in curious beauty. There were no birds around to lighten the mood with pleasant chords, no interesting terrain to observe, nothing, just a lonely passage into a place nobody really wanted to be. The few people walking the path all seemed to agree that this day was not the most pleasant and should soon be forgotten.
A displaced-looking young man of no more than seventeen was among the dreary travelers. He stumbled about the road to and fro, bumping shoulders with several people along the way. Most ignored the boy and assumed he was simply a drunken delinquent. His dark brown hair was fairly long and fell wet around his head; unattended facial hair lined his jaw and bordered his chapped lips. His eyes were closed and he walked along in an apparent state of peculiar meditation with the sword he carried at his side safely swaying about in its sheath.
A bystander may feel so compelled as to shield the eyes of their young from the sight of a boy of such disgraceful appearance. Nothing but judgment, assumptions, and ignorant criticisms ever seemed to come from the hearts of such people. Unjust as it may be, the boy had halfway learned to live with the misconceptions of everyone around him. He didn’t really blame them anymore, their whole lives someone had been trying to steer their thought and manipulate their thinking. He figured they were simply deprived all perception by the time they reached adulthood.
The once steady shower abruptly stopped and the youth’s thoughts turned to that of relief. He turned his head to the opening sky and lifted his eyelids for the first time in a long while. His imposing eyes could now be seen in their entire green splendor. They were bright and vibrant, contradicting his rugged hair and clothing. One could see hope in these eyes of a youth, a feeling long since forgotten in the rundown cities and desolate countryside which people called Earth.
As he focused on the increasingly beautiful sky above him he became more relaxed and calm. The thoughts of delusion and hate that once danced about in his mind had been expelled in a smooth fashion. He became so engaged in satisfaction that no one would dare steal it away from him as he stopped in the middle of the road. His body became loose and free as he surrendered to the pleasure of a hole in the sky. The sun’s warm rays penetrated his skin through this portal to the heavens and he drifted further into a land he wished not to return from.
As he reached the peak of his ecstasy a stray raindrop suddenly dropped from the sky and slammed into the youth’s open eye. His eyelids slammed shut out of reflex and he vigorously began to rub with his hand. He blinked once or twice to completely rid himself of the burning and, shaking his head, then attempted to see again.
Following this disturbing incident the youth became disappointed with the end of his pleasure but found in it a new reason to go on. He began to walk again towards the city on the cobblestone roadway that had been less than kind to him thus far. His strides became of consistent length and his head was upright with his striking green eyes open. The youth carried on into the dim suburbs of a towering city that would never be tall enough to reach heaven.
Soon the boy entered the cheerless streets of the city. They were paved but had been torn to shreds by warfare and provided little more comfort than dirt. Buildings made of concrete and brick lined the path, they stood askew at times and some had completely collapsed from whatever reason. Everything was gray and dark, an urban war zone where many had fallen for what they believed in. The youth resented the rash bureaucrats that had ordered such a devastating conflict. Had they no knowledge of the senseless destruction and rebellion that would follow? Probably not, but the youth still found reason enough to blame them for most everything which had transpired.
The boy glanced around leisurely to occupy his mind but only saw suffering. Mothers rocked their young as they cried, old and broken men lay on the roadside with their belongings held close, and the dead lay scattered about, not enough with loved ones clutching them. But the children, carefree and without fear, ran about playing their games of tag and others. The youth marveled at these remarkable young ones. Their parents sat yearningly watching their offspring dance away the pain that their generation had been entrusted with, wishing they could do the same.
As the boy looked on with a smile at this display of blissful ignorance he felt a tug on his pant leg and the call of a young boy. Seeing the cause of this disturbance, the youth crouched down to address the boy at his feet.
“Hey mister,” a soft young voice proclaimed, “Wanna play with us?” The boy smiled hopefully as he awaited his older visitor’s reply. The youth smiled sincerely and thought of how great a game would be.
“I’m sorry little one, but I’ve got to go right now.” The youth responded in a tone fit for the most precious of recipients. The young boy now at eye level sighed with disappointment. “But maybe we can play some other time alright?” The boy seemed content with this response and didn’t press the issue further.
“Alright!” The boy cheerfully replied as he ran off to rejoin his friends. The youth smiled and stood up to continue his march into the heart of the city. Ahead of him lay a bridge that extended over a heavily polluted river just pass the end of the block.
Steadily the boy approached this bridge as his surroundings began to darken as the clouds regained supremacy of the sky and the sound of merry children became more faint. He paid no attention to these seemingly trivial changes around him as he closed on the bridge ahead.
After a walk that felt much longer than only a block, the youth reached the foot of the bridge. He stopped a moment to take it all in as it began to rain again. What ran under the bridge could hardly be called water; it had been so recklessly contaminated over the years that it flowed thick and grimy. The bridge itself was made of brick and mortar and was supported by several pillars on its underside. It was uninhibited by barriers so as one might fall from any side of it. Soon the youth fearlessly proceed over the bridge bearing rain and cold.
The following section of town proved to be no different from the last in appearance. The only distinction the youth noticed was the lack of people, dead or alive. In the distance a dark, gothic cathedral was visible over the building tops. It dominated the area and shot upwards further than any other structure. Upon spotting it, the youth headed toward it in the most direct route possible.
He walked on and on along the twisted and empty streets of the city. The rain did not cease as he traveled further into the heart of this ghost metropolis. After several minutes of passage through vacant boulevards, the youth finally arrived at the dark cathedral he had admired from afar. It was even more protruding up close than before. Its spires climbed high enough to have their tips lost in the clouds, its buttresses soared high above, its sculptures ominously glared upon everything below, and its stained glass windows, though unreasonably tall, provided no light to the building.
After extensively marveling at the huge structure, the youth calmly walked through its massive elaborately decorated door. Inside there was only one man, the priest. He stood at the altar with his back to the youth reciting some prayer in Latin. The pews that lined the walls lay barren and the crucifix ahead hung sullenly above the altar. Keeping his eyes fixed on the priest the youth proceed up the middle aisle.
Now the priest took a golden dish and a round piece of thin bread and raised them above his head just as the youth stood behind him. The youth slowly reached down the side of his leg and pulled a knife from its hidden sheath. Stealthily, he reached for the priest and slit his throat with a quick snap of the wrist. The bread crashed to the floor and shattered, the priest dropped lifelessly to the ground, and the youth sheathed his weapon.
The youth found the room around him to begin blurring. He stumbled to regain perception as he looked down to see the fallen man face down on the cold marble floor. He aimlessly turned and faced the door just as three suited men entered the cathedral. Their clothes were long and dark and their faces were covered by pulled down fedoras. The youth did not know who these people were but turned to run from them nonetheless. He found yet another shock waiting, the priest he had downed before beginning to rise up into the air like the hand of God himself had lifted him up. The youth stood paralyzed as the limp body ascended into a position identical to Christ on the cross. Blood dripped from his punctured neck as the holy man floated above the altar. The once immaculately white linen now lay stained with blood.
The youth finally regained face and reached for his sword, but before he could, he heard the cry of a familiar boy in the distance. He turned and found the same boy from before in a small hole waving at him to come along. The youth gladly scurried off to meet the boy leaving all adversaries behind. Without a word the two crawled through this diminutive corridor at top speed.
Before long, they exited into a wide and open field outside. The two stood and brushed off their now dusty clothes. They exchanged a genuine yet silent smile and chuckled as they walked off, celebrating their victory. The boy took off running and laughing, wordlessly telling his comrade to chase after him. The youth began his pursuit of the young one only to see the three men appear ahead of him in the long grass. The boy turned back to his friend oblivious of the danger that lay behind him. As the youth tried to warn him of the impending danger about, the man in the middle pulled a long barreled gun out from below. The youth screamed to the boy with all his might but it was as if he was deaf. He yelled for what seemed to be an eternity but to no avail, the boy went about playing. The youth mustered all his strength for one final roar as the man cocked his fearsome weapon. Just as the youth let out his cry the boy’s face went lifeless in a flash of light and a burst of sound.
In a violent flurry the youth suddenly awoke screaming and clutching the handle of his knife. He was panting hard and sweating as he sat up in his bed. It had all been a dream, a nightmare. Slowly, the youth calmed down and placed the knife on a shelf. He began to rub his head in a futile attempt to dull the pain he now felt. After a few minutes of this unsatisfactory treatment, the youth rolled out of his bed and stumbled towards his room’s closed door. He was dressed in boxers and a thin white shirt as he walked down an angled staircase to a dully-lit kitchen. As he entered the room he stopped to address a large black man seated at the table. He was equally scantily dressed and twirled a straw in his hot coco.
“Nightmare?” the man asked. The youth sat down across from him with a sigh.
“Yeah, same damn one.” He answered shakily. “I just wish I knew what the hell it means, ya know?”
“It probably means that you’ve got yourself a bad case of trippyness bro.” The black man said with a laugh as he tried to lighten the mood.
“Guess so… It just bugs me.”
“It bugs you? Hell, a dream that wack would scare the shit outta me. That kinda crap just ain’t natural man.” The black man said with the same intention.
“Yeah, guess you’re right.” The youth said as he finally chuckled.
“Look,” the black man said with a more serious tone, “Just don’t let this nightmare shit get to you aight. We need to keep our heads level if we wanna stay alive.” He tapped the side of his head with two fingers and then smiled. “Now I need some more damn coco, you want any?”
“Yeah… Sure…” the youth answered with hidden bliss.
Copyright © 2004 Hebrewhammer