Wednesday, 11 June 2008
The sky above me was devoid of life, jet black midnight reigned over the cemetary as I strolled amongst the graves. It was lunacy being out here, but where else could I walk without questions and awkward glances? Corpses didn't question a person's motives, and corpses didn't ask a person senseless questions. So I strolled around the cemetary, weaving in and out of gravestones, watching the ground unfold before me. I paid no mind to my surroundings as night stretched on and became early morning. The wind grazed over the surface of the grass, chilling even the bones of the corpses below the earth, but after hours of mindless wandering the cold no longer affected me. My body was as frozen as it was going to get. I could've laid down among the graves and been considered a corpse myself. I laughed at the thought and the sound carried on the breeze, making the darkness seem denser, closer, meaner.
I shivered, no longer wanting to think that way. I considered leaving then, but a rustling down the hill just ahead of me caught my attention. The sound was loud enough that my already sensitive ears could easily pick it up. Whoever or whatever was down there wasn't trying to be discreet. My brow furrowed as I contemplated my options. It was most likely an animal on the prowl and best left alone, but something told me it wasn't so. Something was calling to me, beckoning me forward, and following gut instinct I went to it. I would regret this later and still have done nothing differently.
Wrapping my arms tightly about myself I walked into the darkness that seemed to be thickening with time. I listened to my light breathing, focusing on my breaths and the sounds around me. I could hear my feet shuffling along the grass and the sigh of the wind through the trees and that rustling noise ahead of me that sounded like an animal rolling in a pile of leaves. The hill sloped downward casting this part of the cemetary in total darkness. There was a time where I could actually see the ground in front of me and then everything went dark and I could see no more. My feet halted instantly and my breath caught in my chest, but I didn't scream. I stood stone still, chills running rampant down my spine, waiting for my vision to return to me. When my eyes finally acclimated to this unearthly darkness my muscles relaxed but only momentarily before they were seized again by fear.
I bit my bottom lip so hard it bled as a snake slithered over my shoes. It stopped just long enough to raise it's head and glance at me before carrying on. As it's tail disappeared into the dark I could feel my heart hammering away in my chest. It wasn't the snake I was afraid of, it was the suddenness of it's appearance that chilled me. This must've been what I heard rustling down here, I thought to myself and wanted to kick myself for thinking it might've been anything else. I turned to go when a cold hand caught me by the elbow and gently spun me around.
When I turned I was facing the pale face of a man more beautiful than anything that had ever walked the earth, and instantly something told me he wasn't human. A smile caressed his crimson lips. [They appeared to be dripping with blood and I shivered as I noticed this.] His eyes were empty and white, like the glassy eyes of a corpse, but without pupils. His skin was pale like moonlight and radiated brilliantly among the unearthly darkness covering this part of the cemetary. And still I thought I'd never seen anything more beautiful in my life. There was something about the way he wore his features, the smile that curved the corners of his lips, the perfect symmetry of his face that made him absolutely gorgeous. I felt envy awaken in my chest and unconsciously I hurried to stifle it.
His touch upon my elbow was light, only his fingers were gripping my skin, but his touch was as cold as the artic tundra, as death itself. I felt my blood freeze in my veins underneath that touch and I was repulsed enough to pull from it, but he held fast. I was staring transfixed into his lifeless eyes and my mind returned to the darkest moments of my past. Things I'd thought I'd forgotten but had really only buried under the surface of unconsciousness. My parents divorce came back to me hard and fast, literally belting me in the stomach, knocking the wind from my lungs. I felt it exhaled from between my lips as if he'd reached down my throat with one of his freezing hands and literally pulled the breath right from my lungs. A cold descended upon me that had nothing to do with the surrounding breeze.
"That's not something you wanted to remember, was it?" He asked, his voice filling my head until I felt dizzy from the sound of it. His voice was beautiful and yet terrible at the same time. It reminded me of vibrant, upbeat, classical compositions and yet also of a deliberate, somber, funeral march. The two clashed but never intermingled. I stood staring at him with my eyes wide, panting, trying to regain my breath enough to speak, but I feared that would never be possible. He chuckled and the sound was a combination of musical chimes and the cawing of crows. It was both relaxing and grating upon my nerves.
"You've been walking this path a long time and somehow managed to elude me all these years, it would be impressive if it wasn't so aggravating." He said, putting emphasis on the word, his eyes narrowing slightly, showing the first sign of emotion from him. But then his features relaxed and the bloody smile once more traced the line of his lips. Slowly my breathing was returning to normal, but my heart kept stuttering randomely. Sometimes it would beat insanely fast and I feared it would burst right from my chest, and other times it slowed down so much I wondered if it was still beating at all. Eventually I found my words.
"I don't know what you're talking about, but I really must go." I replied, once more tugging against his grip on my elbow and acheiving nothing. I could feel the snake from earlier slithering around my ankles and I could hear its tongue hissing from between its lips. The man, or thing, before me chuckled once more and I winced as if his voice caused me literal pain.
"Of course you know what I'm talking about! The path of life!" He stated exuberantly, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. I was starting to understand what he was hinting at and realized then that I really didn't want to know. Yet I was quite positive I had no other option. His smiled widened and his teeth gleamed bone white from between the crack in his lips. I gulped and felt my stomach turn into a rock. He would have fangs, I was quite sure of it, even if I couldn't see them yet.
"You've walked this darkened path for years, knowing that it leads nowhere, and yet walking it all the same. You've believed it led nowhere, but you were wrong! You only believed that because you didn't know me, not yet, but now we've met and you can be certain the rest of your days will be quite full." He finished his speech still wearing that crimson smile and it seemed to crack open just a bit wider. I could feel myself wanting to scream, pulling in enough breath necessary to produce a scream loud enough and hopefully shrill enough to rouse the neighbors of the cemetary. His face no longer looked beautiful to me, only ghostly and deranged. I wanted more than anything to turn and run screaming into the night. When I said nothing in response he carried on.
"You know what path I'm talking about. The path your life has taken since your parents divorce. Everything around you has been dark skies and countless cemetaries. How many corpses have you passed without a glance? How many days have you wasted meandering along this path? How much of your life have you already buried in the ground you walk upon? All that can change when you walk away from here tonight. You can reclaim your life, regain those days you've wasted meandering among countless corpses. All I need is a little bit of insurance and the rest is yours, free of charge." His voice was haunting, cutting into my mind like a knife. I could feel it tearing away at my sanity as if it was nothing more than paper. And yet there was a truth to his words. How much time had I spent wandering the world uselessly, listlessly? I remembered thinking earlier, when I was cold, how I was already like one of the corpses, and here the comparison was again. I had buried my life in the same ground the corpses were buried in, but he claimed I could regain it, for a small insurance payment.
I hesitated before speaking, my eyes focusing on his gleaming, bone white teeth. I had a feeling I already knew what my insurance payment would be. "What do you need as insurance?" I asked, the words tumbling from between my lips like ice cubes. His smile widened and I could see the points of his teeth, sharp like needles.
"Just your soul, nothing big. You wont even know its gone and it's painless to lose!" He added as if that was a bonus. My eyes once more locked on his lifeless, corpses eyes. I saw myself reflected in those eyes. If I walked away from here without taking his deal those eyes would haunt my dreams until I went insane, but if I walked away without my soul, my life on earth would be fulfilling. I was bargaining with the devil, and yet he had said I'd eluded him for years. I hadn't consciously done that, but maybe there was a reason for it. I shook that thought away thinking of the years ahead if I refused his offer. I was already a nothing, a nobody, and I certainly didn't want to carry on that way. He said I could reclaim my life, make it my own, and what was so wrong with that? I deserved to enjoy my life and thus far I was not.
"Alright, you can have my soul." I heard myself say before even consciously being aware that I was going to say it. His smiled widened even more and he clapped his hands together. I hardly noticed he had let me go because as quick as he did he had me by the chin and his corpses lips were pressed against mine. My eyes widened in shock, staring into his empty corpse's eyes. His lips moved along mine, frozen like ice, and pried mine open. He inhaled and I felt the breath from my lungs deliberately pulled from my chest. My heart was jumping around sporatically, first hammering away at a hundred miles an hour, then slowing down to the point it almost ceased. The snake was still slithering around my ankles and I could feel it binding my feet together as he placed one of his frozen hands on the back of my neck, clutching me to him. I wanted to push him away, but my arms remained limply at my sides for fear of touching his freezing skin. He continued to inhale until all the breath from my lungs was gone. I was choking on lack of oxygen and my head was swimming with it. Everything ceased to be real except his lips on mine, pulling the breath from my lungs, the beat from my heart and the pulse from my veins.
Just when I thought I'd pass out from lack of oxygen he pulled his mouth from mine and released his hand from the nape of my neck. Simultaneously I felt the snake uncoil from around my ankles and my body swayed, toppled and thudded against the hard-packed ground of the cemetary. I laid on my back staring at the sky, but it was no longer void. Stars twinkled brightly like thousands of diamonds strewn across a blanket. When my head quit swimming I slowly pushed myself up with my elbows into a sitting position. I looked around but found I was completely alone. I inhaled and the air was cold and sharp in my lungs. I felt my heart beating tunelessly in my chest and my pulse flowing rhythmically through my veins. I touched the tips of my fingers to my lips and shuddered at their coldness. I climbed to my feet, my head felt clearer than it had ever been, but from that day forth every breath was sharp and cold, painful in my lungs. My heartbeat was lifeless and drummed to a steady beat. My complexion was pale and when I stared into the mirror I saw corpses eyes staring back at me. I was walking the path he had promised, the one his eyes spoke of, not his words.