Ketta Terace: Chapter 4

 

The Prisoner clutched her wounded arm against her chest as she moved between the walls of the gorge. The black stone to either side towered toward the dark sky as if into eternity and nothingness. The ground was rocky and uneven with small currents of water that bubbled and flowed down the narrow channel towards some unknown place within the network of canyons. The black sky held back the downpour, but periodically clusters of snapping and crackling electricity erupted over the world, showing her way in bright blue flashes. Still, the contrast from near darkness and stark light was ill suited to prevent the prisoner from avoiding the loose rocks and spiny plants that found way to get underfoot at each step.

Wrapped in her thick coat, she stumbled on through the brief flits of light. Still damp, a cold wind rushed through the corridor and whipped across her, cutting through to her bones and causing her eyes to tear up. Her bare foot awkwardly pinched between two rocks and she stumbled again, only able to right herself after a weaving path through the cold waters. The effort in keeping one foot in front of the other taxed her almost to the point of tears.

Another flash of lightning streaked across the sky showing the shadows and intricacies of the rock walls. They were maddeningly high and pressed in with the sheer mass of solid earth. Revealed up ahead was an intersection in the revines.

“Such a strange thing to die,” she said, speaking through chapped lips. Her movements felt heavy and her steps grew lazy as she reached the intersection. “All the rocks and plants and beings of the universe going on and living while I’m about to be left out.”

She thought on the thousands of stories of people who have been found lost and dead in the wilderness on every world. Each body evokes a mystery to their story, those decisions that they made. Where they walked like any other day to the place where they would meet the reckoning of the cold, or the wolf, or the thirst. And only they could know what those last lonely and desperate moments were. She could not help but consider that their stories, unseen by anyone, untold and unknown was very similar to her own now. She began to realize what their last moments must have been like. You learn something new every day, perhaps especially your last.

She stopped walking as she came to the crossing. The gorge and walls met unnaturally at four corners. A path in every cardinal direction, but the rivulets of water flowing together down the path where she was heading. Excepting that factor, each seemed just as good as any other. Rocks, water, cold stone walls down either path. In another cluster of lightning above, she wondered if this was her lonely place.

She felt the desire to let go.

Her legs gave in. The phantom pains in her mutilated hand began to subside. She slumped down, so tired, just to close her eyes and drift away to beautiful sleep. But as she moved to lie down another sensation came over her. Her eyes shot open and she inhaled sharply.

Bolting upright she tried to grope with her vision through the darkness at the shapes around her. The flowing water of the creek was the only sound. The dark rocks remained still.

She had been given only the most rudimentary classes in the arts of the mind. In all practicality, the school of Mixaq’s illusions were still out of her grasp. Nevertheless, she recognized these oppressive desires, the paralyzing struggle against her own muscles and will to live. She was being manipulated!

She became aware of cracking noises and scratching and a musty smell of cobwebs entered her nostrils. In another flash she saw them. The rocks, or what she thought were rocks, were breaking open and small spherical hatchlings with too many legs burst forth from within the camouflaged eggs. The impacts of so many mental suggestions steadily rose in urges and impulses, all to give up, all to think of her life as hopeless and devoid of meaning, just to lay down and let come what may. In the dark she tried to steal her mind and block these attacks.

Small voices began to mumble in her head. They spoke to her:

“Be still, be still, it is only for a little while. It will all be over soon...”

She cried out, trying to grasp the skittering shapes in the dark. A cluster of light showed their large eyes watching her as they encircled her. The brave ones, or the big ones, or the dominant ones came closer, establishing a new radius and backing off only to creep the tide of black undulating insects closer and closer with each foray. She fought the voices that told her to sleep, told her it was all too much to bear.

She recalled her training, but it wasn’t working. They swarmed her. It took all of her fortitude just to lift her head and attempt to swat them off. As the ten-legged spheres crept onto her body, they lowered their undersides down on her shivering skin. Physical pain erupted where they seemed to be biting down. She used the pain, distracting herself from her mind, she thwacked one or two from her leg, and they rolled across the ground on their legs, showing their underside; a sucking funnel-like mouth with circular rows of sharp teeth.

The more she swatted, the more they came, and soon her world became a black swarm of of teeth and pain and mental coercions. It was surely over, and she was giving up as they fed on her life. Yet as she struggled through her last movements, she saw through the swarm.

There was a yellow-green light.

 

By Jason Pratley

Jason Pratley joined the team sometime in 2013 when he created the concepts for the gods of ODR. He has since become the Writing Director and de facto loremaster for DDG. Check out some other stories and content at jvfpp.wordpress.com and goodevilcomic.com