Author: Ethelflaed PM
-For Wolfy, Religious- The sun has set, and perhaps for the last time. The sun, however, is hard to stop from rising, and even all the powers of Shadow can be stopped by a soul.Rated: Fiction K - English - Supernatural - Words: 2,339 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 2 - Published: 04-29-04 - id: 1840337
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Your soul deserves the place to which it came
If having entered Hell, you feel no flame.
The sun was setting, throwing dark tints of red through the window and on the rug. Huge mounds of cloud, heavy from the recent thunderstorm, were shot through with hues of red and yellow.
It was one of the most beautiful sunsets he would ever see, the spirit of Ring knew. But the spirit wasn't surprised. The last time anything is done, it is always the loveliest. The swansong is always the height and completion of the swan's beauty, when its ugly voice is transformed.
Now the sun was a mere red sliver on the horizon, burning in fierce, defiant glory. The last ray fell, causing the gold on his chest to shine ruddily, the light slipping along its smooth surface. He stroked it quietly, watching the sun disappear forever.
The people below him, in the street, were talking about the sunset excitedly. Snatches of conversation reached his ears, words like "perfect", "beautiful", "incredible"—repeated over and over in the helpless attempt to express what they had just seen.
"Look," said the woman, holding her son's hand. "Look at the sun—but be careful, he will blind you."
It was still dark, but in the purple‑black of the sky, a streak of orange began to show, as the sun climbed slowly through the heavens. The sky became a riot of colors, pinks and reds and oranges and yellows, cavorting and setting the world alight.
"Oh…" murmured the boy. "The sun…"
They watched the sun for a long time, as it surpassed the horizon and the sky slowly returned to its normal blue hue. The boy's mother squeezed his hand, and started to talk…
They didn't understand. None of them understood what was happening this night: that his revenge would finally begin. The world would be his—revenge would be his—he could return in the twilight world to his home, and tell them what he had done for them. Perhaps he could set them free, forever.
It was time, he decided, to begin. He lifted the golden pendant from his neck and spun it lightly in a circle, watching as it twisted back, jingling. For a moment, he looked at it half‑amused, and started to reach up to spin it again.
Get to work, snapped something within his mind.
There was nothing present to issue the command, but he knew where it came from. Stiffening, he nodded quickly, and stilled the pendant with his hand. He could amuse himself later. For now, he must work.
He sat at the table, holding the pendant in his hands. There was a candle lit, and beside it, he noticed an open book. Odd… His host must have left it there. Curious, he looked as the candlelight made a small piece of text legible.
"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in return for his soul?"
With a snort, he pushed the book away, and watched as the shadow of the pendant grew darker and spread outwards, tendrils spreading outward like shapeless feet. It was not merely a shadow anymore—but that word would work as well as any to describe it.
The blue sky was choked with dust, dust raised from many tramping feet, just barely heard. She turned to him, pale. "I want you to hide… Hide now, and do not venture out until—until you see the sun rise again," she finished wildly. "Hide!"
She shoved him forward and the boy stumbled, then ran for cover and safety, and looked at his mother, staring frightened at the dust. The rest of the townsfolk were shouting, and running, smashing into splintered bits the items they had once counted most precious.
As the shadow grew, the light of the candle wavered, and the spirit watched closely as slowly it disappeared, eaten by the darkness. He watched as the shadow inched on, gaining speed as it fed. Soon it would leak out the window, searching light. And when the sun returned, its light would be gone before it could touch the world.
He stood up, tired of watching the shadows. They could move without his help; the waiting was wearisome and useless. He resolved to walk outside, to see humanity in its last days of freedom. Quietly he slipped out his door, and out into the street. A car shot by, with glaring headlights, nearly splashing him with the puddles that lay in the street.
He wandered on, through streets and alleys, listening for something, some speech, some word. He knew they had been talking about the sunset earlier. He wanted to hear them now.
At last he stopped, sitting on the curb of a street, the soles of his sneakers immersed in the puddles which were already starting to be dirtied by debris and oil. Someone sat behind him, and he looked to see a tattered looking man tracing figures on the surface of the puddle with a stick. He greeted the man, then asked about the sunset.
"Oh…" Harsh laughter. "I don't know. I heard a lot about it, but as to the sunset itself—I couldn't see it."
The man laughed again—a barking, grating noise. "I'm blind. Stone blind, and I always have been." Long, sensitive fingers up the stick, which upon closer examination proved to be a cane. "I'm sure you're shocked… Well, you aren't the first, tonight."
"No," muttered the spirit. "I'm not shocked… Just a little disappointed." He added the last part under his breath, but the blind man still heard him.
"Of course," answered the blind man. "I suppose you wanted to wax with the praises of a little bit of fractured light… That's all it is, you know. Distorted light, twisted so that you see what you tell me are colors—I never saw one, I don't know what they're like."
The other glanced at him sharply, new appreciation in his eyes. "Yes, I know what you mean—compared to the night, it all seems rather superfluous, doesn't it?"
"You don't know anything, do you? It's just as bad as your light. It wants to eat and devour, and when a man's blind, he can't even take refuge in the lie you have, the lying of your light…"
The spirit's eyes narrowed sharply. "You're a fool."
The blind man raised himself up, with a snort of derision. "Say what you wish—you've obviously never lived in darkness," he replied, picking up the cane. "One day, you'll see—or should I say one night?"
With that he haltingly disappeared into the night, leaving the brown‑eyed spirit alone again. Slowly the spirit also stood, and walked away, deeper into the city, to the graveyard. Perhaps, on the way there, he would find what he sought—a pathetic hopefulness, the naïve joy in something that couldn't last, so that he could experience the pleasure of crushing it, showing them what life was actually like.
He arrived without incident, and entered the graveyard. As he walked by the carefully tended graves, he noted someone kneeling over a grave. It turned out to be an old man, speaking quietly to a tombstone. When he saw the youth walking quietly through the tombs, he stopped and stood.
"Oh—do you have someone buried here as well?"
The spirit swiftly nodded—it made a convenient excuse. The elderly man sighed.
"I was talking to her—" he motioned to the grave, "—telling her about the sunset. That's my wife, you see…"
"So you saw it?" asked the spirit.
"Did I see it? I… If there," said the old man proudly, "was never another sunset in the world, I would be glad that was the last. It was… Oh, never mind what it was. You've seen it, and you know what I mean."
"Yes," said the other, absently, "I do know what you mean…"
"I had to tell her," the man continued. His attention had returned to the tombstone, and his back was once more turned to the spirit. "She probably can't hear me… But if she can, I want her to know what the sunset looked like. I—"
In a strangled voice, the boy managed to say, "She knows."
The old man started with surprise and fear. "How—" But the youth was gone, fled into the depths of the cemetery. He was not finding what he wanted. He had found despair, yes, but a despair that could not be crushed. He had found hope, yes, but a hope that was not false.
He asked himself for a moment if he'd really expected to—and yes, he had.
The spirit turned home, disappointed, unsettled. A very discernible black film of shadow was covering the ground, now—and thickening into ooze. When he finally reached the apartment building, he found the cleaning lady hard at work trying to clean the film off of the hallway carpet. She smiled at him.
"Hello, Mr. Bakura," she said. "Did you see it…?"
"Yes," he replied. "I saw the sunset."
"It was the greatest thing," she continued breathlessly. "When I saw it, I looked over at my Paul—looked at him and said, 'Now the end of the world can come, and I can go in peace, because I've just seen the best this world can give me'—said just that. And you know, I meant it…"
The spirit fled from her into his room, the room which had been eaten by shadows. Beyond it there lay an even darker chamber, the western one, where his work had begun.
You need to hurry up, snapped his mind. Sunrise is coming.
"I know it is."
If you don't have this done by then—the light will either destroy all your work or else the Pharaoh will stop it, and either way, you've lost.
"Just be quiet," snarled the other.
I'll speed this up for you, if you don't.
The spirit said nothing, but crossed the apartment and looked out the eastern window. The sun would be rising soon, and destroy everything he had just done. The purple sky lay serene above the spreading black ooze below.
"…We worship the sun," the woman had said before the dust cloud, "not only because he gives us life but because the sun will always be there—you cannot halt the sunrise or the sunset, Bakura. That is why the sun is a circle; he is forever moving. Remember that… When you're lost, look for the sun—"
Are you going to move?
In the apartment above him, he could hear the padding of feet—and the voice of child, complaining that his nightlight had burnt out. Other voices, very puzzled and perhaps afraid, began to speak. The spirit knew what had happened—they had gone to replace the lightbulb, and discovered it was gone. The child had started to cry.
That was what he had wanted…
Outside, the headlights of a car abruptly vanished, and with a screech and a crash, it collided with another vehicle. Someone was screaming.
Yes, this was what he wanted—they would pay—all of them—pay the—
He looked at the floor and recoiled from the very plain book lying there, strangely untouched. The words he had read marched through his confused and mad thoughts, a strange chanting cacophony of words—pay—profit—soul—sun—gain—
His world was collapsing—not only did he realize this; he was causing it. And as his thoughts grew weaker, the words did not.
He held the golden Ring in his hand, and said one thing, and that only:
"Bring the shadows back."
In his mind there was a scream, of fury and frustration. The spirit felt his control loosening, and with what power he could summon, pushed his enemy into the Ring. Claws buried in him—in his soul—pulled him down into it as well, and the golden pedant dropped to the floor.
Ryou Bakura stood, holding the windowsill in one hand to balance. The Ring lay on the floor, and the boy felt then an absence in his mind…
Outside, a small ray of red light shone bright against the night sky, and a quiet voice, like that of a child, was murmuring,
"What does it profit a man…"
To Wolf Youkai:
You have been a great friend on the Net, with your jokes and your laughter. You have been a cornerstone of support and I want to thank you for that, for the inspiration you give me, and…well…geez, this is sappy. How about a "thank you" and we forget I wrote that…
There are only so many ways to say thanks—and I think I've just outrun my vocabulary. Figures—I get one chance at putting down what I need to say and the darn vocabulary deserts.
The translation used was KJV. The only translation. (Or at least, the only one worth considering… (grin) Any criticism or comments would be greatly appreciated—not the least from you, Wolfy. Request for criticism or comments does not apply to anyone complaining about this being religious, if anyone feels so inclined. However, it does appertain to the in‑character‑ness of this story.
Bold (in the story) is Zork.
Large chunks of italics (in the story) are flashbacks.