Title: A Puppet's Tears
Series: Eden's Bowy
Disclaimer: Eden's Bowy is not mine.
Rating: PG 13
Warning/s: Language, (somewhat) sucky writing.
Summary: Remember the puppets in the Wedge? This is the story of the guy who painted the pictures Elissis found, and what happened to him after.
Note: Finally, I've managed to rewrite this. Even if it's still slightly sucky, I am somewhat contented. Enjoy.
Sand is mostly the only thing one could find in the desert. If you were stuck in such a place for a long time, you'd get sick of it. The extreme heat under the morning sun would be enough to give you a headache, and even if the temperature drops later in the evening you wouldn't get any comfort from it. The air isn't suited for comfort, anyway. The temperature is always on the extremities, and the time lapse before it changes is thankfully just right for one to last a bit longer. Any faster, and you'd get sick with a fever or something. Any slower, and you'd die of dehydration, pneumonia, or of some other disease. An occasional oasis would be there, its wells calling to the weary and desperate traveler, but even the oasis is no place for comfort. As the only source of shelter, food, and comfort for miles around, it's a beacon for other people and animals wandering in the same dull and tiring place.
Deserts weren't always like this, in the same way that Antarctica didn't use to be a piece of land with the lowest temperature in the word. People still say that, millions of years ago, that entire span of shifting hills used to be the ocean floor, maybe even the land area of a lush tropical forest. Through the course of time, however, the land changed, most especially after a supposed meteor crash that killed dinosaurs and the great Ice Age that preserved the remains of those remarkable creatures of the past. These sands have within their depths the treasures of the past, which are revealed by a strong wind, only to be hidden again by a gentle, passing breeze.
But what if it hadn't taken so long to turn a city into a desert? What if it only took a few years' time, or even less? And if it was possible...
…where am I?
…who am I?
…oh, fuck. Why the hell am I asking these questions anyway?
I opened my eyes. There were drops of water on my cheek. One of those drops slid down to the corner of my mouth. I can taste its cold, liquid saltiness. Wait. This isn't water. Tears? I tilted my head back further to see where the moisture was coming from. What I saw was totally unexpected.
A mannequin-like head was staring at me. There was a hollow at the back of his head, and I could see the wall opposite me through his eyes. I wouldn't be disturbed by this under normal circumstances, but this can't be considered normal. There were streams of tears flowing from the space where the eyes should have been.
I tried to scream in fright, but my lips wouldn't move. I tried to squeeze my eyes tight, but my eyelids wouldn't let me. The only parts of my body that would move were the joints of my limbs. How annoying, I couldn't even bend my trunk. The floor was cold against my bare back. I couldn't feel my neck, but with this absurdly straight position my body was in (presumably for several hours), I was certain that I had a stiff neck and aching muscles. Something like an hour passed by. I could barely wiggle my toes now. How annoying. I balled my left hand into a fist. Well, that I can at least move...
"Not used to this, are you? Well, you will be. Who wouldn't, after being stuck here for what might be eternity?"
And to whom would this voice belong to, I ask?
"I'm in front of you, idiot."
A second mannequin came to sight as it departed from the shadows it was hiding in. My face would've paled, if my blood would circulate properly. What the hell's happening, anyway?! It can't be true. Mannequins can't talk, they're not alive! It's mouth didn't even move, for crying out loud!
"Well I'm not a mannequin. Neither are you, for that matter. "
What are you then? Why can you talk to me? And why the hell can you hear me if my mouth can't move?
"Doesn't matter who I am now."
The voice takes on a faintly mournful tone. But even the emotion's fading, fast. The next line was as dull and neutral as the previous statements.
"I was once human. But now, you can see that I've been reduced to a mere puppet. Puppets weren't made for speaking. Their primary purpose was to be used as Eurgoha's weapons. But since this experiment didn't go well…"
Experiment? Oh, I see. Eurgoha, the city that's built on this huge, floating island, came to our temple (called the Wedge, in reference to its wedge-like shape) and told us that, to reach God, we had to come to this inner chamber in the temple. They'd then put these weird caps on our heads that're connected to this machine. A tiny 'click'-ing sound from a flipped switch would echo throughout the room, everything would go blank, and the next thing we know, we're awake. Nothing much has changed, 'xcept we'd feel funny. Tingly. Then that sensation would fade away, 'till the next time we visit. Each time we'd undergone this process, we'd come out light-headed. We've been changed in some way. My friend from outside the city commented on this once. Said I've become colder. Never noticed a thing. The only emotions I remember feeling are sorrow, anguish, and anger. Oh, yes, especially anger. I've been so caught up in these emotions... How long has it been since I've last smiled, anyway? I could smile now, if only my lips would move. I also want to move my arm' this other thing's tears keep on falling, and it's getting annoying. There's that dull, 'thump'-ing tremor on my cheek. It's hollow. It's just there. I don't feel anything. I'm as hollow as that echo that's ringing in my ears. The repetition of that empty sound of tears falling down my cheek.
"Yes, these emotions... You no longer feel positive emotions. Come to think of it, I don't know why we even remember them. It's all so vague now... The after-effects of that experiment, I suppose."
Experiment? My mind flashes back to those cold stone beds back at the temple's central chamber. The metal cap they fit around my head is also cold. The metallic click of that switch is heard. The machine with all its lights, hooks, and wires is recalled. Ah. So this whole god-worship-thing was just an experiment. For what? To suck our souls out and trap them into puppets? To show us how low and lowly and worthless we are? That we villagers are expendable, to be left at the mercy of those 'priests', in their long, white coats and indifferent frowns? Did they relish the fact that they had a whole city under their thumb, its citizens willing to follow their every whim? Oh, what fools we were.
"The original idea was to suck out negative emotions from people and lock them inside puppets. For some bizarre reason, though, the people themselves became puppets. Damn them. If only they know how much hatred is now in this place, thanks to them. Many a dream was shattered by their subtle cruelty and pride. So what if they live above ground, we're humans too!"
If I could frown, I would. Or I could at least try. Frankly, my thoughts are getting mixed-up... For some reason, I remember drowning... drowning... drowning in what?
It doesn't answer back.
I twist my neck in a strange, mechanical way. It's just standing there. Its head tilts down. Time slows to a stop, as I stare into its eyeholes. I gasped soundlessly. In its eyes I could see Darkness. But It was not a void. It was far from being a void, a black hole. No, the Darkness was alive. It wanted to devour what was left of the other puppet. Behind me, the crying puppet had crawled back to its silent corner. The tears continued to fall down, and words streamed out of its gaping mouth.
"I want... to... go back... to what I was... before..."
Back in front, I could see it running. Him running. The Darkness was pursuing him, and he was trying to escape it. I could somehow see it all, everything through his eyes. He was running away from the Dark, from his fears, from his weaknesses, from the Anger and Hate that formed the Darkness. In a sense, It was alive. In another way, It was empty. It was like a black hole, sucking everything into It. It was getting larger as the number of Its victims increased, to make room for more. In the Darkness, I could hear the faint moans and cries of woe of the others before the other puppet. The Darkness has caught him now, and is sucking him dry. I want to close my eyes; it was horrid. A nauseous wave of negative energy surrounded it, making its Dark aura thicken. Pain. Suffering. Anger. Hate. Oh, it was sickening...
I froze. I was afraid, and I knew it. The Darkness knew it. It was staring at me hungrily. It needed more. It was never satisfied. It will never be satisfied, for It cannot get what It really needs for fulfillment. It can only content Itself on us, for we are the only ones that are close to It. It needed us, for It was hungry for something. It is coming. I can feel its cold, clammy presence. And the cold was no match for the winter blizzards that used to cause the deaths of people in the village. If there is any village left.
It approached. I tried to scream. Silence came from my gaping lips. I saw nothing from my hollow eyes.
The years dragged on. Nothing was left in the village, just as our nameless and faceless character had guessed, save for that wedge-like landmark. Then again, the sands that covered the once-bountiful and peaceful village are not enough to completely hide that massive structure that reached the blue heavens. Silence reigned among the ruins. An occasional traveler passed by the Wedge and, intrigued by its sheer height, came for a closer look. If he looked close enough, he might have seen a human-like form peering out of a narrow slit of a window up above.
The tales spread about ghosts and monsters lurking among the shadows of the ruins. Some said that they were the spirits of the soldiers who died in a war. Some said they were demons who took over the bodies of naughty children and brought them there to live and participate in strange rituals. And yet others said that they were the shadows of a time forgotten, of a civilization that had existed centuries ago. But all accounts agree that the shadows were once human. They were right in some ways, and yet in others they were at fault of adding to some part of the tale. Yet isn't that how we humans pass on stories and fables through oral tradition?
In the depths of the shadows, a figure stirred. It walked to the huge entrance hall, shoulders slumped forward as if burdened with a huge load. It stopped half-way, and tilted its head approximately fourty-five degrees to the right. It spotted something. Several cans of paint, a few canvases, an easel, and a paintbrush were there near the wall, covered in dust with varying degrees of thickness. It stared at the materials for a while, as if contemplating something, and took a step forward the materials. It set one of the canvases on the easel and opened a can of paint. It picked up the paintbrush, caressed it lovingly, dipped the tip into the paint, and applied the thick liquid onto the canvas.
"I want to go back... To what I was... Before..."
The gate burst open. A huge amount of sand piled up, creating a small hill at the massive entrance hall. Three heads popped out of that pile, spitting out the sand in their mouths. It was the first time in years that the silence of the Wedge had been disturbed. Its doors were open once again, yet not for long. It closed after the sand stopped flowing in. The front hall was a mess.
A boy with an unruly mop of brown hair managed to get out. After dusting his clothes, he scanned the place. Leaning on one of the pillars was a painting of a man sitting by the windowsill. A look of extreme sorrow was forever painted on his place, accompanied by tears. The boy felt a pang of sadness. Who could've painted a sad picture so life-like?
A few minutes later, the three travelers started to explore the silent and gloomy building. Unknown to any of them, a figure was watching them from the floor above.
It was a puppet, and it was crying.
~11/07/03, 10:32 PM