Anthem for the Drowned

Chapter 1

Too early, I thought. My brain was fuzzy, ignorant of the environment around me, ignorant of the light beyond my eyelids, unaware of where I was. Only the slow feeling of one who has just woken up out of a particularly vivid dream and feels as though they are being dragged back to the surface from the murky, swirling depths of unconsciousness. My first awareness was the soreness, the ache that ran from my calves up to my back. In a way it felt good, the pain of being sore. It was a loose feeling, like I might be floating. Then the smells hit me, salty but dark and musty as well. My mind began to clear up at this point, maybe it was the salty scent stimulating my head, or perhaps just the need to figure out where I was.

As I opened my eyes, I felt dried blood crack along my cheeks. The picture that seemed to unfold before my eyes, as though a curtain were being drawn up before a play, was grim and dark to say the least. My body rested on a pile of rocks, which explained the soreness. From my vantage point, and with my head turned the same way it had been when I'd woken up, I was able to see a portion of a cobblestone road and lanterns, dark purple lanterns. The air was grey and the sun was gone, but then again, had it ever been here in the first place? Of course not, I answered myself, what would be the good in that? I searched my brain for some kind of explanation or memory of how I'd ended up here.

I'd been hiking here, coming here to get away. To get away from… But that was where the dream had come in, and, being fresh on my mind, I wasn't keen on thinking about it. I was attacked! I thought suddenly, that seemed to be the most reasonable explanation. Then more memories surfaced, as if called up by my realization. The jaguar-creature, it had attacked me on this very road. I had tried to fight, tried to electrocute it with my guitar, but it was no use, it had the upper hand. My guitar got hit by a laser from the jaguar's eyes while it was overheated, exploding and sending me flying backwards into, I could only assume, this rock pile. I blacked out then from the impact and slept for, for… Well, there really wasn't any way for me to tell. Never was in this part of the world.

I rotated my head, checking for any other wild animals that might be around. Then, tenderly, I started to pull my legs around to get up. Pain shot up through my leg and I almost cried out. My eyes stung and my vision blurred for a moment as I felt a few tears of pain roll down my cheeks, wiping away blood as they went. When I could see again, I bit my lip and tried again to stand up from the pile. The pain was the same but I was ready for it, trying to ignore it, and succeeding to an extent. I pulled myself up and then supported myself up against the rocks, gasping. My leg wasn't broken, I could still move it normally, but it would take a while to walk off. A piece of scrap metal, about as long as my arm span, lay to my right and I grabbed it, feeling its cold smoothness under my fingers. I held it to my forehead for a moment, letting its coolness push away some of the pain. Sighing in slight relief, I tucked the piece under my right arm in a make-shift crutch.

As I began pushing myself up again, resolved to get out of here before anyone or anything else showed up, I noticed my guitar, cracked in half at the base of the neck, laying 20 yards in front of me. Trying hard not to fall and have to go through the pain of getting up again, I hobbled over to the remains of my now most prized possession. My only possession, I reminded myself, other than the clothes on my back. My father had bought it for me back when I was a sophomore in high school. It was a jet black Gibson Les Paul and I loved it from the moment I touched it. The way my fingers moved on it, the way it responded to my every touch. How it resonated with every thought I had while playing. But it was a different world, in a different time. A time I missed more than anything else. Those memories were painful too and I tried shutting them out of my head, by focusing on the task at hand. Best not to worry about it, it wouldn't have done me any good if I had.

I bent down slowly to pick up the remains of my destroyed guitar, holding the two pieces firmly under my left arm. For a moment I considered dropping it again, just leaving it. What good would it be to me now? I couldn't play it and I couldn't fight with it. Now it was just dead weight to slow me down. But something inside, some emotion, wouldn't let me loosen my grip on it. Grunting with the effort, I stood back up, using my crutch for support. The road looked completely deserted now, the crooked buildings on each side uninhabited. So I limped forward, knowing that before I had passed out, I was already near the end of my journey and at the beginning of a much longer one.

Anthem for the Drowning