Up In Flames

Patience was a virtue, blood was currency- but among all words of wisdom the books had to offer, there was no salvation hidden deep beneath their pages. And within a moment he found himself tearing the paper apart.

The book seemed to be in pain, as its cover was ripped off; all that was left were the useless remains of the scribbles a deluded mind had spilled across the pure, white basis- a foundation for words, a shelter for the homeless. The pages looked like wings, shattered and broken.

And then they altered in the flames as he threw the embodied legend into the fire. It screamed and wept with each lashing of the burning tongue, consuming its intestines, the story it contained within itself.

He was no sophisticated man, if he were, then there would be a hidden meaning behind this and maybe a spark of guilt; the act of burning a book was a burdened one, after all.

For a split second he thought it was all over.

He shut his eyes not only to the facts but to all those murders yet to come.

"Forgive me, Lord, for I have sinned and I will not cease to sin until my work is done."

With the most subtle of smiles he kneeled down on the dusty ground before the fire. A poet might have told him his prayer would rise up to the heavens with the smoke, carrying the words to a listening ear. In fact, he had heard a story like that in the past, but it had slipped from his mind and now there was logic where imagination had been.

It was a painting, a sound and the beat of a heart; if he were a poet, he would know.

It was then the world shifted its balance.

He could not see the darkness emerge from the barren earth outside the church he had found shelter in, but he didn't have to. A sharp twinge of pain in his intestines, a stirring sound in his mind and he knew it was coming. Like a maelstrom it followed him across the lands, wreaking havoc and clouding people's mind again.

It acted like a stray dog that finally found a master, a homeless, loveless creature. It had stuck with the man ever since he had found a cause to dedicate himself to.

The books had fallen silent by now, their whispers were faint and weak as their ashes began to whirl around with the dust.

"Love, I am never coming home."

Somewhere deep beneath the clouds of thoughts he knew there was regret in these words. Whenever he recalled a fragment of this memory, however, it hurt too much so he let it slip away on purpose.

Books with blank pages were scattered all over the floor, catching fire with time.

If he were a poet, he would have mourned their deaths, without a grave the stories fell again. Thousand of years and thousand of lives destroyed in an instant, by a force not worthy of altering their meanings.

Their burnt black wings were a symbol now, no carriers of a message left by people of ages prior. In all their crying they hailed the decay and the success of anarchy. Wisdom held no power, neither against the darkness nor human failure. Their choir would follow the man's prayer to the very heavens and ring out before their doors, another cry unnoticed.

The man's smiled turned into a wicked grin. The laughter poured out of his mouth like an incoherent onrush of words, but it was thick and heavy like dense matter. Swallowing it would suffocate him without doubt, so he let it drip out of his mouth until it was gone.

He felt the darkness approach him, reassuring and comforting in its own way. Where light made the world real, darkness distorted reality and brought forth the most twisted of possibilities.

The church's interior was well lit, however, the burning shelves shone like beacons in the night. A poet would've cried; his head was filled with laughter.

How bright their flames burned and how wonderful they glistened in the corners of his eyes. Thousands of colors, thousands of impressions, millions of pages.

"But, love, you do not care, do you? You never care anymore. You never...", he felt his voice crack like a mixed-up cadence, "A weapon, I found a weapon."

The man stood up, walking through the flames with his arms stretched out to the sides, stepping on the cadavers of the books burned so senselessly. He walked a dangerously thin line, taken by the darkness already.

Obsession was a force he knew way too well as a human, it was a common occurrence. Once a person began to desire something he could not have, he was lost; even if it was only a way out of the darkest of seas.

You cannot fight the undertow.

"And the light... In a book shouldn't be that much words, even if it was meant to be a... departure from somewhere."

The man needed some time to realize he was the one talking while he approached the church doors. If he were a poet, he would have known there was no meaning behind it all. But if he were, he wouldn't have to know.

"The time is running out on the pages... the pages..."

He stepped out of the church, facing the chasm the darkness had left for him. There were trees all around, huge and surreal, their tops moving swiftly in the soft breeze. The sky was pitch-black as though it was covered in ink spilled on an empty paper.

Somewhere in the distance a light could be seen, shining bright like a leftover star. It flashed briefly and then went down entirely.

"A rewritten reality is confused with the gas, the freaking... gas."

Speaking those words felt like vomiting; barely thought cogitations heaved up from his brain, unstoppable and unwanted.

The darkness soothed him with its feral conviction, sending the cleansing maelstrom in his thoughts to get rid of all that was unnecessary. If he were a poet, he'd know there was more to it, a story and an ending. But he wasn't.

Behind him, close to the same edge he was standing on, the church burst in flames.

"I will be late for dinner, love. Do not wait for me", the man whispered and smiled.

Then he jumped, into the chasm, into the darkness.

He was but a poet at the end of the world.