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Ephemeral_One
October 22nd, 2016, 04:44 PM
I hope this is edited well enough for clarity and enjoyment.


Dreams are ephemeral and fleeting for most. Something momentary and forgotten with the break of every dawn. For a long time I was entwined in a single dream. Every time I would close my eyes, I’d be pulled into that vision. Be it for a heartbeat or a full night’s rest that alternate world would stretch out before me.


In my dream, I am a specter haunting a creature that has had many names: Subject fifteen, the Lizard, Noname, Scero, Tu and Ru'Sala to name a few. I am not him and he is not me but we’re aware of each other. I began as simply an onlooker on his life. Over time we’ve both grown into something greater. As I’ve strode from being an observer, guide, sage and conspirator the other side has changed as well. From vagabond, monster, killer and abomination he has become truly unique.

The window between us thickens and thins at times. We are inseparable but for the difference in bodies we inhabit. On my end I can feel his heavy wings on my back despite nothing being there. He will forget to tuck his tail away because I don't have one. Our union is one not of our making but one we’ve both made ample use of.

We've crossed the gaps between worlds on roads made of our own, unified will. Defied Gods and put kings to rest. We've even fallen in love only to have our hearts ripped out. Yet, we continue on as two masks for one soul. He shall be our main character while I shall be interpreter, guide and narrator. For a journey so long as ours is replete only a stage as grand as the universe itself. So allow me to don my title and begin.

Narrator:

As is so painfully appropriate let us begin thusly: in the beginning was the darkness of my sleep. I had drifted off as I had so many nights before. However, my cold water baptism into the dream were these words, “He's absolutely useless.”

Without question, I knew that was directed at me. Their weight pressed down with the sharpness of a slap and the weight of a boulder. Without my urging, our eyes opened. A dull, distant pain was the first sensation the creature knew. It was hung in a pitch black room by chains that bound it to the wall. Our eyes adjusted to the lightless gloom almost instantly. I noted that the domed ceiling and floor were covered in circles of eldritch marks. A stairwell rose on the opposite side of the room.

Our head dropped then. The strength to look around had fled us. It was then I noticed a pool of blood below us. Thick, powerful legs that ended in scaled feet that were thoroughly coated in the drying liquid. My eyes traced the blood to block of stone in the middle of the room. If what was below us was a lake, an ocean of the crimson elixir stained that rock. My stomach turned at the amount. I asked, “Where am I?”

“Ah, you're awake,” rumbled a voice so loudly I feared the ceiling would collapse upon me.

A deep, rasping voice spoke of it’s own accord, “What?”

“I didn’t say that,” I stammered feeling that words have come from me but I hadn’t spoken them.

“I see,” rumbled the loud voice. I felt shockwaves as he explained, “There are two voices in that body. You both need to understand something.”

He made two things were made clear. Our sense of self was clearly a duality with a single essence. Secondly, that we could only speak with our mind. It may sound silly to you but our mouth at the time wasn't made for forming words. Once the channels of thought were open the voice identified itself, “I am Ieak'Osh, subject fifteen. You now have a choice. Do you wish to escape?”

I was irritated by this. What sort of question was that? I was chained up in a blood soaked chamber. Anyone would want to escape! Yet, our answer didn't come immediately. Instead our vision became transfixed upon the slab. It was then we recalled something we had no memory of. In hindsight I know now what we saw. Ieak'Osh showed us what he had borne witness to through our own eyes.

A woman was above us speaking to herself. I recognized that her voice was the same as the one that had beckoned me into the vision. Her face was uncomfortably close to ours but her brilliantly emerald gaze was transfixed on our chest. It was then she raised a gore stained hand from my cavity with a pulsing organ gripped firmly in her grasp. Terror rose in me. We fully comprehended the significance of the sea of blood: We'd been ripped open more than once there.

“Get me out of here!” We bellowed in unison to Ieak'Osh. His response came swiftly as the chains shattered. Fear of the woman overrode any pain and fatigue we’d had. Scrambling up the narrow stairway on all four limbs, we crashed through a wooden door.

From the bloody depths we stumbled into a hallway. A luxurious carpet ran its length and the stark contrast left us dumbfounded for a moment. A shower of wooden shrapnel now littered the otherwise pristine passage. Paintings hung on one side while windows let in the full moon's light. From where we now stood, a mirror caught our eye. And once more, I was stricken with terror.

Reflected on the affectionately cleaned surface was a creature. Yellow eyes with a black slit down the center sat protectively recessed from a short snout. Pristine fangs filled the gaping jaw. The underside of the creature was a darkly tanned hide while dark blue scales armored the rest. We stared at the reflected being.

We went to move, and so did it. When we tried to escape the mirror's view being refused to look away from me. Disgusted with its constant mockery, we slammed a fist into it. Now dozens of clones stood in defiance of my desires.

Whether I wanted to admit it or not, this was my appearance. Distorted counterparts confirmed what I was. For the first time in a short eternity, my mirror self pried his gaze away. I reminded myself, “I have to get out of here before she finds me.”

The fancy, well kept mansion didn't take long for us to escape from. The front doors weren't even locked. A wall of brick lined the compound and it was then I discovered the advantage of being a monster; Such things weren't much of a barrier to me. Every taloned digit on my four limbs made it simple to clamber over.

Beyond the ivory walls were rolling hills and a forest I could see beyond. Instinct drove us to seek the protective boughs. Drawing ever closer to the forest, we were halted at its edge. Something between a scream and roar pierced my skull. At the same instant a light so grand that it seemed to banish the night's shadows poured out of the mansion.

Expelled skyward from the edifice was a winged serpent. It's body was so long it took a minute for the whole length to coil up in the sky. Pale green scales and white feathers all gave off light that beat back the night sky back into its azure color. Now the woman's voice returned. This time it was tinged with barely constrained fury as she commanded, “Return.”

Our legs locked in place. A single, clawed hand rose and inch by inch. The arm twisted on its own towards the serpent. I felt fear rising in my own gullet but it was dwarfed by the terror soaking me from Subject fifteen. Refuting the command I screamed out, “No!”

The hand shook, spasmed and dropped.

“Return!” Bellowed the serpent woman once more. Yet, my shout had stolen control back. Fleeing into the forest, we nestled into a divot with our hands over our head. The light of the serpent was visible even through our clenched eyes. With ebbing fury, she pelted us with commands. Not once did our body listen to her anymore. When her voice was on the verge of tears she asked, “Can you find him, Ieak'Osh?”

“He is too small and weak, I'm sorry to say. He won't answer me,” lied the voice. A sensation ran through our head that evoked the image of a flourish he promised, “The instant I can, I'll direct him back to you my lady.”

Her voice was choked by misery when she said, “Then I shall leave it in your hands for now. I have too many things to attend to.” The night sky once more reclaimed it's obsidian hue.

“So, what now?” we demanded with equal exhaustion to the woman's.

“That is up to you,” Ieak'Osh failed to hide a sense of amusement in his tone. Before I realized it, I'd drifted off to sleep within the dream. Though not much time had passed since my initial awakening, it'd left me exhausted. Even so, when I slipped into the darkness no rest would come my way. Instead, I once more saw memories I had no recollection of.

A Girl:

Her chest heaved with each ragged breath. Low reaching branches groped at the rough woolen fabric she'd chosen to wear against the cool weather. The wooden claws tearing at everything she wore. Having long since lost my shoes to the mud and her own desperation but they would be small sacrifices. Streaks of red lined her long, supple legs. Cuts appeared all along her arms as she tried to force all from her path. The forest was too thick to navigate and the night was too dark. She had to keep off the main path or else it would all be in vain. Her heart hammering in her ears, she heard the barks of HIS dogs chasing her down.

Pumping one leg after another she darted around a thick oak only to realize all too late it had rested at the edge of a small crevasse. It had been hidden by the rising slope she'd been climbing. Open air caressed her all over. Tears poured from her shut eyes as she accepted death. At least HE would never have her and she'd never have to look upon him. Unfortunately, fate wasn't so kind.

Her eyes fluttered open at the bottom, she couldn't move but had landed looking up. The fall hadn't been as long as she had expected and hoped for. Lights swayed this way and that above. A few stones from someone skidding to a stop had been what awakened her, one having landed only inches from her crippled form. Looking up, she could see HIS darkened face illuminated by moonlight. His cold, blue eyes stared down at her with a sneer. His dogs were barking down at something. She saw him yelling something but couldn't hear. Perhaps the fall had broken her hearing? All too late she saw the yellow eyes of the beast before its fangs sank into her throat. Perhaps this was her freedom?

Narrator:

In a pitch black void I stood next to subject fifteen and a corpse lay before us. Its throat torn open had stained the young woman's woolen dress. With trembling fingers I knelt down to her. Placing my palm to her shoulder, I sped silent prayers on her behalf. Her eyes opened then and despite her open wound she asked, “Who are you?”

“I'm not entirely sure,” We admitted. She looked up at us through blue eyes. Tilting my head to the side, I asked, “Were you the one I saw being hunted?”

I could see her attempt to nod. The girl introduced herself as Gera, she was the daughter of a hunter who had married her off for money. Her husband had been cruel and I'd seen the result. It was then that the deep, rumbling voice of Ieak'Osh broke through. His amusement plain as he explained, “You have another choice, subject fifteen. This girl is dead, there's nothing you can do about that. But, her soul isn't ready to cross over. So, will you carry her with you or force her across and risk injury?”

I was irritated by his choice of words. Yet subject fifteen spoke before I could, “That is her decision to make.”

Reaching up, her rough fingers touched the tip of his snout. With a giggle she said, “I'll accompany this kind monster.” A chill ran up my spine as I watched the girl's throat sew itself shut. In fact, it was impossible to tell the wound had ever been there. Then, the void swallowed everything up.

Our eyes opened once more to see the forest in a fog soaked dawn. The divot had become warm in our time spent there. Sore and cramped, we stretched out our muscles to listen to our stomach growl. Gera offered a suggestion of a mushroom to hold our hunger at bay till we found something more substantial. The ghost girl appeared and vanished per her own will.


As we delved further into the forest, our eyes flicked skyward for any sign of the serpent woman. We would dread contact with her further but more immediate concerns trumped those fears. Food chief among those. Amidst the trees my first vision ended and so our journey began. My desires were insignificant and I would return to the dream every time my lids slipped shut. Still, this is merely the beginning of our sojourn to becoming ourselves.

Ptolemy
October 22nd, 2016, 06:25 PM
While I like the premise, to me it's very confusing. I get that you are going for a "two souls in one body" thing, you use we, us, our, etc. While I feel like it's a good concept, I also feel that it is very confusing. I mean the voice in the Narrator body only speaks on his own once, the rest of the time they speak in unison, but there are other times where the Narrator speaks on his own and the other 'being' says nothing (I.e the conversation wth Gera). I mean it may just be continuity errors or purposeful, but it's weird.

Also the we, us, and ours really screws with the prose. Switching from I to we, me to us, etc. made it a real sidewinder to read. I know you need to do this to show the two beings in the narrator, but it does mess with the prose just wanted to let you know that.

This story feels like a real (for lack of a better term) 'spiritual' piece. I feel it could rely more on visuals, more showing if you will. I know your going for "scary" with leak'Osh and the serpent lady, but I feel if you gave us more of a discription that we could base the characters off it would give the characters more Umph. I mean (and I may have missed this) the only disruptions we got of the lady was that she was a serpent with detailed scales, emerald eyes, and wings. How is that scary? Give her some scary features! Well don't go overboard, leave room for interpretation, maybe red eyes, some mangled teeth, I feel that if there was some more emotion and features in the description of the lady then she would be a bit more impactful, she fell kind of flat for me.

Leak'Osh was my biggest complaint in this, I would have been fine if you gave him no description other than "booming voice with ceiling collapsing ability" but in the conversation of Gera his voice comes up, and she touches the voice's snout and calls leak'Osh a "monster". WHAT? I mean now I want a description of this guy because is he scary? I could be picturing leak'Osh as a 50 foot tall fluffy shih tzu. Monster and snout do not give me much, if anything it makes me more confused. Also my own opinion is no apostrophes in names, but I feel like you get a pass here. Also why isn't his name capitalized? It's a name right?

As I said I feel the piece deserves some more visuals, I got tidbits of world building and images but no concrete "vision" of the world. In all the settings you told me what the room or landscape looked like, you didn't show me, I feel some tempature, smell, touch could go along way.

Italicize thoughts too, the prose would benefit.

There were things I liked though, the plot (although confusing) made me want to read on, it seems like an interesting story to say the least. Gera seemed like an interesting character and the "subject fifteen(s?)" were compelling character(s?) I hope you build up their character a bit more though.

SPaG was good if not spot on, good job, dialogue too good punctuation and feel.

Ephemeral_One
October 23rd, 2016, 02:34 PM
Thanks Ptolemy. I wanted to say that first. This piece will probably be a lifelong project for me. And to that end, you're right. I need to slow down. Give more details and build more in each scene before I move on. I know this but it's difficult for me to do so. Still, nothing is worth it without the struggle and I am my own biggest obstacle.

And reflecting on it, I think that I'll give myself over to refining this story until it's beyond my satisfaction and capable of standing on it's own in the public eye.