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old stories: a way of truth

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posted on Sep, 15 2005 @ 01:17 AM
this is a full short story (semi long??) i wrote a while ago:

"a way of truth"

The air is alive with a rich-foreign culture that one could taste if only a moment was taken to breathe. Even then, it is all too obvious that the only richness these people are able to grasp is whatever hope they have left in their hearts. For as he strolls down the cobblestone path, the surrounding buildings, and alleyways all seem to intertwine within the bazaar. Clothing and embroideries hang from above, linking one neighbours trust with the other. Street merchants haggle pedestrians, while a common thief lurks in the shadows, one hand short of a loaf of bread. Not far ahead, the crowd expands, filling gaps that expose the worn earth, a sea of bodies, worn like the ground. Yet despite their opacity, a solemn figure stands prominently at its centre, his greatest feature being the scar on his face. The people around him keep their distance, whether out of fear or curiosity, he was not sure, perhaps a bit of both. The figure stands on a makeshift construct of chicken crates, and the birds seem less confused than the people around them.

He pushes his way through, minding his pockets, while keeping an eye out for the person that is supposed to meet him here, a most inconvenient place when looking for someone in particular. Regardless, he cannot help but think of why he is here. His head would still be in her lap if he had just listened. Though knowing her all too well, she would have gone instead if he had not. This is the last place where he wants to be, but it was the only way of knowing that she would be safe, so that he could lay his head in her lap once again, and let her tell him that everything would be all right.

Feeling a tug on his coat, he turns to see a young boy. Poorly dressed, and by the looks of it, poorly fed too. The boy repeats the sentence, “Come with me, I was told to take you to him”, continuing to tug, this time pointing past the crowd, toward some rather decrepit buildings. Although there is no way of knowing whether this who he is suppose to meet, he figures that the odds of a child wanting to take a stranger anywhere for any other reasons are unlikely. Agreeing, the young boy leads him through several alleyways, though he could swear that they are going in circles, but what did he know? After a short time, they approach a doorway with a sign above it that read something along the lines of it being an inn, or so that’s how he interprets it, his familiarity of their language is weak but good enough to get him by with little hassle. Upon entering, an intense musk strangles his nose, something that those inside are no doubt use to. The young boy tugs his coat, and points to a large fellow of a man, feasting on three plates at the same time. Not to mention the pitcher of ale that most likely was comparable to the taste of donkey piss. His employer did not specify much on whom he was to meet, but it seemed certain that this young boy had led him to that person. A final tug rings his coat and he sees the child, hand out, with a lonesome grin on his face, gesturing for a tip. Reaching into his pocket, he scrounges up whatever change lay there, hands it to the young boy, rubs his hair, and sends him off. By this time, the large fellow lets his eyes off a large piece of meat caught in his mouth, and gives him a curious, though daring stare. Walking towards the large fellow, he extends his hand and introduces himself.

“Hello, I’m...” Cutting him off, the large fellow slaps his hand aside, snapping at him, “What do you think you’re doing? Don’t you know that pulling something like that can get you killed around here?”

“Oh, no, sorry I didn’t...” Cutting him off again he replies, “Phff! Amateurs! I tell yah, nothing but amateurs these days...” He could only hope that the large fellow would not make a habit of doing this.

“Listen, I’m...”

“No! Don’t tell me your name, its best that we stay strangers one alike.”

“Is that really necessary?”

“Let’s just say that you are but the messenger, and I am but the informer.”

“But I’m no messenger.”

“Not yet, but first let me ask you something. Do you even know what’s going on here?”

“Well, they didn’t tell me much but...”

“Things are changing, the world today is not how they'd have you know it.”

“They? I’m confused.”

“Of course you are, you just haven’t seen it yet.”

“Seen what?”

“That’s exactly why we’re here isn’t it, I mean, your people want to know what’s going on, if it can be controlled, right?”

“Be controlled?” The large fellow slams his arms on the table.

“Ah ha, I see that they didn’t even tell you why you’re out here. Perhaps they’re just hoping that it will all blow over, and then they can go back, worry free, to doing whatever it is that they do.”

“Listen, I’m just here to get the facts, all I know is that something happened to a group of excavators in the caves north of here, an unnatural occurrence. If it poses a threat, my people have to know in order to deal with it appropriately.”

“Of course, I’ve never doubted your people, I’m just saying that they must be pretty concerned, as they should be. This is not something to be taken lightly, as it is considered a revelation of sorts, if you will.”

“A revelation?”

“Yes, that’s what the local priests are saying. Ever since it happened, religious extremists have been popping up all over the place.”

“People know? I thought that this was under control?”

“Under control? You must be naïve to think that you can keep something of this magnitude from the public or under control even. I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few days tops, the rest of the world gets in on it, if there is even time...”

“Well considering how much I don’t know about any of this, I find it quite out of place for you to be calling me naive.”

“Forgive me then, if I may continue.”

“As you were, but I must ask if there is anyone else trying to obtain information about this?”

“Actually, now that you mention it, a certain reporter came into town the other day, looking for answers.”

“Reporter? You didn’t tell her anything did you?”

“No, but who said anything about it being a she?"

A brief awkward pause with a hint of regret sets in.

"You know this woman now do ‘ya?”

“That’s really none of your business, and speaking of business, how about we do just that? After all, that is why we are here.”

“Very well. As you already know, one week ago, a group of excavators went into the hills to the north, but what you didn’t know is that they were searching for the Wahed Narr.”

“Wahed Narr?”

“Yes, the Wahed Narr, it’s an ancient holy relic that means ‘first fire’, or as they interpret it, ‘first light’. It was said that the ‘first light’ lies trapped somewhere in a cave north of the great golden city.”

“And so they went to uncover this relic to do what exactly?”

“Think about it, this first light is the first creation of everything, and such a thing can only be of the divine. Do you follow?”

“Yes and no, what I don’t understand is how something could be taken so literally. I mean, as far as anyone knows, it could be a portal of some kind, at the very most, but even that's an unlikely exaggeration, or possibility.”

“That would make sense of what happened to them. Only after a few days of digging, they discovered a cave, or so what they thought to be the cave of the ‘first light’. However, upon entering it something happened, something very mystical. One man of ten fled, while the others were consumed.”

“Consumed? How do you mean, and what became of the survivor?”

“Consumed yes, or so that’s what the man described it as, and after seeing it for myself, I can see what he meant by it being the gate to heaven. As of what became of him, that’s an entirely different story, he disappeared.”

“Disappeared? Surely he was held in your governments’ custody?”

“For a time, but as I said, he disappeared. Some say the extremists took him, while others seem to know nothing at all.”

“And what has been done so far, has the cave been contained?”

“Well, after the man came back, our government sent a search party to confirm his claims, and they did. After the paranormal discovery, a professional team was sent to study and secure it. They are still there, and expecting your arrival, nonetheless.”

“How do you suppose that I get there?”

“I’ve arranged a guide to take you. He and his men will lead you into the desert, to the location of the cave.”

“Where will I meet him?”

“He should be here... momentarily. You should know that he was part of the search party, and that no one knows the way there better than he does.”

With that said, the bar doors swing open, and a tall man covered in sand steps through. He looks at the two who are seated, and approaches with a smirk on his face. It is very apparent that his accent is thicker than his beard when he speaks, “Hello, I will be your guide, the camels are ready, and the desert awaits us, when you are ready we shall leave.” The tall man nods to the large fellow.

“When you get to the site you will meet up with a doctor, he is in charge of everything that goes on there, and will be more than willing to tell you what you need to know.”

“What is his name?” The large fellow pauses, and leans towards him, “Understand me, when I say that names best stay unknown, stranger, for our own safety, if anything, from those who will judge us later.”

“Alright”, he looks up to the tall man, “Let us be off.”

Without further a due, the tall man leads him out into the alley whence he came. They proceed through the maze before coming to an opening, and it seems that they reached the northern end of the city, with only the desert ahead. As groups of dust devils dance enraged in the distance, six men stand by the camels awaiting their departure. The tall man calls out to one of them, and is handed a set of robes and cloth. “Wear this, it will protect you from the storm.” He accepts the outfit and puts it on, completing the attire by wrapping the final pieces around his face. As they leave, they shape into a single line, and pass a rope that attaches to the harnesses, preventing anyone from straying off.

The rest of the day is long, and the camels steadily endure the sand storm, more, or so than those that ride them. While the others ride with ease, he struggles to balance himself, barely holding the rope that keeps them together. Somehow, the rope manages to unhook itself and he attempts to quickly reattach it. A sudden heavy gust of wind hits his side, and he is thrown from the camel into the sand. He is barely able to keep himself up, though shouts can be heard from the other men. One dismounts and meets his side, helping him onto his feet. He turns to the man, and sees that those are not male eyes, or brows for that matter. This is a woman, and despite the sand, which made it almost impossible to see, he felt sure of this. She guides him to the camel, and helps him mount, reconnecting the rope to the harness.

Some time later, they come to a stop, with the tall man yelling back to the rest of them. He presses forth, passes the other men before reaching the tall man’s side, who leans over to him and tries to speak above the whirling wind, while pointing towards some large objects in the distance, “There it is, the excavation camp! Head towards it and tell them who you are, we will be back in the morning! Be careful, I’ve only seen terrible things come from this place.” Nodding to the tall man, he heads towards the camp, vaguely being able to see it.

Eventually, two figures approach him, they brace the camel while he dismounts. One moves the camel into a large tent, while the other shows him to another. Pulling back the flap, he walks in, letting it fall behind him. The interior is well lit, and several small tables are littered with books and maps. A single bed lies near the back, while a table stands in the centre, a man sitting at it. The man looks up and smiles, greeting him, “Ah yes, the messenger I presume.” Extending his hand in return, he wonders why everyone is calling him that.

“I am in charge of this operation, and as I understand, you are here to make certain inquiries about the phenomenon.”

“Yes doctor, if you would tell me what you know, that would be just as good a starting place as any.”

“Very well, as you may already know, something remarkable has been discovered in that cave.”

“How would you describe the situation?”

“It seems that the phenomenon has taken over the back portion of the cave, as if a white sheet is separating itself from everything else, but I must say that words are unable to describe such beauty, though I will personally take you there tomorrow morning, when the storm dies down.”

“And what has it been doing, has anything passed through it, if it is passable that is?”

“Ever since those diggers were consumed by it, I have ordered that nothing go near it until we learn more. But with what we know, all I can do is presume that it is somewhat tangible, and that those diggers did actually enter it. How? We are not sure, as the only survivor appears to be missing.”

“Can you see what is inside of it?”

“Yes and no. It seems to be transparent, though the objects inside, if you can call them that, are blurry. It’s as if they are in a constant flux of change.”

“So what you are saying is that you don’t know if there is anything recognisable at the least inside it?”

“Well... Please, I urge you to remember that everything I tell you is purely based on visual observations, nothing more. And until we get some solid results fed into our equipment via tests, I prefer to leave it that way, it's safe.”

“What kind of tests are we talking about here?” The doctor looks at his watch, as if to lead the conversation away on purpose. “As much as I’d like to continue to answer your questions, I’m afraid that I have a lot of work to do for the night. Perhaps it would be better to do so in the morning, when you can see it for yourself?” He nods, and the doctor pulls the flap of the tent’s entrance back, pointing outside, “There is the tent where you will be staying. I’ll send someone to get you before we leave.”

“Very well.”

“Enjoy your stay, and I hope that your time here will be well worth the trip, especially for your people.”

He leaves the tent and proceeds to the one assigned to him. As he enters, it seems relatively the same size as the doctors, with the bed in the centre, and a table to one side. He unpacks his things and begins recording what he knows onto a notebook.

Morning breaks, and he awakes to the sound of the tent flap being thrown open. Standing at the entrance is one of the doctor’s assistants, the sky behind him is clear and blue, “Good morning sir, the doctor is ready to show you the cave”. He did not have to change or get ready, because he had slept in the clothes he wore the night before. They both exit the tent, and he clearly sees the rest of the campsite, of which, five tents are scattered around the hill where the cave resides. The entrance to the cave is small, and he ducks while climbing in, dropping a few feet before meeting the ground. From here, the rest of the cave appears fairly open and spacious, with more than enough room to stand straight up in. The assistant leads him a short distance through the cave before stepping into an eerie glow. A bright white sheet spans over the cave’s end. His eyes instantly widen, ignoring the doctor and the assistants in front of it.

The doctor raises his arms and shouts over a steady humming sound, “Wonderful! Is it not?”

“I... d... don’t believe it.”

“I tell you that your eyes are not lying to you, if anything, they’ve never been more open.” They both slowly walk up to it, stopping only a few feet away. He slowly extends his hand towards the sheet, as he feels drawn to it, though the doctor grabs his arm from getting any closer. Beyond the sheet, he sees things, not knowing what they are, but that there was something there.

“I know how you feel, I was drawn to it also. It’s as if there is no beginning or end, everything sort of melds into each other.” It was at this time that he first took notice of a single leather glove over the doctors left hand.

“Doctor, do you believe the myths, that this is the first light... something divine, possibly of God?”

“I wouldn’t go as far as to say that, but whatever it is, it is the work of angels.” Looking about, he sees some chalk markings on the wall, approximately an inch away from the sheet, “What are these markings?”

“They’re to track any movement, if there is any that is. But so far we’ve seen none.”

“Do you think that it could move?”

“I can’t say for sure, and although an event of expansion wouldn't surprise me, it could prove to be devastating if such expansion was even slightly subtle. Could you imagine a world immersed such a thing? Separation would cease to exist, and everything would be one constant change, a total lack of duality.” They stare at it for a short time before returning to conversation.

“What about those tests?”

“Well as you can see, there is not much that we can do physically to test it, without confirming stability. Instead, everything has to be scanned using this equipment”, he points to a handful of devices connected on a table, “For instance, one interesting thing that we find very puzzling, is that when sound travels, it bounces back eventually to its source, correct?” He nods, “Like how bats navigate in caverns and such.”

“Exactly, but when we send test signals towards the portal, it should bounce off and return to us almost instantly. But it does not, the sound just seems to disappear.”

“What does that mean exactly?”

“Well, it could simply mean that time moves differently in that space. The signal either would have been slowed down or sped up. For all we know, that sound could be trapped inside, continually bouncing around forever. That or it's some sort of vacuum.”

While they speculate, one of the doctor’s assistants rushes out from the entrance in distress. "Sir, priests from town seem to have rallied support and are trashing the camp!" The doctor's expression turns to shock, "What?" Grabbing a rifle off the table he approaches the entrance, with him following. Several men outside the entrance who notice him yell out at them, and with that said, a small explosion sets off, and the entrance falls shut. The last thing he saw was that scar.

He awakens moments later, an assistant tending to him. The other assistants push and claw at the wall but fail to make it budge, “We’re trapped.” The doctor throws down the rifle in despair, “How can things get any worse!”

From behind them, the assistant who operates the equipment spoke up, “Um, sir, you should come take a look at this.”

“What is it?”

“The portal... it’s unstable.”

For a moment, they all freeze, but just the thought of it was not suffice enough, it had to be seen with their own eyes, and that is indeed what they were seeing, for at this time it was already approaching the equipment. There was only one exit, and it seemed impenetrable. The others, including the doctor, just stand there, awaiting the inevitable.

“It’s all coming together, and no one can warn them”, whispered the doctor as he was being consumed by the sounds of his words, “I suppose that whatever we do in life, all leads to the same thing in the end.”

He heard this, and could see them even after they passed through, but only the images of who they were remained, before completely becoming whole. All he could do was stand there, back against the entrance, waiting...

* * *

The man sitting across from me seemed edgy, he would rub his neck and scratch his fingers under the table, and they would screech, each nail, with a pitch of its own. It was just enough to make me want to throw him into a cell and forget about the whole thing, but what had happened was not something that you choose to forget just because you know you do not want to believe a word that he is going to say. It was something that would change everything, forever. I asked if he would mind if I set a recorder on the table, he shook his head, though it is not as if it mattered, the men in the other room would have recorded the conversation either way. Besides, it did not seem like the man cared about anything let alone what he was about to say, his expression was far more worn than the clothes he wore, all clearly out of date. What we found on him was a notebook, which seemed to be full of bizarre log entries.

The minute hand hit twelve, and that is when he told me his story.

[edit on 15-9-2005 by deafence#]


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