There was an echo. It was the first I registered. The hollow sound of a syllable, a sentence uttered many moons ago but only now resonating in a quiet, contemplative noise. There was stone beneath me, hard and unrelenting and black as the night, obsidian. There were no walls. Light seeped through the trees from far away, green, putrid light. There was not a single leaf on the trees. The barren, dark bark seemed healthy but unnatural as if there was a chance the trees succumbed to become something else. A chance they would transform, merge and change into one giant squid with intrusive tentacles and thousand suckers waiting to grab a hold of something, anything and when you’re stuck in their embrace, no escape is forthcoming.
These vile trees, unrelenting and hostile in their mere existence.
I stood up and refocused, tried to regain a hint of self but my memory had been drained, as if I had been used up and left on the ground, an empty husk. I felt new, wiped and yet I knew I was someone. And in my core I knew who that someone was, but I didn’t have any memories to accompany with that sense of self, so the idea of it lurked deep within instead of jumping out at me, when I sought confirmation. It left me hollow, a piece of meat walking the earth, a new thought but nothing more, a newborn, or a reborn, fighting for survival in a foreign world.
I suddenly felt driven to get away from this place. I knew there was something else, although I couldn’t remember what it had been like. I pushed all ideas away and started treading through the forest, trying to escape the intrusion of the green light, yet ever so slightly drawn to it. As if its macabre promise prompted something almost dead in me.
It wasn’t long before I realized I was naked and this immediately made me cringe and attempt to cover my breasts. I was embarrassed, although I couldn’t fathom why. A sense of modesty overwhelmed me and I looked around for something to cover my body with. There was nothing, and I soon dismissed the idea as vain. I ignored the feeling that I should be trying to remember that sentence, the one I’d heard echoing through the forest. I ignored the idea the best I could, but it was adamant.
Walking naked through the forest made me ill at ease. It felt as if the trees were staring, goggling at me and I imagined new places for the obnoxious, perverted tentacles to intrude upon.
I shook the notion, but picked up my pace as if speed would do anything to get me away from the hard forest floor or the trees, impossibly, growing out of it. Then I was running, heart pounding in my chest, apocalyptic thoughts of my mangled body going through my mind, images of branches reaching out for me, holding my hands and feet and tearing me asunder. It infringed on my mind.
When I fell I couldn’t understand, at first, what had happened. I lay flat on the cold ground, hands reaching out, mind aghast and suddenly I remembered what had been spoken, what words had been echoing through the forest when I gained consciousness.
“Find the darkest corner of your mind and sit down” someone had said to me, bitterly throwing the words at me like they were ammunition in a war. The syllables I’d heard echoing had resembled the last part of that sentence.
I got up, a bruise on my right knee kept me busy for a while. I was like a child getting a scraped knee for the first time and then I realized I was referring to something, remembering something and I sat down again.
The memories washed over me like a tidal wave, one after the other they came to me, first gently but then with the fierceness only the wildest oceans can deliver. There were lot of memories, and they seemed distant and somehow unimportant.
The fragile silence surrounded me and then suddenly it was broken into a thousand sharp shards as the bitter scream of the distant voice echoed through my head once more.
“Find the darkest corner of your mind and sit down” the rage that followed seemed to cut my skin in strips, leaving my entire body an open wound, but I had a promise to keep and I could not give up. I had a long way to go.
“And miles to go before I sleep” I mumbled for myself and another memory washed over me.
She is holding my head, I am not feeling so well and she is lulling me to sleep with a little poem and as her soft voice whispers the last line, drowsiness sets in me.
The green, diseased light seemed overwhelming, the trees grabbed for me and thunderstruck I stood up, my body unable to react to any thought I might have. The branches slowly transformed into turquoise colored tentacles with suckers and they grabbed a hold of me, stuck to me, lifted me up in the air and made me their puppet. They entered my body and my soul completely.
“Don’t just sit there and stare at me” she says finally. Her voice more level now, her anger subsiding.
I look at her and shake my head. A feeling of nausea and rage almost overpowering me and yet I can hardly remember what we were fighting about. She stands up and pulls a milk cartoon out of the fridge, drinks a large clunk right from the carton and puts it back.
I stand up and I can feel my body moving, but I don’t feel like I am the one giving the commands. It just does the things it does and I sit there watching it all happen.
A hand draws the knife out of the drawer, the knife plunges into her stomach, milk flowing out of her mouth and onto her shirt and I think: what a shame that the shirt now has a milk stain.
My hands are red with her blood, and the last thing I manage to do before I lose control is telling her that I am sorry, that it isn’t really my fault, that I just did what she told me to do. I found the darkest corner of my mind and I sat down, except it isn’t something you can just do and then walk away. It isn’t something you just do, metaphorically, and then go on with your life.
She doesn’t seem to understand and there is no way for me to tell her.
I was caught in the enslavement of the turquoise, protruding tentacles. The forest around me filled with calm sizzling sound and the beast did with me as it pleased and deep within I realized that it too was a part of me, but I was unable to twist myself out of the bonds nonetheless. I was stuck dancing to its foreign will, each tentacle a string on a dancing puppet. It held me up, and it filled me, and I became one with the monster that I had thought, up until then, was just surrounding me. But now it filled every compartment of my soul.
And I sat in the forest, on the hard obsidian floor and I knew, because I had a memory although once almost lost, that I was somewhere else entirely, maybe shaking bars, or maybe sitting in a straight jacket being fed liquid with silver spoons, or being disgraced and forced, degraded and infringed upon by twisted orderlies or pale otherworldly nurses.
Or maybe it was all in my head, in my minds horrible eye, because the mind loses itself in this place where I was… Where I am, where all the darkness resides and the light that seeps through is sick, rotten and twisted. And I found myself hoping for salvation, something to free me from this place, from this curse that’s been put on me, but I know now there is no escaping the past, no escaping myself. The words lay down the law, and now I hang like a puppet in these macabre strings and I dream the dreams of the dead, and I live the lives of a thousand horrors and I am the beast. I am this forest of a monster, the green dying light and I wait.
I wait for you.