I am still.
I move an inch and feel my body in pain. I am laying on my back, arms by my sides and the weight of the world on my chest, with the pain of the world in my head. My eyes are shut tight as if being forced to not see the horrors that lay in front of me, but i see red through my aching eyelids as the light penetrates through like a bright Sunday morning. Though my ears are ringing, i can hear the sound of falling rubble and flames howling and crackling. A loud monotone whistle amongst mechanical gear like sounds comes crashing down as if it just fell. What’s going on?
My eyes half open. The pain as if i have never used them pulses through my sockets. My vision is blurred but i see bright orange flames all around amongst rubble and fallen structures and some sort of crashed vehicular contraption on my right. I squirm for a moment pushing away the rubble that is pinning me to the ground. I can feel my legs, my chest, my neck, and the pain attached to them. But in the moment fear rushes through me because i have no feeling in my left arm. I try to turn my head but my neck is stiff and stuck, and i give up and continue squirming until i am clear of all rocks and boulders. I fill my lungs with what ever i am lucky to inhale and with one push of all the might i can muster, i push away the large slab of rock pinning me. The smaller rocks and stones fall off me, like critters afraid of one who has defeated their master. I am freed and my chest fills with the poison that is the air around me. I think for a moment. Did i fall from the sky? Was it even real?
It doesn’t take me long before my loose frail grasp of reality is returned to me in full embrace. No, it was not real. It was a dream or something else i could not at this moment fathom, but all i know in this moment is that it was not real. I feel however, that somehow it means something. The flames and explosions in the distance grow louder and this hellish display of destruction snaps me away from my descending thoughts. I roll my body to the left until i am lying flat on my front and as i lift my head up, the paralysis fades and my body rises from its tortured slumber. Something trickles down my head onto the dead stone and dirt and i realise that it is blood. I don’t even know if it’s my blood, but i assume that it is. A jolt of relief pervades my mind as my left arm tingles. I raise my aching body and onto my knees i sit there as my vision returns like the focus of a stained lens. What happened here? A crash site. I couldn’t remember a thing. The only thing on my mind once again was the dream. Why can i not remember? I feel the blood from my forehead trickle down to my chin and realise that i must have lost my memory from whatever damage was inflicted on my head. That explains the erupting migraine. I can feel my left arm a little now, but i cannot feel any pain. I turn my aching neck to my left afraid of what i might find. A wing? Shattered bones? No. I freeze in horror. What i find is far worse.
There are no bones, no flesh, nothing human. My mind becomes light and faint. I look at my right arm. It’s human. I look back at my left arm. Hoping that it is just an illusion, i am faced with the reality that it is real. Mechanical. It’s machine. It looks damaged but i can feel it like it’s part of me. I look closely wishing that each time i blink, one of them alters my perception back to something i understand. Giving up, i look closer. A few large metallic cylinders make up what seems to be replacement bones structures, and i see amongst and in between those cylinders some pneumatic articulated pipes, pumping in and out of each other like a steam train system. Every few seconds a hiss of odourless gas ejects from within the damaged section. I pull my right hand closer to it and decide to touch the inside. A high frequency beam of sound shoots through the skies and my attention is diverted. A cloud of smoke is visible from behind a building a few metres to my right. I squint thinking i may get a better view of things and a loud crash follows. The dead old red bricked building in front of the smoke quakes. My heart begins to palpitate as my body is being filled with adrenaline. I manage to jump to my cut and bleeding knees and before i am even allowed to feel the relief of standing tall for the first time, the building explodes from behind into my direction.
In the opposite direction, i give no thought but run.
I awake amongst the dusty clouds, feeling the misty frost on my face, solidifying my perplexed expression. My feet without control like a new born child. I was flying.
Is such a thing possible? I don’t care. I spread my arms, embracing the cold continuous blast of wind amongst the glittering silk of night. A light emerges from the never-ending distance. My curiosity peeks like the precipice of a volcanic eruption and i ready to leap inside. Before i can even think, i realise that my curiosity has already propelled me towards it. But the closer i get to it the further i remain. What is this deception? I will myself to stop, but am unable to. A sense of fear seeps into my soul, sealed inside by my own mind’s lack of control. The clouds darken as i begin to breathe sharply, and the light vanishes amongst the darkness. The heavy breathing drowns me in a sense of vertigo and i begin to sweat like a lamb knowing of it’s inevitable slaughter. I let out a cry but am still helpless. My vision completely covered by the betraying veil of dark clouds and yet a flash of lightning blinds me, followed by a roar of thunder that sends my muscles into a solidifying tenseness. At this point i know that my slaughter is inevitable and yet i wail and thrash about like there is some hope that i may be freed from this force of darkness.
I notice an eagle on my right glowing in its bronze splendour. I look to it for comfort, but instead it gazes back at me like a predator ready to strike. The lightning strikes again and again, sending blindness through my eyes and instant rainfall soaks me; turning my clothes into the very darkness, pulling me down enough to feel gravity ten-fold and yet leave me hanging still amongst the war of light and thunder. I look at the eagle again and it sends a pulsing screech through the atmosphere and shudders my eardrums. I don’t understand it but i turn the other way and notice that my left arm is a wing of bronze feathers. I pull my left wing and right arm in front of me. What am i? Confusion and fear grips me, and becomes all i know at this moment.
A crackle of lightning shoots down hitting my wing. I cry out with all my being as it penetrates my entire body, turning half my shirt into ashes and half my wing into abused burnt coal. The pain excruciating and numbing as my feathers are set ablaze. A second bolt whips my chest, leaving nothing on my pale skin but the scars and scorches of the unforgiving sky. A third and forth strikes me shredding parts of my trousers and parts of my skin. I scream in agony and can no longer bare it. I give in. I turn my head to see my steaming body and the rain -however refreshing- holding the lightning to my body like an electric robe of torture. And that is when i see her. In the distance, a face. She glows like an angel watching my demise. My eyes barely open. I know her. Yet i cannot name her. I reach out with what is left of my right arm, hoping that it is not another betraying illusion like the light earlier. I no longer care who she is; i simply long for her as if in a instant she is the love of my life. The grip of the sky on me is lifted and i am dropped.
My uncontrolled flight comes to a halt and my new path is downwards into the abyss. With my body in agony, i try to look down to see if there is even a ground, but with my back facing below and smoke like clouds haunting my vision, i can barely see. I notice that my fall rivals that of the rain itself and the droplets seems to halt mid-flight. A sense of envy fills me as the rain seems to be travelling upwards, merely me travelling faster downwards. I look up and the angels face is no longer visible. I miss her. My heart broken. I try to look below again and manage to see a giant crater laying there beneath me; my grave all ready and welcoming. A surge of energy pulses through me, adrenaline pumping, but diverting straight into panic and fear. With only seconds left i look death right in the eye and let out my final cry.
Starlight Rust is an online novel that will be written with no planning, no setup, and no initial thought. In addition, each chapter will be written in the moment where everything is improvised on the spot.
This means that just like you, i don’t know who the characters will be, where it will be set, the style, genre and even the title itself was improvised. I will therefore be writing this story purely on imagination. So this way i follow you into the unknown, rather than the author knowing everything before hand.
I hope you enjoy this as much as i do. Now let’s see how deep the rabbit hole goes.