Thursday, November 01, 2007

October Wordsmiths

For the October Challenge, my offering.

Things The Risen Should Know

Dust spun through the air in the darkness, settling on an empty shroud and the desiccated bones of the unfortunate unrisen. The deep silence of the hall of the dead was darker than the absence of light. So dry, so black, so absent of sensation, that Mulganth thought he’d go mad.

Mulganth had awakened from a bright place into this hell of pitch darkness some time ago. How long he couldn’t tell, for no sun rose and set to signify time. No pangs of hunger clenched at his belly. Mulganth suspected that his belly was somewhere in a jar anyhow. His head felt stuffed with straw, and probably was. How he was getting around was a confusing line of thought that Mulganth wasn’t prepared to follow; it was bad enough to be alone in the dark without thinking about where his organs might be.

Being risen again has its drawbacks, the first of which is to figure out a way to prove that one is. No light to see by, and the rows of coffins in the tomb muffled sound. The wrappings of long-dead ancestors drank up sounds, deadening sense of direction. He was blinded in more ways than one, and wished that he’d never come back from the light-filled halls of Tui-in, where the virgins had been feeding him sacknot nuts and offering him wine in cups of jade..

That had been lovely. This was not.

He’d tried numerous times to go back to sleep, to grasp at the straws of the dream he’d been living; each attempt had failed. Instead of sleeping, and to fill the time between bouts of wrenching sadness, Mulganth explored the tomb by touch. He’d come on the idea of trailing out shreds of his own shroud behind him, tying them to the stiff toes of his bunkmates, a sort of web of discovery, a marking of paths sought and rejected. From time to time he thought he smelled light, tasted sand, and so wound out more cloth behind him in his search for a way out.

The shroud was being used fast as Mulganth’s search took him ever farther from his resting place. He was desperate for light, for air, for a taste of palan and the touch of a woman. He didn’t even care if she was a virgin or not.

Mulganth would have been able to hear his own labored breath, if he had lungs. He worked in silence, winding out the last bits of fabric behind him, pushing on the earthen walls, praying for release.

His finger broke through the wall into air. There was light! Mulganth scrabbled madly at the dirt, casting off the last of his shroud. He burst forth from his grave into a blue dawn. Freedom, sweet freedom!

The first rays of sun touched his grateful face. Mulganth screamed.

Being risen again has its drawbacks; the second of which is a deadly allergy to sunlight, for which the only a proper protection is a burial shroud.

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