Chapter 8: Natasha
The End of the World
The beasts had scored the Earth. The wound plunged deep into the skin of the world, it cut to the bone. The molten core of our planet was exposed, yet it did not bleed, the world is no living thing. Cut it and it does not gush. No, the tragedy here was not the death of the Earth, but the death of the Earth's creatures. The world was ending, and that process could no longer be reversed. I could abide it no longer, so I cast it into an inky blackness. Oh how simple things could have been. I look back and I wonder if I should feel guilt for my actions. This is all my fault, I'm watching the end and I don't think that I like it. I feel cold.
The Trapper-Spider's web is empty. The insects are flocking to the sea to die among the waves. The surf gave us life, water has been our lifeblood for as long as any of us can remember. And yet now, it is the one that shall claim our lives. Dust to dust? Waterbourne, and born of water, we shall now return to our mother. Her call is seductive. There is a hunger in our stomachs, one primitive and uncontrolable. She wants us back, and we wish to heed her call. But we musn't. No, we are the unlucky ones. We have to save the world that is already dead. Perhaps that is incorrect. We are not saving the world, we are murdering its killer. We are avenging our dead Earth.
I dreamt a dream and I saw the sky catch fire. The flames stretched for miles, but it was slow burn. Amongst the haze and the crimson were gleaming patches of azure, sapphires in the blood-soaked soil. The clouds were reapers, what the flames hadn't consumed, the clouds blotted out. No light shown on the earth, save for the gleam of the inferno. Shadows danced across the ground. I could not see myself, I could merely see the flame's projection of me. A shadow of myself. And living in this world long enough, that's how I percieved myself. My body was the shadow, and those around me were shadows, and we danced in the orange glow of the blazing sky.
I think it was a manifestation of my guilt. If you force someone to live a lie, if you chain them to that lie, and you make them watch the dances that you make their lie do, do they become their own lie? If one lives a lie long enough, does the lie become real? Which is more real, a fake pretending to be the real thing, or the genuine artifact? Maybe the lie is better, merely because it has to try so hard to be the truth? Does the shadow know it is merely a projection of the true form? If the real thing can think it is a shadow, then the shadow surely must think it is the real thing. I wonder if my shadows know what lies I've put them through?
Guilt should be all I can feel, but I can't even feel that. I know what I've done and I know why I've done it. This is for the best. I've seen how this all ends and I've told myself it is worth it. I was there during the last Oktober when the skies burned red. I am everywhere. I am everything. I've seen all. I know all. I am omniscient. I am omnipotent. Or am I merely a shadow of a god, who thinks she is the real thing? Am I better than a god, being an imposter that worked so hard to be indistinguishable from the real thing? Am I indistinguishable? Can the others see that I'm the fake? Can you? Do you know what I've done? Do you know what I will do? You haven't seen the end yet, it's coming. You're not going to like it.
My words mean nothing now, that is the risk of being a liar. No breath that escapes my lips bears any significance, not even to myself. I wonder if I am the one that is meant to do this. I doubt myself. Perhaps it is the doubt that makes me stronger, maybe it is good that I try to feel guilt. It is the last thing they ties me down, the compass that helps me find myself. Without guilt I would truly cease to become human, and start life anew as something… something quite less than that. What is the value of a man? After all the men that met their ends at my hands, and the thousands more taken as a result of my actions, my work, what is my debt? What will I owe when I die? If I die. If something less than a human even can die. For isn't it death that defines us?
So now we are lost, the sole beings left with the will to fight our instincts. To defy our nature that we may become something more; though I suppose in a way defiance itself is our nature. What my comrades fight for now, I am not sure. The Mute Musician has had his love robbed from him, his soul was split between three bodies and now only a lonely third remains, and yet he struggles on. His will is strong, but his nature is base. He is feuled not by the future, but by the past. He soldiers on as an agent of revenge.
The Trapper-Spider knows his game is over. He knows his web has been cut down. He knows what comes next, and he knows he cannot stop it. Yet still he moves forward. With an undying passion he marches forward into darkness, still bearing the faint, flickering torch of light, in hopes that the world once again will be illuminated. Yet he knows that all the sun once bathed has turned to black, and never again shall this world see the blessed gleam.
And finally, the enigma. The Wordsmith, whose prescence is a mystery even to us. His motives have been unknown, and will remain so until the end of this world, although those words lack the meaning they once had. I suspect even he does not know why he moves forward, though none of them know the whole truth. Yet still, if he had no drive, no will, he would turn and welcome the embrace of the sea, our mother. Perhaps that is what he fears. Perhaps he is not so much moving towards darkness but being chased from the light.