Within the dissolute aftermath of a concealed global calamity where only the most rancorous of riotous degenerates thrive in a discarded society - the weak? Their prey...unless they do whatever they can. Young Lilith, a weak-hearted scavenger, is approached by an entity - a promise of protection. While cornered and scrambling for life she faints and awakes to find the men gone. A river of corpses are floating behind. Lilith has made a deal, consciousness for life, but how long until she can’t control her fainting anymore. Nothing is as it seems...12
October Deadwood (South Africa)
[A False Idle]
I remember him, I remember him as we first met. While I lay here in the solemn fire, my surroundings Pollock in my red life source. It whispers to me through the crackling wood, each creak is closer to a collapse and each burning ash fluttering past my eyes is a snippet of each memory reminding you how you ended here. As if each melting piece of film is only clear when that little orange line reaches the bottom of melted plastic alone – and when it does: it’s already too late.
The church bell loomed over me, thundering its Gong into the desolate street as if the world was empty; it had only become apparent to me now – that it was. I timidly emerged out of the shadows. All the dangers I was hiding from did not vanish, but more like they were never there. No people were here. Were they ever?
Glass scraped against rubble under my shoes as I pushed myself forward into the vulnerable road. I should have hidden back into the alleys, but my feet were lead by intrigue and I found my hands were clasped by curiosity as the broad rotting doors widened before me, opening the mouth into darkness at the anonymous will of my fingers. I stepped onto the tongue of the red carpet, its mouth creaking closed and then – it swallowed me
My body jolted to reveal a figure, “uh-”
My air had no chance to vocalise before:
“Be wary of one’s stance when present with another in the dark, they might receive the impression you want to hurt them and when someone thinks they are going to be hurt, they. Can’t. Think. Properly. And when they Can’t. Think. Properly” He paused his words sanctimoniously and enunciated each violently
“that’s when people start to-do-things-they-Probably-shouldn’t-do”
the figure dragged the “s”s and “t”s, weaving the words like a song as he carved into something wooden, peeling its skin with a blade in his hands: “So. Are you going to hurt me...” He peered his eye to the side, as if first acknowledging my appearance, “little girl?”
I look down at my feet parted; knees and arms bend; shoulders raised and fists clenched. Shaking off tension in my limbs, I straightened up. My voice silenced by my ears. “Goood, that-t’s bet-ter”
I tried to subtly lead my eyes around the room: the church had been forsaken for years, crumbled heaps of concrete and broken wood; worn dull furniture un-looted. My eyes strained, inevitably pulling back towards the stranger lifting a carved and dented crucifix for inspection... or intimidation.
“I have to say, when I had prepared the summoning I did not envisage a mere adolescent, but I’ve seen how you scuffle in fear as they corner you in. The madness in what was once a civilisation preys on the young and you have-no-one-to-protect-you. Even the birth givers have a limit to a voice and action in the aftermath of this... Disaster. Like a small animal, I’ve seen you collapse; your tiny mind shuts down in denial of the stress and the situation, that defencelessness when those predators have sniffed you out - dogs hungry, an unpremeditated pick of libido or stomach.”
A small glow of courage materialised my voice, “I don’t understand the words you are using... I.. I’m not suppose to talk to strangers, my mom says-”
“I was there you know” the figure came close to my face, empowered, passionate, yet despite his distance I still could see no features of his face – only a dark figure.
“You didn’t see me, but I saw you.”
I still can’t
Your little legs ran and ran, but too little they were as you fell into a dead end of the labyrinth. They trapped you in that alley way, they were bad bad people and too little your heart was for you fainted and then... there I was. I protected you and before I put you somewhere safe I took away those bad bad people, they were very bad. Do you understand now little girl?”
The occurrence flashed back in snippets, “I remember...”
The figure returned to his position, leaning against the pew. “look at him watching over us, look at him just Watching. Go to him” He indicated to the front of the alter. I held my arm and shoulders close to me sheepishly and unsure “Go on, don’t be scared. He will do nothing”
My cowardice had been evident. I unwilling made my way to the altar: my skin tingled, aware of its surroundings, my eyes continuously highlighting each object and then jumping. I really am a small animal and I hated it. It was dark, eerie. I had no defence... no power. The wind clawed at the minority of unbroken windows. I stretched my head back to intake the tall statue, his bloody head, his dangling feet and his nailed hands: The son of god, dawning over me. Red tattered curtains blew momentously beside him, a staged performance as if he was alive–
“Now hit him”
“What I-” I shuddered at the request... but more at the consequence of it – “Hit him!” he appeared next to me.
The church rang after the statue hit my hand. It ringed a second time as his palm smacked my cheek. It burnt... It hurt so much... so much, the worst imaginable pain for my kind. My cheeks ran down with warmth, I looked up at him from the floor through blurred eyes, “Yo...you huh-huh-hit me-e” He raised his arms to the sky, he saw no church roof but talked to the heaven’s itself like a preacher, “AND HE DOES NOTHING and if I were to strike thee again?” Smack! The church rung a third time.
“STILL HE DOES NOTHING” My tolerance snapped, it all burst inside of me and travelled out my mouth and eyes into a tantrum. His voice fought for favour over my forceful wailing, “Do not cry to Me my child” He jumped space, disappearing and reappeared behind me. I felt hands clenching the back of head and neck, lifting me to Christ’s eyes, painfully increasing pressure on my neck, my toes barely brushing the dust of the floor: “CRY TO HIM” My lungs burned as another wail swarmed the room. Flashes of lightening disfigured the statues face, every thunder strike delayed my heartbeat. I shut my eyes as if something I can’t see will cease to exist- “OPEN YOUR EYES” he paused “LOOK AT HIM. Look at him Watching. Let him see your pain- let him watch your fear- your tears- your death. He’s watching you, HE IS ALWAYS WATCHING YOU and yet... he does nothing” Slowly I began to feel the pressure decrease, the fingers releasing as my toes and then my feet returned to the ground, “... he always does nothing.” A genuine change of heavy, effusive sorrow graduated in his voice, too captivating for him to breathe like... he was lovelorn. As my feet felt solid, my knees did not and I collapsed to the stone, my teeth as clenched as my dress in my hands. The tears and energy driving my crying generated the only warmth in the church. I realised how cold I had suddenly become; how dark it was; that night had fallen. “Do you see now?” He collected himself, “Do you know now, why I did this? To.. to awaken you, to rid you of any grasp that they had on you” He flung his arm towards the statue as he stared down at her, “to free you from a false idle! To restore your faith into something else...Someone else to protect you.” His shoes walked to my knees, “He watched someone inflict you, he watched you defenceless, he watch you hurt and: He. Did. Nothing.” A warmth raised my chin, “I would Never do that to you. I would Always protect you. Just allow me to prove that to you. All you have to do is let me in, let me bound myself to you”
His fingers separated from my face as I fell backwards, my mind and vision fading from the shrinking ceiling.
“It wou-- -- sier if y--- er older bu—a –act is a p-ct”
The voiced trailed off with my consciousness. My lips suddenly felt warm.
Competition: June 2015 Pen Factor, Round 1
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