Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
There was a small, soft sound. It was a sound that clung to the shadows for dear life, trying to pull them round it like a curtain. Or a blanket. If tears could make a sound, this is what they would sound like – that is, if they were that special kind of tears that don’t know how to stop. Please, they seemed to say, please. I can’t do this anymore. Please, someone, anyone, please let it end. Please let it stop. I want to wake up now.
If you were looking on, it’d be round about now you’d notice the shadows – the way some of them seemed deeper somehow than natural shadows had any right to be. If you had the right kind of hearing, you might even be able to hear what they were saying. Not many people had that kind of hearing, outside of the curtain of shadows – and those inside only heard what the shadows wanted them to hear, reshaping the world around them into a colder, darker, infinitely lonelier place.
And then the shadows parted – the ones at the outer edge of wherever this was. They tried to close back in, but they seemed to recoil from the surface of the light radiating from what walked through them.
… wish it would end, the shadows called. What’s the point of anything … Never get any better … Never gets any better …
If your eyesight were as acute as your hearing, you might even notice the way the thing the shadows surrounded seemed to bleed off … light … energy … something – and the way the shadows seemed to drink it in.
And that was when something changed in the tone of the light. Like a silent sound. It seemed to get … angrier.
As you got nearer, you’d see, maybe – if you could see that far – that some of the shadows within the shadows were like ragged smoke, torn fluttering sheets of woven darkness with whispering holes in them. A few of them that weren’t too caught up in feeding sensed the different feeling in the air and started to evaporate away, willowing off into the silence.
The form of the light became more distinct, like an outline made of what light would look like if light were shadows, forming out of the air. The folds of its clothing shimmered painfully bright. The sound of its steps began to be heard. The lantern held above its head got brighter as it neared.
It thrust it into the mess of inner shadows.
Dark screams – burning away in silent flame. If a shadow could burn, it wouldn’t smell one bit as pungent as those burning shadows did, flickering like star-fire. Which is funny, because as the dark shadows began to clear, stars were what shone through the darkness that had been, twinkling on the solid void.
The lantern-bearer knelt down and moved her hand in the air over where the shadows had been. ‘Peace, lonely one.’
The hand waved over chest, over eyes, and over head – then moved as close as the bearer dared towards heart.
The lantern glowed, almost making a star of its own in the stillness. She hooked its ring over a more-solid-than-usual piece of thin air, and let it hang there. Then she settled down onto the island hanging in the void, and held his hand. ‘Let it all out. There is no shame in tears here, nor in grief, or honest feeling. Cry out, anguished heart. I am here.’
Wails of pent-up tears echoed into space. Bellows of heartache. The soft keening sound that a soul makes when it can take no more.
‘Let it all out,’ said the soft voice again, echoing with the lantern light. ‘I am with thee. It’s alright.’
‘… my fault …’ came words choked through tears, ‘all my fault …’
‘… don’t know what to do … I don’t know what to do… Nothing seems to work. I’ve messed everything up … just want it to end … I just want to wake up now … Just want to …’
He was asleep. Exhausted. Eyes closed. Out like a light.
Into the silence, a whisper: ‘I’m sorry it took me so long to find you: Rest now. I’ll keep watch over you till the dawn. Rest now, warrior. Your battle is not yet, though the way has been long, and weary … You are not alone. I promise you: You are not alone …’
The voice echoed into the shadows of light, as the silent stars rolled by.
You are not alone …Published in