CHAPTER ONE Continued from Post 1
I’m clenching my fist so tightly that I’m sure my fingernails are cutting right into the flesh, rivers of blood trickling down into the sleeves on my sweater…is this reality?
I just can’t feel what happened to the child …I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget what’s just happened, all that is left behind in the city. I can still hear the child’s cries echoing around persistently in my head, even though I shake it vigorously from side to side, it’s no use, the cries won’t die away.
I become aware that I’m clenching my teeth so tightly that it seems quite likely that they may shatter and fall apart inside my mouth, so that I’ll spit out the fragments and be left with just gums, just useless gums.
Hearing a sound from further back in the cave I turn around quickly, but of course seeing nothing but blackness, just blackness. I can’t identify the sound , it could have been something moving, something live. I tread softly, cautiously into the blackness, stretching out my arms on either side to try to get some idea of where the walls of the cave are. This blackness makes me feel dizzy, it’s so dimensionless…I can’t get any idea of anything at all. If I stare fiercely enough, surely I’ll see something… some recognisable shape or colour? I become aware of some flickering lights not too far away…I can’t define these shapes at all, but they remind me of flames, and are writhing like snakes…but they are different colours, changing shades of orange, yellow and red.
The strange thing is that although I’m convinced that the flickering lights are flames from afar, I don’t feel any heat at all. As I approach the fire I can make out several small figures sitting to one side at the back…they are all sitting perfectly still, and they all seem so fantastic to me but I’m filled with a sinking feeling of deadly fear.
Reaching out a trembling hand towards one of the small figures, I feel metal beneath my fingers; it’s a helmet of some sort, a mask that the child is wearing…for they are all children, all these figures sitting, staring into the flames. The flickering flames cast shadows on the walls which change constantly, stretch into different forms all the time – never stopping as one thing, always changing, moving. I realise that this group of children are all wearing these strange contraptions on their heads which force them to face directly forwards without being able to move their faces away.
I turn quickly as someone touches my arm – another small figure, but without the helmet this time. It’s an old man, very old – in fact he’s so completely covered with wrinkles that I just want to lie him flat and smooth him out. I don’t, but instead I ask, once I’ve found my voice,
“What’s going on?”
The old man raises his hand very slowly and just smoothes down the few white hairs he has remaining on his head, and he smiles gently. We both turned to watch the flickering shadows cast on the far wall of the cave for a while. Then the old man begins to speak in a very clear, ringing tone of voice so that his words take on their own particular quality, unchanged by age.
“These are all my children…Plato’s children,” he says , “for that’s my name, Plato… I’m very pleased to meet you, Mr. -?”
“Look, my name doesn’t really matter - I think you should just tell me what the hell is going on here.” I stare into the old mans tiny, wrinkled face aggressively; I’m in absolutely no mood for indulging nutcases in caves after what’s happened back in the city, I can tell you. But the old man continues to smile at me as if there’s nothing unusual going on at all. He moves the wooden staff he’s leaning on very carefully so that it hovers just above ground… along with the grey robes he’s wearing, he looks like some sort of wizard or magician.
“Well, if you won’t tell me who you are then I’ll just continue my speech,” he says finally, sounding slightly amused if any thing at all. He raises his staff very slowly and waves it in the direction of the group of children. “These are all my children and under my control.”
“What?” My eyes search frantically amongst the faces of the sitting children, who are all various ages… but all seem to be completely devoid of any emotion or even awareness of their surrounding. My eyes come to rest briefly on a little girl, and I’m immediately reminded of what’s just happened back in the city. Her little face is so vulnerable and pleading, I can’t bear the sight any more. Turning away quickly, I glance briefly, angrily at the old man, taking a step and raising my fist. “You’re keeping all these children here against their will? I think you should let them go right now.”
The old man shakes his head very slowly from side to side, as if playing for time. He moves towards one of the children and touches the leather strap across the child’s face very gently, his fingers moving over the metal pieces as if trying to convince himself of the reality of the child’s encasement.
“But I don’t want to, Mr… who ever you are, I don’t want to until the time comes. Don’t you see, I’m a philosopher who’s outside time, beyond the dimensions of time.
I’m an ancient philosopher who’s been dead for centuries… I’ve been dead for many years, encased in ice. So you see, I have no fear of you or anyone… I only want to see the reality of my cave reach completion… don’t you understand that?”
I drop my fist uselessly to my side - my anger dies within me… for what use is there in feeling such emotions when faced with such insanity? I fix my eyes on the flickering flame on the wall, the lights changing continuously from red to yellow and orange. The shadows between the flame are now formless creatures, now people, now buildings, changing.
So, what happens next? If you’d like to continue the story and write a chapter or two then please e-mail me at: nicbat3963(at)aol.com