Short fiction

Nothing is going to make sense, it’s all a dream. You know how dreams work don’t you?

Somewhere between The river of Jordan and Jerusalem- November — 2240

It was a good year for all forms of life in the secluded village of Exa, winter has ceased, leaving the earth damp and mushy, waist high wheat crops lay in wait, trees bent downwards and drizzled overripe pears and figs as spring wind blew east, lambs and calfs grew bigger sunset to sunset, squirrels grew fond of the streets and hid nuts beneath shabby carriages scattered alongside the market street, munching on some and storing others not so deep into the soft soil a few feet away from short stone pavement, scavenging for the next winter which is a few weeks away already, running around squeaking, mouthful of nuts and berries puffing their cheeks. The breeze carried the scent of lemon and jasmine from over the hills, Dalia and her neighbours were up early, she lit up a stick off the almost out of oil lantern hanging next to the shabby door of her stone cottage, lighting up the fire ‘neath the Saj, a convexed makeshift pan, drizzling flour and a bit of olive oil on top, the steel stove took a while to pick up heat, smearing the overnight dough as farmers were already marching north towards harvest huts, singing songs of a generous year, the prophet, and good fortune. Soft, thin bread and the freckled red pears are what the people of Exa are known for, a village in which the little population lives for the soil and its trees, crops, and heritage of a couple centuries.

“Saj is ready” Whispered Dalia “ Babushka, It’s ready” She slid into her embroidered gown, lifting her brown hair, tying it into a bun. She’s left the zipper open for when her grandmother is here. Exan women wear an authentic hand knitted long attire with a light headdress, which they wear to weddings and Hennas, mostly decorated with black and red floral patterns in the middle as well as on its wide sleeves. Head-dress is usually decorated with gold lining and gold coins, which their dowry makes most of. It’s the heritage of generations of the druids of Sychle, the city where her grandmother hails from. She walked outside eyeing the bubbling water as the cups in her hand clunked, picked a handful of sage leaves and put them in the pot in which dried tea leaves were brewing. Delivering a complete morning ritual to her grandmother has always been her highest priority.

Her grandmother nodded, folding her sleeves as she stood and walked down the rooftop, where she used to pick jute leaves off stems with Dalia’s mom and feed her birds. She spent the morning, tying pieces of aged brown paper to her flock, releasing each in a different direction, sometimes an attempt to keep a connection with the long lost. She usually sends a dozen pigeons every few months, some fly north to the arctic, others fly to deserts and shores of many distant lands, delivering letters at times, migrating for warmth or food at others. Today, all of her birds were flying out, one after another, pigeons, marble peak ravens, pied kingfishers and terns, all were there on that shabby rooftop, an unusual sight for the young girl.

“What is this foolish bird singing?” she’d ask, “Your hens and ours are pasturing together” Dalia would laughingly sign to her grandmother, who’s never heard a sound her entire life. Her companion jumped and wiggled it’s tail waiting for their departure to the fields, sitting and standing impatiently next to the sackcloth bag in which her scythe and cheese purse lay. Her senses tingled as smoke rose high and blocked the rising sun over the hill, villagers used to bury diseased animals but some may poison the soil if killed by gas released by cyborgs guarding the wall, those are thrown over the pyre “It must have been a herd” she thought to herself as she kissed her grandma’s forehead goodbye “Go with god” her grandmother signed “Beware of wraiths and the perverted”. She laughed frantically and climbed the rooftop stairs squinting into the distance.

Luki barked ferociously as they walked closer to the tower of burning logs and carcasses, except they weren’t. The tall, sun smeared teenage girl froze in place, covering her mouth in shock, Luki barked even harder, dust puffing from ‘neath his paws, raging flames sputtered human limbs, some fell from above into the burning wheat crop.

At the first uprising many decades back, her grandmother used to entice young men to go out and fight for reclamation, she’d gather tiny metal balls she’d scavenge off Skullbashers into sacks and send them across to every home she could reach, she believed it would encourage everyone to fight, and deliver a message to the cowardly. She even made wooden slingshots and acid bombs which she hid into stone walls across the village. Skullbashers and Fallen Angels are huge machines made to kill but programmed to guard the wall. Youngsters who were caught sneaking in trying to rob or even work for the generals are gone for good, some killed on the spot, others are mutated into mindless robots.

The Empysal, a titan of a rig, is a slow, cloud-piercing, nuclear-powered giant, with a needle head mounted on a high four-legged steel body. Contrary to skull-bashers and other physical, force based damage robots; the Empysal sends a high-energy electromagnetic pulse on a mass scale, made to defend the mountain where the prophecy would take place. The army behind this creation has perished with the rising tide. A few decades before the invasion; a cataclysmic event changed the fate of the earth forever, a meteor hail storm rained upon the moon, shattering it and sending its bits flying into space. Over a few years time, the shards formed a ring around the earth, shards would hit the surface wiping out entire cities, oceans were still, seasons changed inconsistently, and hundreds of thousands of species were going extinct one after another. The city of Exa rarely got hit by devastating moon shards, making it one of the few safe cities left on the face of the planet.

Being relatively small compared to others, this village is the only agricultural place left to this part of the earth, with parts of its soil still able to give birth and its animals still of flesh and bones. She wanted to stay, see her next of kin grow old with their children and grandchildren but, ever since the invasion struck with a hand of steel and tear gas, she’s been making use of what’s left of her time training the very few creatures around her farm to reincarnate their saviour, the skeleton of Solomon. She was a druid of Sychle, an old city known for its shamans and beast masters. Although unable speak or hear; animals talked to her, they’d heed her will and serve her to their death. It is said that, although scarce, druids ruled the earth in the early middle ages, prepared on the shores and walls of Sychle, the city of the red giant, the eye in the sky, of which Sychlians worshiped and asked kindnesses. A few eons hence, natural calamities ravaged that primal society, leaving a few, scattered across the land struggling to maintain what’s left of frail credence between man and beast. Bears, wolves, honey badgers, and crows were favored above others for their offensive features and consistent mental stability. Little druids exercised on fish and tiny rodents, where a relationship is easily built and halted, and where little ones were taught not to eat what they spoke to.

“Luki Noo!” she cried, covering her face with her shawl as she ran after her dog, coughing, she reached to the scythe sticking out of her sackcloth and slid it out, letting go of the bag as she scampered towards what looked like a giant steel arm dripping oil onto a corpse, a spunky deer sat next to it chewing on a twig, staring blankly into Luke’s feisty eyes. The rig was gigantic it sent shivers down her spine, she never saw anything like it, the body of what looked like a human was squished like an olive ‘neath a coast redwood log. Her heart raced even faster, making it harder to breath, sweat rolled down her temples, this is one of the few times where she just couldn’t run, the first was when her elementary school friend was shot before her.

The child fainted next to her dog, the deer did not make a move, following the wailing dog with its one eye like a chameleon studying its prey, Luke licked her face, howling and tucking its tail between its legs in fear of what she woke up to hours later, a herd of dotted brown deer stood maliciously, eyes glowing like a hundred scintillant fireflies frozen midair. That one deer next to the corpse stood close as many others eyed the sunset, throbbing the narrow dirt road with their hooves, the twig chewing deer gently pushed her forward, encouraging her to walk, sunlight faded as they marched and she knew, something bigger than her comprehension is going on and kept on walking, holding up her dress as they climbed the tansy hill. The road uphill was littered with burnt robots, oil sputtered out of some as Luke sniffed at melted hoses and grease-darkened grass, startled when a limb of knives abruptly clenched, sheep hung from tree tops like decorations on a titan, wires, and plugs dangled along with carcasses, the forest smelled of blood and rotten grapes. Nothing made sense to the village orphan, she’d never seen or heard of this much destruction since the first uprising and wanted to run home, but she followed the herd, her dog walked fearlessly alongside which was the reason she kept on going. The air was dusty, a bit more than it should be, she felt her legs go numb and her heart beat out of her chest, the sky got darker and darker when the herd finally stopped as an explosion echoed west, she instantly ducked and held on to poor Luke.

She ran, leaving her bag and the herd behind, her dog followed and barked, looking back as it ran, stumbling and limping forth, a terrifying sound of a sky size trumpet echoed through the woods, a blaring sound that no being would withstand even if they are deaf. Dalia ran as fast as her dog, gasping for air as she climbed up a rocky hillside, her headdress fell off as her body shivered and her ears bled, she felt every vibration of that last deafening fiendish blast tear through her veins. “Lu..k…e” she cried, grappling onto the next stone, not looking down “Luuk….e” her cries hushed into whispers.

“Come closer” whispered a woman’s voice from within the darkness “I have something for you, heh”

Dalia snapped out of unconsciousness, hearing those words, the voice echoed into the high hallway ceiling with a fading snigger.

Her eyes were wide open and reddened of blood, her face pale with no expression of fear or wonder, unsure if dreaming or dead. She couldn’t see a thing but could hear the twitching and shivering of a living thing breathing into her ear, muffled cries paralyzed what’s left of her senses as she waved her hand before her wide open eyes, pitch black.

A woman spoke into Dalia’s slumber as if words heard in nightmares by blurry disfigured shadows seen in the corner of one’s eye “Would you summon the Megalodon for me my dear? Her voice deepened as she spoke “You were spared by the deafening siren of the Empysal for a reason, you were sent to me, I found you on that cliff, fainted, inches away from that impetuous robot”

The fiendish voice leapt around in abrupt, raptured fragments of an unhinged choir murmured and hissed unevenly, leaving a long whir into Dalia’s brain.

“I am Bilqis, Queen of castle Agame and the bearer of the song of songs, the one, and only eye”

The girl couldn’t blink any longer, she saw dancing lights around her pupils. Her heart rushed like a war drum and her feet went numb, still able to feel the warm breath of that creature into her face. She felt her away around, brushing what felt like a human thigh, she could feel it’s wet, boiling skin, she instantly halted her shaking hand and slid back, hands and knees slipping on a thick fluid. The blare of the Empysal echoed into the hallway again, repeatedly, chandeliers quivered and dropped wicks, glass shattered and sliced floral drapes and antiquated wallpaper. Paintings of on the wall crumbled to the ground, most were of a young lady, slim, wide-eyed, covered in jewellery head to toe, tanned cheeks smeared with glitter had the glow of royal wine cups, her hair pulled in charcoal braids, adorned in feathers and a crown of dangling gold beads, swaying at her eyebrows

Dalia’s ears, eyes, and almost the rest of her senses weren’t working any longer, her heart beat slowed down and her trembling body stilled. Her eyesight suddenly flashed crystal clear. A hunched, young man with patches cut out of his skin froze before her amidst a pool of blood, his eyes were wrapped in a bloody headband and arms wrapped around legs as if a seizured fetus.

Roars and howls of a throng resounded through the valley, a sight last beheld a few decades after Sychle’s demise, a prophecy begotten upon its people was to restore the land, a duty of the remaining handful of the red giant worshipers and their summons, although their god has died eons ago, it’s gleam never faded or enervated, a remote, lifeless watcher, residing within all living things. A grizzly ran inside the crumbling palace in an attempt to save the girl, ignoring the frantic laughs of the queen. The rest of the horde dug and clawed around the titanic statue 
of Solomon, the arm of the giant suddenly twitched, startling woodpeckers and releasing shards of marble into the air.

Fine feathers of snow sprinkled down the exhausted, blood red sky, burying what’s left of fallen druids and abhorrent machines. Thousands of rigs were destroyed, summoned herds and flocks fell to their death and the northern gust put out what’s left of the flames and broke the silence of the now empty, floating village of Exa, it was not the battle but the last and the biggest moon shard mashing the surface of the earth. Some of the druids and their animals made it out alive; some flee and others kept clawing into the side of the cliff, releasing their savior into the nothingness that is their village, flattened by a giant meteor ,burnt by robots and slowly getting submerged into the ocean. The queen flew high above the mountain, eyeing the hordes of diggers running far back, avoiding the collapsing chunk of the mountain and the feet of the-the stone statue as it took a step forward into the mist. Her summons were clouds of dark spirits and gargoyles descending from a hole in the darkening sky, and the hordes collided in rising rings of smoke and dust, shaking the earth and ravaging what’s left of the village.

The messages Dalia’s grandmother had sent before were summons, she knew, she’d foreseen the catastrophic fate her, and eventually every part of the earth is going to face. Her peers emerged from every direction heeding the call, some with giant elephants and others with one-eyed golems the size of a lighthouse, along with her birds. The battle holds no use, the earth is sinking deeper into the ocean, parts of dismantled robots and bodies of animals were pushed into the canyon by raging waters. Solomon, Agame, Robots and the druids still fought with every ounce of strength they had left, each with the same immense devotion and faith, saving and claiming the promised land of ancient books of poetry.

Dalia stood cold amidst miles of the death swarmed village of hers, and distant cries of bear cubs and wolves, distilled of her senses and basic instincts, she limbed towards the edge, unable to feel the gust whisking at her burnt skin. The sharp rocks of the shore below, as insentient as they were, ripped through her flesh the moment her body finally hit it’s final resting place. All was sentient, silent, calm, void. A titanic hand, grasped the earth and threw it into the abyss.

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