PWE – 1.1

The morning fog was still densely packed over the city when Hector walked out into the backyard of the house. Or, more accurately, the patch of barren land that made do as a backyard which he had bought along with the small and plain three-roomed habitation that was his home at the moment. He had bought it from a poor old woman who had decided to go live in the inner rings of the city after the death of her husband. The hovel, for it had been more a hovel than a real house, as it barely seemed to be able to protect anything from the harsh winter weathers, had not been ideal, but having a place to call home was a luxury to many so he had not shunned this opportunity. A few weeks of hard work had sufficed to turn it into a cozy enough place to live comfortably, if he could call his life comfortable. At least he had a roof to sleep under and a job to provide enough to eat and to live better than most, if not well, and on top of that he managed to save some of his earnings. It would take years at the rate it was going, but if all went well he would one day achieve his dream: owning an inn.

For now though he was still a simple field worker, tending to the lands of richer men than he. He sighed at the thought and began his daily routine, stretching out his limbs to wake his body up from the grogginess of sleep. The air was humid and fresh but not cold, the small patches of grass in what he called his garden were pearled with water and he could feel the soft earth bend slightly under his feet. The sun had barely risen over the horizon, not that he could see it anyway through the dense misty air, which meant he still had a full hour before it was time to go. He groaned sleepily as he switched position and bent his limbs in ways most people could not. He maintained his flexibility by exercising each morning, all in the hopes of retaining as much of his physical abilities in his old age. He was barely thirty one but people did not tend to live very long in his world, rarely more than twice as old, and when one did, most of the time it was not a pretty sight.

Half an hour passed as Hector moved his limbs slowly but deftly and with intent and purpose. Extending his muscles, warming his joints, controlling his breath and calming his mind. He liked feeling every little part of his flesh and bones tingling as he finished his exercise, it made him feel alive. As he opened his eyes again he noticed two things: the first one was that the fog had begun dissipating, letting him almost see the blue of the sky, the second one was a faint shadow in the distance and a soft groan he almost swore was his imagination. But he could see it, small and stumbling, it seemed to move in his direction. He immediately tensed, cursing in his short but dense brown beard. At least it didn’t seem to be a beast, Lum knew what dangerous and ferocious beasts roamed at the edge of the outer ring! That was part of the reason he had gotten the house for such a cheap price. It had the shape of a human being, a child even, but he wasn’t so foolish he would trust what he saw, he had heard enough to know it was never good to be careless. He swiftly grabbed his axe and stood his ground as he waited for the unknown being to approach, each footstep barely echoing on the soft ground.

But it never came. Instead, as it seemed to be about to walk out of the mist, he heard a thud. He blinked to focus and realized the shadow had disappeared. Cursing again, louder this time, he took a step back while looking around and was about to walk inside when he heard another soft groan from the direction he had seen the silhouette. He hesitated. Damn it! You stupid idiot!, he chastised himself as remembered the fundamental law of the wild: never hesitate. Act or don’t, but never, ever linger. Lingering meant pain, or worse, death… He took in a deep breath and decided. He took a tentative step forward, looking around him for any sign of danger and hardened his grip on the wooden handle. Seeing no immediate threat he took another one, and another. It was slow but finally he reached the place where he had last seen the silhouette and gasped as he saw a young child, no more than nine or ten, lying face first on the patch of grass.


PWE – 0 – The Fog

The whiteness was bright. Silent and bright. And yet it seemed as if his mind was surrounded by ink black darkness and noises so loud they would shatter his sanity any second now. It was one, then the other, one and the other, bright and dark, bright or dark, noisy or silent, noisy and silent… It was impossible to define, all at once and yet nothing at all, at the same time and alternatively. As if the rules of reality had been completely thrown away and had been randomly replaced. The strangest thing was the feeling it procured. It wasn’t one of fear or loss, he wasn’t afraid, he wasn’t happy, he wasn’t anything actually… He was… content…? He? It couldn’t even know if it was a he anymore, it didn’t know anything, all it was was content, inside and out. It always had been and always would be, forever. Forever. That was a long time, a very long time. And yet it felt as if it had passed in the time it took it to formulate this thought. An eternity. A second. No difference, all the same in the face of the whiteness.

It moved. Strange. How could it know it had moved? And yet, it had felt itself stir. Something that had not been part of its reality for a long time… Or had it ever been part of its reality? It couldn’t say… And yet it stirred, again. A thought popped in its mind. A thought? How? Sound. There was a sound. Not the silence, not the noise, something else. A distinct sound. What it was, he could not say. No, wait… it? He? It was confused. How… Why… Slowly, ever so slowly, thoughts seemed to pop back into his mind. One by one, an eternity at a time. Back? Why back? Why not just pop? What had happened before? Before what? What was now? What was then? White. Now was white. But before… before was not white? It couldn’t say. Something was happening but it couldn’t say what, it was still far too sleepy, far to content in this whiteness to even try to stir again. It stopped doing whatever it was and waited again, content. And again it stirred. Stronger this time and from a place he couldn’t say. He? Again? Why? The noise happened once more, that strange noise it had heard earlier. What was going on?

Then everything accelerated. Stir, content, noise, content, feel, hear, content, think, remember, content, colour, move, fear, content, music, happy, hungry, world, big, content, tears, crying, laughing, hot, fire, why, content, white, black, eat, run, fly, wonder, magic, content, ask, stir, smell, taste, love, life… Colours were flying everywhere, merging into themselves, the whiteness had been taken over, content wasn’t the only one anymore, there were so many others. Others what? He couldn’t say. He? Yes, he, not it. So many others and only one him. Only one him but made of all the others. How? Why? Questions were bustling in his mind as the whiteness and the silence around his merged with the others, colours, sounds, smells, memories, feelings, things! All at once and yet over the course of another eternity. How could he tell how long an eternity was? The drum. It beat twice every eternity. Loud and proud. It beat and it never stopped. He couldn’t understand what was happening and yet it all seemed to make sense somehow and it made him stir again, more this time. He stirred again and again, slowly but surely. Everything seemed to accelerate and become louder and more vivid, it span faster and faster to the point he couldn’t even tell anything apart from itself. He couldn’t even see the colours, not even hear the sound, not even feel the feeling or remember the memories…

And then it went black. And white again. At the same time. And or. Or and. It happened all at once and over the course of many eternities. That’s when it came. The one he knew would come and had been beginning to fear as he expected it. The never. It came all proud and slow, like a king. It came and gently took his hand and smiled down to him before spreading its wings and flying off, dragging him in tow. He felt no wind, heard no bird, saw no sun, just content. Once more, all was content. White…

The beginning of a new story, maybe…