Become a Fan
To Break Into Many Pieces
By Amber Halo
Thursday, October 24, 2002
I stooped one more time and lowered my head to better see the flaking skin around the residual wounds that one acquires while walking. Slowly, as the day progressed the ritual sandals that I so seldom wore, cut deeper and deeper into my ankles and calves. Curse myself for never breaking in these sandals! Curse my blindness on this matter
"Rub a little sand in it, brother!" came an irritated cry from afar.
I looked up and squinted heavily against the sheer white light of the sun. My traveling companion - who is most certainly not my friend, let me reassure you on that point emphatically - was rough against the collection of my vision. Rather squirmy, as if being viewed through several miraculous sheets of water.
"Rub some sand into the wound! It will keep it from getting worse."
The shape which defied shape got a little larger. I did not wish for my companion to get any closer to me at this point in time. I did not care for him to see the wounds. I had been stealing small glances at his ankles earlier, as they flurried in and out amongst the folds of his desert robe. He had obviously taken the time to break in his shoes. I could not appear to be so foolish as to have rarely worn my sandals before. My companion had relented to taking me on the supposition that I had made desert journeys before.
Was it wrong of me to lie about this though? I have come to believe it was the right thing to do. This journey is the beginning of a new life for me. I must take this journey! Submitting oneself to miniature lies along the way towards such improvement could hardly be worthy of scathing review, my dear friend.
I quickly manipulated the straps down with one finger and took a healthy pinch of sand in the other hand. I place the pinch of sand into the wound and winced at the hotness of it all. The shape is getting larger, I must finish before he arrives and sees just how bad off I am. I hastily rubbed the hot sand into my left wound and stood up quickly, dusting off my hands.
He has arrived.
"You are doing okay?"
"Yes, thank you friend. Let us go, shall we? Time is wasting."
"Are you sure, I think I saw you limping-"
"You are confused, sir!"
"Very well, then."
He turned and strode off towards the break in the mountains ahead. The break in the mountains! Try as I might, the brightness was a bit much for me. I could scarcely see my companion as his form quivered in the heat in front of me. How was I to see the break in a mountains that he kept pointing to with vague recall, as if it were such an obvious affair to find the mountains. I cursed him and his little finger as he walked off.
Making a strident effort to appear vigilant I strode off after him with great haste. I bit my tongue hard enough to bring blood for the sand was doing anything but helping! I felt every raw nerve rubbing against the many surfaces of the sand with every step. With every pretense of a step! I must not cry out, he must not hear my pain. I masked my face with expert glaze and glanced arrogantly around the scenery.
Where was I going. To the break in the mountains. Yes, there my dreams will be revealed as truths; the book said this plainly. What is beyond those mountains, they which I cannot even fully see? I quickened my pace to keep up with the wobbling, frighteningly scarce image of my companion. The air here was so thick with heat, I do not believe I have seen anything quite like it.
I reflexively reached for my back pocket, noticing too late that this dusty desert robe was in the way. Where was that book. I felt in the various pouches and luggables that were strapped to me like a coat-rack. My hands did not find purchase! Where was my book?
I must have stopped walking in my search, for when I looked up the swaying image of my traveling companion had utterly disappeared beyond the walls of heat. Cold like ice gripped my neck. Look, look you fool he must be here. I swung my head around in a circle, everything here is the same. It is all this white sand of the most peculiar fineness and the shimmering wall of heat just 40 feet away yet always unreachable. Beyond the wall, who knows.
Have I really lost my book?
Ignoring the pain I set out in the direction I thought I had been going. Indeed, there were footprints in the sand, or where they only my footprints, recently just tread in the opposite direction? No that couldn't be, there was only one set. I would be on my companion's set if there was only one.
Above me, the most singular arrangement began to assemble itself. At first glance I thought it was a stray cloud, but looking again I see it seems to cast its own light. It was moving, yes, too fast to be the sun. The sun was over yonder anyway, this was a different source of light.
I looked back down to the horizon and those footsteps. Ignore the wracking pain from my wounds. There is a faint disturbance in the glimmer ahead. I blink and it disappears. Shall I pick up the pace? I stride forward and the apparition unfolds with more strength.
Soon I am upon the shape before me, my traveling companion. I must squelch the urge to run up and punch him him in the back. That pious man, leaving me in the desert all alone! I think he has neither noticed my departure nor arrival. How aloof he is, how unconcerned for my welfare!
I crash into the back of my companion, I did not mean to! He had stopped quickly and I was forced to plow into him. We fell to the ground with exhaustion. I looked to the sky and saw that second source of light growing far to the east again. It must have gone across the sky and come around again without me noticing. It moves so fast.
I look to see if my companion has noticed this freak of nature, but he is looking behind me, at the ground.
"What are you looking at?" I demanded, "Why are you looking at the ground?"
He wiped his hand across the bottom of his nose in a crude way and then raised that little finger of his to point.
"You are bleeding."
"I am not!"
"But, my friend, you are, there is blood upon the ground and it leads to you."
I look down and what a horror! My wounds have grown worse. I turned my back to him and lifted the edge of my robe to apply more of the sand into my wounds. The grit caught the blood and held it in place, but oh how it hurt! I did not let him see my face, and my tears of pain. Meanwhile the shadows were shifting.
I turned and looked as the brilliant light soared across the sky and slowly faded to the west.
"What was that light? What has caused that brilliant light?"
"The light that soared across the sky so quickly, like that!" I snapped for emphasis.
He blinked in reflex and looked at me in a confused manner. "I saw no light. Are you thirsty? Has the sun got to you already?"
"That was most definitely not the sun that I saw moving across the sky."
He propped me up on the desert floor and held my shoulders steady while he opened my canteen. My book! That is what I was looking for. I must find my book. Cold water runs down my throat and I choke. Why is he putting water in my throat while I am looking for my book.
I opened my eyes, why I do not know. I did not close my eyes at all. I do not understand why it is so dark, have I gone blind, is that it? No, there are shapes now, small little shapes that suggest bigger shapes. One of these is my traveling companion who is asleep. I stood up and slowly mopped the sand off of my face and neck. My sandy hands seemed to place more sand there than they removed. It was probably a good thing, my head has obviously been wounded and needs sand, why else would I have fallen asleep so sudden like that. Was I being forbidden to continue?
With my companion asleep, I took this time to search diligently for my little book. I can not fathom why I would not bring it. It must be another sign! I should not be here. I looked around the darkened landscape with no better luck than in the day. I could not see more than a few feet. Why was this place invisible to me.
Oh, things were getting brighter though! I could see much clearer, I turned towards the source of light, the moon must be rising, but no, it was that strange light to the east, growing again. I could not look directly at it, but it appeared to have texture within it, like a cloud, but moving far faster than a cloud ever could. With that thought it leapt from the horizon as if it has been a frog and raced across the sky almost faster than my eye could follow.
The next time I opened my eyes I was flailing against a moist and incredibly hot torture that had been wrapped around me. When I looked around, I saw no such torture, only the air crisping in the rising sun. I looked over to see that my traveling companion was sitting on the ground. His shoulders were heaving slightly. Could it be? It couldn't be that he was crying.
"What is the matter with you?" I attempted to say, though it crackled out of my throat like a dying animal.
He breathed in sharply and let himself steady before leaping around and grabbing me by the shoulders. His eyes were wide and red, staring into mine with such a blaze of intensity that it caused me to wonder if I had been in the company of a murderer all along.
Sweat dripped from his nose as his eyes flickered back and forth across my face.
"Where is your book!" He looked at me searchingly. "We need to read the book."
So that is what this was about! He had discovered that I forgot my book and he had grown angry at me! Well, what was he going to do, leave me in the desert to die again? I do not doubt that. I had nothing else to say, so I spoke slowly, "I did not bring my book, did you bring yours?"
His face recoiled as if he had been slapped by a thousand hands. His fingers tightened around my shoulders and we stood up together, staring in to each other's eyes.
"I cannot go on this trip with you! I am not worthy to break the mountains with you!" He shouted at me with shame in his voice.
"What on earth has ever lead you to believe this?" I queried in a shocked manner.
"You are pious and I am weak. I have spent my life preparing for this journey. I have walked many days into the desert learning how to live with the death that exists here. I have worn my sandals thin, I have worn my robe thin, until they had to be replaced and then worn down again. I read from my book daily, I read it until there is no light and then I think about it until I fall asleep.
"Then I set my date to make my journey. I posted a notice in the paper so that all who were ready could come with me, but no replies came. Then you showed up at my door, pale and with shifty eyes. I asked if you feared the desert, if you had travelled the desert, and you said you had. I knew you were a liar then, just as you are a liar now. I thought to myself, why should I bring a liar. Not on this journey, on any other maybe, but not on this journey. "
He paused for a moment, his eyes still had failed to blink, they stared directly into mine, but past me, as if he was looking at me 10 feet away. He continued, "Then I knew, I knew you were great for you did not fear the desert, you knew your journey would be aided by the book. You were greater than I, for I fear the desert and approach it like a lamb. You stride into it like a lion with meat on the horizon. So I read my book, and I found something I have never seen before, the book said: 'Journey only where you are bold, until you lack fear you will not find your fate. Only when you can see beyond the fear and find the mountains can you emerge.'
"So I walked to the edge of the desert that day and looked as far as I could see. In the distance I could see the mountains! I knew they were there, I could see the break in the mountains. I thought I was not afraid. I was, and you were not.
"Then you scorn me by bleeding all over the desert. You take your pain and you relish it for it is part of the journey. I have no pain for I have grown calluses over my ankles."
He speech was growing halted and he slurred now as he spoke, "You have not brought you book because you do not need it. You have it all up here, here" He removed his hand from my shoulder and I had half a thought to turn and run from this maddened person. He rapped on the side of his head, "Here!"
With that he broke free from me and strode off from whence we came, his shape slowly becoming distant. I stood in wonder and in desperation I cried out to him, "You cannot leave me here like this! I cannot see the mountain, I can not see where we came from!"
His shape stopped and turned around, pondering. He walked back towards me slowly. When he had once again returned to my full vision he raised his finger over my shoulder and pointed. I turned to look into the haze of nothing.
"You cannot see what is so plainly there?"
"No, I cannot, for my lack of fear is ignorance. You are the one who is greater than I."
"But I fear."
"I can't see."
He stopped and thought, his eyes still alarmingly wide.
"We shall travel together than, as we did before. It seems the book has spoke to us both, you do not have fear, but I can see the way. We should continue." He turned and walked off in the direction he had been pointing. I picked up my pouches and bags and followed.
Thus we travelled through the harsh day. My body cried out for water, but I was too great to drink of the canteen strapped around my neck. Water is for the weak, fear of thirst is not a virtue. I did know the book, and even though I could not see the break in the mountains, I knew the book. I was ready. We walked through the day in silence. The lights came and went several times that day at even intervals, but I do not think he saw them. He never once turned his head.
By the middle of the third day a dark line appeared on the horizon. I marveled at how I could see the line, even though it was clearly beyond the barrier I could normally see in this sun. My traveling companion was growing excited as we neared the dark line.
"The break in the mountains!" He kept saying over and over. Try as I might, when I scanned the horizon I could see no mountains, nor could I see a break in them. As we approached the line I noticed that it was broken, as if made up of many dots. The closer we came, the wider the dots spread out. It was not a line as it first appeared, but an inconceivably long row of little black dots on the ground.
It was nearing the end of the day when we reached the row of dots. Despite the fact that I still could see no further than 40 feet, I could see this row of dots went further than any other object. Perhaps they went around the world completely. What an astounding thought!
I bent down to examine one of them and found that it was a small dome, not completely black, but a dark enough shade of brown to be confused as such against the white sand. I took a scoop of the light sand in my hands and scattered it over the dome. The sand parted and sifted to the sides leaving the domes completely untouched.
"Drink." I heard him say. "You are thirsty and you need water to live."
We unwrapped the canteens from around our necks and raised them high, careful to only drink as much as we needed to stay alive. After we were filled of water, my companion sat down on one side of the domes. I sat down on the other. He produced his book and flipped through a few pages for a minute or two until he found what he was looking for.
"I will read from the book now."
That seemed to be a wise thing to do, so I nodded my head at him and closed my eyes.
He took up a lyrical voice while reading, my, what a good orator he was when he wanted to be: "`They who travelled into the break in the mountains and found the unnatural miracles there shall drink freely of the wisdom that is found around them. Let them not grow skeptical as they wait for the sun to fall upon them, let them be silent and just amongst one another. Let there not be a thought of anger, or shame, for all who arrive here are great and ready to receive their gift."' He paused. I knew that he was finished, so we took the council of the book and remained silent, watching one another.
My robe flapped lightly against my right arm and I looked up. A wind was stirring the sand around us. Though we did not speak, the dance of light in my companion's eyes betrayed his anticipation. I know that I must have looked much the same to him. We had come. Now we will receive what is ours to claim!
He looked up sharply to the east and cocked his head as if listening for something. I looked up towards the east, where the row of dots disappeared on the horizon. My throat swallowed in anticipation, it was the light! I am afraid to say, I forgot my unsaid oath and broke the silence, "Do you see the light?" I asked with excitement and emotion breaking across my words.
"Light, what light? I heard music, though, unlike any other music I have ever heard before." He seemed unconcerned with the breaking of silence, as if these words did not matter now, in our heightened awareness.
"I hear no music!"
"Listen close, it sounds like countless metal trees scraping amongst each other in some horrendous stormy wind. It sounds like..."
"Like what! I hear nothing, but I see a light."
"There is not light, there is music. Music like metal beings restless with energy, awakening."
"How can you not see this light, it is like the beauty of a thousand gods wrapped amongst each other. Horrible in their splendor."
It was evident to me that the light was coming from the domes. The domes were great and powerful lights. For the sun shall fall upon them. The book spoke of the sun, my light. It did not speak of noise. The man who was sitting across from me was not a follower of the book! He was a vagrant. He did not see the sun, even as it was about to fall. He heard the demonic noise of the light that any foul mind would hear if it could not see it. I rose to my feet and leaped across the line of domes.
"You traitor! There is no music! There is no music! There is light, and the sun shall fall upon them! You do not see the sun! You are going to destroy all that is good. You have journeyed here with a fouled mind and impure desires."
He grabbed me and threw me to the ground. I jammed my elbow into his throat so that he may not speak. I must not hear his heretic words! He grabbed his throat and cried. The light was growing brighter and brighter. I could feel the heat of it as it approached, warming my soul to the very core. I could not allow my destiny to be fouled by this man. I stood up and turned my back on him, walking towards the sun.
He must have found his voice again for I heard a wail behind me, he screamed, "The music the noise it must stop it is hurting my ears!" I did not turn to look at him. I won't spoil my vision with his sinful face at this moment of my redemption. Now the light was all I could see, it pierced my eyes and drove them back into my skull. I clapped my hands over my eyes even has he clapped his hands over his ears and we screamed.
The row of domes became bright and searing heat emitted from them. The sand blew fiercely away from the domes. I fell down with my feet towards the approaching light and watched as my feet, then legs disintegrated before my eyes, burned to a crisp and turned to ash in a moment of recognition, then all was Black.
The domes dimmed and the light they created slowly disappeared beyond the horizon. Behind them, the fine, white ashes from the bodies of the two men who had journeyed there spun lightly in the tortured wind until they finally came to rest upon the sand. Oh! It is not sand, you see. For their ashes merely added to a desert of what was not sand, but ash.
Copyright © 2000 Amber Halo
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