Story: Part I

Rise

My silence roars louder than any voice. I stand on a cliff’s edge, skin cold and soul weary. To my left, the earth spreads vast and far. The sun sets there, in the west, a glowing ember of yellow and red. I stare out over the swaying pastures, flowing rivers, and snow-capped mountains. Everything a storybook has.

I turn to my right, to reality. Shadows cling to the land, dark and terrible. The cities, once vibrant and rich, are exposed for what they truly are: skeletons of beams and bricks and lies. I see the silhouettes of people moving like ants in the distance, wearing the smoking ruins like a mantle of purpose and reason. The flames lick their itching ears, comforting their complacence.

I wipe the stinging blood from my eyes, then pop my shoulder back into place. I know who licks with those flames, the one who fuels them and pushes them toward my cliff. I shudder in rage.

The Deceiver stains faculties, cheats liberties, and taints gaieties. He succeeded with me. He succeeded with others. We are left stunned and broken, indulged and pleasured, distracted and dismayed. He wants to steal our heart; no, he wants us to give it to him.

We nearly did. I nearly did. But I remembered that Another asked for it—gave for it. And I have only one heart to give.

So I fought. I still fight.

Others have stopped. Others have fallen.

My minds lapses. The taste of hope I once had grows suddenly stale in memory of those who have fought and fallen beside me. I cough blood. Reality is far removed from what I imagined as a child.

I shake free of the momentary lapse. I look up. The sky opens wide above me, a blue veil concealing the field of burning stars and renewed hope. I have heard it said that this planet is not our home, that we are made for the heavens. Soon, I will break through the veil and join the others who have bloodied themselves in this fight.

I wonder who will be there tonight, at this Elysian Rising. I wonder if there are truly others who have overcome. I wonder… Am I alone in this?

No, I can’t be. Others were chosen, just as I am. But who?

Longing finds me. Dread grips me. Hope lifts me.

I close my eyes, take a breath, and step into the craft behind me. The door shuts with a hiss as the cabin pressurizes, preparing for a different atmosphere. Sweat and blood drip down my forehead. I quickly enter commands into the console. Engines rumble and metal groans as thrusters go full burn. My gut turns as I am pressed into my seat by the iron hand of physics.

Tonight, I will have my first dance. Tonight, I will go to join those who have risen beyond the battle, beyond the war—beyond the sky.

Tonight, I rise.