The Mark

There is a power at work within me

I do not understand it, and yet I do. It is strange, and still it is familiar. It comes to me every night whispering songs and tales from worlds unseen, promising justice for injustice, and power for my weakness.


I think it a person, or people, but I am not certain. It comes and I recognise its cold fingers that burn for yet a while, fingers that hold me gingerly as one would hold a burning twig, evoking feelings I have come to associate with it; the dissolution of the colours of reality into meaningless swirls in my mind’s eye, the tightening in my chest, the goose bumps on my skin, and finally the sensation of floating. The fingers that hold me pull me out, gently, from my reality into other realities.


A feeling I never get used to. There is no air as I rise through the realities; the known and the unknown. My bed swirls beneath me like smoke, the lamp on my desk melts into itself in convoluted twists and turns, the desk itself disappears in a poof and, as I rise, the house twirls on its foundation in misty bursts as it grows smaller and smaller. There is no air; rather, there is no need for air. There is only the feeling of floating, and the contentment that wraps my mind in layers. In those moments, I am content to float forever, floating to God-knows-where, as secrets are whispered into my ear by the people that called me.


I cannot explain how I know they are people. They are a power, and they are a people, and when they hold me, I feel their cold fingers that burn like fire. They have summoned me, and I have responded. I cannot put into words this knowing, these mysteries that have been unveiled before me, I can only float through the spheres as they watch me patiently. I always smell them before I see them. In a world without air, I feel the odour; bland and ancient.


In one fleeting moment, I make them out in the midst of nothing and their intent overwhelms me. There will be justice for injustice, and power for my weakness, but it will come at the cost of death. They laugh; a harrowing sound unfit for my world, booming across the nothingness of this world. Their hooded faces hold the truth of their promise. Their hunched figures are draped in dark robes that flow and pool at their feet. I continue to float towards them, a steady course towards destiny. They ask me, once and no more, if I choose to bear the cost.


The knife appears out of nothing, the basin in like kind. There is water and there is earth. My arms move of their own accord; one to hold the knife, the other held above the basin. I wonder if there will be blood, to seal the deal and force the hand of fate. My grip on the knife is the only sure thing in the world of mist and swirls. The other hand opens to embrace the knife’s edge. The line of the cut is laid before me in my mind. I bring the knife closer, and then there is nothing.


The pain shoots across my ribs before settling in the base of my head as a dull thudding pain. My eyes shoot open as I am forced out of sleep.

“You’re so useless!” A voice screams at me.

The realisation hits me as suddenly as the pain before it; my stepmother has kicked me awake again. The wrist watch beside me glows with its hands in the 5:45am position.

“Go and sweep the compound, idiot!”

I shudder and cringe awaiting another blow, but it does not come, leaving me with time to feel a dull pain in my left palm. I open it and I am surprised to find a long gash, still bleeding, running across the entire length. My dream comes back to me all at once, causing goose bumps to appear on my skin. I look up and discover I am not surprised to see a dark cloud hover and pulsate over my step mother’s head. She seems unaware, and I smile to myself, earning myself another round of blows for “smiling like an imbecile”.

I know what is coming, I know the mark of death.

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