Monday, April 27, 2009

The thing about Jack

Jack stared into the small spitting flames of the campfire, poking it with a long stick. The woman Jack called Mom was adding spices to a small pot hanging over the flames. The man Jack called father was playing some soft melodies on his flute.
He could hear the other children of the caravan playing in the night. The laughter from the other families drifting over from their fires.

"Jack" the woman says, concern in her voice, "why don't you go play? Gwen has been calling for you."

The man puts down his flute and smiles. "Why, if I didn't know better, I might say she fancies you boy" he says, trying to get some response out of Jack. But Jack doesn't move or speak. Jack just stares into the fire, eyes lowered. The man and women look at each other and go back to their tasks, hoping Jack will tell them whats wrong when he's ready.

A small part of Jack's mind feels guilt over shutting out his family. A small part feels awkward about Gwen, not willing to admit that Jack likes her too. But that small part is ignored, overwhelmed by the darkness that is enveloping Jack's mind.

The thoughts in his mind are not his own. They started out on his 13th birthday. Mere whispers on the wind to faint to understand. Now, they fill his mind, threatening to consume his. Their words are alien to Jack, incomprehensible. It's all Jack can do to keep his sens of self separate from the darkness. But what scares Jack more then anything, is the strange desire to let go. To surrender himself to the voices.

Lost in his own mind Jack did not hear the first scream. Only faintly did he register the man and woman jump to their feet. It was only with the screams that followed, with the man running off and the woman pulling Jack to his feet did he come out of his world and into this one.

Blinking, it took Jack a few seconds to understand that the woman was trying to usher him into the small covered wagon that was their home. Before they could move more then a few feet the women shuddered, her eyes going wide as the tip of a sword, glittering red came through her chest. Jack watched her fall to her knees. He listened to her final words "run" as she collapsed forward. Behind her a soldier. Armor dull and muddied, eyes grim and focused.

The man had killed the woman had called Jack had called mother for 13 years. The man had killed his mother. Jack's eyes came back into focus. He finally took in what his eyes and ears had been telling him. All around there were soldiers from the nearby town, slaughtering his friends and family. All around, the people he grew up with were dying.

Jack stood there, stiff as a statue as the soldier pulled his blade out of Jack's mother's corpse. Frozen, tears running down his cheeks, Jack could do nothing as the soldier took a step closer and raised his sword to strike. At the last moment someone to the soldiers left yelled. He looked up, and just managed to block a blow from his father's flute. Although taken by surprise, the soldier smoothly countered, gutting his father like a fish. His trance broken, Jack ran.

Jack ran from the death and screams. He ran until he couldn't breathe. Until he couldn't hear anything but the sound of his heart pumping in his ears. He ran until he collapsed and lay there, curled up on the ground, weeping. His mother, his father, everyone was dead. He was all alone.

Jack lay there as the night darkened, as the air cooled. Lost in his sorrow, Jack didn't hear the whisper at first. Blinking, he look up. The night was dark. Darker then it should be. He could see the moon above the trees but it might as well not have existed.

And he heard it again. A whisper like the voices in his head, but this time he understood it. It was his name. Jack shook his head, but he heard it again. The whisper, and not in his mind, but all around him.

"Jack. We've felt your call Jack. We've felt your pain. We're here Jack, we've always been here. Accept us Jack."

Jack blinked, his tears drying. He could feel the presence in his mind growing, pacing, waiting. He could feel a desire, a hunger. He could feel the concern within the darkness. Concern, for him.

"Who are you?" Jack whispered. "What are you?"

"We are your mother and father, your sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. We are you Jack. We've been kept away for so long Jack. Lost and alone, but no more. No more Jack. Accept us Jack, and we will be yours forever. Accept us and together, we will punish though who have hurt us."

Jack closed his eyes tight. His mother and father, gone. He felt the deep pit of sadness in him. He felt the gaping hole in his heart where his family was, and he asked the darkness to fill it.

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