A Day in the Eons
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
-Edgar Allen Poe
I walk quietly through a cobbled street I remember. Snatches of the past haunt my minds' eye as I move, shadow-like, through the lamp-beams illuminating golden circles in the darkness. The street is flanked by an endless row of lightless dwellings, shadows of the bright living buildings they were in the sun's wake. Goodness, it's cold tonight. The crisp air bites my skin with the sharp smell of winter pricking my senses. Strangeno wanton clouds taint the night sky, yet no moon hangs, like yin in yang, amidst the vast black chasm.
My footsteps echo in silence, and my breath sighs out in a smoky blur. My, I should have dressed more appropriately. What was I thinking? Tight shorts and bare feet in this weather! And a sleeveless top, cut at the waist, at that! But, oh...who is that there? A man in a long, dark trenchcoat, untouched by the light pooling in between us from a lamp overhead; and drowned in darkness, so I can make out only his bare outline. I wonder if he can lend me some warmth...
Ah, he's seen me! Oh Lord, I look such a sight...What do I do? What do I say? Ahh...I'm getting flusteredshould I run for it?
I start back, babbling like a fool. 'Ahhh! Oh, ah, um...uh...Ggood evening...'
His voice is low and grave, like a judge before he passes sentence. I still cannot make out his face, but he stands a few feet away, unmoving, and undoubtedly watching me. I can feel his gaze, like a pressure, closing in on me.
I swallow and open my mouth to speak.
'It's been a long time,' the man remarks, his voice deepening to a deep, displeased bass.
I freeze, the tone of his voice temporarily stopping all thought, and I stare at him. What on earth? Have I met this man before? And if so, did I offend him in any way? Think, think...
'I'm quite amazed you could forget the voice of your own father.'
My jaw drops. What...did he just say? My...father? Impossible! The voice does not register in my mind, neither does anything about the man's form bring such an important figure to the forefront of my of-late troubled memory. He is nothing like the man I rememberthat kind, gentle soul for whom I have longed to come and free me from that dark pit in which I was imprisoned. The air snaps harshly, and I shiver.
'S-sir,' I stammer, trying to formulate my thoughts. 'I...you are mistaken, you cannot'
A heavy sigh, signalling the man's patience wearing thin, like ice in the thaw.
'Fine. Look and see, blind, foolish thing.'
With those callous words, the man steps into the cold light of the streetlamp, letting it sweep over his form and bathe him in colour.
The world buckles under the weight of the man before me, like Atlas' vengeance on his ancient burden. All colour drains from my face as the little body warmth I still salvage is robbed from me. I feel as if I am floating in a dark place, looking down at what might have been and blinded by what is. Everything I once thought, felt, and knew about this man in all those wasted eons, is ripped away and obliterated.
Something breaks, and I fall hard to my knees on the stone cobbles.
'Well' inquires the manmy fatherin tones so cold they freeze my heart to ice and break it to bits, 'do you believe me now?'
I open my mouth, but only useless vowel sounds breathe out. I can't think. I can't see. I can't do anything.
'So good to see my failure has a sense of fashion,' he remarks spitefully, lacing his words with scorn venomous and fatal to me. 'I always wondered what you would look like if you attained human form, but for a botched attempt, I suppose it isn't as bad as I imagined.'
This comment pushes itself into my numb brain, and I suddenly realise what I am, and always was, to hima blot on the earth of blessed ones, an abomination of man, and a shame to his conscience.
Tears spill, burning and smearing my vision. My heartmy coreaches like a throbbing open wound. I kneel over, sobs panging my throat and jerking my bones, heavy and sore with emotion.
Oh God...My God...
Suddenly...I feel something dark and furious rise in the pit of my stomach, and suddenly rages through me, and I spring to my feet, wild and overcome in a mass of screaming red sparks.
'How dare you,' I seethe, 'how DARE you! You have the gall to call me a failureLOOK AT YOURSELF!' I roar out as the fury of eons blasts out of my throat. 'YOU ABANDONED EVERYTHING YOU EVER HAD TO CREATE ME! YOU THREW IT ALL AWAY! THREW IT AWAY, AND STAMPED IT INTO THE DIRT!! AND NOW...NOW YOU HAVE NOTHING, AND YOU STILL WASTE YOUR DAMNED SOUL BY FRUITLESSLY TORMENTING MINE? PUTRID, ABORTIVE WEAKLING! I SEE IT IN YOUR EYESYOU HAVE WHINED AND MOANED ALL THESE YEARS, MOURNING THE TRAGEDY YOU BROUGHT UPON YOUR OWN HEAD! YOU RAN FROM YOUR MISTAKE, AND YOU RAN FROM THE WORLD, AND DAMNED ME TO A LIVING HELL!'
A crooked grin etches across my face without my knowledge, and I pant, nearly spent of the passion that had shaken my core.
'But..' I croak, venom drenching every syllable. 'oh, but...I am free. I walk the world unhindered and unchained by the misery you brought down upon my head. My being has never felt so alive...so complete. And you...' I pointed a trembling finger at the man I so hated. 'You wander aimlessly, like a pitiful waif, lost in the labyrinth of your own agony. I hope it hurts to see me here so happy. I hope it stings like thorns in an open wound. Would I drive those thorns deep inside, and ravage your innards. Then you would feel a fraction of the pain I once writhed under. I hope it hurts. I hope it hurts like hell.'
The man...this bastard, stares at me, immobile; the two raging instincts, to strangle me or flee the bitter memories I resurface, warring within him.
I grimace. If he provokes me, I shall kill him. I have always detested the notion of taking another's lifebut for this man, who slandered a life to create my own, and forsook it to a living death...no other punishment is less deserving.
I tense as he moves. This is it.
A woman's angry yell cuts the cold air, and we both jolt. What on...?
My creator turns to look at the source of the shout. No sooner has he done this, his head jerks to one side as a sharp smacking sound resonates.
It didn't take a genius to figure out the man had been slapped hard across the face.
'What is wrong with you?!' she rages, her form blocked by her husband's. 'Why have you become such a wretch as to behave so monstrously?'
'But...' stammers my creator, in a feeble voice that brings a smirk to my lips, 'but, my love...'
'Spare me your sweet talk!' his wife interrupts fiercely. 'I demand an explanation! Give it, or I shall force you to apologise to the homunculus on your knees this instant!'
I can only stare in astonishment. Such a scenean individual, a human, defending my honour and value as a living entity...so alien, yet irrefutably playing out before my awestruck eyes.
My creator hangs his head. I grit my teeth. Coward!
'My love...nothing I say can absolve me of my sins. Nothing I say can erase the fact this thing I created exists. Neither have my actions towards it. I hate it. I hate it for what it represents: the product of all my past mistakes, my ruined life, all shattered and laid bare before me in that creature's face, and I cannot bear it!' His voice rose to a frantic pitch as his emotions overwhelmed him. 'I lost you, my family, my friends, home, my reputation, everything! And it's all because of that thing standing behind usit's all because of it!'
He stopped, his whole frame heaving under the surge of rage suppressed under a painted facade of calm. His panting breath shot out in quick white clouds.
I am enraged. My fault? MY FAULT? Shaking myself, the blood boiling in my brain screams to tear the man's heart out, I lunge forward. Rip him. Shred him...
The woman's voice, hollow and frighteningly calm, makes me freeze, shaken by the dead tones murmuring from her broken soul.
'I see clearly now,' she said. 'You are not my husband. You are a pitiful, deluded wretch, the likes of which sicken me to even look at. Leave, and never again show your face to me, or to the homunculus, ever again. Goodbye.'
With those words, the wife of my creator brushed past him, and made her way calmly and determinedly towards me. There was a hardness in her eyesthe hardness of resisting the agony of tearing a part of her soul away, disguising it with the sheen of detachment. But I was not to be fooled. I saw clearly the torment raging in her heart, and the tears she wept inside. Mourning...mourning the loss of the man she had once loved.
My creator, this woman's husband, my father, my enemy, stands exactly where she had left him, silent as a grave. He remains thus for several minutes, trapped in a terrifying limbo of torn loyaltiesto his wife, or to his unfathomable bitterness.
In the end, his hatred overwhelms his broken heart, and the man I now regard with hatred unmatched, continues on his solitary way, slipping out of the lamp's unconditional glow, and out of sight.
Turning my attention to the woman before me, my eyes widen.
Blond hair... spectacular, soft blue eyes reflecting the clear depths of her soul, searching for and soothing mine. My hardened heart melts under her gaze, and I venture to smile.
She sweetly returns the gesture, and the love in it brought tears back into my eyes, and my vision grows hazy, until I cannot see her anymore.
'M...Mother...' I whisper. A lump suddenly catches in my throat, and I can't speak.
The young woman smiles pityingly, and suddenly, without any warning, embraces me. I go stiff with shock, and take a few moments to process what is happening. She feels warm, and envelopes me with her arms, holding my head against her shoulder. I cling to her, desperate for the love she so willingly bestows upon me.
Then, somehow, tears start streaming from my eyes. I can't think why. Maybe it's because of the hurt bleeding from the open wounds, or maybe it's the outpouring of pain wedged like an iron stake, driven into my heart by the very person who made them. Maybe it's because I've wanted someone to hug me since the day I was born.
Whatever the reason, I stand under the soft light of the streetlamp amidst the night, crying like a baby on my mother's shoulder.
She rubs my back gently, and whispers lovingly into my ear.
'You've been suffering so much pain, haven't you, sweetheart?' she murmurs. The word 'sweetheart' makes me choke back a sob.
'But everything is alright now,' she continues. 'You're safe. I'm going to take you back home with me. Would you like that?'
I nod. Anywhere with her. Absolutely anywhere.
'That's wonderful,' she smiles. 'We'll go back to the house, and I'll make you something nice and warm to fill you upoh, and I'll wrap you up in something cosy, you must be freezing in those clothes! Then we'll sit by the fire and talk about everything. We'll be together, and I'll make sure you'll never have to face that pain again. We'll be one happy family, just you and me. Forever.'
The emotion, the flooding gratitude, relief and love wash through my body, and it feels as if a huge weight has lifted from my soul. I feel as light as heaven.
But aren't I just the living remnant of the son she once had? Is she imagining his face over mine? Is this guilt? Pity?
I swallow and manage to stammer out the words.
'Wh...wh...why...are you doing this...for me...?'
The womanmy motherdraws back, and looks me straight in the eye. I see no delusion, no guilt, no pity, in those pure blue eyes.
'Because I love you,' she replies simply.
These beautiful words bring back the tears, and I cry all over again.
When I calm down, Mother wipes my eyes and links her arm with mine.
'Let's go!' she says cheerfully. I nod and smile. Together, we walk through the changing light and dark of the cobbled street of my human childhood, towards the house in the distance.
As we arriveI, bewildered at the old familiarity coursing through my bodyMother opens the door and bids me inside her home. It smells of cooking, spice and snug warmth. I wander in, and settle upon the soft crimson sofa by the glow of the fire in the hearth, and take in the subdued, comfortable surroundings. Warm chestnut wooden walls decorated with fine paintings of nature, the fireplace adorned with ivy, and scented candles flickering on the coffee table in front of my feet. The floor is covered with fine red carpeting a blessing to my sore bare feet. Everything is so warm, beautiful and perfect. I perk up as I hear Mother coming out of the next room on my leftthe kitchen presumablywith a tray, on which two steaming cream-coloured mugs sit. Smiling at me pleasantly, she places her load down onto the coffee table, and goes out again. I clasp one mug in both hands, and smile as the pleasant warmth seeps into my freezing palms. Curiously I inspect its contents, and I discover it to be hot chocolate.
As I cautiously sip my drink, Mother walks in with a snug-looking blanket, and promptly wraps me in it. I thank her, quite unable to believe everything is real.
She grins, amused by my bewilderment, and sits down beside me. Then the talk begins. Very solemn in-depth discussion of the past, my father, and my suffering. She winces and bites her lip in distress at my words, and I comfort her as she speaks sorrowfully of my father's descent into obsession and hatred.
Then, as we bury the dead past with our own hands, and feel content to look towards the bright future, our words become light-hearted, and we chat about idle, simple things that mean the world to both of us.
I wake. See darkness. A dream again. I knew it all along...but the wonderful beauty of this particular one tempted me to forget my subconscious knowledge of the reality doomed to rear its foul head. I dream of happiness. But must it always remain a dream?
I remember my mother's sweet expression as she told me she loved me.
I crumple up in my ugly, green, parasitic form, and mourn what could have been.
Homunculus/'A Day in the Eons'/End.