The Broken World – Awakening
The cold water raked across his bare flesh like a lover’s fingernails, drawing shaking breath from tired lungs. His eyes blinked back tears as he curled into himself, the muck and shattered masonry below him seething against his skin. He opened his eyes, kept them open, shuddered as lightning split the skies and thunder shook the earth, the breath of some forgotten god.
He did not know himself, did not know where he was or how he had gotten there. The scent of wet red earth and burning ozone filled his lungs as he pressed his palms against the ground, pushing himself up with a howl. His muscles ached, his body ached, and he cried out as a bit of masonry sliced his open hand.
Blood fell from the wound. He clutched his hand, cradled the limb until the pain began to fade. Hissing, he exposed his hand to the rain, staring at his palm as he waited for a flash of lightning to illuminate how badly he’d been hurt.
The light lasted only a moment, but it was long enough for him to see his skin stitching itself back together. When the next flash of lightning hit there was no wound at all, and the rain had washed his hand clean of blood.
Water gathered in the hole he had left in the earth when he had pressed himself up, the shivering pool falling still as he protected it with his body. He heaved, sighed, tried to bring his breathing under control, tried not to stare at the back of his hand.
Eight breaths in through the nose, he thought, closing his eyes. Hold two seconds. Ten out through the mouth. Hold two seconds. Eight breaths in through the nose…
He repeated the process, feeling himself calmer, wondering how he knew to do this thing. He opened his eyes and stared at himself in the water, sharp cheekbones and sharper eyes, a statue brought to life. He fumbled for the broken stone that had cut him, hoping it would offer some clue of who he was or how he had gotten here.
Marble, he thought, though he did not know where the marble had come from. Hollowed marble…? There were other shattered pieces all around him, a broken puzzle that offered no answers. He crawled towards the statue’s base but it offered no new information to his eyes.
Thunder boomed again and he put his hand against the stone to push himself up. As he did so, he felt a slight indentation in the weathered base.
Letters, he realized. Worn into invisibility by age.
The rain pelted him through the canopy of the towering trees above him, but he saw no place to hide, had no place he could think of to run to. He traced the letters with his fingers, careful, careful, fingertips going numb from cold by the time he finished tracing the path set before him.
Avaescent, he thought, putting the letters together.
“Avaescent,” he said, tasting the word.
It felt like a name, one that he could use until he discovered who he had been and what had happened to him. Standing, he did not jump when lightning cast the world into hues and thunder deafened him. There were no footprints in the tall grasses, no sign of what direction he might have come from. Thus, he did not know which way to move but knew movement was better than stillness.
He looked down at the base, figured out which way the statue had been facing, looked in that direction.
Leaves danced under the weeping rain, branches shaking in the wind. He stood tall, letting the water run down his body in tiny rivers, tracing lean muscle and steaming skin, and took one step in that direction, then another, another.
Somewhere in this world waited the answers he craved. He would find them and nothing would stop him.
Alright, new story time. This is the first part of Avaescent and the Broken World, which will update every Tuesday and Wednesday until the story ends. The cover art comes from Pixabay, and you can find it and other art like it by clicking here. You can read the first part by clicking here, the previous part by clicking here, or the next part by clicking here. Good reading, and if you like it leave a comment or spread it around. Writer likes readers and comments.