Not dark as in pitch.
But enough that even in the middle of the day, the ceiling which was not very high, seemed to be more akin the night sky.
There was a single window in the room, if it could even count to be called one; but compared to the size of the room itself, it was more accurate to say the window was more like a crack that had widened overtime—a useless, high off place 7 feet above the floor. The shape was rhombic, with two bars stuck in between the edges of the sill, creating a cross-like shape. The bars that covered the windowsill were rusted and worn, mildew covering the iron while dirt and grime coated the stone. The room itself was stony, with little in the way of area to move in; the walls practically padded by smooth but bulging pieces stone that poked and prodded. Chains hung from the walls screwed in place; two at mid-height on the wall, two at floor level.
A fifth, longer one was extended all the way to the floor and dragging.
It was connected to something.
A figure lay on the floor of the room, now clearly identifiable as a single-room cell. The figure was small, and thin, and covered in rags. A single cloth sheet covered them, but like everything else, it was filthy and worn, with holes from stretching and tears from age. A small hand partially stretched out of the sheet; the fingers were thin, and scabbed.
The sound of the wind whooshing past the window was like a sad song that reverberated within the small space. It was a long and hollow sound, sad and lonely.
The mass under the sheets rustled again, lifting up off the ground, sitting upright as the figure placed their back against the wall. Their head then popped out of the sheet, revealing the face of a little boy, cheeks sunk and eyes near hollowed out. His skin was dark, but time spent in the cell devoid of proper light had given his dark skin a parlor of sickness. His hair was matted from dirt and sweat, and his lips were chapped and cracked.
He was young, far too young, and he was a prisoner.
He blinked; pupils dilated from headaches and migraines and looked up at the window.
His irises were large, having long since become accustomed to the lack of light in the tiny space, and exhaled, creating a small puff of steam that escaped his lips. He watched as the steam floated upward towards the ceiling before dissipating completely.
It was cold.
He was cold. Yet at the same time, he wasn’t.
Teeth quietly chattering behind his closed lips, he tugged on the sheet, trying his best to keep warm. He hugs his knees close to his chest, and rest his head on sideways on his knees, eyes glossy and tired.
He doesn’t remember how he came to be in the cell, he doesn’t remember where he’s from or who he even he was.
All he knows is this cell, all he knows is the darkness, and the unreachable window filled with light.
A low grumble escapes his stomach even through the thin padding of the sheet that covers him.
When was the last time he’s eaten?
He can’t say, nor can he place the kind of food he did eat even if he did.
For how long has he been living in the cell?
He can’t say, nor could he even begin to recall the number of days he’s spent hunched in the same position, wondering about life beyond the cage of these four walls.
Will he ever leave?
He can’t say, nor would he ever think about the possibility to leave. The idea not implausible, no, but simply unrealistic given the time that has gone by.
He blinks, and again looks up at the window, the light is white, but the air is cold. He opens his mouth, his voice cracked from parchment and speaks, soft and melodic even for his young age. The language he utters is indecipherable but he understands it.
He speaks it, incredibly fluently.
“Kari phas n’ygukt vraqis?” (Am I, going to die?)
Silence. That is the answer the room gives.
He sighs, smiling despite wincing through the pain.
“Ikyut vraqis-at padek.” (It looks like I am… going to die.)
He exhales softly, blinking with eyes heavy. He’s exhausted, and lies down on the cold, hard floor. Moving to the stretch out in an attempt to lessen the aches in his muscles, he laid his head on a tuft of rags, a makeshift pillow, and as he settled in, his drowsiness washed over him, lulling the child into the waiting embrace of sleep.
He closed his eyes, and quietly slept as the wind sang a low, hollow note or dirge that echoed in his mind of times he could not place.
The sound of wind rustling through the trees, scooping up leaves and dancing around him. The wind is warm to the touch, but as cool and inviting.
The sun is high in the sky, and the sky is clear and cloudless.
The child blinks, lifting his hand to shade himself from the rays of sun, his efforts rather lazy and whimsical, as the branches of willow are just effective, but he does nonetheless; part curiosity, part inquisitive. His skin is brown, like melted cocoa beans, yet in the sun, shines with opaque transparency, allowing him to see his bones, veins, and vessels. Not for the first time does he wonder why he is able to see his body in such a way, but not for the first time does he wonder if others can see like him, what would they do?
What could they do?
If they were like him?
"Un’gyat J’yra?" (Still staring into space?)
A voice asks. It’s young, but carries a depth denoting its growing age.
He blinks again, before turning his head sideways. He knows where the voice is coming from, and a calm but expectant smile graces his lips.
He sits up, the large branch he’s on, wide enough that he sits up like riding an animal, his hands in front of him. His movements are graceful, calm, but innocent. He blinks again, and beholds a massive forest, stretching for miles in all directions, surrounded by mountains, with streams and rivers carving pleasant lines throughout.
It’s beautiful, and peaceful.
It’s reminiscient and beckoning.
"Oi! Ban’gyaktdo dang’ut!" (Hey! Come down here!)
The voice below is standing tall and firm, his playfulness and eager expectancy evident. The voice’s face is shrouded by fog, but his lips are not. They smile, an honest loving smile.
“Come down my love”, the lips read. The voices arms are stretched out, his smile honest and wholesome. The voice beckons, happiness radiating from every pore of skin.
His hairs are standing on end.
Afraid. He’s afraid.
He blinks, unsure of what to do, he can’t move, his limbs and muscle are frozen in place.
“Come down”, the voice says again, the happiness still there, but there’s something else, laced in the subtle changes of tone too evident to hide.
The voice is getting angry.
He looks at his hands. They’re trembling.
He doesn’t know why, but he knowns that something is wrong, something is terribly wrong.
He tries to move again, but his body is like stone and will not budge.
The sun is getting lower now, the afternoon giving to the sudden glare of evening.
Night is coming, and still he’s sitting there. He’s trapped, and cannot leave.
“Come down, now.”
The voice again. There is no happiness, nor joy, in the voice. But a cold, merciless anger that speaks. Each word stabbing and slicing like sharpness of a sword. The voice is angry, and its demanding nature is becoming more and more evident.
Faint but noticeable, wafts in the air.
Its dry, and chaffing, hard and stifling.
He closes his eyes for a moment, his hands covering his face as he desperately tries to regain his composure, to regain his sense of rational thought. It’s not working. It’s too late. The smell of smoke is getting stronger, strong enough that his face are useless to stop it. The scent is too overpowering now to protect from. He chokes, unable to clear the ashy clouds from his lungs, choking his esophagus and watering his eyes. He uncovers his face to behold a terrifying sight.
The forest around him is burning.
Trees are snapping and breaking, while the screams of animals and insects are everywhere.
The forest is ablaze all around him, a sea of flame stretching as far as the great forest itself. But that’s not the worst part.
Not at all.
Blood, blood is dripping from the burning trees.
Steaming, foaming, churning, it’s everywhere. It’s on the ground pooling and gushing around the roots, bubbling up in creeks, flowing like streams.
Blood and fire, painting and maiming all around him.
Its everywhere he sees. Its everywhere he hears.
“Come down, now.”
The voice speaks, no longer hollow, but abrasive and forceful. There is no pretense of care or civility, only malice and vehemence. The voice wants him, and it wants him now.
He trembles, unable to respond, but there’s only thing on his mind.
He turns to the trunk and without thinking, instinctively reaches for the wood to pick himself up.
It was a grave mistake.
Before he can even react, a sound like metal whips across the air ascending from the ground. He dodges, narrowly missing the edge of sound as it races passed where he originally was. The shunk, that follows quickly evolves into the crunching, snapping echo, as the sudden jolt of disproportionate weight causes him to slide against the edge of the limb. He looks down and notices with horror.
The branch’s been sliced open and the weight of the tree limb is buckling.
It’s going to fall.
Just then with a groan, the large tree limb caves into to its own weight and leans forward plunging down to the ground. He has little time to grasp the situation before the sudden rush of air and weightlessness lift his up into the night sky.
The world winks as scenes of death, of fire, of blood engulf his vision.
His own voice is muted, he can’t speak, his tears falling upward as he is dragged downward to the ground. He sees only one sight that terrifies him.
They read only color, but read many emotions.
Cascading, invading, unequivocating.