Chapter 27:

Needle in a Haystack - Stage 2: Begin

Setting Sun Story: Beta


I've lost consciousness more times than I can count. Each time I return, I grow weaker, seeing only a dull and blurry red. The scent of death has permeated for so long now; I seem to have become accustomed to it, and how it burns my sinuses.

Under the crushing weight above me, I can't even cough up the blood that drowns me. My legs are asleep, and an endless pain pulses out from my spine.

All I can do is wait. Wait for my heart to give up. For my organs to fail. For the warmth of God, or whatever deity could be so cruel as to do this to us.

Is there even a Savior?

Please pull me up. Save me, I beg of you.

My words are fading from thought again...

I can feel every ounce of my body warming up. This is the end. I pray.


But something is amiss. A click.

A tap, followed by a step, and scrape.

It inches closer to the heap of empty life.

It's drawing nearer. 

There is life still...

Under immense pressure, I move my shoulder. Rustling with shallow breaths to free my hand from the rest of the mass.

It clears from under a chunk of beaten metal, and as burning fear takes hold of me, and sharp, dagger-like pains shoot through my forearm, I press on.

I fold my fingers past an arm, grabbing hold of a flat edge I can only assume is a collar.

With another nudge, I feel the length of a chest, rounding the edge of a chin, pushing finally into a gooey substance, my middle finger diving into a rubbery pit.

If I had the energy, I'd hurl.

As my forearm finds leverage, lifting slightly, I see my hand, pressed against the pitch-dark face of Mikael; my finger deep in his eye socket, some unknown fluid leaking through the cracks of my finger to my palm.

The click, step, and slide continue.

Ticking, the clock that stopped for all of them.

Why does it tick on for me?

Gently pulling away from his tortured expression, I usher a silent apology through dried weeping, and continue on.

Twisting my torso to lengthen my arm further, the weight of their bodies pressing heavily on my side, I reach out beyond more stiff shapes, still warm after all of these hours.

Why didn't they just burn us like the rest? Dear Savior, what lesson is there in a trial as this? Why do I carry on?

Soon, I begin to see it. A red light, only a sliver, as I push aside the frozen leg of another.

Is it the blood crusted on my eyes, or does something look different?

The clock stutters.

With the sound of a stumble, and the fast call of a frog's croak, it stops.

"Is- is someone alive in there?!" Calls a panicked voice.

My lungs are too pressed to respond, but my jaw quivers, repeatedly smacking my chin against the top of a head beneath me.

I push out what air I can.

"He- he... hu, haa..." I whisper.

I can't get the words to come.

The tips of my fingers press against the hint of light.

"Here," I somehow verbalize.

Something falls to the ground outside as I feel something shift in the mass grave of my old friends.

Light begins to enlarge at the exit, as it drives in toward me, sloshing and twisting everything around me as it grabs my wrist.

What an ungodly feeling. What a terrible being this is.

It pulls and drags at my body beneath the corpses.

The pains multiply as I begin to move, like every bone in my body is crushed.

It pulls harder-

IT HURTS IT HURTS IT HURTS IT HURTS IT HURTS MAKE IT STOP IM BEGGING PLEASE JUST LEAVE ME.

MY FACE IS CAUGHT ON SOMETHING MY NECK IS STUCK ON SOMEONE'S ARM SAVIOR MAKE IT STOP-

I twist and twist as it pulls, bringing my stomach up, or at least what I think is up... freeing myself from the vines of their entangled selves.

My left arm is completely helpless. It hurts there the most.

Wet, long hair slides against my face as I progress further.

IT HURTS SO BAD.

As I slither past the dead muscles and bones, the pain becomes too much to bear, and as my breaths hasten again, I see white...

I feel warm                                          nothing                                                death



Air.

Unencumbered, I draw in the sweetest, most heavenly sensation I've ever encountered. 

I can feel. Air, the stone floor, the blood coating my body, it's all separated. Everything stings, but it's all there.

My right eye opens, and standing above is a man, heavily injured, with dark, dark hair.

I'm not sure what to say first. If this man is even friend or foe.

"Pl-ease... don't kill me," I beg.

All I know to do is beg.

Looking to my left, I find my arm, straightened and jagged at a terrifying position.

Cutting off my worry, he speaks.

"Can you stand?" The man questions down.

His uniform is black and... red? I can't discern between the light and color anymore.

"Here," he follows, limping to a strange curved sheath that lay on the ground beside him, and kicking it to me. "Try to use that as a crutch, see if you can't get up."

I slide my right arm beneath my chest. My muscles hurt so bad. Pushing up with my elbow, I lean up slightly, voice quaking all the while.

With air in my lungs, my thoughts become a little clearer.

"Is it over?" I ask, pushing once more to a seated position, eyes trained on the pile of people.

I bring my arm to my lap. An action that almost knocks me out.

A clean handkerchief falls over me, and using it to wipe my face, I am brought to a sight like none other.

"Yes, we drove them back before the dawn," he announces, with some relieved pride.

The man, clearly a member of Special Tasks, is looking out the window behind us. Morning light draws in through the glass and door wide open.

In white.

I begin to sob uncontrollably at its presence.

"Get up, and go see for yourself," he orders with superiority.

I let my arm dangle, taking up his blade's sheath in my right hand, slowly moving toward the incandescent light.

As I step away, a red color bursts to life from the man's hand. 

Art, hanging on the air like some kind of magic.

Uttering a prayer, he strikes his hand through it, setting ablaze my unit.

I turn as fast as I can, losing my balance and dropping to the messy floor; my broken arm smashing against the ground.

"STOP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" I plea through the nightmarish pain.

With assured eyes he looks to me.

"Their bodies are already given to the Savior, there's nothing more left for them here," he replies, coldly.

"Please step outside, bear with me."

Shakier than before, I stand with the crutch, slinking through the double doors, out into the Training Hall courtyard.

All is destroyed; bodies dressed in white lie in the road beside Baustians. The white stone of my world however, is bathed in an indescribable clarity.

It's all overwhelming.

I look to the sky of blue... 

of BLUE...

Dropping the sheath and putting a dirtied hand to my dirtied mouth, I become lost entirely.

Adam, please be alive. I owe more apologies than one lifetime can grant.