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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Is there even a Savior?Bookmark here

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

My words are fading from thought again...Bookmark here

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

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But something is amiss. A click.Bookmark here

A tap, followed by a step, and scrape.Bookmark here

It inches closer to the heap of empty life.Bookmark here

It's drawing nearer. Bookmark here

There is life still...Bookmark here

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

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.Bookmark here

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

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.Bookmark here

If I had the energy, I'd hurl.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

The click, step, and slide continue.Bookmark here

Ticking, the clock that stopped for all of them.Bookmark here

Why does it tick on for me?Bookmark here

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

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.Bookmark here

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?Bookmark here

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

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

The clock stutters.Bookmark here

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

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

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

I push out what air I can.Bookmark here

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

I can't get the words to come.Bookmark here

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

"Here," I somehow verbalize.Bookmark here

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

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

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

It pulls and drags at my body beneath the corpses.Bookmark here

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

It pulls harder-Bookmark here



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.Bookmark here

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

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

IT HURTS SO BAD.Bookmark here

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...Bookmark here

I feel warm                                          nothing                                                deathBookmark here

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Air.Bookmark here

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

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

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

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

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

All I know to do is beg.Bookmark here

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

Cutting off my worry, he speaks.Bookmark here

"Can you stand?" The man questions down.Bookmark here

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

"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."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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

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

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

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

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

In white.Bookmark here

I begin to sob uncontrollably at its presence.Bookmark here

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

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

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

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

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

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

"STOP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" I plea through the nightmarish pain.
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With assured eyes he looks to me.Bookmark here

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

"Please step outside, bear with me."
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Shakier than before, I stand with the crutch, slinking through the double doors, out into the Training Hall courtyard.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

It's all overwhelming.Bookmark here

I look to the sky of blue... Bookmark here

of BLUE...Bookmark here

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

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

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