Wednesday, May 7, 2014

(Prose) - Dead Bird (Eye on the World 2011 Alumni Publication)

Dead bird

The boy hit the floor hard, the blood from his wounded foot leaving a faded maroon trial on the dull moist sand. Struggling to get up, the young boy grimaced from the cuts he had sustained. The lonely cries from unknown birds high above in the canopies created a sense of apprehension in his heart, and he struggled to slow his breathing down.
He’s coming.
The boy could hardly contain a cry of surprise as the leaves from a nearby bush rustled. Picking up a rock from the ground, he cautiously approached it, which was now as dead as any bush should be. The boy withdrew his bare foot instinctively even as he stepped on the rotting carcass of a deer. Unable to contain his fear any longer as the carcasses’ dead eyes stared back at him, the boy let out a long and piercing scream even as the beast burst forth from the bush, spewing acrid spit as it let out an overpowering roar. The boy turned to run, but it was too late. The beast grabbed the boy with his wide hands, dragging him back into the bush…before its head exploded in a cloud of bright yellow and orange.
The muscles on the body of the beast grew taut even as its berserk roar was cut short. The beheaded corpse landed heavily onto the leaf-covered forest floor, releasing the boy from its hands in the process. The boy gasped heavily for air and puked momentarily onto the forest floor, nonetheless happy to be free from the beast. The familiar clinks from metal chains caused him to look up and stare into the familiar face.
“It’s time to wake up, Nigel,” the rasp voice of the weathered man resounded through the now silent forest.
Nigel staggered as he picked himself up. Every bone in his body felt as though it had been broken from the unnatural grip of the now-dead beast.
“No,” he said through caked lips. “Not ‘till you tell me what’s happening here.”
The old man gave a dry chuckle. “That’s what they all say, that’s what they all say,”
The man leaned upon his rusty rifle even as the boy took a surveyed the environment around him. There was no wind, nor was there any birdsong. The chill in the air had ceased to be, and the boy felt unnaturally enclosed.
“This, my boy, is what they call the end of a dream. Usually, you would never ever reach the end of one, because you would either wake up or move directly into the next one…”
“Who are you trying to kid old man?” the boy gritted his teeth. “This isn’t the movie Inception you know!”
The man gave the boy a slightly puzzled look, but nonetheless shuffled across the forest floor to plop himself wearily onto a nearby tree stump. He took out a greasy cloth from his shirt pocket, and started to polish his rifle. Nigel, fed up by the lack of answers, decided to walk away. Turning to leave, he spied a distant circle of light beyond the forest of trees.
“I wouldn’t go there if I were you,” the man’s thundering voice nearly caused Nigel to jump. “It’s the DREPOL looking for you.”
Nigel turned back to the man. “The what?”
“DREPOL. Dream Police. The ones who regulate dream space.” The rifle had mysteriously vanished, and the man was now stroking a snoring penguin on his lap with the same grease-laden cloth, leaving black stains on its snow-white belly.
“You liar, that wasn’t what you told me the other time!” Nigel groaned, irritated. “You told me it was only a bunch of fireflies, if I could recall. Just hurry up and tell me what’s really happening here!”
“About what, my dear boy?” The penguin had vanished altogether, the man too was gradually shrinking in size, and soon he became a small girl. “Roses are red, violet are blue…”
“About this dr…dre…” Nigel stammered, uncertain.
“Go on, say it. It is a dream you know,” The girl stared at him with emotionless eyes as she hugged a teddy bear tightly. “If I can remember, you did admit it two nights ago, when we were here for the eighty-sixth time…”
Nigel raised an eyebrow in disbelief. The girl’s shoulders sagged in resignation, and she pranced lightly around Nigel in a little dance of her own. Nigel groaned again and sat down onto the cold forest floor, where white marble tiles had replaced the layers of brown leaves. He realised that thick black woollen shoes was now covering his initially bare legs, and his school uniform took the place of his pyjamas.
“You know,” spoke the young girl up suddenly. “You should just wake up now. You’ll probably be late for school if you keep staying here.”
Nigel winced involuntarily at this. He knew she was right; his plan to find answers was going to fail, just like all the other times he had been here. With that thought in mind, he woke up.
            The forest came to life again, and the birdsong returned. The little girl half-heartedly straightened the creases on her frilly white dress as she sat on the tree stump. Nearby, the body of the beast stirred.
“Is he gone yet?”
“Yes he is. Persistent one, this boy. I was nearly running out of ideas. I almost had the thought of turning into an ogre and snapping his neck.”
The beast gave a chuckle. “I wanted to crush him myself. I was only this close to doing it, this close.”
“Fie Beast, lest we be stricken of our jobs.” The girl said casually, ripping an arm off her stuffed toy. “We need to move on to the next dreamer.”
“Ah, fine. But don’t blow my head up again; I hate it when you do that.” Picking the girl up with his powerful hands, the jarring combination slipped into the thick growth of trees.

Side-note: This subsequently became an prequel for a story idea! If I actually do go around writing it, that is. :P

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