• Beautiful Desolation
    Written by: General Nameless 11/2/08

    The year is, or was, at the very least, 1609. I stood in front of the royal fleet's best and most renowned ship, the Maritime. I was to be exiled to a land, an isle, I believe it was, far overseas. How did I happen to recieve this misfortune, you ask? Gather round, and let me tell you how it all happened.

    At one time or another, it no longer matters, where I currently am, I was part of the British Aristocracy. Not anyone who was of major import, but I had some pull in certain matters, to say the least. Anyway, that part of the story is short, so here it is. I had appropriated some large part of some royal possessions, and, as you might say, the ball was dropped on me. I was apprehended, put through trial, and even though I was the only one actually linked to the crime, I managed to keep my neck from the gallows. I had to use one or two of my connections and they were able to spare my life, at the small price of my being exiled.

    But that is not what this story is about, though it is the very reason for the strange tale. After I boarded the ship, I suddenly was overwhelmed with a very queer feeling that something was going to go horribly wrong, though at the time, I ignored it. I was shown to my quarters, not the dungeon, because I was not a violent prisoner, and I prepared for the two week voyage. The Syndic, which was another name for the king's greatest adviser, called me out of my chamber. He told me he was sorry that all this had happened, but he did not wish to go down in history as a link to the crime. I punched him in the mouth and he left with a hurt expression on his face. I went back in my cabin and laid on my bed until it was time to sup.

    Three days before our scheduled stop, a horrible storm brewed up out of nowhere. The captain and I had become good friends by this time. He would tell me some of the oddest stories I had ever heard. Like one time when he and his men were at sail, they saw a trio of gigantic tentacles raised up in the air. He said the suckers on each were as big around as a man's torso and the spikes as long as a man's arm. Well, they slapped down on the sea so hard, it had almost scuttled his ship. He told me of a nother time when they had seen three beautiful maidens sitting halfway in the water, trying to get some of his crew to come down. One poor soul had been unfortunate enough to jump overboard, and he no sooner hit the water as the women's faces transformed. They had flipped underwater, showing a fishes tail and pulled him down, never to be seen again.

    But I digress, back to the storm.

    The captain told me that he had seen all manner of storms, but never one such as what was overhead. On the outer edge, everything was grey, but as you got closer to the center, it went through the colour spectrum like some dark, rich, bruised rainbow. It was almost as if the clouds gleamed like they were made of some strange metal. At first, everything was so calm, you could have heard a needle falling into the ocean at fifty yards, at least. After a few minutes that seemed like years to me, the wind picked up something fierce. A dark, forbidding light shone down from the epicenter of the storm, almost as if to say, "You should not be here, I banish you for eternity to this unholy storm." Someone on the aft of the ship yelled out for us to look at the water, and I almost wish I hadn't. The water was bubbling, as if it were boiling, but only directly around the ship; and some sort of liquid started falling from the bleak sky above us, only when it hit, it started hissing. The first drop that hit my face hurt, like it were trying to burrow through my skin and skull. There was much screaming from everyone on board as it continued raining and even eating through the ship herself.

    I awoke, an indeterminable amount of time later, on a beach of black sands, the land ahead was as red as blood, with snatches of green peeking out, hither and thither. The only other person I have ever seen since that fateful day I saw, farther inland than I. When I first saw the body lying on the ground, I thought her dead, and I didn't remember seeing a woman on the ship. I went to her, and that was when I first discovered that she was a woman. I shook her gently, at first, but when she didn't wake, I shook harder. She still did not wake, so I rattled her good, but to no avail, so I then slapped her as hard as my shocked muscles could muster, and she bolted upright, just barely missing my nose with her forehead. She no sooner saw me than he started screaming, and I, fearing repercussion from any who might issue forth and misconstrue the situation, moved back about five feet. After a few moments, the screaming had abated and she looked around, apparently amazed at the new and unusual landscape.

    When she realized that nobody was going to come to her aid, she visibly started to panic. I waited a few seconds before I spoke to her in as calming a tone as I could manage, considering the circumstances. I told her my name and what I remembered, omitting the freak storm from my weaving. She said that she had stowed away on the ship that was to bring me to exile. As I have said before, I did not remember a woman on the ship, so this was a bit of a shock, though it was quickly warded off in light of what was going on. I started looking around this queer beach when I heard a soft thud. I whirled my head round and saw the woman lying on her side in the sand. Before I helped her, I looked around some more, trying to get oriented. Beyond this beach, there was desert as far as the eye could see, the desert was the same colour as the land that was just beyond this beach. Though it was a desert, void of any vegetation save endurance-oriented roughage; it did not seem to be any hotter than London or Winchester, and the sun was dead even in the sky at the time.

    I stood and walked over to the woman's front, knelt down and picked her up, walking forward into the bleakly desolate land. After almost half a day that seemed like years, the woman finally started entering the waking world, so I set her in the sand as gently as I possibly could and backed away. There was no screaming fit this time, although you could see the wild, panicky beast just behind her eyes. She asked if she had my name correct, which she did, and I waited for the beast to be beaten back into its cage before I asked hers. In between that time, the silence changed erratically from comfortable to uncomfortable. When I finally had asked the question, she looked at me, as if confused, or as if she had already given it and I was simply mad. But she decided to tell me, regardless of any beforehand situation, and it was as if the simple telling of her name had loosed a giant weight from her shoulders. Then she asked me why we were here, and I told her that I knew not, and yet, for some odd reason, I had an inkling of an idea; though I would never admit to any other living soul. This did not upset her, I believe that the initial shock was over and she was beginning to accept the devastation of her life.

    After some days of traveling, we noticed some things that were amiss. First and second was that neither of us had grown hungry or tired. The third is a trifle harder to explain. In the middle of this desert that seemed to stretch to eternity, was a sea. Though it was nothing more than glorified lake, it was still very large, seemingly unfathomably deep, and it was blood red. We could not see the shore on the other side, and there was no shore on any side, as it turned out. The only reason we could tell it apart from the desert was because there was no green in it. After some deliberation, we decided to take an altered course, and try to go around this sea of red. I began to look around to see if the red sea would ever stop or just continue on forever, when I noticed something peculiar. Even though we were walking on sand, and it would shift under our weight, we were not leaving any tracks. I brought this up to my traveling companion, but she said nothing.

    As the sun began its descent, and day gave way to dusk, the sky was illuminated by something like the Corona Borealis; something I can only describe as a false light. I stared up at the now glowing blanket of our Earth with awe for approximately ten minutes. All the sudden, rain fell from a cloudless, glowing sky, as if the angels in Heaven were crying their holy tears; and I found myself paralyzed as I gazed on in silent admiration of this beauty I was beholding. As the back lit sky gave way to black velvet cloth that was as dark as pitch, the darkness seemed to be collapsing and crushing me; though I was aware that I was still standing there, looking up at that midnight sky. I remember, vaguely, that this must be how a fly must feel when it was swatted. And then I thought, "So this is life under the swatter."

    When I woke up, I was alone, though I knew none of it was a dream. The girl was gone, I never saw her again. When I had woken up, I was lying on my stomach with my face turned to the side. I knew, somehow, that I was on the other side of that seemingly endless red sea, though how I got there I would never know. As I have said, I have no idea of the year that you are hearing this in, but I have been walking this same, lonely desert for several hundred lifetimes, yet have not died once. I believe that I am already dead . . .