Tratane: The Beginning

January 31, 2008
By Erekose Craft, Fayetteville, GA

Trees sway in the night’s wind as I tread down the sidewalk. Their shadows dance in the light of the street lamps, and my mind follows suit. My mind dances from one thought to another: from my childhood to recent events.

The shadows form themselves, in my eyes, as different scenes from my memories. I see a picture of myself as a child sitting on a park bench with my dad, and it changes form to appear as me sitting alone in my room recently. I glimpse a picture of me as a child practicing swordsmanship with my dad, which morphs into my recent gang bust alongside the police.

My eyes divert from the ground to a shadowy figure underneath the next lamppost. The sight is like something from a horror movie; there is a light fog just above the ground with the night-stricken park serving as the backdrop. I wonder why he is just standing there. I am two... three lampposts away from him, I must prepare for anything. As I pass him I get a better glimpse of him; he is a tall, black-haired Caucasian man. His face is hidden behind the high collar of his black trench coat and his long hair. I get twenty feet away from him, and decide that he means me no harm. I let my mind wander once more as I stare into the shadows, but it continuously returns to that man. Why was he standing there? What purpose has he at this time of night?

Suddenly, the lamps around me cut off. I glance at my watch; it is only 1 A.M, they shouldn’t be cutting off the lamps yet. I hear running in the distance coming from the direction of the black figure. I spin around and quickly slash out the blade on my hip to meet another. In the sparks from the collision, I glimpse the figure’s battle-scarred face. I recognize him from my most recent gang bust.

I was working with the police for once to stop a gang that continuously disturbed my neighborhood. We were going to ambush them and knock them out with tear gas, but things had gotten out of control. As we approached their meeting place, they jumped down from the roof tops around us, and reversed the ambush. We were surrounded in a small alleyway, so using the tear gas then was not an option. They brought out all kinds of blades and attacked us, so in self-defense we brought out our weapons. The police had their guns while I had my sword. We slaughtered the whole gang, while they had killed about sixty percent of us. In the crimson-stained moonlight, I noticed a shadow. I followed it to the rooftop behind us, and on top of it stood one last gang member whose moon-lit grimace still intimidates me. He walked away after a minute, and I scaled the building after him. Even though the building was taller than any other in the area, he had completely vanished from sight.

I shove the gang member’s blade away. He must be looking to avenge his gang. He rushes in again just to have me block the blade as before, but this time, he raises his foot and strikes out, knocking me temporarily off balance. I barely have enough time to block his next attack after regaining balance. He shoves me back, and continues to chase my blade to the street corner. I can not tell where he is coming from; if it were not for the sparks of our battle, I would not even be able to guess his direction. As we reach the street corner, I stumble down from the curb and feel the wind from his blade as it passes over my head. His temporary loss of coordination from this unexpected evasion gives me the perfect opportunity. I strike out my blade, slicing horizontally so as to make contact, and feel my blade rip skin and muscle. I hear him scream, and then a bright crimson flash emits from the marriage of blade and flesh, consuming everything around us. The gang member’s limp body is consumed by the light, leaving me alone with my blade.

The light finally fades into the darkness of night after a few seconds. I shiver. This darkness has some horrific quality about it; it feels different, somehow, from the shadows of night I am used to. My eyes adjust, finally, to this new darkness, and I see beings moving about me. Their form appears demonic, and their presence is intimidating. One spots me standing nearby, and lets out a growl. The others see me, and begin doing the same. I flinch as they pounce towards me. Behind my eye lids, I see a sudden flash of light, and as I open my eyes, I am suddenly in a bright, peaceful meadow.

Where am I? How did I get here?

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