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Night of the Faun
Author's note: This piece was inspire through the music of Claude Debussy. His celestial works of classical impressionist music aided and engendered assiduous working with a creative mindset.
It was as if life was perfect, all problems pervious to its surface. The weather was always nice, the tea always pristine, and the food always delicious. I remember thinking nothing beyond that. Perfection, it was, but nothing’s perfect. It must have come to me from a dream. The greenery was so green and lush, and the flowers deeper than my deepest blush. I touched water pure enough hardly to be seen, and air so clean that it blows in a hush. But the sky was pale and sad. Not unlike that which my frail home had, but this had a tint of blue which didn’t make me mad. Quite the contrary, in fact, but my autonomous thoughts were not intact. No, this land I loved was not of my own mind, but of another’s. ‘Twas a creature with many brothers. I retched at its features, so nice compared to the others; the horns of a goat, a chest like a boat, and body that could float. My hands bled as I touched its course, black coat. The face of a man’s, a variation throughout the lands. I remember the sounds so vividly; the clang of his pans as it prepared me its oat, the sound of its voice as he told me of its moat, and the patter of its hooves as it tried to stay afloat. Its cries for help did not faze me, although its misery was all that I could see. But a monster it would always be, the faun that spent the evening with me.
The cries and screams turned to mine, but I was not screaming. Perhaps this was the first sign. I thought. The faun splashing in the water vanished into nothingness, and the water floated up into the pale sky which soon became the ground as I found my feet twirling to meet it. But once it did, I sank, unable to swim my way back to the surface. The liquid in which I swam wasn’t really a liquid at all. Black air, it was, desperately trying to force its way through the surface of the land, devoid of imperfections. Soon the surface could not hold. The force began to crack the barrier, which from the inside I thought was impervious. Could this black air be all of the problems which this land was so eminently lacking? My wonders were short-lived as the surface broke and the air flowed in, my head close behind. However it was not the land I entered. 'Twas my own bed. I was back in my world. My room. . . My fears were confirmed, it was a dream. I was dreaming the whole time, but why should that mean it wasn’t real? The faun, his oats, his black fur coat, and his horns so closely resembling a goat’s, they still lingered so vividly in my memory. It was the most real a dream has ever been. I looked at my hand, desperately checking for the cuts; the only sign of the land's reality, but as I expected, they were not. Unexplained tears formed in my eyes and cascaded down my cheeks, but why? While I was with the faun, my greatest desire was to return home, but at home my greatest desire was to be back in the land, devoid of imperfection.
Adelaide’s windows flung open, letting in a terribly cold draft as her small feet touched the flagged, moonlit floor. A chill ran down her spine, and she knew something wasn’t right. Cr-e-e-k. . . Cr-e-e-k. . . She span on her heels at the sound of footsteps to see a silhouette, blackened out by the moonlight. Its aura was evil and cold. Malignancy and the rank smell of death spilled from its every breath, but what was it? More importantly, how could it have gotten in? I was too scared to think just then, but nothing frightened me more than its figure. It was clearly inhuman, but that was a lot of things in this world. I could feel my heart in my throat as the creature's disfigured appearance reminded me of death. It was evil in tangible form.
“State your name and business, sir!” I said, more loudly than anticipated. Keeping my voice steady was task enough for me. But moments after, I realized that I had addressed it like a man. Why did I assume that it could even speak? But speak it did.
“I have no name,” it whispered, almost inaudibly. “I have no business,” the fetid stench of its breath closing in on me. “I am no sir.”
“Then just what are you?” I screamed. It did not answer, nor did it acknowledge my question. “How did you get in here?”
“Through the window,” it said, lifting its large hairy arm and pointing at the open window, his claws gleaming in the light.
“I saw no one enter in through the window. . . The wind blew it open!” I said in disbelief.
“No, child, there is no wind tonight. I entered, but I did not wish to reveal myself. Only in startling reaction do the contents of one’s heart truly show. And only upon my departure shall the wind truly blow, for I can taste the fear in you, so eager to flow. No, this was but a test to show your nature, your heart. You are strong for one so young, and I am now confident that you will play your part. Farewell, young human. And close your window, for the draft shall soon start.” With that, he vanished into dust and blew out of the window in a gust of wind.
The wind was powerful, but I pushed forward to the window. Secured my hands on the window knobs, I began forcing the window back. SLAP. . . The window shut harder than I had intended, but in seconds I could hear the strong gust cascading across my closed window. Finally the beast of that night had escaped me, I was safe. But what if he returned to haunt me? Would I be as lucky as last time? In truth, I was scared for my mortality, and fear of such things should not be present in the minds of young girls, says my mother often. However, she only said things like that because she didn't believe me. She dismissed my night terrors as youthful bad dreams. And perhaps they were, but what I witnessed last night was no dream. . . I was sure of that, and in the spot in which the beast stood, as did a single black hair. This was the proof it left me, perhaps deliberately, to tell me I was not insane. It was proof enough for me, and me alone, but not enough for mother. That was the intention of the beast. Only to me, does it wish to reveal itself.
"A test to show my nature, my heart. . ." I muttered. Remembering what the beast had said on a whim of interest. What it meant, I had no clue. What kind of test would the world of demons and gods wish to impress upon me? I had no place in there affairs. Me, the self same human girl, who's mortal clock ticked but yesterday. Ah, but what of the rest of his words, I thought. "Confident I will play my part?" I questioned, a little louder than before, the morning beginning to gleam on the horizon. That was just has curious as the last words. What part must I play? I wondered, flustered with possibilities. I gasped, and retired back to my bed. Perhaps I would be able to steal some rest before I had to get ready for the day. However, right when my head hit the pillow, I heard more ruffling. It was not unlike that of the demon. CR-ee-Cr-EeE. . . It went. Closer and closer the sound came, but I saw nothing. My heart was in my throat, beating away like hammers. I almost couldn't breathe. The beast had come back for me, and my courage had left me.
At the last creek of the flags, the movement stopped. And with the stop of its movement, came the stop of my breathing. The moment seemed like ages, as if all time froze with the presence of this hellish creature. What would I do? But at the last second of the last perceived moment, the door flung open unexpectedly, and the coldness left my body.
"Adelaide, le petit dejeuner est pret!" Said mother, looking me perplexedly. She didn't speak much English, so I had to be her translator. She said to me that breakfast was ready.
"Mama!" I yelled, elated to see her instead of a demon. I jumped off my bed and ran to hug her.
"Vhat is zis, Adelaide?" she asked, embracing me lightly. "Bad dream?"
I shook my head. "Pas, mama."I said. "It was real! Look!" I ran over to get the strand of hair the demon had left for me, but it was gone, vanished. In the spot where i had left it a message was left in some strange, symbolic writing. I stared at them for a while screaming, "It's gone, It's gone! The hair is gone! It was right here and------" I was stunned. Something was happening to the symbols, carved into my dresser. . . They burned red, and began to slither and reform themselves into English. "Only you, Adelaide," it read. It meant that the world of the Faun demons and the gods was not to be known to the rest of human kind. In other words, only I was to know of this. I was alone in this world of inscrutable evil and fear.
Tears began to cascade down my cheeks, and I turned away so that mama wouldn't see. She would baby me, and carry me around all day as if i couldn't walk. I'd just turned thirteen but yesterday, taken, yet, another step into adolescence, and knew English well enough to translate my mother to anyone. I wasn't a little girl anymore, i realized, but mama was afraid that one day she would realize that, too.
"Adelaide, cheri!"She cried to me. . . she had seen me. She rushed over to my side and lifted me off my feet, a more difficult task than when i was seven, but she managed. She picked me up and sat down on my bed, patting my back and looking out the window into the bleak sky.
"Il est okay, Adelaide," she comforted me. "I am here. Shh shhh, baby.
I merely hugged harder and sobbed louder. I was pitiful to feel so warm and welcome in my mother’s arms. She placed me back down in bed and tucked me in just like old times, then began stroking me to sleep. I resisted my exhaustion for a few moments, feeling guiltily youthful, but I couldn't help closing my eyes and drifting off, my mother's hands so pleasantly warm and soothing. And before I knew it, I was in deep sleep, careless to the dangers of my dreams.
"Je vais save breakfast for you," she whispered in my ear, and then she kissed my cheek before she quietly left the room.
The dreams were pleasant enough. Memories like being a little girl and dreams of going to real school. Perhaps even leaving France, regular dreams of traveling the world and boys dominated my mind, but then the darkness took me. And when darkness takes you, it does not let go, for it has no hands to release you from, only a mental grasp and the guidance of one's heart to a point devoid of light.
A face, dark of hair, sharp of feature, wicked of grin, and sharp of horn materialized above my own. The material was incorporeal and vague, like that of smoke, but the voice was clear as ever. The breath just as rank as before, and the sounds of malignancy and death rang in my ears, as it did that night, once again.
Upon the sweet moonlight, pale. Over the pines of the fair morning horizon where that which dream with sapphire eyes take to rest. Over the misty hills, bleak. The quiet young morrow casts foreshadow of vexatious dank. Capture the spirits blown from the north, beckon them forth. To bathe in the shadows cast from the south, and frolic in the pedals drift from its mouth. Roll in the grass grown in the west and hear the chant of the ancients at its crest. The resounding roar of the beasts, unique to the east.
In every life there comes a time, laden with danger and fear, yet also equipped with a cross road of infinite decision. Such a time is present in most conflict, however, tonight, the crossroads were nonexistent. I blew and swiped at the face of the beast, but it would not leave me, a grin cracking upon its contorted face. It did not speak, only laugh at my misery. I swiped more and more, uselessly.
“Leave me foul beast, I command it!” I said, blocking my face from the breath.
“Yes, young child. I see your creed for command. Unfortunately, as of now, it is that which I don’t need. You see, your time will come to rule, but not in ample speed,” he growled, indignantly.
“I don’t want your leash!” I yelled. “Nor do I want your riddles, demon!”
“Perhaps, but I did not offer it to you. This coffer was passed through blood. Blood and time, it was,” said the demon.
“Blood and time you say? Then with this authority, I command you to leave my side,” I told him, my tone firm.
He laughed and disappeared for a while, his chuckles still ringing in the room. And then he returned, now closer than before. My flesh and nostrils burned.
“Behold— the castle of Ashatir. And on the highest height, stands the queen. Yes, feel the strike of admiration, for it is our self-same Adelaide, in denial of her future but minutes ago. That is to be your fate. Sovereignty of the clouded lands falls to you, Adelaide. It is but a dream in your head, and your head alone. We no longer breathe, we do not drink, nor do we live, for we are only a seed of thought, oh so faint. Without rule, we will fade completely, for eventually you will forget us, and then you will die a mortal. Left in the darkness, we will be. Of your doing, you shall see.
“But the choice is not your own, as you are young and you are prone to hold the throne. I am here to take you home to our land that once shone!”
As his words faded, dark spirits, hidden in the shadows, teemed within my very bedroom. “The prophecy is so named! The prophecy is so named!” the spirits screeched and bellowed.
“Yes, the prophecy is so named, and you are bound to it, human!” roared the contemptuous demon above my face.
“Prophecy be damned!”
The demons screeched and yelled at my words. Some seemed in pain.
“She has damned us, father!” screeched one of the demons.
“Silence children! She will obey! She must!”
“The curse, father! Use the curse!” said the demons simultaneously to the demon above my face, who they called father.
“What curse?” I squealed. “Go back to the shadows and flame! Be gone from my conscience,” I demanded, but leave, they did not.
“Yes, yes. . . it is time for the curse, my children! We will leave but she will seek us! Find us, as she is, she will not, but find us she will!” the demons laughed maniacally, and in their laughter, the sounds of hell rang through clear as ever. The sounds melting my ears away as the demons began to speak once more. This time they all spoke at once, their voices is monotone, and their eyes pale, yet unblinking.
“At the tick of her mortal life’s next tock, that which is different to her will become self-same! ‘Tis her morals, we will maim! And oh, so different she shall be from the day we came. All to us, she will blame, but the judgment of good, she will retain. It will crush her to realize, her life, she did bane, and tonight, those in the shadows do ordain to determine what will fall over our world. The sun or the rain. . .”
It burned and burned. It was agony. I screamed and bellowed, moaned and shook, but it did not end. The demons were giving me a taste of hell, and oh, the pain. I would give anything to make it stop, do anything, but it felt like an eternity. Yet the pain began to calm and the heat began to concentrate its self to my back. There it seared my skin and sizzled through my fat. Lines and scars, dots and angles, all burned into my back in some sort of pattern.
“This scar will last for an eternity. It is the sign of us, we breathe through you now. We have so much revenge to spread, yet no vessel to manifest it. But through you, all will become a vessel to receive it,” said the demon, snorting and breathing heavily through his snouted face.
Pressed within an inch of my sanity, my life claims repose. My mind clams solace. My heart rate calms and the hot wet breath of my allegories for god’s damnation fade away. In an instant, my eye lids become heavy and my body becomes weak. With no explanation, I find myself painfully exhausted and impossible to stay awake. I know I shouldn’t fight my tiredness, but I had been scared within an inch of my life and I had forgotten my nightly ablutions. I hadn’t even removed my clothes from the day. my sheets were permeated with sweat and my hair laden with more excessive perspiration. Disgusting, I thought. However, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t think clearly. Within seconds, I had dosed off not even remembering when my eyes had closed and separated myself from the pitch dark room. From then, there was nothing but darkness, for dreamless sleep had taken me.