AWAKENING PART 5B
Day 1, 0000 (Midnight)
*CRACK* *CRACK* *CRACK*
The shapeless forms surrounding 513, twitched erratically, colliding with one another like a set of dominoes that refused to fall -- their impacts sounded like dry twigs snapping under excessive stress. [What now?] 513 muttered inside his mind as he waited for more irrational events to happen. Being interrupted while deep in thought made him very irritable.
Looking towards the mass of marbled blobs jittering like unsteady bowling pins, 513 could only utter words of displeasure.
513: “Oh, fun.”
He mumbled sarcastically, under a tired sigh.
Upon hearing his words, the pale, white masses shook with even more fervor, seemingly out of spite. [Ah...fuck.] He complained to himself, immediately regretting what he said aloud. [What if I tell them I have cookies?] He asked inwardly, attempting to salvage something out of nothing.
A low hum filled 513’s ears as the indistinguishable bodies darted around in incomprehensible ways. As their movements accelerated, their bodies blurred into an opaque wall of after-images. The low hum that was tolerable before, was now boisterous and unsettling. [How fast are these bastards moving?] 513 mused as he became increasingly alert of his surroundings; he hypothesized that the humming came from sound waves generated through their vibration.
Just as he thought the humming would never end, the shapeless entities abruptly ceased all movement, and like that, the droning sound they gave-off ended. He could still hear the annoying hum ring inside his ears, but concluded they were just after-echoes -- sounds that persisted inside the ear even after the sound itself had been terminated.
While 513 preoccupied himself by jamming his pinky fingers inside his ear canals to rid himself of the echoes, the shapeless beings, which now looked like giant, radioactive tofu, radiated intense heat out from their brightly glowing orange bodies. Looking at them, 513 was reminded of strips of metal heated up to forge welding temperatures.
As they cooled, their bright orange discolored into shades of greens, blues, greys, and reds. [Wonder what type of material they are made out of.] 513 thought to himself, as the ever-changing display of colors danced all over the flat surfaces of the once jittering masses. He hoped that by narrowing down the material, he might understand what the entities were, perhaps even their goals and why he was witnessing such a strange phenomenon occur.
A few moments pass without incident, making 513’s perturbed mental state, become even more unsettled. [Come on! Give me something!] He cried out in his mind, wanting to understand the reasoning behind what he had been witnessing. Clearly agitated, he decided to question the entities directly.
513: "Is that all? What was the point-"
Before he could finish his wisecrack, the tofu-shaped beings all twisted in unison as if water was being wrung out of them. [So they react to my voice, interesting.] 513 commented at the observation. The bodies continued to twist until they formed into man-sized, marbled pillars.
Still confused by their purpose, 513 goaded the entities with another smart-ass remark. All he wanted out of them was something that made sense.
Just as he expected, the marbled pillars moved in reaction to his voice. Small blades the size of scalpels, emerged out from under their tough exteriors, slashing and chiselling rough outlines of humanoid features into their bodies. [Ehehehe. Pillar Men] Looking at the pillars that now look like crude, marbled humans, 513 couldn’t help but make another bad joke.
Like the bladed implements, spherical masses of varying sizes protruded out from underneath the tough exterior layer. However, unlike the blades, the spheres remained underneath the skin, molding and shaping the rough cuts into smooth and defined features. [A smoothing tool?] 513 commented, clearly interested in the show happening in front of him.
Explosions occurred underneath the skin of the pillar men as the spherical orbs crashed into one another. At first, 513 wondered what the purpose of the collisions were for, but after seeing how they served to create valleys, contours, and more defined shapes out of the pillars, he stopped questioning the construction process and observed in silence.
Upon their completion, the orbs and bladed implements disappeared back into the bodies of the marble statues. [I suppose this is the final stage of metamorphosis?] 513 thought to himself, as he waited in anticipation. [Let me guess, cracks appear on the surface, then people wake-up from underneath the chiseled statues and walk out in a daze.]
Unlike 513’s prediction, a long, narrow slit was vertically cut from the center of the head down to the navel of each humanoid statue. While this happened, the statues quivered and flinched, as if being poked and prodded by a dull knife. 513 watched-on as people clawed themselves out from the tough, fleshy exteriors of the statues that encased them like sausages.
People from inside the statues let out a torrent of unholy cries as they gasped for air. The stoneskin that had entombed them, slid off their bodies and melted into the dull, grey floor -- turning the ground into dirt. Now free, the people shook off muck and grime that covered their bodies. Surprisingly, they were fully clothed when they emerged from the stone statues.
513 felt tense being surrounded by a group of unfamiliar, newly born people, so he decided to greet them, albeit sheepishly.
He said calmly, while waving his hands half-heartedly. Unfortunately, this time the entities ignored him. But he wasn’t dismayed. He was relieved that the formless being took the shape of something he was familiar with, but he was still wary of them.
Aside from cleaning the sludge off their bodies and clothing, the people were stationary -- their eyes closed and their heads aimed towards the ground, as if they were waiting for a signal to start moving.
Looking up, 513 caught a glimpse of a growing sphere that pulled away the dirt and sludge that had covered the people’s bodies when they broke out from their marble statues. [It’s like a blackhole of filth.] 513 commented as he tried not to breathe-in the foul odors that wafted in the air. [Did I have a sense of smell before? Or were there no discernible odors at the start?] He thought to himself, trying to figure out inconsistencies with his experience in the void space. [Hell, even my thoughts are a jumbled mess.]
While 513 meditated, the sphere of filth continued to grow, collecting more sludge and grime off the bodies of the stationary people. Once all the muck was collected, the sphere shrunk and compressed itself into a tiny pebble, no larger than a human finger nail. The pebble-sized sphere then buried itself into the dull, grey platform, causing trees, shrubbery, grass, dirt, roadways, sidewalks, buildings, houses, and all sorts of other objects to sprout out from the ground.
As the extreme changes made to the scenery drew 513’s attention away from his thoughts, the people that surrounded him broke away from the huddle, scattering towards unknown destinations; the signal they had been waiting for had been triggered.
513 felt an odd sense of familiarity with the persons that brushed passed him. [I don’t recognize any of these guys, but why does it feel like I know them?] 513 muttered in his head -- their faces, their clothing, none of it seemed vaguely similar to the people in his life. [Great, another unsolved mystery to add to an ever-growing list.]
Moments passed by as 513 tried to make sense of everything he had just witnessed. Finally, he snapped.
513: “Fuck it.”
Completely at a loss, 513 muttered words of frustration. [I’m too stubborn for this.] He thought to himself as his face crumpled into a scowl. [I have no control over anything…I should just...ah, fuck it all.] Eventually, his face loosened up as he resigned himself to let the flow of events dictate his decision-making process.
Now free from the huddle of people and his own contemplative restraints, 513 perused his surroundings. He carefully traversed the sidewalk that was being constructed with every step he took, while looking at buildings and other megalithic structures that were hastily erected from the ground up. In the distance, mountains and forests sprung up and settled into the environment like they had always been there. [Will this all disappear when I wake up?] He questioned, as he continued to meander overtop the self-replicating sidewalk.
While observing a three-story, a-frame log cabin being constructed out of thin air, 513’s attention was interrupted by the excited screams of a young child.
Boy: "Found you!"
The boy yelled as he ran towards 513’s direction.
Confused, 513 looked around to see if the boy was aiming his excited yells at someone else. However, upon realizing that he was the only one in the vicinity, he grew dumbfounded. [‘Go with the flow’ I guess?] He mused inwardly, reiterating his earlier decision. Shrugging his shoulders, 513 looked towards the boy who was now skipping towards his direction.
Boy: “Daddy! Daddy!”
[What?] 513 protested in his mind as he tilted his head in confusion. A crease formed over his brows as the boy, about five years old and now at his side, unabashedly clasped his left hand and swung it around playfully. [This is wrong, I don’t have any children.] He thought to himself as the boy looked up at him with large, glittering eyes. An innocent smile was plastered all over the boy’s childish face as he squeezed 513’s hand tighter.
The boy wiggled his tiny shoulders up-and-down as he leaned backwards, pulling 513’s hand towards the direction he wanted to head towards. But 513 didn’t budge, he was befuddled by what the boy had said.
Not disconcerted by this, the little boy continued pulling his hand.
Boy: “Come, Daddy! Come!”
Now pulling harder, the little boy looked like he could fall over and hit his head at any moment. Seeing this, 513 let out a sigh and reluctantly complied.
513: “A-alright, kiddo.”
Startled, 513 paused momentarily before letting the boy lead him along. [Kiddo? That isn’t in my vocabulary.] He proclaimed in his mind. He was troubled by what came out of his own mouth, but stayed true with his decision to follow the flow of events. [Let it go.] He told himself. [If I let myself be carried, maybe I’ll get some answers.] He reassured himself.
Boy: “Yay! Daddy is best Daddy!”
The little boy said excitedly, prompting 513 to mess up his dark brown hair in jest.
The boy giggled as he continued to happily guide 513 to their destination.
Just like the people that had brushed up against him, 513 felt a strange familiarity with the little boy. It was a sensation he couldn’t quite understand, like a hazy memory that might not have actually happened. The longer they walked together, the stranger 513 felt.
Eventually, he realized that emotions that weren’t his own, were being fed into his mind like an ivy drip of molasses. His gait, his posture, his breathing, his heartbeat, all of it seemed like they were being replaced by someone else’s. The only thing that he could call his own, was his own thoughts. [Not exactly what I had in mind.] He complained inwardly as he began to second-guess himself.
However, for some reason he remained indifferent -- he felt no sense of danger -- so he let the events play out. [Perhaps being a hapless observer might not be so bad.] He consoled himself, optimistic about reaching the end of the journey.
Unfortunately for 513, his commitment would be cut short. Before he and the boy could reach their destination, a bout of stinging pain kicked him out from the dreamscape and back to reality.
Frustrated and in pain, 513 let out a dry growl. [What a fucky dream.] He mused to himself as he inhaled the crisp night air.
Opening his eyes to check his surroundings, he was immediately spooked by movement on the ceiling of his shelter. He swallowed an audible gasp as his eyes darted around in a panic. Just above him was a complex assortment of smooth luminescent stone; its low-light illuminated his shelter in a yellow tinge. The stones on the ceiling were arranged in such a fashion that they resembled a detailed face of an aged woman.
While his eyes adjusted to the contrast in light, he squinted to get a filtered view. [Ugh. More weird shit.] He voiced a valid complaint in his mind while staring at the morbid face hovering over his own. [Hey, heyheyheyheyhey. Did that fucker just move?] The face on the ceiling started to jerk, as if it were trying to scratch an itch. [Noo...NOT. AGAIN. NO!] 513 screamed inwardly as he held his breath and formed a fist with both hands.
*DRIP* *DRIP* *DRIP*
A malicious, toothy grin slowly crept up the ghastly face of the stone woman. Her eyelids peeled back to reveal voids where her eyes should have been. Tears of blood dribbled down her empty sockets and onto her cheeks, before trickling down onto 513’s moss blanket, dying it a deep shade of crimson.
Her abyssal gaze unnerved 513; it was as if she was staring deep into his soul and laughing at what she saw.
*DRIP* *DRIP* *DRIP*
More of his blanket was soaked in red, but 513 was unmoved. The woman’s leering had paralyzed him with fear and doubt.
Stone Woman: “Gyahahaha!”
The woman laughed as she erratically raced across the ceiling, scanning 513’s body from head-to-toe. Her laugh echoed within the shelter, creating a feedback loop that droned inside 513’s head; he was on the verge of another panic attack.
The stone woman came to a stop, just above 513’s face, then slowly blended into the rest of the stone ceiling as its light slowly wicked out of existence. And just like that, it was gone.
513 let out a trembling sigh as the woman disappeared from his sight. [I’m going psychotic.] He mumbled in his mind. Once more, he had no idea what was going on, and once more, he found himself scared shitless. [I really would have shat myself if I had anything to shit out.] He thought to himself, while rubbing his stomach. He was painfully aware that getting food in this place was going to be tough. Luckily he had plenty of fat reserves to burn through.
Turning his attention back to his throbbing leg, he snaked his hands over his wound dressings to check for sensitive areas. [Not looking forward to removing necrotic tissue...what the fuck.] He was complaining to himself when he noticed something strange with his leg injury. [No...that’s not right. Why? How is that possible? It’s only been a day...HOW HAS IT HEALED THIS MUCH!?]
A wave of awe and disbelief washed over his body, as he froze in place, mouth agape.
A few moments passed before he was able to collect himself. Once back to normal, he carefully checked his remaining injuries. To his surprise, most had been completely healed -- the exception being his near-fatal leg wound. [Looks like an amputation is off the table.] He mused inwardly, relieved by his abnormally quick recovery.
Thankful that there was finally some good news, 513 slumped into his bed of moss and gazed at the stone wall as he fell deep into contemplation. [Is this temporary? I need to figure out what is causing this. There must be a cost...What happened before I went to sleep?] His mind raced, trying to find a rational explanation for his regeneration.
While still deep in meditation something crept underneath 513’s moss blanket.
A faint glow illuminated the cave once again, casting shadows on the smooth stone wall that 513 was facing. [O GOD! It’s behind me!] he thought to himself, just before turning around to face whatever had invaded his shelter.
Hair stood on the back of his neck as a tingling sensation crept up his spine. He was staring directly at the stone woman, in her full-form, now laying directly beside him. Her long, emaciated arms were outstretched toward him, slowing inching their way to embrace his body. [I should’ve resolved this stone woman issue before losing myself in my own regenerative abilities.] He lectured himself, clearly regretting being side-tracked.
Stone Woman: “Yo-u. Lo-ok. Lo-one-ly. Wa-ant. A. Hu-ug? Gyahahahaha!”
Out of instinct, 513 sent out a fist flying towards the stone woman’s face. It sluggishly whipped in the air, before falling short of its target -- the punch was too weak. Confused, 513 wondered where all his power went.
Stone Woman: “Gahahahaha! Wa-ant. To-o. Try. Aga-in?”
The stone woman taunted him. 513 responded by continuing his offensive. He threw out four jabs in quick succession, but none of them hit their mark; it felt like all his energy was sapped away just after throwing each punch. Then he looked at the grinning woman -- tears of blood still flowing down her rough cheeks -- and realized that she was the reason behind his reduced strength. [Eyes. Fucking button-eyes.] He muttered inside his head while staring at the stone woman’s small, grape-sized eyeballs growing inside her once vacant eye sockets; 513 deduced that energy was being sucked away from him to grow the woman a new pair of eyes.
With a heightened sense of urgency, 513 put all his remaining strength into one last volley of attacks. Still on his side, he distracted the stone woman -- who had ceased advancing since he had started throwing flurries of punches -- with more light jabs, while he wound up a heavy straight; he covertly placed his left foot on the wall behind him and positioned his leg like a spring while coiling up his body.
Pushing off the wall with his foot, he transferred all his potential energy from his legs to his hips, his hips to his back, his back to his shoulders, and from his shoulders to his launched fist; his body was released from tension, like a spring. His fists, which carried the culmination of potential energy stored from his legs and core, pummelled into the stone woman’s face like a wrecking ball.
The woman’s face cracked and shattered like glass, as the rest of her body decayed into dust.
Stone Woman: “Gyahahaha, Sple-endi-id! Gahahahahaha!”
Just like the rest of her, the stone woman’s head turned to dust after reciting one final remark.
513 could only remain speechless as he watched the remnants of the stone woman become one with the floor. Looking at where his straight punch had landed, an imprint of his fist was left on the smooth, stone wall in-front of him. [It was a damn hallucination?] He thought to himself, clearly agitated. [Or was it an illusion?]
[If it was an illusion then-] His inward monologue trailed off as his mental processing became lethargic. He had put every ounce of energy into his last attack and could no longer keep himself awake. [Wait...no...I...just-] He complained, but it was no use.
The warm, coddling feeling that blanketed him when he was first lulled to sleep was no longer present. Instead, what forced him back into the world of dreams was complete exhaustion.
Boy: "Where you go daddy? I was lonely…"
The little boy pouted as he greeted 513.
Still disoriented by the sudden change in scenery, 513 didn’t respond. But that didn’t stop the little boy from getting an answer. Still pouting, tears welled up in his almond shaped eyes as he demanded 513 to respond.
Boy: “DADDY! I SCARED!” *sniff* *sniff*
513’s mouth and voice moved on their own as he observed the interactions between him and the boy.
513: “Sorry kiddo, I wasn’t myself. Can you forgive Daddy?”
Placing his hand over the little boy’s head, 513, or rather, the man that had taken over his body, comforted his son to stop him from crying.
Boy: “...I forgive you. Don’t leave me, ‘kay?”
The boy pleaded as 513 picked him up and placed him on his shoulders.
513: “That’s a promise, kiddo.”
[Woah. I never knew I could sound so cool.] 513 mused to himself while he continued to watch things unfold; he understood that he no longer had control over his body in this dreamworld.
*🎶 ♬ ♫*
The little boy hummed an unfamiliar tune as he and 513 strolled away from the self-replicating sidewalk and onto a large, manicured field of grass where other people had gathered in droves. [Must be a local park.] 513 commented as ripples of complicated feelings washed over him. [This must be what being a father feels like.] He continued on, as he felt his throat tighten up. [Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry…] He chanted to himself, in an attempt to hide his emotions.
Boy: “We here, Daddy!”
The little boy excitedly proclaimed as 513 lifted him off his shoulders and placed him on the ground. 513 smiled as he watched his son chase a flock of birds that had been feasting on worms and other bugs in the grass. All around him were groups of people enjoying the warm, lazy afternoon -- just like him and his little boy.
As he laid down on the grass, just underneath a large oak tree, 513 looked up at the vast, azure skies and commented on its beauty.
513: “What a perfect day.”
Still grinning, he turned his attention back to his little boy, who was greeting everyone that walked-by with a bright smile and a confident wave. [Something is wrong.] 513 said in his mind. The emotions he was currently feeling did not align with what he was seeing. [I should be feeling proud, not debilitating dread.] He talked inwardly while trying to force himself up off the ground.
Meanwhile, a soft, cool breeze swept over the landscape, causing the kite flyers on a nearby hill to yell in excitement.
“HELL YEA!” “I don’t have to run anymore!” “Hoo-yeah! That feels great!” “Fly higher, Mr. Brain!” “...” “You named your kite?”
Their enthusiasm drew 513’s attention away from his boy. [Stupid body! Pay attention to your kid!] 513 screamed at himself, but could do nothing; as an observer, he had no real power. With the increasing tension and sense of dread building-up, 513 had an epiphany. [This...is this a memory?] He mused inwardly.
Boy: “Ehehehehe. Daddy! Look!”
Giggling, the little boy called out to his father as he approached a large dog that was laying on the grass. He hesitantly reached out to pet the dog, but got scared of its size and hurriedly ran back to his father.
513: “It’s okay, kiddo. There is nothing wrong with being scared, okay?”
Still clinging to 513’s arm, the little boy gave a relieved response.
513: “Good. Do you want to play some more?”
Nodding to his suggestion, the boy became animated.
Boy: “Yes Daddy! Watch me play, ‘kay Daddy?”
As the boy ran-off to play, the feeling of dread that had been consuming 513, peaked. [Wait! Run! Little boy! Come back, PLEASE!...no, no, no, no, no. LITTLE BOY!] 513 screamed internally, feeling absolutely powerless; he was being forced to watch the scene play out, unable to interfere with the events that had to happen; he was reliving a moment in time, one that could not be changed.
Tragedy. If one word could sum up what 513 felt, and what he was forced to witness, it was: tragedy.
His mouth was left agape as the little boy was struck on the temple by a round stone, used by a group of teenagers as a substitute baseball. The stone had ricocheted off their aluminum bat and hit the little boy’s skull, crushing it in the process.
Instinctively, 513 rushed to the boy in a panic. He held the boy carefully in his arms, as he struggled to breath. His large, vibrant eyes could no longer open, as tears trickled down his childish face and onto 513’s trembling arms.
Boy: *whimpers* “I-I...I scared, Daddy…”
Warm tears filled 513’s face as he broke-down.
513: “Please...C’mon, kiddo. Stay with me. After your mother had...you’re all I have.”
Boy: *whimpers* “S-sorry, Dadd-”
The little boy’s words trailed off as his labored breathing grew still.
513: “No. NO! MY BOY...UWAAAAA...MY BOY!”
He let out a visceral cry while swaying back and forth like a madman, thinking that it would breathe back life into the child who had fallen silent in his arms. But it was no use, the boy had died.
The loss of a loved one -- it hurt more than anything he had felt in his thirty seven years of life. It was a pain that hurt his soul; his very being; his very core. The fear; the dread; the sadness; the fury; the rage; the doubt; the guilt; the pain, everything the boy’s father felt had imprinted itself onto 513.
He stared blankly at the little boy’s body that he still cradled in his arms, not sure what type of emotion to display. As it slowly disappeared, the sights and sounds of the background drowned out and distorted until 513 found himself back where he had first arrived in the dreamscape.
*TAP* *TAP* *TAP*
An elderly woman with kind, compassionate eyes tapped 513’s shoulders as he stood in silence, staring at the dull, grey platform that had now turned into dirt. His unfocused gaze remained as he slowly turned his attention towards her; his pursed lips sealed whatever words may have spilled out from his mouth.
Elderly Woman: “Come with me dear. I need to show you something.”
The woman tightly clasped his left hand longingly, just like the little boy before her had.
Ederly Woman: “Let’s go!”
The ederly woman excitedly proclaimed, as they strolled their way onto the next memory.