He woke to the sickeningly sweet smell of his own vomit. All the muscles in his body felt sore, but that all paled next to his headache which felt like a thousand needles jabbed into his brain. It had been a nightmare he woke from- he couldn’t remember what was seen, but he knew the feeling- cold chills running down his spine and the drowsy shocked feeling that follows a nightmare. He looked around and found that he was lying on the cold hard floor of a jail cell. It was a familiar room- about one and a half meters wide, two meters long and two meters high. It was a cold and damp cubicle with bars on one side. The bars looked old and rusty- like the railings of ships found in the ocean after being at the mercy of the salts corrosive abilities. Behind the bars he saw the hallway which looked no better than the cell itself, there was a soft light coming from just around the corner- there was no light source in his own cubicle.
He strained himself and pushed away from the floor. Standing up was a lot of effort and he felt dizzy for a moment when he got up. Looking around he saw that his jail was a poor excuse for the human rights- there was no toilet, no bed, no windows- nothing except dark concrete walls which seemed to close in on him. Turning and using a remarkable amount of willpower he moved to the bars. The rusted steel poles which had previously seemed to almost fall of by themselves were upon close inspection as strong as one would expect from any decent prison.
He pressed his face against the bars looking left and right. Looking right he saw only a few meters of empty corridor- the rest was shrouded in unnatural darkness. The left side proved just as useless for information- there was a light bulb hanging from the ceiling about a meter from the corner of his cell and the corridor made a 90 degree turn right there and that was all there was to see.
He grabbed the steel bars with both his hands- the rust made it rough and edgy, but he didn’t care he rattled the cell door and jelled “Anyone out there!?” Receiving no answer he jelled louder and louder, but all he got was a sore throat. He leaned against the wall and sat down slowly.
He let his head fall between his arms and suddenly he realized that he had no idea why he was there. The room was familiar- there was no doubt in that. He had been here before, lots of times, maybe hundreds of times but why… He still felt a little dizzy- thought came slowly and went fast like a lightning bolt leaving an afterimage in your eyes. And then like thunder that followed always a little later he realized that he didn’t know who he was. Frantically he searched his brain for clues who, why, where- the questions piled and piled but no answers rose. A man locked in the darkness with no light source surrounded by emptiness. He was alone. A chill ran down his spine and he started screaming again for anyone, anything to deliver him from the cold darkness of his own mind- no answer came.
Time passed as he sat there- he knew not how long for there was nothing to judge time by. Suddenly he heard footsteps and a big muscular man appeared before his cell. He was a tall hard man dressed all in black, no not just black, but emptiness. It was as if his clothes swallowed all the light that landed on them. His hair was dark as well and his face, it kept sliding away every time he tried to look at it. “Who is this demon?” he thought with a shudder. The only thing he could focus on were the cold hard eyes looking at him without any emotion at all… And yet, there was a hint of something… Could it be? Sorrow??? No it was gone just as he had seen it and the man was ice again- must have been his imagination.
He opened the cell door and stepped in grabbing his arms and pulling him up with superhuman strength. The man shoved him against the wall and regarding him with obvious distaste asked:“Why are you screaming here?”. Voice was just as cold as his eyes and just as emotionless.
“Who are you? What do you want with me? Let me go!” he insisted in return.
“No need to be so hostile. Give up this nonsense and go back to sleep!”
“LET ME GO! I don’t belong here!” yelled the man with a fury.
“So we have come to that” he said thoughtfully. “Hmm… Give me your hand” it was a command delivered with icy coldness.
He tried to refuse, but the man was strong and his defiance futile. He grabbed his right arm and pulled it up in front of him- pulling down his sleeve. Now he saw that his hand was full of cuts- he remembered resisting before. He frantically tried to get himself free trashing around as much as he could. The effort was meaningless- the man ignored it with ease and pulled a syringe from his pocket. Struggling as hard as he could he tried to avoid the needle. He felt a stab of pain from his hand as the man injected something to his arm leaving a line of blood because of the struggling. He started trashing again and the man pushed him against the wall with a force great enough to knock the wind out of his lungs. He felt dizzy again. Weakness washed over him and as his resistance grew weak he threw him in the corner and watched indifferently as he was unable to stand. His arm was burning- like the blood itself had become fire. He tried to scream, but it would not come out- “What has he done to me?” The world grew darker and darker as the man left the room.
He was not sure how long he had been lying there in the corner when he finally opened his eyes again, but it felt like years. With strain he curled up in the corner. “Why am I here? Who am I? I did nothing wrong.” he thought to himself again and again. Anger swelled up in him as the thoughts went round and round in his head, until he couldn’t stand it any longer. “THIS IS WRONG!!” he bellowed on the top of his lungs. When he looked up he saw the prison guard there again. He jumped up and was ready to try to escape. As soon as the cell door opened he threw himself against the man- it was as if jumping against a brick wall. Soon he was once again against the wall and there was already a syringe in his hand. Darkness came again.
This became a routine of sorts- he woke up again and again, sometimes he couldn’t take it and he yelled at the door at the guard and cursed the world, sometimes he wept for his fate. Again and again the guard came and with him- darkness. Until one time when he was again slouching in the corner cursing the darkness a woman walked by the cell. It was a flicker only, but he knew he had seen it, not imagined. And from then on it was not his fate which filled his mind, but her. A woman- gorgeous by any standard- she had long dark hair which fell on her shoulders melting into the black top she was wearing. It fit very well with the dark green skirt which had black flowers on the lower end.
Days weren’t so dull anymore. Sure the guard came and filled most of them with darkness, but slowly, ever so slowly the blackness was not so overwhelming anymore. He saw her passing the cell again and again. Just glimpses from the corner of the eye at first, but more and more as time passed. “An angel of hope” he thought.
One such day, as she was slowly walking past the cell door again he cried “Wait!”. She stopped and looked at him with her dark green eyes. He was lost in those dark forests she had for eyes, lost and happy about it. Then she turned and left. “Who are you?” he found himself asking when she was once again striding along the corridor. Once again she turned and looked at him and once again he was completely lost. She might have said something but he was not listening. The jail cell was gone- he was free in the endless forest again. Freedom- he smiled. It had been so long since he had smiled- what is there to smile about when you live a life like his, but this. This was worth smiling- smiling and so much more. From that moment on, she didn’t ignore him anymore when walking by. She didn’t talk to him either, but she stopped and watched him curiously. And thus the days became brighter- there were no windows, nothing he could see, but there was more light. It was as if sunlight had crept through the walls ever so slowly. There was something to look forward to- not just dull days where the guards visit was the only event.
One day when she was turning to leave after looking at him he pleaded “Wait! Please don’t go.” She turned back- tilted her head as if considering an outrageous proposal. “I can’t stay” she whispered in response and then she was gone again. He sat in the corner and rattled his brain. She was so familiar and something drew him towards her. Who was she? The answer was there- on the tip of his tongue, just out of reach. This was driving him crazy. Next time he was going to get some answers.
She came again and he yet again asked who she was, she gave no answer and began to leave. “Selene, wait!” he said softly. Her name- it came to him so suddenly, out of the blue, but he knew it true. She turned and smiled. For the first time, she smiled. “So you do remember after all?” And he did. He remembered seeing her for the first time so long ago. It was a party with lots of people-a faceless crowd and her. She was radiant with energy- so familiar even though it was the first time they had met. “You know me?” he asked incredulously. “I must go” she said looking around. As soon as she was gone the guard came to administer the drugs again.
“Endymion” Selene said the next time. “Endymion is your name and we’ve known each other for a long time.” “Endymion” he mouthed silently. Yes, that felt right. He remembered now- she was his friend- a close friend who he had known for over a year now. A weird relationship to say the least- he spent the first months they knew each other trying to convince himself that he had no interest in her for she had a thing for his best friend and likewise. Names still kept avoiding him. As time passed he kept seeing her more and more. How do you avoid your best friend’s girl? You don’t.
Flashbacks kept coming- his birthday last year, when she was there for the first time. The style of his birthday had become sort of a tradition, partying in the country where his grandparents lived, surrounded by forest and grasslands. Nearly twenty people were there- all ready for a party. Faces he knew, who knew him- but names he could not remember. He used his cocktail mixer, which he got for a present, and made some interesting drinks learned from the internet. Among them blue shots they all took together as a toast. Everyone was having fun. She was there, running around with her camera, taking some pictures, until the camera business was taken over by others. They drank and talked and sang- even the thought brought a smile on his face. The morning was hard on her though- she crept around looking crushed. She was not the only one for the mornings after were always hard.
The gathering at Selene’s house, when everyone was ready to go party far from home. A place they had been planning to go again for the fourth year suddenly became unavailable. She saw the disappointment and allowed everyone to her place- a palace one would say. A snap decision she made, but one for the good of all. He had been there before- a big three story building with a sauna in the basement. Few had been there before, but not with this company. They played poker and drank like there was no tomorrow and when tomorrow came after all they began again for what were the chances that tomorrow would come twice. It was a beautiful time- drinking and poker, a swim in the nearby river. No worries whatsoever. No worries indeed.
A friend’s birthday party just before school began again. When things got a little out of hand- the floor got a few burn marks from the coal of a pipe and people got drunk and crazy. Things got broken and some were even tossed out of a window. He felt shame for that, but it was a small feeling. He remembered when the two of them went to get the breathalyzer from his house which was not that far to determine when she would be sober enough to drive. It was not that she was trying to leave the party, although it was one of the things for she couldn’t sleep in the house because of her asthma and anger at his boyfriend. They wanted to go and see off a good friend on a plane. She ended up sleeping in the car just outside the house- needless to say, they didn’t see off the friend.
Parties after poker and pokers after parties- on and on it went until the weekend after Sikyon where they went for a weekend. They danced in a club and got to see where her best friend lived. Sunday, when she was upset in the evening- upset at her roommate and at Acontius his boyfriend, at the world for that matter, they got together and started drinking. They drank and played heads up and talked. That was the moment he gave up. He remembered it clearly now- he stopped fighting himself and gave up. The times that followed were the best he had- they talked like never before about anything, about everything. He had never been a talkative person, but with her it was a different matter. They stayed up sometimes until 6 am in the morning talking.
The Christmas present he gave her. When she told him one night when they were once again talking, he knew instantly that this was what he would give her- an auryn. It was a symbol where two snakes are entwined eating their own tails- symbolizing eternal return. He recalled looking for it on the internet- it was not so easily found. Ordering it and asking his brother for help, the torture his brother gave him for not telling what it was he was buying, the trouble he had with the late delivery. All that work-it was all worth it to see her face when he finally got to give her the present on New Year’s Eve. He felt her happiness. That is if you can feel someone else’s emotions. Maybe they were his own feelings for making her feel so, but none the less the memory shone in his mind. And the way his heart jumped every time she wore it afterwards.
Spring- when she had rough times and he was there or at least tried to be as much as he could. Not only because she needed him, but because he wanted to be there. The good moments between when all the worries were left behind and all that was left was the good part. And the summer in Hawaii- paradise for its climate and people and she was happy. For a while in a long time she found peace away from all the worries and he was there to see it. To see an angel find home for a while, to be happy with her, to enjoy the paradise with her- it was more than he had dreamed for.
He remembered and he knew that she was the one who held his heart. He looked at her. She was even more beautiful, if that was possible, for now he saw more than flesh- he saw her in all her essence. And he felt trapped- trapped like never before. He was in a cell and she was out there. Incredible longing for her and the feeling he had around her filled him. Suddenly the guard was there again- he started to shove Selene away. Longing was replaced with anger which burned hotter than a smithy’s furnace. Hate filled him, devoured him and he rushed at the bars- they gave way like wax. He paid no heed to them and took the guards hand and threw him against the wall, which shook with the incredible force. The guard started talking, but blinded by his rage Endymion beat the other man refusing to hear any words coming from him while talking became pleading and pleading became silence. Then when silence had finally fallen he left the man and then began to beat at the walls. The walls which had trapped him, tortured his soul he hated them even more. With every strike he seemed to gain strength- the walls came down stone by stone and only when he had powderised all the stones that made up the building did he stop.
Looking around he saw a beautiful forest- tall green trees stood everywhere and sweet warm sunlight peeked through the leaves from above filling the undergrowth with a green glow. Bushes and flowers and all kinds of things grew under the trees- he even saw deer from the corner of his eye and felt the soft touch of grass under his bare feet. It was spring and the world was green and beautiful- tears of joy came to his eyes when he absorbed the torrent of emotion. Like a tidal wave let loose by the breaking of a dam it washed over him. Everything he had been missing in that damp cell. He turned to look at the guard when he heard his moan- his insides turned to ice, but the anger had faded. He took the man and using pieces of cloth ripped from his shirt tied him up and left him.
Endymion turned to Selene who was pointing towards a clearing and started to run there, he followed. His steps were light for his heart was filled with enormous happiness. He felt that if this moment would last forever then this would be heaven. When he finally caught up with her at the clearing, he felt the sunlight on his face and the last traces of cold from the prison were washed from him. He looked into her eyes. The forest he had seen- this was it.
He looked into her eyes- drinking that elixir of life like a dying man in the desert and then lifted a hand to brush her hair. But, he couldn’t. She was immaterial somehow. Like water you felt her but couldn’t pick up. He tried to touch her but she looked at him. Her eyes were sad now and then she turned to mist before him. Waving his hands desperately like a drowning man grabbing for any straw he tried to catch a part of her- but his hands grabbed nothing but air. He gave up and looked at the afterimage still floating away from him and immense pain filled him- he remembered.
He remembered the sorrow after he had given up fighting against his feelings. Sorrow brought on by the inescapable situation of the friendship with Acontius and Hawaii where they were supposed to go, the three of them together. The screwing up completely by getting drunk and speaking of the situation near other people- the anger she directed at him for it. Deservedly yes, but after she said she would not speak to him anymore, he had felt the world ripped away. That’s what dying feels like he had thought, and then again not, for in death there is nothing therefore this must be worse. They made up, but it was not the same again.
The fear he felt when she was unhappy and had serious problems with Acontius - fear for losing her. The sleepless nights filled with nightmares- glimpses of the future he feared, of pain that she felt and he felt through her. Fear and hope he tried to extinguish but never could. Hope that maybe he would somehow find a way into her heart and everything would work out. And anguish that followed when she slowly got back together with Acontius- anguish about the fact that he was right back where he had been, and joy that Hawaii was still viable.
Hawaii- it reminded him of jealousy. He had never been a really jealous man. Sure he had felt stabs of it when seeing others socializing with ease where he felt like a fool when he was younger, but he was getting over that part. Had started to get over it some time ago already. But there in Hawaii it was heaven and hell combined. His heart wanted to leap with joy for being there and being with her and then again sometimes when he saw them together he wanted to be anywhere else. Not so at first but near the end of the summer when they were breaking up again and then being together. They were a couple somewhere between being together and not being together. He remembered not thinking clearly of not being able to hold on to his outside serenity- he was to tired of that and so he pushed them away. Pushed as he could for he thought that if they went maybe he would finally be able to pull himself back together.
It hurt so bad to be a jerk, to push her away and it did not have the desired effect until they got back home anyway. And when it finally did he realized that he was wrong- it was worse, far worse without them for he was alone. Alone in his misery, swimming in the pain that lurked every time when he remembered that he was in love with the moon- beautiful in every aspect, but out of reach and now dark clouds covered the sky so he couldn’t even see her.
He looked up- she was far now. Only a small speck of light so far it resembled a star. He heard a shattering noise, a glass breaking. He spun around to hear another and another- they were mirrors breaking. The whole forest was nothing but a mirage created by mirrors. It only took a moment, but it seemed to last forever and then the forest was gone. He was alone again, alone and surrounded by a desert of broken glass. The sun was gone and blackness enveloped him- light coming only from the distant floating light, growing ever weaker. Blackness he hadn’t even felt in the cell- the kind that made you feel as if your essence itself was being slowly drained away.
A memory stirred suddenly. He jumped up and ran. He ran as if mad dogs were chasing him and even that was not fast enough so he pushed harder still. His feet bled from the glass, but he didn’t care. Why would he? What was the pain of a wounded leg against what he already felt. He ran until he finally saw what he was looking for- the guard. Stopping in front of the man he lifted his head and now he finally saw his face in the pale light. Even though he had known already shock still filled him for it was his own face. He fell to his knees and bellowed and cursed until he had no breath left and then he began to cry. He wept for hours, for days it seemed, if days could be counted without a sun and the world wept with him. Alone, he felt so alone curled up on the broken glass where his tears mixed with the rain.
A dream- nothing but a dream, kept running through his head. “Dangerous are the dreams of fools” he heard a voice. It was the guard who was now awake and looking at him. “Yes” he murmured weakly. “And what a fool I have been” he thought to himself. He stood up feeling exhausted and took a look around. There was nothing but darkness filled with minute reflections of the tiny star above from the glass below.
“Come on, we better get started” he said freeing the guard who stood up and nodded in silence. “We will need a lot of stones if we are to build a prison strong enough to contain you this time” the guard said. “And this time you really should try to remember why you are there.” “We aren’t building another prison” Karl said looking into the darkness ahead. “Not this time.” The guard was shocked. “What are we gathering stones for then?” “A stairway” he answered. “Where?” asked the guard incredulously. Karl didn’t say anything, only lifted his arm and pointed at the faint light high above. “That is impossible” the guard objected. “Maybe… Maybe… But I was fool enough to dream so I might as well be a fool all the way” he said thoughtfully. He felt a raindrop far too cold hit his face. Looking up he saw that snow had replaced the rain and he felt his resolve settle in. Yes, he would build and climb as high as needed he thought looking at the shimmering light. Climb and fall- if that was what it took.