ECHOES IN THE ABYSS

By A. J. Breton

 

 

 

 

   Dropping...dropping...he had no idea it would take so long. He was falling so quickly- the blast of warmth against his back had faded fast...the air screamed past him-replacing the screams from above...above- below- he was in between...maybe this was purgatory? No, he decided, above was purgatory, he had made his decisions and they had made their judgments and now he was falling...below. He knew where he was going...it was disturbingly comforting, actually- the screaming wind- the incomprehensible rush of the rocky walls on all sides of him- the blackness below him...they all tempted him like a deep sleep tempts a weary traveler...he heard crying in the distance, behind the screams of the air, it was a soft, feminine voice, whimpering his name between sobs...it came and went. The face lingered just beyond his ability to remember it, he didn't try, and any name associated with it was meaningless to him.

   The darkness was his destiny now... below...that was where he was going, that was all that mattered now. No hiding place...the rock cried out...maybe no hiding under rocks, he thought as the screaming air sang to him, but lots of room in the dark...room for one more...always room.

   He watched through burning eyes as the ebony air slammed against him- through him- sending him tumbling through the screaming songs. He thought maybe he had hit the side of the abyss a while ago but he couldn't really tell...pain was insignificant against the air's burning-scream-songs...he couldn't tell which way he was facing...he felt weightless...and on fire...and yet so terribly cold at the same time...he heard his father's pocket watch ticking...engraved with names...his grandfather's, great- grandfather's, great-great-grandfather's, and his name beneath his father's name.

   "Your son's name will go on here when he's born..."

   Sorry dad, no more names on the watch... muted tick-tock of the gold glinting watch...Sorry dad...sobbing crying behind the ticking, behind the screaming...

   The air seemed to break around him, splintering into tiny, burning, razor-shards of noise. He saw an opening in the darkness, a small light point that he was falling toward...the sobbing-ticking- screaming-song pounded his ears...pounded his mind as the point exploded outward and enveloped him...it was gray here, gray tinged with red...the air continued to sing as his perspective shimmered and changed...blurred out and came back into focus...The burning was less now...he couldn't see any more....it was so cold...he knew he had to be close now, he could almost sense the impending impact. The scream-singing continued...

   "Soothe thee rain...Soothe thee rain...Soothe thee rain...nightfall will come...bringing peaceful showers...so sleep until the morning comes...." His mother's voice. It was such a calming voice. She would sing to him when he was little, that lullaby... "...the morrow will dawn...and all will be peaceful...so sleep until the morning comes..." In steady time with the tick-tocking...gentle sobbing...screaming air...it was all so beautiful...

   "A moment of perfect beauty..." A being had once told him to look for that...John thought he had found it before, in a dark place, and in the arms of another....sweet sobbing...but now he knew different, this was it...he had found it...on his way...below...a single moment of perfect beauty...

   His sight was gone, burned out by the ebony air. His skin had left him too. He couldn't feel the air any more, the cold dissipated...leaving...nothing, no sensation. His mouth was gone, his hands were gone, his memories were slipping, but his ears hung on, they still heard. It was a gorgeous cacophony of sound.

   He was close. He could feel it.

   His ears began to fail. The faint sobbing behind the screaming-singing-tick-tocking fluttered briefly in his mind...

   "I love you, John."

   "If you should fall, I will catch you.."

   If he could have found his voice he would called out to that small voice. But what was left of him shuddered her name, as the rocks caught the empty shell and scattered it...it was a voiceless scream...it echoed across the abyss like thunder tears across the sky...

   The singing stopped. There was no more screaming. The watch had stopped. There was only the shudder that echoed up across distance...

   "Delenn..."

 

*****

 

 

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