Governed by Time

Beginnings Project

I did this stream-of-consciousness like I seem to do with each iteration I write for The Beginnings Project. These 2,000 words were written as chapter eleven, but after re-reading it, I suspect it could also be an epilogue. When we finish the first draft and start editing, we’ll need to figure that out. I did prompts from Weekend Write-In, Inspiration Monday, #3WW, The Writing Reader, Sunday Photo Fiction, #WOW555, and Word-a-Week.

* * *

My breath was caught in my throat. My reflection caught in the silver mask. It wasn’t the reflection of my face distorted in the folds of his mask, but the background. I could see clearly my head and shoulders framed by a brilliant red door. Something about the door troubled me.

The man turned to his hooligan cohorts. “King Abraham of Siddim has no response.” He laughed, and his minions followed suit.

I closed my eyes, and the laughter subsumed to gurgling.

“My liege, spare my life.”

I opened my eyes, and the four brutes were withering, frozen in their previous positions of joviality. Their forms coalesced into haphazard pillars of lava, and sunk into the parched and razed ground. I’d seen this before when I stared into Jezebel’s eyes.

The silver-masked man stood in defiance to my power, his arms crossed over his barrel chest. “I see you have some semblance of your previous power,” he spoke, an almost bored lilt to his voice.

I must admit to displaying a touch of arrogance. He laughed at my display. “You have much to learn, King Abraham.”

“I wish you all would stop saying that,” I retorted, as I felt the humidity absorb from the air and coat my arms and hands.

“Waterstrike?” He chuckled from behind his mask. “You’re unworthy of the power you’ve been gifted.”

I released the water, and it dripped and sizzled on the broken ground, noxious fumes billowing from where the drops struck. “I’ve already been to Old Siddim; this does not impress me.”

“Fool,” he hissed, “you know nothing!” He performed labored movements with his hands, and earth primeval rose in four columns. I gasped as the columns formed skeletons of rock. Lava congealed as musculature, and rocks formed cracked skin. Three of the four faces were exact replicas of his companions on the journey.

Jezebel’s eye gleamed emerald, Zedikiah’s sapphire, Josiah’stopaz. The fourth was a woman of muscular stature. She was the shortest of the four, and I saw her eyes. Ruby eyes gleamed, and her facial expression was of determination. Her breastplate featured etchings of a battle scene – dragons breathing fire on an army, their trebuchets firing flaming miasma in retaliation. War beasts prowled at the edges of the army, and at the leading edge of the force was a mammoth, it’s tusks adorned with banners flapping in an unseen wind. It was obvious by the placement over her left breast, that the rider of the mammoth was the leader. My eyes followed the etchings to see the mammoth-king, but where someone would ride the beast, a dent scarred the pristine armor, obfuscating the mounted king. Torn metal appeared to burst through the armor as if the figure had escaped the etching.

“I knew you weren’t ready,” emerald-eye said with a frown and crossed her arms over her bosom. My attention was focused momentarily on the one ruined eye socket and pockmarks.

“Too much faith in the whelp,” hissed the statue with topaz eyes. I’d only met Josiah the one time, but his conversation with Zedikiah was burned into my memory.

The statue that was Zedekiah staggered back, and sunk to his knees. He reached out and said, “Forgive me, Steve. I shouldn’t’ve allowed you to face the Master.”

“You took my heart,” the ruby-eyed stone figure whispered. “I wanted to dance through eternity, but now my elegiac dance is of sadness of what I gave freely to you.”

Realization dawned as I gazed upon Luna’s human form. Embers floated around her, and I realized each was immolated fae. With each movement of her morose dance, an ember sputtered out and fell to the desolated ground. I staggered toward Luna, as the tear in her armor grew and encompassed the etched battle scene. Her body cracked and splintered as chunks of delicate stone fell away.

My companions met the same fate, their limbs falling to the fractured ground. Each of them stared with their brilliant eyes, the accusations evident. Except Luna. Her eyes were of a profound sorrow. She maintained eye-contact as her body crumbled. A wind blew away the fine dust and lighter fragments. The rest returned to terra firma from whence they were birthed.

“Your trickery will not stay my quest,” I shouted at the silver-masked man.

“Trickery?” he scoffed. “You are witnessing the world without time.” He knelt, and picked up a single emerald – all that was left of Jezebel. He crushed the emerald in a silver-gauntleted hand, and allowed the viridescent dust to fall through his fingers. Walked first to the sapphires, then to the amber globes and crushed each beneath his boot.

I stepped forward as he scooped up the rubies. He held one aloft and stared at the glittering gem. “A shame,” he said as he shook his head, and crushed one of Luna’s eyes.

He met my advance, and seized my burned hand. I tried to pull away, but the silver edges of his gauntlet drew blood. He packed the ruby fragments into my burn, and waved Luna’s other eye over it. The shards fused with my skin, repairing my injury. He dropped the remaining ruby into my now restored hand.

“You’re missing one,” he whispered into my ear.

“Missing?” I asked, clutching all that remained of Luna to my chest.

“Ruby, Emerald, Amber, Silver, and Gold,” he spoke as if he were lecturing a small child. “Where is Althea? Her amethyst would look splendid adorning my ruined planet.”

“What about gold,” I spat, revealing my ignorance.

“You cretin!” he bellowed. “There are seven seas, seven years of the journey, and seven kings!”

I could only stare, without comprehension.

“This,” he waved his arms to encompass the devastation, “this is what happens when you challenge the Master with only six years of the journey. Only six blessings of the seven kings.”

He grabbed me by the elbow and threw me to the ground. His boot found purchase on my neck and he shouted to the heavens. “You are not the golden king!” he pushed my face into the residue of my fellow kings, their colors flashing before my eyes.

Hate and rage exploded from my body. I rose, casting off the silver-masked man.

“Good,” he cheered from his position on the parched earth. “You want my blessing; you must defeat me!”

The burning in my pocket exceeded the heat from my anger. The golden coin burned through fabric, and fell to the floor. I bent to pick it up, the silver-masked man watching my every move. As I brought the coin to my eyes, it morphed and expanded. It puddled and pooled in my hand, the volume doubling as the rage subsided. The gold hardened into a mask of gold. My hands, now covered in gold leaf hardened until I wore gauntlets gleaming in the reflection of a volcanic Earth.

I matched his movements, and recreated my friends in clay. All four statues of perfect replication stared with vacant eyes. I knew what I had to do.

I held Luna’s ruby eye out and squeezed my eyes closed in concentration. I felt the power within, and when I opened my eyes, Luna’s single ruby had become two. I walked to her clay form and replaced the eyes in their sockets. Her features hardened first to stone, then to her beautiful supple pale skin. Her cherry eyes blinked, and they focused on me.

“Abraham,” she breathed, and embraced me. I felt her life force merge with mine, and it was rapturous. She kissed me lightly on the lips, before her gaze shifted to the sky. “That won’t do,” she giggled, and leapt into the air. She continued to rise, and her flesh shone in the brilliance of a reflected supernova. She morphed into a familiar moon, and took her rightful place in the sky.

I scooped up the colorful grunge, and watched intently as the individual pieces of each color formed pristine cut gems of sapphire, emerald, and topaz.

First I stepped to Jezebel, restoring her right eye. After she returned to flesh and bone, I placed the other emerald in her hand and closed her fingers around it. She smiled at me, looked up at Luna, and stomped her foot. The ground mended itself, in concentric circles, each additional stamp of her foot, righting the planet. She stared into where the oceans belonged, and when her eye fell upon the deep chasm between Japan and Australia, her hand rubbed the scar covering the left side of her face.

She walked to Zedikiah and with a gentleness I had never seen from the Pirate Queen, she stroked his cheek and jaw. She extended her hand, and I placed both sapphires into her outstretched hand. She restored Zedikiah’s sight, and as he returned her loving gaze, he flickered to a bearded form I could only describe as Neptune, the god of the sea. He returned her caress momentarily, and transformed to water. As the gold had, his volume doubled, tripled, quadrupled, and the seas rose from the great rip in the earth. As she stared at Zedikiah’s liquid form, the seas rose, and her blemish-free face smiled, and she sunk into the ground leaving behind the second emerald.

Zedikiah floated to it, and picked it up. Before he dissipated, he turned to me, brandished the emerald, and spoke in the gruff voice I’d known in the last six years. “Cheers, lad. I knew my Mariana was still there beneath the façade of the traitorous Jezebel.” His form shrunk, and a babbling spring formed, pushing the emerald into the sea.

Without additional pomp and circumstance, I replaced Josiah’s eyes of Topaz. He looked to the silver-masked figure. “Enosh,” he acknowledged him with a nod. He turned, winked at me, and looked up at Luna. He scowled at her brilliance, and his form erupted in a torrent of fiery plasma. An inferno ribbon rose into the sky, ricocheted off of Luna, and took its place in the sky. As the firestorm in the sky formed a bubbling sphere, its brilliance obscured Luna, and the blackened sky faded to a clear azure.

Enosh rose to is feet. “You cannot hope to sway the master without the protection of Althea.” He stood tall, scrutinizing me. “King Abraham,” he spoke at last, “You are responsible for humanity. You are humanity. Sway the Master’s hand, and what you saw today will matter not.”

Enosh exploded into fur, feathers, scales, and chitinous carapaces. I held up my arms to shield myself from the expanding mass of Animalia. All that was left of his human form was a single iron butterfly, it’s silver wings flapping as it floated away of wings or iron and silver. Beasts and insects stood at attention, their eyes and antenna roaming for shelter. The difference between the destroyed world were as different as Summer changing to winter. I stood there examining the season of rebirth, and spring was its name. This repaired world was now missing only two things: plants and humanity.

I turned, and walked to the solitary red door. Without thinking, I struck the door with my golden gauntleted fists. The door fractured, and each fragment exploded, surrounding me. The torrent of debris drew me into its frame. I closed my eyes, and welcomed the embrace destiny.

I saw my fellows on the deck of the Jezebel, standing over my prostrate form. Enosh stood defiantly with his arms crossed, and his silver mask reflecting starlight. I wondered which of my companions represented the brilliant stars. The remaining kings and queens clustered around my body, each one displaying kindly sorrow.

My destiny now embraced, I knew where our path would unfold. Althea and the remaining year were my burden, and I knew with the help of my friends, I would find Queen Althea, stay the master’s hand, and save the world from Annihilation.

I watched my friends for a few moments longer, and stepped through the door to rejoin a world governed by time.

Next: Chapter 12, “Picture Imperfect

About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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