Image: Road to Liguria, Italy – Herman Rhoids
The dark forest stretched ahead. Trees wrestled with each other in their search for the sun, yearning to be gilded by light. But their growth is warped, bodies twisted, locked together in a vicious embrace.
She thrust apart the branches, struggled between sentient trunks. Twigs recoiled, and thorns clawed her face until ruby tears flowered upon her cheeks.
The blisters on her soles split open once more. But moist earth drank her blood, muddy soil hiding all trace of a tormented pilgrimage.
Onward she walked, until a branch whirred by and struck her chest. Falling, she uttered a hopeless scream that died off into the abyss of a savage land. Her captor.
The silky voice was like a physical presence, rubbing over her body to soothe her wounds.
She staggered to her feet and looked back in the direction she had come from. No longer a narrow trail through the wilderness, but a wide path that disappeared into silvery fog.
A paved road; leading to civilisation.
The desperate plea tugged at her heart, filling her with need to respond.
* * *
I walk in search of the speaker. Hard stone rejects the sores on my feet, scattering blood droplets to either side of the road. They solidify, sanguine globules morphing into autumn leaves, my pain banished in these glorious remnants of life.
But they are rusty remains, soon to dry and shrivel, pierced by icy splinters of winter.
I must make it before then.
Gazing ahead, I see the luminous cloud beckoning. Cobbles shine in reflection of its lustre, dark stone accepting a gracious gift of pearly light.
I long to reach the vapour, touch it, feel mist on my cheeks and inhale fresh air. Escape the cage of forest limbs, decaying leaves, and unforgiving cold.
I can see a figure, waiting for me. Body slender as an aspen, a shadowy contour against the nebulous orb.
I know I must reach her.
For darkness flourishes at the planet’s core, and rotten fruit hangs from scarred boughs.
— Part of the metaphysical thread in The Awakening