Prisoner in a Broken World

My scream still echoed off of the aged stone walls as I awoke. Gingerly I pushed myself up off of the cold floor, the muscles in every part of my body complained at me from a recent strain.

I tried to remember what had happened.

Nothing.

Thinking that I would remember if I could get comfortable I walked over to a nearby bed, and sat down. I pulled a blanket around my shoulders, and tried again.

Nothing.

I looked around, and recognized the place immediately as my personal bedroom in the castle. It was a bit dustier than I normally kept it, but otherwise it was my room.

I decided that I must have suffered an injury during a training session, hence the memory loss. I decided to go find one of the guild’s medics, and ask them what had happened.

As I stood up I realized how cold it was. Pulling the blanket around my shoulders again I decided that I had also talk with the maintenance crew and let them know that there was a problem with the comfort controls in my room.

There was an eerie silence as I stepped out into the hallway. Lights that normally blazed at all hours were dark, glass from shattered bulbs littered the floor. A memory as shattered as the glass tried to weave itself into my mind, but it flittered away as soon as I tried to grasp the meaning.

I looked out of the huge windows of the castle. The small village below was as dark as the castle was. Beyond that, the vastness of space outside of the protective dome seemed bright in comparison.

I wondered if the reactors had malfunctioned.

I turned, and headed for the reactor core. If a malfunction had occurred they would need all available hands. The human race was depending on the space guilds to colonize new planets and begin anew. If the core malfunctioned then we could not reach our destination, and the race that had come to the Earth so many eons ago to destroy mankind would win.

The silence throughout the castle was deafening. Even if most of the residents were asleep, and the others seeing to the malfunction, the noise should still have been considerably higher.

As I proceeded away from the windows, the castle got darker. I soon found myself tripping over things in the dark. I knew that I had to make my way back to where I could see. I turned and walked back toward the outer wall of the castle. As the starlight once again flooded the interior I breathed a sigh of relief.

I made my way to one of the emergency stations, and pulled out a handlight. I pressed the switch, expecting light to immediately flood the area, but nothing happened.

I wondered if the light wasn’t processing my bioenergy correctly. I opened up the backup unit, and turned the crank a few times. Light far dimmer than it should have been flickered, and then sputtered out again. I turned the crank again, but I couldn’t get the light to come back on.

I removed another handlight from the emergency station, but its results were even more dismal than the first light’s. Disgusted, I threw the light aside. I would have to find another way to see where I was going.

I could make out the recognizable door of an office on the other side of the hall. With a spark of inspiration, I headed toward it. As I opened the door the dim light of the stars diffused through the room. I could just make out furniture.

I walked over to one of the heavy chairs, and turned it upside down.

“I’m sorry to have to do this,” I said as I pulled one of the legs free from the chair. I then walked over to one of the bookshelves and pulled down a dusty tome.

I made my way back into the hallway. Taking a knife from my belt I cut down one of the draperies covering the window. I tore the fabric into strips, and wrapped it around the chair leg. I carefully wrapped paper into the fabric strips so that the kindling would burn better.

As I worked I hoped that the air purification system would be able to handle the smoke. I knew that it would be far more than what was recommended for outside of kitchen areas.

Once I was happy with my makeshift torch I turned to the discarded handlights. I picked up the nearest one, and pulled anything that would immediately use a charge from the base. I then turned the handle on the crank for several minutes, trying to store as much charge as possible.

As soon as I was comfortable with whatever I had managed to store in the first handlight I picked up the other and repeated the process.

With a sigh I pulled the capacitors from the lights, and carefully wired them up. I prayed that it would work as I touched the loose ends of wire together. A spark, tiny, but there. I touched the sparking ends to the paper and fabric, and breather a sigh of relief as the spark turned into a flame.

I worked my torch for a moment, trying to spread the flame. Once I was sure that a slight breeze wouldn’t blow it out I stood up and resumed my descent into the reactor area.

The continued silence was starting to get to me. In an attempt to prevent insanity I started calling out, trying to get responses from other guild members. I stopped when the only reply I received was the echoes of my own calls, distorted.

My mid had almost come to grips with the silence when I came across the first pile of bones. My scream echoed on for far longer than I felt that it should have.

The bones looked like they had been laying there for years, not even cartilage held them together.

A shudder went through me as another memory tried to invade my mind and then escaped again. I knew that it was something horrible that I couldn’t remember, but I didn’t know what it was yet.

I continued on through the hall, gradually encountering more and more bodies. Fear was stealing its way into my heart as I moved on toward the core.

As I continued I noticed a stench. It became stronger as I moved toward the core. Trying to pinpoint a source I noticed something odd. The bodies were less decayed as I moved. Hair and cloth scraps still clung to the bodies that I was then passing.

With a sinking feeling in my stomach I realized that I was looking at the bodies of guild members.

I hurried through the hall, barely managing to not gag on the smell. As I continued I noticed that the bodies were fresher as I went.

I arrived at one of the security doors. Pushing it open, I took a few steps in.

My revulsion could no longer be contained as I felt wetness seeping through the soles of my boots. I looked down to see that the room was flooded in blood.

I fled the room, stopping only to dry heave in a corner.

“Get a grip,” I scolded myself. “You’re a trained warrior. The sight of blood should not have this effect.”

I stood there, braced against the wall, for a few more moments. Then I steeled my nerves against the sight that I would see and walked back to the room. I knew that I had to keep moving.

My stomach tried to rebel, as I once again stepped in pooled blood. I forced my revulsion down, and continued walking. I refused to look at the bodies. I knew that if I was walking through wet blood I would be able to recognize the faces of those that it had belonged to.

The memories hovered then, just out of reach. I could feel their ominous presence, telling me that I really didn’t want to remember what had happened. Want or not, I forced myself to continue. I had to know.

Sounds started to make their way out of the dark. Echoes of screams long forgotten accosted my ears. As I approached the reactor core the sound got louder.

I opened the door to the reactor core. A horror beyond words assaulted my eyes. A battle frozen in time lay ahead of me. I could hear the screams of my comrades across the ages that had trapped them. Blood, bodies, even the beams of the laser weapons hovered above the floor, forever frozen in time.

A knot of terror formed in the pit of my stomach. Among the tortured souls of my comrades I could see the enemy, the beings that had first destroyed our home planet millennia ago, and now hunted us across the universe.

For the first time since my awakening the memories had something to latch onto. I suddenly remembered the emergency alerts, and the chaos that had ensued when the enemy penetrated the castle.

I sank to the floor, trying to remember what had happened. I knew that I had also made my way to the core then, but beyond that desperate journey I couldn’t remember anything else.

I stood back up. I knew that only one piece of equipment could cause the strange effects of time that I had seen.

I moved past the core. I headed toward the time shifter. It was the once piece of equipment that could cause the time distortions, and it would have been the last hope in a losing battle.

As soon as I opened the door to the shifter the rest of the memories fell into place. I screamed again. Rage, loneliness, fear, all those emotions were expressed in the sound.

I remembered the battle, and I remembered my last orders. Go back and warn us.

It was a last chance effort to save the colony. Go back to just before we were spotted by the enemy, and warn the guild. Get the colony hidden.

I could see by the twisted ruins of my own body that I had failed. I could only stare at the body before me, caught in a whirlwind of time, forever going through the agony of its own death.

The machine had malfunctioned, and though my soul had already started the journey the body hadn’t. My body was struck by the weapon, and the effect carried through to the machine. The weapon’s discharge had caused the strange phenomena that I had seen.

Numb, I left. I walked away from the core.

I walked back to the windows, and I’ve never returned to the core.

I am trapped in that place between life and death. I am forever a prisoner of this broken world.

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