Sunday, July 8, 2007

We Once Were Warriors

We did not tell our parents about our nightmares.

Night after night we suffered alone, in our own beds, and in the mornings we would get up and go to school, or take our bikes out, or play on the computer as if everything were fine and normal.

We were not silent because we were ashamed of our fears. No; it was because we knew exactly how real they were. It was out of bravery, not shame, that we held our tongues.

We did not tell our parents because this was not one of those cases where talking about something makes it all better. To keep our visions to ourselves was the only moral thing to do. To speak of them gave them power. By staying quiet we exercized the only control we had over the terrors. Having even this little bit of control gave us hope.

Bearing this kind of burden alone takes its toll, however. As time passed, we were eaten away from the inside by the sheer force of will it took to keep ourselves from blurting it out--or going mad. Our personalities were consumed, except for the small part in each of us that kept us from allowing these demons to takes control of our physical forms and thus break free of the mental prisons we had constructed from our own psyches.

Our bodies and minds were vessels for the darkness, filled completely, like prison ships. We were hollow, just shells of our former selves, but that was enough to keep the darkness from getting out.

Our parents began to notice changes in our behavior and attitudes. It was clear that we were no longer the joyful and carefree children we once were. But they never grew too suspicious; they simply attributed these changes to our "growing up." They had no idea the kind of responsibilities we had.

When were we out among the public, we would sometimes recognize each other. A certain look in the eyes, that strained gaze focused inward, deep and dark. To realize on occassions such as these that we were not enitrely alone in our task was the only solace we had, save for the knowledge that were the protectors of humanity. It was a role to proud of, even if it necessarily meant isolation and silence. Sacrifice was noble.

In time, we won the war against the darkness. We had kept our secrets ourselves, we had refused to give in, and we had finally defeated evil. Humanity was safe, and our reward was dreamless, tranquil sleep every night for the rest of our lives.

But we could not recover what we had lost. As the war was waged within ourselves, we had continued with the charade of leading normal lives. We left home, went to college, got jobs. Some of us were married, some of us had families, pets. But these were half-lives, and when fighting ceased and evil fled, we did not know how to make ourselves whole.

It may even have been worse than before. Vanquished, the darkness slipped out of us like gas, flushed away, and left us emptier than we had been before. With all of that pressure gone, there was nothing to weight us down anymore. Like ghosts, we floated away and dispersed. Like the threat we had held at bay for decades, we vanished.

Purging the warriors was the final step in eradicating the darkness. The Earth is safe from evil, now. It does not need anyone around to remember what once was.


Elizabeth said...

Interesting. Very dark, very Ayn. I think I like it.

There are a couple times you seem to mix metaphors -- the one that comes to mind is "with all of that pressure gone, there was nothing to weight us down anymore." Pressure holds things up, like inflated balloons. So the next analogy of floating away and disappearing is kind of... jarring. Of course, that could just be that I'm too literal a person and too scientific. However, I would use something like collapsing into themselves, since before your image was of a darkness that filled them "like gas" -- hence a balloon with pressure. Er. Yes. Another one is the filled completely/hollow -- which is an oxymoron of sorts.

ayn said...

First of all, I'm glad you liked it! (Or think you liked it?)

I understand the problem with filled up vs. hollow, as it's something I was unsure about it in the first place. Both are images I like, I want to make them work together. The connection is that in order for something to have a capacity for holding something else, it must be hollow, and this why I decided it wasn't an indefensible contradiction... So, I included both images in this draft with the intention of finding a way to make them work together.

You have a fair point about "pressure." I was actually looking for a better term...maybe "mass?" That is, if I want to stick to the idea of these people floating away or evaporating or whatever, in the end. However, your idea about collapsing inward is interesting...instead of a loss of mass, it's a creation of a vacuum with appropriate consequences.

Thanks for the comments!