A Lost City
There is this place here on earth where broken hearts are mended, where the weak can be saved, and the lost can be found. It lies in the middle of a barren land with loose rocks and dry, warm breeze. There are no demarcations, no features on the soil such that will make this place more evident than the rest. The only way to get there is by feet. It was said that mirages form once a person gets near the said place, and thereof would appear an image of two angels holding a spear and a sword on each side, to pave the way to the lost city of Thalamos.
I had been walking for days, with the soil, the sun and the vultures by me. My thirst was almost unbearable, saving the few remaining sips from my canister for the worst. The treacherous sun scalded my skin, made my blood simmer. But I needed the sun to guide me there or maybe somewhere near there. The truth is, I had only faith to guide me and nothing else. I needed not faint, for fainting was the last thing i wanted to preoccupy my mind with.
There was a group of Scarabo trees from a distance, with a shade that seemed like a black patch on the vastness of this arid ecru. Beside me crawled a lizard which stopped on the shade beside my foot. My sight dimmed as I felt the sun scorch at my back. And then I remembered his eyes, so vividly, cool and gleaming beneath the dim sheets. While I touched his face, pale as the moonlight. He held my hands and kissed them ever so softly. Then quickly the creature sped towards the dense undergrowth, and once again i found myself in my state of desolation.
I hurried towards the Scarabo trees, hiding beneath its spines and foliage. I removed my tattered sleeves and continued moving towards its center. Someone once told me that it is a good place to stay the night in, the thorny Calyfa hedge would protect me from animals and insects at dawn, and so i stayed.
On a heap of fallen leaves, I sat, exhausted and dazed. My unkempt hair dangled on my forehead. I closed my eyes trying to feel the feeblest of the breeze. Then there he was again, close, behind a mass of growing bright light, enveloping him until he disappeared. I opened my eyes and saw the faint blur of tangled twigs and branches. And there far away, appeared in-between the tousled gaps, a ghostly image, a mirage, or perhaps just a misty tear caught in between my eye.
26th of June 1696, the clouds have fallen into complete disarray. The gloom of the shadow from the nearing dawn and the white smoke from the canons enveloped most of the skies. To the far most side of the hill, I saw that the fourth battalion have breached the southern rampart of France's defenses in Auvergne. The Britons have already started the attack while our troops await for the barricades to fall on the east. He was there beside me, ducking behind the pit of clay with a smirk to be mistaken of a smile, pale skin smeared with soot and clay, and eyes strong but afraid like the rest of us. The ground was shaking, black shards of earth blasted to his right, and then I moved a bit closer to him. I must have looked afraid as he told me not to be so. I yelled at him "Yes of course I won't!" he smiled at me and then i suggested that we just keep on shooting the bastards.
The morning was cold with the fog that had descended on the meadow. The eerie silence pierced my ears as I walked the length of the nave and its skeletal remains. The stained glass traceries sifted the morning light, beaming through the rubbles and the haze. "Hey..." someone shouted, like a faint noise from afar. I turned my back and there he was moving towards me, still dirty and bruised from the night. "What are you doing here..." he asked, "Just searching for pistols and oppositions in the wreckage." "Pistols, in here? Id presume you'd only be seeing priests and prayer books in this place."
"At least they won't be too keen in trying to kill me.."
Then he smiled and said "I thought I'd never see you again..."
I paused and looked at my feet.
"Timothy, my name is Timothy Dickenson." he said nonchalantly.
Then I replied "I am Marco, Juan Marco Gallego" while looking into his dark green Briton eyes.
I tried not to look for too long to suggest a stare, so I continued searching and lifting the debris with my foot. He resumed "You know, my father, he fought in a battle like this back then. I admired him a lot that's why I decided to join the Battalion."
"Did he join this war with you as well?"
Then he continued, "He died when I was about 14 and so I felt like I had to continue what he was fighting for."
"I'm really sorry to hear that, you fought really hard out there. He must be proud of you." A shard of colored glass from the Cathedral rose window fell off and shattered from the far end of the nave, shrieks of black birds followed after which went flying past above us.
"That's what I was also hoping for..."
We reached the baptistery on the northeastern side where I continued my search. I saw a bloodied hand underneath a pile of wood and stone, and beside it stood a marble pillar with engravings as such "Claudelle Lombárd-Diaz, 1612-1652."
He asked, "How about you, how did you end up in here?"
"I suppose it was a bit like your situation, but rather it was because of my brother. Eight years ago he became a part of the League of Conquistadors, as ordered by the Queen of Spain. His last expedition was somewhere in the southern Americas where he became infected with a sickness while exploring the dense forests of Peru."
He opened an arched doorway which led to a cloister. The wind blew his brown hair as he looked at me. "I am sorry about that. I really do hope he gets better."
Then I said "I hope so too. I don't even know if he's still alive. We tried to fight our battles for each other, for our country. I just miss him a lot lately." Then he said, "I guess, when someone we love so much leaves us, a part of ourselves leaves with them too." We continued strolling around the court, taking our minds off of the war. Once in a while our eyes would meet, and once in a while I'd lose my words.
The winds blew swiftly over the meadows, combing through the tall grass like waves in the sea. I caught something in my eye so I started to rub it off, then he said in a low tone "no, don't", he took my hands in his palms, and came for a closer look. I held my breath staring at his face as he gently blew on my eye. I thought I ought to have kissed him that moment. I felt good inside. He slowly loosened his grip letting go of my hands and looked at me with a smile. All that I thought of saying at that time was, "thanks..." That noon, we sat on the steps of a paved walkway leading to the grass fields. He was close enough that I could see the hues of his sun burnt face, and smell the char of gun powder on his skin. The heavy rain clouds rolled on the far east side of the meadow, sending off small cracks of thunder. Then a rainstorm began to pour somewhere above the hills, dangling beneath a dense patch of clouds. "It's going to rain over here, let's go, come on...!" he told me with an indistinct smile. He then hurriedly pulled off his garments, down to his trousers, while I sat there looking at him to my puzzled amusement. The sunlight diffused softly all over his paladin form, tracing every contour of his body, while he laconically threw his clothes at the cobbled steps. "Are you coming?" he shouted before running towards the open. A misty breeze suddenly brushed against my face, then the rain started to fall. He ran fast and was already quite far, I took off my garments and followed the trail of bent leaves he had left behind. "Hey, wait for me!" I shouted, then as he turned to look, he disappeared. I quickened my pace through the undulating pasture. The leaves fluttered as I passed by them, until I reached the end of the path, where I found him lying on his back, looking straight at me. Then he smiled and said,
"Hey there beautiful... you found me."
I smirked then laughed, then looked back at him derisively in exhaustion, dropping on the braided nest of yellow grass that surrounded him. He turned on his side, facing me, tittering, and then I touched his damp hair and smiled. He looked handsome in the rain, with the beads of water streaming down his cheeks and forehead. Then he moved a bit closer, as I looked into his eyes, until I could feel his warm breath on my face, after which he held me closer till our bodies grazed on each other's. Then slowly our mouths touched, and we kissed with this longing to hold on for as long as we could. All the sound around us faded -the thunder, the wind, the rain crashing down, the snapping leaves.
30th of June 1696, at dawn, we all headed south to a small fishing village in the port of Pays de la Loire, and there we took the chance to pillage for food. And then afterwards, the troops set up a barricade on the wooded patch of land some few miles away from the port. We built a tent in this place that only the two of us knew of, somewhere behind the forest, beside a stream and come back to the main camp once in a while. There we would spend most of our time together, bathing, fooling around, and catching some fish to eat. The day came to an end and so the two of us stayed in the tent to rest. The canopy reflected a ghostly light from the moon outside. We lay there almost off to slumber in the mute of the night, but my eyes were still wide open tracing on the canvas the faded shadows of trees. Then I began to speak, "There was once this holy city in the ancient land of Thalamos which was said to have had lost its faith in God after experiencing years of tribulations and famine, and in doing so had been warned to be destroyed if the people would not change their wicked ways. Two of God's angels who was sent to bring the message pleaded that the city be spared. Before the wrath of God descended upon its inhabitants, the angels interceded to save the people of their impending destruction by showing them the hope that they have lost. After which the two angels had been cast down to earth on the said spot until the end of times for offending God's plan." Then I turned to look at him who was staring back at me, and continued, "It's a story, my brother told me then while he was lying on his bed... I just feel like we're trying so hard to save our people from the wrath of God, and we're like the angels, stuck here, and we can't do anything about it." then slowly he moved closer and spoke, while combing my hair with his fingers "but i have you here with me, so i guess it's not that bad after all."
The cold breeze of the dawn slowly crept beneath our feet, then afternoon came swiftly. Timothy sat by the stream to catch some more trout for the night as I basked by the stone covered shore. "We could always be like this you know, we could leave the war, and spend the rest of our lives like this together. " I paused but he was silent as he looked far at the end of the line which was bobbing on the current. Then I continued, "I mean if we could only just..."
"Marco, what would become of us if we leave them here?"
I flung a few stones far down the stream and looked at him and said, "And, what would become of us if one of us gets killed?"
"Maybe that's how it all works in here, that none of us gets out of it alive, not now, not until it's all over." Replied Timothy as he quickly pulled in the rod towards him. The worm squirmed, clinging around the hook which pierced its annelid skin, and then he cast the line back to the gushing water.
Further downstream we decided to bathe on a small pool of water before heading back to the station. The sky seemed surreal, like streaks of pigments slowly dissolving in water; like that painting I saw in a gallery once, called Summer skies. The clouds reflected hues of cerulean and crimson on our bare skin while we drifted across the water, afloat on its placid surface.
"Timothy, can you promise, never to leave me?"
"Yes, I won't. I'll always be here for you."
After that, I told him that I liked him a lot.
Then he replied "I like you too Marco," as we stared at the wide open sky above us. The whole place grew darker as the dusk came near, I could hear the rustling of the trees with the sound of birds that hid under its crevices... and it felt like the end.
At the break of dawn, we started to pack our things and prepare to head back to the main camp. We set off on foot through the meandering trails within the redwood forest. Far ahead, I saw a fawn grazing on a patch of grass which hurriedly fled away upon hearing a loud booming noise from somewhere. We looked at each other and then he anxiously told me "The French must have found our post!" We ran until finally reaching the base where we, together with the other soldiers, gathered our weapons and quickly prepared to charge. They have surrounded the main camp from all sides and have caught us unprepared. Then I shouted,
"Timothy, there's something that I want to tell you."
"What is it?"
"I have found a map... underneath the rubbles at the baptistery... It leads to Thalamos."
"What are you talking about?"
"My brother was the one who told me that I can find it in there, the map of the lost city. I want you to come with me..."
"I can't. You know I can't. And besides, the story is just a myth... how could you believe in such things." "If the stories were true, the fallen angels would still be there, and maybe then they could help us." Then Timothy replied, "I can't go with you, you know that, but I won't force you to stay either."
Then I said, "But, I won't leave you."
He looked at me baffled and without words, and then we started shooting at the enemy with our pistols and hid behind the wide trunks of the forest trees. All of a sudden we heard the loud shout of the battalion commander's order for our retreat. Then I felt a hard thud and realized that I had been shot. I fell on the ground and hurriedly tied a kerchief over the wound. I looked up and saw him stop for a while and then start to walk away, looking at me with an expression that I can't quite comprehend. He looked afraid and confused... then he slowly disappeared behind the haze of the morning fog. There, I stayed still, lying on the mossy roots of a tree, waiting for help.
They say that we only love with our whole heart and soul just once in our entire lives, and that a part of us also dies when we lose someone we love so much. For most of my life, I've convinced myself that it won't be the end of the road, that life is still worth living. But what should one do if everything he sees reminds him of that single moment? What becomes of the rest of his life, but a ghost of another's? I escaped from the French by passing through the path which led to our secret place. For days I stayed, and kept on waiting and hoping that he might look for me there.
Seven years have passed and there I was lost in the middle of nowhere, alone, in despair, and in search for salvation. The desert sun must have slowly taken its hold of my senses when from there I saw two figures standing not so far away from my patch of desert trees. I scampered through the undergrowth and found my way out through the tangled branches. I ran limping, dragging along the barren surface towards the image. Then as I came closer, there it was, the gates of the lost city of Thalamos with the lapidary figures of the two angels towering before me. I stood there for a while, trying to recall why I was there -what I was searching for. I passed through the gates and saw nothing but the desolate vastness. My knees began to rattle, then I fell down on the ground, decrypt and lifeless. I took hold of my canister, but only a few drops of water came out. Then I hear a voice.
"Hey there beautiful... you found me."
I looked up and there he was sitting on a rock beside me. The sun shone bright behind him, so I could not quite see his shaded form. Then I tried to speak, but my voice was course and weak.
"You're here... I looked everywhere for you..."
Then he said, "I'm sorry."
I paused and continued,
"Did you even love me Timothy?"
"Yes I did."
The wind blew on his skin which turned to sand,
"I never had the chance to say how much I love you."
Then he told me, "You don't have to, I always knew..."
I rubbed my eyes and tried to look at his face one last time, and said,
"Don't you ever leave me like this anymore."
Then I saw him there, like a pale moon eclipsing the blazing sun, as he told me,
"I'll stay here with you till the end."
The sun was high, and above us I could hear the shrieks of vultures getting closer and closer.