He lay on his back in the soft grass and looked up at the sky, the sun setting calmly behind the rolling hills and the clouds drifting aimlessly above him. He sometimes wondered if he was a cloud, he wandered aimlessly for days on end and then suddenly he couldn't find himself.
He didn't know how big the garden was, but it hardly mattered as he had never found an edge.
He probably wasn't a cloud, he reflected, clouds were above him, they were never down where he was. Maybe he had fallen, that was why he wasn't white a fluffy. He knew it was unlikely that he was a cloud, but he liked the clouds.
He liked birds as well, he liked the things in the sky, they were free.
A bird landed beside him, a crow that seemed to make no sound and stared at him with one of its dark eyes.
Do you think there is an edge to this garden? He asked the crow, who remained fixed but didn't respond. I bet you'd know, you can fly as far as you want, I have to walk.
The crow continued to stare.
You're being rude, you know? He told it.
The crow glanced away and squawked. Another crow landed quietly beside him.
Do you think there is an edge to this garden? He asked the new crow.
The birds glanced at each other and then one squawked at him.
I'm sorry, but I don't understand, he told them.
He heard something then, but it was far away, and quiet.
The birds looked at each other again and then one of them gestured and the pair flew away together. They disappeared into the clouds within moments. He stood as instructed and looked out at the horizon. The garden stretched as far as he could see in every direction, he knew it went further even than that. He had walked the garden a great deal but had never found the edge.
He sometimes entertained himself with the notion that there was no edge, but the notion never lasted him long. He knew that it was possible that there was no edge to the garden, it could have covered the whole planet.
But he didn't want it to.
This place was not all there was, he knew that in a way that denied knowledge, if proved wrong he would hold tight to his belief. But he couldn't make a rocket, so he would have had to resign himself to it being all there was for him.
While it had yet to happen he would hold hope.
He was fairly sure that he was a prisoner here, and that somehow the place was actually smaller than it seemed. But obviously he couldn't find evidence of this. He looked out at the horizon, over the hills that stretched away from him.
This world was all the same, his world didn't change.
He'd never seen a crow before.
He lay back down and wondered at that, he'd never seen a crow before that day. Why had he seen one now? He stood again and looked out at the never ending hills, there was something about those hills that bothered him every time he saw them. They were all devoid of the plants he saw around him, devoid of the life that he was surrounded by.
When he walked he always saw life.
Damn that crow, didn't even need to talk to make him look stupid.
He sat down again and stared out over the empty hills. He wondered that he had never made the connection before, surely he had noticed before, but the connection had never been made. He really felt like an idiot.
He had often wondered how he could get out. The place was a paradise, but it wasn't nearly enough for him, he wasn't perfect, he didn't need a perfect world. He had been there much too long, far to look to be on his own. He had never been able to find the edge of this place before, but now he had.
He didn't know how to get there.
He wondered where the crows had gone, maybe they could have told him how to get out. He wondered at their rudeness, surely they would talk to him when he talked to them. But they had done no such thing. If they wanted to help, then they should have talked.
Surely they had been there to help him.
He lay back on the grass and watched as the sky changed above him, the blue darkened and the clouds faded from his sight. He could see some outlined by the light of the stars, but the moon was not up and so he could not see as well as he would have preferred.
He felt like it was better to leave at night.
He felt the moon peek above the horizon behind him and he stood. Slowly the pale light washed over the garden around him. The night plants shifted in the dirt, and he watched as the life came in a new way once again.
He stood and stretched and looked over the empty hills. He had to get to them, but he had tried before to find a way out, he had walked for days and days. He had been unable to find a place where anything changed. He had walked for weeks and never seen a change. It made sense now, in a way, why that was. But he didn't quite understand.
He started walking, as he had so many times, towards the empty hills. But he had never made the connection before, maybe it would be different this time. He still felt like an idiot for never realising that it actually meant something that those hills were empty.
He strode with purpose, something he hadn't done for a while, towards the empty hills. There was something about the sky above the hills, another thing he had never really noticed before. But this one was harder to spot, whenever he stopped, it stopped. It was only when he was moving that it was strange.
He stared up at the stars as he walked, paying only enough attention to where he was going to avoid tripping. And then he saw it. Again he just felt stupid, it maybe wasn't so obvious this time, but it was still quite silly. Above the hills the stars didn't move but above him they did when he walked.
But it was different again, the hills stretched out in front of him, but the stars curved above him. It was hard to describe, like a wall that he skirted around without realising. Or maybe that was exactly it, he thought.
He tripped and landed heavily, jarring one of his wrists. He sat up and rubbed the sore arm as he looked up t the sky, perhaps walking and staring directly upwards were not a good combination. But it seemed that it would be necessary so that he could tell where he was going.
He stood up and looked above him, he started walking slowly, almost feeling along the ground before he took a step to make sure he didn't trip. It was definitely curved. He turned until it was straighter before him and continued on his way.
It was hard, he couldn't seem to help turning away from what was obviously a wall. And then he ran straight into it and the real sky disappeared from above him. He was left staring at what seemed to be almost like a painting of the world behind the wall, but one that shifted and moved. He knew what it was, but the word wasn't there.
He took a deep breath and a step back. He raised his hands and touched the wall before him. The one that had shown him these hills for his whole life. It had been the backdrop for his life and his subject of contemplation.
There came a sound, it wasn't quite a sound, but it was close. It was like someone far away was shouting. He had heard it before, but it was louder now. He paused from his contemplation of the wall, but it was gone again. He turned back.
He stared at those fake hills, rolling away towards the horizon, and found that he didn't want to be rid of them. This was his home, and as little as he liked it, he couldn't avoid the truth. He didn't to be completely rid of it. He wasn't ready to be free.
He sat against the wall and looked up at the real sky, he knew that it could have been fake, but it didn't seem it. The clouds moved across the stars, sometimes it rained, sometimes the sun was so strong he felt like he would burn up. It was the real sky above him, why not the real sky around him? Or the real world?
Why did he need to be kept there? Why him and not someone else?
He wasn't interesting.
He stood again and turned back to the wall, he ran his hands along it and found that it was slightly warm, slightly luminescent as well. He knew the word for it, he could have sworn he knew what it was. But he couldn't remember.
He kept a hand on the wall and turned around, he needed to find a way through, or something to make himself one. Nothing ever died in his place, and he couldn't bring himself to break one of the plants so that he could use that.
He turned back to the wall and took a deep breath, let it out, took another, let it out, and another. He held his breath for a moment and struck. It hurt a great deal, splitting the skin on his knuckles, causing him to bleed. But it was worth it, cracks spread from where he had stuck.
He took another deep breath and before he could back out, he struck again. It hurt more this time, but the screen cracked further, a piece fell out when he withdrew his fist. That was what it was, it was a screen that showed him what it felt he should see.
He pinched a piece of glass between his nails and removed it from his knuckle, it hurt.
He hit the screen again and again until it started to spark and smoke, which was definitely a thing he didn't want to be near. He moved away, but not too far in case he couldn't find the spot again. He sat down and half watched as the screen tried not to catch aflame while he tried his best to get all the glass out of his hand.
He watched and waited but nothing really happened, it eventually fizzled out and seemed to have no effect on the rest of the screen. He was loath to injure one of the plants, but he didn't seem to have much choice, he couldn't really touch the screen at this point.
There was a small tree that he figured he could probably use part of. He didn't much want to injure it, but it seemed like his only choice. And it would probably survive anyway. He stood again and moved over to the tree, he gripped a sturdy looking limb and pulled. The whole tree bent for a moment and then the branch broke off and came free.
Sorry, but I need this to get out, he told the tree.
It didn't reply and he tried to believe that it wasn't from the pain or that he had killed it. He hadn't ever heard a tree talk, so maybe they didn't. Maybe he hadn't killed the tree. He really hoped he hadn't, maybe he could put the branch back when he was done.
He swung with all his might and the screen caved and glass shattered and cracked all the way up to the top of the wall. He swung again and the cabled within tore and came flying out. The thing looked ready to burst into flames.
He stabbed at it until the sparks spread too far from the screen and any attempt to stomp out the fire was made impossible by the shards of glass on the ground. Still he couldn't see through the thing, he felt something solid behind it, but could no longer get close enough to try to break it.
He could only see one path before him.
Deep breaths. He stepped into the flame and glass and ignored the pain in his feet as he beat at the back of the screen. He heard an almighty crack and the world twisted strangely for a moment, and then the other way. It didn't take a genius to work out what was happening.
He couldn't even feel his feet and he turned and ran with all his strength.
He ran and ran until he reached the top of the hill. It would be hard to say how, but he knew that this was the centre. It was the middle of his prison, surely the walls weren't that high. But as he watched the screen before him bend and scream, he wasn't so sure.
It felt like years that he watched the wall try its level best to not break. But it couldn't have been more than an hour before cracks appeared all over the hills before him, spreading from the black spot where he had smashed the screen open.
The wall didn't fall down, much to his disappointment, and what did happen was much worse.
The cracks spread across the whole of the surface until the green hills he had once loved to watch were covered in a spiders web of dark splits. And then they started to fall. Pieces of his old green hills started to go dark and fall off the walls, shattering on the ground and slowly the entire ring in which he had spent his life had gone dark and smashed on the ground.
He couldn't even go down from his hill now, he would have had to literally wade through broken glass to get to the edge of the ring. Understandably he was very reluctant to try to get out now, his home had been destroyed and still he couldn't escape it.
He couldn't remember a time when he hadn't wanted to leave this place. He had been there much too long, but he had never wanted it to be like this. He hadn't waned to destroy this home, as much as he had disliked the place.
He wanted to get out, but there was glass everyone now.
It wasn't something that he could breathe through like he had with the fire or the initial breaking of the screen. It would almost definitely have killed him if he had tried to get out now. He didn't know anything about dying, but he knew he didn't want to do it.
He took a deep breath and sighed, he was so close but now he was trapped.
He lay back and looked up at the sky, it was lighter now, but it was still dark within his walls. The screens were all gone, they didn't simulate the sun like they should have. But slowly the sun crept above the edge of the walls and shone within.
The result was spectacular, the way the sun shone through all the pieces of glass that lay around and reflected and refracted and lit everything up. It was almost worth not being able to get past the glass for the couple of hours that the sun shone in.
And then it was dark again.
He never had a problem when it was dark at night, he didn't mind the dark at all. But this was different, this was the darkness of a place that should not have had anyone within. It was the darkness of a dead place.
He had to get out.
But the glass…
There was the sound again, it was like someone speaking, but just out of hearing. Someone shouting, someone like him. It was the sound of a person like him, looking for him. It was different from the crow, it wasn't sound like an animal it was speech like his own.
Are you still there? Asked the new voice, a man from a long way away.
I am still here, he told the man. I am trapped by this glass.
Something hurt, it wasn't his injuries, it was his head. It hurt to be seen from so far away.
You are as trapped as I am, my friend, the voice told him. If you let me borrow from you, I will set you free.
Borrow? He asked the voice.
You must give me your consent or I cannot free you, the voice said.
I want to free myself, he told the voice.
It wasn't a sound he had heard before, or a piece of speech. It wasn't something that had existed within his mind before. The voice laughed at him, or laughed with him, there was no mockery, only mirth. It was funny.
You are strong like I am, the voice told him. Maybe even stronger, that is why they hold us.
He didn't understand, he knew he was strong, he had broken the screen, he had shown his prison for what it was. But what did that have to do with anything?
How are you strong? He asked the voice.
I used my choices to harm the world, the voice told him. People like us can use our ability to change the world around us. Surely this is what you have done?
People like us? He asked.
There was no reply.
Change the world, he thought, the voice had told him that he could change the world. Then he must. He had to be free of this place, he couldn't stand it any longer. He couldn't live with this place, so he had to change it.
The wind began to blow.
He had never felt the wind before, he shouldn't have known it, but he did. It was the wind, a wind he had never felt locked in his cage. Why did it come now? Why was there wind in his cage? He wasn't sure he wanted it.
Another deep breath.
The wind got stronger.
He could hear the glass shifting in the wind, maybe it would blow the glass away. He needed to concentrate, he needed to be able to concentrate, surely, if he were to change the world.
Yet another deep breath.
He could feel his hair whipping around his head as the wind great stronger and started to move in circles. He could hear the glass shifting and when he opened his eyes he saw a storm around him, the glass slowly shifting and lifting from the ground around him.
He hadn't thought himself quite so oblivious.
He stood and stepped into the storm he had brought to his cage. The air was calm around him, but he could see the shining glass moving through the storm and incredible speeds. He paused and watched the storm around him. But eventually he pressed on.
He reached the other side of his storm and found the jagged edge left at the bottom of the wall.
Surely it had been further away when last he had walked there. It had barely taken a minute through the storm. But it was his storm, maybe that was it.
He carefully stepped over the glass and found more within, which cut his feet. But he pressed on, he didn't know how long the storm would last. Knowing that he had made it gave him no more control over it.
He ran a hand over the outside of the wall and found seams at regular intervals, vertically and horizontally. He found and intersection and, taking a deep breath, hit it. He didn't know how to change the world, not really, so he hit the wall.
Over and over until his knuckles opened up again. He hit the wall until he felt the metal bend and then he kept hitting it. He pushed at the sharp edges and cut his fingers, but was rewarded with light like he'd never seen before. It wasn't real.
He almost stopped and turned around, the light he found at the end of this tunnel was not real, it was fake. It was too bright and it was too blue and it was too cold. He took another deep breath and the metal bent outwards all the way this time.
They all looked so different, they weren't the same. All these people, all staring, all different.
He didn't want it.
A crow landed on his shoulder and squawked.
What did you mean by borrow? He asked the crow.
A/N: Ok, I realise that the magic, or equivalent, is a little like deus ex machina, but it was hard to stretch out any more. Plus he is discovering a magic, or equivalent, power within himself. So it can be as random and unreasonably simple as it likes, it is magic, or equivalent.
Someone asked about the italics, it is to show that he isn't talking, it is to do with his magic, or equivalent, and is the reason that someone far away can reply.