The Silver Book
Part I: Reclusion
There was a field, and in this field that stretched for miles and miles like the Barren Body did tall reeds grow, their lanky bodies reaching to the sky for light. They flowed with vibrant green color, miniscule bugs pecking their wings to the buds and flittered above the stalk heads in thick swarms, almost as if in a leisurely dance. Flowers sprouted up through them, flourishing through the field and they looked like sweet little things with white velvety petals that wrapped up in a cocoon around the flower's head. They unfurled gracefully, crowning a smiling yellow face that lay to bed many butterflies. They spread their silken wings and fluttered to the sky, attempting to find solstice and home in the blanket of cotton white clouds. The sky was bright and blue, looming above a young girl whose eyes mirrored the face of blue as a round sphere of bright, hot light materialized in the corner of the sky. The girl wrapped her fingers amongst the stalks and combed them through, angering the miniscule bugs so they clung to her fingertips and nibbled on her skin almost unhappily. She gave a faraway smile to the wind as it wound through her golden curls, caressing her jaw and shoulders and she hummed a melodious tune to the butterflies as they were carried away from her. The whole field looked as if it smelled fresh and faintly sweet, and it pulsed with life, bringing you down to lay amongst the reeds and the bugs and the flowers as the butterflies loomed above your head, coming together in a synchronized ballet.
A nameless tune hummed past the girl's thin lips, sounding like a cross between the lullaby "Hush Little Baby" and "Baa Baa Black Sheep" when a vague glimpse of destruction was captured in her mind's eye—something that she was far more familiar with than the lush field that she stood in, swarming with life all around her. Dirt roads and cracked, black tar pavement was diseased with shoots of weeds amongst their jagged cracks and the flies that swarmed them were fat and buzzed monotonously; some flowers wilted, and those that survived grew in underground pots of cracked porcelain; butterflies had their silken wings torn out by careless children; the sky wept inky black and a stirring, unnerving darkness creeped upon her with lingering shadows that hungered for something that she would never wish to give up—the freedom of life.
But suddenly, everything seemed to make sense—clicking into place for the girl with the blue eyes as a complete puzzle with no missing pieces. Everything was perfect.
The ground rumbled beneath her naked feet, stirring her out of the dawn of realization. The shock caused her to turn in alarm as an ungodly blemish ruptured through the reeds, breaking any that stood close and caused the others within reach to shy away and wilt, bending against the wind like old men. She stepped toward the strange sprout tentatively, the reed stalks clinging to her fingers to keep her from coming any closer to it. They tickled her knees as they curled around her shins, attempting to ward her away and turn back. But this girl, this brave young girl, reached a hand out to it.
The thing that sprouted through the ground was a giant, monstrous flower—as big as her, if not a bit bigger—created from corroded and discolored metal. The petals were a dull dark grey, with its razor sharp edges tinged coppery and looked deformed and twisted. The stem was covered in thorns, and a jagged leaf jut out from each side of it like crooked wings. The sharp petals reached out to her outstretched hand, and a voice that barely classified as a whisper lingered in the air.
"It is time to come back to me," The voice spoke to her. "It is time to come back to what you really know."
The young girl pulled back as if the deformed flower had snapped at her like a hungering beast—
(Did that flower just speak to me?...)
She shook her head and looked up to the sky to the butterflies, asking for guidance and their wings shuddered in contemplation before they lifted away.
(Help me. Please…)
They were unable to give her any answer.
"It is time to come back to what you really know..." The voice repeated again, and she turned back to the blossom—back to the reaching petal that was asking for her hand. She bit down on her trembling lip and stepped toward it once again, extending her hand to it but she was shaking now—anxiety settled into the pit of her stomach when she wondered if the courage she once felt had deserted her just like the pulse of life had deserted the green field and the blue skies and the silk-winged butterflies. All she felt was her rapidly pumping heart and how every little vein and sinew in her small body thumped in unison under her skin and in her flesh, and her head was suddenly full with incoherent sounds. They pounded loudly against her eardrums, and she wondered if they would rupture. The girl was wondering about a lot of things suddenly.
As the young girl's fingertips almost grazed the flower's petal did the jagged leaves on the thorny stem lash out at her, wrapping around her tiny wrist in a vice grip and she flinched back, screaming. The petal slithered against her trembling palm, cold and foreign and it dug into her skin. She didn't feel any pain—just the petal writhing till her skin opened jaggedly and her blood bubbled out like glistening ruby jewels, coming in thick droplets onto the flower. It spread against the corroded metal, almost as if in the form of veins and arteries, till it reached the head of the blossom and drank it in. Its thick roots impaled the ground, pushing through the dirt and launching up to the sky, shifting through the other flowers to latch around her ankles and pull her down. She shot her leg forward, trying to kick them away but she collapsed, landing hard on her hip and elbow and watched in horror as the roots slithered up her legs, contorting around her sides to continue gliding over her spine slowly as if to completely engulf her. They coiled into her hair, thorns dragging over her scalp to twist into her curls. The vines dragged her through the broken, withered reeds by her hair and she latched onto them by the fistful. Her heart escaped her ears and returned to her chest where it began to throw itself against the walls of her ribs, like a lonely bird throwing itself against its cage walls, singing to be let out. The fistfuls of reeds she grabbed came undone from the dirt and were dragged away with her in useless clumps, still clutched in her grasp. She screamed, thrashed, dug her fingers into the corroded metal roots that claimed her hair till her nails tore and her fingertips bled. Everything in the field began to die around her. The clouds began to rain, the sky turned dull and grey, the reeds were drained of color and resembled a dead hay crop, the velvety flowers wilted and died, and the butterflies curled their wings up into their lithe bodies—dropping out of the sky like a plague of pestilence to land in the field and turn into fat greasy flies with twitching legs.
She gripped the vines till her hands shook, desperately trying to pull her hair free when the roots pulled up from the ground and hoisted her into the air, and a dark gaping hole opened up below her, almost looking as if the surface of the earth was being torn open to form a giant mouth that was to consume her. The broken reed stalks circled around it like demented teeth and the darkness of it told her that she was going to be dropped into a bottomless abyss of a stomach. The darkness squirmed, and a pair of giant eyes peeled back their lids, revealing deformed and menacing pools of glimmering gold with sharp obsidian diamond pupils, while no irises were seen, and they seemed to imitate a beastly form of feline eyes. Arteries of black crawled from the inner and outer corners, not even grazing the sharp diamond pupils and the eyelids stretched back even further, rounding out the shape so now they truly reflected the unblinking eyes of a cat.
"It is time to come back to what you really know…" The voice whispered to her as the metal roots released their grip from her and she was freefalling into the mouth of the earth with the slanted rain following after her, plunging down closer and closer to the deformed eyes. Gold reflected amongst her porcelain skin, illuminating her like a glorious creature before they suddenly snapped shut with a rabid yowling sound—like a cat that had the unwanted pleasure of having their tail suddenly stepped on.
The young girl's body hit hard ground, and her bright blue eyes suddenly snapped wide open, twitching and rolling around in her eye sockets with vertigo. She groaned and propped herself up on a sore elbow, rubbing the back of her head from the impact it had on the floor when she tumbled out of her bed. Her legs crooked up on the edge of the mattress with her dingy sheets wrapped around her ankles, tangling them up like the monstrous flower's roots had done before pulling her to the ground to drag her through the reeds by her hair.
It—It's just another dream!... She reassured herself of something she already knew with a relieved but shaky sigh and settled back onto the floor, throwing her arm over her eyes with her chest heaving. Just another dream…
A pair of giant, golden and stretched cat eyes flashed like a brief picture in the back of her mind and she cringed on the floor, curling her sheets up to her chest for comfort and removed the arm thrown over her face to bury it into the sheets, inhaling their musty scent.
Just another dream.
"Another nightmare, Adira, sweetheart?"
Adira pulled away the sheets from her face and tilted her chin up to see her father standing in her bedroom doorway, holding a flickering candle by its rusted silver candlestick. His burly physique filled up the doorway, leaving barely any space to peek past him and he pushed through it to stand over her. With a chuckle on his breath and a folly shake of his head, he placed his candlestick on her bare nightstand (as she had knocked all her possessions off it in her tumble out of bed), and he knelt down at her side with a hand clasped over his knee. She rolled onto her elbow to look up at him properly.
Her father was the very creature of broad— broad shoulders and broad chested. His powerful arms swung at his sides when he walked around their home and did his daily chores and his proud gait reminded her of a noble being— a king, perhaps. The way he'd hold his head and step with his right foot first, how his thick hands and fingers would take on gentle movements as he used them in descriptive gestures while speaking to any and all, and the benevolent glint that held the heart of his eyes gave a majestic and affectionate air to any and all that surrounded him. His wide nose sat above thin lips, the contours of his cheekbones jut out below his dark brown eyes, framed by crow's feet, and his broad jaw was caressed with thick hair— dark brown adorned with streaks of grey that was introduced to the coming of wisdom in his age. Fifty years old, yet he couldn't look a day over his forties with mid-forties being the oldest anyone unknowing of his age had guessed.
"Have you hurt yourself?" He asked in a low, concerned volume and he began to untangle her sheets from her legs as he waited for her to answer.
"Ju- Just my head…" She murmured, and looked up at him with the back of her head throbbing and the funny joint of her elbow buzzing with achy tingles. "And my elbow."
"You fell out of your bed?"
She nodded, and he gave a kind smile.
"Out of all the nightmares you've had, I think this is a first for you taking a tumble out of your bed."
Adira scrunched up her nose and sat upright completely, brushing a hand through her unruly golden curls till her fingers were able to completely rake through them without snagging a knot.
"Do you want to talk about it?" He asked sympathetically.
"I was in a field," She began without hesitation. Her father would not push for an answer, which is why she gave it to him willingly, as she always did after a nightmare. "It was full of weeds, but they were… different. It was green, not brown like the weeds outside. It almost felt like it was alive… Like it was breathing. Like the Covert!"
At this point, her father's thick eyebrows were furrowed together, due to contemplation rather than concern. He said nothing when she paused, but he nodded his head for her to continue.
"I saw those things Ms. Spindle from the Covert called "butterflies," Adira explained. "Now that I think about it… The whole field felt like one big greenhouse that stretched for miles and miles—but it was above ground instead of underground. Or at least I think it was… It was all open space like it is outside."
"Is that right?" He smiled faintly at her.
The Covert was an underground sanctuary—a greenhouse— that housed plants, animals, and some insects that were unable to thrive above with the unceasing Darkness and the peculiar stray of cold, unwelcomed wind. The Covert was held in the Agricultural sector, where all the farms were built and the livestock grazed. The farms were built above ground but had been abandoned during some point in time, and all livestock were brought underground to the Covert to continue living. The last time Adira had visited with her father, she helped Darlene Spindle, the woman who owned the greenhouse, feed the last male of the cows—a lazy bull that was affectionately named Old Wilbur.
"What else did you see that reminded you of the Covert?" Her father asked after some time of quiet deliberation.
"Flowers… Lots of them! And it wasn't dark, it was really— I don't know how to describe it, dad. I don't know how to tell you what it was like. It wasn't dark and shadowy like it always is outside, it was like… It was like there was—…" She fumbled over her words before finally heaving a huff of frustration, looking to the candlestick her father brought with him when he entered her room. A thought struck her. "It was like a giant candle!"
"A giant candle?" He echoed good-naturedly with another smile, another chuckle, and another shake of his head. The shake of his head wasn't condescending or intended with malice, but was clearly derived from fascination.
"Yeah, a giant candle in the sky— just lighting up the whole field… But it was still different than that. The sky was blue, too. Bright blue. Like my eyes!" She pointed to both of her eyes with her fingers on one hand— her pointer finger for her left eye and her middle finger for her right eye. "There was a round, white thing in the sky, too. I think that's what lit everything up, like a big candle in a really big room."
"You always have the most interesting dreams out of all the children I know, Adira." He grinned, almost proudly.
"But that isn't where it's a nightmare!" She exclaimed, her eyes following her father as he got up from the floor and held out a hand to her to help her to her feet as well in one liquid motion. "This big, ugly flower broke through the ground and starting destroying the field! When I went up to it, it attacked me and dragged me away!"
"How did a flower manage to do that?" He teased her.
"It was just a nightmare… Strange things happen in them—but if you must know, its roots came out of the ground and wrapped around my ankles!" Adira gestured to her legs with a flick of her wrist as a chill ran up her spine; she remembered how the cold metal vines slithered up her legs before forcing her to the ground. "Then they got into my hair and dragged me away and threw me into this hole in the ground. It was really dark down there, and then a pair of eyes opened up." She brought her hands up to her own eyes, palms facing outward to her father and she bunched her fingers together, imitating a flower bud before she fanned them open— as if trying to exasperate her point. "They—… They looked like a cat's eyes, daddy…" Her hands limply dropped back into her lap with a plop as one of her hands smacked her thigh.
Her father's smile disappeared and his brows were now furrowed together, crinkling the thatch of skin there in concern and he wrapped his arms around her, picking her up from the ground and placing her gently on the edge of her bed where he sat next to her, bowing the thin mattress under his weight. She was trembling, and the reason for that was the fact that Adira had been afraid of cats for as long as she could remember—and "for as long as she could remember" meant as far back as her nightmares plagued her, but again, she wouldn't be able to tell you when they began exactly because they happened practically every night. It had turned into one big blur of repetitive dreams of things that frightened her, and they frightened her because they seemed to have no underlying message but were simply there to torment her. No nightmare repeated itself, and no two nightmares were exact replicas of one another, either, and the only thing that they all had in common were a cat's pair of golden eyes with the diamond-shaped pupils somewhere along the events of her nightmare. They usually appeared at the end, so she wouldn't forget that they were there—continuously watching her even when she wasn't in her Dream Space any longer and she was completely awake. The golden feline eyes would still linger in the back of her mind, like a taunting shadow imprinted amongst the optic nerves of her eyes and the clicking synapses of her brain.
Her father sighed sympathetically and nodded his head in understanding, and she crawled into his lap for a tight embrace—which he gave without saying a word. His small brown eyes wandered to the carpeted floor where her possessions—the ones she had knocked off her nightstand when she fell out of bed—lay strewn about in disarray. Adira followed her father's gaze and stared at the discarded items as well, observing each by their silhouettes, bathed in golden light, in the soft glow of her father's candle by memory and familiarity. She recognized the picture of her mother and father holding each other lovingly, encased in glass and a tarnished brass picture frame; a figure of bent wires and metal welded together to portray an idle owl, where for each of its eyes was a gem orb, discolored as a faint rusty red-orange; last but not least was a candlestick of her own that she had extinguished before crawling under her bed covers and falling asleep.
"I wanna draw," Adira spoke off-handedly before her jaw dropped with an obnoxious yawn and she rubbed her eyes with the butts of her palms. When she removed her hands from her eyes they flittered to the wall that was opposite of her bed, and in the dim lighting she could see pictures tacked onto the plaster. The pictures almost completely covered the wall, and some were overlapping each other to make more room, but each and every one of them were her very own drawings and she drew things from her dreams. The first few things that caught her eyes were drawings of strange winged creatures sitting atop statues, haphazard sketches that bore some resemblance to tall buildings in the light of the giant glowing orb in the sky, and a proud woman holding up a torch.
"Well, what you want to draw will have to wait till morning. It is still quite early." He spoke to her gently, pecking her on the forehead affectionately and he cradled her off his lap, standing up to lay her down to bed. He plucked up her pillow from the ground and placed it under her head, which she snuggled into eagerly. He pulled up her sheets and bed cover from the floor and refitted them neatly to her bed as she continued to talk.
"But I wanna draw that flower for you… Before I forget—" She yawned again, covering her mouth tiredly and closed her eyes. "Before I forget to…"
"I'll remind you at breakfast," He smiled as he pulled the covers over her and she brought them up to her chin, curling her body up into their welcomed warmth and musty smell. It reminded her father that he would have to do laundry in the morning. He picked up the toppled items; picture frame, owl, and silver candlestick from the floor and placed them on her nightstand, replacing his own candlestick with her valuables.
"G'Night, daddy…" She murmured sleepily as he pecked her on the forehead once again and she drifted off to sleep.
"Good night, sweetheart." He murmured back as he made his way to the doorway and brought himself through, offering a soft smile to the silent air. "I love you." And disappeared to the kitchen where he had been up all night sitting at, tracing shapes into the wood design with tired eyes.
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