I woke with a jolt, my whole torso violently springing upwards as my body forcibly expelled water and bile onto the dirt next to me. Red and black pinpricks painted my vision, and pain lanced up and down my torso with each ragged, desperate breath.
Okay, so I wasn't dead. I might have thought this was good if it weren't for the agony making it very, very hard to breath.
Soon running on empty, I dry heaved and coughed for awhile, all the while feeling a warm spot on my back where someone must have been patting it. As my breaths began to even out and deepen, lessening the pain from my injuries, my other senses seemed to recover some.
"That's it, sonny. Calm down and breathe. You're okay," a soothing voice said by my ear.
I certainly didn't feel okay. My muscles screamed louder in protest with each passing second, and I supposed I must have more wounds than were sustained with my fall. My head swirled with confusion and fear. An ever rising panic climbed up my throat and constricted my lungs. I racked my mind for something, anything; a memory, a name, but there was nothing but a loathsome emptiness. I felt lightheaded and dizzy. There was something missing, I knew it. But I was empty. Empty and void and light with what was missing, afraid I might unravel and float away from existence if I breathed too deeply or dug too deep into my own mind.
I felt I might be sick.
The man rubbing my back was murmuring gently, and my eyes snapped open of their own accord as he was suddenly, uncomfortably in front of my face. I caught sight of concerned, blue eyes and his stubbly, long chin.
He furrowed a bushy brow and placed a hand on my shoulder before speaking,
"What's your name, son?"
"I-I…" I then promptly threw up on his shoes.
To his credit, he didn't recoil but simply grimaced and squeezed my shoulder reassuringly before looking up past me,
"Let's get him to Agra,"
My eyes stung and my vision was blurry, sounds seemed far away and distant and I knew I was shaking from more than just the cold. Though I wasn't sure why.
Was I crying?
"Here, son," the man's voice was sympathetic and gentle as he wrapped an arm carefully around my torso, and drew my limp arm over his shoulder before standing. I choked out a pained gasp as my vision flickered and my knees buckled from the sudden flare of agony in my chest. All I wanted to do was curl up on the ground and weep until I passed out, but I somehow manage to keep standing, and even took a wobbling step as the man started to walk,
"That's it, good lad. We'll bring you to Agra, and she'll fix you right up; but I need you to stay awake for me for awhile, kay?"
I nodded at the ground but didn't speak for fear of my voice cracking from the pain or misery or whatever else happened to be currently afflicting me. I sniffed and clenched my jaw against the pain and the tears threatening to leak from my eyes. Though most of my weight was being taken by my rescuer, it was still a struggle to match his steps and I felt myself slipping away from consciousness more and more. But I was fairly sure that this man had saved my life, so I tried my best to honor his wishes and stay awake. I had enough presence of mind to realize that the longer I stayed awake, the sooner I would reach some kind of help.
I vaguely heard the sound of someone else's footsteps behind me, and murmured voices being exchanged between that person and the man holding me up. I felt exhausted, too confused and in pain to really care what it was they were saying, but I caught snippets every now and then as time passed with no real measure,
"…Agra won't be happy…"
"…the bruises go up his arm…"
"…can't be more than thirteen…"
"…just a bit longer, lad, hold on..."
I tried, I really tried to stay awake. But the buzz in my head just kept growing and the pain was just so tiring and it was becoming really, truly difficult to keep my eyes open. It felt like I was floating, though, distantly, I knew I was probably growing increasingly heavier.
I don't know whether it was an hour or a few seconds before I tripped on something and the ensuing pain from the strain on my ribs sent me reeling towards the ground and into darkness.
Someone was slapping me. This annoyed me to a dangerous extreme. As if I wasn't enough the worse for wear, someone had decided it would do good to wake me from my blissful unawareness. The pain that had been distant and shoved to the back of my mind. in my oblivion was now growing stronger with each second as I was dragged backwards against my will into reality.
I groaned and tilted my head away in weak protest as someone pulled my eye open and the sun burned against it. I continued moving my head from side to side, staring at the blurry face above me and the fragmented lights and colors, waiting for things to clear up. Incoherent, muffled warbles fell from the face's mouth, and I could only stare at it in confusion as the words began to sharpen and take form along with the face itself.
"Son, are you alright, can you hear me?" I moaned in response and started to close my eyes again, glad that that was settled, but I was rudely slapped on the cheek again, slightly, and I forced my eyes open,
"Oh, no you don't," the man said. I saw it was the same man who had been carrying me earlier. But hadn't that been a dream? I was sure that had never…
My breathing quickened alongside the sudden palpitations of my own heart, and I began whipping my head about frantically.
A hazy fog of panic began smothering me, choking me, I couldn't breath. What was going on? Hadn't I fallen? Why wasn't I dead, where was I? Who was I?
"What's wrong with him? Something's wrong with him, check his injuries," a different voice said from somewhere behind the man, and I suddenly felt closed in and strangled. There were too many eyes too many trees so much light. What was happening? The reality that I could only remember a few moments of my own existence began catching up to me and it was suffocating. No, no, who was I? The man had asked for my name, what was my name? Why didn't I know?
Why was it so hard to breath?
What if they were my enemies, and I didn't even know it, what if they would hurt me? Just then, I felt my shirt being lifted up by the man and the panic grew to an overwhelming crescendo of terror. I pushed and punched at him,
"No! Get off me, leave me alone!" I screamed, scrabbling and kicking, pain rushing up and down my body and my throat constricting with a lump of dread and fright that had also settled in my stomach.
"Calm down, son, it's okay, just try to calm down,"
I was on my feet and unsure how I'd made it there, unsteady, but still pushing and fighting, yelping from pain and fear as the man grabbed at my arms, his eyes wide. He looked concerned, like he was really trying to help, and I racked my brain searching for some familiarity in his face, some recognition, anything. But there was nothing. Not one shred of evidence for my identity, let alone his. And he was pulling at my wrists even as I struggled against him and I just couldn't breathe. Why wouldn't he let go? Stop touching me!
In an effort to break free I violently tried to rip away from his grasp, but ended up just pulling us both backwards. My back slammed against a tree, and I was blinded with a white hot agony as the air whooshed from my lungs. Stars danced in my vision as I fought to suck in some air. I finally did with a rasping gasp, but waves of pain crashed through me with each pulse of blood through my veins.
I roared, something inside of me snapping out of or into place. In a smooth, decisive motion that I did not comprehend from its quickness, nor did I plan, I freed my arms from the man's grasp, whilst simultaneously twisting one of his behind him. He bent at the waist from where I had his arm in a deep lock and cried out from the strain on his awkwardly contorted shoulder.
I pushed him away and he was caught in the arms of his comrade. Both looked up at me with some kind of shock and wariness, and more than a bit of confusion. I hardly spared them a second glance as I was too busy running.
Pain shot through me with each clumsy, desperate step. I ran into trees and tripped over roots, hardly noticing where I was going and not really caring. I didn't know who I was or where, and if I just kept running then no one could find me and confuse me with their strange faces and voices. Nothing was familiar, everything was distant and detached, and I seemed to be running in a kind of refracted tunnel of focused pain and panic and fear and contradiction.
It was only when I coasted to a random stop and fell to my knees so as to retch onto the leaves in front of me, did I really consider that question echoing in my head over and over again like the toll of an ominous bell.
Who am I?
A/N: Soooooooo, please tell me what you thought and Review! This didn't turn out quite the way I had hoped, but I'm still satisfied. :) Hope you liked it!