THE MAN IN THE FIELD

Tim Tucker

Since the beginning, there was pain.

Sizzling, searing, probing pain from the unforgiving sun. Candescent fingers scorch every inch of my broken body. Barely conscious, barely alive, I cannot move, crucified on the farmland on which I was born. Blue skies turn to frigid nights but the pain remains. White hot streams suffusing, tormenting. I close my eyes and let it all burn. I can feel the earth spinning below, spiraling wildly out of control in the jaws of sun drenched delirium.

I feel so helpless I could die.

I've relinquished my will to survive so long ago, but the prospect of death is impossible. All that is left now is wishing I was never born.

There wasn't always pain and hopelessness. Through my sun scarred memory I remember more peaceful days. The look of pride on my masters face as he dressed me in his old clothes, his voice, strong and reassuring, as he bid me my one and only task: to be the protector of his land. I was left under blue skies turned bitter black. Time was an inexorable juggernaut that prowled the land and in its wake I felt my comfort wither away under the blinding light. Confusion boiled over to a seething hatred which finally numbed to despair.

I was so afraid.

Much time passed. Looking up I could see a hole in the clouds, a circling void of darkness against the blue sky. Before I knew it the darkness descended upon me in a fury of manic squawks and talons. Sharp beaks tore into my exposed flesh, leaving gaping, bloodless wounds. It was then that I became pain itself, agony rushing outward, collapsing inward.

Crushing.

A piece of the darkness perched on my shoulder, its feathers blacker than midnight and eyes twin pools of soulless depths. It plunged its beak into the calloused socket of my eye, leaving me partially blind. The last thing I ever saw was the faded blue sky before the maw of darkness took my other eye, casting me into overwhelming blackness.

The scream in my throat is forever silenced as my lungs fill with heat and dust. Through the shattered vision of my memory I see my master, a blind mirage amidst a sea of pain. Delusion puts my fevered mind at ease as I reach out to grab his hand.

I am weightless, mentally slipping and physically drifting. The festering darkness beckons me as I fade from twilight into the abyssal night and back again.

THE END