A/N: Madness Challenge - Theme 2: Straitjacket

Experimental thing. I don't really have anything to say about this.

Sleeping Beast

It all began with falling and drowning. Or so it felt like. He had fallen through the void and darkness and it seemed like that emptiness had snatched his memories away from him. He didn't know who he was, where he came from or how he had ended up in this place. Or why he was falling through the nothingness. It was like his consciousness had come to existence only moments ago. But he felt no fear. After a little while, his body hit the water that waited for him in the bottom of the abyss, embracing him and deprived him the sight of ceiling of blackness.

So, he started to sink. He was holding his breath as he was descending into the depths. Somehow, even though he was heading further down, he still managed to stay calm. However, he noticed that his heart felt heavy – it was like that it weighted him down, like an anchor. But as he kept drowning, he eventually started to panic a little. Would this be the end of him? The thought was horrifying and sickening. Could he still be able to swim to the surface? He didn't know – he couldn't move a muscle. Then, he accidentally gasped for air, and to his surprise, he could breath underwater. But it felt hard for some reason. What was happening to him?

He waited. For a moment it seemed like that he was sinking in a bottomless depth. He was expecting that darkness would start to conquer this underwater world sooner or later, but he appeared to be wrong. He detected that there was a light shining below where the bottom should have been… And he was descending toward it. So, he let the strange waters take him in there.

He couldn't have probably guessed that there was a realm below the water area. As soon as he reached the upside-down surface, he fell again. But this time, only a little bit. It was still enough for him to lose the breath from his chest. So, there he laid, gasping for air. He closed his eyes, trying to focus on getting his body normalized again.

Suddenly, he started to hear humming. It seemed to be coming from all directions, like there was a crowd to blame for making that sound. He opened his eyes again and tried to get up. His movements were quite wonky, it felt like he was a deer fawn taking its first steps. But as he finally managed to get up and gained his balance, he took a glance at his surroundings at last. The environment below the water was pretty surreal. Mostly it consisted of emerald rock that had glowing light green gemstones stuck in the pillars that stood proudly in that grotto. It almost seemed like that those columns were holding the water level. That was not all, however. Probably the strangest thing was that there were wires and cords slithering in the cavern. Some of them were very thin, some of them thick, some were in good condition and some were damaged, electricity sparkling from them. The whole place seemed like it wasn't sure should it be fantasy or science fiction milieu.

Then those responsible for the humming showed up. Numerous people appeared from behind the pillars, slowly pacing toward him. All of them were dressed as nurses and doctors. He could only stand still and watch those people getting closer to him. There was something odd in that humming they kept making. It felt so… soothing, or something like that. He was in a trance because of it, being completely immobilized. And those people were just coming closer.

Before he knew it, those nurses and doctors had put him in a straitjacket. Because he had been paralyzed somehow by their humming, he had had no will to resist it. And because that noise still lingered in the air, he was close to being mindless. Then some of those people started to wander deeper into the cavity. Few of them remained behind. Two of the nurses laid their hands on his shoulders, and pushed him gently as a sign to move forward. Even though he was still in his trance state, something in the touch of nurses made him budge. So, he behaved nicely and walked after to those people who went first, two women side by side with him. Few other people who had stayed behind began to stroll after him, thus completing this odd entourage.

The group of people in white marched leisurely through the cave, humming still echoing in the hollow place. Where the winding path were taking them, he didn't know. After all, his mind was occupied with only one thought: go where the nurses were gently pushing him. Even if the environment would offer something different on their way, he probably wouldn't notice it anyway. In fact, something did change in their surroundings. The path started to slant downwards, taking the entourage to some lower level. There appeared to be a gap of some kind on their way and stairs of steel leading to even deeper parts of this strange place. So, of course they had to descend into it.

He met the darkness again, he just happened to have some company this time. But soon as the group moved down on the end of stairs and began their wander in a pretty tight hallway, some strange lightbulbs lit up as soon as they approached them. They were emitting a ghastly blue light and they didn't appear to be attached to anything. Furthermore, they looked like they were just hovering in the air. How odd. But what else would you expect from a place like this where nothing seemed to make sense?

For a good while they just kept proceeding through the narrow hallway. But after tons of minutes passed by, their journey in the dim light seemed to get to the end. Now there was a door standing on their way. It wasn't just any kind of door: it looked like it was the guardian of a vault. It was pretty enormous, made from metal, round in shape and it had a valve on it. Couple of the doctors started to turn the valve together, and soon, with a metal shrieking, the door opened.

The two nurses didn't waste time and pushed him inside the room that had just been discovered. He fell on his knees, but didn't get up, for he was still in trance. Then the people closed the door again, leaving him alone in the room.

The humming had stopped.

It took him a little moment to regain his senses. He was still in a little bit of daze when he started to look around him. There wasn't much to see, though. He was in a round room that was completely white. Or so he assumed, there wasn't much light. Only source of light were those strange lightbulbs, floating and dancing in the air. Why those people had brought him in that room? What was the purpose?

Then, suddenly, a shower of blue light rained down on him, making the lightbulbs really pathetic in comparison. Where that illumination was exactly coming from, he couldn't tell. The source of it was too bright to look at, naturally. After that radiance, something else appeared as well. Few yellow light rings that contained strange markings in them unexpectedly came into view on the walls. He didn't really had time to wonder their objective when something began to happen to him.

It was like his own shadow was trying to betray him. Something wanted to emerge from within him and it manifested as a shade with no particular shape. It had tentacles, it had eyes, it had limbs, it had wings, it had horns and spikes… It really didn't know its own identity. But whatever it was doing, it hurt like hell. He screamed in agony: it was like someone was trying to rip his skin off and burn him. And stabbed him. He wanted it to get off of him, but he couldn't really do much because he was restrained by the straitjacket. He was shuddering violently, trying to shake away that thing assaulting him. He couldn't stop screaming in pain. Then he fell on the floor, rolling over, as if that would help him to get rid of the agonizing shadow. As expected, it didn't help. The darkness was throbbing on his chest, trying to claw itself away from him. It appeared as if it didn't like to be part of this play, either. But at the same time, he felt like that this shadow was part of him and something bad would happen if it got loose.

For a good while he was just wrestling with the shade. All he wanted was to end the suffering. His screams had turned into sobbing, his pain making tears roll down his face. Why was this happening to him? What would those people who locked him in there possibly gain from this? He could only guess.

Next came the hate. It was like the pain had spread hatred across his body. He initiated to loathe everything: he hated this place, the pain he was feeling, the shadow and the fact he was being restricted by the straitjacket. But most of all, he hated himself. He was angry at himself for being so weak and that he couldn't do anything, and also for not remembering a single thing. He despised himself for not being able to be in control of the short life he had been having in this place. The straitjacket was a perfect symbol for his inability to be the master of his own fate.

Filled with this new-found aggression, he began to struggle harder. He was yanking the straitjacket, but it was futile, as expected. However, his suffering was coming to its end. Finally. Just one final stretch from the shadow and it was free at last, both of them now released from pain. He was lying on the floor on his stomach, panting heavily after that odd battle. He felt so relieved. But what would happen next? Out of curiosity, he rolled over on to his back and looked at the sight above.

Still trying to figure out its form, the shadow thing was floating in the air. Then, an inhumane screech could be heard and that lost part of him transformed in to a vortex, spinning wildly higher and higher. At that moment, it almost seemed like it got sucked into the ceiling and covered the bright light. Not perfectly, though. Something dim was still trying to reach his feeble body. Next, the ceiling suddenly shattered into millions of pieces, threatening to fall as a sharp rain of shards right at him. However, they disappeared without a trace before they could hit the ground. He barely even noticed that, though. His gaze was captured by something else.

And it was horrible.

It appeared that something big had fallen through the ceiling, right into that mass of shadows. The darkness caught it, wrapping itself around that thing, making pulsating movements as it slowly hovered downward. It was like a cocoon of some sort. Soon it gently touched the ground and remained still for a moment. Then, the shadows started to melt away around it, revealing a huge monster. It had a dark, scaly and bulky body: it resembled some sort of disfigured dragon. The creature had four main legs, but it struggled to have any consistent form, just like the shadows before, thus it had smaller legs dangling on its body, as well as tons of spikes and horns, different-shaped eyes and things that appeared to be human skulls. In its head it was wearing a crown of big horns and its large, completely yellow, glowing eyes were looking directly at him. And he stared back at the monster, frozen from fear.

Then, as he was gazing at the gigantic creature, a wave of knowledge suddenly crashed his mind. He began to understand the reason of everything that had happened to him. It was because of this beast. It had been sleeping inside of him. He had been chosen to bear this burden. This was a divine beast that got slaughtered by some worshippers of "light". However, they were unable to destroy it completely: its soul still lived on. And he, as a high priest, had got the task to let the beast strengthen itself inside of him. For eons he had carried this thing with him, so it could someday get back its own body. But the place where the beast could reclaim its greatness was located in another dimension. So, when some of the believers of the beast tried to summon him to bring the creature back, and pulled him through the veils of different worlds, he unfortunately lost his memory. It would always happen to those who tried to tread on this dimension – it was for the sake of protecting this sacred place, so anyone with ill intentions would forget their plans. And the humming… That was something that soothed the beast. It was a way to express that it was wanted back to its home. The believers knew that the separating process was going to be painful, they had been so strictly together for ages after all, so they gave him something to restrain him in order to help him not to damage himself too much – or the soul of the beast. And finally, the room where he had got locked up into, was actually the lair of this monstrosity. The ceiling with light was like a healing spa for the beast. So, entering into it helped it to form its body back.

The dark being had helped him to see the truth. And now, this was a beginning of a new era. It was time for the divine beast to wreak havoc again. He grinned a little bit as he followed with his gaze how the beast howled and disappeared into the air, leaving bits of shadows behind.