It was a simple touch on his shoulder, soft, subtle, barely noticeable to a mind that is lost to an ever lasting numbness. But for somethings, that is all it takes to save one’s life, or to send it into a spiral dive into the darkness in which nothing can survive. But for each one’s choice, they all start here on a long dust path named the Manilla Road.
Nathan’s eyes pealed open to a gray fuzzy brightness, pain shot through his eyes causing him to close his eyes back to the cooling numbing darkness. But the spot on his shoulder was so distinct against the emptiness in his head, a confusion filled with an unknown need sparked against the dead darkness. It had an odd warmth that was alluring and it seemed to invite him out from the coldness that he now noticed he was in. An onslaught of confinement incircles him, setting his senses on fire, along with an overwhelming feeling of overexposure to something foreboding tore through his mind. And all the while, the soft warmth of a finger pressed against his cold skin set forth a notion that could not be over looked. It promised him place where he could be free from the cold, It promised him a world where he would no longer feel anymore more pain. And so he forced himself to open his eyes with all the need to be free from the pain that ensued. The light burned though his eyes with a pain that lodged itself just behind his sinus cavity. It will remain there, slowly corroding his sight. The world buzzed in through this pain, trying to force him to close his eyes, trying to subdue his awakening. But the simple touch echoed a notion of something so clear, so profound that he will never be the same and yet it will never even conform to a thought in his head. But instead, it sets a chain reaction that will set his soul free from the simple reality that he is only human.
Nathan’s eyes focus upon a set of feet, ten toes and a little bit of curly hair on each. A pair of hairy legs causes his head to move and as he looks at his chest his neck creeks like an old rusted door. And like a door, his eyes open him to a world of pain, torment, and ultimately a choice that will be seared into the surface of everyone he knows. His neck kinks around and he finds that he is standing in a line of people. Everyone of them are the same, hair color, skin tone, and all their heads are looking down. In both directions they are all standing in wait. A chill crept down his back as he looked down at his own feet. He could feel the world around him trying to force him back in to position, back in line with the others that looked just like him.
Nathan took a deep breath and forces his head back up and as if the unseen force releases its hands upon him in one sudden motion, he flings himself on to the side of the road. He lands on his shoulder and rolls to his back and at that moment he takes in his first breath. The air is dry and filled with gritty dust that causes him to convulse in a coughing fit. With each breath the air seems to be getting more humid and less dusty until the thought of the dry dusty air vanishes from his mind. As he lets out his last breath in a warm breeze that blows through the standing men before him. Each one of them wakes in their own way, coughing at the dry air and the light burning their eyes. He sat there caught in a moment of awe watching the other men wail and flail about, some in dyer pain. Others in a state of confusion, throwing themselves to the ground screaming obscenities. A couple sat down and and began to cry. All the while he sat there watching the chaos echo to all the others standing in the line.
The voice was that of a woman, long and breathy it spoke with a notion that she as also watching the carnage of the men before him begin tear themselves apart. Those in rage, easily took out their hate upon the weak and eager to die. The sound of their screams shook the ground. All the while Nathan watched more afraid of the voice at his shoulder than for the safety of the others. He slowly turned around to see a vast field of green grass, stretching out to a soft blue horizon.
“Why don’t you join them?
A bolt of fear shot down his back as he noticed that it came from his left ear. Nathan quickly turned his head and looked through the crowd of other Nathan’s, for the woman who is speaking to him.
“Oh, I’m not anywhere you can see me at this moment. So please, let go of the notion that you could find me, just listen for now.”
The fight between the Nathan’s was dwindling down to the vicious and the strong. All of which were covered in the other Nathan’s blood. One was eating the shoulder of an other Nathan, while another was stomping the head of a Nathan who was thrashing about in a puddle of blood, slowly scrumming to the painful shattering of his skull. The dusty road quickly filled with the red of the other Nathan’s, puddles with broken limbs and crushed parts laid about the road. The carnage of Nathan’s continued till there was two left, one sitting on the side of the road caught in the shock and awe of watching the destruction of himself. The other, adrenaline pumping through his veins which is causing his hand to twitch violently, fling bits of flesh and flicking blood about. His face full of hate turned his dark eyes to the lone Nathan on the side of the road.
“Oh, wow! It’s amazing what is left, after the self hate fest. Better do something, before he is the last one left.”
The realization of her words bursted a moment of fear in side his chest, causing a knee jerk reaction to flee.
“There is no where you can run. You have to face it, or die, just like the rest.”
To die like the rest, echoed through Nathan’s mind. The yearning to live flickered like a spark admits gasoline. The fear of dying turned to a torrent of a will to live. He jumped up as the bloody Nathan made it’s move toward him. In one of the puddles of deep red before him, stuck out two white sharp points of bone. Steve reacted with pure instinct and grabbed the bones and shoved them deep into the throat of the oncoming Nathan.
Strong hands clasped around Nathan’s throat. Their thumbs shoving in with an immense force against his Adam’s apple, causing him to gasp and wheeze for air. It looked at him with such a rage burning that he could see it in his black eyes. Just as Nathan started to loose focus, he watched the left eye of the bloody Nathan twitch and roll down. The bone from the arm that he stabbed him with had made its way to the left eye and severed the optic nerve on its way into its brain.
Blood gushed forth from the two hole as he pulled the arm from his neck. And with a slap of heavy flesh against the ground it fell and slowly twitched. Nathan watched it bleed, its mouth gasping for air, until it fell into a serene stillness. And before the rage that flickered so brightly faded, it stared into the distance at the inevitable force that quickly engulfed every bit of his mind, leaving nothing but a lifeless lump of flesh.
“This is what he had wanted. It was his choice.”
“Why would he choose such a thing? To die in such a way?” Nathan asked lightly.
“He wanted to die in excruciating pain. It seemed that apart of him wanted to know what it truly meant to be alive. Against the greatest of contrasts. Pathetic…”
Nathan stood there looking at the bloody remains of the others, wondering if they also chose this. If they wanted to die while cowering, lost in confusion of its own destruction. Was there not a single one of them that wanted to live? He looked down at the severed hand he held.
Did he want his hand to be used like this?
And with a slip of his fingers Nathan watched the bloody hand hit the surface of blood. It splashed in an odd way that caused him to second look at the blood. In the shadows of red, faces could be seen. And the more that he looked at them the more defined they became. Faces of women, children, and men. They were crying in a way that Nathan knew, it was a cry from the sadness of loss. He took a step back away from the wailing blood and when he did the blood rose up with blood red tentacles. Each one thrashed about mindlessly, but as Nathan looked at them as a group, what seemed like an chaotic action, became quite clear that they were slashing their way to him.
With a bolt of fear and a twist of his leg he attempted to run, but no traction was to be found admits the mire of blood atop the road. With out stretched hand he fell into the puddles. A warm metallic and salty taste flooded the fear in his head as he thrashed about, trying to gain some kind of stability. And as he thought he had found it, the tentacles wrapped around his ankles and pulled him into the middle of the road. Nathan reached for anything to anchor him, only to find bloody limbs of the others and handfuls of bloody mud. And with a last garbled scream he pleaded for anyone to save him, just as he vanished below the surface.
Nathan continued to scream even though he could no longer hear it admits the warm darkness. He could feel his lung being filled with a hot liquid through the side of his back. This created a pressure against his chest that bellowed out in pain. With a creak and a snap he could feel his ribs tear through the surface his skin, causing his internal organs burst forth before him. Confusion and fear pumped through him like a molten poison. Causing the bones in his arms and legs to twist inside out and burst forth though his muscle and skin. And as his threshold of pain came to his breaking point, everything stopped. And as if holding his breath, Nathan finally inhaled, pulling in everything to a single point of absolute pain. Shattering his mind to an even state of numbness admits the warm darkness.
Lost once again in the darkness of his mind, he remained still, forgotten to everything and everyone, including himself. But something was different this time, all his senses lost to the warm blackness, all but a small spot on his back. It shimmered against the dark, and with the little orange light, he could see her. Like the tiniest sliver of a crescent moon he could see her outline. She was looking at him with judgmental eyes. A cold spot in his chest twitched and cracked open, causing an emotion of fear to leak forth. And everything that the fear touched, caved in upon itself. His body crunched and creaked as the fear spread through him. The silhouette of the young woman then turned in disgust and began to walk away from him. The small crack in his chest bursted forth tearing every piece of him from every other piece.
Nathan opened his eyes from the darkness and before him he saw an ominous lake of shimmering waters. In the waters standing tall and defiant against the surf stood huge pillars of black volcanic stone. The sliver water splashed against the monolithic stones causing the water to hiss and bubble around them before splashing upon black sandy shore. The lake was surrounded by a jagged mountain range of the same black stone. The sky was filed with shapeless clouds against a soft blue hue, giving the whole place a odd sense of comfort. Nathan stood up and turned looking behind him, he saw the road that he started out on. It was void of blood and looked like any dusty dirt road. It came out of a dark valley in the black mountain range. He felt a heavy burden of sadness as he starred at it.
Without thought Nathan began to itch at a soft spot on his right arm. A spark of pain shot through his body as his fingers tore through his flesh. He looked down at his arm and he saw that his skin was bubbling up in welts and boils. The plague upon his body spread as quickly as his fear shot though his body. As the boils popped he could hear everyones anger, their disappointment, their discontentment with him and his actions. Their words echoed throughout the valley and out over the Lake of Loss. He fell into the sand screaming as he tore at the pain. The pain seemed to fold over on itself compounding each and every breath that he took into a torment of agony at the corrosion of his mind and body.
“There is freedom from your pain… my dear boy… Please, let me help you.”
Shaking violently from the massive wounds that he continues to inflict, her words hit him like a drop of soothing water his burning pain. His fingernails raking against his open bone slows to a stop as her words seep into his furled thoughts. Still shaking as the pain beats through his body, he arches his head back and looks to the dulcet voice. Standing in the middle of the road a tall slender shadow of a woman stood with a beaconing persona. With a flick of her wrist she reached out with a open hand.
“Come…” She said. As she walked to him small chunks of her unfurled in the air behind her, like a fire made of a black smoke they rolled into the air and disappeared.
The moment of peace that she gave him passed and in the wake a surge of pain rippled across Nathan’s body. Their voices seemed to be getting louder as he tried to scratch at the pain. Chunks of open muscle twitch and squirt blood onto the black sand. He screamed out and curled himself into the fetal position. His finger nails dug deep into the back of his head, digging through his skin into the white bone of his skull. But always through the corner of his elbow on eye watched as she approached with a slow graceful step.
The shadows leaped from her hand as she reached down and touched his shoulder. His skin blackened and fall away like loose sand caught in the wind. The pain in the spot where she touched him had vanished leaving him with a soothing sensation of its absence.
With his left hand he fought against the voices and the pain, with everything he had left he reached up to touch her. He needed just to acknowledge that what she was offering was true and just to free himself through her touch. Her slender fingers slid their way around his hand like a serpent. And as his hand grasped her soft touch, it fell apart, turning to black sand. Nathan looked at her with tear filled eyes through the flames of agony and torment and pleaded to her to take it all away.
She stepped over him and walked out to the lake of silver. Her feet touched the surface of the water with the ease of a fallen leaf. Making slight depressions as she walked, it made her seem as if she was floating like a ghost upon the moving surf. Between two of the large black stones she stopped and looked over her shoulder at Nathan. Out of the darkness of her form a a set of green eyes appeared, along with a soft round nose and a smiling set of lips. All beaconing him to join her.
With a chunk of his shoulder and his left hand slowly crumbling into black sand, he found a new sensation against the pain and anguish. It was not a feeling of comfort, or something that left him feeling good. It was nothing, the absolute contrast to living. And in all the pain that is being inflicted upon him, it felt like salvation in the look that she gave him.
The muscles in his body cramped and twisted as he tried to stand. Blood spewed forth and splashed upon the sand at his feet. all the while he never parted his gaze from the Lady of the Road, the way out of the cave of pain, his freedom from his worthless life.
“Nathan! What? …Oh god no!”
As soon as the voice hit him, the wounds that he inflicted upon himself wrapped around him like a snake coiling it’s pray, carving its way around his body. Sparkling bone and bloody flesh fell into the sand as he tried to compose himself against the onslaught of pain. Blood squirted out as he tried to scream, but all that he got out was a grunt and a single word. Mom?
Nathan fell back into the black sand with a grunt. His body shaking, the pain tearing at his flesh of his mind, he screamed out to his mom. Pleading for the sanctuary that she has refused to provide. But all that he got back in reply was a very shaken, “Please don’t do this!”
A flicker of pain deep inside of him turned into a raging torment of hate. And just then, he felt something in the sand. It was colder that the sand. It was non organic in the way it felt, it’s contrast against the nature of this place was enough for Nathan to pick it up out of the wet black sand. It’s weight was massive, but Nathan held onto it with a firm grip as he pointed a shiny silver gun at his mom, who was now standing between him and the Lady of the Road and his freedom from everything.
The look in his mothers eyes was one of fear and sorrow. And everything else about her was pleading for him to stop. Just over her shoulder Nathan caught a glimpse of the shadowy woman. But the look on her face send a shiver through is mangled body. Every piece of him screamed for the release of pain. And just as his thoughts shifted to the pain, the serpent of wounds tore its way across his throat around his head tearing his right eye from its socket, it continued to tear its way over his left before bursting out the top of his head. The severity of the pain gave him the answer that he wanted. And before the blood from the wound above his left eye stole his vision. He raised the gun and pointed it at his mom. With a shaking hand, he closed his eye, accepting his choice he squeezed the trigger.
The sound that echoed though out the black mountains and across the lake of silver was the sound of his mothers heart breaking at the actions of a unforgiving son. Nathan’s tattered body fell into the arms of the Lady of Manilla Road. His body found the peace that he so desperately yearned for. And as she laid him down in the sliver waters, his body fell apart into black sand. As the silver water slowly disperses his body the pain vanishes. For a brief moment his mind catches a glimpse of his mother leaped from the door way of her bathroom, over to his life less body laying in her bathtub with a smoking hole in the side of his head. The sound of the silver gun clanging around white porcelain was quickly drowned out by the walling of his mother. The small part that felt bad by his choice came into contact with the soothing lake and slowly faded into oblivion. Like every other person that has fallen into the surf of the Lake of Loss, all have found their freedom from their pain. The thought of everything that Nathan has done, has now been evenly dispersed with the countless others and his mindless body torn apart into countless granules of black sand.