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  • Seán Dunne

Shattered Past- A Short Story


Alas, besieged by his own thoughts, a nameless man sits in his shadow stained cell. How long have I been here, he asked himself, days, weeks, months... years, I cannot even see the flesh of mine own hands. The black cells, the guards called them, meant only for the vilest of creatures, for people like me, he thought, but he had long forgotten himself. The guards came to torment him in their boredom, sometimes giving him food, sometimes breaking some new part of him. It makes no matter, they may yet break every bone in my body, but I have been broken for some time. He squeezed his hand into a fist, grazing his chains as he did so. They had taken a finger from each hand, letting him choose which, but he could still feel them all the same. His missing fingers were the only way he could tell he wasn't dreaming, he still had his fingers in his dreams.

A feint light appeared beneath the steel door, the distant dragging of feet drew closer until it stopped just outside his cell. He had to close his eyes at the light shining through the keyhole.

"This the one?" A voice asked.

"Last one on the right the master said, less' you think we can go any farther." His voice stained by the clattering of keys. They don't sound like the prison guard, he thought. The door creaked open, taking both the men's strength to push it, cursing as they did so. The light revealing the hollowed out creature within, the shell of a man he did not know. The darkness has carved me into a twisted distortion of a man, and wiped me clean of the folly of hopes and dreams. His eyes now firmly shut, hiding from the light, he clenched his broken teeth.

"You're to be tried before the court for your crimes." Said one of the voices.

"The only court this piss stained wretch will be seeing is the axe that'll cave in his skull. I don't think I'd even give em' that, if it wer' up to me, I'd let him rot down here."

"Poor fucker, he probably doesn't even know his name." I don't need a name, down here they strip you of that burden.

"I bet he didn't know the name of any corpses he's left behind, never mind those who'll die from the damage he's caused. His bones will be given to the dogs and he'll be remembered as a head upon a spike."

He gradually opened his eyes with the passing minutes, as the guards carried him up the spiral stair. The torches stung his eyes as he tried once more to adapt to the light, but he could open them a little bit now, a blurry world surrounding him. The stairs seemed to never end, it were as though he each step taken had been two steps back. I wonder where they go, he wondered, I wonder where they end. However half way up they turned down a corridor. As distant as it all seemed, he had seen this place before, in his dreams. The dreams where I had my fingers, he thought grimly, making a fist with his hand, earning him a sword hilt to the stomach. A stone lied ahead, Lilyana Elias, the widowed, it read, last of her name, queen 650-683 N.D. From somewhere in the depths of his mind, he recalled a poem;

Lilyanna the widowed queen,

the son she bore taken by dreams.

No King to father her frightened child,

he left a queen of frightened guile.

Shadows looming bleak as knives,

they stole away her only child.

Leaving her heart to turn to stone,

left to die upon the throne.

Plagued by hopes and frightened dreams,

died Lilyanna, the widowed queen.

Lilyanna, he thought, where have I heard that before? It did not matter, he had other things in his mind in his final moments. Like a dwindling flame, he would be lost to the darkness and his light forgotten, but he had grown used to that by now. They were headed towards the distant chanting of a crowd, yulli, they cried, lies, how he knew however he did not know. They stood now before the door, the guards exchanging a glance, opening it upon its creaky hinges. The chants turned to silence as he saw their faces through squinted eyes, the guards leading him to the centre of the rostrum. A crowd for my death, he thought, I must have been a vile bastard. The silence was almost frightening, the coolness of the breeze sending a chill through his feathered bones.

"What is your name?" A guard asked him. "Tell these people your name."

"I do not know." He admitted, his voice as dry as desert sand.

"TELL THEM YOUR NAME!" The guard shouted once more, crows flocking from his voice.

"I do not know." The nameless man repeated, kneeling under his own weight, his eyes stained with tears. "Call me as you wish, but dead men have little use for names."

"In that we agree, do you wish to know before fate lulls you in her arms?"

"I wish you'll kill me fast and clean, names do nought but haunt me."

"Very well." The guard pushed him over in the wind, the other rested his head upon a chopping block, their gold purple cloaks wrestling with the wind. Do all men part with darkness in the light he wondered as a long sword crushed through his neck. No heroes to save him, just the pale blue sky turning grey, as he stares into its icy depths.

#SéanDunne #writing #shortstory #literature

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