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Blood roses after dark Ch.1

Blank and black like a clean slate, there was nothing of my life before, nothing but the black smog that covered my mind like a thick blanket. I could scratch and claw at the mass but to no avail. It was formless and impenetrable and I was weak in comparison. Everything was gone and I knew that wasn't good but I couldn't recall what should be there. I felt empty, a void of what I no longer was.

Everything was washed out gray and black. The sky above was smothered with clouds blocking out the light and warmth of the sun. The trees that stretched out to the sky surrounded me, their limbs barren and black. The trunks scorched long ago, yet holding on to a small shred of life. The grass I laid on was dried out and stiff, gray and dead. I felt that something was off with this place, something ominous and sinister.

A shiver ran down my spine. I wanted... I needed to get out of there and I scrambled to my feet and ran. I raced through what appeared to be an old dying forest. All the trees were black and dead looking, their limbs reaching above my head ensnaring me into a trap. My heart pounded wildly in my chest, my breath was harsh and ragged. I refused to stop until I was safe, if there was a place I would consider safe.

I darted out of the woods and came to the edge of a town. A small playground lay between me and the first of the ruined houses. A sandpit filled with children's toys, each covered with dirt and grime, and left abandoned. Beside it was one lonely swing standing still waiting for someone to come and use it. There used to be a slide, but all that was left was a large lump of plastic that had melted.

I edged past the sandpit, eying a dirt covered porcelain doll. Her strawberry blond hair came to a charcoal black. Half was burned to the scalp of the doll and the rest hung uneven from the head, coming to an abrupt halt just past the neck. Her cheek had a crack running up from the neck and almost reached her piercing blue eyes. My heart throbbed at the sight before I focused on the town.

The walls were also black from the phantom fire many years ago. However, some had colorful paint sprayed across them. Some were warnings and others the same graffiti seen anywhere. Some buildings had crumbled away over the years leaving rubble filled lots. Not much protection from the elements and creatures that are beyond desperation. Last thing I wanted was to be in front of an animal that hadn't eaten for days.

I paused for a moment, pondering on the subject of ravenous animals. What were the chances of walking into a pack of wolves, or a bear? I felt the sudden urge of not wanting to find out. I turned back to the forest only to have my knees give out, and staggered to the ground. The world spun around me. A dull ache in my skull made me wince, and an odd crushing sensation left me gasping for breath.

A small whisper brushed past my ears. Soft and clear as wind chimes in the breeze. "Don't let him find it..."

Who was 'him' and what was he not suppose to find? There was no answer nor any elaboration on the cryptic message. Maybe I was hearing things and the voice was just my paranoia influenced imagination. Wouldn't be surprising from that fact my memories were gone. The truth would be revealed once they returned, and eventually they would. Amnesia is rarely permanent.

The dizziness didn't lessen and my limbs felt like jelly trying to get off the ground beneath me. I steady myself on my hands and knees, the world slowing down slightly. I breathed in harshly and pushed up off the ground.

I felt a snap somewhere in my head. I hit my limit and collapsed back down. My eyesight blurred the world together into one massive black color. The world came to an abrupt halt as I faded out. I let out my breath and let the blissful numbness take me under. It was black, but not as cold and distant as the colors of reality. I felt myself drift in the vast empty space. I could go where I wanted to here. Live my dreams and grant my wishes, there are no consequences in the recesses of my own mind.

I felt a jerk in my drifting. I didn't notice it until it was too late. I fell down at an alarming speed crashing out of my dreams and back to the real world. In my ears was an explosion as my mind snapped awake. There was a slight ring in my head for a few moments as I heavily breathed in and out to calm my rapid pulse.

My eyes adjusted and saw that I wasn't where I should be. I had collapsed outside by a playground. Now I was a cot under a rusty red blanket staring up at a low hanging ceiling. The floor was covered with chocolate brown carpet that was torn up in the corner. The walls a soft mocha color, a great combination with the carpet. The room held an aroma of smoke, cheese, and bread. Maybe I was still in the midst of dreams and this particular dream made my mouth water and stomach growl. Whatever the delicacy; I longed to sink my teeth in it.

I turned my head to see the only source of light in the room. An oil lantern stood on a rickety nightstand, which may have been painted white once, but someone had stripped off the paint. The lantern had about a quarter full of oil left as it steadily burned away. I wondered why, whoever helped me, just didn't turn on the light above me. It would be brighter and cleaner energy.

I leaned up, but searing pain spread throughout my whole body pinning me down to the cot. I had to stay motionless for a moment for the pain to die down to bearable levels. Tears came to my eyes; never before have I ever felt so flimsy and fragile. I cursed my bad luck. There was nothing else to do except worry about my parched lips and dry throat.

There was a cough from the doorway. I peeked my head up as much as the pain allowed me to see a man standing there watching me. His black lofty curls cropped around his hazelnut brown eyes. He smiled somewhat and waited. I remained silent studying him for a moment longer. He had a relaxed posture and strong physique. He was tall that he probably had no problem reaching for the top shelves.

"You know, finding a girl passed out just on the edge of town is bizarre. At least when the girl wakes up in a safer place, it is expected she should thank the kind person for saving her." His voice was grave, but his face teasing. I still remained silent, not fully trusting him. The man came closer and sat on the edge of the cot. "What's your name?" I went to speak. My voice caught in my throat as I searched for a name. My mind drew up empty.

He placed his hand on my shoulder. "You've been through so much lately, haven't you. You're cut badly on your back legs and shoulders. In fact, I'm surprised you merely didn't die from the extreme blood loss. Were you attacked by M.S.?"

"M... S?" I asked, with a strained voice. Hearing my voice was strange, for a moment I almost didn't realize it was mine. It felt so alien, so unfamiliar my heart nearly stopped in shock. It was like I was discovering my life for the first time.

"Mechanical Soldiers," he replied woodenly. "I'm Ronan." He introduced himself before I could question him further on mechanical soldiers. He studied my eyes. "I have never seen such pale multi-colored eyes before." I focused on the word Multi-colored. I don't remember my eye color, but it surely isn't two separate pale colors. "I'll call you, Akiko. That's iris in Japanese."

"Don't give me a name when I already have one." I stated. Something about this Ronan guy bugged me, though I couldn't place my finger on what it could be.

"And that name is?" I didn't answer. "I proved my point and therefore until you remember what it is, you shall be Akiko." I grumbled in minor protest but Ronan ignored me. He smiled and got up. "Rest for now. You need to wait for your strength to return before you can go." I wordlessly stared at the wall.

It looked like I was going to be here for awhile. I sighed in contempt, but I knew I wasn’t going anywhere in this state, so I may as well relax.

The cot was about as comfortable as lying on rocks and the blanket was itchy and worn down. I mean no offense to Ronan, but he could get better stuff. To top that off, I had to keep adjusting myself to get comfortable and moving puts me through pain. For hours, I sat bored and miserable.

I don’t know exactly when, but I eventually started counting all the cracks on the walls and ceiling. There were 26 in total. So then I began a much harder challenge and started counting all the fibers left in the rugged carpet. I lost count at 437.

The door pushed open, but no one was standing at the doorway. My heart sank as my stomach rose with a fluttery feeling. Being in pain, not remembering a single thing, I could deal with. Facing off with a ghost or poltergeist would be overkill. I gritted my teeth against the sting as I shuffled nervously. Whatever the hell this thing does, it couldn’t be worse than what I already went through.

Suddenly at the edge of the cot peeked up the small head of a German shepherd puppy, his tongue hanging out of his lopsided smile. I stared at the dog and laughed. How ridiculous I seem to fear a dog! It then jumped up onto the cot landing on my stomach.

I screamed in agony as the pain spiked up from my back. The dog whined and licked my face in apology before curling up next at my side.

I reached my arm out. Thick white bandages covered it from my shoulder to my wrist. The sight made me wonder, what is it that I can’t remember that caused this? Just sitting here wasn’t going to answer any of the questions that rambled around in my head.

Finally after several long, agonizing hours, Ronan returned with a mysterious box. He shooed the puppy off the bed and set the box on the nightstand next to the oil lantern. It had barely any oil left to last another hour.

A scrumptious aroma emanates from the box, which causes my stomach to growl. My mouth instantly watered, I had to have whatever was in that box.

“How was your day, Akiko?” Ronan asked politely as he began to replace the bandages on my arms. Stressful, painful, boring, so many words to describe the dull day that I had.

“It was very monotonous.” I sarcastically remarked. “Since every time I come to, I’m in an unfamiliar place that is on the brink of falling apart.” I smiled, pleased with myself. My voice sounded stronger, healthier.

He laughed, amused. “Well, I’m sorry your day was uneventful, but I do have a job.” He removed all the bandages from my arm and all over it was long jagged cuts sealed by stitches. More than half of them were deep and all were going to leave scars. I winced as Ronan patted down my arm with a cloth soaked with alcohol. If that was what one arm looked like, then how did my back and other limbs look? He continued in silence.

After he wrapped up my arms he moved down to my legs. He carefully unwound the linens up to my thigh. I would have kicked him if he'd gone any further; even with the pain I was in, I'd have found find a way. He then hesitated, his hands lingering at the edge of the blanket.

“You wouldn’t mind if I could replace the linens wrapped around your back, right?” I found this question puzzling, why would he ask that? He must have wrapped them in the first place.

“No, why?” He bit his lip, contemplating a suitable answer.

“Er, it would require me to touch you in certain places... Um, and you would have to remove your shirt.” He informed me frankly. I gave him a cynical glare and skewered him with my eyes.

“I think I’m fully capable of doing it myself.” I told him promptly. I struggled to sit up, the pain searing through me. I gasped breathlessly and an assisting hand supported my arms. Shrugging his hand away, Ronan held both hands up and turned around.

“Leave. I don’t need you here,” I ordered.

“And if you hurt yourself?” he asked skeptically. He handed over a roll of cloth. he turned around again. “I promise I won’t look.” I grumbled and gently slipped out of the shirt.

The bandages only covered my shoulders and upper chest. As I unraveled the cloth from my skin, on both sides of my ribs were tattoos of several lines. ‘CDXXVI’ I studied them for a moment before continuing.

I peeked over to Ronan to check if he’s not sneaking a look at me. His back was still turned and I pressed the alcohol soaked cloth onto my back. Blinking back tears, it burned against my skin. Just as soon, the pain died down and I moved on to the next section of my back. After I finished sterilizing the wounds, I took the linen and re wrapped myself.

“... Will you tie me off?” I asked civilly. Ronan turned and gently took the end of the linen and tied it. He smiled at me, my mistrust of him deepened. I looked at the box. “What’s in there?” He lifted the box and opened it.

“Just the products of my job, A.K.A my art and skill.” He gazed down into the contents with pride then gave me a quick smirk. “I bet you never tasted something like this before. It’s an art from over a million years that my family has kept alive for generations. Stubbornness runs deep in my family and tradition, I can still remember my mother almost beating me with a rolling pin, teaching me this art.” He laughed and his eyes became distant, softer as he recalled a time long ago.

I waited for him to come back to reality; when he did, he handed me a slice of the contents. A large triangular piece covered with gooey stuff and bits and pieces of meat that oozed in my hand on a thin slice of bread. I took a bite and savored the rich taste that filled my mouth. The sauce underneath was luxurious and exotic. I took another bite and it burned the roof of my mouth, but I didn’t care.

“Whoa, hey slow down! You’ll choke if you don’t chew it first.” He lowered the morsel from my mouth. “Have you never eaten before,” he joked with a taunting smile. I glared, thinking what the answer to that question would actually be.

“What is this?” I asked sternly.

“It’s called pizza. Made from cheese, tomato sauce, fresh baked bread, and, a nice hot oven.” I couldn't help but feel like he was mocking me in some way. I held out my hand for another slice; whether I liked him or not, he made a good pizza. He slid the box into my hand and stood up. Eating in silence, I watched his every move as he left.

Questions filled my empty cranium, pestering me with uncertainty. What are mechanical soldiers, and who created them? Why am I hurt so badly; was it because of M.S.? What am I trying to hide from 'him'? Is that why I was attacked, and will the attackers come hack for me? As soon as I can, I'm getting out of here.

The flame was soon snuffed out from the lack of oil, submerging me in complete darkness. I laid there unmoving for several minutes waiting for my eyes to adjust. My heart raced as a thought dawned on me. The room no longer looked as bad as it did in the light, maybe the person I'm trying to find again was just like the room; not as pretty as expected. Maybe I was a horrible person in reality and committed countless crimes. Fear and doubt filled my heart, I shoved the thoughts and feelings aside. I just needed to take things one step at a time and everything would turn out fine.

I closed my eyes. I would ask Ronan my pesky questions, demanding answers. He may not have all of them, but he knows more than me. A final question poked in to my mind. 'Who was I and do I want to be that person again, if I could? I pondered it for a moment before lapsing into a deep, dreamless sleep.

The question remained unanswered, like all the rest.

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Copyright © Copyright ©2015 Rebellious Soul. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means. Without prior permission of the author.

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