Threads: A Tapestry Unbound

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Sentrovasi
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:55 am

Threads: A Tapestry Unbound

Post by Sentrovasi » Tue May 24, 2011 1:05 am

In dark dreams of raven's embrace
Lie themselves their craven tongues
What breaks the surface no one sought
But stranger in the light of day



Something calls. It is a primal thing, beyond even words, and yet it is a question.

Faceless voices echo its summons, as though seeking to will themselves into being through their cacophony. But will alone is not its object, as this one knows well enough. Only the crystal chime of a single tone, given resonance in this world between worlds, can wake the sleeper.

For the ones who know regret, left drifting on the winds of fate that blow them carelessly off their paths: these are the ones who are offered this second chance: for chance it is, with one's memories the price one pays for no certain reward. A search for meaning can end with less than they have before; a quest for redemption might leave them steeped even greater in fresh sins... or the lingering shadows of old.

Yet it is a chance they take, for those whose regrets are greater than the sum of their fears: the reckless, perhaps, or the ones who otherwise believe. For what do the dead care for the troubles of the living? They are beyond that world, and nothing they do in this world will carry over to the next. It is altruism of a peculiar quality that drives them, and thus they answer the call, borne again through the eddies which separate one life from the next.

Shaped into being with the essence of life, but without the privilege of reality's acceptance, they are but shadows upon the world of men. Yet as reality revokes them, so can they throw off its shackles and bend its laws to their strength. But such is their only consolation in a world where their very stories should never be told.

And yet are.


andherethethreadliesbrokenlonglivetheliewithaeonsmayitdieforisittheroadlesstakenthatfillsitselfwithidlefantasyimbibingitsichorandthestillofrottingliquor


Cold. Hard.

The words come unbidden to my mind. Try as I might, I find myself unable to understand them. The concepts they express seem foreign: I feel as though I'm watching a scene from a great distance away, and my body is not my own.

Rough. Noisy. Light.

The transition seems gradual, but it's a shock just the same. All of a sudden I'm swamped with sensory information, my mind catching up with my body, metaphorically speaking. Each new adjective that passes through my mind takes its place in the complex jigsaw puzzle, and suddenly they're more than just words.

Reality.

I realize my eyes are closed, and open them almost immediately. My first thought, that the world seems strangely lopsided, is almost immediately supplanted by the realization that I am prone on a road, my face quite literally plastered to its rough surface. Sitting up is now in my lexicon of actions, so I do.

Disorienting is probably the best way to describe the situation. Awake, but not aware. It's a feeling of being... displaced, somehow. As though the patterns of the world was only superimposed upon my senses. Chief among reasons for this displacement, of course, is the sun.

It hangs overhead, so that I can judge it's probably around noon. The large road I'm currently stranded in the middle of is, according to a sign, “Arnold Lane”. As is only to be expected, there are pedestrians walking about, dressed in casual summerwear. Traffic, fortunately, appears to be non-existent on this particular road. A typical summer day, probably late May or early June.

Yet why do I feel no heat?

To say that I feel cold would be wrong, too. The adjective that came to mind wasn't fully able to express what it felt like, but it was the closest thing to an explanation. A... void? It feels almost surreal, as though a part of myself is still lost in the delirium prior to my sensibility.

Which begs a greater question...

I get to my feet, the ground beneath my feet feeling somewhat solid, but definitely wrong, somehow. The people around me don't seem to notice as I slowly walk off the road. Their pointed insouciance to the presence of someone lying in the middle of the road seems strange enough, but when I reach a hand out to tap a passing girl on the shoulder...

The raven's wings unfairly fettered
Finds small succor in lead-to-air


… she turns, only to stare unseeingly past me. Hard as it is to swallow, she can't see me.

Furthermore, the touch seemed to have triggered something. Something in the bag she's holding... and those words...

It's obvious something strange is going on. I try to rack my brains to think of what might possibly cause this. Am I tripping in my own psyche? Are these people merely figments of my imagination? Might be. Could be. It's all just missing one small detail. It's so horrifyingly small, in fact, that I've been able to avoid noticing it all this while.

I don't remember anything.

Enter the nightmare.
Sentrovasi
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:55 am

Re: Threads: A Tapestry Unbound

Post by Sentrovasi » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:51 pm

And then he's standing in front of me, with a strange smirk on his face. If his appearance is sudden, my shock is quieted by the fact that he seems somewhat... familiar.

Or perhaps it's just that he's looking straight at me. Not through me, not past me, not at the nothing that defines what I appear to be. He's not looking at nothing. He's looking at me.

And then he extends a hand.

“Lost, are we?”

I stare at the proferred hand, as immaculate as the man himself. He's dressed as casually as I am, in jeans and a white shirt, but his manner and bearing make him come across as a lot more imposing. Or maybe, I realize, it's just that he has a sense of identity, where I have none.

“Who are you?”

The man stares at me for a moment more, then slowly lowers his hand. He looks as though he's heard this before, his smirk turning a little resigned before responding.

“I... a free agent, you might call me.” His eyes turn away from me again as he smiles as though at some inside joke. “It's a big game we're playing, and you can't know all the players.”

“You're speaking in riddles.” I'm frustrated despite myself. He has the advantage in every sense of the word, and for my experience at consciousness the past half an hour, I'm tired of feeling like the only sane man in a world gone to pieces... or the other way around, as I try not to remind myself.

“No one sees or hears me, I see... things about others that I shouldn't know, and...” Try as I may, I can't find the words to describe the sense of helplessness I feel. Lost? Yes, I am.

“... And out of the blue, a strange man accosts you with answers you don't know if you'll like.” The man's flippant attitude is hard to deal with, but he's the only lead I have, so I nod.

“Welcome to the game, Luke,” he extends a hand again, and I take it hesitantly. He smiles, “I wonder how long you'll last.”

So many questions. A game? My name? Last... against what? I open my mouth to attempt a question, but he forestalls me.

“You need a name, Daniel. That's one of the things the game takes from you – who you are.” He gestures vaguely to the few people walking around us. “It makes you no more than they are. Mere simulacrums.”

Simulacrums? I turn to watch them as well, these human likenesses who go about their daily routines. It seems almost a relief now to be able to view them as detached non-intelligences. The alternative...

“This game...”

None of this is real. That's the option this gives me, and that's a good option. I don't remember anything, no one can see me but this one other person, and I have strange abilities I'm not even sure how to use. Knowing that I can get out of this is already a huge step forward: after all, games end, one way or another.

And then what? I try not to think about that, either.

“... How do I win?”

Lucifer smiles, and suddenly he's explaining everything: how we're borne into this world without an identity or purpose – something we have to find for ourselves; how we have powers that allow us to fulfill our objectives, differing from player to player; which buildings we can enter and which we can't...

And, most importantly, how we lose.

“You see, Arthur, the life of this world is composed of an energy we call Ether. You and I are made of Ether. The simulacra also have Ether in them. The plants of this world constantly produce small amounts of natural Ether.”

We've been walking the whole time, and now we find ourselves at the entrance to a mall. He continues to speak as we enter it. I can feel the presence of so many other people that it's a little unnerving, especially since none of them can see me. Is this life I sense from them the Ether he talks about? So many foreign terms, and none of them I can be sure about.

“What this means is that losing all that Ether will kill us, as it will any living being. These mannequins, too, react negatively to loss of Ether, since it affects their autonomy and emotional state. We can use Ether to influence this world, in the form of our abilities.” At this, he pauses and watches me for a moment. “This means that using your abilities extensively will eventually kill you.”

Which would explain the fatigue I've been feeling for a while. Since I don't know how to use my ability anyway, the issue isn't immediate, but the realization that death is possible in this world is a very sobering one. “And how do I replenish my Ether? Eating? Sleeping?”

He smiles, and it seems both bemused and humorless. “Sleeping? No, although that would help lower the drain on your reserves. Eating, however...”

He pauses, and gestures about himself at the bustle of people again.

“The death of one of these people. The essence in them is released upon their death, and is something you can easily feed upon. Standing in a crowded place like this is one other option, but it's not enough to do more than sustain you as you sleep.”

There is a poignant pause as he seems to try to divine something from my expression, which I try to keep blank. “No, the one way to replenish your Ether is by the death of another.”

Eating... another person? Despite my trying to label them as puppets controlled by this game, it's another thing altogether to contemplate killing them – I can't bring myself to fully believe that they're not human.

“You don't have to kill them,” he reminds me, “just be there as they die.”

It's not the method that worries me, it's the whole... ethics of it. Perhaps I'm too sentimental, but opportunistically benefiting from another's death seems to me too much of a travesty to their memory, simulacrum or no. My memories may not have followed me here, but my conscience seems to be coming through just fine.

“... And you said we can't enter hospitals, right?” He nods. It's not making things any easier. The only way would be to be present at the scene of an accident... or crime.

“One more thing,” he adds, “you're not the only one looking to keep himself alive. There are malevolent beings out here hunting as well: they're known as Blights, and their single-minded purpose is the devouring of all Ether in this world. Think of them as the eliminating factor in this game.”

“It's a game of survival of the fittest, Watson,” as though sensing my indecision, he presses me. “I don't want to see you wiped out on the first day. If you're not going to fight, then run. There's no other option.”

He steps back and disappears into the crowd around us.

“Wait!” Startled into action, I move towards the spot where he was, but the press of people around me confuse my senses. “You're just leaving me here?”

“You didn't even tell me your name!” I shout into the merciless crowd.

I'm alone. Alone and confused.
Sentrovasi
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:55 am

Re: Threads: A Tapestry Unbound

Post by Sentrovasi » Sun Jul 03, 2011 1:31 am

A simple black book.

I've found that I can interact with other things if I put my mind to it – the strange sense of fatigue I feel afterwards proof that it's part of my abilities.

Funny how easy this would have been were the world material again.

I've realized that I'm looking at things the wrong way, as the man had suggested. I'm not incorporeal to them; they're incorporeal to me – the ghost-memories of a ghost-world a long way from home. It's a little scary, walking through these streets devoid of any real life, populated by phantasms of a clockwork mind, but at least I know there are others lost in this game as well; walled into unreality by whatever agency took our identities away.

Then, of course, I am reminded that my life itself is being drained... and that there are those Blights he mentioned, and the whole picture turns a shade more sinister. Will I really fade away? Must I feed off the deaths of these people, dream or no?

Can I do it?

The book I took is completely blank; none of those stenciled-in lines which force people to write within their unyielding bounds. Perhaps it's a subconscious effect of my amnesia, but even the most mundane things around me seem to have some special significance; as though they all are trying to tell me something.

The book is blank – free; at least, it was.

I let the fountain pen that came with it trace a lazy pattern across the first page. I'm sitting across the park from the fountain, watching the people pass by or linger a little longer.

An old man with his walking stick stops by the fountain, staring into its depths as though worried about something.

A young kid and his dog race through, the dog seemingly more in charge than the boy is.

A carefree man with a sling bag, walking briskly as though he had a job to get to.

A young couple in school uniforms, exuding all the youthful idealism that seems to come with first love.

Is it possible for this game to reproduce all these emotions so perfectly? I do not believe the man from before was lying to me, but I find myself unable to trust to his words alone.

At what point does the simulation become more real than life itself? In other words... if these ghosts mimic humans so perfectly, what right do I have to call them inhuman?

I ask myself these questions, but I know the answer I have. The answer he's given me.

“You guys... don't recognize my existence, do you?”

It's a selfish thought; almost childish. They don't recognize my existence, therefore theirs is also void. But at the same time, it isn't wrong. This is my reality: the reality of us playing this game. Isn't the basic instinct of all living things to survive? We who are not recognized by this fake world cannot play along by its rules, because there is no room for us behind these rules.

And the only way I can be recognized... is to refute them.

A young dark-haired girl is sitting across the bench from me, her straight fringe falling over her eyes as she works on what appears to be some kind of cloth on her lap.

“Huh?”

The fountain pen quivers in mid-air, the clean lines of the girl's face sketched neatly in the center of the first page. The rough sketching of the other characters in the park were done out of idle boredom... but for a moment, my mind had for some reason chosen to focus on her, for a reason I'm not at all aware of.

Well, she does seem kind of cute, even if I can't see most of her face.

Then again, perhaps it's the fact that she looks exactly how I feel right now. Alone. For her who can't see me… she probably would think she was the only person in the park right now.

If “person” could apply to the two of us, on opposite ends of reality at the same time.

Ugh. I don't even know if I can ascribe feelings to them. It's so confusing.

She's seated in a corner of the bench, almost as though she's waiting for someone to get there. It occurs to me for a moment that I might be intruding on someone else's privacy, but then I realize it really doesn't matter. It's the equivalent of watching a soap opera, only I know that there aren't even actors behind their stage personae.

Her hands are moving deftly. It's some kind of knitting, I realize, as the pen traces the slight hunch of her shoulders in the book. Why come out into the park to knit? The fresh air? Perhaps. I mean, why am I in the park doing some people-watching? This has got to be one of the least utilized parks I've ever seen. Not that I personally remember seeing any parks, but then...

And that's when she starts crying.
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