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[Image: GgcM.png]
.:: Chapter 1: Consciousness ::.

I am not dead.

It was a dim realization, but an important one; he knew he should be. The mere shock of whatever just tore through him was enough to get the job done--something akin to an electrical overload lighting him up from head to toe like a fireworks display. Despite this, his brain repeated the mantra as if it was caught in a rut with no catalyst to change its diagnosis: not dead, not dead, not dead, and pretty soon he'd have to believe it. One eye forced itself open against the cling of that short-lived-rest which kept his lids glued to one another. Then the other followed suit, and consciousness finished in third place.

Chilly soil and pitch sky. Green trees. Lush vegetation. Salty, nautical smells; an orchestra of Sprickets; the repetitive cranium-splitting chomp of a massive headache. Yes, it seemed he was prone in a healthy forest near the sea or some setting to that effect. Body was twisted and tensed, taking shallow breaths which would be more fitting for a newborn kitten.

Clarity did not follow consciousness. Actually, it neither finished nor claimed a place. His mind felt sluggish, and any attempt at making some sense only furthered his temple's ache. Why? What happened?

I remember a shock and...

And nothing more. Just a shock. Disturbing didn't even begin to cover this.

Sitting up seemed to be a bad idea on a primal level, so he opted for grabbing his hornet's nest of a head. Simple beginnings. Left hand. Up. Right hand. Up. But nothing happened.

My arms won't move.

He tried wiggling his legs, fingers, hips, toes, nose, ears, and neck. They were marked absent for the roll call.

He could feel his pulse thundering faster with astonishment.

What would happen if my breathing stopped? No mystery there, huh? My brain would atrophy like a wilting flower.

So true. And the consciousness he fought paralyzed tooth and nail for would be lost as he spiraled down the path one cannot tread in reverse. Panic hit him hard as it dawned. He began making desperate deals with various phantoms and deities he fabricated on the spot. His pleads were for the most part consistent and repackaged for each.

Please, don't let me die. Whoever you are, if you can hear me, lift me up on my feet. I'll do anything. I'll give anything... well...

Well, what? What do I have to offer? Nothing. I know nothing, thus I have nothing. I don't even know my name. Puzzles are a bunch of pieces, right? So why can't I remember and put them together?

A new theory formed: brain damage?

Those two words were initially avoided by him. He didn't want to consider it, but the sense it made was both alarming and frightening. The paralysis didn't have to stem from a shattered vertabra--he could have just forgotten how to move like he'd almost forgotten how to breathe.

Let's not take that plunge. I'm not ready to jump off that bridge just yet. Let's see.... If you forget something, it's because you knew it. If you knew it, you can recollect. It just costs time, and I have plenty of it... for now.

He clung to the hope and the faulty logic and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Words arrived in his senselessness. Another mantra from the dim recesses of his jigsaw mentality:There is no pain. Keep control. No pain. Control.

He didn't have control. It hurt like fire, and he remained sprawled across the ground, useless and pathetic, one step up the ladder from a slobbering imbecile who knows nothing but existence. Who knows how long he's been like that, perhaps he would stay lying forever. He wouldn't have any of this, though. Deprive him of something basic and he'd rave like he was ludicrously insane.

Ludicrous? No. Crazy? Possibly. But rave? Am I raving?

"Hysterical paralysis", the medically oriented called it. Hysteria: a psychoneurotic condition characterized by violent emotional and sensory disturbances, by paroxysms in the motor functions, and by changes in consciousness that are symbollically or psychically determined. Hysterical, sure, but somehow he didn't feel like laughing.

Could I be dreaming? Partially awake, eyes open, body still asleep, dreaming his paralysis. A hypnogogic state. He would be a prisoner of his own unconscious mind.

Friction of the forewings; the Sprickets peeved him off. There's a formula for everything, even Sprickets. Not their genetic formula, but their thermometric formula. Sprickets chirp with less frequency as temperature decreases, so anyone can estimate environmental heat within a reasonable degree by timing the chirps: (chirps per minute/4)+40=# of degrees Fahrenheit. He counted a chirp per second, making it an overly uncomfortable chill 55 degrees.

I can remember all this, but not my own identity? Or how to move? A strange organ, the brain.

The Sprickets mocked him with their love songs as he began to hear a new addition to the score: a distant whine, faint but becoming clear. Then, like in a sandbox, things changed. The rules were different now.

He heard a loud snap and miraculously his body could move again, just like flipping a switch. He jumped to his feet. His body wasn't stiff; there was no soreness or ache. His nerve endings were feeling alive and open. Little flowers of pins and needles bloomed along his spine and down the arms and legs, but the ebbing pain began to gradually wain away.
[Image: GgcM.png]
.:: Chapter 2: Planet's Wrath ::.

The newly-found power gave way to euphoria. Euphoria: a feeling of happiness, confidence, or well-being sometimes exaggerated in pathological states as mania.

Sure, manic sounded about right. He started to believe it was a manic disorder as his eyes took this in. What was once dark, deep purple ambient darkness now melded into a grand canvas of oranges. The forest was eager to cast deep shadows which sought refuge from the light. He crouched behind one such tree, hiding in what little darkness lingered. His instinct practically screamed at him. Wait, let it pass! He didn't understand.

Frozen, he shut his eyes; too much pressured his reality.

No. I spent an eternity waiting to be able to get on my feet. Now that I can, I'll not use them? No.... The edge of the forest is right there.

Boldly stepping into the vast, overpowering oranges and yellows, he watched the Sun descend into a gleaming lake half a mile away.

There was no cool moon to be seen while the heavens burned. Water glittered and steamed as the Sun brought its pyroclastic fury upon hydrogen and oxygen. Sweat pooled down his body, only some of it from the heat, and his knees met the grass. In protest, the lake hissed and screeched as it did battle with the Sun. There was no contest, and soon the victorious Sun rested triumphantly where its adversary had defiantly stood; the lake was no more.

Don't forget to run.

Oh... Oh!! Right. He jumped to his heels for the second time that night and took flight back to the forest.

The Sun slowly idled after him, augmenting his despair. Daring not to look back, he sharply changed course to veer east. In his peripheral was the sheen of embers which lit aflame the forest's edge where he had hidden. Instead, he now sought refuge at the world's edge. The Sun must have inferred his intentions, the creep accelerating to a lazy trot. Shooting stars began to rain from the fiery atmosphere and revealed themselves for instants before vanishing.

A few looked like they were almost coming at him.

No, they...?

They did come at him. He ducked in time for a hellish rock of his stature to graze his proximity and slam the ground behind him. The earth reacted like water when a pebble is cast, sending rippling shockwaves which changed the terrain. The world ended not far from where he ran.

Almost. Don't stop.

An ignited environment was now dulled and obscured in the mist of brown of particles. Sand; dirt; topsoil; they all broke through his throat like a compromised dam and flooded his lungs. Wheezing in protest, he struggled to maintain his direction despite new disability. The absence of visibility calmed him some as he coughed and stumbled drastically. Mother Earth began low grumbles in protest of the Sky's assault, guttural sounds of rock sliding against rock beginning an ultimate crescendo.

He finally keeled over, his body softly thudding against dirt in defeat.

The climax of Earth's crescendo broke out: silence.



His ears rang and a siren sounded in his brain. Consciousness slipped away, eyesight failed; his mind began descending to eternity. Air thrashed him like its doll and millions of dull pops splooshed around him. Finally, he was met with what lies beneath.
[Image: GgcM.png]

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