SKYMERGE – A Glimpse….

CHAPTER I – (OF THE BOOK) – SKYMERGE
by Deepak Menon
Ruhan the Lute Player slowly came to consciousness. For some time, he thought that he was dead or that his soul had departed from his body – so devoid of feeling was he. The silence deafened him after the terrible cacophony of the previous seven days. Darkness covered the land so he could not see. Slowly he became aware of a long drawn out groaning, sinking into his consciousness from some infinitely remote distance. It took him a long time to realise that the sound was emanating from his own half-open mouth.
And then he became aware of pain. Pain, permeating slowly into every cell of his body – overpowering him with its intensity. Pain such as he had never dreamt could exist. He screamed uncontrollably into the darkness. Screamed again and again till he could scream no more. And lapsed into merciful unconsciousness.

Far to the East from where Ruhan lay, a huge reddish sun rose slowly over the horizon. So lethargic it was, that it took several hours to become fully visible. And it flooded the land with a blood red coverlet, as though the heavens had painted the soil red. Leafless trees stood out sparsely across the vast endless plain, brought into stark relief by the sun – – dark skeletons haloed in gold. The light of the sun was not warm. It did not make any appreciable difference to the chill, which covered the land. Yet it did contain some little warmth, which caused threads of wispy vapour to rise from pockets of water across the plains – so that very soon a light mist covered the land and marched westwards with the unveiling horizon.

Ruhan slowly came to, for the second time. The harsh red light of the rising sun revealed his body grotesquely sprawled at the top of a rocky outcrop incongruously marring the otherwise featureless plain. He groaned again and lay still. After an interminable time his mind succeeded in reasserting itself despite the intense pain in his body – and he could recall his name. Suddenly like a flash of lightning searing across his brain, he recoiled as the happenings of the previous days penetrated his consciousness and his memory hammered his mind with buffeting storms of images.

Images of a sword, thrusting into his body. Images of hands, reaching out for his, and then vanishing into the swirling waters. Of screams echoing in the darkness suddenly cut off as though with a knife. Of the raging torrents tearing his body away from the stark rock he clung to with his lacerated hands and ripped out fingernails. Images of horror, beyond human endurance.

He lapsed into unconsciousness again.

When he came to again – the Red Fury of the sun was beating down on his body from directly overhead. His skin was burning with its warmth. Groaning, he stirred and making a Herculean effort slowly sat up. His eyes opened and he looked around him. From his vantage point on the rocks, he could see all around him. There was not a soul to be seen, just a vast muddy plain. He lay back again and rested for a few moments.

When he opened his eyes the sun had shifted several degrees to the West. An agoraphobic terror filled him for an instant. He rose to his hands and knees and then to his feet. Very carefully he started climbing down from the rocks. Each movement brought waves of intense pain. Barely conscious, he at last stepped off the rocky outcrop onto the soft slush of the plain. He was faint with hunger and the ache in his stomach surpassed all the other pain he had sustained from the battering waves of the deluge. Guided by some unknown instinct he lurched away in the direction of the setting sun.

His staggering weaving walk continued for an interminable time. At last he reached the end of his tether and his body folded slowly onto the welcoming coolness of the mud.

High above in the red sky there was a flash of silver. A pair of lovely eyes scanned the plains for any sign of life as the craft flashed across the skies. The faint sound of its engines penetrated Ruhan’s consciousness, as he lay like an inert log on the muddy plain. He lurched to his feet – and performed a madman’s dance. Waving and croaking he leaped about frantically. He slipped and fell – came up again covered with mud. The craft continued its steady progress across the sky. Sobbing with frustration and despair he started hurling blobs of mud into the sky. Finally, exhausting the last of his little strength, he sank slowly into oblivion.

And the one in the craft detected a flicker of movement on the computer screen.

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