Rebeca ran through a desert. Her bare feet hit the cold sand again and again in the silent moonlight. The golden hair that grew like silk from her head whipped softly against her childish face. Nothing chased her, no one wondered where she was going, and nothing, not even one lone snake watched her flight towards the strange pillar of fog in the barren wilderness.
"I'm running into the fog and no one cares!" she thought, her mind screaming with anger and sadness. "I'm running and no one sees me--even though I'm running practically naked through a desert that is supposed to be full of bandits!
Rebeca shivered at the enormous smoky fog in the distance. It stood solidly in place, touching the sky with shadowy arms. "I wonder if anyone else ever made it there," she whispered into the darkness where smoke and clouds live.
Rebeca squinted at the fog in the distance, anger and fear making her numb to the wind's blowing. She stuck her lower lip out, hating people for telling lies, hating them for being scared of truth, hating them for diminishing beauty, fear and ugliness. "I say that nothing is ever what it seems to be! No one is just rich, or just poor, or just a person!" she yelled at the forbidden fog thing in the distance.
The column of fog rose from below the ground like a huge skyscraper in a giant's city. Nothing man-made could produce smoke so dark or so dense that wind didn't even touch it. The wind that came from the smoky fog smelled of dead fish and salt. "I knew the Pillar of Fog was bigger than it looked," Rebeca panted, attempting to spit the taste of salt off her dry lips.
The more she ran towards the fog, the more hideous it looked. Even from a distance she could see the way the dark fog swirled and spun in distorted circles like a confused galaxy.
"So," she sneered to the smoky fog, "even you are trying to scare me away--just like everybody else. Well, I'm not scared!" Rebeca lifted her head, trying to see where the fog met sky, but somehow the cloudy grayness seemed to be part of the sky, or made from the sky; like a tornado, only much larger.
The wind kicked sand into the air until it covered her shoulders and stung her belly as she ran, but she ignored its harshness and watched the fog. The gray ugliness begged her to look into its depths, begged her to become part of its dark, swirling patterns, but she laughed at its strange shadows.
"Fog isn't alive, and it can't make or change anything." Rebeca sighed, and suddenly laughed. It was so stupid. The strange pillar of fog in the middle of the desert didn't make any sense. Even if some claimed it as a scientific curiosity, the fog was nothing! It probably wasn't even really there at all!
"It's so stupid." She said giggling. "But if it's real, I must me crazy, crazy crezy!" She yelled at the fog. "You're not real at all, everyone just imagined you and I don't care anymore! No one cares about anything anymore" she told herself, "So why--?" Rebeca flinched, cold shock cutting her words off as she ran.
The sand stung at her feet with new iciness. Rebeca looked into the sky, trying to see the moon, the stars, anything... but the moon was gone. Gone, covered by cold blackness. She blinked, hearing whispers in the emptiness surrounding the fog.
No one knew what came after the Shadow Zone. The wind pricked at her skin like needles, and the darkness blinded her. I am in the Shadow Zone, that is just the shadow of the fog" she told no one, trying to be at least a little logical as icy air blew at her hair. "Maybe I should turn around.... but I mustn't go back!" her thoughts screamed." So she kept her arms to her side and ran on despite the cold.
"Mustn't stop," she whispered to herself with a shake of her head," mustn't stop-- because if I do they will laugh at me." Cold numbness shivered up her legs, drilled though her bones and froze her heart. It was so dark, so cold, so quiet. She blinked several times, trying to stop angry warm tears from falling from her frozen eyelashes. "If there are people at the end of this cold, they'd have to see me...but probably still not care!" Rebeca thought, her mind and body following the chilled shadow from the fog pillar. " Maybe there is freedom, maybe there is something more to life...." Rebeca wanted to believe her thoughts, but she felt the cold wind on her face, heard the silence of the sandy land, and saw nothing but the lonesome blackness around her. "No," Rebeca whispered to herself, "I am alone. No one will ever find me...ever." There was nothing, and she was nothing, so Rebeca closed her eyes in the darkness and ran, not caring where she went--not caring because there was no reason to care.
With her eyes closed she didn't have to see the terrible leering fog. With her eyes closed she didn't have to think about the darkness or the chilling air. With her eyes closed she could run forever with no worries. With her eyes closed, she was safe. So Rebeca ran, not seeing the fog as it surrounded her with spinning distortion, not seeing the drop-off three steps away, and not seeing her foot when it hit nothing.
"Ah!" Her eyes flew open, wide with surprise. Her toes hit nothing instead of the cold something of the desert. She was falling. Falling with nothing to catch her, falling and no one to help her. Falling down into a deep curved crater and no one cared.
Rebeca hit the side of the crater, the roughness scraping her skin, making her cry out in pain. Her mind screamed as she tumbled and rolled. Sharp rocks dug into her bare knees like nails, stinging her shins as she fell. Her mouth opened to scream, but she had no breath inside her lungs.
All Rebeca could do was see. She could see that she was an unstoppable landslide rolling into the bottom of a pit. She could see ominous foggy sky and dusty ground. She could see a disfigured creature at the bottom of the pit watching her with a twisted smile. She saw the creature's jaw move in a giggle when she landed at its deformed feet, and saw him turn and walk away as the world faded into blackness.
Rebeca blinked slowly, conscious of the dimly lit houses and small shops along the side of the dirt road where she sprawled like a stunned deer. Morning would come soon, and with daylight come people. But what kind of people? Rebeca remembered the strange creature she had seen and shivered. "Must have been a dream" she told herself with a shake of her head. "No one could be that terrible looking."
Dawn, as the saw was breaking, and she was still in the middle of the street. "This is obviously not the best napping place" she told herself and hastily rose to her feet. "I guess this is better than the desert...at least its not frezzing! She whispered at the nearest building.
The town was like any other town in the sense that it had houses and stores, and streets. But there was something different about this place. In the dawn's dim light it seemed as if the stores and houses were no more than cardboard cutouts, and the road no more than a modified cow path. Rebeca covered her mouth to surpress a giggle. "After running in a freezing desert and falling down into the crater, it's a wonder I can see anything!" As the light grew, she could hear voices, chanting, singing. Everyoen was saying the words together, making it sounds as if it came formthe sky she could hear them say:
he will shine in the Shadow Zone,
weeping afar at dark spears that
pierce living bones
until life is nothing but slaves of dust.
dust and life intertwine,
giving birth to time,
a swirling oblivion where
everything happens and nothing proceeds.
he falls in the Shadow Zone,
screams twisting echoes from dust
yet dust cannot touch the never born
and life cannot hold the never owned."
Quickly, but quietly, Rebeca let her weary legs wander or stop where they wished until she saw the house. Beautiful limestone bricks had taken time's beating, the ivy creeping over the windows looked as if it had never been trimmed. As she stared at the house, she realized that it could have once been a castle, or at least a building of great importance in the town. High on the roof of the house stood a long rusty steel beam-a lightning rod of some sort, pointing towards the foggy sky. Three trees stood around the house, three trees that were now as dead and bare as the windows they watched.
Many of the windows on the bottom floor were covered or broken, but there were so many windows, it didn't seem to matter. In fact, it looked as if you could enter or exit the house on the dead trees, if you were a climber. Rebeca reached out quickly touching the house, the lime stone was rough and cold, and solid to her skin. The ivy was smooth, and its vines thick as garden snakes.