He was drowning in darkness.
Swells of waves pushed him under, deeper into the bottom. With a circular sweep, they'd bring him back up. The pain was gone and he was able to swim upwards, in search of the surface. Above was a shimmering light, its long rays extended and flared out just a few feet away from him. Rapidly kicking his legs, he reached up and inched towards it. His hand broke through the top layers. He emerged from the depths.
The ocean churned all around him.
"Benjamin!" Someone's voice distantly called out to him.
Turning his head, he noticed land. Not far from him, a woman stood on the shoreline and motioned to him. It was his mother.
She cheered as he swam to her. "You'll be okay! Don't worry, just relax."
It sounded as if the voice was coming from somewhere else. The sky? He looked up at the stormy and pendulant clouds above. They resembled huge boulders tumbling through an infinite gray vastness. Fake and surreal looking, they speedily rolled in different directions. His eyes scanned for his mother on the shoreline. She was receding, rapidly moving further away from him.
"No!" He yelled as he vigorously kicked his legs. "Come back! Don't go!"
"Shh, just lay back."
"Why? Why are you abandoning me?" Why the hell is she telling me to lay back? That doesn't make any sense! He shook his head.
Finally, it dawned on him that he'd been in a fever-induced dream. Stuck somewhere between dreamworlds and hallucinations, that's where he'd seen multiple versions of his mother. None of it was real. The days, weeks—he wasn't certain how much time passed—all turned into one disorderly blur.
Some days he'd wake with a gasp and realized that Syrqnä was helping him into a seated position. Something was being placed into his mouth. Food? Water was also being poured into his mouth, he wasn't sure if he ate all the food and drank all the water, or just mainly choked on what ever he was fed.
Other days he dreamt of his hometown, surrounded by people he didn't know or recognize. Though it would always eventually melt away into a city he never heard of nor visited. Lost and walking aimlessly, he'd repeatedly stop at the same places. A store clerk would yell at him when he grabbed a chocolate bar. Someone spoke to the enraged man and paid for his chocolate bar. Two adults approached him.
A man and a woman. They looked like his parents, but they weren't. They were Kraälst, he was sure of it. Kraälst pretending to be his parents, trying to lure him into a trap. He'd always return to the depository many times. It was as if he'd never been there. All the cryotubes were neatly arranged and in pristine condition. Everything was back to normal in that horrible room. More children and people were being placed into the tubes. The Kraälst were still capturing children. Still ate them, while all he could do was watch helplessly and useless to do anything about it.
"Don't hurt the children!" He'd yell, but the Kraälst would just turn to him and eventually carried him away into another room. There he would remained locked up in pitch darkness, listening to others crying and wailing.
After six weeks, his mind was a confused mess. Syrqnä would remind him that it was all in his head—nothing more than a figment of his imagination. Nothing was real. He was safe at that moment, but he needed to be quiet, because a sentry was going to be passing on the walkway near their building. His arm was in a makeshift sling, mending speedily. The pain that had taken residence for days within his body, rapidly dissipated with the accelerated time. She found some pain relievers to help him through the days when it was at its worst.
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Passage to Kraälst Ta'arkTeen Fiction
Sometimes we all wish we could physically escape our realities, but what if we're given the opportunity and only find ourselves in a worse situation? Benjamin Mills turns thirteen with the arrival of the Fall Equinox. But Benjamin doesn't want to gr...