They said to wait in the white place and they'd find me somewhere to go, but it was too dark there. White and dark and too much sadness and too many messages. Not messages from the birds. Messages from the people tied to the machines. They wanted to go home, but the machines wouldn't let them.
The others in the quiet shoes, I made them give my name back so I could wear it round my neck again. I have to wear my name. They took my clothes away too, but they brought them back clean and put them in the cupboard by the bed. The bed was scratchy and white and I didn't want to be there, but they told me I had to wait.
While I was waiting, they took one of the people away from the machines. He wanted to go home, but they all shouted around him and the machines all screamed. Still, he went and I felt it. He left. He got to leave before me. Even after they pushed lightning into his chest, he got to leave.
After the second time with my lightning, I was done. I was done fighting. I was done being told what to do and telling other people what to do, done with all the orders. It used to be good, knowing what to do and when to do it. Then it got harder, after the first lightning. I couldn't make sense of any of it after that, of anything. Something was always on fire in my head and it stopped things making sense the way they used to. Things started jumping around from now until then. They still do. Nothing's when it's meant to be.
And them. Them. I didn't tell them I'd quit, not at the time. I waited months, waited till I got home and then I told them, when it was too late to do anything about it. I thought they'd be angry with me, but they weren't. He just looked at me like I was some shit he couldn't get off his shoe and said I was worthless. He said I was weak and I'd let him down. He said I wasn't his son anymore. All she did was stand there, half behind him like always, and that was it. I knew. Never going to see them again. Gone.
So I couldn't stay in the white place. I couldn't wait and the people in the quiet shoes couldn't stop me leaving. They tried, but they couldn't, and now I'm here again, here with the birds and it's quiet at night, but it's good quiet. No machines. No sad people in scratchy white beds, waiting to go home. I keep looking at my hands and they feel like someone else's. No dirt on them. No nothing. Not now.
I've had blood dry on my hands before and I've washed it off with hot sand, but it didn't get all the way clean. It's always been there, since the days we made the ground shake, and it's still there now. You don't have to be able to see something to know it's there. Sometimes you know because you can feel it. Sometimes it burrows right into the depths of you.
I've walked under trees and slept in the soil, buried up to my heart in dying things, but still I come back here, always. Here to the city, here to the dirt that never washes away. It just gets covered up with more footprints, more litter, more smoke. Smoke and mirrors, broken mirrors.
No matter what they tell you, time heals nothing and neither does distance. All they do is build walls around walls around walls and you're still alone at the centre of the maze, hands over your eyes, trying not to remember.
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Winter FollowsGeneral Fiction
One month, one city, five lives colliding with the forces of fate. A thrill-seeking tech genius with an appetite for dangerous extremes. A retired contract killer fighting to escape his past and himself. An underworld driver tempted deeper into a li...