Musemuggers Story for Challenge #100

There are 14 picture prompts.
I am writing for each picture in turn, starting with 2, and not opening the next picture until after I’ve posted the last part, so I won’t have any clue where the story is going until I click on the next one. I can’t promise to finish this!

For Picture 2.
The Unknown.
Word Count 519
beta-ed by

I’ve marked a line on the wall for each setting of the suns. I can’t see them, as the bars are too high above my head for me. I found a nail, something heavy with the rust of age and bone-weary with which to score the passing of days into the wall.

I don’t do it too early in the day, because I find it has become the highlight of the endless span between rising and setting suns. I wait until the bisected fiery square hits the floor and then I lift my nail from the brick where it lies in state, proud, my only possession, and move to where the suns warm the ancient walls. I run my fingers over the other scorings, marvelling at how casually, how angrily, the first few were made, and how they change into what they have become, a labour of love, an artistry.

I always try and clean my hands the best I can with the oily tasting water ration I am given, kept in the strange blue gourd by the door. I used to use spit, but after a while that seemed blasphemous, like I was degrading the nail, not allowing it the respect it needs. I cleaned the nail too, removing the loose flakes of rust by rubbing it for hours on the rags I find myself in – incongruous and somehow strangely wrong clothes, the cut strange, the colours unfamiliar.

Then I scratch, gently at first hardly even breaking the ochre and russet, wanting to prolong this, for after this there is only sleep and an endless nothing until breakfast. Sometimes I hold the precious nail so loosely, it drops onto the straw-strewn floor and I wonder if I do this deliberately; for all the sudden panic I feel at the possible loss of the thing, it takes time to retrieve, discarding a twig here, a hard straw there until the warmth and rightness of the nail slides into my hand, like a warm finger of a loved one, and the relief is like finding a child in a crowded place, a child that you thought was lost.

I add the pressure with my fingers and wrist, gradually, watching with avid concentration as, eventually, I score a tan line in the brickwork, and the dust filters down into the straw in a flutter of fragments. This is not to be hurried, one slip could make a mark that does not belong, the mark must be even, must be perfect, aligned with its brothers. It must earn its place here. My fingernails whiten as I work, and the brickdust colours my hands with an ochre sheen, and I feel at peace, at one with this terrible place. I have made my mark.

It is the only expression I can give here in a place that is not even my world.

How can I say something so impossible? I say it with clarity, as clear as the punishment on my skin, the brand as a heretic. I know this is not my world.

My world does not have two suns.


© Copyright 2005 Erastes, All rights Reserved. Written For: Erastes
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