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Souls: Part One

“A favour as great as the universe is not worth the sacrifice of a star.” stated Alvis. “But altering the reasons of life is not in our hands.”
“And so, as our beings fly as dust, we’ll recollect the reward, as meagre as it may be.”, said Brain, turning around.
Eshter smiled and continued, “For it is essential for the procession of our sacred system and the spirit of our creation.
“Excellent. We are now primed to run this day’s death of rebirth.”, said Alvis. “Brian, you may set the barkylator pole on while Esther, you can now venture forth and begin building the chain.
“Yes, master.” they both said in unison, scurrying away to perform their assigned duties. Lit with the kind of fervour that is only born out of order.

A soul is the sun of life’s sky. Without it, you can never feel the dazzle in the light of this cosmic fire. Never feel the rich flow of eternal enlightenment. Without it, you may live and be alive, hold life in your hands like a prize but then all it does is slip and run away. As futile as untouched water; fizzling out before even flaring into a blaze. Alas, just another pile of ash in your soulless life’s cold pyre.

Chad Goodwin, however did not know any of this. He’d spent his whole life living with a soul, having been dead in a life without it and so it was quite natural that he lacked this bit of knowledge. 

Walking the bustling shop-lined street, Chad passed a great amount of new unregistered faces, perpetually unaware of an equally great amount of non-existent ones, well if not a little less. He bore on his back, a chic black backpack, his dark hair glistening like a rock of sleek obsidian as he walked with his sagging figure.
It was a bright sunny day with light seemingly spilling out out of everywhere; the windows, eyes, sidewalk, branch slits, buses….as if a celestial lot of daylight gift packets had been bestowed upon the lands; a generous handout from the gods above.
Chad squinted his eyes, cursing the hellish light. He made his way toward a bend and steered left, stopping short at the corner. A bus was stationed there and he swiftly got in.
The sun-sizzled air blazed outside his window, a stark contrast to the shadowy darkness that pulsed inside the bus. Chad hazily blinked off the pale hue specks from his vision, an inevitable dreariness settling upon him.
Chad’s town, Whitlock, a bustling but cheery little place, lay under the looming arms of a hill ridge. The clustered town centre gave way to a maze of paths that went on to subsequently intersect a fragmented veil of forests. These paths ultimately led to the slopes of Mt. Forevermore, a pleasant and prevalent attraction of Whitlock.
Myriads of lush trees whipped past Chad as the bus jiggled up and down the route, as relentless as the swift murmur of heartbeats. From the outside, seeped in fresh scents of oak and pine, pouring life into the air and stirring the inhabitants of the bus with pleasure evoked by nature. But Chad, a town local who had been embarking on this trip since a time he couldn’t quite recall, knew every nook and cranny of the bright wonders around him until at last they’d ceased to shine for him anymore. So he sat still in his seat like the numb man he was, letting the soft rhythm of his bus ride rock and cradle him like a senseless slumber.
This was exactly not how Chad intended to be. In fact, he’d hoped that by fleeing his slow monotonous job at the town and by taking a day out at the mountain, he’d at least feel a bit spirited. But alas, that was not to be. Now, sitting amidst the happy cheerful voices and rich green empires, he only felt a dark tug in his soul; a dimness, as dull as a grey cloud. 
Chad sighed and twisted to a side in his seat, his backpack sliding along with him. He now fully faced the window, his listless eyes gliding over the sights like water. 
He was halfway in through his mindless gazing when he vaguely sensed something hovering in the air outside. Curious, he reflexively craned his neck back to see what it was, just in time for it to fly past him rapidly and away into the world! Chad bolted upright in in his seat. He thought the thing had been a fuzzy solid material. It was all he could discern of it before it had taken off. Slight traces of his forgotten intrigue tickled at his bones.
For a quiet a while after that, the ride went on undisturbed until Chad began thinking that maybe his lacking imagination had conjured the thing up. But in the next moment, a whole batch of those things came flying past his window! This time, they were more graceful and flowy, like a raft on a sea of air. Chad, bewildered, saw that every one of them were brown and fuzzy and seemed rough like tangled hair. They were about the size of a hand or a foot, small and nimble as a feather. 
Chad let out a faint startled sound and frantically looked around his bus but the people, although paying heed to the outside view, seemed completely unaware of this spectacle that he was witnessing. Their eyes didn’t even seem to pick out those flying things in the air. Agitated, Chad tapped on the shoulder of the man siting before him. 
“Hey, there are things flying outside, over there, see!
The man turned, his wrinkled-creased face etched with confusion. “What things?”, he asked, nodding at the view.
Chad looked at him in disbelief. “Those things.” He said, pointing at them wildly, little beads of sweat matting his hair.
The man, having warily followed his fingers, scanned the view again, and then frowned deeply. “Well, I can’t see nothing out of the ordinary, young man. But then I haven’t got my glasses on, if at all you’re referring to some far-away distant things.”, With that, the man turned curtly, shooting Chad a strange last look.
“But it’s here, sir. It’s right here!” appealed Chad, his voice cracking vapidly like a track from a faulty turntable.

After a little while, as a sloping mountain road stretched ahead, the bus came to a screeching halt. Having reached the finish line of the level area, there awaited a good one hour of journey up the slopes of the mountain. So along the shoulder of the road, beside a thin grove, little refreshment stalls and counters had been set, courtesy of the tourists. As a ritual, the vehicles ceased at this place for some time before setting off to the winding slopes of Mt. Forevermore.

Chad, who had decided in having his eyes closed until the stop, now opened them
and to his dismay, found that he could still see those wispy brown pieces flying in the air. But now, having been given the opportunity, he stood up and joined the queue of people filing out of the bus, fuelled with urgent curiosity. He’d hoped to feel more lively and cheery but never in this hope had he wished for a possibility of him going off his rocker!
The old man who was in front of him, glanced at Chad and then gave him a wide berth, stepping out of his way in elderly haste. 

The road and the sky seemed like old marble floors, as if bleached white by the light patches. A touch of pale for the verdant trees on the side that lay tangled up in their own inter-webbed shadows. 
Hot sunlit winds coiled around Chad like a warm little blanket as he followed another kind of light ignited inside him, after what seemed like a long while. Reaching out with his hands, he caught hold of one of those things in the air, felt its rough texture and then exhaled in shuddering relief. He was holding it, feeling it; it was real! 

People wandered around him, oblivious, gearing up for their mundane little journey ahead. Some were observant enough to steal glances at the strange man who kept gazing at the air, who even appearing under the illusion of carrying it!

Supernatural was what came to mind and that sent Chad almost trembling with fascination and fear. The brown feathery pieces were flowing in a neat line overhead, running as far as to cross the stop and into the turn beyond. With a resolute look on his face, Chad pulled his backpack tight over his shoulders and then began following it, his soul alight with strong interest.
He gradually cut across the road and strayed into a bend where the line of pieces was leading him. Nobody seemed to care to cease him or even  noticed him slip by, so Chad restfully treaded on the lonely mountain curves at ease, leaving behind the loud cheery voices, untouched in his wake.
A step down from the road, tall willowy trees fringed the border on one side while the other was layered with blocks of mountain rock. It was there, beside the latter that the line stopped and the things were diving down to the ground. Chad, animated, raced towards them and began probing the mound of them with his fingers. No sooner had he done that than a loud crack sounded in the air, sending him whirling around, startled. 
Another crack followed, like breaking ice. Chad, who had been crouching down, stood up and tentatively regarded the wall of rock before him, for it appeared as though the sounds were emanating from it.
And his intuition wasn’t wrong.
A cacophony of crashing noises rang through the air, the ground shaking beneath Chad, like an earthquake. He let out a yell and scampered to a side, his foot narrowly dodging a stone that had been plummeting down. 
Skittering away to safer grounds, Chad lay horrified as he witnessed the occurrences unfolding before him.
A long crevice had run up the sandy rock wall, splitting it in half and hurting a stream of jagged stones down. And it was growing, growing and pulsating through the rock until the gap between it became large enough to be a narrow walkway.
Chad, who had been cupping his ears, took them off as the deafening noise gradually halted and a sour echo settled in its place. 
He shook the sand dust away from his body and slowly crept towards the gaping opening in the wall, trepidation hovering inside his head like a ghost.
As he edged towards it, he was startled to discern that the opening stretched deeper into the shadows like a dark hallway, not alcoved and short-lived, obstructed by a new layer of rock, as he’d imagined. 
Taking a deep breath, he stepped forward.

Darkness devoured everything around him and for a fleeting minute, Chad lay blinded in his pitch-black sight. But all at once, in the next moment, fresh light came pouring down on him like a illumining golden halo. Light that came out of nowhere, not of the kind of the sun or a filament.
Chad blinked off the spots in his vision for the second time that day. But even after doing so, he was still unsure of whether he was rooted in actual reality or not, because the walls of sandy rock he had presumed to see, wore an uncanny tint of metallic silver. The lit path ahead had a twin at the horizon; a seemingly bright and endless mystery.
Chad glanced back at the way he’d come to this place, earthly sunlight lingering around the frame of the arch, like withheld fire. The little brown things, broken off with the line were wreathing the ground up to his feet, in a thin slender trail.
Chad turned his head back to the hallway and then sucked in a breath as soon as he registered the sight before him. A piercing cry slipped out from him and stumbled back in shock.
Standing in front of him, in the narrow pathway, were creatures. Creatures that wore the skin of the same little things on the ground! Rough yet fuzzy; in a jumpsuit of parched brown.
They were three of them, all just reaching to the hight of Chad’s hip, with squiggly little eyes and stunted arms and legs.
Chad stood still as a statue, gaping at them, head in a cross between horror and fascination.
The first one, the one foremost in the group, opened its mouth, a light brown slit. “Hello, Chad. I’m Alvis barkhood. The master of the esteemed CBs. And these are my comrades, Brian and Esther.”


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