Monday, April 28, 2008

The Incomplete Bridge

The little girl stood on her platform with a small earthen lamp in her hands. The Aatman. It fit into her tiny cupped palms perfectly and emitted a feeble flame. She wore a shift that had once been bright yellow in colour, but was now ragged with burn marks and streaking dirt. She was barefoot. Her eyes were compelling, shining, darkness, the exact shade of a moonlit night, rounded and tilted at the corners. Those unforgettable eyes were also deeply and sadly adult. With her pointed ears and frail frame, they gave her shades of an elven ancestry.

Her shoulders were hunched as if carrying a great weight and she held the Aatman close to her body so it wouldn't die out in the relentless wind.

She faced the path ahead with more than a little trepidation. She had been standing there apprehensively for a while now, gingerly shifting from foot to foot, slowly gathering courage to make the walk across.

The frail silver bridge stretched out in front of her. It looked about as secure as a cobweb, as glowingly intricate as a filigree necklace spun from stalactites. It faded into nothingness just a few feet ahead of her. But she knew it was much longer than it appeared. It had to be.

She shuddered when she thought of the alternative. Her eyes focused onto the sides of the bridge where endless darkness stretched its hands out to her. It looked like nothing at first sight. Just black. But then the hands crept into the eyes. Impersonal hands, seeking, menacing, frightening, grasping, tearing, moaning, hungry, imploring hands. Insinuating fingers of disease in the mind.

First came the physical oppression. The heaviness that seemed to press into her like a crushing pile driver, from every direction, hunching her thin shoulders over the tiny Aatman she was protecting. After that came the depression, a sweeping sadness that sucked in every happy thought with a satisfied burp and begged for more. Third came the unbearable stench.

The darkness had a smell. An overpowering stench of hate and bone deep disease that rotted flesh and bred vultures. The smell of a dead animal left around for too long. The advancing decomposition that was beyond death.. The decay that was the closest stage back to the elements in the cycle of life. Centuries of grief stricken madness slavered there, carefully salvaged into a ghastly parody parade. It smelled of longing and an unquenchable sadness, from a place that had never seen love in any of its myriad forms. It beckoned to her, the darkness

Give ... Give ... up ... Give ... it ... up ... give... give ...

She stared frightened, entranced, as they whispered in her ear, chanting, enchanting. She extended her palms out together slowly, in unconscious obedience of the voice, even as her nose wrinkled involuntarily at the scent. The scent of everlasting carrion. It seemed to expand into her, until it would become the only smell she would ever know. It would become the smell of normal.

The voices whispered on, relentless, hypnotic, hopeful...

Give ... Give ... up ... Give ... it ... up ... give... give ...

She was about to fling the pitiful Aatman at the void when other noises joined the darkness. Other hands. That waved her away desperately

Walk away little girl. Only death lies here. Walk ... away... Walk ... away

Her trance broke abruptly and she blinked, searching for the other voices. Perhaps she could help them. The darkness leered back at her unabated, reaching out hands that looked like helping hands, only their palms did not supplicate, but curled into faintly clawed talons of a desolate evil that deluded itself, an evil that defeated itself

The little girl shrank back as the hands came towards her, turned and started walking blindly across the bridge. Her hands clutched the Aatman as close as she dared without burning herself.

Her eyes that had slowly become accustomed to the darkened scenes that preyed on either side of the bridge, now focused on the bridge itself with a burning concentration, blissfully blinded by the silvery light that led nowhere. But she could not afford to be afraid of the incomplete bridge any longer. The darkness laved too close for comfort. The bridge had to lead somewhere, she repeated to herself, after all it was suspended...

Was it her imagination or did the oppression recede slightly as she set foot on the bridge?

And the voices grew louder. Heartrending cries of guilt and pain flooded her mind. Envy and hatred. A marrow deep sadness that had never seen the light of day. Never hoped to. Never wanted to. The little girl's eyes prickled with involuntary tears as her heart tried to comprehend the magnitude of the pain that flowed there. But she looked ahead steadily all the same. She could see no bridge inside the darkness. No bridge away. No way out. Just an unending abyss. A sorrowful cul-de-sac.

Her first step on the bridge felt of cool metal, untouched, uncaring, but rock steady. Perhaps it would hold after all. As she set her other foot on it, it sagged, and she pitched forward crazily. From the darkness, the voices and hands went berserk with joy,

Please ... Please... Please ... Fall ...Please ... Please ... Give ... Give ...

The voices came alive with elation and the hands grasped, closer and closer, swishing coldly against her heels. Sheer fright made her regain her balance with a few hasty steps forward, and she clutched the Aatman to her chest now, regardless of its scorching heat.

The darkness receded sulkily. She understood now. While it could beg and plead and charm and urge, it couldn’t snatch the puny lamp away from her by force. She extended the Aatman towards the seeking dark hands experimentally, wraithed hands reached out to take it, but stopped short of snatching it out of her hands,

Give ... Give ... up ... Give ... it ... up ... give... give ...

The Aatman glowed peacefully in her palms, callous and unaffected by the blowing winds, the twisting bridge, the beseeching hands. It burned small but remarkably steady in her hands, that sweated and had started a relentless trembling now, under the strain. The voices never stopped chanting to her. A relentless monotone that waited and watched with a frightening optimism.

She turned to look back at the way she had come. The beginning of the bridge had disappeared. She was now suspended on a silver walkway with no visible beginning or end. Immersed in a tiny pocket of reality shrouded in vacuum from all sides. Where time and space shrunk to senseless in the enormity of the emptiness around. She felt very small, helpless and utterly alone.

A new voice now joined the cries from the darkness, extending its hand encouragingly. A deep familiar voice.

Come, darling ... don’t be afraid ... let me help you

She dropped to her knees in wonder and hope, straining into the darkness ...


There was a faint cackle, quickly stifled. The deep disembodied voice, spoke again

I will fulfill your every wish, my darling

Her eyes filled with tears

I’m coming Appa

Give ... in ... my ... little ... one... for ... your ... own ... good

She stared in hypnotic fascination as the hand drew closer to hers. It had changed again, from the extended palm, into the hooked grasping claw. The smell grew unbearable and her body heaved and retched involuntarily. Her vomit made no impact on the void, it ceased to exist, the minute it crossed the bridge. Inexplicable unease moved her a step away from the beckoning hand. Would she cease to exist too, if she touched the hand?

Propelled by a suddenly callous iron instinct, she pulled her hand away and screwed her eyes in a vain attempt to shut out the guilt and pain the voices evoked.

The bridge swung again, as if stretched and rocked by unseen hands. The world blurred in front of the girl, and she felt the motion and the smell in her every cell, swelling forth a wave of nausea. She tilted her head in slow motion to try and see it right again. She was no longer sure which way she had been heading. Panic rose in her suddenly dry throat, and she tried to swallow it down, her eyes darted around desperately for some clue, some sign, some way out, any way, even the one she had come...

The Aatman burned on, unconcerned. The icy hands in the darkness prodded intrusive columns through the bridge’s lattice even as they pleaded in their grotesque parody of submission.

The little girl shuddered in revulsion and dragged herself on tiredly. Her head twisted around in a vain attempt to decipher which way she had been heading. She had stopped caring why she was on the bridge in the first place, and merely prayed for deliverance. The apathy of exhaustion shook and drained her.

In a last desperate stand, she gripped the Aatman tight with burnt fingers and ran ahead full tilt. She stumbled and slipped almost immediately and one leg slipped through the lattice of the bridge. She swung there at an odd angle, able to do nothing but hold on for dear life. Icy fingers slowly crept up around her ankle in melancholy menace, slowly, more imagined than felt, caressingly

Come ... darling ... you’re ... home ... now

She screamed in sheer terror, a keening desperate sound, pulled her leg up with the remaining shreds of her strength and ran on.

At some point, she realized there was no longer cold metal lattice underfoot, but sand, soft and grainy, full and yielding. The smell had receded into a balmy breeze. She stop abruptly and looked back and just like that, the bridge was crossed. She was ashore. And in the right direction, by some miracle. She looked back at the whirlpool of eternal sorrow.

It cried and flung curses, like a thousand mad women torn apart by grief. The little girl returned to the edge of the incomplete bridge, drew her right hand back, and in one smooth motion, flung the Aatman at the waiting recriminating hands

She then turned and ran away from the bridge. Behind her the voices shrieked in the ecstatic crescendo of their own destruction. She did not look back. After a few minutes, her heartbeat slowed down to a walk and then a carefree skip. She began to hum a happy tune, as the Aatman reappeared in her cupped palms.

From Rammstein’s Spring (again), with shades (no pun intended :D) of Robert Jordan’s Shadar Logoth


  1. It is INTENSE

    Quite a journey. Am I reading too deep into this? :) Incredible - walk into and the insides of abyss. Amazing descriptions.

    The Aatman that she holds on to - her efficacy - is the saving grace :)

    It is always there, in there... Happiness - protects and keeps it alive not having to *protect* - save it - just *be* and there it is save :) Miracle or just a matter of fact

    Brilliant touching and did I say intense? :))

    Nice...ok now to some bright and shiny stories sistah!

    - Pregnant man ;)

  2. Lol!! babe!! I was about to get your autograph! And the I read the alst line :D

    But isn't it so beautiful? Amazing, the mind that could think up such a brilliant scenario

  3. @Pregnant Man - Thanke darling :D!!!

    Happiness - protects and keeps it alive not having to *protect*

    Thats what I figure too... Love how you did that :D!! Happy stories, (sorta) comin right up, sista from anutha motha (not same effect :()

    @Macadamia - ROTFLLLL :D :D, Shouldnt have revealed my sources what :(?? Neways, you are getting my autograph whether u want it or not, thats final! Dont toy with me :(( ... Yeah babe, its quite amazing how the human mind works!! Thankye!!