Of a Place And a Time
rating: +13+x

There are ill events about this time, friend. It’s the air. The air and the sky and the trees, and every blooder other thing else that isn’t us. I don’t know what it is, but… maybe nature's conspiring against us, or being used, or maybe everything has just decided they don’t like us being here.

No, no, not “us” as in the people from here. I couldn’t give a bugger or a bother about where you’re from, or what skin, hair, teeth or race ye’ have. If you’re here now and you’re like us, you’re one of us. The bees and the worms eat with the monsters and the gods here. If you take one example, there used to be these things called Thosk — well, there still are. But we don’t call them that anymore.

What do we call them now? Nothing. We’d use their names, but they don’t have any. They say their identities all got jumbled up when they were born. It's a tribal thing, they say. That's what they were: a tribe of monsters. Back in the start of the year, they’d come down from the hills and pillage, murdering anyone who couldn’t run fast enough. They stopped attacking and we stopped running when we realised death didn’t stick. The Thosk came down and started acting a little more civilly. Some even said sorry, with time. They were just the same as we peasants were in the end. And sick the same way.

It wasn’t long before the stranger things started happening. Sometimes, the sun would rise in the north and set in the west, or the middle. The crops wouldn’t grow, the livestock stopped moving, and… we can’t even touch the animals now. Everything just passes through them. They’re like images in the air that won’t go away.

We noticed we weren’t the same any more. We didn't grow or live, we just sort of lingered on without any food or signs o' age. We can't sleep, can't eat - the food just came right back up for our being full, and it was the same with the water. You know, I tried going off into the horizon to see if there was a way out. It’s just empty field out there, and when I got far enough…

When I got far enough, reality shat itself. Everything fell apart: the ground tore open into these huge crevices, the grass turned to rock. I still have the scar where the sky dropped in on me head, and the burn where the sun set flame to me clothes and charred my back. So I ran. I turned away from the edge, and ran for what felt like days. The world didn’t move under me feet, and I could still feel the landscape lashing and tearing behind me. After a while, I fell down from sheer tiredness. When I looked back, everything was fine. It looked exactly as it had right up until the moment everything pissed itself and went wrong.

One of the girls, Alissa or or Bessa or something. She became pregnant. Lass couldn’t have been more than 15, and we still don’t know who the father was – or if there even was one. We didn’t know what to make of it as first, and we didn’t through the next eight months, until she gave birth to twins.

They were a funny pair. There was one that was clear-as-day a Thosk, even though that shouldn’t have been possible. All the other ones had told me they don’t have bits, and can’t parent children. He had the stomach-like arms and feathery eyes of a one I was chummy with. The other one looked like a woman named Anyra, down to the stunted fifth leg. But the funniest thing, by far, is that both of the people these little ones took after seemed to disappear on the same day. We never saw them again.

It didn’t take us long to realise that the children weren't the same. They cried and grew and needed food, like we used to. It gave us hope at first; “they’re normal”, we said, “what if this means we can go back to life, and everything can get better again? We can live and die and breath again! It’s starting to fix itself…”

That was before we realised we couldn’t feed them for long. There were no crops left, and only a tiny wee 'mount o' provisions. The last o' the water ran out, and so had the warmth and air. We couldn’t even make it quick as a mercy. Their lungs gave out before that, while they were crying and thirsty and hungry and we couldn't do anything. They were both three years old at the time.

They rotted like normal children. The ground wouldn’t give way to spades, and fire wouldn’t start. In the end, one of the nameless went out and just left them at the end of the country.

There are some of us that think o' the reasons for it. Some say it’s a hell, some say it’s a madness. There are some that think the world's grown old and senile, and forgotten about some while it just marched on.

Lately, there have been these people who have just… faded. They fall down and forget who they are. We can re-teach 'em, but it always strikes again. Sooner and sooner each time. We can't kill each other, so we can't put an end to it before they stop being able to learn. Which they always do. We already have three who've just been staring, not listening, the past… thirty years. I'd call them dead, but we don't know that they're not awake. They have the same lack of pulse, heat and breathing that the rest of us do.

You were the most recent - it struck you for the first time a little while ago. Now, now, calm down. You should have a good thirty years before it happens again, and twenty after that. Used to be, people would barely live that long. It's a good thing, all in all. You've been a given a lifetime, o' sorts. In fact, you've been given lots. And after it's all done, and you fade into nothing, you won't have to go rememberin' all of it.

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