Mazerkha's Hedge

Mazerkha's Hedge

A Story by The Message

I - Seeds

     There is a field within the vibrant plains of Kes, a field of endless bounty and mirth. In this field the grasses grow uniformly and evenly, the flowers shimmer with a miraculous luster and the bushes exude a wondrous, calming mist. All of these plants exist without struggle or strife, the suns overhead are never positioned to bake or deprive and there are no insects to feast upon their fibrous flesh. In fact, there aren't any animals in this field, only plants for miles and miles. The spores in the air ensure that none who enter manage to live long, and their fallen bodies only serve to nourish the very organisms that felled them.
     At the farthest end of this field, there is an orchard. The orchard is vast, seeming to go on forever along the border of the field, and filled to capacity with beautiful green trees, trees with gold flecked bark, translucent leaves and impossibly delicious blue fruit. These trees grow large and strong, and they never decay or suffer diseases.
     At the farthest end of this orchard, there is a hedgerow. It is thick and lustrous, with gentle, odd-shaped leaves. It is tall as well, taller than any tree of the orchard could hope to grow, taller than anyone could be able to see if anyone were there at all. However, that is only the view of the hedge from the side of the orchard, the side of the immaculate field, the side of Kes.
     On the other side of the hedge, all is gray and twisted. Weeds of ash and bone jut up wildly from the earth and hedgerow itself spills a terrible sludge into the cracked soil. The earth rises in jagged steps up to a pinnacle where a massive black tree has taken root. Its tissue is hard yet rubbery and it has twenty-thousand screaming faces embedded below myriad whipping branches, flailing like anxious tentacles in the unending gloom of this place.
     From this tree a single, focused ripple emanates through the ground and on the other side of the hedge a solitary brown eel slithers up and hurries through the orchard before coming to rest at the base of a tree. It buries its head in the tree's bark and soon is lost inside. The tree buckles lazily, its fruits turning a putrid orange and falling off, splattering upon contact with the ground and releasing a rotten gray muck all around. The other trees seem to shift uneasily, but none show any deeper interest and none think to cast a wary eye at the hedgerow.
     "Grandma?"
     "Yes?"
     "I don't want to hear about the trees anymore, and I don't want to hear about that hedge. Can we go to sleep now?"
     "Yes, little one, of course. But one day you may wish to know what happens next. When that day comes, I'll be ready."
     "Ok, grandma. Goodnight."
     "Goodnight."

II - The Empty Ones

    A month passed in the life of young Cynthia before the dreams began. At first they would only come once a week, but soon it was every few days until it became a constant occurrence every time she fell asleep. The dreams all went the exact same way.
    Cynthia is lying upon a bed of dried brown and red leaves, looking up at a sky of solid green, a sky without clouds or any variance in shade or texture. It was like a perfectly painted ceiling. All around her was a forest of red bamboo, and she can't see past the shadows that fall only a mere foot or two inside the grove. She tosses and turns with mild horror at the situation, and then the irritation starts. She begins to itch everywhere and cannot scratch often or hard enough to allay the sensation. Skin tears and blood pools but she can't help it, she needs release. Then she imagines that there may be tiny bugs causing her torment and she becomes ever more terrified. Immediately she finds herself covered in large bulbous insects, each of them larger than her head. They have thirty legs and five wings, long wicked horns and four scything maws that rip and pierce her figure, and all the while they emit a noise not unlike that of a gargling, frantic infant in the throes of a watery demise. She bashes one of them in the face with her fist and it cracks, exoskeleton falling apart effortlessly and a strange black smoke pours out. No, not a black smoke... an absence. And absence of anything. It engulfs her and she feels cold. She feels so cold.
     And then Cynthia finds herself awake, soaked with tears and sweat. She will then spend the rest of the night staring up at the stars, longing for rest but fearing those nightmare things in the little clearing. The pains of reality don't worry her as much as the pains of the mind.
     This little girl doesn't dare tell anyone of her dreams, she doesn't want to be mocked by her brother or friends, doesn't want to be pitied by adults. However, after a year of this torment she begins to see the insects every time she closes her eyes, swarming through the strange swirling world beneath her eyelids. She starts at the slightest hint of unexpected movement, she sees things in the shadows that aren't there. Cynthia is on the verge of collapse when she overhears a conversation. She overhears her brother and her parents talking, talking about insects. Talking about the insects.
     That night she confronts him in their room, alone under the dim light of the moon. He has been having dreams, he says, dreams of a secluded bed of leaves in a strange bamboo forest, dreams in which he is assaulted by hideous creatures and lost to an unfathomable void. They confide in one another their shared fears and remark on the madness of it all in the way children do, and then go to sleep.
     That night, the dreams didn't come.

III -  Seas Beyond

    Five years later, Michael is walking home from school. He hasn't given any thought to the strange nightmares of his past, hasn't given any thought to anything but the usual concerns and interests of a fourteen year old boy. Today would chance to change that, however.
    Michael is lost in his own head, lost in his senses and eventually, lost geographically. The boy finds himself in an unfamiliar part of town and not currently prone to fear, decides to explore it. He hits all the expected landmarks, visiting various shops and pining over their wares. He is almost bored with the place when he notices a man watching him from an alley, a strange man dressed only in red. When this man notices that he has been discovered, he turns into the alley and walks away.
    Michael follows.
    He goes through the dark alley and finds nothing but trash to greet him. At the other end he comes to a railing, the rail that borders where the sea meets land in this town. However, this isn't his sea, these waters are solid white and serene, translucent to the extent that he can see the strange creatures at the bottom, the bottom that lies at the end of an infinite depth. The creatures are massive and crablike, with ten plated legs and no eyes. Under his gaze they begin to dissolve and fall apart and wonder gives way to horror when he sees the dream insects clawing out from the inside, beginning to swim up for him. The first of the pack distorts as it draws near, turning red and taking on the form of a man. The man reaches up to Michael, bridging the gap effortlessly, and touches his forehead.
    The boy's vision goes black and he tries to run, only to hit his head on some sort of pole. There is a commotion and he hears his parents drawing near, curious and then frantic. Coddling. Couches. Hospitals. And a bed, a bed that will occupy most of his remaining time in this house, a bed that feels suspiciously like leaves to his fingers.

IV - Growth

    Three months of blindness later, Michael is being prepared for bed by his grandmother.
    "I'd like to hear it now."
    "What's that?"
    "The story you started a few years ago, about the hedge and the trees."
    "Ah, alright. Are you sure?"
    "Yes."
    "Alright."
    The trees of the orchard began to grow with time, getting taller and taller. With each passing moment they seemed to approach the apex of the hedge. However, what they didn't know was that the hedgerow itself had been growing just as fast as they were. They would never get to the top, would never see over it to catch of glimpse of the beyond.
     The gnarled black tree on the other side never grew, it never needed to. It just flailed and cursed itself, cursed others, cursed all of creation for the state of being. It bludgeoned the ground with its branches and filled the air with dust. It tore up the wretched little plants around it one by one, examining them all, consuming them all. It hated and it hungered in equal measures and all the while it sent eels to poison the denizens of the orchard, the blind and stupid trees that never conceived of its existence.
      High above the orchard was a floating mountain of emeralds and dirt. Atop this mountain danced Mazerkha, an inscrutable humanoid being with three eyes and flowing armor of solid red. Mazerkha filled his court with all manner of wild beasts and foreign entities, he kept them for his amusement and in turn he tried to keep them amused continually, hosting an endless party of the greatest luxury and decadence.
      Below this bastion of extravagance the trees and hedgerow grew ever higher until the master of the mount took notice. The hedgerow struck the crystals first and was immediately paid for the intrusion by being turned to solid gray marble. The trees in their blindness didn't see the folly of their course and rose higher anyways. Mazerkha took pity on them though and stretched his arms out to their roots, flames erupting up and swallowing the whole. The orchard became inferno and the carnage began to spread into the field bordering it, waves of annihilation tearing through the paradise.
      Not wishing to bring such a plague upon Kes, the lord dropped a silver coin from his home which upon contact turned the entire field into a white ocean of infinite depth. The fires tore ever deeper into the earth but found themselves contained otherwise between the walls of marble and water. The lands on the far side of the ocean began to erode and collapse into the drink, but such regions were removed enough to be of no interest to the great one. Let them deal with it as they may.
      The black tree sat alone behind the wall of marble, it sat and wasted away. Nothing ever grew over there again.

V - A Letter

      Sister,
      I want you to know that this isn't your fault or the fault of anyone else, but I'll have left the world by the time you read this. Give Richard my regards as well, I know you two will be happy together. I hope you the best.
      There is something I need to tell you though. Something that was just out of view for both of us. There was a man in the shadows, the same man who brought me into darkness. We were both chosen, and I think you know who did it. She wasn't even ours, Cynthia. She might not have been human, might have been of the sunken sun. I won't survive any of this, it's not my place. I need you to do what is right.
      I'm sorry, but I have to go now. I've had the man write this letter as my last request. Love,
Michael

VI - Bloom

     "But why won't you tell us a scary story, mom?"
     "I just don't think it would be good for you, I'm more than willing to tell you another story though. What about the one with the rabbit? You used to love that one."
     "No, we want a scary one. Please?"
     "Alright, when I was a little girl, about your age, my grandmother told me a horrible story and it almost ruined my childhood, I had horrible nightmares for over a year. I don't want you to go through that, so let's do a happy story tonight. Ok?"
      "The one about the hedgerow and the orchard?"
      "I don't..."
      "It's not that horrible, mom. The black tree deserved to die and the feasting ocean has given the people a chance to prove themselves again, they've grown weak and aimless."
       "What? Who told you all of that?"
       "Great grams, she told us last night."
       "But you don't..."
       "Mommy, I think it's time for you to face us."

© 2010 The Message


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ICE
Wow, that was really good. The ending is amazing...its sorta gives it an 'oh s**t' feeling you know?

Posted 9 Years Ago



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Added on October 16, 2010
Last Updated on October 16, 2010

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The Message
The Message

Hoover/Mobile, AL



About
I like music (Listening, playing and composing), reading and boardgames. As to writing, I prefer complex metaphor and Lovecraftian influences... and generally being incoherent, haha. more..

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