The Searcher and the Sentinel
a serial dystopian story with alternating chapters by
I'm dead. No other possible explanation exists to explain what I'm seeing. In fact, I'm not sure I can explain what I'm seeing. I'm in a room. It's large as we consider rooms but inside the dwellings of old it would be considered medium-sized. I'm seated. In what I'm not sure because at the moment, I cannot move my body -otherwise my senses seem to be working rather well. The temperature is comfortable. I can't remember being comfortable in years. I smell something -whatever it is, smells intoxicating. My body feels clean despite not being able to feel it. The perpetual layer of grime that exists on all dwellers of Earth seems to have been washed away.
In front of me is the largest pane of glass I've ever seen. Two women standing side-by-side with their arms outstretched couldn't reach both left frame and right. Large wooden planks (Wood! can you imagine?) covered the floor from my position to the window. Only one other thing stood between where I was sitting and the large window. A small table (also wood) and two chairs. The tabletop was empty.
Through the window (this is the best part) is an expanse of green rolling fields that tapered down to a rocky shore. Beyond, blue water. Blue! I'd never seen such a brilliant shade of blue. Looking out into the green and blue expanse must have touched something in the recesses of my memories because I find my eyes filling with tears. I can't explain it. I haven't cried since I was a little girl. They roll down my cheeks. I try to wipe them away only to remember I am unable to move at all.
Shore birds rise and fall on the air currents above the water. Some type of grazing animals munch on the green in a large bunch. They're all a dirty white color. Rather than coarse hair matted tight to their bodies, they seem to defy gravity with what could only be the softest of coats.
A loud creaking noise followed quickly by a sound I cannot identify takes my attention from the distance. I see movement out of the corner of my eye. I want to wipe away my tears -embarrassed that another person will see them. Then again, I'm dead so what's it really matter?
"Beautiful, isn't it?" a woman's voice says.
"Yes," I reply, letting go of my desire to begin interrogating and allowing myself to relax just this once.
"Are you able to move yet?" she asks, walking into my field of vision.
She is old -much older than anyone I've ever seen. Guessing from the wrinkles around her eyes I'd say she's probably twice my age. She has long, dark hair -almost as dark as her skin, and soft features. She doesn't live like the rest of us. She smiles, looking deep into my eyes. I feel her right then, in my head. She's trying to calm me down but the sensation of someone inside my mind is unnerving. She must have sensed this because she immediately backs out. When you're dead, I guess anything is possible.
"You need not fear," she said. I detect an accent -nothing I've ever heard before.
"Where am I?" I ask. The sound of my own voice is startling. The gruff, grainy, bark-like timbre is gone, replaced by a smooth, almost musical quality.
She smiles but says nothing. I see her reach for something just out range of of my peripheral vision. The world goes black.
I awoke from the blow to my head rather quickly, but opened my eyes very slowly as soon as I realized where I was. I wanted to listen in on any conversations, knowledge is power they say, and considering I found my hands and legs bound, I could use a little power, if it was to be had.
“Keep an eye on ‘im,” I heard Davis say. She was the boss of all interior teams, the leader of the rovers; black leather clad killers.
“He’s out,” Manny replied, “and besides, I tied him when that durn fool of yours dropped him here.”
Manny was the second level Commander, older than Davis, but lower in rank, and lower in power. Inside the women ruled, we men followed orders, and if we didn’t, well, there were the rovers to think about, weren’t there?
“Liza is not a fool,” Davis snapped, “she was following orders not to kill him. He’s the one, the Sentinel, with a capital ‘S’.”
I almost mimicked exactly what Manny did, which was inhale so quickly that it made a whistling sound as the air passed through his mostly toothless mouth, but I didn’t, I managed to stay still, calm, unconscious looking.
“Bullcrap,” Manny said, pushing his chair back, the wooden feet sliding easily along the relatively new vinyl floor. This fact stuck with me, I must ask Manny where he found the materials, my room needed a new floor and all the good stuff had been destroyed so long ago.
“All signs point to it,” Davis explained, pacing now, her perfectly shined black leather high heeled boots passing in front of my slitted eyes with each lap. They had trussed me in one of the corners of Manny’s office, so I was lucky in a way, I was able to see Davis spin around, the movement fanning her long coat, exposing just a hint of red leggings above the boot tops, just below her left knee. Another fact that would stick with me…for a long time.
“Records show this is his fourth return, he excels in all his duties, he has the mark…”
Manny interrupted her, “many men have the mark, it doesn’t prove a thing.”
“And none of them live past their 15th year,” Davis replied, “also part of the prophecy.”
“Some do,” Manny said, hesitantly, almost whispering the words.
“Yes, Manny, we know,”
“We’ve watched you too,” she told him, “even if your care-for tried to hide the mark.”
Manny’s hand slipped unconsciously to the spot on his neck where his care-for (he preferred mother but the word really had no meaning anymore) had cut out the mark of the Sentinel, a reddish brown figure that resembled crossed swords, if you squinted and really wanted it to look that way.
“You, too, are part of the prophecy,” Davis continued, “you will now begin to train the Sentinel in the ways of magic, as your care-for did for you.”
Again Manny was shocked at her knowledge, he thought no one knew the things his mother had taught him.
“And you, Grant, you would do well to learn quickly,” Davis had stopped directly in front of me, “because this one, the one who breached; she’s also spoken of in the prophecy, and while she may be scared now, she will gain confidence with each kill, with each rover she takes down. You must lean the magic, it is the only way to stop her, to keep her from learning our secrets.”I closed my eyes tight, knowing my ruse had failed somehow, and listened as Davis left the office. Manny shuffled over to where I lay and began to untie the cords that bound my hands and feet.